I Have A Killer Script – What Should I Do Next?
I have a Killer Script!
Me: Yeah, absolutely, let’s imagine I have a killer script. It just fell into my hands and I want to make a movie from it. What should I do next? What’s the first place to start?
Tom: Well the first place to start is to kind of understand this theoretically could have happen before you made your script. But if you have your script already, you going to have to deal with it.
Understand what kind of budget you are talking about. Meaning, if you wrote a script, and man its a killer but, you know, the opening scene is 20,000 soldiers storm the field, they can’t be CGI soldiers.
You’re in trouble already when you’re trying to do an independently financed featured film. That’s a studio film and you should be trying to sell the script like you could sell a studio script.
But if you want to make the film, what I’m trying to say in there is you want to think from a producer’s mindset before you even write the script.
I used to help people in this, but that was one of the things I would kind of do, consulting, give them notes on their scripts and take little scenes and say, for example there was this one script that I did where, it was supposed to show a little girl’s kind of isolation, she was sitting on a school bus and, no kids were talking to her.
Ok give me that scene, so now you have the school bus, the driver, you have 30 extras and the kids, man this would be a serious scene to shoot.
I just re wrote for this person then just put this girl on a park bench. Park bench, you can do outside, you can do it for free and you know you still have the kids walking by and ignoring her.
Maybe some kids, other kids, sit on the edge of the bench, get up, don’t even look her way, and that is basically free. You know what I mean.
What I’m saying is before you did this killer script, you should have thought about the financing but you got it and afterwards you got to look at it and first time is say what realistically can I do this for, as cheap as possible without losing any productions.
Me: That’s interesting, so keeping the integrity of the script but looking at it from a financial point of view, to see how you can do it as cheaply as possible.
Tom: Yeah, that little teeny example I just gave you with the school bus versus the park bench, I mean, does that lose any integrity of the movie?
You’re not, if you went from a baseball stadium to a park bench. Yeah, you’re probably changing the integrity of the movie but the schools bus, park bench, without changing anything. You don’t want to lose production value, you don’t want to lose integrity so you got to look and say, “okay what scenes can I never lose and this has to be done in a log cabin.”
You know what I mean, something like that, you know, I can’t lose the log cabin, it’s so important on the script.
Me: Yeah, Sam is saying “get well prepared and use imagination I guess”.
Tom: Yeah, use imagination, creativity in a lot of times in studio films, studio directors, that’s why they have a tough time coming down and doing independent film is because, in studio, the mentality is, let’s just pay for it or build it.
In the independent films, let’s find a solution. That’s why in many times I worked with former studio directors, it’s very difficult to tell them, we don’t have the money to do this, they won’t think of solutions, they will just jump up and down and scream and pout and all that stuff versus maybe a young first time director goes “Hmm, what can we use for log cabin instead? Let’s just use a shed” I don’t know, they think of a solution which is much much better for an independent film.
Me: So I guess, you got the movie you want and the movie you going to get.
Tom: Yes, if you want to find a happy medium in between, so you are not sacrificing anything. Again all of this is the preparations you’re doing is looking at a script from a producer’s mindset, looking at it and saying “how can this best be served economically” and It’s not just setting the location, its number of characters, its sizes of the parts, if every part is a small part, how you got to get a big star or well named actress to play this thing.
It’s all of that stuff that you need to do that prior, kind of even before you have your script or if you have it, do it afterwards and reshape and rewrite your script.
Me: One of the other problems that we got when we did the survey was: a clash between writer’s directors and actors and is this part of that where the producers and the directors are saying we need to cut back in certain areas and the scriptwriter are saying “this is not the movie I wanted.”
Tom: Yes, you know, the key is, that’s putting the writer separate. There are always battles and there are always egos and artists, big egos, that’s all true and we all do but the key is if the writers thinking from the producer’s mind set or the writers on board is a kind of producer, it’s a little easier to do that.
If you’re just a writer selling the script then you’re independent from the producer, director or say you are the producer on the line or director on the line, you acquire the script, Ok, you may have some hurdles to go through but you really just need somebody that’s on board from the start.
I went through a nightmare on my last film, it’s on going, so one of my friends, a guy named Dan Solenger, line producer may be made 45 films or so, said that he knows as much as he pretty much can about lights and crew and procedures but every new movie he does, he learns how to completely new lesson on how to manage personalities.
I’m like, God that’s so true. You have a new set of challenges. There’s always going to be challenges, but you know at the end of the day, remember that everybody wants to make the best film, the most successful.
The key all I can say is, if you had nightmare which I’ve had several times, a nightmare director once, the writer the last time, get rid of them, you’ll be a fool to work with that person again.
Me: During the making of our movie, Bad Romance, we actually experienced quite a lot of things of what not to do which I actually found very helpful, in fact I think I learned more from the mistakes that we made than we actually did to the things that were working well.
Tom: Yeah, you want to get better and better, keep changing and changing your approach, trying to be more and more successful.
To discover more about Tom Malloy and his book Bankroll: A New Approach To Financing Feature Films – Click Here
This interview was broadcast live on 28th January 2013
For ArgonVision and Argonette by Tim Bennett