Displaying blogs about Syrup. View all Max's blogs
Retrospective #7: Chinese Syrup, Company coffee, Family Lawns
Ah yes, a brave new year, full of possibility! Which is a little bright and confronting at this time of the morning, so let’s look back instead.
The Chinese translation of my books is complete, which wouldn’t be especially noteworthy except for the fact that trusty translator Wayne Fan e-mailed me their Syrup cover, and—hot damn!—it looks awesome. I wish I could recall all the other editions and get them recovered like this. Well, except for the Chinese characters. Because that would be weird. But otherwise: oh yeah! I was never thrilled with the US cover, so now I can print this design out and paste it over the front of all my copies.
I finished the second draft of my Syrup screenplay just before Christmas, e-mailed it off, and am currently waiting to hear what the producers think. It’s been a fascinating process, which I hope to blog about once I know whether to depict Fortress as a group of brilliant, insightful rising stars (if they like my script), or a bunch of bumbling idiots (if they don’t).
A few days ago I drew five winners for Company coffee mugs and Mission Statement posters. Thus far four have written back to claim their goodies, so I’m afraid that unless you’ve heard from me already, you might want to start hoping that member #340 doesn’t check his email for a while, and I end up drawing you to get his prize.
My “I was a Teenage Lawn Mower” blog caused quite a stir, but only amongst my immediate family. My stepfather Col Counsell was sufficiently moved to join the site and post a response. It is a collection of gross distortions and outright lies, and I only leave it on my site in order to provide readers with some entertaining and highly imaginative fiction.
I still haven’t seen a proper edition of Company, but I’m assured by others that they look swanky. Publication date is just five days away! It’s very exciting. Pub date kind of feels like your birthday: the day itself is not that different, but there’s a special feeling to it, and people congratulate you a lot, and you finish it hopelessly drunk and trying to hitch-hike home. Unless that’s just me.
Syrup & the Rise of the Belly
So I’m almost finished writing the first draft of the Syrup screenplay. I did mention I was working on that, right? No? Oh. That’s weird. I thought I did. Maybe you just forgot I told you. Yeah, I bet that’s it.
Actually what happened is I was waiting until there was a signed deal before I announced it—since until there’s a bit of paper, there’s always the chance that an agreement will fall apart. But that took so long to get finalized that I just started writing. Now I have 90% of a first draft, and the bit of paper is on its way from Fortress to me.
Working on the script has been an amazing experience. I wrote Syrup (the novel) in 1997, and eight years later I get to go back and fix the parts I wish I’d done differently. I still feel very close to the two main characters, Scat and 6, and I love being able to play with them again. Then there’s the challenge of deciding which parts of the story should make it to the screen and which should be left on paper. I’ve never had to confront that before, and it’s been fascinating.
I also have a hard deadline, in the shape of Jen’s ballooning belly. Once those contractions hit I don’t expect to touch a keyboard for a couple of weeks, so my draft had better be finished by then. I’ve been working pretty intensely for a while now, which is probably why these blogs have been a little less frequent than usual. (You noticed, right? Come on.)
I wish I could post some of my script here, because, well, I’m damn excited about it. But I’m not allowed to. So I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it: it’s going really well, and I’m loving it.
Entering the Fortress
It’s a good-news-bad-news kind of situation, except the good news is all for me and the bad news is all for you. That’s the best kind of good-news-bad-news, so long as you’re me. Which I am. So that’s great.
Here’s the good news. I got this e-mail from Fortress:
I am trying to talk to Siberell about hiring you. We want to give you a shot and want to make sure that Brian is open to making a creative deal.
Brian Siberell is my film agent. So I’m pretty sure this translates as: “Dear Max, Without wanting to invite you to pull down our pants and steal our wallets, we intend to hire you to write the Syrup screenplay.”
My reaction is: “Ohhhhhhh yeah!” I am so fired up to write this thing, I tell you. And now I don’t have to fly to L.A. and kneecap anybody.
The bad news is the sample script I posted on this site, then pulled down at Fortress’s request, is going to stay down. Sorry if you would have liked a look at that. But the idea now is not to expose my naked raw drafts to the world, but to keep things under wraps until I have a script that’s cool and polished and gleaming with edgy goodness. (Which it so will. Hot damn!)
Brad Pitt Rectifies Syrup Gag
But first, an update on the Syrup film situation. Here’s where we’re at: Fortress liked my draft script, but wanted to hear more about my vision for the last two thirds of the film. I said, “That sounds a bit like you want me to sketch out the whole screenplay for no money,” and they said, “Well…” and proceeded to flatter me until I agreed to do it. So right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a draft structure for the film, on the understanding that they’ll then decide (Donald Trump-style) whether I’m hired or not. If they turn me down, we have agreed that I get to fly over to LA and beat them to death.
But back to the headline story: finally, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston are splitting up! I was thrilled to hear this, because finally that bit in Syrup where Cindy’s goal is to marry Brad Pitt will make sense again. This has been bugging me for years, and I’m really glad Brad (or I guess it was Jen) had the decency to make things right.
Maybe everyone knew this already, but I just found out that those two originally met on a blind date. I tell you what, if a friend sets you up on a blind date with Brad Pitt or Jennifer Anniston, you’d be fairly happy, wouldn’t you? I keep hearing these dating horror stories; how come nobody ever tells the ones where their blind date turned out to be one of the most desirable human beings on the planet?
Which, I reckon, was Brad and Jennifer’s problem. I mean, imagine you’re Brad Pitt. Okay, I’ll give you a few moments. Now imagine waking up one morning, perhaps after a particularly big night, and wandering to the bathroom. You’re halfway there and you realize that Jen is looking at you from the bed. You’re standing there, your hair all flat and stupid-looking, your eyes bloodshot, caught in the middle of scratching yourself in that place where men scratch when nobody’s around, and you can totally read Jen’s expression. It’s: “So this is the world’s sexiest man.”
My Syrup Script
Update 6-Dec-04: At Fortress’s request, I’ve removed the script while they make their decision. Thanks to everyone who reviewed it and made suggestions!
Okay, for anyone who’s interested: here’s my attempt at the first twenty-something pages of a Syrup screenplay.
This is what the Fortress guys will use to decide whether I’m the right guy to write the full thing. I would really, really love to do that, but I’m going to try to spend the next few weeks not fretting about it. This is what I’ve decided: if they like the way I’ve done it, then terrific, but if not, well, it’ll just mean that one of my most fervent wishes is dashed in a highly public and embarrassing way. That’s all.
If you’re reading this via your web browser, you might notice I’ve also added the ability for people to leave comments in response to my blogs, something I’ve been threatening to do for ages. This is more hand-written code on my part, so I apologize in advance if something goes wrong, or the comments all disappear, or my web host freaks out again at the load I’m generating on their server (“Aahhhh! Scripts!”) and takes down the whole site.
Assuming this works, though, I’m very interested in what you guys think of my draft. If I actually get this gig, I want to use any feedback I get here to help me write the rest of it.
The Sticky Screen
Syrup has been optioned! Yes, the heartbreaking, inspirational story of one novel’s quest to become a feature film continues. When the rights became available again earlier this year, I was lucky enough to have a couple of choices, and in the end I plumped for Fortress Entertainment. This is a brand new financing & production company headed by a couple of guys who completely got the story and made me think they could do great things with it.
Last time I went on this particular ride, the production company got themselves a script I didn’t much like. For me it was too focused on the logistics of Scat and 6’s challenges and not enough on their relationship. But there was nothing I could do about this, because when a studio buys the film rights to a novel, the last thing they want is an author hanging around wringing his hands about how his precious words are being changed. I just had to wait until the option expired, and start again.
So this time, with Fortress, I said I wanted to write the script. This was greeted with a cautious, polite silence. I’ve never written a screenplay, and authors have a reputation for being generally terrible at adapting their own books, so Fortress, I suspect, was not thrilled at the idea of throwing time and money at me while I slowly discovered I can’t write for the screen.
Which is fair enough. So we came up with a solution: I’ll write the first 20 or 30 pages, then they’ll either hire me to write the whole thing, or go looking for someone else.
I started this a couple of weeks ago, in between Company edits, and am almost finished. In a few days’ time, I’ll post my work here, so you can judge for yourself: am I the man to deliver this thing, or should I stick to my day job?