Friday, January 26, 2007
As you know, if you've read this blog, we have written a script called Siege.
As you know, Mom, if you're still reading this blog, the script was written for Producer Dude. But then My Agent thought it might be well suited for Big Company, and so we got the script away from Producer Dude (props to Producer Dude once again for not raising a stink on that) and My Agent sent it to Big Company.
So whatever happened with that, anyway?
So glad you asked.
My Agent talked to Big Company earlier this week. Contact at Big Company (whom I met with for another project when I went to LA) has now read Siege. Contact at Big Company told My Agent that he/she liked Siege. So Contact at Big Company has passed Siege up the ladder to High Muck-a-Mucks at Big Company who are, even now, ignoring it while it sits on the big pile of scripts they're supposed to be reading.
So, in essence, we are nowhere. Except that's not true. Contact at Big Company liked the script. Contact at Big Company could have not liked the script and we'd be done. So, in essence, we've passed through the first Gate Of Power in our path. There are probably, like, fifteen Gates of Power we still need to get through, but the fact is, we weren't stopped out on the tarmac. We were invited in for a refreshing afternoon tea, and we just need to see if Her Highness has a free minute to spare in between beheadings.
Or something like that, I lost the metaphor a while ago.
Siege ain't dead. Long live Siege.
This movie moved me on many levels. It’s a fascinating period piece, set in Franco’s post-war
Anyhow… when I see movies like that, it sometimes pushes me into a depressed funk. People like Guillermo del Toro are off making these amazing pieces of ART, and I’ve devoted my “talents” to writing wanna-be-commercial B movies. Sure, we blow stuff up, and give our characters some really great one-liners (“Would you like a side of fries with that? Muahahahah!”), but it just feels so tiny and insignificant compared to the modern classics that the del Toros and Cuarons of this planet are creating.
So I agonize. Wring my hands. Dream of writing some amazing, poetic, deeply personal tale of love and redemption, or tragedies overcome, or inspired actions. I struggle to come up with some moving story *I* can tell.
A young girl, stranded on the rocky shores of
But then… the whole B Writer thing kicks in.
The girl finds a stash of guns. She blows up the Colonel’s headquarters with a LAW anti-tank missile, before painting her face black and stealthily dispatching his soldiers, one at a time, gruesomely. Meanwhile, her Mom has a naked shower scene in a babbling Libyan waterfall, where she meets an equally naked sea… er… waterfall nymph. I think it goes without saying that a lesbian scene ensues. Meanwhile, the girl has cornered the Colonel, who tries taking her father hostage in the barn, threatening to cut his throat. Without flinching, the girl snags a scythe from the barn wall and expertly tosses it across the room, cleaving the bastard Colonel's head wide open. The dad escapes unharmed, and the family lives happily ever after.
Hrmmm… come to think of it, maybe that is art, after all. Especially once you add the lesbian waterfall scene with the nymph.
Still… it’d be nice, just once, to be a del Toro. Until then… I’ll have to settle for being a del Taco.
Keywords: b movie, Siege, screenwriting, screenplay, scriptwriter, script, movies, Pan's Labyrinth,del Toro, Self loathing,
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thank you so much for your recent AMERICAN IDOL spec script.
While you seem to have captured the spirit of our show and characters, I’m afraid that the storyline, and key teleplays, have already been locked for this season of the show.
We appreciate your interest in AMERICAN IDOL, and hope you’ll tune in throughout the coming weeks and months for the many exciting surprises we have in store.
INT. AUDTION ROOM
A WIDE-EYED CONTESTANT wrings her hands nervously, as she looks expectantly across the room at the 3 JUDGES facing her.
SIMON, 40-something, English, looks aghast. PAULA, late 40s, disheveled, stares vacantly at the ceiling. RANDY, 40-something, black, waves his hand in the air and makes grunting noises.
A string of drool escapes from the corner of Paula’s mouth as she swats at imaginary bugs.
The barking sound catches Paula’s attention, snapping her back to reality.
She nods off, mid-sentence.
(stifling a sob)
Paula stirs, licks a spot on the table in front of her, and then falls back to sleep.
(as condescendingly as possible)
The girl throws her hands to her face and sprints from the room in tears.
RYAN SEACREST, 30-something, short, effeminate, has his ear pressed to the audition room DOOR.
It suddenly swings open forcefully, smashing into his face, and knocking him to the ground. Wide-Eyed Contestant stumbles from the room, blind with grief. She wails loudly.
Ryan regains his composure, deftly produces a compact from his pants pocket, touches up his make-up, paying careful attention to his dimples. He quickly runs his hand through his hair and then struts over to the crying girl.
The woman reaches for his throat, choking him furiously as Ryan’s eyes begin to bulge and we…
FADE TO BLACK
Keywords: b movie, Siege, screenwriting, screenplay, scriptwriter, script, movies, b movie writers,American Idol, rejection,
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
It fell to me, Dave, to serve up the questions and conduct the hard-hitting grilling of Mr. Hoffman that follows. If you wonder why there are no snappy follow-up questions, it's not that I simply sent him some questions over email and he chose to answer what he wanted and there was no back and forth, it's because I'm against follow-up questions for religious reasons.
Anyone else who wants to be interviewed by B-Movie Writers, let us know. We're open and willing, even if you don't run a screenplay competition and can promise us automatic placement in the final round.. uhm.. no. I didn't say that. Anyway, here's the interview.
B-Movie Writers: Mr. Hoffman, thanks for sitting down with us today. Or rather, thanks for sitting at your own computer and sending an email that we'll sit down at our computer and read. You are the founder of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. As a screenwriter yourself, what drove you to jump over the fence and put this together?
Gordy Hoffman: Oh, so that was a fence I jumped over. I thought it was a BRICK WALL I RAN INTO. I started BlueCat in 1998 as a little venture, based on my experiences with contests as a writer myself. To paraphrase Kane, I thought it would fun to run a screenplay contest.
BMW: Why should a writer enter your competition as opposed to the hundreds of other ones out there on the Web? What sets your competition apart?
GH: Every writer receives written analysis on their screenplay. Our finalists and winners received significant industry exposure: our 2005 Winner, GARY THE TENNIS COACH, has been produced and will be released this year. 16,000 in cash?
BMW: Do you ever read any of the entries and think "Damn, that's a good idea, why didn't I come up with that?"
GH: Yes, I love when that happens. I love wishing I thought of something. It's always a good sign of greatness: Envy!
BMW: What, for you, would be the best case scenario resulting from your competition?
GH: That every entrant learns something about themselves as writers and commits to work to improve their craft.
BMW: What do you see this competition evolving into in the years to come? Would you like to grow it into a complete festival? Or do you hope to keep it at it's current scale?
GH: We want to keep growing, into something much bigger. We would love to continue to help writers, through production and distribution. Something akin to the Sundance Lab, but taking it further.
BMW: What is the single, proudest moment you've experienced while organizing this competition?
GH: Calling a disgruntled entrant 7 years ago at nearly midnight to apologize, and subsequently having the writer say he would enter BlueCat again. That's when I knew: BlueCat is a service.
BMW: You recently produced your first full-length feature, A Coat of Snow. Before that, you produced a number of short films. What were the biggest hurdles in going from shorts to full-length?
GH: Usual stuff. Bigger job. Plus you really have to get money. Shorts are great because you can go out today and make one. But maybe I can do that with a feature? What time is it?
BMW: On your website, located at http://www.myspace.com/bluecatscreenplay, you list a large number of screenwriting articles, advice articles, and other work that is all geared towards helping the struggling writer. At what point does someone go from struggling writer, to established writer? Are you there yet, yourself? If so, when did you know you were there?
GH: If I ever admit to being an established writer, throw a spear in my chest. Yuck. While I don't want to struggle for fun, growth as an artist is good. I have said it before. There is no destination.
BMW: Our work and audience is centered on writing B-movies where lots of people beat each other up. Your work is far more artful and of a higher quality. But there's one thing both genres have in common. So, how do you come up with new and unique ways to put hot lesbians into your stories?
GH: That's what great about writing. You can just write it today. I have the ability to write the hottest lesbian love story starring the hottest lesbians ever. Somehow, it might be about something else in the end. But they would definitely fuck. It's essential to all classic love stories. See Casablanca. All established struggling screenwriters know this.
BMW: What is your dream project? And who would you love to work with?
GH: I have a few dream projects which frighten me to admit. I would love to direct Jack and Marlon in a scene, but Marlon died. I would love to work with Streisand and Redford and Gene Wilder. Abbas Kiarostami. Jessica Biel.
BMW: Much of our work relies on convincing overseas money people to plop down a few hundred thousand dollars into anonymous bank accounts to fund our movies. Did you self-finance A Coat of Snow? And while doing so, did you use anonymous bank accounts?
GH: I did not self-finance A COAT OF SNOW. That's not a good idea.
BMW: What's the worst thing that happened while you were making A Coat of Snow?
GH: The set photos were destroyed by the lab.
BMW: How do you deal with actors who read your script and start crossing out dialogue because they're just getting paid to beat people up and don't want to say all those words? Or does that not happen in your world?
GH: I had to write a dialogue list of everything spoken in my movie. Boy, the cast did not remember their lines! They said whatever they wanted!! Oh well. It's a hard life.
BMW: One rule the producers often give us for our films is to make sure we have that one "Money Shot" of something (inexpensive) blowing up, or that one fantastic (but inexpensive) stunt. What would you say is the "Money Shot" of A Coat of Snow?
GH: God, if I had a money shot, it would be distributed. Probably the last shot. It's eleven minutes long.
BMW: And finally, if you had to do it all over again. What's the one thing you'd do differently when making your movie, A Coat of Snow?
GH: Cast movie stars.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Before I can even get Final Draft successfully open, a scream pierces the house.
I sprint into the bathroom. My kid's scrambling to get out of the tub, as a Baby-Ruth doppelganger floats amongst the rubber ducks and GI Joes. My wife's curled into a horrified ball on the bathroom floor.
I get the kid out, rinse him off with some CLEAN water, disinfect the tub, and put him, and my now catatonic spouse, to sleep.
At last... everyone's asleep. I can write.
I snag the laptop and sneak into my home office where I write much of the time. In that office is a cage, where "my wife and son's" rabbit lives. You'll note I put "my wife and son's" in quotes, because 3 days after raising hell that they wanted a pet rabbit, they both pretty much stopped acknowledging its existence.
So... that leaves me to clean up after it, feed it, and give it any attention. In this case, "attention" means letting it out of the cage to run around my office while I write.
So anyhow, I'm writing. Doing ok and making some progress, so I decide to take a break and grab a soda.
Push back my chair, stand up, and experience an odd crunch/squish under my feet. I glance down and realize I'm in the middle of a rabbit crap minefield. Little pellets are EVERYWHERE. I wonder what in God's name he's eaten to have pushed out what looks like an entire boxfull of coco puffs all over my office carpet. And trying to get out of the room's like playing a real life game of minesweeper. Trying to clear a path through the field of alfalfa marbles.
But I grab my laptop and negotiate my way free of the dung-maze. "Screw it," I think to myself. I'll go downstairs, finish writing, and then come up and sweep up all the bunny droppings. Its not like they really stink, or stain or anything. I do have the presence of mind to toss the Rabbit, and his overactive ass, back into his cage, at least.
So I'm going down the stairs, and what do I see at the landing?
Two giant dog turds.
By now, you have to think I'm exaggerating or joking, but I swear to you that it was just one pile of feces after another last night. Everywhere I turned.
So I clean up the crap left by my decrepit old dog, who's bowels are so cobweb-ridden that the strain of climbing the stairs can result in an unexpected (and usually unrealized) dump.
I clean up the crap left by my insolent, unloved rabbit, who's apparently eaten a supersized McDonald's value meal and passed it onto my office rug.
I plop down on my couch, open the laptop, and stare at what I've written.
And then I close it and go straight to bed.
I can only be responsible for so much crap in one 24 hour period.
Keywords: b movie, Siege, screenwriting, screenplay, scriptwriter, script, movies, b movie writers,poop, Charlie Flint,
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Paperwork is over to Producer Dude, My Agent has the script. Likes the script. I don't know if My Agent is sending it to Big Company right now or waiting to get Paperwork back. But it will happen soon.
Siege will be in the hands of a Big Company, and it is not unsolicited. It is requested.
So now we wait. As Charlie said, I have had dealings with Big Company before. I met with them in LA, talks went well. They like me, I like them. But there is one thing I have learned from my experiences with them.
They take their time.
We cold give Siege to them today. I doubt we'd hear anything back from them before March.
In some ways, that's the pace of Hollywood when you're not yet The Shit. Charlie and I are not The Shit. We'd like to become The Shit, and are doing everything we can to become The Shit. But right now, we're not The Shit. We're Some Guys. Some Guys don't get their scripts placed at the top of the pile. Some Guys have to wait for Big Executives to get bored and drill through more important things, like reading scripts from The Shit.
So what can we do while we wait? Write something else. We should be getting notes on our completed Pueblo/Manic Cop/Jungle epic soon. That will give us something to do. I should get word on my own latest Horror script soon, that will give me something else to do. I have a call later this month for my TV project, that gives me something to stress about. Charlie's writing a new version of an old script of mine. I'm working on a bunch of things.
So the best thing we can do now (once Paperwork is out of the way) is forget Siege ever existed until told otherwise. Though it may be months, Big Company WILL get back to us. They may get back to us and say "No." but we WILL hear something.
So until then... Siege? What Siege? Didn't that star Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington?
Thursday, January 04, 2007
See how it is in the exciting world of B-Movie showbiz? Things sit stagnant, like murky, brackish, smelly frog-pond water, for months on end...
And then boom. Something happens.
And then, of course, you wait in that stanky swamp mud for eons again.
But yesterday was a "BOOM - something happens - day."
As Dave mentioned, he sent SIEGE to his agent for a read.
Turns out his agent really dug it. Thought it'd be perfect for a "Name" Production Company he and Dave have previously spoken with. So, he called 'em up and told them about it.
And lo and behold, they seemed interested.
So... last night Dave called Producer Dude on our collective behalf. Asked for him to turn the rights back over to us for now, so we could give the project to this "name" company. If they're interested and decide to do something with it... well, its good for everyone - Producer Dude has other projects with Dave, which could then feature some kind of tag like... "From the creator of the blockbuster hit SIEGE!"
And if things don't pan out with the Name Production Company, we assign the rights back to Producer Dude and we're right back where we left off, with him planning to work on it later this year.
So here's the thing... as much as we grouse about Producer Dude, he's a good guy. A real good guy. SIEGE not getting made so far isn't really his fault... he's a guy working in the low-budget world, who has to fight and scrape to get money for his pics, including SIEGE.
So when he heard we had another opportunity, he was happy for us as friends, and knew it could only be good for him, too, presumably.
So... we're working on the paperwork, and SIEGE will be assigned back to us, and sent to the Name Production Company in the next few days.
And then we'll wait for eons, no doubt, for them to let us know what they think. But, hey... its cool that they're even reading it. Its an interesting company that I'd bet you've heard of, though you don't necessarily associate with movies. And they have a stable of bankable stars, who've made some very successful action features.
So... its all very exciting, and things appear to be off to a good start in 2007. Can ya smell what 2007's got cooking?!
And, of course, we'll keep you posted.
Keywords: b movie, Siege, screenwriting, screenplay, scriptwriter, script, movies, b movie writers
Actually, from where I sit, 2007 hold much promise. Both for me personally, and even for Neilsen/Flint two-man writing team which I pull along behind me like dead weight. Here is a list of things that make me want to look up, not down.
Something is going to happen with Siege.
Producer Dude swears on the life of his children he's going to make it this year. Whatever. My Agent is reading it now and should let me know within the week if we should try to steal it away from Producer Dude and send to Real Companies who can pay Real Money for it, or if the script is really only fit for Producer Dude. In either case, something is going to happen with this script.
The un-named banana farm/wi-fi/home furnishings/serial killer script.
It has been read by My Managers. They said it seemed like a "B" movie. They said this as if it were a bad thing. Have they SEEN what's on Sci-Fi Channel every Saturday? In any case, a junior, junior, phone answerer guy over there dug it and is sending us his thoughts and notes on it. And My Manager has reluctantly agreed to re-read it if we incorporate this lowly-but-future Ovitz's notes. So there ya go.
My other project with Producer Dude.
I have another script, an even older one, originally written in, like, 2001 or 2002. Well it's going forward. And best of all, it doesn't 100% rely on Producer Dude, he kinda handed it off. So it may be in better shape than Siege.
My latest non-Charlie, non-Producer Dude project.
After all my meetings in LA, I wrote the big winner of my personal pitch-fest. Finished the draft New Year's Eve. Handed it off to My Manager. They're looking over it and will get back to me. But I like it. And I hope they like it. And we will fine-tune it and then send it to the numerous companies who are waiting to read it. That means more meetings (probably in the Spring) and hopefully, this time someone will bite.
My TV project.
I have a TV project that I've put together with My Manager. It has gotten interest. Paramount is checking it out (low-level) but even better, a Real Company that you've heard of (or at least, you've heard of some of their projects) likes it and My Manager's setting up a call later this month with them to talk about it, see how we take it to the next level. Get paid. Whatever.
So I'm feeling good about 2007. Which is good because, let's face it, 2006 sucked. If it weren't for Charlie, I'd have lost my marbles long ago.
He's my rock. The kind I like to skip out across the waves and then wait for the tide to bring back to me.
So that's my year, how's yours shaping up?