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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Discussion of...     General Chat  ›  The Many Faces of Filmmakers Moderators: bert
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Warren
Posted: July 8th, 2021, 10:13pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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It's a slow work day here and unfortunately I can't write (scripts) at work.

So I thought in light of all the recent success of scripts being optioned and sold on SS we could have a discussion about the best and worst experiences people have had with filmmakers. I know this comes up from time to time but I don't know if there is a centralized thread.

I've been lucky, and maybe unlucky considering how some of the films turned out, to have a fair few films optioned and made since coming to SS in 2016 and my personal experience with filmmakers have been all over the place.

Here are some of my experiences:

1) I think a fair few of us have had this, but I've optioned several scripts and then never heard from the filmmaker again.

2) I had a film that was optioned, then made (A Day To Remember). I saw unedited stills from the shoot, the filmmaker made a pretty decent poster for the film and then I got an email from the guy saying they weren't going to continue with the post-production process, but asked if I wanted to collaborate on a feature. I politely declined.

3) I optioned a script (Hannah's Demons) in 2016, I think it was, to one filmmaker. The communication was average at best, then I heard nothing for months. One day I get an email from a completely different guy telling me that the first filmmaker had essentially palmed the project off onto him, without my permission, and that the script had been filmed. He included some behind the scenes photos and on checking IMDb he had decided that he was also one of the writers. I asked him to remove himself which he did. Then I don't hear from the guy for years... literally years.The film finally came out this year, but it was one of the more strange processes I've experienced.

A few months ago that original filmmaker contacted me again, optioned two scripts (Lullaby and Normal Activity) and they were both very quickly filmed in Nigeria. I was sent behind the scenes footage for both films and they actually looked really good, but since then not a peep.

4) Best case scenario you get to work with a filmmaker like the one I did on A New Present. She kept me up to date with every step of the pre-production process, from casting, to location scouting, to prop building, everything. Still patiently waiting for the film to drop, but it was such a good experience.

5) I optioned another script (The Painter) which I randomly found on Kickstarter doing a crowdfunding campaign which was funded in February this year. I had a small update soon after that but nothing at all since. A backer on Kickstarter also asked for an update a while back but didn't receive a reply.

6) Speaking of The Painter, I have optioned that script several times and it has been filmed once. The film is really quite terrible and is the only one I actually haven't submitted to SS. The filmmaker changed the script quite significantly, did some gender swapping and made it into this unwatchable psychedelic type thing. Maybe I will submit it, just to show how bad these things can actually go.

I know there are many reasons these things don't work out, but I think as a bare minimum it would be nice if there was good communication, even if it's that the film wont be happening.

So what are some of your horror stories or amazing outcomes with regards to filmmakers?


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LC
Posted: July 8th, 2021, 11:12pm Report to Moderator
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I only have nightmare stories or crushing disappointments to relay at this point in time.  

Too depressing to relay again... Well, okay, I'll share a bit.

The writer credit one sticks with me.
The Producer (and I use that term loosely) gave herself one on IMDb because she Americanised a couple of words - never removed her credit as co-writer.

I stopped her entering it into Film Festivals though - cause their Option had run out. They never bothered to tell me they were in fact filming it, despite repeated emails.

Casting is everything. If there's bad acting and directing on your project, it's basically going to suck, no matter what.

Missed out on a top class Producer filming the same script cause they saw the debacle the other filmmakers attempted. Very disappointing.

I have other tales of woe.
I prefer to remain eternally optimistic instead.


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Warren
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 2:49am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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That pretty shitty all round!

I think I'm pretty optimistic most of the time. I thought the thread might be a good place to laugh at how crazy it can get out there.

Happy lockdown, hope you guys are keeping safe.


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LC
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 3:56am Report to Moderator
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Yep, Lockdown again. Oh, well. It's nowhere near the Northern Beaches... yet. Cross fingers.
Our govt really should not have put all their eggs in one basket with the Vacc. And the roll-out is just plain embarrassing, considering how well we were doing.

Sorry for the digression.


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PKCardinal
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 11:29am Report to Moderator
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So far, the only one I've successfully gotten off the ground was FOR NOW. I have several in various stages of pre/post production, and COVID definitely took a bite out of the process.

I've had a couple really good experiences. The director I'm working with on SANCTUARY seems very committed to getting it made. He's fun to work with, respects the page and keeps me updated. If not for COVID, that one would be made already. I even co-wrote a short with him.

The director on LINES seems the same. She's keeping me updated. And, has a shoot date. Can't wait to see what she does with it.

I optioned the very first script I wrote. It was a sitcom. Flew out to LA to watch a sizzle reel made. It was a great experience. But, it also had it's really weird moments. I was as green as I could be, so I certainly made it more weird. The strangest thing was being on set and being told: "Keep your mouth shut." There were several points where I could have jumped in with changes that would have made the project better. But, I couldn't. It was frustrating. Still, it was an excellent experience, and I'm better for it. It was great going through the development process, even though the project ultimately went nowhere.

Some weird ones:

A guy asked to shoot KITTENS, with major changes. I said sure, let's put an option agreement together. He said... thanks, I'm shooting tomorrow. HOLD UP! Scrambled, got something in writing that night. And... never heard from him again. Was it shot? Don't know.

I've had 4 directors contact me about 3 different features. The weirdest one was a guy who just LOVED my feature THE HAND OF GOD. Couldn't wait to shoot it. The kicker: he literally said to me, "As soon as I'm done reading it, I'll give you a call." He hadn't even read the script, but he loved it and wanted to make it. Never heard back. I always wonder what page I lost him on. (Though, I can guess.)

(I do have someone that seems pretty serious about WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR. It's a long shot, but I really like the guy, and his vision for the script. But, the hurdles are numerous.)

I had a manager that wanted to represent me... but, strictly for the market in India. Turned that one down. I've yet to see a path to making money that includes burning all of your scripts for one market... especially when that market pays very little.

I've had multiple options with no follow-up communication. I'll never understand that. Just talk to me.

It all adds up to LOTS of interest... and very little follow-through. Strange business indeed.


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature
Wait Till Next Year - Disney-style family sports comedy/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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AnthonyCawood
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 6:52pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Warren this will be therapeutic!

1) When I first started writing scripts I sold the very first short script I wrote to a producer for a lot of money as he wanted to essentially buy the rights to make it into a feature, there was also a decent bonus if that happened... which of course it didn't. No idea where the guy went.
2) Have at least six films that I know have been filmed, as I've seen production stills, which never got finished or released... annoyingly they all looked good.
3) I've had five shorts pulled from Youtube after student filmmakers used the scripts without permission, annoyingly they all looked awful.
4) I have optioned/sold eleven scripts to 'Producers' who have vanished since... no response to emails or messages via an other route.
5) Assistant Director of Sharknado wanted to use one of my scripts, super keen for a couple of weeks then ghosted me when he didn't get into the Directing programme that he'd hoped to.
6) I sold a short to a Producer who was 'massive' - his words, not mine - and yet despite his extensive experience and contacts in LA he couldn't source the interior of an elevator, where the majority of the script happened, and despite re-writing it for him... it's still sitting in 2)
7) Commissioned to write a feature script for an Indian producer, got paid, but was hoping that I'd finally crack my Written By on IMDB for a feature... looked like it was going to happen when I saw an early cut and my name was front an centre in the credits... fast forward a year and it shows up on UK Amazon Prime... except I'm not on the credits anymore... well not the opening ones... now I'm relegated to the end credits as Assistant Writer! I complained and the producer explained that they filmed a few scenes differently and that they'd had to get it translated from English... I pointed to our contract that guaranteed my credit and threatened to go to Producer Guild of India (to this day I don't know if there is such a thing)... it vanished from Amazon Prime the same day.

I'm sure if I dredge the dark recesses of my memory there are some other horror stories

BUT... I'm also an optimist, so despite ALL of the above, I continue to write, continue to try and get my work into the hands of the good Producers and Directors and continue to try and help others where I can.

What else am I gonna do, not like I can stop writing

(Thanks Warren!)


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Gary in Houston
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 8:54pm Report to Moderator
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oh boy, this is a triggering post...

1. My first "writing job' I had a contract to rewrite a script for a producer who was working  on getting funding for the script.  I had a contract that was going to pay me $26,000, contingent on the film getting funded.  I worked almost a year writing and re-writing that script, and I'm sure you can all guess what happened: the film didn't get funded and I didn't get paid. Never heard from the guy again, and he went one to produce several feature films (probably a few you've heard of). but while I didn't get paid, it was the best unpaid internship I could have ever gotten, because I learned a lot about what producers and directors are actually looking for in a script, what they don't care about (e.g., "we see", BIG BOLD TITLE PAGES, bolded slugs, he didn't care as long as the script hummed.  Guess the script didn't hum enough.

2. Had my short script "Roadside Attraction" filmed in LA.  Was directed by the guy who played Howard's son on the "Bob Newhart Show'" and actually had Dee Wallace (the mom in ET and Cujo in it). The problem was they changed the ending so much that it kind of lost it's effectiveness.  it looked great on film but they had lost the point of the story in my opinion.  oh, and they changed the name to "Country Road 12" for no apparent reason.

3. Had my short script "Skip" filmed in LA. Probably the thing i'm most proud of, but I can't even get a final cut with the titles and the credits.  But they pretty much stuck to the script (they added a little) and it looked great.

4. One of the guys I write with occasionally, Rick Hansberry (those of you who were on Movie Poet would remember Rick) we optioned our feature film "According to Plan" to a guy in India who wanted to turn it into a Bollywood musical, but in order to do that, it needed a significant rewrite.  Rick wasn't interested in doing that, and so I gave it a shot, but this guy was a complete flake and I eventually bailed once I realized it was never going anywhere.

5. According to Plan, Part Two. The feature got optioned again, this time by a real time producer in LA and we got paid actually real US dollars.  The catch: he wanted the second coming of "The Goonies" which meant another significant rewrite. But we were paid writers now, so we did what we were told.  I thought it turned out pretty well, but it never got produced and the option ran out.  So it's still available producers!

6. I had two other short film produced as student productions. Nothing to write home about. I wrote one short script called "Homecoming" which I wrote at my daughter's request because she thought it might help young filmmakers try their hand at making a short film, since it's set in one room with two actors and is pretty much all dialogue.  So far I've received 27 requests to be able to make the film.  The number of times made: 0.  At this point it's kind of a running joke.

I had numerous inquiries about other scripts -- I've never tried to sell a short film. I tell people if they want to make it, then make it. Just give me a writing credit and I retain the rights to the script.  maybe I should try to sell them instead.  If you have skin in the game, maybe you won't be so quick to abandon it.  

Sometimes I wonder why I even try.  


An utterly mediocre writer who somehow still falls bass ackwards into getting some of his scripts produced.
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Warren
Posted: July 9th, 2021, 10:59pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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Loving these, thanks for sharing, all.

Unbelievable how bad things can get out there, but also great hearing the success stories.

Anyone else got any to share?


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LC
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 1:41am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AnthonyCawood

...
7) Commissioned to write a feature script for an Indian producer, got paid, but was hoping that I'd finally crack my Written By on IMDB for a feature... looked like it was going to happen when I saw an early cut and my name was front an centre in the credits... fast forward a year and it shows up on UK Amazon Prime... except I'm not on the credits anymore... well not the opening ones... now I'm relegated to the end credits as Assistant Writer! I complained and the producer explained that they filmed a few scenes differently and that they'd had to get it translated from English... I pointed to our contract that guaranteed my credit and threatened to go to Producer Guild of India (to this day I don't know if there is such a thing)... it vanished from Amazon Prime the same day.

...


Not that there can only be one Indian Production Company enlisting /commissioning English speaking writers, but just curious, Ant...

Did these guys advertise as having an affiliation with/worked on Slumdog Millionaire?

Hubby was similarly hired and paid to write a Feature length script for some Indian Producers who claimed to have worked on some big productions, or maybe cousins of, who knows, but there were some notable credits.

They had many Producers however, with lots of opinions. Too many changing ideas. Hubby wrote a first draft, got paid, and then dropped them like a hot potato cause they could never reach a consensus.

Your experience just reminded me.  
At least they paid well.


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 2:30am Report to Moderator
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Hey Libby,

No, they didn't name drop anyone, and at least initially it seemed to go okay... but I think the guy who contacted me was essentially translating what I'd written and passing it off as something he'd written with me... he was always very coy when it came to the rest of the production team.

Given some of the awful narrative choices they made, the ones I advised against obviously, maybe it was for the best

But at least your hubby and I got paid!


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Lono
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 7:01am Report to Moderator
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I have never sold a script myself, but I have been contacted by someone here on SS wanting turn a script I wrote  into a podcast thing. It was sus so I never responded.

You have to be careful who you do business with in this industry. Lots of people love film and want to make movies, not all of them have the know-how.
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eldave1
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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A cathartic thread indeed.

On a macro level

I spent 30 years in government and one of my duties was purchasing and contracting for LA County.  So in that capacity, I got to see the government side of things, as well as exposure to a very wide range of private businesses (we pretty much bought everything).

To me, the filmmaking industry is the most dysfunctional one I have been associated with. People don't do basic things like return emails. They lie about credentials and project status and generally engage in practices that would get one fired in most industries. It's a bit like the wild west. Anything goes.

It also seems to me like writers are treated as the bottom rung. Directors and actors almost feel an obligation to change witten material but would have an aneurysm if a writer told them how to act or how to direct a specific scene in a film (with exception of course).

I love writers. I am not fond at all of the industry. It's like herding cats to get anything done.






  


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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jwent6688
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 3:19pm Report to Moderator
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I have a ton of Emails that have gone nowhere. Director's who've tried to fund films with kickstarters that didn't start.

Had really good working relationships with a couple directors in which we were in constant contact and if something need rewritten, they asked me to do it instead of taking it upon themselves.

Sad to see so many indie film makers mistreating writers. Most film makers in my area write and direct their own stuff and they shouldn't. They really, really, really need help on the writing front and should use tools like this site to find talent where they lack.

James


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khamanna
Posted: July 11th, 2021, 4:29pm Report to Moderator
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Wow, reading all of your stories and man, this industry sucks.

The weirdest for me was one Russian producer asking me for permission to adapt one of my stories but requesting to add in God first. He wanted the script to disprove darvinism and point that we are God's creatures.

It was a silly comedy sketch about two stupid screw ups, so I couldn't understand how and why he would ask me that
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eldave1
Posted: July 11th, 2021, 7:15pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from khamanna
Wow, reading all of your stories and man, this industry sucks.

The weirdest for me was one Russian producer asking me for permission to adapt one of my stories but requesting to add in God first. He wanted the script to disprove darvinism and point that we are God's creatures.

It was a silly comedy sketch about two stupid screw ups, so I couldn't understand how and why he would ask me that


They are an odd bunch.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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