Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Million Dollar Will

Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned that my horse finally won in respect to Will Bigham of Canyon, Texas, winning the reality television show "On the Lot"? Well, AFF afforded me an opportunity to chat with this unassuming guy. Yeah. Who'd have thought? And he sure doesn't walk around acting like he just got a million dollar development deal from Steven Spielberg. He's every bit as likable and humble in person as he projected on the program.

Even though Will wasn't in Austin as an AFF panelist (he was there for his love of film), I summoned up my inner journalist and asked him my question about screenwriting and whether "On the Lot" contestants were told upfront that the contest required writer/directors. Will had nothing negative to say about "On the Lot" but did confirm that it wasn't until contestants were well into the process that they realized the participants who had better writing skills had a clear advantage.

Will said he sent his initial application in to the competition and then was told to condense it. A month later he got a followup phone call that basically amounted to "we want you to film a three minute movie and you have one week from today -- go!" The only direction he got was that the film needed to be about something lost. At that point, he could have gotten anyone to write it so he collaborated with his wife.

Although he's quick to announce that he hasn't turned into Clay Aiken and can usually take his family out without being recognized , Will does say that shortly after he won "On the Lot" he was accused of being the last comic standing. In fact, few people at AFF actually recognized him and he was able to enjoy most of the festival in anonymity and peace.

Until he met me on the Driskill steps, that is.


millar prescott said...

It might be a bit late and only slightly on topic, but since you brought it up ...

I think part of the problem with OTL's poor ratings had to do with the prize. Not the amount, but what it was. The stakes were not immediately identifiable. For those of us not in the in the film industry a million dollar development deal is vague. I mean, at least with Survivor we know what the prize is. It's pretty straightforward and we can visualize it- a million dollars. We can identify with what it would mean to our lives. We've all dreamt about what we could with it, but a 'development deal'- what the hell is that? Nobody cared. What did he actually get? What was he fighting for? It might as well have been a bag of jelly beans.

I still don't know. Did he tell you?

MaryAn Batchellor said...

You make a valid point. "Development Deal" is industry language that doesn't make sense to everyone.

As I understand it, for the next two years Will has a paid job and an office with DreamWorks and ½ the prize is a development fund with which he can pay screenwriters and find a new project to work on for the studio. The idea is for him to direct a film with DreamWorks over the next two years. I doubt that money is meant to make the film, just get development started.