Become a Fan
From Hollywood to the Big Screen, Part II
By Barbara Boyer
Friday, July 17, 2009
Rated "G" by the Author.
Part II or a III part series of an author chasing a dream.
This article is owned by the author and cannot be used or duplicated without the author's permission.
In From OK to Hollywood I covered pretty much from youth to getting in to see one of Hollywood's biggest agents.
After getting in to see mega agent Mr. S. I pulled together my two screenplays, and a synopsis from another piece I was working on at the time. I dropped them by his office as promised.
I wanted to learn the aspects of screen writing that cannot be taught in the books or learned through the internet. What happens to the script after The End has been written and a producer signs off on a project? I needed to do what any big fat liar would do, become an actor and literally overnight. After all, I had been a model in the past. I rubbed elbows with famous musicians and movie producers. On many occasions in my life I faked it till I made it. Surely such a feat of acting couldn't be much different or bigger than any of those. Really? How difficult could it be? It wasn't that I expected to be Julia Roberts. I wanted to be a lingerer. Someone who stood in the shadows watching how things went, incognito I would mix unnoticed amongst the crowd watching and learning. Yeah, right.
Again, I did my research. I found just the right production company. In blue jeans and a t-shirt, careful to leave the Map Quest and research in the car, I walked on the lot like I had been there a million times before, found the right trailer as if Divinely lead there, and then completed the paperwork with little perspiration. During the interview they asked if I could sing or play an instrument. I replied "yes, however most people would pay me not to" (keep in mind, one of the few items that made the trip from OK to Hollywood was my 125th made Alvarez Guitar. When people used to come to my home they would inevitably ask, "Oh, who plays the guitar?" I would reply "Eric Clapton."). I was assigned to work the next day on location for some Showtime flick about some guy named Tiger Woods (again, I pretended).
Arriving on location at some golf-course in God knows where remote location waiting with the herd I had to ask, "Okay, so the big question of the day is, who the hell is Tiger Woods?"
Everyone within ear shot broke into laughter. The gentleman next to me said, "You're joking, right?"
"Next you'll be asking who LaVar Burton is."
"Okay. I'll play. Who's he and he's important in my world why?"
"Jesus, you're serious. What truck did you just fall off of?"
Like this guy could shake the world of the big fat liar. "The Oklahoman," I said very matter of factly.
"LaVar's our boss. You know, man, the director."
A sudden excitement had fallen over this guy, "He also was in the Next Generation, like, you know?... Star Trek series? The black dude with the cool shades?"
Jesus, I was expecting his reply with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Robert DiNiro or at least one of their lover's or something. I got a bloody Treky. Not saying there was anything wrong with that, but really. "Okay. And Tiger Woods?"
"He's like the first black man ever to be a pro golfer."
"Well, there you have it." Why would I know shit about golfing and Treking before now? It's not like the fools in the trailer tell you anything. Learning. Getting my bearing straight. It was all good. I looked around scanning the faces of the many extras. One black guy in the whole lot of'em. This shouldn't be difficult, shouldn't be difficult at all.
Me and the lone black man, whom I came to nickname Sammy, cause he looked and acted just like Sammy Davis Jr., got to be really good friends during our weeks of shooting… and we were both up front and center in most of the scenes, usually goofing around and having one hell of a fun time.
LaVar and his assistant liked to tease me a lot. They called me the cigar lady. Fools were always walking around with what my eye saw as Cuban cigars. Now, I am no cigar connoisseur. I enjoy a good cigar every now and again. I am a Macanudo Red label girl, myself. Cuban's were like being on the movie set. They were a totally new experience for me. I told LaVar one day that I thought it incredibly rude of him to be walking around toting on one of those bad boys from his lips and not share with those of us peons who were working and starving our asses off for him… hence, no cigar, but from that day forward I was known as the cigar lady, always followed by a chuckle. Every now and again I would hear that distinctive voice of LaVar's over the megaphone (yes, they really do use those things) "Cigar lady? Cigar lady? Where are you? Get up here by me and stand here." Fun times (I never have seen the movie, btw—starving artist's don't get Showtime, unless they are hijacking yours).
Outside of traipsing on the movie set for long hours, I worked as a script reader for my agent; simply for the experience mind you… I read and reviewed hundreds of really bad screenplays. The whole experience gave me a new appreciation for agents and production company folks.
In my spare time I went places where I thought artist would go. I met many artists from many mediums, painters, writers, poets, musicians, actors, sculptors, etc. I learned early not to tell people what I did right off. Everyone is working on the next big screenplay and they seem to come out of the woodworks wanting you to read their masterpieces; and many of them need lots of work (they were actually painful, I tell you). In response to me not calling myself a writer an artist friend of mine, who I got very close with, asked me what would need to happen to make me feel like a successful writer? I said, why seeing my movie on the big screen of course. I would learn, somewhat, to regret sending that out in the Universe.
A few weeks later the call came in. As much as Mr. S. liked me, my work didn't do anything for him. He like the idea for my my work, yet they weren't ready in his opinion. He advised me he would be glad to read anything I had in the future. He even advised me that he would continue to talk about me around Hollywood tables. Keep at it he said.
That is exactly what I did. He gave me exactly what I needed, no matter how discouraging. A few years passed where I was side tracked, mostly by a very handsome, young Irish man… whole other story for a whole other time. . . I like to call it research today.
Needless to say, life got a little dark. I needed to get back to my journey. I needed to start then or else. I did what all weepy women would do. I went to the movies.
I was a bit peeved because in that particular movie house, at that particular movie, there were teens running in and out of the theater. At times they would sit for a bit, talk on their cells, talk amongst themselves, etc. Like any good story, they merely added conflict.
As I watched the story I began to see a lot of similarities between my last script and this movie. Don't misunderstand, there were some major differences. In my story the protagonist was a woman. In this guy's movie the protagonist was a man. In my story there was Jimi Hendrix. In his story there was something else. My story took place in California and Massachusetts. His story took place in Chicago and some bohemian country.
The kids were pissing me off.
The movie was making me shift between anger and feeling flattered (let's face it, there had to be some merits to my screenplay if someone would steal the concept, right?). I got to see what worked and what didn't. I swore if the protagonist had done a certain thing at the end I was going to jump from my seat and strangle the little shit right there in front of God and everybody.
Someone complained about the teens, because they were escorted out. The story wasn't working. It wasn't that good.
My emotions topsy-turvy; popcorn wedged between my teeth, no amount of water moistened my dry throat.
Then it came, the ending. He didn't have the one thing, the little SOB found one though. My heart raced, my fists clinched.
That was it. Thoughts of Smith and Wesson and internet tracking circled my mind. All the years, the work, so that already rich MF'er could get richer and exclude me and my sacrifices. Oh, he would pay alright.
As the theater emptied, I remained. What the hell? Ah, well, good thing it sucked. Now, don't get me wrong. I considered myself a spiritual woman. I worked hard for years to cultivate that relationship… but there was a time in my life--.
In my mind this guy, who starred in many movies, had more money than a fraction of the world, very likely came across my script and saw the concept and covered his sorry-ass making changes to make it his own. I stayed in my seat and watched the credits roll. You can tell when someone had a concept because the movie would have several writers; I learned that from several of the books I had read. When one person cannot produce what someone else is looking for they hire someone else and so on and so on. I waited, counted, seven writers total.
Well maybe it was coincidence. Maybe there was no link at all between this movie and my screenplay. Maybe this was the Universe's way of giving me my success as a writer-- seeing my movie on the big screen.
There it was, my story on the big screen (did i cover that yet?). If it wasn't my story it sure was enough like it that my friends were calling me asking me if I saw it. They picked up on the similarity. At first I wanted retribution. I remembered one of the perks when registering my script with the Writer's Guild was if something like that happened, you got to use their attorneys. I phoned the Writer's Guild and they gave me the attorney's number to phone. Their response? "I wish I had a nickel." They asked me several questions; was any location the same? No. Where any characters the same? No. Were any of the names the same? No. I wish I had a nickel… great, me too.
Oh I had to spend lots of time in prayer and meditation over that one. Conclusion?
One afternoon I was having coffee with a musician friend of mine. We were talking about our respective mediums of art, sharing stories. I told him about the movie. Now keep in mind, this guy had known me for some time. He had also been through a similar experience with a prior band member who left the band and freely used the material he had written. He said, "God, Barbara, I cannot believe you haven't found that son-of –bitch already and done something to him, at least called him out or went public. That just really pisses me off, how people can do that without any repercussions."
I held my hands up like a balance scale and said. "Trust me. It wasn't easy. I had to ask myself," I weighted one hand. "Barbara's wrath?" I weighted the other hand, "The Universe's wrath? Like the attorney said, I don't even know if it was my script for sure… but blank blank knows. Karma. If it was my script I am confident the Universe will take care of it."
I do not know if this means anything, but that happened over five years ago. That actor has done Jack since… his flippin' wedding got more press then any movie he had been in since.
Stay tune for part 3, where we go from Big screen to Published Author.
Site: Author Barbara Boyer
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