Sometimes it seems that the development process can take a lifetime. At least, that's what I'm finding out first hand. Of course, despite how it may seem, that statement is in no way an outright complaint at this time. Rather, it's an honest impression of the industry, especially an unproduced, unknown writer's position in it.
It was almost a year ago to the day that I signed a one-year option agreement with Gretchen, the independent producer who wanted to work with me on my post-Apocalyptic spec. By the time the ink had dried, I had already been working on and off on that script for a year and a half. In the year since we made our agreement, we've partnered with a notable production company in LA to develop the script further. It's gone through a few monumental changes in that time (as you know if you've been reading my weekly posts). Last Thursday, while on vacation, I got a call from the executive at the production company.
She read the latest draft and really liked it. That was the good news. She did, however, have some notes that she wanted to set up a call for. That was the expected news. So, tomorrow, we're hopping back on the phone - hopefully for one of the last times before we move ahead with it - to hash out a few things. I got a preview of the notes, but tomorrow will involve more detail and specificity.
Granted, this is my first real foray into the industry (not counting a manager that I parted ways with over a year ago). The kind of no-money development deal that I'm working under is supposedly surprisingly common practice these days. Of course, it'd be ideal to be paid for the two major drafts I've done since linking up with the production company in October. But that's the dream, not the reality, and I know I can't complain. Everything I've read indicates that the trend is toward holding off paying for work for as long as possible, and as new scribes, we have little to no bargaining power. So I am happy to wait, develop my work, gain the appreciation of producers and executives I'm working with, and ease my way into the industry.
There has been one, big surprise discovery to come from all of this. It's been over a year since I really tried to write a new idea (as most of my time's been devoted to polishing, re-writing, and re-imagining this one). The effect has been that I've had to re-acclimate myself with writing first acts again. I used to dive in and bang out the first ten pages in a writing frenzy. Now, things feel a bit slower. Then again, that could just be a product of having been on vacation, where the most important thing I had to do each day was wake up in time to catch breakfast.