Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pinch Me! Please!

Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming. If I’m not, then I have wonderful news!  My short screenplay has been optioned by a production company. If all goes well, filming will begin soon and “Emoticon” will be presented in several film festivals.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this new development in my career as a writer.  I have come so far from author wannabe to screenwriter.  After so many rejection letters, agent turn-downs and broken promises, my work will now be visualized by the masses.

I suppose that I should retrace my steps for readers who don’t know about the path that brought me to this point and fill in some blanks for those of you who have followed my journey. In 2011, I announced that my novel “Enchanted Heart” had been picked up by a small publisher.  That was a very exciting moment for me. I even wrote about it here. Unfortunately, the publisher had some technical difficulties, which I will not go into because I refuse to create negativity for anyone. Karma, I hear, is like a fire-breathing dragon and I won’t burn bridges or my backside by recanting a story that is better left untold.  All I will say is that the company has gone out of business and the print version of the book is no longer available except as print-on-demand and left-over stock. Sad, I know. I get teary-eyed whenever I think of it.

But, I've moved on. And so has my career.  I would never have imagined that I would write a screenplay until I wrote “L’Inked”, an adaptation of my thriller/romance novel.  My friends who had read the novel commented that it would make a great movie. But I chuckled and said that I had no clue how to present the idea to a screenwriter.  Then one day I was perusing Facebook for interesting subjects and I came across a conversation between two fiction authors who had stepped over the line from novelist to screenwriter. I was intrigued. I asked questions. I got answers, answers that led me to obsessively research the process.  I spent days searching the Internet for insight, guidance and reassurance. I went to the library and checked out books on the subject, made notes, made promises to myself…and then I made excuses as to why I was not qualified to write screenplays.

But Pamala Hall, one of my friends on Facebook who is not only a screenwriter and producer who owns LionHawk Productions, but is also, a very prolific woman whose inspiring words motivated me to take that first step.  Seeing her posts every day gave me the courage to not only dream but to, in her most encouraging words, “Soar!”

So, I downloaded a free screenwriting program and off I went, climbing higher and higher on that caffeine-induced endeavor that we authors call writing. The first draft was finished after three days and, I have to tell you that mixed with the excitement of the accomplishment was a myriad of emotions.  Relief, exhaustion and utter disbelief that I had actually written a script were among them.  But most of all, I felt lost.  I was overwhelmed by the need to continue that addictive activity. I was having withdrawals!  It was as if my mind was craving that creativity, that focus, that feeling of flying high above a world that I alone could construct!

The urge to practice this newfound art spurred me to write my short screenplay “Emoticon”.  This five-page family drama took only a few hours to write and I immediately sent it to another producer friend of mine who said she liked it, which gave me the courage to list it on where screenwriters pitch their wares.  I couldn’t afford to list my feature screenplay “L’Inked” but it was free to list short scripts, so I entered the pitch into their database in September.  In December, I got the email that a producer was interested in filming it!  On Christmas Day, I signed the release for Trifecta Motion Pictures to option the script for six months.

Now, let me explain.  An option means that the film company has exclusive rights to film the screenplay. It doesn’t mean that the film is guaranteed to actually be produced.  I know, I know.  I tell myself every day not to get excited until the big screen blares my name in the credits.  But, I am proud of myself for getting this far this fast!  Let me bask in the fantasy for a while (or at least for six months). Update: I got an email from Dwayne and shooting will begin in a few weeks!

Meanwhile, I also wrote a feature film screenplay that I titled “Last Chance”.  This one took a little longer because of research and character development.  But I finished it and then put it aside while I dabbled in another thriller, which is still in the outline stage.  Then, I revised, rewrote and edited until I thought that “Last Chance” had a chance in a contest.  So, with high hopes, I entered it.  But it did not make the semi-finals. So, it is back up for grabs! Read the log line here

The good news is, eyes will be seeing my work and my talent will be noticed by producers and management agencies.  Hopefully, some day, mine will be a household name.  If not, at least I can say that I took that step into a new realm of creativity.  For now, I’m just going to SOAR!