The reviews are in… and the Animal Crackers screenplay is a hit!
At least… with my two 11 year old sons and my wife.
So… there’s that.
I wanted to take a moment from production to talk about what an amazing experience it was to spend the last few months working with Dean Lorey on the script.
I’ve sung his praises a few weeks ago… so I won’t blather on about him again like that. I promise.
But, imagine it’s your first movie (like me) and you’ve written your first screenplay (also like me) and a major studio actually likes the script and wants to distribute your movie (again… me).
Now, imagine that you get to work with a professional screenwriter like Dean Lorey (or maybe… like me… ACTUALLY Dean Lorey) on a second draft of the script.
How would it play out in your mind?
Take a moment. Imagine this. You and Dean working on your screenplay…
Okay. That’s EXACTLY how it was!
I recently flew to Los Angeles to spend a week to put the final touches on the final draft of the Animal Crackers screenplay. Dean had just finished 8 weeks of rewrites on it and I was so eager to talk about it.
We spent 4 days going over every line, each character’s motivations, story arcs, humor, and more. It was amazing.
Because Dean had a place in Santa Monica, we took breaks on the beach, we ate red vines all day, and laughed at our own silly jokes. It was everything I could hope for.
But, here’s the crazy thing…
Dean has over 20 years of screenwriting experience. I have NONE.
Dean went to NYU to study Film.
Heck. I went to ART SCHOOL so I didn’t have to take classes like English or Writing. (Well… that and I was pretty good at drawing pictures)
I felt like I didn’t belong.
I didn’t deserve to be in that room.
I hadn’t earned that right.
Dean was a professional. Me? I’m a nobody.
I have no experience, no schooling, and no right to be sharing screenwriting credits with someone of Dean’s caliber.
Yet… here I was.
And… I had notes.
I had actually written NOTES on Dean’s pass of the script.
I questioned his thinking. I thought we should tweak a line or two.
Was I insane?
I read a few of my notes to Dean on the first day.
"This is good!" Dean replied (much to my surprise) and he quickly started changing the script to match my notes.
Then, I gave a few more. And more.
"That works so much better" he replied. Typing in the notes.
Something was wrong.
It’s a trick. I know it!
But it wasn’t, and after four days of this… something happened.
I felt like I belonged. Like I was “keeping up”.
We worked line by line to make the script funnier. Each throwing out the most absurd thoughts we could think of. And both of us agreeing on which to keep and which to throw away.
No arguments. No power plays. Just doing what was best for the script.
I didn’t have the credits. I didn’t have the experience, or the talent, or the years of hard work that Dean had. But Dean made it SO easy for me to “be myself” and he was so open to simply making the script better… that it became a true collaboration.
I felt like I belonged.
Now, this may sound absolutely silly. Juvenile even.
But it was an amazing experience for me.
It was empowering. It was exhilarating.
And honestly… I don’t know how to react to it.
I’m still waiting for the punchline. Or the other shoe to drop. But so far… Dean’s been genuine.
He’s got something up his sleeve. I know it.
Thank you Dean. For the experience. For the laughter. For the camaraderie. For your talents. For the red vines (no… wait… I paid for those). And especially for your friendship.