Monday, August 5, 2013

Screenwriting: Breaking all the rules

Twenty years ago, I sort of stumbled into screenwriting, then embraced it in a big way. With writing partners, I wrote five feature-length scripts, one of which, SWIM FOR THE HORIZON, a family dramedy, was optioned to be a Movie of the Week. The deal fell apart, as such deals almost always do. This is a heartbreaker, this business. Someone said you have more of a chance of winning the Powerball.

I spent 15 years chasing the dream. I ran the DC screenwriting group for 10 years. I even wrote and then-co-produced a short that won a Telly and showed in NY and LA. Then I had to move to take care of my mother in Arizona.

A few years ago, I dreamed a script--the first night's dream was the High Concept--Law & Order but animated with animal cops, a wolf and a bee. The second night, in a dream, the title was suggested: PAW & ORDER.

I made some notes and put it away. A year ago, my mother, 95, left the planet.

Now, I have dragged out the notes---hmmm, not bad. Did I write this?

I fluffed up the notes into a 12-page sort of "pitch." No one does this. Against the rules. You need to pitch in person or write a 40-pp treatment or just use a two-sentence log line.

Also, I am way too old to be a screenwriter--and I am not a guy. Against the rules.

Oh, so what--what do I have to lose? My favorite phrase is "Nothing from nothing is nothing."

I also like the phrase: "Those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible."

I tried to get a hold of Dick Wolf, the Law & Order guy. I tried every phone number I could find. The Hollywood Creative Directory, I learned, is out of business. A friend turned me on to a weird site of agents and production companies compiled by a guy who was mad at all of them and feverishly kept his "hate" list up to date. Dick Wolf either did not get my two snail letters or hates me, who knows.

I found an email for William Morris Endeavour (WME), a big agency, and remembered an in-person contact we had in the Wayback. No response. Tried again. No response.

Put up a website--since I love websites. It's

I sent that to WME. They emailed. They even agreed to read my weird "pitch thing."

Their response--too edgy. Should I make it more boring?

But--and this is crucial--I can now go back to that agent if I generate interest on my own.

And a better class of rejections is always good. I think.

Want to find out what happens? Watch my blog site. I really need to write now--instead of chatter on. But I will check in there from time to time when I find a rule to break.

For now, my protags, Detective Ricardo Lupine and Sergeant Burt Buzzy, are clip art --clip art in search of Pixar, Disney, or maybe Netflix.