I spent years writing screenplays. That is a totally different discipline than writing fiction. It is mostly dialogue, with a little description and stage directions. And the description can only be what the characters can see and hear. No other senses can be described, because only what you can hear or see is what can be put on the screen. And definitely no inner thoughts. Screenwriters think of voice-over narration as kindly as writers think of prologues. Don’t do it.
The reason I spent years at this was because of early success. I had a screenplay produced, and it was an amazing adventure. The screenplay, ‘Hamal_23 and Lady Ashley’, was about a police detective whose teenage daughter had been murdered by someone she met online, and because of this he posed online as someone just like her in order to track down her killer. He was a grown man posing as his teenage daughter in the hopes that since the killer had been attracted to her he would be attracted to this online clone of her he had created. Although the detective did such a good job at this he was very successful in trapping online predators, keeping his dead daughter’s soul alive online was tearing him up. Then one day he is contacted by someone he is convinced is his daughter’s killer, and the game is on.
There was an Internet site called Ink Tip where producers posted requests for the kind of screenplays they were looking for. I pitched to a producer seeking the kind of screenplay I had written. A month later he replied asking for the screenplay. I emailed it to him, and a month later he sent me a contract. I signed it and mailed it back. We were in business. He later told me he had received over a thousand screenplays. He, his wife, and their grown daughter read them all. It was his wife who first read mine, and passed it on to him. So my screenplay was chosen over a thousand other screenplays. That was encouraging.
I signed the contract in January. In March I flew out to Los Angeles to go over the screenplay line by line. I and the producer did this sitting poolside in his back yard. He also involved me in two days of call-back auditions. He had rented this little theater in Hollywood (he told me Hollywood was full of little theaters) where actors who had impressed him during their first auditions were invited back for a second audition. So I got to hear live actors speaking lines I had written. That was cool. Here are a few of the actors I met that day.
After I flew back home the producer kept me involved in the movie by sending me progress updates and still shots from the filming.
I especially like this next shot. The detective is at his computer posing online as his deceased daughter, while a dark form representing his recreation of her sits alongside him. I thought that was a powerful scene.
Also, here is the movie flyer he sent me.
During the process, the name got changed from my original title ‘Hamal_23 and Lady Ashley’ to ‘Hamal_18’. This is something you need to get used to if you ever collaborate with someone else. My thinking was I wrote a screenplay and he was making a movie, two totally different endeavors, so the final choices for the movie were of course his.
Nearly a year later the movie was finished. I was invited back out to Los Angeles for the premier, which I and my wife attended.
Below is my listing on the movie’s original web site.
It took place at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd.
The cast and crew gathered in the lobby for a party.
This is one of me that night.
After, we went in to see the movie. It was a great experience to see the story I’d created up on the screen.
The producer entered the movie in several film festivals and promoted it heavily in the media, but it never was released to theaters. Six months later it was released direct to DVD. Here is the box.
Netflix DVD carried it for years, but no more.
It is still listed on IMdB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424131/
Where it says the movie is available on Prime, and several other places. Video: https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/amzn1.dv.gti.24b6c4af-ddad-3a5e-a0ff-06384125885b?ref_=imdbref_tt_wbr_pvs_piv&tag=imdbtag_tt_wbr_pvs_piv-20
Here is the image on the Prime Video page.
I like the blurb for the movie on this site: A brooding detective assumes the persona of his young daughter and obsessively hunts internet chat rooms for the pedophile who killed her. Whoever wrote this is much better at writing blurbs than I am.
Anyway, nothing ever came of the movie. But it was a great experience, and I pull my copy out to watch once in a while. The bad part is this success kept me writing screenplays much longer than I should have. Screenwriting is difficult to break into, and nearly impossible if you don’t live in Los Angeles. I now wish I had quit much sooner and concentrated on writing fiction. I’m sure I would be much further along in my career by now.