I’ve had many wonderful script assignments over the years, and seen my words translated into action by real movie stars. There really is something satisfying about seeing Mia Farrow recite your dialogue.
One of my short films was a pioneering effort in the category of short online content and was the most popular film on the most popular pre-YouTube site in the world. That was also very satisfying.
I still write scripts and enjoy the format. Script writing takes me to other worlds, and I’m currently translating one of my scripts into my first novel. I’ve seen some very good movies in my head and will continue to write for the screen.
Here is a summary of my successes thus far.
This film was based on the life story of a South African internet pioneer named Ronnie Apteker. Ronnie and his partners didn’t want to make a ‘foreign’ film so I was hired to take his outline and early drafts and make them into an American story with a shoot-able script.
The crazy story of how this film was made, the tiny window in time in which there was both the money and the will to get it done, is typical of the movie business. I think this film captures the early days of the internet well. It was certainly the product of a particular time, place, and technological moment. It was a Showtime movie in the US and a theatrical release in other markets.
The trailer can be seen here: PURPOSE TRAILER
An early draft of the script can be found here – PURPOSE DRAFT
COWBOYS AND ANGELS
The early days of the internet also called for lots of short form content and so me and my friends responded by making this short western. I wrote and directed it with a great cast of actors and fine technicians. Jordan Murphy was a casting choice when he was truly nobody, and he’s gone on to be quite successful.
This film was the #1 most viewed short film on the premiere short film site, Atom Films, in Feb of 2000:
I was retained by Echo Lake Productions to develop scripts based on literary properties that were in the public domain. My assignment was to adapt the Thomas Hardy novel ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ to the American west.
The Hardy novel concerns a lower class girl who inherits a sheep farm in Wessex, the operations about which she knows little, and so she must be coached by a man who loves her, but has remained in the lower classes, and therefore is ineligible as her mate.
I had to translate everything to do with sheep to the world of cattle and all of the issues of class to the American concept of business owners and their employees.
The script was optioned many times, but it could never escape the designation of being a ‘Western,’ which was considered to be a dead genre, unless all but a very few actors picked it up. Given that the lead character was female, there was not a lead to drive it, and therefore it was never made.
Nevertheless, I’m proud of it, and the story stands on its own.
This book has been made in to a movie twice, both in 1967 and in 2015, and in these two trailers, it’s easy to see how interpretation of the lead character, Bathsheba, has changed. The book is quite hard on her, and in my translation, she also receives a hard comeuppance.
The 1967 version:
The 2015 version:
My take on this classic can be found here: FAR COUNTRY
BUS RIDE TO JUSTICE
Fred Gray is arguably the most influential lawyer in American history and I was hired to create a screenplay based on his autobiography. Gray was the attorney for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and was the lead attorney who represented the men who had been the unknowing subjects of the odious Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
I spent hours interviewing Mr. Gray and was able to get him to state, and later confirm in updated drafts of his book, that Rosa Parks did not spontaneously refuse to get up when asked to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus in 1955. She was part of a plan, a plot, to challenge the segregation laws in court, with Gray as the lead lawyer. This plan set off the Montgomery Bus Boycott and changed the course of American history.
I was merely a ‘work-for-hire’ on this project and Gray retains the rights. He has done nothing with the script to the best of my knowledge, but his is a great story and I am quite proud to have been associated with this project and hope one day to see it made.
Here is a short clip of Fred speaking at the MLK Freedom Center:
The full script can be find here: BUS RIDE TO JUSTICE