The phone rang, and from that moment, everything changed… PART 1

Script This week has been a white knuckle ride for me. I am writing this with a pounding head from the workload, the stress and the queasy feeling of being pulled backwards, forwards, up and down…

There were so many times when I paused and turned to Judy Goldberg and would say… ‘this is it, this is what we have been in training for, for so many years now…’

And I have been screaming to write about these last few days on the blog too, but for reasons that will become apparent, I could not. Even now, I am having to be a vague by omitting names and details in order that I do not breach my Non Disclosure Agreement.

But I can share the big sweeps of the last 100 hours…


Last Wednesday, just as I was sitting down to write my action list for the next week, I got a call. It was from the production office of a major British film company. Someone had seen ‘Gone Fishing’, liked it, and wanted me to read a script. The thing was, I needed to read it there and then, and if I liked it, take a meeting with the producers the following day. Nor could it be emailed, it was too dangerous to send a PDF over email – I needed to collect a printed script from central London. And read it immediately.

I had NO idea what kind of film it would be, what scale of production, what the casting might be… But I knew this was that rarest of things in the British film business… A REAL OPPORTUNITY, not a meeting to discuss other meetings or generally talk in hyperbolae and get nothing done at all… Aside eat expensive food on someone else’s lunch account.

And I felt 101% ready for the challenge and all that it would demand of me.

I dropped everything, headed into Soho and met a member of team in a Soho back alley, who handed me a 107 page screenplay and said, ‘get back to us as soon as you can…’

The first thing I noticed about the script is that it had the name of a major Hollywood Studio on the cover. A MAJOR STUDIO!

This was a studio film, with all the bells and whistles that are attached, such as nationwide theatrical release, a real budget for real cast and crew, and a writer who had previously written Hollywood features, PR and a support system.

My palms were sweating.

Judy and I headed back to the Ealing office and sat in silence for two hours as we read avidly.

I can’t say anything about the script – genre, content, style – but I can tell you it was a professional piece of work and a real page turner. I knew this was a BIG opportunity.

I IMDB’d the project and discovered there were also some US based producers (of course there were, this was a studio film!). I emailed my LA manager, Andy, who shared with me that he knew of the project, he even knew the producers in LA. He promised to get on the phone and work his magic – and an hour later, he emailed back to say that he had a good chat with one of the producers who had a significant interest in the film going into production… A SIGNIFICANT INTEREST. Basically, as is the case with most studio pictures, all the big players hit payday on the first day of principal photography. In short, if the movie gets to set, they get millions. Literally millions. This is the studio way and how films get made in Hollywood.

I got in touch with my contact and said… ‘I love it, I want in…’ and they said, ‘Be in Soho tomorrow from 10am and wait for a call… then you can meet with the producers to see if they like you…’

I hung up and looked at Judy… We both knew that this could lead to being in production on a multi million dollar studio picture… and very soon too.

I knew I was going to be in for an ‘Apprentice’ style grilling, and so we started a protracted and grueling process of rehearsing and role playing all the questions we thought could be asked. I can’t stress how valuable this process is – in the room I knew that I had to be on form, with a great answer to every single question – confident, succinct, cool and visionary…

And so, into the wee hours, Judy grilled me hard – and it was tough, really tough, to be asked those awkward questions you hope no-one will ever ask. But I also knew, better Judy ask now, we work on an answer and nail it, rather than I fumble the ball the next day.

I also called Andy in LA who reassured me that I would be great – he reminded me that both of us had sat in several meetings in LA and I never missed a beat.

Andy also gave me two very good pieces of advice. First, talk about how you would handle some set pieces in the script… And second, reassure the producers that you would make them look good by not screwing up (that is delivering a great film, on budget and on schedule).  It’s clear that their ass is on the line as much as is mine, and when multi-millions are involved, everyone wants some security that it won’t blow up in their face. This is one reason why it appears that producers rarely take risks on new talent.

And so I went to bed.

And didn’t sleep a wink…

photoThe following day, bright and early, I found myself sat in Starbucks in Soho with Judy. And once more, I was being grilled at length… ‘What would you say if they ask…’

Ten o’clock passed, eleven o’clock passed, twelve o’clock passed… and then at 12.15 my phone rang…

My heart missed a beat (maybe because I had already drunk three cappuccinos!)

I answered…

‘Be in the production office in ten minutes and you will be seen by the producers…’

I hung up. And I knew that the outcome of the next hour of my life could, forever, change EVERYTHING in my future.

To Be Continued… READ PART 2 HERE

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

33 Responses to The phone rang, and from that moment, everything changed… PART 1

  1. Mike October 3, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    Oooh! This is exciting news. Looking forward to hearing how it all pans out.

    Even if this one doesn’t come off it just goes to show that all the hard work you’ve put in over the years is starting to pay off. Not just producing films like ‘Gone Fishing’ but the workshops, the handbooks, the blogs.

    Genuinely pleased for you, Chris.

  2. Dave October 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Well done Chris! Dead pleased for you. They’ve not offered you another “fish” script have they?

  3. Andrew October 3, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    And….? COMPELLING Chris.

  4. Leilani October 4, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    Oh you tease! What happened?!!! 😀

  5. Mark October 4, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Good Luck Chris

    Hope you get this. What a cliffhanger!

  6. Jason Fairley October 4, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Congratulations Chris! As an early reader of your and Genevieve’s book, I can honestly say this is richly deserved and wish you the all the best with it. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  7. Cleo October 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    When, when, when?!

  8. David Nicholas Wilkinson October 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    This should have happened to you years ago !!

  9. Kate October 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm #


    What an exciting post to read! I’m really proud of you! It’s a real motivation to keep pushing on with making films!

    Hope it all goes well. Can’t wait to read the next post.

    Guess if this all happens it means you won’t have time to have that coffee to discuss deliverable’s on my short and the website Idea i had that you had further ideas for now that I’m back in London?

  10. Geoff October 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Good luck Chris.

  11. Pete October 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    ‘to be continued’ … man, that’s cruel…

  12. Uncle Widget October 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Bloody good show! You deserve a project with an outrageous budget – keep us all posted.

  13. Chris Hocking October 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    This may come of a surprise to you Chris, but whenever someone asks me who I think are some of the most inspirational and greatest film-makers out there, your name is always included in my list of people alongside the likes of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Lucas, Stu Maschwitz, Peter Jackson and Robert Rodriguez.

    Sure you might not have made any film yet that have blown away mainstream audiences like some of the above… but I’m positive that the best is still to come.

    Your books, your blog entries, your podcasts are truly inspirational and inspiring. You have a deep love for film – which always makes me smile.

    I personally wish you the very best of luck with this particular project Chris. And if it doesn’t come off this time round, the most exciting thing for me is that you’ll keep smashing away at it, and come up with something even better. Your enthusiasm and dedication is truly amazing.

    Thank you for writing so many fantastic books. Thank you for keeping us all in the loop via your mailing list and blog. Thank you for inspiring both myself, and so many other fellow film-makers who have read your books.

    If you can pull this off – which I’m sure you will – it inspires us all to just keep fight the battle that is the world of movies.

    Happy film-making mate! Onwards and upwards!

    Best Regards, Chris Hocking
    Australian Film-maker

  14. David Chamberlain October 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Aurgh! You “to be continued!” us!! I assume you are trying to take us though a 10th of the experience of excitment and anticipation you have gone though! Please don’t leave hanging for long!

    It’s all great sounding! Well done for achieve this mile stone alone! Can’t wait for Part II.

  15. Julian Boote October 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    This is excellent news, Chris. Very exciting. I can’t blame you for not sleeping. Read Part 1 and felt really pleased for you. I hope this is the ONE and it all kicks off for you from here. You deserve it after all the hard work and perseverence you’ve put in over the years.

    All the best


  16. Adrian Bell October 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    That phone call was the one I predicted you might have had about 5 years ago. Still, that’s great it came through finally and I’m sure you’ll have no problem delivering. Great news.

  17. marama October 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    I had a big feeling this would happen some time ago.I wish you all the best and I am very sure you will do great just be yourself.wishing you all the best.

    Marama Corlett

  18. Jon Sorensen October 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    Okay. Stay cool, sharp and open-minded and be ready for anything. Play some snakes-and-ladders. Look at some clouds for perspective. Good luck, Chris.

  19. Suki Singh October 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    The script better be as tense as this moment! This is your time.

  20. Abigail Tarttelin October 4, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    Well done Chris – good luck for everything and hope it’s going great!

    Abby x

  21. Jonathan Wilkinson October 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    GO! GO! GO! Chris!!!

    Jonathan Wilkinson

  22. Ray Battersby October 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    But you’re wringing the most from it, Chris and making us all sweat out here.

    So you had a phone call on Wednesday; THE SOHO MEETING on Thursday and you BLOGGED it on Saturday.

    Today is Sunday. What happened mate?

  23. Richard Wheildon short film maker stage 2 October 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    …. If the script is as good as your teaser for “and then the phone rang…” is
    it’s a dead cert……
    I feel like an extra in the life of Brian..
    tell us tell us….
    Let us follow your way..

  24. Euan October 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    Nicely done sir! Fingers crossed.

  25. Andy Robinson October 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    THE CALL – its the moment so many of us following your journey are working towards, a moment (if truth be told) that many of us fantasise about. Reality couldn’t have been confered on a more inspirational filmmaker – well done. Now, how about part 2 – I can’t stand the wait!!!

  26. Allin Kempthorne October 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    However this one pans out it would appear the major studios now consider you a ‘player’. I’m on the edge of my seat with you! As you once said to me “See you at the Oscars”!

    Allin Kempthorne
    Director: The Vampires of Bloody Island

  27. Simon Van Der Spoel October 5, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    As ever the consumate storyteller has his audience on the edge of their seats awaiting the next scene to unfold, we are all cheering for you, hoping, and thinking about your incredible journey, the inspiration you have provided the independent film making community, and how this event has never been more deserved by one person in the business, you wear your heart on your sleeve, you back your words with action, and now, hopefully, the universe has acted and your dreams have come to fruition, and we all say with the utmost respect, ABOUT BLOODY TIME!
    Go for it mate, your audience will watch any film you make,
    One of the 50 quid crew

    Simon Van Der Spoel

  28. Mark Rawlings October 5, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    Cool, Congratulations Chris. If you need any Crew, give us a shout as I am between productions at the moment.

  29. Alexis Mayans October 5, 2009 at 2:51 am #

    Oh man, this is just THE BEST for you and it makes your blog the ultimate site for all of us aspiring to follow your career path.

  30. john dredge October 5, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    bloomin eck!

  31. Kathy Fedori October 5, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    With your heartfelt conviction to being the one who makes amazing films that transform the planet, this is not a surprise… delicious however! BRAVO! Are you making the film about ‘the call’?
    ‘Can’t wait to see that blockbuster.
    Kathy Fedori

  32. Gus Alvarez October 5, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Nice one chris – exciting times!


    ps. you big tease!!

  33. Steve Payne October 5, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    As with everything along the Gone Fishing journey, each new entry on the blog is a page turner in itself! What a remarkable ending to the GF chapter this would be.

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