Friday, October 21, 2005
If, as an aspiring screenwriter, you've not yet been on the Bowfinger-go-round, then you are both in luck and out of it. Succumbing to the bluff, sale, or pitch of the wannabe indy must be a right of passage for newbie screenwriters. If you have not seen Bowfinger, stop reading this blog right now, get in your car and drive to the nearest Blockbuster or Walmart and get your hands on the DVD. I'll wait while you rent or buy and then watch this version of "This is Your Life, You Gullible Undiscovered Writer".
...waiting... waiting...cue theme to Jeapardy. Be right back. Gonna go cook some Jiffy Pop. Yeah, they still sell it.
Okay, finished watching the movie? It's more accurate than you may think. Somebody reads your work. He likes it. No, he loves it and is convinced that this is the project he needs to launch himself as an independent producer. He has no financing and no ability to distribute or green light a film. What he has, like us wannabe screenwriters, is high hopes. He believes that with the right material and a lot of elbow grease, he can generate the interest of somebody who knows somebody who has money. Or, he knows somebody who knows somebody who knows a star that may want to attach himself to your film. Ahem. Sure..
Just like Bowfinger, the wannabe indy producer you encounter probably has honorable motives. He believes in your script or his own ability to get it made. But the reality is it won't get made and nothing will come of this ride. The good news is, you only get sick and throw up the first few times you're on this ride. So, here is my top ten list of indicators that your producer is probably Bowfinger:
(1) He calls you collect.
(2) He knows a billionaire who is peeing in his pants to support a project just like yours but he can't tell you the billionaire's name for security reasons.
(3) He starts his discussion of your project by insulting writers who care more about an option fee and making a sale than getting the project made.
(4) He makes a conference call appointment with you but when you call him, you get an answering machine with multiple corporation names.
(5) He suddenly has to go to the bathroom when you offer him your agent's phone number.
(6) His copier is broken so he asks you to mail him additional copies of your screenplay.
(7) He gives you a stack of his own return address labels and a list of people to send your screenplay to.
(8) He mispronounces and/or misspells the names of his move star and director friends.
(9) His attorney keeps forgetting to send you the option agreement.
(10) His secretary's voice sounds just like his and his attorney's voice sounds just like his secretary.
The irony about the Bowfinger-Go-Round is that you have the ability at any point to say, "Stop this ride, I want to get off." But you won't. And, if you've haven't been on the ride yet, go ahead and prepare by stocking up on Dramamine. Remember that like any ride, some of the time you'll say "That was the worst ride of my life" and other times you'll say "That was awesome! Let's do it again!"