Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gangsters Galore

I wrote Sins Of The Father five years ago. Production companies loved it, but no one would take it on as most people felt that the genre had been played out in the British cinema, what with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch. It didn't matter that my script had a dark emotional core, a teenager reunited with the father he hadn't seen for eight years struggling to accept the world his father inhabited, it was still a gangster flick and therefore old news. One production company even went as far as saying, "gangster films just aren't being made anymore."

In those five years the following have been made: Dead Man's Shoes, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Layer Cake and now Dead Man's Cards, to name a few. And yet I still can't get anyone to commit to making Sins Of The Father. I've even sent it to directors/producers on Shooting People who are looking to make a low budget feature film. Again the same answer, nobody will take it on as the genre is played out.

But is it? If first time directors are still making films like Dead Man's Cards then isn't the gangster flick still alive, and more importantly being used as a springboard to launch careers?

I guess I just need to find someone with BALLS to go and make this "well written" script with "great potential." Easier said than done.


Lianne said...

Maybe you need to have a look at the way you are pitching this Dom - is it really a gangster flick? The dark drama description drew me in more than the the gangster label, which makes me think of things like Lock Stock, but not of Dead Man's Shoes, as we aren't dealing with career criminals in that one.

Of course, you could make it yourself. Or don't you have the BALLS? Sorry, couldn't help it. Seriously though, why not?

Lucy V said...

Apparently the average movie takes roughly three years of development - page to finished product AFTER the actual writing - (dunno who's decided this, but I keep hearing this at seminars etc and if you look somewhere like, it seems to play thru, albeit approximately). This presumably means that a genre can "play out" even when it seems to still be "on the go". That must be why it can seem like you (as in "one") is flogging a dead horse - I had a similar problem with NEAR TO DARKNESS: as one producer told me, "Depressing family dramas are so nineties, darling"! Films follow fashion as much as literature etc - I decided not to do my own head in and wait til its time comes round again. If it never does, then at least it's secured me work on other stuff - and isn't that what specs are really about? They're not called "calling cards" for nothing in my view. Or - as Opti says, make the thing yourself. Dare you.

Dominic Carver said...

OR, I've always pitched it as a dark drama and tried to play down the gangland references, but people who read it still make those connections.

As for making it myself, I know some writers turn to directing or producing but I honestly have no interest in these areas. Even if I did I wouldn't know where to start and my one and only attempt to do so had to burnt as it was so bloody awful. Besides where am I going to find a Rolls Royce that someone would be willing to let me blow up????

And just for the record I have BIG GIANT BALLS.

B2B, this is possible, but I've been sending this script out for five years now, so that means others were still being bought and put into preproduction while mine was being rejected.

Lucy V said...

Ah, hate to pick hairs or split noses, but the average thing implies that there are some movies which are in development longer. Perhaps Layer Cake et al were in development etc for 5 yrs or more??

James Moran said...

Fuck that. London To Brighton, coming out tomorrow, is a thriller about 2 prostitutes trying to escape from scary London gangsters - it's got the writer/director loads of attention, and is cracking good stuff. If the gangster genre is "played out", then I'm Guy Richie's wife. Say it's a thriller, and call them criminals instead of gangsters. Producers are supposedly crying out for a decent thriller at the moment, so they say, anyway.

Lucy V said...

Surely there's a diff between a gangster movie and a movie with gangsters in it? I don't think anyone's against the latter - I'm certainly not - but I would rather pull a pickaxe through the back of my head than watch, say, REVOLVER. Perhaps it's not about pitching this script Dom, but actually taking emphasis off the gangsters and onto the protagonist (who isn't a gangster like the prostitutes in LONDON TO BRIGHTON)?

James Moran said...

Good point - I reckon what they don't want to see are any more shitty Lock Stock knock offs, but then nobody does. If they can't tell the difference between a thriller containing some gangster-type people, and a do-wot-Cockney-winkle gangster flick, then they need a kick up the arse, frankly. How big is the criminal aspect of yours? Is it told from the POV of the crims, or the teenager?

Good Dog said...

Just had a read of the first ten or so scenes of Sins of the Father and the points from JK Amalou on the your Scriptwriter Blog. Certainly agree that you're not using enough direct action, so it doesn't seem immediate enough.

Have a look at Roy Peter Clark's Fifty Writing Tools:
(that's all one long string)

They're tips for journalists but equally valid for scriptwriting where you need to get the maximum amount of information with the minimum number of words.

Yeah, from what's posted, it reads more like a thriller than a ganster film.

Every genre seems to be dead at some point. Then a good script comes along and breathes new life into it.

But that damn Lock, Stock with all the geezer tripe has a shit load to answer for.

Good luck with it.

Dominic Carver said...

Cheers Good Dog, I've bookmarked the link.

James: Yes it is told from the teenagers POV and does concentrate on his attempts to be reconciled with his father. His father's violent world is a major obsticle in the way of the reconciliation. But there are no robberys just gangster type people trying to survive and the teenager is thrown in the midst of this when he finds his father. It was one of the scripts I sent you if you fancy reading it.

Andy Phillips said...

Dom, this is a shot in the dark, since I haven't read the script. But have you considered rewriting Sins of the Father as a comedy? Sound like a mine of humour.

Dominic Carver said...

Two in the same month from new writers...first Dead Man's Cards and now London To Brighton.