Taking Control – The Moment I Stopped Trying to be a Screenwriter and Became A Producer

Taking Control – The Moment I Stopped Trying to be a Screenwriter and Became A Producer

It’s my anniversary.

No, not that kind (though that one is coming up soon, too). This month marks one year since I made one of the most pivotal decisions of my screenwriting career:

The day I stopped waiting for Hollywood’s stamp of approval and decided to make my film myself.

That significant decision—like so many in life—came about through a moment of deep despair. I had been working with a development executive to perfect one of my pilots for a TV project with a well-known actor. I’d paid for a session with him, and he spent extra time with me to explain that my concept was exactly what this actor was looking for. His notes and recommendations led me to believe that I had a real shot at getting some serious attention (if not optioned!) for this concept.

I spent two months carefully writing and re-writing that script. I worked out a full season’s bible (a concept breakdown with subsequent episodes outlined). I hired a script consultant to review my drafts to make sure they were on point. At last, I felt the story lock into place. I knew it was the best things I’d ever written, that it was fun and fast-paced and fresh. It was ready and so was I.

I sent it back to the development executive with a sense of excitement and anticipation. I knew it might take some time for him to review it, to discuss it with his superiors and ultimately with the actor he worked for. I was prepared to let the project gestate, feeling certain that no matter what happened, this was the beginning of a relationship and career that would grow and prosper.

Imagine my surprise when two days later the script came back without notes, without comment, without any indication that it had even been read. Instead, in a terse email, I was told that, “the actor’s development slate is full.”

I was crushed.

It would have been a different feeling if I’d simply been told that it wasn’t good enough. That I’d missed the mark. But the dismissiveness of the reply angered me to the point that I made a decision:

NEVER AGAIN.

Never again would I put myself in a situation where my hopes would be exploited. I was no longer going to invest so much energy into achieving other people’s acceptance of my work. And never again would I depend so heavily on someone else’s validation to see my words come to life.

There had to be another way. But I had no idea how. I’m in my fifties. I have a husband and a family. I don’t live in NYC or LA. I’m not a trust fund baby with millions of dollars to invest.

At yet, somehow, it’s happening.

Stay tuned for the juicy details of the process!

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