Musings from a published author...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Braving the Hollywood Heat

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

Somewhere beneath the ensorcelled hills that surround the hamlet of Hollywood, hammers of ancient power pound virgin steel on battered anvils.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

Fairy-fueled forges breathe billows of black, filling caverns with a cancerous cast thicker than the alliterations in this sentence.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

Fat, meaty hands grip hammer and tong, bringing form to molten metal. A miracle wrought from fire, sweat, and dreams.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

This is the Great Smithy of Hollywood... where ideas are hammered until turned to treasure, or shattered to tears.

While I have never personally been to Hollywood, I have heard the distant thunder of her forge. For close to a decade I have been pitching projects, scalping scripts, and dabbling in dreams.

I must confess, I have thus far failed to meet hammer to anvil. And yet, I have felt the withering heat of that infernal furnace... often little more than a passing flash... but occasionally a sustained flood of fire.

And like all fire, the Hollywood heat can be soothing or painful. Most often both at once.

For example, I recently signed a management contract with Kevin Cleary of Pooka Entertainment. As my manager, Kevin advises me on what projects I should develop, helps me polish my scripts, and most importantly, pitches my projects on my behalf.

In other words, he takes the heat from the forge so I can stay back here in Michigan and shovel snow off my sidewalk.

Signing with Kevin has probably been one of the most exciting developments in my writing career. Sure, being a published author is cool. Signing books at Book Expo America in NYC was a high point. And being called a M*ther F*cker by Ted Nugent is something I’ll probably have carved on my tombstone. But having a manager out in Hollywood is just about the most educational and inspiring thing that can happen to an author.

Kevin has been at this for quite a while. So, whenever I speak with Kevin on the phone, he always has some new insight or anecdote to share. Every conversation is like taking an Honors Course in Hollywood 101. He knows when the forge is hot, when it’s cooling down, and when to strike the hammer.

Most importantly, he knows how to get pitch meetings. Since signing with Kevin, he’s pitched my work to Fox, LionsGate, Cartoon Network, and others. These aren’t phone interviews, mind you. They are in-person pitches. Kevin is right in the heart of the forge on these.

One of the most exciting developments happened a few months ago. After pitching a series I had been developing, Kevin received an email from a development executive at Fox. We’re definitely intrigued by this one, and have just sort of been mulling about it.”

Wow. Fox. Was. Mulling. My. Work.

I had to read the email a few times over, and then confirm with Kevin whether or not this was a good thing. Kevin assured me that it was indeed a good thing. However, as with all steel that reaches the forge, a few things needed to be hammered out.

First of all, there was a re-write. The exec wanted more character development for the heroine and more motivation for the villain. No problem, as far as I was concerned. These were valid concerns, and I immediately knew how to fix them. In fact, within a day I had a revised script implementing her suggestions. So Kevin immediately fired off an email with the revisions.

Then came the waiting.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

Standing before the forge. Heat blasting my face. So intense that my sweat evaporates before it can even leak from my pores.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

Then finally, word from the smithy.

A pass.

I’m dejected. But Kevin is upbeat.

“Why?” I ask. “She turned us down.”

He tells me that the executive’s initial reaction is encouraging. He has pitched projects to her in the past that got rejected immediately. The fact that she took time on this one and had such a positive initial reaction is a good sign.

In fact, he already has pitch meetings set up with LionsGate and other studios.

And so, the steel that Fox shattered is gathered up to be re-forged.

Thoom! Thoom! Thoom!

And again the waiting. Will LionsGate’s hammer once more shatter the steel... or seal the deal?

I may not know for weeks or months.

But I’m kinda getting used to the heat.

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