My First Feature Film
Under the Gipper. I was doing a producing internship in the glass skyscraper they blew up in Diehard (former president Ronald Reagan’s office was above us). Anxious to find a project, but lacking the money to option the rights to the latest New York Times bestseller, I started reading old classics (= free, stealable stories!) at the Beverly Hills Library.
Rip van Offable. Then one day I stumbled across Rip Van Winkle, an iconic American story that had–amazingly–never been made into a feature length film! Which was probably because it was only a fifteen page wisp of a story. So I expanded it into a full-length treatment (Hollywood language for a sort of blueprint for a movie). In it I imagined all that might have happened to Rip’s wife, children, and community during his twenty year nap. What would he have to do to fix relationships when he (a former city leader) returned to an abandoned wife, kids adrift, and a town under the sway of his wife’s unscrupulous fiancé?
I pitched the story to a contact at Columbia Pictures, and he said, “Well, Showtime’s looking for modern fairly tales…”
“Ah,” I said… (dramatic pause) “…funny you should mention that, ‘cuz this just happens to be a modern fairly tale!” Then got off the phone and spent the next two days modernizing the treatment! Two weeks later, Showtime bought the rights and I got my first producing credit!
To be honest, as a freshman producer I didn’t have a lot of clout (like none), so when major changes were made I wasn’t even consulted. Following the premiere screening, my wife turned to me and said, “Well, the good news is you can sell it again–since they changed everything you wrote!” Still, it came out pretty decent.
I hope you enjoy this brief clip from Out of Time, my first feature film!