Monday, July 16, 2018

Top Dog


A Piece Of The Pie In The Sky

As I said before in a couple of articles ago that I took up on Rob Schnieder's advice to write a script. So I've been concentrating on writing screenplays for several years now. When I wrote my short film called 'The Face Of America' it wasn't really in script format, it was basically an outline and most was improvised during filming. Much like how Buster Keaton used to make comedy shorts back in the 1920's. He never used or seen a script until he got to MGM. So 'The Face Of America' outline doesn't cut it for a screenplay.

I wrote a short film called 'Don't Call Me, I'll Call You' which is about 15 pages long and it's a drama. I studied acting for over 10 years so I like to write strong characters with juicy objectives.

I started to write my first feature length script in December of 2005 and I finished it roughly six months later with 153 pages. It took me about a month or two to edited it down to 120 pages. I wrote my feature film about an occupation that I know pretty well, and it's a sort of job that's either neglected or if you've seen movies they're usually just in the background opening doors... I just gave it away... That's right! I wrote about VALETS.

Now I'm currently reading a book that a friend of mine wrote, and he wants me to write the screenplay because he knows a director that is interested in making his story come to life. He has no script so my friend asked 'me' to take on the project. Yes, I took the project! It's challenging because this is someone else's story and I have to do justice not only to my liking, but he has to approve. I have my ideas as I read along and so far the author agrees with my point of views. Maybe it'll open a door for me.

Writing a script is a journey, but the real journey is getting someone who is interested in your story. Someone who has faith and the balls to produce the work that I've created.

As I said in the past I've worked at several buildings along the Wilshire Corridor and my goal is to get my feature film some air time.

I've made contacts with the Hollywood elite and I pitched my script to several producers with top notch credits to their names. I went down the list starting with David Permut, who produced films such as Face/Off, Captain Ron, and his newest release Charlie Bartlett. He's a Top Dog in the business. Permut read my VALETS script and he said that he enjoyed it and well written and the characters are strong, but it was something that he wasn't interested in producing. I told him about my short film that I wrote as an option and he says that there is no money in short films.

I took my script to James Tucker whom I worked with on a few of his own projects as an actor. (not background work) The first thing he asked me was what I think the budget is for my script? I told him that I have no idea. "I think your best bet is to collaborate with your other actor friends to put up money for your project, he says". That's a smart suggestion James because none of us have any money to fork out for a feature film. Another Top Dog with the experience of film-making. He has his own production company, and he knows how to write, produce, direct, edit, shoot, and act.

I went to Billy Ribach who was one of the Top Dog writers for the TV show Home Improvement with Tim Allen. I gave him a copy of my VALETS script and I haven't heard back from him. It's been about a year now. Maybe I should've done a follow up call to see what the status is? and I will! I know he's busy, but it's no excuse not to give me a rejection call.

I gave my VALETS to Arnold Stiller who is Jerry Stiller's younger. Arnold told me that he was going to pass it on to Jerry and also Ben Stiller. My script traveled to New York where Jerry resides and his people were taking a look at it. I was really excited to hear that! I finally thought I was going to get my shot out doors in the ball park! Weeks past and Arnold told me that Jerry's people didn't want to do it. I really wish they would consider because there is a great part for Jerry and Ben Stiller. It's easy for the Top Dog to say 'no'.

Next, I went to Harold Becker who is a Top Dog director of Vision Quest and Taps. A copy of VALETS went to his hands and a few weeks later he gave it back to me with a post card saying that he enjoyed my story but this is not the kind of movie that he likes to direct. He told me that I should take a screen writing class. I've been looking at scripts for many years and the formats are stuck in my mind. So all I do is write down the main points in a way that the director and the director of photography can see my vision along with all the other crew. That's all there is to it... Simple! It's not a science.

You can't say I don't try and I went up against all obstacles with my head held high. I've been to the top pitching my script and I've pitched it to those who are not high ranking or whatever it's called. Either way the results have been the same.

What are the Top Dogs afraid of? Are they afraid of putting money into something and it might not make money back? Or is it because I'm an unknown and they don't want to take a chance with me?

I'm calling you out Top Dogs out there as if to do battle in the ring. No! I don't want to give the a beatin'. All I'm saying is to have faith in someone's work. Success is made from taking risks. I have the confidence that my work is grade 'A' material and i guarantee it! Believe me, I don't want the Top Dog's position. There's room for everybody! Let the other guy have his fair share, I just want a slice of the pie or to show you that my heart's in the right place... I'll even settle for a crumb.

About the Writer

'Mean' Mike Duffau is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Top Dog

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By Lady D on February 17, 2008 at 07:01 pm

I went to see Joan Rivers at the Geffen the other night. I am not a fan at all, however I came away with a renewed sense of persistense.

It took her 9 times to get on the Carson show, and she basically had start her career over at middle age. She is definatly a peson who has the insight into the industry were lots of butt has to be kissed to get where you want to go.

Always enjoy your writing and your quest made for a good article. Continue Questing

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By M.J. Hamada on February 17, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Yeah, it's tough.  There are sooooo many scripts floating around out there.  I wonder what the percentage is of L.A. peeps who write (or say they are writing) scripts.  Of the people I know and run with, it's a very high percentage.

Just curious: What draft are you on?

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By Glenn T on February 18, 2008 at 01:44 am

I say, keep the faith.. and keep shaking hands and kissing asses - it's not something that's for everyone - but I figure that's the closest thing that Hollywood has to a "weeding out" processs... that, or the casting couch... I'm gonna recommend the butt-kissing, though - you don't keep you dignity either way, but at least with that your soul will be (mostly) intact.

That's why I went to law school... PLAN B, BABY!

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on February 18, 2008 at 03:32 am

lady d: thanks...and i will continue with my quest.

m.j. hamada: i'm done with my VALETS script. it can be tweeked here and there, but it's done.

glenn t.: i'm stickin' to this until my film is made. i can't back down now. but i'm not going down for no one!

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By M.J. Hamada on February 18, 2008 at 03:38 am

I figured it is done.  I was just curious how many drafts it took ya.

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By Credo on February 18, 2008 at 10:56 am

Mike you seem to be very talented and artistically incline, I hope that you succeed in your endeavor to establish yourself in the movie industry as a famous screenplay writer.

If it means anything at all, you have my vote.

Great article


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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on February 18, 2008 at 02:05 pm

wow! thanks credo! you made my day, champ!

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