Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Alejandra Question #1

1) How did you realize you wanted to make a movie?

I had kicked around L.A. as a screenwriter for a couple years and done pretty well for a New Guy. I'd been hired to do an adaptation for this company and they ended up optioning a family comedy I wrote called Down On The Farm, which is about a wealthy spoiled Manhattan family who goes bankrupt and are forced to work on a New Mexico dairy farm for a year. (I only mention that in the hopes that one of my nine readers is a powerful studio exec)

Anyway, the huge plus in all of this was that Dennis Dugan was attached to direct and I got to work with him on rewrites -- which was like getting a PHD in comedy writing. He's directed a bunch of terrific comedies, including Big Daddy and Adam Sandler's upcoming I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He was great. His wife Sharon was great. We're all still friends. But the production company was not so great. So, without reliving the details, I'll just say that the company and I had a falling out, and I had to completely burn that bridge to extricate myself. This ruined whatever career I had built, but I never regretted it.

That production company was my only contact in Hollywood. All my eggs were in that basket. So, I had two choices: I could start over as a screenwriter or go back to my old job in North Carolina. Neither option was desirable. Making the rounds script-in-hand again seemed intolerable. But the idea of going back and being re-chained to that desk seemed worse. So, I came up with a third option: After four years, I'd finally finished finished writing Beautiful Loser, so, why not make it, right? Why not make a movie? What the hell, right? And that was the first time I ever even considered becoming a director.

Now, never in a million years did I think Beautiful Loser would get made. That Steven Wolfe and Sneak Preview came along to make it happen still feels unreal. So, it didn't start out being about that. I just wanted to try. I was 39 years old and needed to do something insane. Something people would laugh about behind my back (and they did). Something so grandiose and foolish it wasn't a matter of if I would fail, it was only a matter of just how big the ball of flame was I would go down in. My goal was to take it as far as I could -- just to see how far I could take it. And to scrape up a bunch of people who felt the same way.

After twenty years of being a bill collector, I didn't come out here wanting anything other than to experience something different. And it seemed to me that failing miserably at trying to make a film on my own fit that criteria quite well. It was a Hail Mary pass. It was my last shot before conceding. But if you're going to be chained to a desk the rest of your life, it helps to know you at least tried to go over the wall.

And I could still end up chained to that desk. BL could disappear like it never happened and do me no good at all. I may have just held off the inevitable for a couple years at the cost of every penny I ever saved. And I'm okay with that. But for the people who believed in the project, and put their money and Star Power and free time into it, I'm not okay with that. It's very important to me they all come out ahead. And I would love to direct another film. I would love to scoop up every person I was blessed to work with (except for the one's who don't return my phone calls) and do it all over again...

But if I don't, that's alright. Because it was never about that. It was about the trying. It was about giving something everything I had and seeing how it came out. It was about the experience. And I wasn't going to let the experience be ruined by expectations. Nothing ruins an experience more than expectations. There's a lot of people out here made unhappy by expectations. A lot.

But, to finally answer your question: I realized I wanted to make a movie when I realized I wanted an adventure. Making BL hasn't been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's a close second. It's stressful and scary and exhausting and even humiliating at times. But it's always exhilerating. And that's what I wanted: A memory. Because someday I'll be old. And maybe someday someone will bother to ask me about myself. And if they do I will tell them about this. About the greatest adventure of my life.


Post a Comment

<< Home