I Dream of Julie

Here in Hollywood, we have many theories about how to get material into the right hands. An old film school friend once told me if you're convinced you have a great screenplay, toss it out the window on the freeway to make sure. His name was Greg, and he had been a successful musician, touring the world with any number of jazz legends before setting his sights on screenwriting. Like me, he had been living a dream life, just not his dream. Having stumbled into our earlier creative successes, we felt reasonably confident about sitting back and letting Hollywood happen.

Sadly, while there are plenty of stories about starlets discovered only by happenstance, it turns out not a single movie has been made after its script was found sitting on a stool in Schwab's Drugstore. We do love our underdog stories, and those of us charged with dreaming them up have an unnerving talent for putting a plausible spin on the unlikeliest scenarios.

For example, I am always in awe of writers I came up with who are still out there entering screenwriting competitions. Designed to discover newcomers, for the most part, the more prestigious of these generally don't allow anyone who's formally reached professional status to enter. Yet here these folks are, year after year, refusing to give up. I guess there's the prize money to be considered, along with an expected flurry of interest from agents and producers. Probably most important, though, is the tangible proof we all crave that we are not stark raving mad.

The other day I came across some studio coverage of an early script of mine. "Pitch perfect," the story analyst pronounced it. "A little gem."

Having indeed won a big competition back in the day, the script earned me an offer of representation by my longtime former manager, who'd served as an industry judge. It landed me a bunch of meetings around town and secured my first feature assignment.  What it didn't get was produced.

"Whenever a script has this many laugh out loud moments, it's got my vote for development consideration," the analyst concluded. I never met this random fan, before or since, though I did Google her name to learn she's now a professor of creative writing. You can read the rest of her coverage here. It's old and it has a big coffee stain on it, but I uploaded it just as it is.

Hollywood is anything but a meritocracy, so good writing has little if anything to do with making a good living nor heaven forbid making a good movie.  Once you've been told you've got talent by someone other than your mother, it's very hard indeed to walk away.

I haven't spoken to Greg lately, but I heard he's back in the music business on the East Coast, and that he recently self-published his first novel on Amazon.