Yes, it was an interesting year. Filled with lots of work, a long stretch without work and that awful writer’s fear that they found you out and you’ll never work again. (Every writer knows this fear, get used to it.)
But overall it was a great year for rewrite assignments. Between January and July I had non-stop work. Assignments and Rewriting other people’s work is the bread and butter of most screenwriter’s lives. It pays the bills. Do I feel guilty sometimes taking another writer’s hard work and removing and replacing most of it? Yeah. I do sometimes. I know how it feels. It’s been done to me. But it’s also an everyday practice in this industry and as a screenwriter you need to understand it and live with it. Sad, but true.
Between July and December was the LONG Fall and Winter. Nothing. Nada. No paid work at all. My yard looked great though. My original feature was to have gone during this time, but circumstance and fate and… etc…etc…etc… stepped in. And voila, it was postponed. Another lesson for the anxious screenwriter out there. Nothing happens fast or on schedule, and steps backward are the norm. And... it often happens suddenly and without warning. I'm still hopeful about it though.
Lots of close calls for paid jobs this year, but I either lost them to other writers or the project stalled or dropped off the face of the earth. This is also normal. As a working writer you will read a LOT of scripts your manager sends you and you’ll take your notes on how to fix them and sometimes you’ll actually get to pitch your notes, sometimes not. Sometimes you get hired. OR they’ll ask your manager if you’d mind rewriting them on spec (FOR FREE) with money on the backside. (haha) And I will tell you, with total commitment, that writing for free is your choice of course, but something I do not recommend (or ever do) as it sets your price and worth to whoever is asking you. And it doesn’t pay bills. I’d rather write an original spec that I have an emotional connection with, than write for someone for free because 99% of the time it’s a colossal waste of time.
Ok. Enough of that.
2014 also brought the filming of Jeff Willis’ and my script, The Right Girl. An original non-romantic comedy we wrote that the production company turned into a romantic comedy after having us do 6 (six) paid rewrites.
I had some other films premiere on cable this year with my name on them as a writer, most that actually had words I wrote in them, one not so much. Screenwriters! Attention!! When you watch a film you worked your ass off on and NOTHING you wrote is in it at all but your name is still on it, just take the money, put it on your resume, and don’t tell anyone when it plays.
This year, I also sold a pitch ten months after I pitched it, forgetting completely what I said in the meeting and scrambling to figure out what I had specifically said, learning the BIG lesson that as a writer you need to take notes about anything you say in one of those meetings. Learn this, too. Don’t get that feeling in the pit of your stomach like I did when they were offering to BUY a script from an idea I couldn’t remember. It's turned out ok, because the script I ended up writing for them has been completely thrown out and they’re paying me to write a new one because I have a new development exec.
On a personal note, I lost my writing partner Bonnie the dog, a Golden who spent the better part of her 13 years on earth in my office with me while I wrote. There for love when I needed it and a dog smile whenever I looked. She was as close to the perfect dog as there ever was. I will miss her forever. This month also saw the arrival, six months after losing Bonnie, of Enzo the wonder dog. He’s small, fast, funny, and a bundle of love who, happily enough, lays at my feet while I write, just like the amazing Bonnie. He knows. Been here a week and he knows. He’s there now. You have no idea how comforting it is.
This year also saw my friends Gary Graham, Mike Maples, Eliza Lee, and Mike Le move forward on their passion projects. I couldn’t be happier for them. Getting a film made is as an impossible thing as there is, especially an original spec, but you see, some people are doing it giving all writers hope. Teaches you not to give up. It can happen.
And this year has given me so many new friends in the business I can’t count them all. Friends who I’ve had the pleasure to drink and eat with and get to know. Writers and actors who share the same goals and dreams. People who I wish nothing but success for. You know who you are.
Now on to 2015. Wow... 15 years since Y2K. So much has happened and not happened. Only God knows what’s in store in 2015. My feature, long delayed, is maybe going to go. I have at least two cable films scheduled to go, including the pitch I forgot. I’m up for at least a half a dozen paid jobs I haven’t heard from yet. I’ve been offered the opportunity to write the pilot of a limited cable series based on a film with development starting in January. And I still have a couple of optioned scripts out there that might become something, but maybe not. It's the film business. Many more die than live.
And I’ll continue to blog as long as I keep getting the great feedback and the great numbers of readers. Many thanks to everyone for the blog support. I’ve already got a topic for the first one of 2015 about one of my pet peeves (one of many) I see in spec scripts. May not be a rant, but it will be close.
So I bid adieu to 2014 with my best wishes to all. Keep writing. Don’t despair. If you write a great script, it will find a way. And I wish everyone a happy, healthy, lovely 2015 filled with all you hope for.