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Today it's with great pleasure (because I loved the column he wrote for us) I bring you Patrick Lee, author of The Breach, Ghost Country, Deep Sky, and the upcoming Runner. (Released today!) Patrick lives in Michigan and told me that he currently divides his time between working on his next book, and shoveling his driveway.
Be sure to read Patrick's guest column and you can enter to win one of five advanced reading copies of his newest book, Runner. To enter send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the book club, Patrick Lee...
HOW TO FAIL AT FILM MAKING WHILE REALLY TRYING
In my early twenties I discovered several reliable ways to not get a movie made.
The first way (actually I discovered this one when I was sixteen) is to write a very, very crappy screenplay. Aim for the quality level of the 1980s cop-who-knows-martial-arts movies you grew up on, and devote about 90 percent of the text to specific descriptions of fight scenes. Include lots of spin kicks and elbow-breaks, and be sure to mention, yes, right in the script, that celery works well for the sound effect of snapping bones. Movie people love it when you assume they know literally nothing about making movies.
The second way is to write a script that people actually respond pretty well to, but which also mirrors the plot of a movie that's in production at the time, a fact you couldn't have known. In my case, the other movie in question was Blue Streak, starring Martin Lawrence. It came out in the summer of 1999. I learned of the existence of Blue Streak six months before that, when my agent took my script out to potential buyers, and nearly all of them passed because of the similarity. I say "nearly" because, miraculously, my script sold to a big studio a few days later. A week after that I was sitting in a production company office in Los Angeles, having the first creative meeting on the project. Everyone was happy and excited. There were lots of notes about what should be changed in the script. Somewhere amid all of it, I innocently said, "These changes will definitely help steer it away from Blue Streak." At which point a very important person in the room turned to me, his face going blank, and said, "What's Blue Streak?"
The third way: explosively vacate your bowels in the office of a very important person at a production company. I'm kidding. I didn't do this. It probably would be a useful way to not get a movie made, however.
The fourth way: write a script that, again, people seem to respond positively to. Make the action as real and intense as you can. Make the protagonist flawed, smart, desperate and morally complex...and female. Maybe things are better these days, but this was back in 2002 (saying that shouldn't make me feel old, but it does), and the very first note I got on this script was "Make her a guy." The reasoning went something like this: there is exactly one actress whose attachment to this script would get us a greenlight, and she's busy until pretty much the end of time. There are, on the other hand, about twenty male action stars that a studio would go forward with. Hearing this, I ranted like Howard Beale: "Maybe if we made a few more serious action movies with female leads, there WOULD be twenty actresses for roles like this. Anyone ever think of that?" Okay, no, actually I just nodded and changed her to a guy. The script is now stored in that warehouse we see at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Somewhere along the way I realized that writing books is much more up my alley than screenwriting. If it also turns out to be a better way to get movies made... oh the irony. --Patrick Lee
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
AUTHORBUZZ: CRIMSON TWILIGHT (Fiction) by Heather Graham
Jane Everett and Sloan Trent first meet during a wicked season of murder at an old theater in Arizona reminiscent of the Bird Cage. For this story I have chosen a castle in New England--there's just something about a castle... So many things can go wrong at a wedding. What with dresses, a wedding party, nervous brides, nervous grooms, bad caterers, and so on. But what could be worse than the minister--dead on the morning of the nuptials?
Go to: https://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on CRIMSON TWILIGHT to find out more about the book and the author, Heather Graham. Send her an email, she'd love to hear from you.