Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An awful Inktip "success story" - how one writer's script got ruined

Weirdly, one of the older posts that is most prolific in generating new comments or emails is something I wrote ages ago about InkTip. InkTip is a site where users can post loglines for their scripts - and even complete scripts - in the hopes that some of their producer and manager members take a liking to it.

I'm gonna be blunt. In all my years out here, I've not heard of any significant deals made from this site and I don't think any of the companies I worked for ever used InkTip. (And one of two of those DID go to Pitchfests, which I also advise against.) I don't foresee a situation where my answer to any question about Inktip is gonna be, "Spend your money HERE to jump-start your screenwriting career.")

The story I'm about to link to doesn't have TOO much to do with Inktip, aside from the chain of events starting there. I'm just aware that putting "InkTip" into a post will increase the odds of people finding it via Google, so maybe the above paragraph will save them an email or comment.

Almost 20 years ago, A.J. Via put one of his first scripts on InkTip. There it sat for 15 years until it was discovered by Chad Ridgely, who'd scraped together money to produce a film. It took another year and a half, but finally the project started to come together... just as that professional relationship fell apart.

As the AV Club notes:

By the time of the premiere, almost two years later in November 2015, at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival (where it somehow ended up winning Best Comedy Feature against other no-budget competitors that had names like Frankenstein’s Patchwork Monster and Valley Of The Sasquatch), contact between Via and Ridgely was essentially nil, to the point where Via felt uncomfortable even attending the premiere. (Via describes that email exchange thusly: “I’d write, ‘Where and when would I go if I was actually coming to see this movie?’ And he would reply back, like, ‘Yeah, maybe we’ll see you. That’s great!’ And that would be the end of it.”) Thus, it wasn’t until months later, when the film finally came out via digital platforms like iTunes, that Via had the opportunity to see it. His wife alerted him to the fact that his movie was coming out after she saw a notice online saying Massacre On Aisle 12 was now available for purchase.

That night, Via plugged in his Amazon Fire stick, sat down on the couch with his wife, and finally got to see the results of a script he had written roughly 15 years earlier. To hear him describe it is an experience roughly akin to having a next-door neighbor recall in intimate detail an eyewitness account of their own child being slapped around. He says his wife fell asleep after about 20 minutes and he didn’t wake her, so happy he was for her to miss the film. “The first 10, 15 minutes of it, she turned to me five or seven times and said, ‘Did you write that?’ And I said, ‘No, no, no. I didn’t write that. I didn’t write that.’ To the point where as jokes were happening, I was turning to her saying, ‘I didn’t write that. I didn’t write that.’” He watched it in silence, blank-faced, until it ended. Then he put it aside, the way a shell-shocked mugging victim will often have a delayed response to their encounter. Via couldn’t even process what he had seen.

After several weeks, he felt ready to watch it again, and actually engage with the material. It was almost as bad as the first time. “I don’t want to come out sounding like I’m on a high horse. There are things that can be offensive that I’ll laugh at,” he stresses, before singling out the bombardment of gay panic humor that is laced throughout the film as his biggest issue with it. “And I don’t mean to make it sound like I wrote Casablanca. It was a horror comedy that was really designed to be dark, you know, kind of in poor taste. But I looked at it and was like, ‘This is such schlock. This is stuff a 10-year-old would think was funny.’” It really depressed Via to see his name on something he so profoundly disliked. He warned friends to stay away—the same friends he had proudly boasted to a couple of years earlier about the movie he wrote that was getting made.

In retrospect, Via wonders how he could’ve been so naive about what the results would be. He had really gotten along with Ridgely at first, had considered him someone who understood what Via wanted to do, who loved the same jokes, the same beats in the script, and the two had appeared creatively simpatico. But as the partnership eroded in tandem with the original screenplay, Via started to investigate Ridgely’s output further, and kicked himself for not looking more closely at the outset. “He’s a very sex-obsessed—I mean, you can see for yourself [on Ridgely’s site]. His biggest things on there are songs about boobies and movies he’s made that are—he does a whole fake game show, Gay Or Not Gay? And it’s supposed to be this hilarious thing of trying to guess if an actor is queer or not.” 

The whole article is worth a read. Check it all out here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bad Pitch: Alicia and Liv in "Still CRAZY After All These Years"

If you follow me on Twitter, you've likely seen a version of this pitch before. Every now and then I like to forecast the most unlikely piece of existing intellectual property to be revived like The X-Files, Will & Grace and Roseanne all have been or will be. (To say nothing of Rocky's resurrection via Creed, Star Wars's resurgence, Blair Witch, Tron, Terminator... the list goes on and on.)

Is it really so impossible that 90s nostalgia would eventually lead to the rebooting of music videos? I'm honestly shocked we haven't already seem SOME kind of re-visitation with the two women who were - for a time at least - synonymous with Aerosmith: Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler.

Okay, listen up everyone. An old man's talking. Back in my day, we didn't have YouTube, where every music video was on-demand the instant we had the urge to see it. No, the only way we saw a music video would be to happen to be watching MTV or VH1 when it played. And if you were a teenage boy in the mid-90s, chances are one of the clips you were willing to wait all day to see was Aerosmith's "Crazy," starring the future Clueless and Lord of the Rings icons.


Silverstone's entire career was launched from the three Aerosmith videos she did. There was about two years there where she was known as "the Aerosmith chick." I don't think I totally realized until reflecting on this that my generation didn't really have many "teen idols." The ages before me had Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. Britney, Christina, and their ilk - despite being about my age - were mostly idols for the teens slightly younger. When I was in high school, if you were looking for the female teenage sex symbols, they'd probably be Alicia and Liv.

Both of these women just turned 40, which I found unbelievable before I saw recent pics of them and now I find it even more inexplicable. 40 really IS the new 30.

And who could pass up the perfect title? "Still Crazy After All These Years." Hell, half of you can probably already picture the trailer just off of this information and that name.

The pitch: Now 40, both girls are married with teenage children. They've remained close and outgrew their wild ways long ago. However fate sends them on a cross-country roadtrip when Liv's daughter (Bella Thorne) runs away from home with Alicia's son (Dylan Minnette.) The specifics of the trip? This ain't rocket science. Just replicate the music video beat-for-beat.

I'm putting this here mostly so that when this project is announced within the next few years, I can say "TOLDJA!"

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"How Do You Talk To An Angel?" turns 25 today!

Today is the 25th anniversary of one of my favorite one-hit wonders of the 90s, "How Do You Talk to An Angel?" It's not one of the big hits of the 90s, but left enough of a footprint that the lyrics are instantly memorable upon mention.

For me, I have a very clear memory of that song's hook being used in every one of the ubiquitous promos for the TV show it belonged to, The Heights. As I recall, it was an NBC show about a struggling band. The show itself barely lasted longer than the song's run on the charts and is all but forgotten today. The show premiered on August 27, 1992, but Wikipedia says the song itself was released on September 5, 1992 so that's the date we're going with here. It climbed the charts through November, when it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song was the show's theme, but also seems to have played a part in the premiere episode. This scene below showcases one of my favorite tropes of a band movie or TV show - the initial jam session where every one meshes PERFECTLY and turns out an impossibly perfect first run of a song where all band members magically know their places and when to come in.


I remember seeing an interview a number of years ago where Jamie Walters, who sang lead vocals on the single, indicated that the single's popularity caused a little tension between him and the cast because he was the one getting all the recognition from it. Walters would have a solo hit of his own a few years later, called "Hold On."


The song comes up pretty frequently on my iTunes shuffle and when I've mentioned it on Twitter, I'm always surprised to find there are a few fans. So on its birthday, let's pay tribute to a song whose shelf life well surpassed that of the show that birthed it.