Very soon after I arrived in Los Angeles, I began working on the screenplay that I had been hired to write. It was to be based on two books. I broke down the main characters in the two books, which numbered about fifty. You can’t have fifty, fully-developed speaking parts in a film any more than you can in a play. In a book though you can have all the characters you want. With a film, like a play, you have to have a good guy (protagonist) and a bad guy (antagonist). Then you have about 6 to 8 more people representing both sides and that’s about it as far as character composition goes. Otherwise you’ll need a scorecard to keep up with who is diddling whom.
The book author was appalled that I had boiled her characters down to only eight, had combined some of them and, besides, was leaving out some very important scenes as far as she was concerned. We had many go rounds on these points.
Finally after arguing all these matters ad infinitum, I followed my plan on things and eventually turned out a 128-page screenplay, which I called Margarita.
During all the time we wasted on discussions of the author’s moot points, I had become bored. To keep my mind functioning, I began multi-tasking. I undertook the writing of another screenplay on my own (and strictly in secret) which I called Piece of Cake. It was 114 pages long and had a few more characters than usual but in this screenplay, I felt they were justified.
Finally the moment of truth was fast approaching for Margarita. What was going to happen when I turned it over to the production team? From where I observed, all looked like cloud nine was straight ahead. Everything seemed to be going along beautifully–that is, UNTIL one day out of the blue I received a notice that the production had shut down. I quickly found out an upshot like this can happen in Hollywood on the spin of a dime. The scoop about our closure centered on a big executive who had lost his job. Along with him went all his projects. In this case, that meant ours—the one I was working on. So, there I was— off the gravy train in one swift kick.
Hollywood is certainly not Paris and I learned that fast. In the next blog you’ll see the reality of Hollywood setting in. If you’re not to fall into the pit of failure, you must as quickly as you can develop a hide as thick as a rhinoceros to ward off rejection. You’re about to meet Roger, who is responsible for my thick skin.
(If you’re reading this from Facebook then you should know I have a new website where you can read more about Roger. Click here to see the new website.)