* STAR from script to film!
Inside or outside of “Hollywood,” going from script to film is always a colossal feat. It’s not a phony performance when some tearful, but ever-so-grateful soul comes on stage at the Academy Awards and sincerely tells the audience what an epic, and fluke-filled journey it was to actually get there. I remember several years ago, when a film, I think it was Juno, won Best Picture, and a passionate comment was made about all it took to arrive at this point, including folks having to put up their houses in order to come up with the rest of the needed cash to complete the movie.
After serving my tenure as a development executive at Universal, I spent one year on the lot as a producer. There was a writer in the same building I inhabited who had been at the writing game for about twenty years, without any of his scripts actually being produced. But one fine day a hot TV star, now ready for the big screen, found a script that he liked, completely by chance. It had been written ten years prior by my building mate and now - at long last - was going into production. I remember my friend the writer telling me that he could finally go back home to the Midwest and see a movie he had written accompanied by his parents. This would finally convince them that he was who he claimed to be, since it had always been beyond them how anyone could be a writer without ever having product to show.
Of course the battle still wasn’t over. Turned out that his big screen debut was eclipsed by a Spielberg blockbuster that had opened at the same time. You can guess which line most people were standing in.
Still, he had finally made it into theatres, which is no small task!
As script consultants, Judy and I want the best for those who come to us with stars in their eyes. We do our utmost to recognize and enhance the sparks of magic that so often exist in their material. Our job is to help writers make their scripts as stellar as they can be, and then point them in the right direction as they enter the mercurial arena of marketing their labors of love.
And we try to communicate to all writers that selling a script is a quirky, unpredictable and challenging process.
But writers do have a chance in this haphazard process, because the fact is that the industry needs a constant stream of viable material. The writer’s key offense in this uncertain game is being armed with polished pages and the stamina to weather that very long marketing road, which awaits most of them.
Jim Janosky was a writer who possessed these key qualities for going the distance. He came to us several years ago with a project about a guy who was deeply depressed, down on his luck, and had decided to drive from the East Coast to San Francisco so he could jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.
I loved the concept and it didn’t hurt that I also happen to really enjoy road shows. So we started our developmental and consulting trek and did we ever have a grand time doing it! As we moved along, his hero got to experience some off-the-chart types of adventures, visiting super cool places, getting himself into scrapes, and forging a profound friendship with a mangy, one-of-a-kind dog, who was in about the same shape as our protagonist. He also made “final” visits to folks he had once known, all rendered with hilarity, drama and depth, including the girl he had wanted so badly at one time, who might now be available after all—how sad this encounter with her would turn out to be. What a terrific odyssey it all became.
It took real time to get this script, which he called Star to where it needed to be, but it was worth the labor because it was really, really good.
The moment finally arrived when Jim’s script was ready for the next step. In this regard it was jettisoned by firstly winning our contest, which can certainly help a writer get started on what’s most often a long and lonely marketing road. He got some feelers but as they say, no cigar, and Jim quickly began to realize how much effort he would need to put into this aspect of things. Indeed, the heavyweight bout had only just commenced.
Jim was not a glamorous, twenty or thirty-something N.Y.C./L.A. hipster, all ready to fit nicely into the Hollywood niche. He was a steady, married with children type, living in Tennessee where he taught science. But he was tenacious and he was in possession of something powerful—A BLOODY GOOD SCRIPT!!
Jim decided to go beyond the call of duty and check out what was going on in L.A. He made the trip out there and used every possible means to get himself noticed. He had his first “power meeting” with my brother, a Hollywood literary agent, who liked the script a lot. Other meetings and readings and the like ensued, but he still didn’t have anything tangible to show for it except his airplane bill, and the joy of temporarily living the life of a working writer, pounding on doors, script in hand.
He kept going back and forth between Tennessee and L.A., meticulously expanding his horizons, making what contacts he could. One thing was a constant: people liked his script! Although that fact and 50 cents won’t get you a seat on the New York subway, this was SIGNIFICANT.
Jim contacted me from time to time reporting which celebrity he’d seen at the Polo Lounge, and what juicy, la-la-land –type situations he had encountered. And then he finally had a sliver of good news when a couple of producers read his script and wanted to “run with the project.”
But nothing that would pay the rent or bring him some glory developed from this event.
At some point down the line, he actually managed to make what’s called the Hollywood “Blacklist,” which is a list of scripts that people in the theatrical community feel should be made, even though none have been so thus far. It took Jim real time to reach this plateau, but it still wouldn’t pay for a bag of peanuts.
Nevertheless, it was another sign of life, AND SIGNS OF LIFE ARE SIGNIFICANT. They must be realized on this broad highway!!
Jim and I worked on several other projects over the years; and then, he stopped calling.
Last week, his wife Annette contacted me and told me that Jim had passed away unexpectedly. He was way too young. I was very sad to hear this. I was very fond of him.
She also wanted me to know that Star, now called Dark Around the Stars, has actually been made and is now in editing. The movie has an impressive cast and was directed by Derrick Borte (The Joneses, Code Duello and London Town). She sent me a trailer for the film (attached here), which reflects Jim’s creative vision in spades.
Thank God Jim knew of this huge success before he died!
I know that there’s an ironic sadness to this, but it also proves that getting a film made can be done. It’s always a rocky, mercurial tale of close calls, false starts, near misses, years of hard work and patience. But it can happen.
When you’re out there, feeling alone with your script, this task can seem impossible. The love of creating something and of expressing oneself must be the fuel for all those long hours at the desk, as well as the wait for interest from the marketplace. But finally being read, recognized, and all that comes with it, is definitely a very nice cherry on top.
And so, if it seems like nobody outside of the Hollywood “insider” universe ever gets those ultimate rewards, remember the Jim Janoskys of the world. He wasn’t an isolated anomaly.
Over the past years of working as consultants, many of our clients have found the recognition they so deserve – whether it’s via finding an agent, getting optioned, being vigorously submitted, winning a contest, winding up with a fine script that someone buys or that they can find a way to make themselves. But, as said, success is often via a fluke-ish set of circumstances, which, in this business, is the norm for everyone involved – writers and consultants alike!
When we first started Hollywoodscript.com I got to work with a writer by the name of Brad Kayya on the script for the movie O. How easy it seemed when it finally popped up on the screen and gave us something early in the game to brag about. In time I began to realize how fluke-ish it was to have gotten so lucky at just the right time.
We were recently involved with a producer who came to us with a project that wasn’t working. He was already hooked up with folks who were prepared to make a film, subject to finding the right material. The script he brought to us was workable, but needed a lot of revision. The client worried it would take too much time to make all the changes, so I asked him if he’d be interested in looking at other projects we’d worked on that were already ripe and ready. He said OK. We sent him a few pieces of coverage from past clients and eureka, one of our favorite young writers, Tom Shipley, sold his script to this producer and his backers! Tom’s film will be made next winter.
Last Will (2011, starring TATUM O'NEAL, TOM BERENGER, JAMES BROLIN and ARMAND ASSANTE) was a project on which Judy and I worked very hard creatively, but in the long run, it ended up getting made more as a result of our having helped to introduce the right players to each other, than on anything else.
Sometimes a client is able to live the dream of writing a script and seeing it soar quickly. Our client Joanne Wannan worked tirelessly with us on her script Obituary, then sold it within a year to the Lifetime network. It was broadcast all over the world – a true fairytale type experience for all concerned.
Two Minute Heist, Crazy Like a Fox, The Amati Girls and several others we’ve watched go from page to screen all share in this unpredictable road to recognition. But no matter what the details are in how these writers broke through industry gatekeepers, there are always multiple forces at work including tenacity, patience and wildly good luck, all underwritten by strong material!
We’re very proud of Jim Janosky and all the others we’ve seen go this intensely challenging distance from having an idea to seeing it play out in a tangible and profitable way. Keep believing that it’s possible, keep working hard to get your material as good as it can be; but always know that getting your script made is almost always a very capricious process.
Indeed, screenwriting, like life, is a true game of human will and the tides of fate ever converging.
**GOOD NEWS ABOUT PREVIOUS CONTEST WINNER TOM SHIPLEY
Our production company, Monomyth Enchantment has acquired the screenplay GET HAPPY written by TOM SHIPLEY which will be our first feature film under this banner. Thank you for bringing the project to us. We are currently working with an established casting director and plan to start principal photography in January of 2014, for a fall release next year.
As you know, our production team includes producer Sania Jhankar,
Looking forward to dealing with you in the future.
Just wanted to thank you for all you've done for me and this project. This literally wouldn't have happened without you. And while I'm not exactly ready to quit my day job, it's an important step none-the-less. So, thank you. Can't wait for you to help me sell my next script.
**SCRIPT OPTIONED; AGENT SIGNS CONTEST WINNER
Judy and I continue to work with writers from all over the world on screenplays, TV pilots, plays etc (and Judy does books, and books to screenplays as well). We enjoy our work immensely, and feel that our greatest contribution is on a creative level, always following our credo that the number one secret in getting something going in the writing biz is material that’s ready.
Writing a screenplay is a marathon and Craig Kellem knows the route to a successful finish. I have been working with Craig at Hollywoodscript.com since October 2011. He gave me honest analysis in what my script needed and what could be cut. He didn’t try to rewrite the script, but guided and encouraged me so my creativity and originality were written into every scene. His experience and knowledge of the industry standards greatly assisted me when constructing my new screenplay.
Finishing a well written screenplay that can take the reader on an emotional ride is an accomplishment in and of itself. For me, getting the right script notes and winning the Hollywoodscript.com monthly contest was the next step to getting it sold. My screenplay, Saint Michael, won the January 2013 contest. The exposure it received from Craig Kellem’s glowing coverage sent to his contacts, and the free access to distribution outlets such as Inktip and Scriptblaster (and one other big one) was invaluable. So far, I have sent my screenplay to eight production companies or agents. In April 2013, I signed with a very experienced agent in Los Angeles who’s excited about selling the screenplay! Craig's announcement caught the attention of this agent.
Craig Kellem at Hollywoodscript.com is the complete package. He offers excellent creative services and marvelous exposure for the winners of the monthly contest. If you want straightforward analysis from someone who is easy to talk to, Craig Kellem is your man.
**LOVE IN A BOX BY LANA NEWLIN
An Indie company in L.A. with two produced films has optioned Love in a Box. The prizes I received for winning your contest helped to open up good communication and doors to many companies who are now following my work. Thank you so much, Craig, for all the effort and professional help you gave me through the writing process to take it from a rough draft to a polished product. You have amazing qualities that make you special. You can always see what needs to be changed to make the script better. You never let me settle for "almost there." And your best asset (for clients) - you are a great teacher. Lana Newlin
HOLLYWOODSCRIPT.COM CLIENTS MAKE IT TO THE SCREEN
•"LAST WILL" has finished shooting
• TWO MINUTE HEIST, A NEW FILM IN WHICH WE CONSULTED GOT INTO THE NEW YORK INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. IT PREMIERED ON MARCH 5TH 2009 AT THE EAST VILLAGE THEATER. The producer (Justine Hughes) reports that they now want to take it to Cannes!! Big congrats to their budding little group!
• BIG CONGRATS TO JOANNE WANNAN FOR "OBITUARY"
• The "AMATI GIRLS" is another film on which we consulted (and there are others now in the pipeline), not to mention the many, many scripts that have been optioned (both from our contest winners and others) and many clients who have also found agents and other kinds of reps).
HOLLYWOODSCRIPT.COM CONGRATULATES ITS CONSULTATION CLIENT, SERGIO BAMBAREN AND HIS COMPANY,DOLPHIN FILMS, AS TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX ACQUIRES NORTH AMERICAN RIGHTS TO BAMBAREN’S SOON TO BE RELEASED FILM,“THE DOLPHIN, STORY OF A DREAMER”
MORE PRAISE! Click For More!
FAN LETTERS! Click
Take just a minute to read some of the articles written about Craig Kellem and his work in Newsweek, Variety, theWashington Post, the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) and more.