Thursday, May 21, 2009

I should have said 'Titanic' crossed with 'High School Musical'

Here's a thing I have to sort out: I've been writing a couple of spec film treatments lately (which is to say, nobody asked me to write them, I was just footling around with some ideas, which turned into something quite filmy). Which is fine, but the minute you start passing them on to producers, you get asked the same question:

Q: So what sort of budget is this?

And apparently, the following answers are unacceptable:

1. I don't know, you work it out. Don't you have people for this?
2. Somewhere between a hundred thousand, and eighty million pounds.
3. I know, let's make up a number, then add another million and split that extra bit between us *wink wink*.
4. Does it matter? It'll never get made anyway, I just want some cash for doing the typing.
5. *rolls twelve sided dice* Nine! Is that too high? I can roll it again. One. Dammit! Best of three?

All of which reminds me of something I may have mentioned before, but it stands repeating. I had a meeting with a producer from quite a well-known British film production company (which narrows it down to two).

We talked about my concept for a while, but it became apparent the producer wasn't going to be happy until I'd described it in terms he could understand. As in 'It's Film A crossed with Film B'.

ME: Fine, it's like 'Unbreakable' crossed with 'Labyrinth'.

The producer's eyes light up, he goes to his computer, goes to and types in each film in turn, then goes to 'Box Office Figures'. He then swivels the screen round so I can see it.

ME: No?
ME: Fair enough.


Newf said...

Ew. So it's all about pennies and ting. I wonder if they like the industry they're working in - maybe they could be a chef or an architect. That makes money too.

Also, Unbreakable crossed with Labyrinth? I'll make it. I have a camera phone. A la Flight of the Conchords.

Neil said...

It's a tough business it seems. Let's see, my new idea would be.....Punisher War Zone crossed with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So basically, loved by a few, very expensive. Good stuff

Tim Clague said...

Sad, but true.

It's like comedy crossed with tragedy dude!

Robin Eveleigh said...

Hi - twas a great series on outlines, hugely enlightening.

I wondered what the protocol is on shopping show proposals around: do you adopt a scattergun approach and sling 'em out to a few prod cos who you think might be interested? Or send them one at a time waiting, waiting, waiting, for a yay or nay until moving on to the next?

james henry said...

Thanks Robin. I tend to give each production company a couple of weeks before sending an outline on to the next person, but if they show an interest, I'm happy to delay it a bit longer, if necessary. However I just pass them on to execs I know, which means a shorter waiting time - they're usually quite quick to say yeah or nah, which is handy. Or sometimes they'll be one element in it they like, so I can maybe go and rework it, or see if there's anything else in my 'poorly thought out, one paragraph concept' folder that has the germ of an idea that might suit.

At the same time, my agent will usually be passing the same concepts on to different production companies (I suspect a few at a time), but that has a much lower response rate, basically because the people there don't know my writing, so don't have any more than the outline to go on.

Newf said...

(By the way, James, forget that last Charlie-Brooker-on-TV-ideas vid I gave you --- try 8 seconds into this one: )

james henry said...


Belladona said...

They're missing out, I would pay good money to see such a film. What's not to like?

Fat Roland said...

The best shot in Labyrinth is David Bowie's crotch close-up.