Thursday, December 20, 2007

Take care of my baby

Who would YOU trust with your baby? If you had to give up your one and only newborn and hand her over to an adoption, who would you pick to take care of that child? To mold her and sculpt her to maturity? And remember--it will be HIS name your baby will be known by from then on, not yours. You'd be handing that child over body, mind, and soul.

I would PREFER to be the director of my script. But I know that it's not possible. Not even remotely so. Therefore I must brace myself for the reality that in the very unlikly situation of this script getting the life-infusing bestowment of serious studio money, another director will have to take my place. I'll have to hand my baby over to someone else. Forever.

Who would I trust?

There are just FOUR people on the face of this Earth I would trust with this precious creation of mine. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1) Ron Howard
2) Frank Peretti
3) Tom Shadyac
4) Stephen Spielberg

If any one of these guys were to contact me about my script, I would gladly go the table and strike a deal with them. AND (get this!) I'd be perfectly willing to surrender to them ALL aspects of creative control --because I KNOW none of these guys would make bad decisions in that respect. They'd all do just beautifully. Hit all the right notes. Find the right tone. And make my script absolutely sing.

Rewrite? You want me to do a rewrite? Sure Mr. Famous Director, sir! No problem! Tell me EXACTLY which scenes you want rewritten and I'll overhaul them to your specifications. YOU are the artist here, and YOU know what you want the end-product to look like. I have COMPLETE confidence in your vision.

Any one of these guys would do right by my baby. No question.


jasdye said...



those four?

not that i've written a screenplay recently or anything, but i doubt i'd trust any one of them at all. well, maybe spielberg (he has grown quite a bit since the eighties. and his post-9/11 movies - especially Munich - have once more endeared me to him).

different sensibilities, though, call for different directors.

Sheila West said...

Yes. These four guys.

1) Ron Howard - He has a pretty good track record of treating matters of faith with respect and diplomacy. He especially treats the Catholic faith with repsect (even in "The DaVinci Code"). I recall his polite and respectful regard of Catholicism in "Backdraft" and "Far and Away" and "Apollo 13." I don't know what the man's childhod religious beliefs were (I suspect he grew up Catholic, but I could be wrong), nor his current faith (rumor has it he's now a Scientologist), but it's important that ANYONE who tackles this script have a RESPECT for religion, not a lack of connection to it, nor (worse!) a disdain for it.

2) Frank Peretti Of course THIS man not only is a man of great faith, he also LITERALLY wrote the book on how to "do" angels in a way that portrays them as kick-butt military comandos (which is how the angels in my story are written--and yes I took a lot of clues from Peretti on how to "do" angels like that, so in a sense he is the grandfather of this script). I have read only a few of his books (five actually). And while I regret that I've never seen any of his films (he's a prolific filmmaker now), he has a life-long affinity for cinema. The style of his novels has been described by some critics as "annoyingly cinematic," so even though he's a phenomeal novelist, I can tell that deep down in his soul he's REALLY a filmmaker. While it is true that most of his books tend to be graphic novels without the graphics (very visual, very action-oriented, and very "comic book" in their tone and subject matter) I became a firm believer in his ability to be subtle and sophisticated and to be able to show restraint when I read the closing scene of the book Piercing the Darkness. The grand finale of that book was a confrontation between two namesless characters we had never seen before during the course of the whole story. The confronation took place out on a quiet lake where one man sat all alone in a small rowboat fishing, and then another rowboat with another man slowly paddled out to him. The fishing man tried to ignore the unwelcome intruder and just kept fishing. But the intruder quietly sat in his own boat and in a softspoken voice laid down his blackmail demands to the fishing man. The way Peretti described that one scene exhibited an extraordinary sense of restraint on Peretti's part, and a grasp of the sophistacted usage of silences and pauses to deepen moments of drama and to intesify the breahlessness of a conflict. A very very quiet and (as is typical for Peretti) very cinematic scene out on a lake, written with a gripping hush of silence and providing a mind-blowing revelation to the reader. Some would say that scene on the lake was anti-climactic. I say it was brilliant. And it shows Peretti has a very firm grasp of exactly when "less is more."

3) Tom Shadyac He did "Bruce Almighty." And the significance of THAT is that a) Jim Carrey is my targetted actor for playing the lead role of Galvin, and also, b) "Bruce Almighty" was the inspiration for a lot of what goes on in this story. If Shadyac can pull off a feat like BA, he can pull off my script also. It's important to realize that Shadyac is also a man of faith--specifically he is a profesing Christian. So he (like Perretti) has a grasp of religion and of the Christian view of spirituality, and he did a beautiful job having lots of fun with the Christian faith in BA. But it's important to realize that his ability to have fun with the Christian faith is heavilly predicated by his actually having a very firm grasp of that faith, as well as a loving repsect for its tennets. BA was a very funny film, but never a disrespectful film. Succesfully navigating between fun and repsect when tacling a film about faith takes both skill AND knowledge. So if he did my film I just KNOW he'd likewise have fun with the spiritual concepts I try to present in the story, he'd lovingly present the theological truths I tried to write about, and he'd probably also immensely improve upon them.

4) Stephen Spielberg What can I say? He's the master! He also has a decent grasp of spiritual concepts and a respect for them. And I know he'd have fun sinking his teeth into the Roswellian references in this story.

Mercurie said...

Well, I think if I wrote a screenplay I would probably select four different directors, but then I suspect any screenplay I would write would be more David Fincher than Ron Howard. Different genres, different directors.

Anyhow, I have to admit that handing over a screenplay I'd written would be difficult regardless of who was in the director's chair. For me at least, it would be difficult to relinquish something I put my heart and soul into.

Nicholas Borelli said...

I went in the opposite direction. First I wrote the novels, now I'm adapting them to the screen. I'm interested t know if the contest is your only avenue to getting your script produced. I haven't entered my scripts in a contest but I am querying agents. Are you taking that parallel path?

Sheila West said...

mercurie --

David Fincher is certainly a very cool director. But I fear he woulnd't know how to handle the theology of my script. To draw an analogy, I absolutely despise fish, yet I realize many people love it. And when I was nannying I was obligated to cook a fish-based meal once a week for the kiddies. All the other meals each week I enjoyed cooking and cooked quite well. But I have no clue what "good" fish is SUPPOSED to taste like. So whenever I cooked fish I was always only ever blindly guessing that I was cooking it correctly.

Now I was complimented by the kids and the mother on my cooking (and considering that the mother in that family had a degree in French culinary arts AND had her own catering business, I considerd that a very high complement indeed!). So it's not that I wasn't a good cook, I just lacked what it took to cook fish well.

As for Fincher, he is a GREAT director, but I have little faith in his ability to correctly grasp theology. I suspect he'd just be blindly guessing at it if he were to tackle my script.

I do have OTHER story ideas for scripts that I'm sure Fincher could do beautifully, but NOT my spiritual scripts.

Sheila West said...

nicholas borelli --

Hi and welcome.

I have been told again and again that trying to get a screenplay read in Hollywood is one of the hardest things going today. However, if you can reverse-engineer the script into a novel, and then get the novel published, Hollywood is usually more willing to consider a read.

My movie script is decidedly Christian in nature, and therefore the resulting novel will likely only be published by a Christian publishing house. As such I might find myself in the Walden Media neck of the woods when I land a publisher.

As fro you, I don't know what your book is about, but if you have BOTH a novel AND a screenplay all finshed, I'd like to recommend a Hollywood entertainment attorney for you. His name is Paul S. Levine. Google him and you'll find his web site. He has his e-mail address and even his phone number published there on the site. He WILL reply to you. He specializes in representing books-to-screenplays. If he likes your stuff he can get you read by someone. But he wants it to be BOTH a novel AND a screenplay, and BOTH must be completely finished. Send him a query and see what happens.

Good luck.

jasdye said...

ok, fair enough. you've definitely put some thought into it. and it's cool that we'd come up with completely different thoughts of how to operate on a cinematic level. (ftr, i've never read peretti's novels or seen his movies. not really my style. but he's gotta get some props from me).

switching frames: how about music? how about entering something into a blog-a-thon about music:
blog-a-thon. are you in? looking for posts on rocking album(s) by Christians.

hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas.

Mikel J. Wisler said...

Hello Sheila,

Good blog you have going here. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I know exactly what you mean about needing to find a way to break in. I would love to know why you say it is impossible for you to direct. I'm a filmmaker myself, and am currently working my way up in projects. I've directed several shorts, one with distribution now. It's a hard road, but we're living in an increasingly indie filmmaker friendly environment.

Either way, I am glad to see that you are working hard at gaining exposure. Have you had the opportunity to take screenwriting classes, study in LA, take filmmaking courses? It's all very helpful. I spent some time in LA going to the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

My best advice right now is to keep writing, have several scripts ready to go, and that way, should you catch someone's attention, you have multiple things to show them. That's often the mistake new filmmaker and screenwriters make, they get someone's attention with something but what everyone in the industry really wants to know is: what else do you have?

Well, I hope this is helpful. Be encouraged and keep working. These things take a lot of hard work and time. I've been making shorts for a few years now and just this past year landed a distribution deal, a grant, and has sold in Canada. I have high hopes that the short I have in post-production right now might get distribution too. So, keep working! Thank you again for reading my blog. I hope you continue to read and comment. I'll check back here to see how things are developing for you.

God bless,

Sheila West said...

Hi Jasdye,

My Christmas was great, thanks.

Blog-a-hon? Hmm-- I'll check it out.

Sheila West said...

Hi Mikel,

Welcome. And thanks for the compliments.

I can't direct for a lot of reasons. A lot that I won't get into here. What I need is a huge boatload of money so I can do what I want to do with no interference. This script is a minimum of $10 million if you want to do it RIGHT. And as soon as you start bringing in big name stars the budget will easily quintuple. But congratulations on your own efforts at producing and directing. I repsect that immensely.

I am almost 100% self-taught. Took a screenwriting workshop at a community center in Suffolk County New York. Never been to a real film school. Never worked on a pro shoot, but did do a video internship in high school at the local cable access.

I am hoping I can make semi-finals at Kairos with this script. Just hitting semi-finals is probably enough to shop my script around Hollywood with some clout.

I do have some other stuff (one of which I wrote last year and it quite sadly is almost the same as what the upcoming "Cloverfield" seems to be about).

I'l check back, Mikel. Thanks again.