Monday, January 25, 2010

The Bottom Drawer

In these environmentally conscious times it's important to recycle, right? And for screenwriters that means delving into the bottom drawer. The place where expired and unfinished scripts lurk. Where half baked ideas and unformed characters await the spark of renewed inspiration.

Every writer should have one – a metaphorical bottom drawer that is. It should be viewed as a positive thing ... and an opportunity. Sometimes a script isn’t ready to be told. Sometimes the writer isn’t ready to tell it. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes and the passing of time can do.

One of my feature scripts has recently been deposited in the bottom drawer. Its window has expired and my enthusiasm for it has waned. But it’s a good script and, with an overhaul of the technology underpinning the story, it could be resurrected. After enough time has passed for me to look at it with fresh eyes and renewed passion.

The flipside is the unexpected discovery at the bottom of the pile. The very first script I ever wrote – a science fiction epic – when I had no idea what I was doing, has been dusted off and given an outing. I’ve always like the world, the premise and the characters but never quite nailed the story. I recently wrote a two page outline of the concept and sent it to Chris (director) who is also a science fiction fan. And he loved the idea.

The question now – is it a feature of a television series? It also fits thematically with a science fiction idea he has been toying with. So we have agreed that, while not a priority project for 2010, we will develop it during any ‘downtime’.

I also sent a low budget feature script to an upcoming producer with a view to a staged development path targeted for a specific funding initiative. I haven’t worked on it for 3-4 years and it’s essentially a first draft but he likes it as well. I need the impetus from another party to get me back into the Goldmanesque pit on that one. Basically three characters, one location, dialogue heavy and an exploration of what happens when you put people under stress in a constricted space.

I am ready to move onto a new feature project so my mindset is one of ‘clearing house’. What product of decent quality is in the bottom drawer and who might be interested in optioning or developing it. Because, let’s face it, completed scripts are a product with an inherent value and before I lock that drawer I want to test ‘the market’.

My priority remains The Red Bride for Forgeworks and this new script (which I’ll talk about in coming posts) but let the fire sale begin on older scripts that are currently unencumbered.

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