A few years ago my sister was working with this guy who (by her accounts) was always shooting his mouth off about his friends in Hollywood. My sister and her co-workers, as the story was told to me, found him annoying and assumed he was making it all up but had no real way to prove it one way or the other. Until my sister called him out on it by saying, “My brother wrote a screenplay, why don’t you give it to one of your connections?” A few weeks past and my sister and her colleges assumed their vindication (I never worked in an office so really don’t fully grasp how these things work, but it all seems pretty petty to me).
However, into my sister’s schadenfreude bliss one morning plopped screenplay coverage on Paramount Pictures letterhead. Now, this was either some elaborate effort by the co-worker to salvage his reputation as a self-styled man-about-Hollywood or he had actually passed it up the ladder through various connections to a reader at a major studio. My sister holds it was the former. I’m pretty sure it is the latter (or, “the ladder” depending on how closely you read that last sentence).
The coverage was pretty flattering (though whenever anyone says something nice about something you’ve written it is flattering). It was “good” without being “great”. While I was reading it, I was mentally quitting my job and leaving my wife for the bright lights of super-fame that is promised to any screenwriter. There were criticisms, and they were valid (especially with the perspective of time for me) and there were some nuanced points that the reader missed (s/he kept referring to my “boy name Sioux” as a “kid named Sioux” illustrating a profound lack of understanding of Johnny Cash and word-play) but over-all it was all very affirmative.
Right up until the last line…
“Because the dialogue in this screenplay is so clever, and because we like Pub quite a bit (unlike many movie criminals) this has a chance at independent production. But it doesn’t look like a big movie. NOT RECOMMENDED”
So basically what that meant to me was that I’d written a single that could maybe be stretched into a double but would never, ever be a home-run. That’s fine with me, there are very few “home-run” movies that I enjoy and I’d pretty much just written what I thought would be a movie I’d enjoy. Paramount Pictures and I were at cross-purposes and stayed that way. Until now.
Yesterday, imdb.com hit listed this story from indiewire.com about the fact that Paramount is now seeking micro-budgeted scripts (only in Hollywood and Washington would $100,000 be considered “micro-budget” but I digress). I don’t know how it’s going to work. Are they going to solicit agencies? Take blind queries? Or are they going to go back through the old files and re-read all the good scripts that weren’t “big” enough?
Either way, I’m going to quit my job and leave my wife, just to be ready.