Mr. Fix-It, Pt. II
Updating my "Adventures on the Edges" post, the very-low-paid, no-credit rewrite continues.
I really feel the urge to blog about this, because there's a lot of ambiguity to it on many levels. The whole idea of rewriting someone else's script is always a dicey thing, though in this instance, I'm able to justify it in several important ways:
1) The script has a good, high-concept horror-thriller idea, and C- execution. And, despite being given a lot of opportunities, the original writer just never managed to elevate the material much from his original half-assed take on it. And the writer has (supposedly, though I trust my producer/friend who told me this) given the tacit okay to overhaul it without him.
2) As rewrites go, I think I'm approaching it in a way that you'd want some guy rewriting your script to approach it from. I'm doing it because the basic idea has really fired up my imagination, and I want to make the script work. I'm NOT doing it simply for a paycheck (obviously), while I'm importantly NOT doing it with an eye on making enough changes to it to get my name on it as a co-writer, because it was made clear to me that that was off the table from the start.
And that's actually very freeing. There's no baggage here, no conflicting motivations pulling at me. It's just about bringing out the potential in this script, and making it kick ass.
3) It's a much, much better script now, but at the same time, it's still the original writer's structure and story. If it's a car metaphor, the engine is his, but I've souped it up, and completely overhauled the rest car to make it a better ride inside and out.
This update comes because I spent much of the past two days (probably about 10 hours total typing, 3 more hours on the phone) doing another major rewrite of the script, incorporating scads of notes that the producer and I worked out together. If I ever do sell a script to a producer, this would be the kind of relationship I want; he liked my ideas, added some refinements, we kicked a lot of stuff around over the phone, and hammered out a string of much better second half action beats.
And then I just sat down at my laptop, and disappeared into the zone again.
And that's what has me freaked out, and exhilarated. Because I've rediscovered something in the past week, that I thought I'd lost. The ability to just sit down, and write, and write, and write, and write good stuff, and crank out endless pages, and finally look up and realize that 4 hours have passed and I didn't even notice.
That's heaven, and that's what I need to continue with my own stuff. As soon as this rewrite is over (it's almost there, maybe one more tighten-up-the-nuts polish, but the major work is done) I can try to translate this new writing zone to my stuff.
And lord knows, I have enough choices in my own things-to-be-written pile to find one that has me disappearing into the laptop for 2-3 hours every night.
I can't wait.
So it's a weird shame that I'm finding all of this inspiration in a script that I have no claim to; if the producer can set it up, he'll probably throw me a bit more cash, and if it helps make him a little more of a player, well hopefully he'll throw me some work in the future with some real money attached. Of course, if this movie is made, and is successful (which is possible; it has some good moments, for a lowbrow thriller), it's the original C- writer who will get the gigs from it.
But again, it's not months of work that I've sunk into it, it's literally days. It's been a hell of an experience, my first actually working with a producer, aggressively shaping work, pounding away on a tight deadline, and discovering that it feels really, really good.
So even if the script goes nowhere, I think it's still win-win.
And if anything happens with the script in the future, I'll send up a flare.