When I was in high school, as I mentioned, I wrote my first screenplay. It was awful, it was dreadful, and honestly if it’s ever found I will disavow I ever dreamed up the thing.
But last night Missy and I finished a 14 year journey that started in January of 1999, well really, 15 years when we took a screenwriting workshop offered by Michael Hauge. He taught us the components and nuts and bolts of a screenplay. And we wrote many, many a bad screenplay. We even entered one of them into the prestigious Austin Film Festival. (It too, was bad). The one thing I learned how to do really well at that workshop was pitch. Now, not too brag, but I have sold many books on a pitch alone. But screenplays…not so much. And my prowess in the longer form was not exactly matched in the form of movie writing.
There have been many drafts and many opportunities to turn ‘You’re the Reason’ into the real deal. Missy and I decided we wanted to make a movie so we went to a filmmaking workshop. Where we learned a lot and knew how to do just enough to be dangerous.
The first draft of ‘You’re the Reason’ was written in 5 days. Crazy, insane and full of disagreements. But what we produced got us the most heat from Hollywood that we’d ever gotten. Lee Daniels and Zide/Perry both showed initial interest on the pitch. But even though ‘You’re the Reason’ had a lot of promise, and when Lee Daniels ‘passed’ twice in the same year, he gave us a call the second time and told us it wasn’t what they were looking for, but that we had talent and that we should keep working at it.
Since no one in Hollywood ever calls just to give you a pep talk Missy and I were excited about the progress. That was in the early 2000’s, right before Monster’s Ball and way before Precious.
We’ve rewritten the thing too many times to count. But most recently after we saw a Youtube video of Kevin Smith’s Burn In Hell speaking tour. He extols the virtues of Why Not? Write the book, make the movie, produce the play (by the way that’s another thing I want to do).
Missy came to me and pitched the idea of writing You’re the Reason now. We started writing in late March, the day after Kevin Smith started Clerks III. And we finished exactly one day after he did. Which means, well, me and Missy are always talking about signs and how things are meant to happen.
I never know how a screenplay is going to play to a reader. And to be honest I wrote City of the Damned(an adaptation of my series) with the idea that Missy would get a Michelle Phillips-like credit. Which she does. As someone who has seen me through two emotional breakdowns because of the bipolar disorder, and gone to bed hungry and woken up that way, it certainly wouldn’t do not to have her there for the good times as well.
That being said, ‘You’re the Reason’ is a joint venture, start to finish. We’ve entered both screenplays into Austin. And although I do believe these scripts truly do have the potential to win it all, the only thing I am sure of is they are good enough to advance. It just depends on who is reading them.
City of the Damned is also entered in the Fandom Fest/Fright Night Film Fest screenwriting competition. Fandom Fest is going to be a lot of work and I hope fun. With Missy there and other friends I’m sure it will be regardless of how the screenwriting competition turns out.