26 March 2010

The Idea-o-Tine: From the Headless Perspective

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

Yesterday's post, "The Idea-o-tine" was partially inspired by events that took place starting at 9AM yesterday morning.  Upon my normal news-checking, I came across a story, which I won't link to here, that said a fairly well-known writer was in the process of selling a script with a kick-ass concept.  Normally, I'm excited when I read stories like that, because I want to see movies like the one laid out in the article.

What I didn't want to see was THAT movie.  The movie that was more or less the same hook that my writing/producing partner Paul Klein and I had been so excited about when we first formed our partnership.  This was the script (Breathe) that I had, two weeks ago, spent churning out a first draft of during my self-imposed "First Draft Attack."

If you'll allow me a metaphor, the writer in question is more like the Beatles.  We're a pub band in Liverpool.  Barely.  And the Beatles just played our hook on Ed Sullivan.  Pretty much the same notes, different chords, and different lyrics, but the hook was largely the same.

Let me be clear - I'm not alleging any funny business went on here.  I'm not paranoid.  What I am calling it is an unfortunate confluence of circumstance and blind, raw, chance.  Also, I had no clue this script was being written - as I hadn't heard or read word one about it until yesterday.

After much anger, consternation, and disappointment, Paul and I reached a decision, and we thought it might be useful to share our thought process that lead to the eventual and heartbreaking decision to walk away; a story from the perspective of the headless in the basket - of an idea that was killed for us, that we were prepared to dedicate years of our lives to.

Firstly, since I only have a logline for the idea killer, I don't know how entirely similar it is to ours.  It was the hook, which was laid out in the logline that killed the idea.  The appeal of our script, and what made it exciting to us, was the hook.  Not only that, but our marketing ideas were kaput.

The characters may have been different, but again, I don't have enough information.  All I know is that the hook was there, and without the originality and excitement of the hook, we're sunk; pebbles in an ocean of boulders.

Secondly, because we set out with the goal of making this film ourselves, independently financing it, and distributing it, we would not be able to make the film for awhile.  At least in the way we saw it - which is a normal thing.  It would be a wonderful second or third film.  Not so much a first one, though through re-writes, our goal was to pare it down to the bare essentials, and make it doable for a highly reasonable budget.

We had some interest in selling the script, but then again, the hook is out there, and no longer fresh.  It basically killed our chances of selling.  Which of course, is no guarantee it would ever get made (or sell, for that matter).  It's more than likely that it would not get made if we sold it, so we were better off going off on our own and doing it ourselves, especially since I'm a huge proponent of axing the middle man and going all Wyatt Earp on the DIY self-distribution frontier.

But again, the hook is out, and it's been played by the Beatles.  And not only did it render the script semi-impotent, but decimated our marketing ideas (which as any filmmaker or creative in today's age with half a brain knows, is absolutely, positively, crucial to anything resembling success.)

With a combination of not enough info, just enough info, and realizing that Everest just got a whole lot taller, we made the tough decision:

Walk Away.

How did we arrive at this decision?

Well, admittedly, lots of rum and coffee (the heartbroken writer's cocktail of choice) helped assuage the pain, and bring a modicum of rationalization.

But, unlike the head so proudly held by the French guy in the photo above, we rolled on over, hopped up, and hooked ourselves back onto our old bodies.  Within two hours, we had laid our plans for another project, one that would fully embrace and put into practice what I've been preaching for so long.

It's ambitious, but it's more doable than Breathe (at this point).  It's totally different, yet within our range of writing preference.

And yep, we're still pissed off.  But as Stan put so well to Wendy and Token on South Park...

(image courtesy South Park Studios)

Moving on.

Tyler Weaver is a filmmaker, writer, contributor to the pulptone.com website, and is the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate... which you're reading right now.  He's currently making new things and yaks about that and more on Twitter under the creative guise of @tylerweaver.


kingisafink said...

Tyler, we can't even imagine how you feel, but it sounds like you and Paul made the right decision. Keep slogging away, dear friend. We're rooting for you!

Julie & Jess

Tyler Weaver said...

Always happy to have my favorite dynamic duo commenting!

It's been a rough couple of days, but both Paul and I are thrilled to have your support as we move forward on whatever we're moving forward on!


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