“It is estimated that there are anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 scripts floating around Hollywood that have been sold on spec,optioned, and/or filed away into storage rooms, never to be seen again. Many studios will read as many as 5,000 screenplays every year in search of approximately 12 that may or may not be produced.” pittinhollywood.org
I’ve written countless screenplays in the last thirty years. Some were what we call “specs.” But most were assignments for movie studios such as Paramount, Universal, Disney, MGM, Columbia, Warner Brothers, and Tri-Star. Some screenplays began as pitches. Others as books or articles or the notions of studio executives and producers. But the actual writing of each screenplay began and still begins with the endless possibilities that come with the words “FADE IN.”
I recall the president of a movie studio once saying to me, “For the life of me, Doug. I have no clue as to how the hell a movie gets made.” Of course, he wasn’t ignorant of physical process of moving from idea to script to film to post production to eventual release. He was speaking of the puzzle maze of personalities, egos, visions, movie actors, marketing schemes, and budgets – not to mention the all important architecture of a movie called a screenplay – that must align like planets and stars before the picture gets the all important green light.
Now, the reasons why a movie doesn’t get made? There are thousands of reasons. The executive gets fired. There’s a corporate takeover. The budget is exploding or imploding. Competitive projects at other studios. Creative differences. The star isn’t big enough for the movie. The movie isn’t big enough for the star. The star is getting divorced. The star just got arrested again. The star, the star, the star…
Oh yeah. And sometimes the script just isn’t right.
Nonetheless, I maintain that some of screenwriters’ best work remains on dusty shelves, never to see a movie screen, and read by only a select few.
My plan is to open my vault and make some of my screenplays available for fans to read.
You’ve read Doug’s blog, Turning Japanese, about the absurd journey adapting his novel, True Believers, for the screen. Now read the script that Hideo Nakata developed to direct.