One New Year’s Resolution Down the Tubes

Well, so much for blogging more often.  I’ll blame it on the disaster trifecta of the death of my favorite radio station ever, the death of a great record store and the death of Khan.  Never mind the fact that all three of these events happened in the past 48 hours or so and I’ve been blowing off the blog for over a week.

On the plus side, I’ve been churning out script pages like a madman, relatively speaking.  “Relative” in this case being two or three pages a day — a piss-poor quota in my pre-fatherhood life but good enough now that the Peanut is becoming both more independent and consequently even more of a handful.  She’s amazingly fun to play with, but sometimes I miss the days when she’d just lie there in my lap like a stuffed animal while I wrote or played Xbox or whatever.  That period has long, long since passed.  I’m still shooting for five pages a day, but if I don’t make it, I don’t make it.  Life’s too short to beat myself up over it, and even one page written is one more page than I had yesterday.  Unless it’s a really shitty page, in which case I give myself a brief but sound verbal thrashing and THEN let it go.

So what have I been working on?  Well, nothing from the previous six months.  I’ve temporarily put aside the three major projects that I began in 2008, having grown completely, thoroughly sick of every single one of them.  Instead, I decided to finally write something that I came up with years ago, an idea that I fleshed out into a four-page treatment which my then-manager rejected as being too gimmicky. 

At the time I wasn’t too broken up about it — you could fill a recycling truck with all of the dead end treatments and outlines that I’ve abandoned without remorse over the years — but this one has lingered in the back of my mind ever since.  Hell, maybe the manager was right — it could very well be gimmicky, but so what?  BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is about as gimmicky as they come, at least on the surface, and look how that turned out.  This may not be the most overtly commercial idea I’ve ever had, but it’s not like my middle-of-the-road mainstream comedies have exactly opened the Hollywood floodgates for me.  Part of me has always wondered, why NOT write the stupid thing?  What do I have to lose?

Upon realizing at the dawn of 2009 that I have no agent, no manager, no new scripts even close to sending out and, frankly, no real prospects aside from the stupid Wedding Comedy option, I decided that I had answered my own longstanding question: I’ve got exactly bupkis to lose at this point.  So I resolved to finally write this gimmicky idea that wouldn’t go away.

Call it the Bigfoot Comedy.

Is it any good?  Probably not.  But it sure is fun to write, and that’s more than you can say for most of the work I churned out last year.  There’s something liberating about just saying “fuck it” and writing for your own amusement rather than trying to pin down to the constantly shifting tastes of the film industry.  If this were a fictional story, this would be the script that blows open the doors to Tinseltown and saves me from a life of quiet desperation in the real world.

In truth, it’ll probably just blow open the doors of the cabinet where my old scripts go to die.  But until that inevitable day comes, I can enjoy the possibility that despite the odds stacked against it, this script could be The One.

As a writer, I’m no stranger to fantasy anyway.

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5 Comments on “One New Year’s Resolution Down the Tubes”

  1. Kent Says:

    Finish it! :). I think that could be the one…at least as a writing sample. Your passion will show and it will seem fresher.

    Good luck!

  2. K. Says:

    Might be liberating to write something like your BigFoot Comedy.

    Goodluck with it, I’m struggling with treatments. Don’t you hate treatments!?

    The Obscure

  3. WriterDad Says:

    Kent — thanks! Yeah, I have high hopes for this one, perhaps unreasonably so…

    K — you know what? I actually love treatments. After I figure out the opening, the ending, the major story beats and the act breaks, it’s always fun to start sketching things out. The thing always seems so full of potential. Unfortunately, after I write, say, “Bob steals the alien death ray and accidentally nukes Manhattan” in the treatment, then I have to figure out HOW Bob does it. And as I start making choices and locking things down, then I start wondering if this is the right path for my story. The potential goes away as the story becomes what it becomes. And usually after a certain point, what it becomes is just a giant disappointment for me. The lesson in all of this is that I probably need to write more detailed treatments and outlines from the get-go, but what can I say, I’m a slow learner…

  4. K. Says:

    Hi Dad,

    The problem with this Treatment is that it’s not one I can flesh out a whole narrative with, I’m essentially selling a setting and a mood. I know you’re going to say “You don’t have a story do you?” There is a story but the point of this treatment is for me to get some dev money I can go and research this topic that is based on some true events. So it’s a “selling treatment”, have you had any tips with this sort of situation?

    Regarding your outlining/writing detailed treatments. I never actually write a treatment before I dive into writing a screenplay, what I do start with is actually about 6 notebooks per script, which are essentially midway between a writing diary and a very long outline. This seems to work for me. I find starting off the day writing what I’m feeling or thinking about into a notebook helps me flesh out and think a lot more than using the treatment method. You up for trying out a different method?

    By the way check out my blog, I’m blogging and I blame you for it.

  5. WriterDad Says:

    Hmmm… to be honest, I’ve heard that it’s impossible to sell a treatment unless you’re, ya know, Robert Towne or somebody, so I’ve never really tried to send one out. Every treatment I’ve ever written has been either for my eyes only or for the benefit of my agent/manager or (in the case of the Wedding Comedy), the producer who’s already optioned my script and wants to know what I’m going to do in the next draft. I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice for you in this case, though my gut instinct would be to do as much research on my own as I can and just spec it out like I would an original story. Or work it up into a presentation and try to get pitch meetings.

    Your brainstorming idea is interesting. I guess I do something similar when I’m in idea-generating mode, though I tend to be a little more rigid, structure freak that I am.

    And yeah, I’ve lurked on your blog (gotta update my links). Sorry for getting you hooked. 🙂


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