Monday, November 16, 2009
After about a week and a half of time to think it over and digest the notes, my manager, producer, and I have decided to take an offer we were given. A producer at a rather prominent Production Company (known simply as "Production Company" for the time being) read my post-Apocalyptic spec and really liked it. She thought it was exciting, moving, and (sometimes odd for its genre) smart - i.e. it was about something more than just a body count. However, she did have notes on it, and was not prepared to offer any money for it in its current state.
On Tuesday of last week, I had a conference call with her and Gretchen, the original producer. The call went really well, and I got two major notes from the Production Company. These were big notes, both focused on rebuilding Act Two. As the representative for this Production Company put it, Act One is really strong and sets up a lot, but Act Two derails. (I'll admit that it's not a perfect second act, but we were hoping that it was strong enough to not ward off potential buyers. Guess it wasn't.) The representative had two ideas for the script, one that would make it more active throughout Act Two, and the other that would lighten the tone a little bit. In its current state, the script is very dark. Part of the rewrites would involve taking the audience to a time before so much hope was lost, to a point where people were still trying to go about their daily lives and carry on as best they can. The goal is to not only make the film less depressing, but also to involve the audience more by allowing them to play along with the "what would I do in this scenario?" game while watching.
This offer I got came at a particularly interesting time. The morning of the call, I read two articles in the most recent draft of Creative Screenwriting Magazine, which seemed extremely relevant to my situation. The first was a short piece about an NYC based writer who recently sold his first spec and continues to work from NYC. It's more about how to go about getting recognized while being on the East Coast - query letters, competitions, etc. While it was interesting, it wasn't really anything new. (Read the archival Writing Weeks, and you'll see that I cover the exact same things as I live them.)
The second article was much more intriguing. It was all about the state of the spec sale market and the greater Hollywood industry in general. In short, what it said was that it's next to impossible for new writers to break in nowadays. Established writers are having trouble getting work, and when they do, they're frequently having to work for below their normal going rate. With studios freezing development, things aren't looking good. Agents and managers are having trouble, because no one is buying. And production companies are getting away with spending a lot less on material - or, in cases like mine, spending nothing up front in transactions that used to cost them money. Basically, this article (I read between the lines) said that if a writer has a large and respected producer or production company backing their work and has the ability to get to a studio, they should take the deal, as there aren't many other options these days. (Granted, there are always exceptions to the rule, so no need for added concern if you're trying to make a sale. Just be aware of the situation.)
With that info, and with this Production Company behind me if I nail the rewrites, I decided that there was no way I could pass up the opportunity. Sure, some of the rewrites will be a challenge, but even if the Production Company decides not to pursue the material, I'll have a stronger script (hopefully) and more contacts in the industry that could lead to further work. Plus, with no one else biting at the moment, I didn't have a ton of other options. So... back to writing.