Working with movie producers

Working with movie producers is a major part of writing scripts

Working with movie producers is collaborative at the same time as being a seller customer relationship. This article is going to give you a hands on real world example of working with movie producers regarding my script The Valley.

I started writing The Valley in 2014; it was one of my first scripts. It is a Post-Pandemic Apocalyptic action/thriller telling the story of a girl being hunted by a man after her family failed to reach quarantine.  Back in 2014 a pandemic seemed fantasy.  The Valley did well in a few competitions and I dropped it on my desk and forgot about it. Go forward a few years and when I started hosting my scripts on I uploaded The Valley.  This is how 2HotFilms discovered and took it on as a project.

The Start of Production.

Dean Charles the director was getting everything ready. Nicola Gregory the producer and Dean had arranged financing and we were moving forward.  Then the Covid Pandemic started to spread across the world.  The production moved onto Zoom as we hoped it would soon be under control.  There were rehearsal/script reads and script consultation going on as locations and production decisions were being made.  Then it happened, the money disappeared.  The pandemic wasn’t going away and the production stopped.

The Hunt for money.

I had nothing to do but send the occasional email of encouragement and remind the production team that if they needed anything written I was here.  Nicola asked for a few documents, things that may help her secure money. But mostly I sat and waited.

The production team went wherever they could meet with financiers. The two most notable were Cannes and AFM (American Film Market).  Don’t let the name AFM fool you. It deals with sales outside the USA.

This is the strange part.

You would think that pandemic movies wouldn’t sell. But apparently they were. Heaps of sales got made. But not The Valley. Why? I hear you ask.  Not pandemic enough. In The Valley, the virus and world ending pandemic was an event that established the world.  It is not the story. In pandemic movies the virus needs to be in the centre of the story.  The virus should be a character, like the shark in jaws.

Before you fire up your PC and start writing a pandemic movie.  That ship has sailed. Everyone that wanted a script has a script. It will take you months. By the time the next Cannes or AFM happens there will be a new hot topic. So save yourself the heartache and stop.

Our next move.

We had to change the world ending event. We just need a dead world to tell our story in. The pandemic and virus were mentioned and played a small part. We have discussed our options and I am about to attack the keyboard with a rewrite.

So how is this about working with Producers?

The team had a problem. The world wasn’t working in the eyes of financiers. They wanted 110% pandemic or none. So the producers came to me with that problem and I have a solution, in the form of a rewrite. I could have stood my ground and said it was my way or you can hire someone else. But I can work with them to find a way of getting the story to the world.  The story isn’t the pandemic, it is about people. 

It is like the old advice about fighting with your spouse, “you can be right or you can be married”.  There are compromises to make sure everyone wins.  Working with people doesn’t mean you get your way. It means the group gets its way.

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