Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

A Screenwriter’s Life

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Health stuff, marital ups and downs, the sarcastic wit of the gods, and especially — my own poor mental focus, have not been kind to my writing. Except for blogging, of course, which flourishes in times of chaos, I haven’t been working on any projects lately that could advance my career.  One blogger once suggested I combine some of the better posts into a book, but for the life of me, I have no idea what type of book that would be or WHO would buy it.  Even my own mother would probably wait until it was half-price at the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan.  Still, lately, I have been feeling inspired, half from therapy and half from seeing the tenacity of others, like Laurie, who accomplished her life-long goal of getting published.

Hmm… what could my book be about? —

“Me and My Penis” by Neilochka

“Separated but Unequal: My Marriage to Sophia.” by Neilochka

“One Man’s Spiritual Search for ABBA” by Neilochka

“Payola and the Promoter: The True Story Behind the Chrismahanukwanzaakah Concert” by Neilochka

 Eh, I’m more of a fiction person, anyway.

However, since this is Hollywood, I’m going to first start on another screenplay (bleh!). I was hoping to dump the Hollywood scene because I’m not much of a schmoozer. I know some of you are grumbling about the Writer’s Guild Strike and all these selfish multi-millionaire writers, but be assured — they are not the norm. I’m sympathetic to the crew members who are losing their jobs, but I don’t consider them “small guys.” These are well paid craftspeople who make a good living because of THEIR own unions! The strike is not just about the big-time writers. This strike opens the door for everyone in Hollywood to share in whatever profits are made from new outlets. Both Sophia and I supplement our incomes from residuals from projects completed years ago.

About two months ago, I received an email from an independent director in town (he made one film that did well at a film festival). He liked some of my posts and wanted to know if I wanted to work on some pitches with him. A well-known producer had seen his film and was anxious to hear some ideas — something comedic and Apatow-ish. We met a few times and we got along pretty well. We’re not officially “partners” as of yet, but we decide to join forces. We each offered something different — he was more “artsy” and I wrote better sex gags. The producer was looking specifically for certain types of projects, including scripts that might appeal to single men (you know, films about a bunch of guys looking to get laid — not that I would know anything about this subject!) However, since I’m not currently on the dating scene (and never actually picked up any women EVER), I had to do a little research to get ready. I had never even heard of the term “Wingman” before this year. Now, after watching the full “Pick-up Artist” and every Maxim magazine of 2007, I have an intimate understanding of the horny 24 year-old male (and his lingo, dude!)

My writing “partner” and I were supposed to meet with the producer two weeks ago — but just our luck, the Writer’s Strike! We certainly didn’t want to meet with him, even informally, during a strike, or we would be as bad as Jay Leno not paying his laid-off staff. So, we wait… and wait..

There is an art to pitching in Hollywood. You get together a couple of good stories and tell them verbally to the producer or development person, trying to get him excited enough to pay you to go on to the next step — writing something! If this fails for us, we might actually just write the script on spec — like real men. I actually prefer to write the script first, but since we have this opportunity to pitch it and make a few bucks, we might as well go for it. I have a habit of getting down on myself, so I’m trying to remain positive. It’s THE SECRET!

There are some writers who are known as brilliant pitchers. They stand in front of their listener, looking all confident, and spin sentences like “This story is “Harry Meets Sally” meets ‘Pirates of the Caribben” — neurotic New York couple travel to the past and become pirates!

Producer: “I want that! It’s a deal. Here’s a million dollars!”

We still don’t know when we will get a chance to pitch. It depends on the strike. I’m also supposed to go to New York for two weeks very soon. I hope this doesn’t screw up my plans.

Today, I called up my partner and said we should practice our verbal pitches over and over, just to be ready. The trouble is that both of us get distracted by life at home. The solution — we’re going to hole up in a hotel for two days and just work undistracted (yeah, right)! So later on today, I’m going to kiss Sophia, say Happy Hanukkah, and disappear for a day or so and room with some guy I hardly know. I hope we get two beds. So if I don’t blog, you know where I am. Well, you actually won’t — but it will probably be at some dumpy Comfort Inn in Torrance without wireless.

28 Comments

  1. hope the motel/writing idea works! if not, get a good post out of it. 😉

  2. I like the first book idea but I’m twisted like that. And you should get out more. Because the term wingman has been around since — ummm — “Top Gun.”

  3. I thought “wingman” was an Air Force term in Top Gun!

  4. You’ll probably be hanging out at the hotel bar trying to get into some girl’s pants.

    Sing along Maverick….
    “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips”

    http://www.killerclips.com/clip.php?id=131&qid=1678

  5. That i ridiculously exciting. Shall now be hanging onto your shirt tails living vicariously… Can I be in your entourage? I make a mean coffee an a very smooth Cosmopolitan!

  6. *whew* You were starting to worry me there, Neil. But one little correction — Miramar, as seen in “Top Gun,” was a naval air station. Because I was in college a few miles away from the place when “Top Gun” came out and all those guys there thought they were it. On ladies’ night at the O Club, they stationed a pilot at the door to keep the “ugly” girls out. So I refused to ever go.

  7. Top Gun? That movie sucked. You’ll never see me writing a piece of crap like that. Oh, it made 300 million dollars?!

    Horny Airforce Dudes — coming to a theater near you!

  8. I have never seen Top Gun. But I’ve heard it’s filled with fantastic homoerotic innuendo. I hear Larry Craig watches it every night during dinner.

  9. I’m practicing. You’ll have something musical by the end of the week.

    Enjoy your creative retreat!!

  10. OK, I booked my secretive hotel via luck of the draw on Priceline. Three star Marriott for cheap! Woo-hoo, room service! Although, I was sort of hoping for more of a downtown fleabag with prostitutes next door because that would be more “writer-like.” Marriott does not say ‘serious writer.’

  11. A couple friends and I have been working on a script. We started with the sound track,(our favorite band’s most current cd) then we added actors. John Cusack is going to be the UPS man ’cause we think he’d do the uniform proud. Steve Buscemi will play the title character, The Effeminate Cowboy, based on one of the songs. My friend Ann will play the school crossing guard, the person who waves the planes in at the airport,and anyone else who points.

    It could use some fleshing out if you’re really bored. Oh, the soundtrack requires a chase scene, and some kissing.

    See how much better any of your ideas will look against these!

  12. Good luck! (Nothing wrong with Marriott, hey.) And thanks for the take on pitching and all that. I found it interesting. 🙂

  13. Top Gun is the Navy, not the Air Force – Maverick and company are Naval Aviators… and I know this because of an unhealthy obsession with that movie in the 8th grade.

  14. OK, OK, I hear you. Top Gun is the Navy. But it would have been a better movie if it was the Air Force!

  15. Good luck on the project! I hope you find Abba AND Payola out of the deal.

  16. Get those creative juices flowing, Neil. Lots of luck.

    I’ll be very happy to say in a year or two: “I knew Neil Kramer when he was…just another blogger. Do you think he remembers me?”

  17. Eh… I would never be like that. I really like blogging and think it is just as creative as other things. I’m not one of those people who thinks writing is unimportant if it isn’t published by Random House or made into a movie. But I know a lot of people who would disagree with me. I don’t need to impress a woman anymore with what I do for a living. I impress them enough with my ability to take off their bras with my teeth. Being published is just as unimportant as blogging. Finding a cure for cancer is important. I just need to make a decent living with little skills other than telling stories.

  18. 2 days at a hotel. Do they still sell those little keychain viewers with the photo inside? Better start practicing your alleycat.

  19. Horny Airforce Dudes wouldn’t even make the XXX Adult Store at the edge of town.

    Not that I know what they sell there…I’m just sayin’

    Seriously, you’ve got to have wireless. Two nights holed up with another male should be pretty exciting…and smelly.

  20. Good luck with your pitches. You crack me up. I hope you get a place a bit nicer than the Comfort Inn in Torrance, though there is some pretty good Japanese food down in those parts, as well as a nice Hawaiian bakery.

  21. Neil,

    You get your bad-ass, story-telling, penis-talking, bi-coastal, half-married self out of town and let it shine. Talk the talk and walk the walk. And remember when you meet the Head Honchos, you’re probably taller than everyone else in the room. Throw those shoulders back and look even taller. Remember, if they don’t see your talent, your ass is conveniently located where they can kiss it.

  22. And hey, since I’m in Brussels, I thought you might like to make an artsy European film.

    NATO Nymphomaniacs–Where all of Europe COMES together

    Who knew diplomacy could be so sexy?

  23. If you need a plot idea, just let me know.

  24. Hey, good luck with practicing your pitches. I have been doing screenwriting for almost 10 years. I’ve sold nothing, but I did manage to get an L.A. agent and my stuff has been read all over town. Now, if I could only make that first sale…

  25. I wrote 20 pages of a screenplay called “Wingman.” It was funny but only for 20 pages, so I stopped.

  26. Greg — But our “wingman” is from another planet!

  27. Thank you … just thank you.

  28. Wow, Neil. Good luck with everything. I’ll watch whatever your work produces, even if it’s Caveman.

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