Swimming in new shark (no, alligator!) infested waters

A couple of friends of mine forwarded this post about a deal that a TV and movie production company struck with Netflix, which will see a number of films from unrepresented writers get a solid shot at getting made.

In a couple of decades of writing movie scripts and entering contests (or at least keeping half an eye out for them), I’ve never seen an opportunity quite this robust before.

In total, there will be four genres of films made, with the unrepped writers fully paid per WGA guidelines, plus getting to work with established writers to help shape the scripts, although I read somewhere in the reading and applying process that the established writers will be there to mentor the unrepped writers in a non-writing-related capacity, which confuses me.

In any case…

The first genre they revealed wanting pitches for was a family-friendly action adventure. And I rifled through all the movie scripts I’d written and the ones I’ve been noodling on for a while and realized… I don’t have any of those. Which is a bit odd, given the breadth of movies I enjoy seeing, and how those certainly include action-adventure movies of pretty much any stripe. To not have come up with any such ideas myself was… unexpected.

So I got right to work on it. But quickly found how hard it was to come up with an idea for this genre. It wasn’t just a matter of trying for a specific premise I hadn’t seen before–or at least putting new twists on something I had–but also for something that I felt was solid enough an idea that I wanted to work on it.

Because I want to enjoy what I work on. I’m crazy like that.

But evidently, when you’re talking about fully realized stories in genres that aren’t in your writing wheelhouse, coming up with an idea that fits all those criteria is not easy to do.

There was much staring out of windows and jotting down of stream-of-consciousness ideas and watching of clocks as the deadline approached, without much to go on.

I was finally able to come up with… something? Maybe? And worked with it and looked at it and worked with it some more. And it finally became at least the start of a good idea. And then more of one. But as I worked on the idea, I came up against a couple of big issues with it.

Happily, my wife stepped up to the plate and knocked the problems I had out of the ballpark. When I ran the issues by her, she immediately flipped into sounding board/suggestion mode and offered workarounds that made the problems go away completely, and the final version was better for the changes. Full credit where it’s due: If this pitch works and if it actually turns into anything, yes, it was me at the steering wheel, but it was also me getting lost a couple of times and her telling me which way to turn to get to the destination.

With that submission put to bed, I’m looking forward to what genre the open calls will ask for next. They’ve kept it vague and just said it’ll be revealed in July.

More as I know it.