Monday, January 23, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 211 - A (Possible) Route to Take

I'll admit I didn't do a whole lot of writing in Panama, though I did get the chance to talk shop with a few people. Our second night in Panama City, I met a real estate agent who is passionate about screenwriting and takes some of the Gotham Writers classes toward that goal. He has a pretty ideal setup - traveling four months of the year and writing, while working in the city the other two thirds of the time. I'd sure as hell like that kind of arrangement. Anyway, we chatted a bit about writing, mainly swapping ideas (admittedly not something I really enjoy doing, especially with strangers, so my end of the conversation was a bit quieter than his), and talking a bit about our hopes and goals for our careers.

Not long after that, I moved on to Bocas del Toro, a small Caribbean Panamanian archipelago an hour by plane northwest outside the city (amazing, gorgeous - if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend going). To be quite frank, it was pretty difficult to do much there at all, mentally. Apropos of the weather and overall way of life on the islands, coupled with the ever-present calming lull of the eternal surf, I found it hard to concentrate on much other than sitting on the beach, getting up in time for a swim, and forcing myself to my feet when my empty beer can necessitated movement and replenishment.

However, I did get an interesting email from one of my producers while there. We (or shall I say, they) are still hoping to set the post-Apocalyptic spec up for TV. In fact, that seems to be the main goal now, having overtaken the drive to see it launch as a feature film. Yet, what with Sundance and the fact that television companies are sorting through already existing pilots in an attempt to decide what to set up for mid-season, summer, and fall debuts, this is apparently not a very good time to try and ingratiate one's self into a television production company's sightline. 

That, though, wasn't the intriguing part of the email. What was? A mention that we might look to get the spec set up at a network akin to SyFy (as an example). At first, I'll admit, I wasn't too keen on the notion. Then, I spoke with my friend a bit about it, and he helped me see the silver lining. First - my gut reaction was that a TV network might not be able to pull out the big guns necessary for this kind of project. Would I have to dumb it down? Would we lose important or compelling elements? More selfishly, would the pay be the same? Would I want to make my appearance in made-for-tv-movies, rather than Hollywood blockbusters? There's no doubt that the film could be made on a smaller budget. Even I've been tempted to go out and try to shoot it myself should it come down to that. More than anything, this was a question of ego.

My friend made the very astute point that getting my script produced anywhere would be something to be incredibly proud of. Everyone has to break in (everyone who works in the industry has to start somewhere, that is), and if this is my big break, then why not embrace it. If a television original film is the way to go, then why not explore that route? Is it a big film with A-List talent premiering on 3,000 screens? No, but neither are the vast majority of movies that get made (even some with huge stars get very little visibility on the big screen). My producers have both my and the project's best intentions in mind, and I've no doubt that if this is a route they'd like to pursue, it's one they've thought long and hard about the pros and cons of. I'll trust them, and hopefully that trust will earn a sale and a produced film - wherever that might come from.