I do feel a bit weird about announcing this. It’s not a totally done thing yet but my part is done and the rest is out of my hands.
Actually, that title is a little bit misleading. I have been writing screenplays, among other things, for many years. The difference with this one was that I was going to sell it and it was going to be made into something that someone other than me could see. Generally, the criteria for my crazy things is that it had to be something I had some control over. You can’t just say “I’m going to win the lottery” because we don’t really have control over that… or at least we shouldn’t!
I had pitched some ideas already to Odyssey Media of Vancouver. They produce a lot of movies of the week for networks like Lifetime and SyFy, among others. Right before my crazy year began they picked one of my story ideas and asked me to develop it further. I did, and eventually I got a contract to write a script for a movie of the week that would air on the lifetime network. This is a pretty big deal. It’s not a union production and it’s not huge money, but it’s a 90-minute credit on a major network and it’s a nice toe in the industry door. The fact that I didn’t have to be living in Vancouver or Los Angeles was extraordinary – yay for the internet! I was given deadlines for the synopsis, treatment (basically an outline) and once that was approved, the full script. Now came the hard part, I had to deliver a script and they had to approve it.
When I tell people I’m having a writing day, I (usually) really am writing and this year I had an extremely tight schedule because I didn’t want to have to take time off my job to get this done. 90 pages needed to be finished and approved. I also have some minor… or maybe major… issues with procrastination.
I’m happy to say I accomplished my goal and in October the script for Justice Unleashed, a mother-daughter thriller about human trafficking, was complete and approved. This was very much a process of writing for the specific needs of a client rather than just writing creatively with no need to have anyone approve what I’ve done. They did request changes, and some of them were … well… ridiculous… but in the end they are the client and what they say goes. It was difficult because I could see somewhere great that the story could go but the network has very strict requirements based on demographics, markets, etc. Not my call.
I have done a lot of professional writing in the past – magazine articles, book contributions, marketing writing, etc. I’ve also been paid to write video scripts for different organizations for training and promotional purposes so being paid to write is not new to me. The fact that I created a project that will have a $2-3 million budget (making it a low budget production) and take a year to complete – that’s new for me.
I didn’t write this earlier because the crazy thing is still ongoing. When the script for Justice Unleashed was approved, they asked me if I felt like doing another one. I said.. “Sure!”… (duh!). I’m currently working on it and I’m hoping the first draft will be finished in the next few weeks.
Justice Unleashed has a director, but he’s not yet locked in with a contract and I’ve just been told it will likely be shot at the end of June or early July in Vancouver. If it is in Vancouver I’ll also be able to visit the set, which should be exciting! I’ll do more blog posts on this as I know more.
Once the one I’m currently working on is finished I’m going to take a break from movies of the week and concentrate on a script I’ve been dabbling at for about a year or so… something about a woman who does 50 Crazy Things in her 50th Year.
Why was this crazy?
How many other people do you know who are doing it and getting paid?
Would I do it again?