So here it is, the update from my friend Jonny Newman on his trip to LA after his short film success ‘Foster’…
“You wait for the call for years. When i got it, my phone was switched off. It was Peter Farrelly (of the Farrelly Brothers) telling me he loved my film and wanted to make a feature of it, him producing and me directing! Wow! I decided that I needed to strike while the coals were hot, so after much debate (mainly because my wife is about to have a baby), I booked my flight to LA to go meet Pete.
Best decision I could have made.
I met him in his office in Santa Monica. He’s a great guy, full of humour. Best of all, he loves my film! Woah! He said he gets choked up every time he watches it. He showed it to the CEO of Dreamworks, who also liked it. He said he wanted to get me a development deal with one of the studios (get paid to write it) and he would get onboard as producer. Is this real?
Had my LA trip ended there, it would still have been great.
But it didn’t…
The next day I found myself meeting the President of Fox Searchlight and the President of Fox Atomic! This was thanks to Pete, who phoned up Fox and told them that he had never seen a short film that made him laugh and cry in 9 minutes. Fox were enthusiastic. For once, it wasn’t me having to do the selling. It wasn’t me who had made the meeting. It was Pete goddammit! I could tell they were interested, not just in this project, but in me as a director – and they were sizing me up to see if I could work for any other projects… I’m on their radar!
Had my LA trip ended there… it would have still been great.
But it didn’t!
At lunch I had a call from Pete.
“Is this Newmie?” he said.
“You already have a slang name for me?” I asked.
“Pete. We just drop the “R” he said. “Anyway, you’ve got a meeting at Dreamworks at 5. Get your butt down there.”
Holy moly! Dreamworks.
So i’m sitting in the small private reception at Dreamworks, hidden in the depths of Universal City. I’m staring at 3 Oscars in a glass box (and not the fake shit that you buy on Hollywood Blvd, these were real). Then a scruffy homeless man walks past – wait, that’s no vagrant… it was Steven bloody Spielberg, along with his producing partner, Kathleen Kennedy. He stops at reception, and then HE SAYS HELLO TO ME! I say hi back and that’s the end of our exchange, my jaw firmly on the floor.
So I meet the CEO of Dreamworks and her right hand man. They tell me they “get it (the project), they get me… and they like me.” They’ll talk it over with the team and get back to us.
So there we go… I have flirted with Hollywood in a big way, tasted the skin of the dangling carrot. We now have to see if the conversations turn in to something real. Can it get any better? I’ve met Pete Farrelly and the heads of two major studios. AND Pete Farrelly wants to make a movie with me… that’s vindication. Plus I got to see Heather Mills and her prosthetic leg on the flight over.
What this all proves is that it’s really a combination of talent, luck and action. You have to have the talent to back it up – go make a really great film. You then have to take action and play the game. Don’t wait for the cow to back into your hands to milk it. You have to walk into the field to milk the cow. Then you have to have a modicum of luck. I was lucky, Pete watched my film – had I not made it, entered it into the Rhode Island Film Festival, this wouldn’t have happened. But going to LA was definitely also a catalyst. The truth is, it’s not the rejection that will ultimately destroy you… it’s the hope… (which also spurs you on!).
So there it is folks, it happened to him, it can happen to you… get to work!