Monday, January 11, 2010

My first "Somebody in Hollywood is Mad at Me"

And my first gossipy post all in one!

Last summer I sent out a screenplay and it wound up getting a strong response.  Got a number of requests and then two offers came in fairly quickly.

The first offer was from a management company.  They were going to develop it with me then take it to various places where they had connections.  We talked on the phone and then scheduled to talk again down the line about the notes they had and so on.

A few days later a small producer also contacted me wanting to option it.  They had some connections with strong track records and laid out a pretty clear plan.

One of the unfortunate facts of life is that, at least for me, instead of having places come in wanting different scripts, I typically have 2-3 places come in all wanting the same script.  Concept is king.

I've grown nervous over the years about telling companies that other companies are interested in the same screenplay they are.  Some people are mellow about it and professional.  But some places act like this is some kind of personal insult to them.  I suspect they think I'm lying.  No places have ever gotten into a bidding war, so there's really no upside.

But I have to make a decision sooner or later and that means I need to tell everyone involved that I've got another offer and I'm trying to figure out which place I want go with.  The smaller producer just laid out their pitch.

Then I emailed the management company and waited.  A creative executive there got back to me right away, said congrats on the added interest, and said that the bosses would get back to me shortly.  Very professional on their part so I'm figuring this is fine. 

It's still a tense for me because I'm going to have to make a choice and that choice could very well make an over $100,000 difference in my and Jaru's life, not to mention future career prospects.

A couple days pass and management company boss still doesn't get back to me.  I send another email saying that I'll need to make a decision before too long and CE again re-assures me.

I am in fact wrong at this point in time.  I shouldn't tell anyone that I'm out of the market until my attorney has negotiated a contract we're happy with.  So, if I were wiser, I'd have realized I had more time to wait for a response.

But I'm not wise.  And apparently neither is management company boss because a couple more days pass and they still haven't even bothered to send off a couple line email suggesting their strategy.

So I end up going with the smaller producer and email the management co that I'm doing so.  Nobody at management company ever gets back to me.

Well, it's clear they're upset.  And I do feel a little bad because I think I could have given them more time.  But I also think that any professional could've zipped off a quick email in the course of five days.  This is business after all.

Fast forward to November and I've finished a new script that fits management company's profile so I figure I'll take a shot at querying them.  Boss gets back to me and tells me how angry they are that they devoted a bunch of time to thinking about the script then I yanked it out from under them.


At this point in the email I feel a little bad.  The boss screwed up but I think I screwed up a little too.

And if his email had stopped there, I would have walked away feeling a little guilty.  But he couldn't shut up.  He kept typing.  And he said that not only had I yanked this script out from under him, but that I had also cost him his favorite assistant -- the creative executive who had emailed me a couple times and who seemed to be pretty talented.

How the hell would some unknown screenwriter from New Jersey cost him his favorite assistant? 

This dude was so un-self-reflective that he didn't realize that in the second half of his email he just told me that he mishandled that scenario so bad that he made his favorite assistant mad enough to quit working for them, a pretty decently sized management company.

If he had just shut up, I never would have known.

Given all that, I'm not terribly upset that I didn't get to work with them.  But I do feel bad for the CE and hope he ended up in a better job.

2 comments:

Gazza said...

Yep, sounds like the boss was an asshole.

Unfortunately, such people are not uncommon. Like you, I don't deal well them. In a similar situation I would've done the same thing as you did - trying to push things along a bit faster than I _really_ had to, because hey, they're assholes and they're pissing me off. (Actually, now I think about it, I _was_ in a very similar situation, back when I was applying to grad schools, and ended up making a rather well-known philosopher - not at Rutgers - pretty mad at me.)

Mike said...

Sounds like it might make a good movie script itself! You could write one and send it to them. Sound good?