Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama
Premise: Every time a man reaches the end of his life and dies, he resets back to his 18 year old self and lives his life with the knowledge of all the mistakes he’s made before.
About: Replay is based on a 1989 book and was actually developed back THEN into a script. Problem is, it didn’t go anywhere. Then, a couple of years ago, it became hot again, drawing interest from Ben Affleck (as director and star) and when he dropped out, Robert Zemeckis. Unfortunately, Zemeckis would later drop out as well. The script’s resurgence was brought about by a new draft from writer Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin, Bionic Woman, My Own Worst Enemy) which ended up on the low end of the 2010 Black List. However, it’s a little unclear if Smilovic adapted an earlier version of the script or simply started anew and stayed extremely loyal to the source material. The “present-day” storyline in Replay takes place in the late 80s, which makes the launching-point year 1989 (which takes some getting used to).
Writer: Jason Smilovic (based on the novel “Replay” by Ken Grimwood)
Details: Frist Draft – September 30, 2010

Ben-Affleck-Bafta-director-Argo_TINIMA20130210_0573_5Oh Ben, why did you leave thee??

So you’re feeling frustrated. You’re feeling left out. You’re upset that all these writers are out there winning Oscars and selling scripts and you’re in your parents’ basement trying to come up with that next excuse for your “family meeting” about why the job search isn’t panning out. “What?? Do you want me to work at Denny’s???” you argue to your demanding parents. “I’ve looked EVERYwhere and there are NO jobs,” you lie, knowing full well you haven’t looked for jack shit because if you can JUST FINISH your latest script, you know it’s going to sell and you’ll be rich and famous and never have to worry about watching porn with the volume low so your mom doesn’t hear you again.

Welcome to the mind of the writer!

But I’ve got news for you. Just because you “make it” doesn’t mean all your problems go away. One of the most frustrating things professional writers have to deal with is the “attachment revolving door,” which means watching director after director attach themselves to your project, only to stop returning your calls a couple of months later (which may or may not have to do with the latest rewrite). Spielberg is notorious for doing this, repeatedly raising and then crushing dreams (I feel so sorry for that Roboapacolypse writer!). I am here to tell you, if Steven Spielberg ever wants to direct your screenplay, do not tell anyone UNTIL THE CAMERAS ARE ROLLING. There’s like a 90% chance he’ll drop out and do something else.

Imagine being in Jason Siminuc’s shoes. Ben Affleck agrees to direct your movie. YAY! Happiness. Success. A house in the hills. But oh no. Affleck doesn’t want to direct your movie anymore. You’re at your lowest point. And then Robert Zemeckis wants to make your movie! Yay! Happiness again! The director of Forrest Gump. Oh, but then Zemeckis doesn’t want to direct your movie anymore.

Do you know how hard it is to get a director to make your movie? Directors take THREE years to make a movie. So they only have so many open slots. The best of the best, the guys who can greenlight films on their name alone – getting one of them is like trying to pass a bill in Congress. So to have two of those guys attach themselves, only to then ditch you at the dance… it’s gotta be soul-crushing.

Why am I telling you this? To cheer you up! You, lucky unknown screenwriter, don’t have to deal with any of that soul-crushing madness yet. You get to pick any idea in the imaginatory universe and write a script about it with no deadlines or pressures or directors toying with your emotions. That’s a pretty sweet deal, I’d say.

But I must admit, Replay has taken such a curious route to its current status, I must know more about it. Let’s check out the draft that made it to the Black List and see what we can find.

Jeff Zatkowski is living in the year 1988 when he decides to take over a news station (holding hostage a newscaster named Pam) and tell the world that he’s a time-traveller who keeps dying at the end of his life, only to be sent back into his 18 year-old body to start over again.

It’s a glitzy tale, but Jeff’s got plenty of details to back it up. It starts with his daughter Chloe, who, in his first life, dies at 4 years old. Jeff had Chloe with his wife Linda, and because the memory of his daughter’s death is so painful, when Jeff finds himself starting over, he doesn’t want to marry Linda again. He wants to bang girls and have a good time.

But that gets old quick and isn’t very fulfilling anyway, so he pulls a Phil Connors and tries to learn new languages, play new instruments, and stop Kennedy from getting assassinated. But as you’d expect after living the same life over and over again, even that gets boring.

That’s until Jeff sees a movie about a man who keeps reliving the same life over and over again. Convinced that whoever made the film has the same affliction he does, he tracks her down, only to find out it’s Pam, the woman he’s holding hostage in the present timeline. Except that’s a different Pam from this Pam. Because every time someone relives a life, they tend to choose a different path. So with a little prodding, Jim finds out that he’s right. Pam is a replayer too!

This leads to the two trying to figure out what it all means. Why are they replaying? What is the point? When does this all end? Eventually, they find a third man who replays (we’ll call him the Biff Tannen of the story) and he wants to make sure they never tell anyone about their powers or try to change them, because Biff likes reliving his life over and over again.

From there, the script delves into 2001 territory, as we get trippy sequences where Jeff lives his life over and over again, but we’re experiencing each one for only a fraction of a second, until he’s finally able to figure out how to save Chloe. But it’s at this point that Jeff begins to wonder if what he’s telling Pam and the rest of the world is really true. Did he really experience all these things? Or is he just nuts? I’m not sure we ever find out. And I think that’s just the way Jason and Ken like it.

I’ve read a lot of these “relive your life” scripts and I’m not sure they ever really satisfy me. The reason is simple. The concept is too big for the writer. There are so many iterations you can take this in that trying to rein in any sort of story can be nearly impossible. That’s one of the genius moves of Groundhog Day. They realized that tackling a whole life is too vast, too complicated. So they just focused on a single day. As a result, it was much easier to manage.

At the same time, I see the allure of doing the grander version. This concept does have more possibilities. I’m assuming that’s why guys like Affleck and Zemeckis signed on. The script has potential. But potential and execution are two different things. And figuring out these alternate-reliving-time-travel-life things can be a nightmare. I mean, at a certain point in Replay, we were jumping back and forth between four different timelines and I’d forgotten what it was the story was about. I didn’t know what the characters were trying to do anymore. Is Linda the love interest or is Pam? If Chloe is such a big plot point, how come we never meet her?

The more I think about it, the more I’m not sure what it is this movie’s trying to be. It’s a drama about time travel (or a form of time-travel). Where does that exist on the genre spectrum? It’s funny, because I was JUST having this discussion with a friend yesterday. We were discussing a script like this and I made the same observation: “Where does this exist genre-wise?” And my friend was like, “Why does it have to exist anywhere? Isn’t that what Hollywood needs? More originality? More skewing away from genre?”

I thought long and hard about that. It was a solid point. Isn’t this a good thing that it’s different? I guess so. You have to commend Smilovic for taking chances and pioneering his own narrative. But the thing about taking chances is the chances still have to work. And I don’t know if this one does. It feels like a jumble of planets in search of a sun to orbit.

Obviously, part of that is first-draft jitters, but I don’t even know where you go from here. The most obvious choice would be to reset this in the present, which would at least make it more current. But that’s a page-1 rewrite, since you’d have alter the very fabric of the timeline (instead of going back to the 60s, as it stands now, we’d be going back to the 80s) which requires all new “historic moments” our main character needs to experience. The more I think about it, the more shocked I am that they didn’t “present-ize” this story from the get-go. It seems like something a studio is going to ask for sooner or later.

I have a lot of respect for the people who are working on this project. It’s compelling subject matter with a lot of potential. But this is one of those things you have to develop and play with and try things with until you finally rein in a narrative and story that works, and the variables are scattered enough that you’re not sure if you’re ever going to get there. I wish them luck, but this one wasn’t for me.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: As a script trying to become a movie, I don’t think this works. But as a writer trying to get Hollywood’s attention, this script was perfect. The one thing about taking chances and writing a script that’s completely different, is that even if you “fail,” Hollywood likes the fact that you tried something new. Despite evidence to the contrary, Hollywood is always looking for new voices. So you can write unique scripts like these and still have it pay off.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    “That’s one of the genius moves of Groundhog Day. They realized that
    tackling a whole life is too vast, too complicated. So they just focused
    on a single day. As a result, it was much easier to manage.”

    This is interesting and I think lots of us have toyed around with a similar idea at one point or another. I know I did a couple of months back and to get around this problem, I set the story in the future and the time travel thing was done through a TOTAL RECALL-like organization. Thing is, you only get one chance to relive a major life event so you’d better choose carefully… I haven’t done anything more with it since I’ve been working on two scripts for the past six months and already have 3 new projects in my near future. I do like this concept, though, I believe there are lots of possibilities in there.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Started packing after reading this.
      Am moving me and all my stuff to France.

      • gazrow

        Wanna race?!

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          Haha ! There’s room in my garden for a couple of tents :D

          • Poe_Serling

            lol. Why not a bunk bed tent for the two of them? Double the fun without doubling the space. ;-)

          • BennyPickles

            Or why not just share a tent? Snuggle up in the same sleeping bag with a stranger you met online. It’s not like we haven’t all done that before.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            There’s also a couple of Zombie Garden Gnomes out there to snuggle up with :)

          • Marija ZombiGirl


          • Malibo Jackk

            Moving back to LA now.

          • Linkthis83

            Oh my god this is awesome!! This should be the next zombie movie: Gnome sized zombies!!! We always make them people sized. It’s time to do away with that. I love this.

          • Poe_Serling

            A couple??!! That’s a small army. ;-)

          • Malibo Jackk

            Was thinking maybe a two story tent.
            Separate bedrooms, separate baths, dining room, kitchen, cathedral ceilings…
            Nothing elaborate.

    • Poe_Serling

      “… I’ve been working on two scripts for the past six months and already have 3 new projects in my near future.”

      Five different projects in the works… that’s awesome. Just last week I was feeling lazy when I read that Malibo Jackk had four pots cooking on the stove.

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey MZG-

      Just curious – has this film opened in France yet?

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Wow o.O
        This looks good ! I hadn’t even heard of it yet so no, I don’t know when (if…) this will be released over here. I will be watching out for it, though !

        • Poe_Serling

          “It’s the kind of movie that appeals directly to me – one setting, very few characters…”

          Same here. Just the imagery of snaking endlessly down those empty country roads is downright creepy in my book.

          Plus, I read a recent interview with the director/writer Jeremy Lovering. He’s currently penning the script for the remake of The Changeling – one of my favorite pics and apparently his too.

          He also mentions that he’s working closely with the original producers of the George C. Scott film. I’d say that’s a good thing, right? ;-)

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I like this review’s “What I Learned.” Even though it doesn’t stem directly from the script.

    • mulesandmud

      Yeah, it’s a good sentiment but has almost zero intersection with the article.

      The writer wasn’t trying to break in at all. He’s an established pro who did an adaptation on a studio development project. Any ‘chances’ he was taking would have been vetted and sanctioned by the studio, even if he were writing it on spec (possible but highly unlikely).

  • successor

    Replay by Ken Grimwood is one of my favorite novels ever. I re-read it from time to time and get new insights out of it each time I read it. It’s one of those books you appreciate more and more as you get older.

    That being said, this adaptation sounds horrible. Kidnapping Pam at a news station in the beginning? Seriously?! That was the best the screenwriter could come up with? Ugh. Why do they need to make such ridiculous changes like that to the novel’s story? The beginning of the book has a great hook for the movie: Jeff dies and wakes up in his first replay, and it’s a perfect way to open the story because he’s a stranger to this new world and we learn as he does what’s going on. So why ditch it for this? It sounds so needlessly edgy and contrived.

    Bringing the story up to the present day won’t work either because it will make the movie too cheesy and flat out uncomfortable in some parts. What’s Jeff going to do in the modern version? Meet with Ronald Reagan and Kurt Cobain and try futilely to stop 9/11? It will just rub people the wrong way. A period piece works better because it allows the audience emotional distance from traumatizing events like the Kennedy assassination and gives them more of an opportunity to invest themselves in the protagonist’s plight.

    With changes like this, I hope this movie never gets made. Just leave the book alone. Please.

  • ElectricDreamer

    The scope of covering an entire life on repeat mode seems daunting for a movie.
    It feels much more suited to an TV series or premium cable miniseries.
    Period piece TV shows are much more in vogue than feature films.

    I’m reminded of the recent rom/com flop, ABOUT TIME.
    That one also tried to cover an entire life in brief broad strokes too. Yawn.
    I’m hoping that EDGE OF TOMORROW is more successful with the one day repeat plot.
    Basically becoming the GROUNDHOG DAY of the sci-fi/action genre.

    • ChadStuart

      I agree. A TV series format would give this concept much more time to breathe, which it needs.

    • wlubake

      Did you see about time? Most time jumps were no more than mere minutes. And the whole film only spanned about 7-8 years of the lead character’s life. I had some issues (noted elsewhere on this thread), but overall found it a rather enjoyable movie.

      • ElectricDreamer

        Yes, twice. And thanks for making my point for me.
        Instead of one day, we get the meet cute, first sex, marriage and kids, etc.
        For me that film felt more like stilted greeting card vignettes than a story.
        Whereas GD is a jerk learns to be nice by repeating one day of suck.

        In About Time, the device is a fix-all for anything that isn’t picture perfect.
        In Groundhog Day, it’s an unending trap that preys upon the protag’s flaw.
        I find the latter far more compelling on the screen.

        • wlubake

          I would agree that Groundhog Day was more effective and even more compelling. But I still thought About Time was a creative success. It was more theme based than it was flaw based. The theme being to look past the stresses of life and appreciate the beauty in each moment. I’d even say there was an above-average flaw in Tim, the constant worrier and self-doubter. He has truly overcome that flaw when (SPOILER) he abandons time travel and just lives his life.

          • ElectricDreamer

            “The theme being to look past the stresses of life and appreciate the beauty in each moment.”

            You make some fine points. But with all due respect…
            I can get that same sentiment from a greeting card.

            The time travel device in About Time removed all conflict for me.
            He can go back as often as he wants to make everything just so.
            In Groundhog Day the device is a — CONFLICT GENERATOR.

            A protag faced with conflict will react based on their personality.
            It’s that split second decision based on resistance I like most.

            For the record, I’m not a Richard Curtis hater.
            I want his films to succeed.
            Wrote a rom/com fantasy that’s been optioned.
            So, I need his films to prosper to help resurrect the genre!

      • Nicholas J

        I could talk for hours about how much I disliked that movie. To me it just felt so lazy. Oh, hey son, we can travel back in time for no reason at all and all we have to do is close our eyes! No big deal! Sure, there will be some trite consequences, like your kid changes sexes or whatever for no good reason, but it’s okay, you can go back and undo that like super easily! Oh, and you can’t stop your sister from being an alcoholic, but it’s okay, she’ll be fine anyway. Now let’s play ping pong and not have a care in the world because we’re rich and can go to the beach every day and have no actual problems in life, unlike everybody else in existence. More tea?

        • witwoud

          Yeah, lazy as hell. Must be the lamest set-up ever: ‘Son, step into my study, I’ve something to tell you…’ Jeez. Also, we’ve already met every one of these characters in other Richard Curtis movies — the foppish pro tag, the dippy sister, the sparky American girl. I couldn’t even finish it. The man gets worse and worse.

        • BennyPickles

          I don’t think it was lazy; that was a very deliberate choice. The film made a conscious effort to treat something like time travel as if it were really mundane. A father sits his son down and tells him he can travel in time. No flashy VFX or a reveal of a massive time machine (like you would get in an American remake,) just simple dialogue. That’s what made the film unique. I thought it was boldly refreshing.

          And it’s a great lesson for writers. In order to make a genre film feel different, you don’t have to always make it bigger. Sometimes it’s better to pull it back and make something more subtle. And that will, in turn, make it stand out.

  • mulesandmud

    “You have to commend Smilovic for taking chances and pioneering his own narrative.”

    …in this adaptation of a book with the same narrative? Let’s remember that Smilovic was working for Warner Bros here, and wasn’t just taking a shot in the dark.

    Not to say we shouldn’t take chances – of course we should, that’s the fun of writing – but let’s pause for a quick reality check: unique or ambitious ideas will only get you noticed if they are well-executed; otherwise the writer just seems like some dude who stumbled onto a pot of gold and then didn’t know how to spend it.

    I’ve seen too many people find an interesting idea and then rush to get it out into the world even though they had more of a “you can see what I’m going for” draft than a polished final product. It’s true that the industry is looking for new talent and new voices, but that’s because they want people who can EXECUTE. Concept may be king, but in Hollywood everyone believes they’re an idea man, and no one’s going to keep you around if you can’t bridge the gap from idea to movie.

    Smilovic’s situation here is a little different – he’s established and his project is already sanctioned by the studio, so he can deliver a draft that is ‘promising’ but not altogether perfect. Newcomers should never feel they have that luxury.

  • fragglewriter

    Wow, that first paragraph fits me to a T. Luckily, I finally found a job and stopped being a bum for the moment.
    Based on the writer’s track record, I’m surprised that he was given so many opportunities to develop TV shows given that the series produced were short-lived.
    I’m going to have to search through the Scriptshadow archives for an article that you may have written pertaining to how to attach an A-list Director to your script. I know a director reads a script and envisions their imprint, but why Directos drop-out vary depending on their schedules and overcommitments, but I bet it has more to do with reading a new hot script on the street and just going with that.
    The time travelling concept in this script seems interesting, but I think what threw me off was that finding two other people who can do the same. I think if you were to use the same concept and try to put a twist on it, like add a thriller component to it, it would be interesting.

    Aso, this script with the two other individuals reminded me of the movie “Jumper.”
    What I Learned Tip: good point. If a new voice can lead to maybe an assignment in a writer’s room where a writer can improve his craft, nothing lost, only gained.

  • brenkilco

    Time travel stories, of every sort, are always a minefield. Sooner or later the writer gets tangled in and starts tripping over the temporal conundrums he’s created. No matter how carefully he lays out the rules of his world, no matter how rigorously logical he is, there are simply too many inherent contradictions in this type of material for the story to be entirely satisfying unless you keep the premise as simple as Groundhog Day or The Time Machine. I think Primer is a remarkable movie, a mind bender produced for the price of a happy meal, and repeatedly altering the past is central to its plot. But even it eventually goes off the rails. A sub-genre suitable only for the brilliant or the foolhardy.

    • mulesandmud

      “A sub-genre suitable only for the brilliant or the foolhardy.”

      Best description of the film industry I’ve ever heard.

    • wlubake

      I recently watched “About Time” and felt it had a moment that suffered from the same questions. They used a time travel incident to set a major restriction on the protagonist, only to immediately undo it. I’m still not sure they didn’t undermine the full emotional effect of the final act.

      • BennyPickles

        To me that ending bit was just fridge logic. I completely forgot about the rule saying they couldn’t go back. I think sometimes the emotional side overrules any previous plot points you may have imposed. Didn’t stop me from crying.

      • Alex Palmer

        I know what you mean. There was even a line of voice-over explicitly saying “this was the most important decision of my life”. And then makes it two seconds later.

        TBH, Richard Curtis’ stories are often structurally all over the place. But he’s shaping to be a skilled visual director.

    • Nicholas J

      To me, Primer going off the rails toward the end was sort of the point. It reflects the confusing and mentally exhausting situation the characters are in.

      • brenkilco

        Very possibly. Just seemed to me that a certain point the writer himself lost track of which versions of his characters were interacting with which other versions and how many more versions were lurking about or tied up in attics or closets.

        • mulesandmud

          Funny. Reminds me of that story about ‘The Big Sleep':

          The plotting of Raymond Chandler’s novel was so dense that Howard Hawks and the screenwriters, William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett (wow, what a team) couldn’t figure out who killed the chauffeur.

          Finally, they sent a cable to Chandler asking him to clarify. Even he had no clue.

          • brenkilco

            Hawks told that story different ways. The version I like is where they phone Chandler and he tells them the butler did it and hangs up.The book- a must read for anybody who wants to write anything- is complicated enough. And he script fuzzed up even more stuff for censorship reasons. But even in the book you’re never exactly sure who killed the chauffeur.

          • filmklassik

            Chandler managed the language beautifully — line for line he was as great as anyone who ever wrote genre fiction — but even he used to acknowledge that he wasn’t much of a “plot guy.”

          • brenkilco

            As you may know he had such trouble coming up with plots that when it came time for him to write his novels he would take two or three of his old short stories and meld them together. To me, that sounds nearly as hard as making up an original. Anyway if it sometimes seems that his novel plots don’t quite tie together at key points it’s because they don’t. But his prose and dialogue were in a class by themselves.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, my understanding is that “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell My Lovely” were both mash-ups of previously published short stories but his later books were completely original, if a bit unwieldy plot-wise.

            Be advised, though, that I am far from an expert on Chandler and have only ever read “The Big Sleep” and — I think — a few chapters of “Farewell My Lovely” (I am familiar with his work mainly through motion pictures) so if I’ve got my facts wrong, please correct me.

          • brenkilco

            The Lady in the Lake is also a mashup but later stuff like The Long Goodbye and The Little Sister are original. The movie The Long Goodbye seems like such a shaggy dog Altman thing I always assumed it played fast and loose with Chandler. I was surprised to learn that it actually hews pretty closely to the book. A bit of trivia. The first movie adaption of Farewell My Lovely was actually an entry in the George Sanders B movie series The Falcon. Don’t suppose Chandler made much when he sold the movie rights.

          • mulesandmud

            The Long Goodbye is Chandler’s masterpiece, far and away, and not just because the plot makes sense.

            I always think of the Altman movie as the yin to Chinatown’s yang; loose where Chinatown is tight, timely where Chinatown is timeless. They meet at thematic essence of noir, though: brutal, unflinching pessimism.

          • brenkilco

            The Long Goodbye is one of those rare films that it is absolutely of its era yet continues to look better and better every year. The coke bottle scene is one of the great WTF moments in American movies.

            “That was someone I love. You, I don’t even like.”

  • Citizen M

    I got about half way through the 125 pages. There doesn’t seem to be much story. He becomes more of an asshole with every iteration so far. Presumably at the end he sees the light and becomes a better man, but I found the effort of trying to keep up with who was who in every lifetime became too much for any entertainment value I was getting.

    The changes in his life all seemed rather random or pointless. The same again but slightly different. If he was interesting to start with, okay, but there’s nothing special about him. I fail to see what any industry professional found compelling about this script.

    • Randy Williams

      Maybe he’s secretly a robot?

  • Brainiac138

    Sure it would be nice for Jason Smilovic to get this made, but he isn’t exactly hurting either. Pretty sure this guy still gets solid rewrite work and still has a few tv projects working their way down various pipelines. The guy works really hard.

    • Randy Williams

      I hope he does. Lucky Number Slevin was the inspiration for me to want to write movies. I remember that ending was so satisfying, so emotional. Perfect endings, I think, surprise the characters within the story as much as they surprise you and more difficult to do, give you a release that’s been building and building, at the same time as giving a release to the protagonist that you feel they deserve. I remember gasping with surprise and then I cried.

      • wlubake

        I completely ignored this movie at the time, but now feel like I need to check it out. Not often a Josh Hartnett vehicle moves someone to tears.

      • Linkthis83

        Lucky Number Slevin = great stuff

  • Eddie Panta

    So, here’s the thing, I’ve actually done this… and I gotta tell you it does not make for the fun time you think it would. When I relived 18 and went back to high school it was sheer torture.

    First off, turns out I was a total A-hole when I was 18, furthermore the girls were no where near as hot as I remember. SAT’s! No thank you ! — You could fill a football field with the amount of basic math I’d forgotten. And the music, my god, like I want go to a Rick Springfield concert again. Not to mention all that time spent masturbating, how did I ever do it.

    Anyway, I was going to write a screenplay based on my real life experience of reliving 18, but i made the mistake of telling someone about it before getting a copyright and that certain someone ended up writing a little movie called Hot Tub Time Machine behind my back. So, while I could enlighten you further it’s a painful subject that I don’t really like reliving.

    • kenglo

      Is that really true…? The Hot Tub Time Machine story….

      • Eddie Panta

        Yes, of course it is. Oh, and I still couldn’t get Teresa Wannamaker to go to the prom with me. I had to relive that nightmare all over again.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Why wouldn’t it be?

  • Richard3

    “Spielberg is notorious for doing this, repeatedly raising and then crushing dreams (I feel so sorry for that Roboapacolypse writer!).”

    Did Spielberg drop out of “Extant”?

    • Richard3

      Never mind. You were actually referring to “Roboapacolypse.” Whoosh… had me scared there for a minute…

    • Hadley’s Hope

      I saw a teaser preview for “Extant” on CBS last night.

  • JW

    C, one of the things you bring up, but don’t necessarily highlight is the fact that as a writer you have to be able to go from project to project to project at the drop of a hat. This isn’t normal in the “every day” world where routine is the norm, and newer writers to the system won’t necessarily realize it until they get there, but this is why it’s hugely important that when you get that big opportunity you actually have more than just your latest project at your disposal. No matter how good your script is, the next question is always going to be, “what else do you have / are you working on?” The more you have in the pipeline and/or completed, the better your chances of using whatever current script has gotten you to that level to continue on with that success. I think many, many, many writers look at this as a sprint when it’s actually a marathon, and while quality trumps quantity any day of the week, one amazing script could get you in the door, but if you have nothing behind it, you could be only one step backward from being out in the rain again.

  • gazrow

    “You, lucky unknown screenwriter, don’t have to deal with any of that soul-crushing madness yet.”

    If only! And it’s not just Directors who are guilty of this.

    Here is an email I got a few months back from a well known British actor turned producer:

    “I recently read your script Mrs Satan via Scriptshadow and thought it was a very funny well written script. Great characters and a simple but very effective premise.

    I have a production company in the UK and would be interested in talking to you further about developing it. It would be good to know if the script is still available and what your plans are. Let me know and let’s chat further.”

    And here’s an email I got more recently from a lesser known American actor:

    “I recently came across your “Male-Order Bride” script. It’s pretty fucking funny…

    What are your plans with it? Has it already been optioned? Do you guys have an agent?”

    Point is, both of these guys contacted me out of the blue. I replied to both of them – got my hopes built up only never to hear from either one of them again. WTF?!

    • ElectricDreamer

      I’ve gotten LOIs from prodcos and then never heard from them again.
      Soul-crushing madness aplenty for gate knockers.

    • Rzwan Cabani

      Damn Gaz that’s pretty sweet — and a complete MIND EFF! You’re doin’ somethin’ right bruh. Consider it a complimentary layer to that thick skin ;)

    • mulesandmud

      I’d say fight fire with fire. Send queries to agencies, managers, and good-fit prodcos and name-drop the guys who contacted you.

      It’s not a silver bullet, of course, but these folks package projects for a living, and if they read a line like “[such and such] has expressed interest in the project”, it might catch their eye.

      Anyway…good problems!

      • gazrow

        “I’d say fight fire with fire. Send queries to agencies, managers, and good-fit prodcos and name-drop the guys who contacted you.”

        That’s a good idea. Problem is, I’m pretty hopeless at promoting my projects. I’ve never really tried the query route. But it’s definitely something I’m going to be a lot more proactive about in future.

        • mulesandmud

          I know, it’s rough. The writing part of screenwriting and the pitching/selling/self-promotion part of screenwriting are almost diametrically opposed skills. I’m never surprised when an actor makes a smooth transition into writing – they know how to play the part in the room, and make the rest of us look like barnacles.

          Queries aren’t the only way – I’ve never done one myself – but the larger point is that no one is going to fight for your career or your material except you. If you feel confident enough to show your writing, then you need to train yourself on how to show it well.

        • John Bradley

          Cold query has been the least effective way in getting people to read my work. It’s still worth doing, but is a rabbit hole of hopelessness.

          • walker

            “A Rabbit Hole of Hopelessness” is the name of the script I am entering in the Nicholl Fellowships.

          • John Bradley

            Haha the title is a worth the read!

        • Jaco

          Never really tried the query route? Why not? How else are you going to get eyes on your projects?

          If you have scripts you are proud of, have a logline – then you have all you need to start querying. Sure, even throw in a line like mulesandmud suggested. Querying is EASY.

          Seriously – what are you waiting for?

          Also – per your original post – I’m sorry, but that’s not “soul-crushing” by any definition. Ball’s in your court – why aren’t you contacting these people? “I have . . .they just don’t respond” – MAKE THEM RESPOND. Get a definitive yes or no. Now, don’t go all stalker on them – but there is a way to handle these type of communications and you are going about it the wrong way.

          What/who are you waiting for? Godot? Stop dropping the ball and be proactive! Look at what happened when you complained about your AOW script . . . now put that sort of energy into querying and you’ll be on your way.


          • gazrow

            Thanks for the pep talk. I think I needed that! :)

          • Jaco

            Hey – I’ve been there. Make no mistake about it.

            At some point though you gotta just say “What the fuck” and start sending your scripts out. Screw rejection – it’s par for the course. Having someone say “no” to your query (or not even respond) is definitely NOT the end of the world. At least, that’s how I approach it.

            Query. No response. Move on.

            Query. Read request. Pass. Move on.

            Query. We don’t take unsolicited material. Move on.

            Now, if you’ve sent out 100s of queries with no read requests . . . it’s time to take a look at what you are doing. And that’s a GOOD thing.

            In the end, it’ll do nothing but help you figure out where you stand. Did for me.

            And, remember, all it takes is ONE.

          • gazrow

            This is really helpful and much appreciated! :)

          • JakeBarnes12

            I absolutely agree about contacting everybody when your material is good enough.

            But no reply is a “no” in Hollywood, Jaco.

            Yeah, you can do one polite follow up. But if they’re really interested, they’ll call.

            Reason you won’t get that definitive “no” is because you might go on to write something great and they don’t want to have turned you down.

            You keep contacting them in case they’ve “forgotten” your script, it’s the equivalent of leaving the cool girl multiple texts checking she got your message.

            Oh, and when you’re in meetings, everyone “loves” your script. It’s really exciting the first couple of times you hear it.

            Important thing is to keep producing material great enough to get you noticed.

            Eventually someone isn’t going to say they love your script. They’re going to say yes.

          • Jaco

            For the most part, based on my own experience, a no reply is a no in Hollywood. Would not disagree there. Especially with queries.

            I was commenting on Gary’s specific situation though . . . based on my own experiences. I would follow up. He has nothing to lose.

          • JakeBarnes12

            If you read the comments, kenglo asked Gary if he followed up on his replies and he says he did and got a blow off email from one of them about being busy and he’d get back in touch.

            Regardless, Jaco, suggesting to Gary he “MAKE THEM RESPOND. Get a definitive yes or no” might not be the wisest path unless you enjoy collecting restraining orders.

          • gazrow

            For what it’s worth, I think you’re both right. If either of the guys I mentioned had been truly interested, then I would have heard back. Silence seems to be the preferred way of saying “no” in this business. And as you rightly said, pursuing it to the extreme could eventually lead to legal recriminations.

            But I think Jaco makes a great point:
            “Never really tried the query route? Why not? How else are you going to get eyes on your projects?”

          • Jaco

            Yeah – my comment was a titch hyperbolic. Sorry you didn’t catch that. Main point I was trying to make was for Gary not to take a defeatist attitude. Me? I would have been in contact with the guy after the email about being busy. Honestly, without knowing all the details, who knows if doing so would cross the line between being proactive and being desperate . . . that’s only something Gary can figure out.

            Also, before screenwriting, I was in an industry where I made my money getting definitive answers – so I’m 100% sure that colors my approach.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Remember that hot chick you kept asking out but she was always busy washing her hair, Jaco?

            She really did want to date you but she was suffering from a rare scalp condition that required constant attention.

            Every night she cried herself to sleep in frustration, wanting so badly to go out with you and cursing the horrible disease that kept her chained to the bathroom sink.

            Sure, it’s ten years later, but maybe you should give her a call.

          • Jaco

            Sounds like something you are more familiar with than me. Sorry you had that experience.

          • Breezy

            “no reply is a “no” in Hollywood”



          • JakeBarnes12

            Sadly I picked up the above from hard-won experience, but that’s a great article that breaks it down nicely.

          • mulesandmud

            Footnote: on the incredibly rare occasion that someone does cut through the bullshit and answers you with a straight ‘no’, mark it down. That person may be one of the rare straight-talkers in an industry of circle-speaking passive aggressors, and is worth keeping in your orbit.

            True candor is one of the scarcest resources in the business.

    • Linkthis83

      Oh, do writers not find it funny when I do that? ;)

      • John Bradley

        So that was you, not Mel Gibson that emailed me!!!!>=/

        • walker

          No, that was really Mel Gibson.

          • Linkthis83

            You’re probably going to want to keep your options open though.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            Hello, my name is Lem Bigson, got any scripts?

    • Malibo Jackk

      The good news is:
      Once you sell a script, the next question you’ll hear is
      — What else do you have?

      • gazrow

        True. It’s selling the script that’s the real problem! :)

    • kenglo

      Did you ever followup with them?

      • gazrow

        Yeah. I sent them both polite emails. I got this from the ‘Mrs. Satan’ guy a week or so later:

        “Hi Gary,

        Sorry for the radio silence, I’ve been running around – a few projects have gained momentum all at once. Lets try and speak next week if that suits.”

        Needless to say, next week came and went and the radio silence has become pretty deafening! Lol.

        • Eddie Panta

          Can silence really be deafening?

          • gazrow

            Sorry, can’t hear you! :)

          • Faulty Parts

            What about when AOW failed to show up… that was a pretty defeaning silence

  • drifting in space

    Anyone have a copy of this they can send my way? driftinginscripts at gmail dot com


    • Citizen M

      It’s on Write to Reel. Sign up there for scripts.

      • drifting in space

        I usually go there but I was lazy this time.

  • kenglo

    So Echo Station aka Amaranth by Patrick Aison did it right, and Replay, did it wrong….Hmmmm….

  • Eddie Panta

    Breaking News Via Twitter: Disney and @theblcklst have partnered to “help find undiscovered writers with diverse perspectives for Disney’s Feature Writers Program”

  • BennyPickles

    Saying “I’ll direct the film myself” is the equivalent of saying “I’ll star in the film myself.”

    Unless you can act, don’t do it. Directing takes just as much skill as writing does. It’s something you really need to train in and be great at. You can’t just casually pick up a camera and make a great film no more so than you can pick up a pen and write a great script.

    • Julian Blumberg

      That’s an interesting take on it, and I respect that POV, that one needs to focus their skill set.

      However, I’m not really talking about making a great film, just making a film. People over-emphasize how difficult it is to actually make a film; at the end of the day, you’re pushing a button. The real talent of a director is surrounding themselves with more talented people. Let the cinematographer shoot, the production designer build, the editor cut, and the actors act. The director just needs to know the story better than anyone else. And who knows the story better than the writer?

      • BennyPickles

        I mean, sure, you *can* do that. You can do a lot of things. But the role of a director is a tad more extensive than just knowing the story. There’s a reason their name is the first to show up in the credits. You wouldn’t build a house with a foreman who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and making a film is the same.

        However, there are many writers who do, indeed, make brilliant directors. And vice versa. But it’s hardly a job anybody can – and more importantly, should – do. It takes lots of time to learn. Some people devote their entire lives to learning the craft of a director, and still fail.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Some of us detest pron?
    (Not sure what that means.)

    • Breezy

      It was a typo, he meant “prawn”.
      I, for one, abhor prawn.
      He just spelt it like he pronounces it. Don’t get nitpicky, you say tomato he says tomahto. sheesh.

      • klmn

        I thought he meant pronouns.

    • Linkthis83

      I’m trying to get past “the guy wasn’t even a writer when he wrote that.”

      Truth be told, I wasn’t even a commenter when I commented just now.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Schroedinger’s cat and Pavlov’s dog walk into a bar. The Dog says, “You hear that bell” and the Cat says “Yes and no”.

        • Midnight Luck

          that is hilarious.

    • Citizen M

      It means he’s one of those broing people who takes his date to the porm in a Frod.

  • 7HB7

    I don’t think you’ve ever written a more accurate introductory paragraph.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      He forgot to add video games as a supplemental vice to the porn.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    Just going from the synopsis of “Replay” from the review, the part that sticks out to me is Jeff linking up with Pam, who also has this “replay” ability. Then the other dude (Biff) as a villain. Perhaps Biff has a few henchmen who also replay. They are then trying to stop Jeff and Pam from telling others about this unique ability they all possess. Maybe Biff thinks he is better than the average mortal human. He might even believe that he is some sort of god.

    This seems like it has the potential to be a neat metaphysical action thriller. Feels a bit like “Highlander” meets “The Bourne Identity”, with a twist. Whereas Jason Bourne can’t remember anything, these folks remember everything.

    I have not read the actual script or novel of “Replay” though, and am possibly going too far off on a tangent with this take on the premise.

    • Linkthis83

      Jeff IS the Tin Man ;)

      • Hadley’s Hope

        He’s a robot! What a twist!

  • Citizen M

    As a writer, you have to do whatever it takes to get your movie made. From Night of the Living Dead trivia on IMDb:

    Screenwriter John A. Russo appears as the ghoul who gets his forehead smashed by Ben with a tire iron. He also allowed himself to be set on fire for real when nobody else wanted to do the stunt.