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Thursday, December 29, 2005

A fellow wrote me from Poland asking if I'd like to read his book and see if a producer would be interested in it, possibly with an eye to my adapting it.

While I understand his difficulty -- EU or not EU, he's feeling pretty out of the loop and reaching out to anyone who can help him set his project up -- I get enough of these that I should clarify what I do.

I don't set projects up. That's what producers and agents do. They read stuff by people referred to them or occasionally, based on a query, by people they don't know who might have something interesting they can sell. Just because I have a blog doesn't mean I'm looking for stuff to produce or agent.

I also don't read other people's material unless the other people are producers who are serious about hiring me to adapt or write or rewrite or story edit their material. Or, of course, friends who need advice.

I am not, in general, looking for ideas. I won't say "good ideas are a dime a dozen" because they're not. Great ideas are really rare and valuable. But I don't like putting effort into someone else's project. If I'm going to pour heart and soul into something, I want to own it completely. (I make an exception for my wife's, because she owns half of everything I do, anyway, so I'm not losing anything!)

I have also found that in general ideas coming from outside of North American showbiz usually aren't easy to put on the screen. But even someone had a good idea, I would then have to do my thing and spend three or four months creating something that I would not own free and clear. I'd rather spend that time creating something that I do own.

Some writers are on the lookout for books they can adapt. I don't know why. I guess they like wrassling with someone else's original work. Nice to have a starting point. I don't at all mind adapting books for hire, but I'm not looking for books to adapt.

Oh, one exception there, too. I would actually send a book to a producer for me to adapt if the material hooked me (in this case, it was about a superhero, and superheroes aren't my thing), I felt it was adaptable and commercial and the book had something to recommend it to a producer beyond the content. For example, it's a bestseller. Or, since there is often development money for Canadian culture, it's by a Canadian author. (Or both, I guess.) Because even to pitch it as an adaptation, I still have to do the work of writing up my "take" on the book. Which means I basically have to do the hard work of figuring out how to put it on the screen without knowing I'm getting paid. At that point I'm emotionally invested enough to feel bad when it gets rejected...

That said, passion always trumps common sense... oh well.

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