The Page One Rewrite
In the field of creative writing, very few people do it for themselves. I personally don’t know a single writer who hermits all their work up and hides it, only to have it found by their next of kin upon their death, however untimely it ends up being. And, if you’re a writer too, you can pretty much expect an untimely death…occupational hazard and all. So you’re a writer like I am, and you’re good at what you do. Damn good, in fact. And good for you, dammit.
You’ve got your hard work that you want to share with the world. The very world that may not exactly (or, at all) get what your work is all about: be it a book of sonnets, an angry manifesto, or a pile of unproduced screenplays. Since I’ve mainly focused my writing career on the latter of those three writing instances, that’s what I’m going to talk about here. Screenwriting is a type of writing that rarely pays off, if ever at all. It doesn’t come easy, and it certainly isn’t a stupid blog on WordPress.
I’ve mentioned a few times about the bus drivers script that I wrote, which was based on a friend of mine who I came to know as he employed me to get what he had in his head onto correctly-formatted blank pages a la Final Draft. I recently read through this script again, and more than a year after it was finished (on the 118th draft amid a few subsequent polishings), that prevalent voice of doubt crept into my frontal lobe and told me to take the script and blow it all up. And it frightened me.
I’m very proud of the script. It was a real work of toil, dozens of meetings, years of combined study and creative endeavor, all bookended by 96 pages of filled-in white paper that contain what my writing partner and I believe to be the single-funniest comedy script of the last decade. But it hasn’t sold yet.
You see, it hasn’t sold yet.
And IT HASN’T SOLD YET.
We believe it should have. So this masochistic voice that came into prevalence once again tells me to junk the lot of it, and do a rewrite from the very beginning. A PAGE ONE REWRITE. Something that a screenwriter never really wants to ever do, unless there are boffo dollars and a dude writing you a fat check for those boffo dollars near the script that is about to be exploded. As it stands, there isn’t that dude nor said boffo dollars. So I doubt the doubter. That masochistic voice of my id, however it got free.
The way I look at it, the script itself is a solid B+ of a feature-film that could be produced for a three to four million dollars, distributed by a company like Fox Searchlight, Samuel Goldwyn Films, or Summit (amazing run they’re having the last few years, yeah?), and play to 1,000 to 1,500 theaters with a budget multiplier of four or five. Now, that of course is an excellent-case scenario, and there are thousands of screenwriters out there who also feel they have this kind of script. It’s an illustration being drawn here because I and my writing partner believe in it that much. Plus, we want to see it produced and eventually repeated on basic cable on Saturday afternoon for the next 20 years.
Know why I shared this? Because I don’t have a studio gig because my script hasn’t sold yet. And when writers don’t sell their work when they want, they extrapolate their career desires on stupid blogs such as this. Could the script be picked apart and blown up ultimately? Sure it could. Will I? I don’t see it happening. But if it means a meeting with a studio with boffo dollars writing fat checks worth those boffo dollars, I won’t think twice about it.