I’m sorry guys. Totally dropped off the radar. For all those concerned parties, no, I’m not dead, I haven’t joined a hippie- commune on Hornby Island, nor have I been recruited by the CIA (sigh)
After a brief hiatus from the frustrations of the real world, I returned with a brand new twofold plan:
1. to escape the soul-dimming monotony of my service industry day-job
2. to focus my professional aspiration in one intelligent direction instead of spreading myself so thin.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Now, I spend upwards of 50 hours-a-week installing exterior siding on new homes atop Bear Mountain. And my professional writing efforts have been focused solely on the Collingwood connection in Vancouver. A rewrite contract seems to be in the works for the near future and we’re still negotiating my contract for their eventual plans with ‘LUCIDITY’.
So, all said and done, the flurries have subsided, the snow is thick and I’m making tracks.
And I promise to remain visible.
BLIP… BLIP… BLIP…
I suppose it depends on how you look at the picture.
There have been some interesting (albeit unprecedented) developments recently — eternal reminders of just how fickle a maiden this industry is.
Collingwood Management want to put ‘LUCIDITY’ on hold because a new project has come along that has money attached to it already. The good news is that they are interested in hiring me for a rewrite, which would mean a fairly big paycheque.
Paycheques are good.
Chris Tougas seems to have made some headway campaigning for ‘DYNAMO’. Several more State-side producers have agreed to read the script and we’re still awaiting word from Robert Lawrence. Of course, his inbox is probably the largest, and by that rationale, the most likely to take forever to wade through. Patience, I’ve heard, is a virtue.
And nothing yet from Alliance Atlantis or any of their subsidiaries.
This is how things stand as I prepare for a peaceful week-long vacation camping on Hornby Island with my fiancee and inlaws. And you know what?
I need it.
Talk to you all when I get back.
That’s the healthiest way of looking at it. But an unprecedented lower finish than ‘LUCIDITY’ has left me wondering if I underestimated my ’05 attempt at a psychological thriller. After all, that’s the script-on-the-move right now (deal pending with Collingwood Management, I anticipate beginning re-writes this month).
Of course, I’m planning on a revision fly-by on ‘DYNAMO’ while the iron’s still hot. The numbers indicate that there’s room for improvement. On top of that, I’m also two weeks-deep in to fact-finding for my next project…
So, rewrites, revisions and research will be the obvious priorities for the rest of the summer. And we’ll see if Chris Tougas comes through with a lead on ‘DYNAMO’ before Dylan Collingwood comes through with a budget for ‘LUCIDITY’, right?
Right. That’s the spirit.
Time, they say, is the great equalizer. And now, panting and sweating, I watch the dust settle as my various efforts begin the necessary (albeit excrutiating) gestation period.
This is where the crocodile-skin ego comes in handy as the inevitable false-leads, brush-offs, empty promises and outright rejections begin to appear. This is also, however, when the good stuff really starts.
I’m expecting a letter any day from the Academy in regards to the Nicholl Fellowship Competition informing me of whether or not I’ve made the quarter-finals. And yes, I’ve been checking my mailbox three times-a-day.
I’m waiting for Collingwood’s lawyer to return from summer vacation so we can get the ‘LUCIDITY’ deal signed. I’m presuming re-writes will commence shortly thereafter.
No news from the heavy-hitters south of the border as yet, but they’re on their clock, not mine. That’ll change if ‘DYNAMO’ manages a quarter-final berth in the Nicholls, though.
The various other leads I’ve been chasing so far this summer all seem to be culminating in pitches, development meetings, readings and such, all as likely to put me on the map as not. Yet, despite the fact that I’ve currently done all I can do with both scripts, there remains the uncontrollable element, the bitter variable of good or bad luck, which, for all my hard-work and savvy can leave me feeling quite helpless. The cure?
There is non. I’m just the writer. The writer struggling to befriend the beast that could lift me on its shoulders just as easily as it could rip me in half like a phonebook. This is where the men are separated from the boys, the amateurs from the pros.
This is were I keep writing.
My non-business email address is firstname.lastname@example.org to remind me.
On that note, I’m happy to announce that I’ve begun research on a new project. Until I’ve finished and registered a first draft, I’m afraid it’s going to remain under wraps, but I feel very excited about the project. Like ‘DYNAMO’, it’s a true story set against the backdrop of WWII (one that’s actually been told as both a book and a film years ago, but is ready for a fresh, contemporary re-telling)
I wanted to follow ‘DYNAMO’ with another ‘big’ story (time, space and emotional bredth covered). Not only for academic reasons, but commercial as well. If ‘DYNAMO’ takes off the way it’s looking like it might, it would be somewhat anti-climactic to follow it up with a character-driven indie piece or an edgy dark-comedy. It’s going to be a tough act to follow. Also, I realized that it was my passion for ‘DYNAMO’ as a story that fueled/motivated me to write at what I felt was the top of my game. I feel the same pride and possesion over this new piece, a story that has inspired me for years about a man whom I’ve idolized since I was a child. Curious? Good. Hang onto that. I’m a week-deep into research. ‘FADE IN:’ is around the corner.
And ‘DYNAMO’ will not be a one-hit-wonder.
Meanwhile, Nicholl’s results are in any day.
Some good news first.
After much careful consideration, I’ve decided to sign a deal with Collingwood Management. I’m getting more for a one-year option than initially was discussed and they’re purchasing the script for higher-than-market Canadian price. It would be unprofessional to divulge exactly how much the deal is for (but suffice it to say, one could comfortably buy an SUV with it). I’m being kept on board for the first rewrite at a deferred scale wage and being given the opportunity to earn my first production credit. And, despite the deferrment, I’ll be written in to get paid first.
A lot of firsts, I know.
But then again, this is my first script. This will be my first sale.
I’m excited by the enthusiasm Dylan Collingwood and Kimani Smith have displayed. At this point, I feel confident that the production budget is attainable and the players involved are here to play.
Several things have been happening in cadence with this. Last week, my music producer friend, Gus Verstraten, approached me at work and informed me that a friend of his wife, Marie’s was a producer. A Mr.James Shavick. I’m not sure if ‘DYNAMO’ will be down his alley, as the only two projects he’s produced that I recognized were a Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel and ‘BREAKER HIGH’. That being said, he may be able to provide a good referral. One thing I’ve learnt is to show the same amount of respect whether I’m dealing with an A-lister or someone I have to Google. The fact is, they’re all on the other side of the door that I’m trying to pry open.
The most exciting aspect of the connection with Gus is a musical one. He and my Dad, Pete Petley (an extremely gifted and fairly renown guitarist) have been streamlining their respective vocations toward a tentative foray into the world of motion picture soundtrack scoring. Having read ‘LUCIDITY’, they’ve been composing several pieces with the script in mind. I’ve piqued the interest of the guys in Vancouver, so maybe we’ll find a little creative synchronicity.
So, capping off, this is how the big picture looks to date:
-Collingwood’s lawyer is drafting up a deal that will put ‘LUCICITY’ into pre-production as soon as a budget is met.
-In two weeks, ‘DYNAMO’ either makes or doesn’t make the cut in the next round of the Nicholls Fellowship Competition.
-I’m awaiting word from producer Robert Lawrence to see if he wants to move forward with ‘DYNAMO’. See if he passes it on to Spielberg. In the meantime…
-Jenna Zuzchlag at The History Channel is pitching ‘DYNAMO’ to her execs next month.
-I’m awaiting word from the Alliance Atlantis Producer Submission Site in regards to the same.
-Zach Feldburg at Showcase is waiting for me to fax signed release forms so he can pitch ‘DYNAMO’ to his people.
-Producer James Shavick is currently reading the script.
-Additionally, a hard-copy is currently en route to London to be entered into the BBC Writers Room drafting process.
-Pete Petley and Gus Verstraten are composing/producing pieces that could potentially be used to score ‘LUCIDITY’
-The Vice-President of National Geographic Kids is currently reading the treatment for ‘DOWN UNDER.
I’m thinking all bets might soon be in…
I received an email from an associate producer at Alliance Atlantis today. Attached was a release form as she plans on pitching ‘DYNAMO’ at their next executive meeting, which is in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I’ll have that in the mail by the end of today. (and that came as a response to yesterdays wave of emails)
I remember when I first started working this system. It would take weeks, sometimes months to get a response from anyone anywhere on the ladder. Now, it seems I’ve attained a certain level of ‘street-cred’, as it were. I think it’s more or less, the accumlative effect of names-dropping, networking and sheers luck. (which I’ve never been short of!) Of course, a killer script helps too.
(which reminds me, for any of you who haven’t had the chance to read either property, ‘LUCIDITY’ and ‘DYNAMO’ are both download-able from this site under ‘SCREENPLAYS BY DYLAN K. PETLEY’)
I received a second email back from yesterday’s barrage. This one came from an individual at the BBC who re-directed my query to their literary-scouting vehicle, THE WRITERS ROOM, which is basically set up like any studio system this side of the Atlantic — layers and layers of readers protecting a handful of execs from drowning in the thousands of scripts they receive yearly. However, fueled by the recent wonderful reception and nominal success of ‘DYNAMO’, I have a hard copy en route to the UK as we speak. They’re looking for TV films and miniseries that include an overtly British element. I figure a soccer film fits the bill quite nicely. And it would be nice to have an excuse to visit the Old Country again.
So another day and two more ducks to add to the row. Smells like imminent success…
It’s been a busy, albeit productive morning.
Started with a phonecall to Chris in Calgary. We’re gearing up ‘DYNAMO’ for the execs that he pitched in Banff. Then it was time to hit the delegate list for more targets. Incidently, I found out that Robert Lawrence is reading the script this week, but you can never have your eggs in too many baskets. Although I’m really holding out for a meeting with Mr. Spielberg himself, some attention from some of the other big boys can’t hurt. There’s always the ideal scenario of a bidding war driving the purchase price through the roof. That being said, I spent the rest of the morning sipping yeba mate and email the ‘DYNAMO’ pitch to everyone in Banff that we didn’t have the pleasure of accosting. Now, it’s a bit of a waiting game to see if anyone at Tricon, Lionsgate, A&E, NBC Universal, Alliance Atlantis, BBC, History Channel, Showcase, UKTV or CBS Paramount beat Lawrence to the punch. Of course, with the first round results of the Nichol Fellowship Competition only three weeks away, the landscape could change even more for the better in the very near future, so I suppose it’s an inescapable case of ‘time will tell’.
It looks like (providing they agree to some minor contract modifications) I’m going to be signing ‘LUCIDITY’ with Collingwood Management. There’s an outside chance that an independent here in Victoria might pull an eleventh hour counter-deal, but my man on this end has yet to see if his producer can sweeten the deal. I figure the window is about a week long before Collingwood’s lawyers wave a pen at me, so hopefully, again, I’ll have been able to generated a couple of choices.
Whoever said the wheeler-dealer side of this industry was no fun?
I think we can all agree that luck, in whatever volume, plays a part in every success.
You can imagine my suprise when I received an excited phonecall from Chris (now residing in Calgary) who proceeded to tell me how he successfully pitched ‘DYNAMO’ to uber-producer Robert Lawrence (‘MOZART AND THE WHALE’, ‘DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE’, ‘ROCKSTAR’, ‘CLUELESS’…) Lawrence requested a copy of the script and it went out yesterday with the express purpose of landing on Spielberg’s desk. Oh yeah, did I mention they’re friends and associates?
Well over a year ago, when I first discovered the story of ‘DYNAMO’, I turned to my FX buddy and occasional collaborator, Jason Hollefreund and said,
“This is a beautiful story. I want to write it.”
He looked at me as he lit a cigarette.
“You should. It’s got Stephen Spielberg written all over it.”
With some luck, maybe it will.
What with juggling the dayjob, the writing/marketing and so far 42 FIFA World Cup games in 14 days, the term, ‘busy’ would be an understatement typical of the country from which I hail. (incidentally, England is through to the next round with 7 points, playing Ecuador next week in the group of 16, but I digress…)
Down to business: Chris came back from the Banff International Television Festival with some great results. We have over a dozen nods from execs who, based upon the pitch, would like to read ‘DYNAMO’, so looks like I’ll be dropping a few bucks at Staples! If all goes to plan, I’ll be mailing hard-copies off next week. Also, I’ve got a couple of producers in my sights (courtesy of Chris’ rolodex) and a possible line to uber-director, Michael Mann (‘THE INSIDER’, ‘ALI’, ‘HEAT’, ‘MIAMI VICE’) so it’s lock-and-load time…
No new offers on ‘LUCIDITY’ yet, but I have another 7 weeks before I have to give Collingwood Management a yes or a no on their offer.
Still waiting for the first round judging results from the Nicholls Fellowship Competition this year. Let’s hope Oscar’s smiling on me!
Nothing back from our man at National Geographic Kids yet regarding ‘DOWN UNDER’, but it’s a little early to expect one. I’ll follow up with him in the same wave of follow-ups 2 weeks after I get ‘DYNAMO’ into the hands of the Banff delegates. That still gives me over a month to leverage the Collingwood offer into a better deal for ‘LUCIDITY’ at about the same time I should be getting results from the Academy. See, there is a method to the madness.
And I still have 22 soccer games to watch before July 9th…
I've managed to postpone things with Collingwood Management until I confer with Chris Tougas, who arrives back from Banff tomorrow night. Not only has he generated some fantastic leads while pitching in the Rockies, but he seems to think a quick flip through the rolodex will provide a producer or two who may offer a similar deal as the one I was considering but without this deferred payment clause. A little 'good-faith money', as it were.
Collingwood was comfortable with this arrangement so I'm proceding with Chris, giving him a few weeks to generate some bites with 'LUCIDITY', chase down the 'DYNAMO' leads he's generated this week in Alberta and pass off the 'DOWN UNDER' treatment to a colleague of his at National Geographic Kids.
Meanwhile, first round cuts with the Nicholls Fellowship Competition begin in about a month. So many cookie jars, not enough hands…