Few people have the relationship with their father that you typically see in the movies. Well, unless the movie is "Affliction." For people like us, this in-congruence can be painful. One of the great things about being an artist is that it gives us a way to deal with these feelings in a positive way. And if you're a writer, you can even rewrite history.
My latest completed script, called "Origin Story," deals with a father/son relationship and how anger and violence is passed down from generation to generation. While definitely not autobiographical, it includes a lot of details from my life, my father's, and my grandfather's (who I don't even remember), all in a fictional story with an optimistic ending. As a famous writer (whose name I can't remember) once said, writers tell the Truth by making up lies about people who don't exist. And it's my hope that when this movie gets made, it'll help others feel better about their less than perfect relationships with their parents -- and maybe even give them some hope.
When I was younger, naive, and more of a snob, I approached my screenwriting career in the following way: I wrote what I was passionate about and assumed that something would eventually get made. Whenever someone suggested "writing for the market," I thought of it as a waste of time. After all, if you're not passionate about what you're writing, that lack of passion will come across. Right?
Now that I'm much older and a bit wiser, I know that it's about one thing: getting a movie made. And the sad reality is a movie doesn't get made because the script is great, it gets made because it's what the financier is looking for. So here is my advice to screenwriters who are reading this: If you know a producer who owns a gorilla suit and wants to produce a monster movie featuring that suit, don't send him "Citizen Kane." Most likely, he'll say, "this is a great script. But where's the fucking gorilla?" So write something for your producer. Get your name on a movie. Then you can do something good.
For my first ever blog, I thought I'd talk a little about the business side of writing. One of the most frustrating parts of being a screenwriter (apart from the waiting) is the criticism. It seems like everyone believes they can improve your work. This can be especially sticky when it comes to representation. I've had my share of agents/managers, and although they technically work for the writer, it sure feels the other way around -- maybe because it's so hard to find representation! They do have the right to have some say about the writing since they're putting their reputation on the line every time they submit your material. But where does one draw the line? Do you throw out stuff you love to please your agent? Are you perhaps wrong about that thing you love?
A few years back, I went through a period where I didn't have representation and was having a Hell of time just getting read. A producer friend was nice enough to give one of my scripts to a manager she met. The manager emailed me that she liked my script, but had some criticisms. What were they? She didn't like the age or sex of the protagonist, nor did she like the beginning, middle and end of the script. She didn't offer to represent me, but I had the distinct feeling that she wanted me to rewrite and resubmit it. Although I was desperate for representation, I instinctively knew that this wouldn't be the manager for me. I thanked her and went on my way - thought not quite sure I made the right decision. A few months later, another manager came calling and I signed with him. I don't know if it's because he's from Europe or it's just his style, but he's more respectful of my work and my time. Is he too easy on me? Maybe. But at least I know that it's my work going out there!