Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Friday, April 23, 2010

Writer Tip #5: Manage Your Expectations



Don't expect a producer who drives a Ford Taurus to pay you enough money for your script to buy a Jaguar.  Trust me, you're never going to walk away from a project making more money than him.  Even if your project is a runaway hit, the most you can hope for is that he'll drive you to the car dealer to pick up your new Ford Taurus in his brand new Jaguar.

No need to elaborate any further on this tip.  It's a pretty simple concept.

Expect that, and you won't be disappointed.

That said, if you know your producer's address, you may want to check out his place on Google maps before agree on a price for your script.  If it's a really nice place in a really nice neighborhood, you may want to up your price!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Comment Removed By Administrator, or, Bye Bye Chinese Porn

If you follow my blog as intensely as I do, you will probably notice that quite a comments have been removed by the blog administrator.  (Me.)

Before you think I have been censoring contrary opinions, let me explain that all of the deleted comments were advertisements for Chinese Pornography.

At first, when I saw all of the comments written in Chinese, I imagined that I was inspiring a whole generation of Chinese screenwriters.  Then I copied a few of the comments into Yahoo! Babel Fish to discover that they were all advertisements for Chinese Pornographic webpages and chat rooms.

You can imagine my disappointment.

Some of the translations were pretty funny though.

(I know what you're thinking.  I must be running out of things to blog about.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Art of the Pitch, Part Three, (Lack Of) Sales Update

I mentioned a few months ago that I was pitching a script entitled "Judy" which was co-written by Lee Bonner.  I just wanted to give you an update.

It hasn't sold.  Yet.

We got a few bites.  A former Charlie's Angel requested it.  If that isn't cool, what is?

So what happened?

A producer who requested the script called me after he read it.  First, let me say this:  Calling Is Good.  Very good.  It is a sign of respect.  He liked the script, but he felt it could be better.  He didn't like the direction we took with the main character.  He thought it would be better if we had handled her differently.  And, you know what, I have to admit he was right.  The man certainly had a great mind for story, character and structure.  I took notes throughout the entire 45 minute phone call.  After I hung up, I called Lee and told him what the producer had said.  He agreed too.  We immediately went into rewrites, and regretted that so many people were reading the old version.

In a couple weeks, we had a version we liked much better.  I contacted the producer who inspired us, but he wasn't interested in reading the rewrite.  (That's another law of screenwriting:  You only get one shot at a person.)

In fact, no one has read the rewrite.  Lee and I have both gotten so busy on other projects that we hadn't had a chance to send this script around.

Want to see our pitch?  Here it is:

+++++

Judy, the secretary for the Scranton Police Department, has a secret.  She has clandestinely helped the retiring homicide detective Mac McLane amass an unprecedented 86% clearance rate without the knowledge of the chief of police, who also happens to be her overprotective father.  Judy would love to provide the same assistance to Mac's handsome replacement Ron Robertson.  But Robertson isn't about to let the secretary help him solve his cases, no matter how much he finds himself attracted to her.  Also, his feelings will have to take a back seat when they are forced to join forces to catch a serial killer with his sights on Judy in this rom/com mystery.


I co-wrote this screenplay with the award-winning director Lee Bonner ("Homicide: Life on the Streets," and "The Practice,") whose most recent production, "The Band Didn't Die," directed by Academy Award winner Barry Levinson, was an official selection at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival.  My previous writing credits include "Hidden Secrets," starring John Schneider ("The Dukes of Hazard,") released by Genius Products/The Weinstein Company, and the upcoming "Holyman Undercover," featuring Fred Willard ("Wall E") which will be released by EMI in January 2010.  Lee and I wrote "21 Eyes," starring Rebecca Mader ("Lost,") which was released by Vanguard Cinema.  It has been called "sleek, stylish and cunning" and "a courageous, absorbing and unique piece of indie filmmaking."


May I send you a copy of "Judy?"

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(Note:  "Holyman Undercover" was ultimately not released by EMI in January 2010.  It just went into limited theatrical release last weekend.  Hmmm.  Maybe I should blog about that.)

Congratulations Fisher, or, It's A Small World After All



I know it's a little late, but I want to offer my congratulations to the mighty Fisher Stevens, the star of my first feature "21 Eyes," for winning an Academy Award with his documentary feature film "The Cove."

Fisher is a talented producer as well as a talented actor.  He was very hot when we got him for "21 Eyes."  His New York based production company had just proven its mettle by producing the Oscar-bait "In The Bedroom" and the popular hit "Swimfan."  According to our ultra-hip casting agent, Danny Roth, everybody in New York wanted to be in Fisher's game.  We were lucky to get him.

My director and co-writer, Lee Bonner, had previously directed Fisher on the television series "Early Edition."  When Fisher's name showed up as a casting possibility, we jumped at the chance to get him.  I'm grateful he did it.  Not only was "21 Eyes" a small, low-budget film, it was also a very odd one.  I'd like to think that he did our film because he admired its narrative courage, but he probably did it because he had previously enjoyed working with Lee.  Or maybe it was because of the late UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.  During our session, Fisher mentioned the weird coincidence that we made a reference to Dag Hammarskjold in our script, and that he was going to Canada to make a film that made another reference to Dag Hammarskjold.

Here's the funny thing.  Fisher ended up on the hit TV show "Lost" with his "21 Eyes" co-star Rebecca Mader.  I hope they finally had the chance to really meet on that show.  They never met on "21 Eyes."  Their work was done at different times in different cities.

Even stranger, when having lunch with Rebecca St. James, star of "Sarah's Choice," during a film festival in Boston, she mentioned that she had just worked with the illustrious Fisher Stevens.

Danny was right.  Everybody wants to be in Fisher's game!

I only have one regret.  When I was filling out my entry in my Oscar Pool, I had no idea Fisher was involved with "The Cove."  Had I known, I would have voted for him.  As it was, I voted for the documentary about the GM plant closing.

Now I feel cheap and disloyal.

Sorry, Fisher.

I hope you let me back in your game one day!




(Dag Hammarskjold)