Monday, December 22, 2014

Broken Eden

I spent ten years as a struggling, almost successful screenwriter. The first five years were one of the best times of my life. The second five years, not so much.

Broken Eden was written near the end of those second five years.

By this point, the agent who had actually signed me had left the business, and I’d been inherited by the name partners of the boutique agency I was with. So I was now a writer with an agency but no specific agent. On top of that, both agents already had their own rosters of clients bringing in regular commissions, and though I’d had some interest, including an option or two over the years, I was still a writer they were trying to break. Even worse, my last spec script had gone nowhere, and the one before that had provoked real disagreement, not just between the agents and myself but between the two agents as well—and had also gone nowhere. Worst of all, I was pushing forty, which for a still struggling screenwriter may have been the single biggest hurdle to my staying in the game.

Simply put, the next screenplay I turned in was going to be do-or-die for me, and I knew it.

That meant it had to be commercial with a capital C. It had to be plot-driven. It had to be high concept, an idea we could pitch in one sentence (something I had always had trouble with) and not a script anyone who read it could come back and say, “This should really be a novel.” It had to have large action set pieces. It had to have characters you could see specific, name actors playing. It had to be big and exciting, with a story that moved. It had to be read-able, because for all the talk about scripts just being the blueprint for a film, someone, somewhere, has to slog through it to the end, and you better make sure that person gets more than a bland set of verbal schematics sitting dead on the page. Above all, though, it had to be fun—especially for me, because those second five years had had a distinct lack of that very thing.

In a nutshell, I needed a Hail Mary career pass of a script.

Broken Eden was what I came up with.

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