I’ve always been of the opinion that the ‘jet set’ (i.e., rich, young and impossibly gorgeous Eurotrash who party all year long on Capri) is a purely fictional construct, something concocted by evil media conglomerates in a perpetual attempt to make us consume our own weight in shiny knick-knacks. In reality, we all know the real jet set are merely overweight contestants on an Eamonn Holmes lottery gameshow, gallivanting round tourist hotspots and gawking at the exotic locals.
But enough of that. I saw this in the Writer’s Guild bulletin back in 2006:
COMPANY SEEKING WRITER AND SCREENPLAYS
Outsider Film Sales is currently seeking to commission a professional writer for a black comedy entitled Stitched. As the project is in the initial stages of development, this is an opportunity for the right writer to be creatively involved in the project from its inception.
For a brief synopsis of the project, contact Adam Sydney, head of development.
The company is also looking for fully developed, well-written scripts of any genre that are smart, surprising and have something truly original to say. Feel free to send a one-page synopsis and logline for your completed script in word to the email address listed above.
So, I sent a synopsis. Adam Sydney wrote back and requested the full script (from a different e-mail address – something called The Jet Set Film Company). Duly sent.
Ten days later I get this:
Thanks for sending your script. I have to say that I enjoyed it. I like your writing and the central premise was promising. While it doesn’t quite fit into our slate right now, I’d be glad to give some brief notes, if you’d like.
Yeah, OK. I can live with that. The notes Adam supplied were surprisingly lengthy and pretty insightful. He signed off with:
I hope these notes help and I would be interested in seeing your next draft if you’d like to send it along— or any other projects.
Great! In return I offered him a ropy old gangster script which he (rightly) ignored.
On 14th March 2007, I got this:
We are looking to commission a writer on a new project here and I thought it might be something that would work for you. It’s a black comedy/thriller, basically.
Yeah, love to have a look. Wing it over, please!
Three days later, this arrives:
Thanks for the interest. Please find attached a one-act-and-a-bit synopsis for Stitched. We commissioned a draft of it a while ago, but the script wasn’t working, so we pared it back to the elements we liked, leaving it open-ended. This way, the writer will have much more creative input right from the initial stages of the project. If it’s something that fires your imagination, please feel free to jot down a few notes on how you might see the story going.
Back to where we came in (remember the initial Writer’s Guild query?). Despite some initial doubts (more of which below), I cracked ahead with two synopses at breakneck speed, which I sent across to Adam.
A couple of weeks later, I get this:
I apologize for not getting back with you sooner regarding Stitched. As often seems to be the case, the project is taking a bit longer than I had hoped. That being said, I’m glad to say that your proposal has made it to the shortlist here, and my boss is presently going through those synopses. I hope to have an answer for you soon.
And the next day, this:
Sorry again about taking so long to get back with you regarding Stitched, but it's taken a lot longer than I was anticipating and we got quite a few more submissions than I'd expected.
My boss just finished going over everything. Although we've decided to go in a different direction, we really liked your take on the story... Moreover, the tone was pitch perfect. Very nice job.
I will definitely keep you in mind on anything else we've got going here; I hope you'll do the same if you have a project that you think might be a good fit.
Another dead end. That’s fine (you’re going to get them), and all round, no big deal. Adam was exceptionally quick in getting back, and that’s refreshing.
However, I sincerely hope that whoever wrote the original draft of Stitched (of which the first act and a bit was apparently salvageable) got well remunerated for their work. Although I enjoyed it, I felt a little uneasy writing around someone else’s synopsis – not because I didn’t feel capable, but because I was aware that this was someone else’s baby, someone else’s idea. Of course, everyone knows you can’t copyright ideas, and that movies are often weighted down with several writers (how many screenwriters did The Flintstones movie have attached to it? Seventeen or some such lunatic number? And to think, it only took one guy to write Ulysses). Film making is a collaborative process after all. But even so: this wasn't a re-write or even a polishing-up exercise, but a full scale slash and burn of someone else's concept.
Perhaps I shouldn’t care. After all, most writers would pimp their disabled grandmother for a chance to write for Doctor Who, so to ride roughshod over someone else’s idea/synopsis seems a relatively minor issue. Forget I even mentioned it.
Suffice to say, there’s nothing on the net concerning the Jet Set Film Company, so I can only assume that Stitched never saw the light of day. The only thing I can really find for Outsider Films Sales is here. Looking for that ever-elusive start up money by the look of things. Perhaps they need to keep playing the lottery!
As a postscript, a friend of a friend of mine used to play in a band called Stitched Back Foot Airman. But that’s not important right now.