Posted tagged ‘InkTip’

Dirty Water Dogs and Stub-Nosed Monkeys

May 15, 2015

Although I haven’t been posting any updates about my screenwriting projects of late, it doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope or stopped putting my stuff out there. When you’ve been at it as long as I have, you build up a body of work. If the scripts you wrote were any good, they should stand the test of time. With experience and distance from the original inspiration or catalyst that motivated you to crank out the first drafts, revisiting old material can yield fresh insights that improve the story and writing itself.

Since my last blog entry about renewed interest in my Menehune family feature script, I’ve signed a 90-day shopping agreement with a producer who is working with a Chinese multimedia company that is making low budget films in the USA. He found my Amish horror spec, SNALLYGASTER, on the Jason Scoggins Spec Scout site (free listings) and liked it because he grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country, where my script is set. I used that producer’s interest to prod a small prodco to get back to me on my Muslim baby/doll murder mystery suspense script — and over the weekend, their director of development read it after he got back very good coverage from their readers. Now the doll script is also being shopped to distributors through the prodco. That lead came through the Inktip weekly e-newsletters (also free). And via another Inktip e-newsletter request for scripts, I got a producer request for a big budget sci-fi spec I cowrote.

I also continue to enter screenwriting contests while I’m still eligible — that is, I haven’t made enough from options or an outright sale to disqualify me. I’m in that lull stage where you have to wait… then wait some more for news. I don’t want to jinx anything by pestering the prodcos for updates, and cling to the hope that no news is a good sign that those projects are still in play. The benefit of being a more “experienced” writer (old guy) is I don’t lose sleep over it anymore. I get on with my life. Instead of thinking about my prospects of selling, I’m more reflective of my solitary place in the universe and how small we all are in the grand scheme of things.

The other day while jogging to the beach, I counted my blessings and my mind drifted to dirty water hotdogs in New York City, where I misspent a good portion of my 20s before escaping to my present home in Hawaii. In spite of the jokes about the dangers of scarfing down those boiled frankfurters plucked out of the battered, weathered street carts, there was something I liked about the consistency and taste of those onions simmered in a red sauce that to this day, I cannot identify. It was the ideal hangover food after a night of partying and heavy drinking would leave me with less than three bucks in my wallet. No matter where the hot dog cart was — Downtown, Upper West Side/East Side, the Village or Soho — they always tasted the same.

Back then though, I never stopped to think about it much: how immigrants brought these sausages to the New Land, and renamed them for Americans; or the newer immigrants who took over the hot dog carts and introduced other foods from their respective countries; what it took for them to get that beat-up cart; where they got the red sauce recipe from — or was it sold by the originator? So, after my jog, I showered and Googled hot dogs and the red onion sauce recipe. Found some interesting tidbits too!

Snub-nosed Monkey19The dirty water dog memory stirred up a more recent image I recalled from watching a PBS Nature show about an orphaned snub-nosed monkey I identified with. I wasn’t abandoned and left to fend for myself like that poor little monkey, yet my days as a young bachelor in NYC, longing for connection and love, often left me feeling painfully alone. Drinking and partying was part of my survival mode. I convinced myself I didn’t need anyone, or their approval. In some ways, you could say it toughened me up for the inevitable rejections I would later have to endure as a writer. But damn, at the end of that nature show, I was really pulling for that cute little snub-nosed creature to find a friend and reconnect with his missing mother. And I think about that young lonely man, dressed in his business suit with day old razor stubble, savoring a warm hot dog with red onions, with no clue as to what the future might hold for him. Selling a screenplay was the farthest thing from his mind.

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Amazon Studios, InkTip Updates

January 12, 2011

When it comes to waiting for script competition results, I’m a bit superstitious. I’ll try not to visit those websites or screenwriting message boards until I’ve gotten an email or call from the contest administrator. I even visualize myself receiving the “Congratulations!” message we all want to see in our inbox. So when I didn’t get any personal emails from Amazon Studios today in regards to the top 50 semifinalists selections, I presumed I didn’t make the cut.

But I had a smidgen of hope and thought perhaps they were a little behind in sending out individual notifications. I decided to check their site, scrolled down the page and spotted my LEGENDS OF THE MENEHUNE script among the 50 that are still in the running. I’m sure there were many good screenplays that were passed over or just missed, and it stings to see stuff listed that may not appeal to your tastes. Hey, it sucks… 50 people are happy (correction: 45, since one guy had five scripts make it; another had two), while over 2,000 writers are disappointed or downright pissed.

Truth be told, I thought my INUGAMI script had the better chance of advancing. However, MENEHUNE is a big budget studio type project, which is why I entered it. Agents and managers rarely will go out with that kind of spec from an unproduced writer, and when I saw that Warner Bros. was involved with the Amazon Studios venture, I figured it was worth a shot. Next week I’ll learn whether I’m one of the six finalists for the first two $20,000 screenwriting awards they’ll be handing out. Visualize, visualize

The “congrats” email arrived about a half hour later. As a semifinalist, I get my choice of an Amazon Studios t-shirt, cap or coffee mug. Of course, I’d rather be offered representation or a personal intro to a development exec at Warner Bros., but I’ll take what I can get for now. Here’s the link to the Amazon Studios home page and the Top 50 list.

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In my last blog entry, I wrote about my positive experiences with InkTip, where you can list your scripts for the consideration of industry professionals at a cost of $60 for six months. You post a logline, synopsis, upload your script, check off categories and budget ranges, which are then read by producers, agents and managers (if they’re interested, that is). As I said before, I think it’s a good venue for indie or lower budget projects — especially if you’re not having much luck with querying producers or managers directly. (Click here for InkTip link.)

One thing I do is Google anyone who shows up on my activity log as having read the synopsis or downloaded the script. Normally, I won’t contact them directly to follow-up, because they’ll call or email you if they like your stuff. Sometimes though I’ll read their IMDB credits or see they’re doing certain type films, and if I think they’d be a really good fit for a script of mine, I’ll send them an email. That’s how I found out a producer actually loved my script — but felt it was out of their budget range, so they hadn’t contacted me. Had I not followed up, that would have been the end of it.

We got to talking about the possibility of them partnering with one of the other prodcos that had shown interest in the same script, and when I contacted those producers, a funny thing happened: now that one producer was serious about ponying up at least $600K, three other small companies have said they might want to partner on the movie. Which created an unexpected problem. The first prodco isn’t so sure they want to bring in another partner since they might have to give up control of the project. I’m waiting to hear from the $600K producer/director, who has lots of TV/movie experience, to see if he thinks they really can do it solo. I’d have to rewrite the script though to lower the budget, so that would be another hurdle to clear.

Meanwhile, I’m going to visualize myself getting the “Congratulations, You’re a Finalist!” email from Amazon next Monday, and imagine a happy outcome for the DOLL project. I’d like to be one of the InkTip success stories you hear about… as a matter of fact, I know a writer who got his big break through InkTip, and I’ll share more on that in the future.

So, do any of you “visualize” success when it comes to your writing projects? Any superstitions regarding writing or contests?