Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Never ask a Producer for Money"


"Never ask a producer for money," said the familiar voice, crackling down the line from London, "ask them for advice instead and then they will give you the money!"


The voice belonged to Saint my old friend of twenty plus years and partner in crime in the Film, TV and Web Series biz. Apart from that nugget of wisdom he had good news. We had submitted X3 ideas to Scott Free productions.  The first was a knock back. They liked "The Gatecrashers" (posh twats at a University reunion in the remote English countryside are terrorized by a gang of escaped criminals) but had to pass.   

"They were after a horror story for the slate..."



It was a bloody good thing that we had one, written by a new addition to our Axis of Entertainment, Aleister Crowley, a writer and ladies man who did stories with supernatural themes. He had been recommended to us by Flirty Pants a literary groupie (with nice legs and a firm ass) whom I had known in Bangkok.  Scott Free liked Aleister Crowley's unsettling story about demonic possession in the boondocks and wanted to see more (IE they wanted to see a script written on spec).  I got back to Crowley and told him to bash it up as soon as possible and then send it to Saint for a once over. 



"I can tell that the guy who wrote this is one sick fucker," chuckled Saint, "he has got liquid oozing out of pores, lice running out of hair, really gritty stuff, and some great scenes, some brilliant dialogue...the guy's a genius!"  


What can I say?  Don't deal with lemons.



Not content with one hit at Scott Free, Saint had gone back to the "slate details" and cooked up a horror story to order -- two white trash home invaders in Houston, the burglary capital of America (according to Saint's research) break into a rich African American family's home and manage to awaken a strange, malevolent, paranormal force.  Greavsie thought it was a non starter, but, like William Goldman said, "in Hollywood nobody knows anything". Saint sent it to Aaron Anderson at Scott Free and guess what, he loved it.  


"This will mean more jobs for the boys," said Saint, "once I have done the first draft I will send it to you for a gander."


It all left me, it must be said, in rather a triumphant mood.  



But this feeling of hubris was not to last. I had some other biz to attend to -- book bullshit with a new literary agent back home in Blighty.  My manuscript was 102,000 words long and he wanted it cut it down to 80,000 words. Going through the text, with a broadsword in one hand and a scalpel in the other, I killed the darlings and reduced it to 80,285 words. Then I spent 4 sweaty days writing a 1-2 page outline of the project and bio (omitting all of my true life personal details that read like wild lies), crossed my fingers and sent it off to him.


But the veteran booksmith had a bit of history with my family. And I was hoping that the sins of the father would not come back to haunt me, the idiot son. High on a mind-bending combination of booze, books and blondes, Dad had allegedly assaulted the venerable literary figure at a Punch magazine boat party in 1977  


"Your Father was off his head, on the rampage, I had never seen anything like it, he was punching people left, right and centre, me included! When I complained, he looked back over his shoulder and out of nowhere threw one of those huge glass ashtrays which hit me in the face and gave me a whopping black eye. When I returned home, my young daughter saw it and burst into tears."


No wonder he didn't have a literary agent for years. I called up the Old Man to ask about this disgraceful incident.  At first he denied that it ever happened.


"Who is this paltry little book salesman, who is he to slander me? Why, I've a good mind to set the Law on him!"


When the red mist cleared the Old Man was able to recall some details.


The late Miles Kington

"We were on this boat, it was a Silver Jubilee party on a pleasure cruiser going up and down the Thames. I was with Miss Jones (his hot, blonde girlfriend, 21 years his junior, shared same birthday as my Mother), she got tanked on all the free booze and started throwing glass ashtrays, she was trying to hit Miles Kington and this guy was in the way, kind of."


I asked the Old Man the awkward question, did he or did he not go on a Hulk style rampage?



"Perish the thought, dear boy," he cackled down the phone from wintry Somerset, "I leave the high jinks to crazy young blondes."     


And who am I to argue with the Old Man about that?  


"Is that all," he shouted, "I hope you haven't called me up to ask for money..."


"No," I replied, "I never ask a Father for money. I ask for advice instead."


More adventures in screenwriting can be found here