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Author Topic: How much for a (Letters)screenplay?  (Read 2076 times)
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« on: December 24, 2006, 09:51:59 AM »

RE-edited by iconfan to try to make the question clearer......

This will be a delicate question as it involves asking how much money someone in the industry made which as with all conversations of this type, -from Hollywood gossip to the neighbor down the street who just installed a backyard patio-it's considered bad form to ask.

But I am asking anyway since I should think  film students, film fans and especially wannabe screenwriters here on the board are very curious as to how this process works. Besides which---on any given week- you can find many entertainment sources that reveal how much one actor made vs. another actor or the budget of this film compared to that film etc etc etc...

My specific question is to the 'story' of how Clint went to Paul Haggis and asked him if he knew any screenwriters who would want to write the Letters screenplay. Especially since (as Eastwood had said) He had no money to pay for the screenplay. (I took it mean of course,....very little pay)

Now this has been said during an interview (specifically this mornings AMC channel SUNDAY MORNING SHOOTOUT with Peter Guber and Peter Bart. ) as a toss-away joke kind of thing which is supposed to cover the subject (I assume) and your supposed to go away satisfied that well, they obviously handled the problem since the film did indeed get made (FROM a screenplay)

I should think since he obviously wanted to get the film made, he could have easily written a check from his own checking account and gotten reimbursed from Dreamworks. (which could have been said in the form of "well, I didnt have alot of money and I offered her what is known as scale wages which I hoped she would accept. And of course she did." Or at least joke about it the way Donald Sutherland did when he was asked to star in Space Cowboys...He jokingly said "Great- Where do I send the check?" But of course he got SOME kind of paycheck even though theres probably a long list of actors who would gladly work FOR scale in order to have the honor of working with Eastwood)

Hell, Mel Gibson has done two major films from his own pocket himself. Gibson obviously had the personal funds of  a hundred million dollars to film Passion of the Christ and it did in fact go on to sit comfortably in the top ten films of all time and earned Gibson back his personal investment five times over....I should think that Clint could easily have paid just above basic scale (whatever it is) and one of Paul's student's (as it happens) Iris Yamas@#ta would have been just as thrilled to DO it for scale wages. (I should think scale would be about a few thousand a week )

So how did Iris finally get paid....

Wouldn't it be already part of the budget FOR Letters?
Unless Eastwood KNEW it would be a tough sell and he needed a screenplay to shop around in which case where DO you get the upfront money to pay someone to create a screenplay not even knowing if the film will see the light of day?

And if in fact it was a part of the budget then why would Eastwood just blow it off as something that almost didnt get done at all because he didn't have any cash laying around and maybe the studio wasn't about to pay even scale wages for a first time screenwriter for what must have seemed at the time (preproduction) quite a risky subject. (even though prize winning Eastwood himself would be the director)(And NO, the studio as far as I know did NOT indicate that. But I am just curious as to what happened. IF anyone knows)

So if anyone has information on this I would appreciate it. I tired not to make this sound crass or too negative but it just seems silly to me when filmmakers 'blow off' important tivia/information when thousands of fans and or other wannabe screenwriters are out in the real world hungry for information about this kind of behind the scenes info.

Which is important information FOR unknowns looking to break into the indusrtry aside from all of the countless other drivel that is over-available for all to see....such as the latest nosepicking Paris Hilton did or even more news about Tom Cruise's child. (I feel---hey okay the guy had a kid....but whats the next film he plans to do? lets get to the meat and potatoes of info)

I am also very interested because I feel LETTERS could very well become a classic if not a cult classic among both critics and film fans. Not making hundreds of millions but being considered something that will be studied and admired for generations.

And take note of the fact that the movie (Letters) was filmed from a FIRST DRAFT also!

And I feel it will also thrust Iris into a big spotlight as well and might lead to even more work for her.

But little trivia about the behind the scenes would be quite interesting to all ....just like the amazing story of how Sylvester Stallone wrote the ROCKY screenplay in 3 days and shopped it around and actually had a studio offer him a few hundred thousand dollars for the screenplay (which back in the seventies for a first time writer/unkown was an amazing payday in and of itself) and then the fact that he had the guts to ask to be the lead character or else he would KEEP the screenplay!

And of course, he starred and went on to make history and even now, this very weekend, over 30 years AFTER he sold that first screenplay----Rocky Balboa (the 5 th sequel) looks to make at least 30 million its opening weekend when everybody thought it wouldnt make a dime....

amazing stories.

So, again, I am just curious.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2006, 11:04:30 AM by iconfan » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2006, 10:19:24 AM »

Iconfan, can you please give us your source, preferably with a link, for your quotes from Eastwood regarding the screenplay and the amount Eastwood could or couldn't afford to spend?

If you can provide direct quotes within the context of the interview, that would be appreciated and it might make the situation clearer.
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2006, 10:33:52 AM »

Well, just today on Sunday Morning Shootout with Peter Bart and Peter Guber on AMC TV (it was a rerun from probably October FLAGS was about to open) he was WITH Paul Haggis
so theres one (solid) source....

I am no good with links and such
all thumbs with the computer

But there was one other source where Eastwood repeated the story of how he went to Haggis and said he 'didn't have alot of money' to pay for a screenwriter and if Haggis knew of one of his students or someone they could get the project going.....But I can't remember- it could be one of several interviews with the man.

And I apologise for my rambling and not making my point clearer----(I will go back and try to shorten it up a bit) but I should think that if I had big Hollywood money and there was a story I wanted told I would sure go into my own bank account and at LEAST pay scale so that I could at least get a screenplay done I could shop around.....To me it just seemed like Eastwood joked it off a little too much. Sure its funny within it's context but hundreds of thousands of unknowns would love any trivial bits of information so they can know the process of breaking into the industry a bit better.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2006, 10:48:40 AM by iconfan » Logged
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