A Setback and a Triumph


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Over the last few months, I completed a short screenplay that I started writing over two years ago. It’s a horror movie, an adaptation of a story I read years back that I couldn’t get out of my head.

I wrote a draft in fall 2011 and gave myself nightmares. The tale is dark. It tapped into some of my most secret fears. I wasn’t comfortable diving deeper into them.

Last October I reread it and liked it more than I expected to. My writing group read my draft and, instead of deciding that I was a creepy weirdo for having written such a thing, gave enthusiastic feedback.

I started revising, and investigating how to get permission for my adaptation. This would be necessary if I were to try to produce the film, or enter it in a contest–put it out into the world in any way.

After running a gauntlet of reps, lawyers, publishers, and other gatekeepers, today I got my official answer:


The author, who is well known, has a policy of only taking permissions requests from well-established agents or screenwriters with whom he is familiar. I understand that he needs to protect himself from a million screaming fanboys. But I am truly bummed. This is the first script I’ve written that is strong enough to produce. And I can’t.

On the other hand…This is the first script I’ve written that is strong enough to produce. After two years sitting in a drawer because it scared me so much, and another four months of revisions, it is solid. I’m so proud that I wrote it.

I think adapting from existing sources suits me well, since plot is the hardest element for me about screenwriting. Next time, I’ll get permission first before I really throw myself into it.

In the meantime, I’m working on an original, feature-length screenplay. Permissions not an issue. Plot? That’s another story…