Friday, 10 August 2007

Anonymous in Toronto

Another episode from the “spec script sending out and waiting for something to happen” pile (gotta find a better way of expressing that at some point).

Back in September 2006, I sent a speculative email to a guy (let’s call him Jim) at Company X (I’m obstructed from saying any more due to confidentiality). Wanna read a couple of scripts, mate? Go on, go on, go on (RIP Father Ted).

The next day (5th September), Jim replies. Trousers, that was quick! OK, he said, send me a couple of hard copies.

On 11th September, Jim replies – he’s read them both. Good gravy, this guy is quicker than Superman on Ex-Lax! He states that he wants to send both scripts to his executive producer, who was en route to Toronto. Can I send him PDFs of both scripts and a short biography?

Send scripts in pdf format – no problem. As for a short biography – oh, Christ, I hate things like this. I was always taught that it was vulgar to talk about oneself, so compiling a CV is a complete nightmare for me. I know, I know, the whole point about this type of thing is that you should puff yourself up and bang your chest and get very excited about your ‘passion’ for scriptwriting and all suchlike related endeavours (then take a deep breath and relax). So I tell Jim what I do for a living in the hope that it will intimidate him enough so he doesn’t need to ask for another biography.

14th September, and things are moving apace:

Thanks for these… I’ve forwarded them to Toronto.

Wow. Toronto. I wonder what they’re doing over there?

A long silence follows. To Jim’s credit, I hassle him a few times and he always gets back promptly.

The scripts are in Canada.... you will have to forgive the time, but it’s ‘the process’.

Okay. ‘The Process’. In Toronto. Sounds mysterious, as if my poor scripts are being subjected to some weird Cronenbergian mind probe (either that, or Jim’s quoting the title of some Hollywood high concept piece o’ crap at me).

This arrives on 2nd January 2007 (Happy New Year by the way):

I don’t think your scripts are up to scratch... they’ll need a lot of work to get to a point where we can actively get sales potential involved. They lack structure which is not insurmountable, but they will need you to do some independent research. If you can provide us with script reports (independent reports), then we can, from a sales perspective look at them further.

Crikey! ‘Not up to scratch’, ‘no structure’. Everything’s gone pear shaped in the space of two lines (what happened in Toronto to my poor defenceless scripts?). OK, I can handle this. I e-mail Jim back and say sure, independent script reports are not a problem (I can imagine an unruly queue of script consultants forming round the block as I type), but surely you’d have some idea of how marketable you feel these scripts are, and whether or not they are likely to attract funding?

I get a reply the same day (I told you he works fast – you slackers over at Marchmont, take note):

…I cannot try to raise private equity funding from any of my collective of investors until a global sales deal is in place on a project. If and when that sales deal is in place, then I can bring the project to my personal financiers / private bankers. But to get it to this stage, any script consultancy report will help greatly, since if they are reputable, then they will have sales potential in mind.

Let me know if you’d be interested in getting some reports (for both if possible) and we can take it from there.

Jim then goes on to detail a huge list of requirements that he would need from me in order to ‘take things further’ – none of them are insurmountable, but all require a good degree of work, script reports notwithstanding.

Righty ho! I email Jim back to tell him that if he’s interested, all this might take a while. OK, he says, no hurry. A couple of re-writes later and I’m considering sending both scripts out for ‘professional’ coverage and then back to Jim to see if the initial interest is still there.

However, do script consultants really do this?

…any script consultancy report will help greatly, since if they are reputable, then they will have sales potential in mind…

Coverage I’ve received before refuses to comment on the ‘subjective’ concept of marketability (in that case I propose that structure is subjective as well J). Some of the ScriptShark coverage I’ve seen does briefly touch on marketability, but this entirely revolves around a script’s suitability within the current market – i.e., if you’ve written a time travel drama about the French revolution, chances are that ScriptShark will put the boot in (“A script featuring Marie Antoinette and her cyborg sidekick is unlikely to find funding in the current climate”). Then again, who knows? It’s all a lottery, right? (and bearing in mind some of the godawful British films that have been produced with lottery money, that’s absolutely true). That said, I’ve never gone as far as getting someone like the Script Factory to provide any of my scripts with feedback, which is probably something I should do, and pretty pronto.

At the very least, Jim sounds like a good man to know if you need someone to get the drinks in (he has his own coterie of personal financiers, no less).


Sheikspear said...

Just discovered your blog via Lucy's one, & liked your style & info, so thought I'd say "Hi!"

Good luck with Toronto, and thanks for the production company list to add to Danny's Stack (geddit?)...

... but as for the "Stitched" saga, methinks there could be a possibile clue in the title and somehow it was going to lead up to "if you could send $10k to aid development costs we can start filming one year..."

Or maybe they did just run out of steam ...dunno



Chip Smith said...

Howdy S, thanks for stopping by!

Yes, I had the same suspicions about 'Stitched' - at any moment now, I thought, they're going to ask for a handout (which is cool, as the only things in my wallet at the moment is credit card that doesn't work and a ten euro note!).

To be fair though, it did appear as if they were angling for funding from 'business angels', and the team they had on board looked fairly decent. Ah well, another dead end - you get used to 'em.

Stay tuned for more lists like the prodco one - I have an agent list I'm currently preparing, but i have to cut down on the swear words before I post it ;-)