Read a sample:
Read a sample:
‘You’ve been asked to write a screenplay? That’s unusual. I hope it’s not too hard, too much of a change from your usual,’ said Kate, which she thought was expressing helpful concern, but wasn’t. Kate’s my wife you see and wives always want to be helpful but often aren’t.
‘It’s that Sam Katz from Universal, he’s seen some of my published work and thought I could do a good job turning my novel Fast & Furious into a screenplay. Why don’t you crack open a bottle, it’s getting near drink time.’
‘That’s odd; I thought any time of the day was drink time for you. Weren’t you writing a short story?’
‘I thought so too but I realised that wasn’t my forte. I’m more of a long distance and action man.’
‘I have to say, I haven’t seen much action. I actually thought you were glued to that seat, so much so that I have had to put out the rubbish bins the last three weeks.’
‘The exercise will do you good. Stop you from getting fat like seventy-five percent of the rest of the population. There’s the phone, will you get it?’
‘It’s Sam Katz; he wants to know how the screenplay’s coming along.’
‘Tell him great, I should have a first draft for him to look at shortly.’
‘You haven’t even started yet, have you?’
‘No. I have to get in the mood first.’
‘When will that be?’
‘When we’ve finished that bottle and opened another one.’
‘You’ll damage your liver.’
‘My liver is impregnable.’
‘It could shrivel Mr Johnson.’
‘Has the opposite effect. Mr Johnson loves wine and any sort of alcohol. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll write a first treatment of the screenplay, that’ll take a week or two, and show that to Katz. If he says OK, which he will, I’ll go on from there.’
‘When are you going to start?’
‘Details, details, why do you keep asking?’
‘Because I’m interested and I want to see the first draft before you show it to Mr Katz.’
‘Why, do you think I’m not going to do it?’
‘Oh, you’ll do it, but when, that’s the question.’
‘I’m your husband, you should trust me more.’
‘That’s exactly why I don’t.’
‘My glass is empty, it needs filling. Phone … Kate?’
‘I hear it, I’m getting it.’
‘Who is it?’
‘It’s Sam again. He wants to talk to you.’
‘Hi Sam. What’s up?’
‘It’s trouble, Clint.’ (My name is Clint Westwood. Not Eastwood which you might have thought. Clint Eastwood is that actor, I’m a writer).
‘Trouble? What’s wrong?’
‘Damn studio, that’s what’s wrong − stupid front office. You see I wanted Angelina for the lead in the movie I’m doing now, The Silken Gown, and front office said no, Angelina would cost as much as the national debt of the USA. They went on to say we have Winona under contract and she would cost much less. Trouble is, see, those guys are just a bunch of accountants who have no idea about the reality of production. It makes it very hard for us guys with the talent.’
‘Yeah, I see that. So what’d you do?’
‘Frustration builds over the years, see. In the end you can’t stand it anymore so you finish up telling the bastards to get stuffed and get someone else to do the film, see. So that’s what I did.’
‘Now you’re out of a job. What about my contract to write a screenplay? I was depending on it.’
‘I was coming to that. How much did they pay you up front as a retainer?’
‘Yeah, but what are you going to do yourself?’
‘Going independent, starting my own production company. Should have done it years ago. First thing I’ll take over is your screenplay and see if I can get some backers, see.’
‘What about Universal and my contract to write the screenplay?’
‘You won’t have any trouble getting a release from the studio. The accountants hated it when they read the story and the one-page early treatment you sent. They said they were going to ask for their ten thou back. ‘
‘Really? Hated it, did they?’
‘Yeah, but that’s just them. They don’t know their arse from their elbows. Got no idea. It’s a tragedy how things have changed. It’s not like the old days when the producer was king. It’s money, money, money, doesn’t matter about the story or what the producer thinks.’
‘I’m hungry,’ interrupted Kate in a stage whisper. ‘Could we go out to eat tonight? I don’t feel like cooking.’
‘Of course. I feel like going out, too. I’ve had enough for today. OK Sam, we’re going out to eat. We’ll go to Freddy’s on the Boulevard, join us if you like.’
‘Yeah, I’ll see you there.’
Sam turned up soon after we arrived. Freddy gave us our usual booth at the back, away from the noise and the annoying, always too loud music, which most eating places seem to think is necessary but which most diners dislike because they like to chat and find it difficult because of the music.
‘Hi Sam,’ I said. ‘How’s things?’
‘Not good. It hasn’t been one of my best days.’
‘Hi Sam,’ said Kate. People liked Kate, she was always friendly, she looked friendly and sounded friendly but I didn’t. I looked and sounded rather unfriendly and that was even when I felt friendly, so socially that could be difficult and it was, probably because I didn’t like that many people or the so-called general public, apart of course from good-looking women, which Kate always noticed that I noticed.
‘Listen,’ said Sam. ‘I’m going to approach Universal and ask them to release you from writing the screenplay and then you can write it for me, see?’
‘Yes, but won’t they want me to pay them back the ten thou because I haven’t written the screenplay?’
‘Listen, what you do, see, is you say that because you have put in hours of research already, you have already used up the ten thou. And as they are not going ahead with the production, they should release you from the contract, otherwise you’ll sue them for something or other.’
‘Do you think that’ll work?’
‘Of course. They’re always shit-scared of being involved in lawsuits. It’s because they’re accountants, see, and don’t live in a real world like the rest of us.’
‘I presume you mean by the rest of us, film producers, directors, actors and screenwriters, not the general public.’
‘Yeah, quite right. Accountants are just part of the general public, see, not like you and me or Kate here, at all.’
Kate nodded in agreement.
‘Drink, Sam?’ she asked. Kate was like that, always concerned for people like Sam who had been going through a hard day.
Freddy came and took our order. We all had the house special, swordfish steaks and salad. Kate said the salad with its fresh greens would do us good and help combat all the damage too much drinking was doing to our health. We kept drinking; the wine was good.
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