It did so at 5 p.m. (or 8 p.m. on the East Coast, where the company is based) on New Year’s Eve.
“There’s no business like show business … .”
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This is the second time where I have optioned a screenplay and worked with a producer to get the movie made, only to have things come to a screeching halt somewhere down the line for “financial reasons.”
People who know about such matters say screenwriting is the hardest writing business to break into, that sooner or later a good book or story will get published, but many more things must come together for a good screenplay to become a movie: connections between a producer and writer, financing, scheduling, locations, a cast, a crew including a director, a distributor, and more and more these days, state tax inducements.
Apparently my screenplays — at least some of my screenplays, anyway — are good enough to attract the attention of producers, but not good enough to make it through the gantlet of actually getting a movie made. Or maybe it has just been bad fortune for me thus far.
The thing is, the big payments to screenwriters usually don’t come at the optioning stage. They come when the producer makes the full purchase before going into production on the movie.
So while I have made some money from screenwriting via the option phase, it is still more an avocation than a vocation.
And I do love the avocation. I was encouraged to try screenwriting — or return to it, as one of my brothers and I had a story we wrote produced on a network television comedy series in the 1980s — by someone I know in the business.
I quickly found the creation of characters, plots and outcomes was something that envelops me, even thrills me. Each time I dip into a world I’ve created I feel better. It is pure catharsis.
I started writing screenplays just for fun, but I was encouraged to enter my first screenplay into a contest. It did well, soon grabbed the interest of a producer and, almost before I could fully grasp it, I was in “the business,” dealing with movie producers, directors, writers and assorted other industry professionals.
Of course we all have heard the stories about all the jerks, jackasses and slicksters in the entertainment business, and I certainly have met some of those folks in the five-plus years I have been pursuing this. Sometimes I’m quickly and rudely dismissed by young hotshots because I am a middle-aged guy in a young man’s game.
Generally, though, folks in the business have been surprisingly nice. Even the producer who sent me the New Year’s Eve missive has been nothing but classy before and since.
The great thing is the screenplay for which I just had the rights returned had the interest of a few other producers before it was optioned, and those folks are interested in it again. I am fairly confident I will option it again in short order.
If that happens, I again will have to go through the torment of the whole process of getting the movie made. It will be worth it all, though, when the film actually hits a screen, I often tell myself.
Other times, though, I wish I had taken up crocheting.
Bret Kofford teaches writing at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU or its employees. Kofford can be reached at Kofford@roadrunner.com