Free Talk by Disney Animation Pro

Living in Hawaii can be a disadvantage if you’re trying to break into Hollywood. However, we’re also lucky that Hollywood professionals love to come here to unwind, and on occasion, work. My first feature script option was a result of attending a University of Hawaii screenwriting workshop given by Michael Miner, who cowrote the original ROBOCOP movie.

This Weds., Feb. 24, you can attend a lecture at Kapiolani Community College by Bruce Morris, who has worked on big Disney animation projects. There’s a good Star-Bulletin article about him that you can check out if you’re interested in knowing more. Details on the free talk are at the bottom of this post.

It’s not impossible to get a major studio to read a screenplay or treatment from an unproduced writer. In fact, DreamWorks Animation read my family/adventure spec about the mythical little people of Hawaii, MENEHUNES and a treatment called PET LAB FREAKS. I didn’t have an agent or any connections there. I just wrote up a good pitch and used an e-query service that sent a mass email blast to producers, managers and agents. You can imagine my surprise when I got a reply from the DWA assistant, Ben Cawood, requesting the script.

Of course, I knew it was a longshot that anything would come of it. The reality is that companies like DreamWorks, Pixar and Disney all have projects lined up for the next decade or more — and most of them will be developed in-house. I’m guessing assistants like Ben just want to make sure they aren’t missing out on an undiscovered gem that a competitor might find before they do.

Ben eventually sent me an email saying he and the head of DWA, Kristine Belson, had read MENEHUNES and liked a lot of the elements but felt it was really more of a live action film. Do I really think the top person at DreamWorks Animation looked at my script? Nah. I think Ben says that so aspiring writers don’t bug him to give it to someone higher up the chain at DWA after he passes. I’d probably do the same if I was in his shoes.

He did leave the door open for me to submit other scripts or treatments, so I came up with a totally CGI story concept. PET LAB FREAKS is about a P. Diddyish mad scientist who wants to be a fashion designer, so he creates genetically-engineered designer pets for rich people. Problem is his lab “mistakes” have defects that would make them terrible pets… so he plans on killing them. Yikes!

A perky celeb’s assistant finds out about his plan to destroy the unique misfits, and rescues them — only to have the “Oki-Doki Pets” escape into the city of L.A. where their “defects” prove to be assets that allow them to survive, while the mad scientist and his goons try to recapture them.

Ben said Kristine Belson read that treatment too, but they were passing because there were other genetically-engineered pets/animal movies already in the CGI pipeline. Kristine got fired at DWA, but her movie HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (exec producer) is now being released.

Anyhow, if anyone’s interested, you can download and read my MENEHUNES (aka STINKY FEET AND THE SECRET OF MENEHUNE GULCH) script and PET LAB FREAKS treatment.

Stinky Feet (7.09)

PET LAB FREAKS (4.24)

And here’s info on the Bruce Morris lecture…

“What Is a Story?: The Art of Visual Storytelling”

» Place: Ohia Building Room 118, Kapiolani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Road

» Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

» Admission: Free

» Call: 735-3879

» Workshop: Morris also will lead a free storyboarding workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at KCC’s Koa Building room 102. Reservations required because of limited space. Call the above number

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