The Big Deal: Hollywood's Million-Dollar Spec Script Market

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9780688161712: The Big Deal: Hollywood's Million-Dollar Spec Script Market

The Big Deal takes you right inside the Hollywood movie machine with behind-the-scene stories from hundreds of players--writers, agents, directors, producers, and studio execs who share their secrets of success and cautionary tales of woe. Whether you're a genuine scribe or diehard fan who craves the real dish, The Big Deal will put you in the picture.

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Review:

So, you want to write a movie. You could do worse than read The Big Deal, a collection of funny, horrible, and/or inspiring stories of Hollywood break-ins by former Oliver Stone employee Thom Taylor.

What's most striking about the book is the madly random nature of films' gestations. Allison Anders got her break (and off welfare) via the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Nicholl Fellowship (one of several competitions Taylor recommends). Total Recall was optioned for $1,000 16 years before it got made. The Elephant Man script got to its producer because the coauthor's girlfriend baby-sat for him. Alien only got made because Steven Spielberg liked it.

Andrew Kevin Walker, the Tower Records clerk who wrote Seven, wrote a letter to then barely known screenwriter David Koepp (Bad Influence), who improbably hooked him up with a deal that collapsed partly because the studio's co-owner was distracted by becoming the president of Italy. Various moguls rejected and almost destroyed the story; Brad Pitt saved it, and it grossed $340 million. Dustin Hoffman cleverly added the hero's guilt over failing to save JFK to In the Line of Fire, then exited; Tom Cruise's people demanded this be deleted, because a 28-year-old hero wouldn't have been around for JFK. The dead-broke writer spurned about $100,000 from Cruise, and just when he would've settled for Bob Denver, wound up with Clint Eastwood and about $1 million.

"If Hollywood scoured the earth looking for the world's top furniture designers," Taylor writes, the studios "would bring them all to Los Angeles to design $6 plastic chairs to sell at the local Wal-Mart." But it's the only Hollywood we've got, and Taylor has got its number. --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

Thom Taylor has written on the film and television business for Millimeter, Movieline, and other industry magazines. He currently mines the spec market at an L.A. talent and literary agency. He lives in Studio City, California.

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