For all of you who

by francine Hardaway on June 11, 2003

(For all of you who wanted to download Bullfighter last week and couldn�t: Deloitte is making the site live on June 13, after they send out the press release and get their article in BusinessWeek. I just sent you too early to the download site, but after Friday you can get it at

This week I finished my screenplay. I have been working on it for the past couple of months, because the production company I have started with my daughter needs �content� that it doesn�t have to pay for. My life provides enough good content � or perhaps it�s best called fodder � for about fifty different screenplays. This is just the first. This one�s about my foster parenting and the lessons it taught me about the meaning of success and failure.

Trying to get into the movie business (�the industry,� for those of you who thought there might be others) has been a real exercise in teaching an old dog new tricks. First of all, I went to that McKee Story Seminar, in which I learned the structure of the screenplay. (The last thing you think about when you�re watching a movie is the structure of the screenplay.) Then I bought a camera, taught myself to use it, and �lent� it to my daughter (I haven�t seen it since) so she could learn to use it. Next, I taught myself to use �Final Draft,� the software that is used by professional scriptwriters.

As a piece of software, Final Draft is nothing short of hilarious to people who like software. Instead of trying to improve the process, Final Draft�s goal is to preserve the past ways of doing things as best it can � including sticking to the old Courier font used by IBM selectric typewriters in the sixties. But never mind: I decided to follow the rules and let Final Draft have the last word.

With the screenplay written and the camera in hand, and twenty years of experience starting businesses, I feel as if SoftiePooftie Entertainment, LLC (we named it after her dog, because we want to do family movies) is already a going concern. It�s incorporated. We�re working on the web site, on which we will stream our first attempts at filmmaking. We are shooting our dogs. They are the only things in our lives that don�t mind being experimented on. Actually, I lie. We�re shooting our golden retrievers. My chow has opted out of the film school. He thinks we�re nuts.

Along the way, I found a website that markets screenplays. It�s called, and it links writers with producers. You aren�t supposed to submit a screenplay until it is finished, but I am an optimist, I always knew I would finish, so I put it out there when I was half done. About sixty producers have looked at the log-line (a one-sentence summary) and rejected it without going further. The log-line comes up in searches, so if they are searching for drama, they�ll automatically have to see my log-line. A few have gone further and looked at the synopsis and my resume, and one actually asked me to send him the screenplay. He asked me on May 8. I sent him an email telling him he had called my bluff and it wasn�t completed. I finally mailed it to him (no, they don�t want it electronically, they want it bound between cardboard and held together by fasteners like in the old days) yesterday. He�s probably out of business by now.

I also found out that Sundance Institute holds a Producer�s Workshop every year for independents. I wrote what I thought was a stunningly amusing application and bio, and was rejected out of hand. Nicely(�we have had more applicants than we have spaces�), but firmly rejected from something that costs a couple of grand to attend. Where are all these indie producers getting all this dough?

I am now in the process of applying to the Chesterfield Writers Film Project, because I haven�t had enough rejection in the past six months and I am going to try for more. At my age, I can�t get enough of people telling me they had more applicants than they had space for; it brings me back to my gay mad youth, when thimgs like this happened to me every day. For too many years I have been lulled into thinking I was a success at something, and that my success was transferable. One should always re-career at age 60+ to find out what life�s really like for the rest of the people.

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