My presence in Europe and the fact that I am freelancing over here for a few months has prompted a couple of regular readers to ask what happened to Diary of a Superhero, the film that I was working on at the end of last year.
Well, it’s kind of a sad little tale. But first an historical overview of DOASH. So, I started working on this film nearly three years ago. It went from something that a director, Jeremy Sisto and I were going to shoot for 100,000 for Sundance, to a properly optioned film deal going ahead with big stars, a great director and a shoot in Vancouver.
In the meantime, I outlasted three producers, about 12 lead actors and three directors. All the while rewriting the film for free.
For free? Yes, for free.
Here’s the thing about Hollywood. You are no one here till you make something. So when you get on a project and that gets some traction, you run with it. No one is making money on anything at this point and everyone’s taking a chance.
We were always one rewrite away from that next funding round, that lead, that director, that next funding round, that lead, that director etc. But the project always built and got better and better. And honestly, it wasn’t like I had anything better to do. Go and sit in a cafe and write a spec that would take years to finish, have someone read and get behind and get made? You go where the energy is.
Anyway, so finally we are two weeks out from a shoot in Vancouver at the end of last year. Mark Palansky is directing (he’s a favorite of mine, did a film called Penelope), Seth Green is playing the lead, Gabriel Byrne is the Dad and I’m shopping for a Porsche.
No really, I was actually shopping for a Porsche. Writers get paid a week before principle shooting. You are pretty much the last person to see any moolah in the film process. Craft service has had an advance. How writers let themselves get bitch-slapped into that position is beyond me. Until a writer works, no one else works. But anyway, after three years, I am a week away from a several hundred thousand dollar check.
So of course I’m out shopping for a Porsche. Not a new one; there’s no need to be tacky. But I have my eye on a lovely midnight blue one that a mechanic I know is selling. Oh, it’s glorious. And so there I am, talking a price with the guy, telling him about my film that’s getting shot when the phone rings.
It’s John, one of the producers.
John: Hey buddy.
Me: Hey there mate. How’s the prep going?
John: Um, I have some bad news.
My heart falls into my shoe.
John: We lost the money.
I know what this means, but I can’t face what it means, so I have to ask.
Me: What does that mean?
John: The movie’s off. There’s no shoot.
Me: Are you serious?
John: I’m really sorry.
I think this is what it feels like to come out the other side of an earthquake. I am kind of delirious and I can can hear that he is as well.
I hang up and without even saying goodbye to the mechanic guy, I get on my bike, ride back to my apartment, close the door behind me and stay there for the next three days.
It was like someone had died.
I lay in bed with tears caked on my face staring at the ceiling mumbling to myself that it should have been my turn. This was my moment. This was it. And now it’s been taken away.
I think about moving home to Australia, I think about leaving LA for New York. I think about everything and I think about nothing.
I’m broke again. I was waiting for that check to pay next month’s rent. I have no movie and no money, I’m a Hollywood cliche. This is about as low as I can ever remember feeling.
A few friends call with words of support and after a few days I get up and open the front door, sit on the front step and have a cigarette, which I always do when I’m drunk or having one of my mad, bad, sad days. I feel like an apocalypse survivor when they come out of the bunker and into the light for the first time in weeks.
And then the phone rings. It’s a freelance job in advertising at a local shop in LA. I dust myself off. I put on some clothes. I go and write car ads.
So that’s what happened with DOASH. I hear that it may be coming back, it may not, it may be a TV show here, it may be one in Canada.
Whatever it is, it’s nothing to do with me now. So I pick up another story that I’m working on and start all over again. I fire up Final Draft and type. Because as bad as the whole experience has been, I wouldn’t do anything else. Somehow, some way, something is going to appear in a cinema with my name on the opening title as the screenwriter. So deep breath in…and start typing the magic words.