This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 104: Screenwriter And Director Andrew Haigh Talks About His New Drama Film 45 Years.
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Ashley: Welcome to episode #104 of Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Director and Screenwriter – Andrew Haigh. And who recently directed critically acclaimed, “45 Years.” So, stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes, any quick links or websites that I mention in the Podcast can be found in my blog, or in the show notes. I also publish a transcript of every episode, in case you would rather read the show, or look something else up later on? You can find all the Podcasts and the show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast. And then just look for episode #104.
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A quick few words about what I am working on? I’m still doing rewrites on the spoof-comedy that I’ve been talking about over the last couple of months. It is dragging on a bit longer than I would like? But I did have a nice talk with one of the producers last week. And they are still very much committed to making this movie. So, I do think that if I can produce a draft, I can, that they like, they will make it. And frankly, if I don’t produce a draft, that they like, they will just get a new writer and continue to work on it. So, the bottom line is, they do feel, it does feel like they are committed to making this movie. And so that kinda keeps me motivated to keep on writing. I was just afraid they might have started to get bogged down. They really wanted to shoot this movie in December. Obviously, this is December, and it’s half over. So, that’s not going to happen. So, it’s definitely, going to push out into the new year. There’s still, as I said, still definitely on track, if they’re trying to get a director. They just want a draft I think? And kinda feel confident and get to the director. And then head to pre-production very shortly. So, definably still working on that. That’s take up a large part of my writing time every day, for probably the next couple of four weeks.
I did start putting together my Kick-Starter Campaign. I started to work out all the rewards, I’m trying to look at a bunch of other Kick-Starter Campaigns. You know, look over what they did? Look at what they offered and figure out how I’m going to kinda let out my own Kick-Starter. And I started to write some of the actual text that goes to, because there’s a little project section, where you have to write up a little bit on and about some of the stuff most people don’t even read all that stuff. So, I’m not going to spend a tremendous amount of time on it.
Just sort of the bare-bones basics. Sort of all in the project I’m going to put in there. Now, but I do think the rewards are important, so, I’m going to spend some time on that and really thinking it through. You know, draw and be creative, and clever and make it so that people really are excited to actually donate money.
So, I figure, since this is my last Podcast episode of the year, I’m going to do a recap of all of my various optioned scripts. If you listen to this Podcast regularly, I often mention I just optioned one script or another? I will typically mention it when I option it. What ends up happening most of the time? When the options expire? A lot of the times I just kinda forget about it? The producer doesn’t necessarily contact me? It’s kinda when, you first option it? There’s a lot of optimism in it? Excitement about the project. And then as the months go on, and things don’t materialize? And then, you know when the option expires, sometimes, like I said, I don’t even remember that it had expired. I am trying to fix that, because I think that is a problem. Because once the option expires, one, I need to be better on following through and following up with the producer and see what they are doing? But, number two, I need to know that I can start sending the script out elsewhere first. So I got both for it in my office. I just write the name of the script on them, and I write who the other person I have optioned it out to and the expiration date. So, I can quickly glance up at that and whenever I’m thinking of sending out a script to a producer. And I can sit down and see what the status is of that? So, anyways, as I said, typically these options expire, so, I won’t typically come back on the Podcast and say, this one expires. So, as I said, I just kinda forget about it. And I think in some ways, that’s probably the best healthy attitude to have. Once you option something, you just kinda need to move on to other projects and not miss and sit there and wonder what’s going on with this other one. So, that’s kinda what I do? Figured I run through it and kinda give ya some updates. I talk about these projects, so you might wonder what’s going on with any number of them?
So, let’s see, the first one, I won’t talk about, is my horror one, comedy script. That’s a script that I’ve optioned numerous times over the years. Probably mentioned it a couple of times on the Podcast? It is currently optioned and I. Often last June or July, I think July? And I talked about this on the Podcast. I optioned it to a film producer who wanted it for only the Hindi Rights. It seemed like a very strange thing? He assured me, “Oh, no you’ll be able to option the other international rights, U.S. Rights and the other Rights in the world. The only place but India. You’ll be able to option those to another producer, and for the most part there is no cross over in the market. These Hindi films that are made, almost never get international distribution. I was a little skeptical? But, I figured why not try, at that point I wasn’t doing anything with the script. So, I figured just as an experiment let’s option do the options game and see what happens? There was an eighteen month options, I think it was in July, July of this year. So, it’s not going to expire until July of 2107. So, I’ll still probably be talking about it on the update at the end of next year. But in any event I did find an American producer, I think it’s Septeber. To that one to option the script. I explained the situation with the Hindi producer. Oh, and one other thing. When I created the deal with the Hindi producer. I was very concerned that I, another producer wouldn’t option it from me. He said, “Okay, listen, if you find a producer who wants to option it? You cancel my option.” In the mean-time, if I have not already exercised the option. When I say exercise the option, that basically means he’s paying me for the script. Obviously, once he pays me for the script it makes it new. There’s no taking it back. But just in terms of the option, you can cancel the option in writing in order to anytime you want. So, I think that was enough of an out, but there was almost no doubt, the fact of me. I found this American producer that wanted to option the script.
I explained the situation to him, and he was really apprehensive about it? Say, that I was able to talk him into optioning the script. And reading these Hindi rights intact to the other producer. So, that was just a six-month option. I believe that was in September, so those two, March of 2016. Haven’t heard from him in a couple of months. So I’m not sure what’s going on with him? But, the bottom line is to have basically the same script option, different scrip. But it’s the same script optioned, two different producers. I need to follow–up with both of them directly and see what’s going on?
So, the next script that I have out there is my baseball comedy. I mentioned this one a bunch on the show. Last June I actually flew to Delaware with my writing partner. We got kinda the “Lay of the Land.” The stadium they wanted to shoot, that we watched a minor league game where they were hoping to shoot it. And we did some re-writes on the scripts. We had several meetings with the management, you know? There was a lot of fun, and we really liked this producer. I talked to him quite often, he gives me regular updates. He just calls me and kinda tells me what’s going on with the project. That option has technically, actually lapsed, it actually lapsed a couple of days ago, a couple of weeks ago. Somewhere mid-way through December. Because I think it was June that they re-option it. About the time we flew out there. So that option has technically lapsed. But, again, I’ve been in touch with them, the producer, and they are still interested in pursuing the project and getting it going. So, my guess is we’ll discuss something in the new year. And this is pretty common, you know, it’s, there’s not like a huge. There’s basically, he said, “Yeah, okay fine.” You know, I’m not going to send the project out. SO, this is just kinda of an understanding that we are going to talk probably in the new year. He’s getting some things together talking up, showing some of his contacts. And then we’re going to have a kind of strategy session. Make it the early part of next year. And then we’ll probably come up with another option. So this is kinda typical what these options with sometimes lape’s. And if he officially doesn’t re-option? There’s a little bit of of money involved to officially re-option. So, I think that’s his hesitation. But, you know, I like the producer, I think he’s done a pretty good job of up until this point in getting a lot of pieces in, ya know, in place. So, me and my writing partner are perfectly happy to just move in a holding pattern with him and figure something out? Me and my writing partner we both really believe in the script, we really like the script. So, we’re hoping maybe, we can actually get involved in helping out as well. Maybe we can raise some of the money and the produce can raise some of the money. I don’t know, but me and my writing partner have been discussion some ways we can help out more and get this project going? But, anyways, as I said, it’s just in kind of a holding pattern. The option is kept lapsed and we’ll see, if he does in fact re-option?
I think I mentioned my team comedy? Over the years I’ve been doing my Podcast. It’s the same writing partner as baseball comedy. And I actually first optioned this script, even before I started this Podcast. So, I think it was June or July of 2013. I think it’s in Demark, maybe Norway? Honestly I’ve never met him? Never talked to him on the phone, I think it’s been done via Email. I found him through my Email Fax Blast. He did pay a decent amount of money for the option. I think he paid, $1500.00 for the first year. And I think $1000.00 for the second six months or something like that. I don’t know, but it was something, some money for the option. I gave him my bank account details and he transferred the money. So, he’s been very nice, but again, the only contact has been via Email. That’s some point at I think the option actually lapsed last July or June. And after that time period. He said, “Oh, no I’m still working on it.” I don’t know, I just don’t want to spend any more time on it, or money on another option, ya know? Just kinda let me know what’s going on?
Again, it’s kinda like just a hand shake agreement a verbal or dealing with that, he may or may not be working on this. And I may or may not be sending this script out? If I see a lead in Ink Tip, or if I talk to a producers looking for a team comedy? I will pitch this script to them, since it’s not officially optioned. But the last I heard, which as I said, was probably like in September, or August. He said he was getting ready to do some Crowd Funding? For over there in Norway or Denmark. And then he was asking for videos of me and my writing partner did. Like a little intro video we did about ourselves and we sent it to him. Now, I’m not sure how all that turned out? So, again, this is enough of one, I probably need to follow up with him. The bottom line is the option has lapsed. I’d say it’s fairly confident he’ll ever get it going?
I have a film thriller script I’ve talked about a couple of times on the Podcast. This is a script I optioned a little over a year ago. I had a hard time getting Lead Rights. Me and the producers/directors are not really seeing eye to eye on the re-writes. And I did talk about this somewhat on the Podcast. The, he went and did some re-writes on the script. He writes up his own material. That was a two-year option. Again, it’s not that prominent, I try to limit the time frames as much as possible. But in this case it was a script I really was not getting anything with. So, it’s not really a big deal. So, anyway, that was a two-year option. I think it was last September. So, it won’t end if until next September of 2016. So, the option is a little over a year old now, and then it will end a little less than a year. Because it’s a two-year option. Yeah, I think basically he’s still working on it? But, not really sure, I gotta probably touch base with him. While I had the Horror Thriller script, this is the one where I probably mentioned last March I’m not sure? I’ve optioned it a few times. You prove you see, actually I often give producers. It did not for at least six months or a year. It went and it did not materialize. And then probably about a year ago, maybe January, February of this year, I think? I started to blast out with my Email and Fax Blast Service. I did find a producer who I did some re-writes on. I really liked the director as well, he really wants to direct this, he’s a producer and a director. I really liked him, and we did some re-writes on, and we sent it out to his contacts. And his contacts said, and sent it back with negative concern. Sent it back, they really didn’t like the script. And so I’m feeling really gun shy. And we’re having some telephone leads, and we’re pitching ideas on how we can fix the script? But he really did feel gun shy, you really don’t want to send it out. And then that kinda how that was left. I probably haven’t heard from him in a few months. This is a script, I am concerned for the most part. And this is like the last conversation I basically said. So it’s just sounds like he really just doesn’t want to send it out in it’s current form. He said, “Nah, I don’t really want to send it.” So everything was perfectly friendly, when we left it. I see a lead on Ink Tip that really is exactly matching this, I would probably pitch this script. Even though, technically it’s optioned? And I’m pretty sure I could go back to this producer if I found interest from another producer. I’m pretty sure I could get back to this producer, and say, “Hey, you know, this producer, what kind of option could you give me like that?” He probably would, but, even if he wouldn’t? It’s option expires in March, the next expires in March also. If I were to, I know this guy’s not working on it. So, he’s not going to exercise his option. He’s not going to re-option it. So, if I find something interesting, that’s not the worst case scenario. That is, I would just have to tell the producer, yeah, it’s got another couple of months on the option. So, I’m not sending it out, I’m not going to send it out even, right? You know, Fax Blast Service, or anything like that, but until the option is actually expired. If I saw something or ran into a producer and he was looking for something that sounded like it was something that was exactly for this, I probably would pitch it to him.
And I might even tell him, yeah, it’s optioned for the next three months. But I know the producer is not doing anything with it. So, again, it’s just one of those things, one of those grey areas. I like to keep the materials as far as, as much as possible.
I talked about another Sci-Fi Thriller scripts that I optioned last summer, via Ink Tip. It was a script that I wrote. A friend of mine, Adam Strange, he runs the writers group that I’m in. But I already keep all the time on the guest. He, actually did, I did the first draft. And he went and took a pass at it. And then he actually posted it on Ink Tip through his account. And then he, we got an option from this producer. And he’s got a bunch of credits, he’s not being an inexperienced producer. He had a few credits, it seems a life time of material. We met with him, he’s seems like a nice guy. But he the type who plays with him. It was a free option, was only for 90 days. And as I said, I got this probably last – June-July. And so the option expired a couple of months ago. So, we need to follow up with him. I know he keeps doing it, the script. But really just, as a sort of networking. But, need to follow up with him. That option has basically expired. But, that’s one I haven’t mentioned on the Podcast. So I would say that one is pretty much over.
And then the final option I have currently have out is my female protagonist minimal location thriller script. I have talked about this one a bunch on the Podcast. If you go back to some of the early episodes? I think this one was actually the first option I had, after I started this Podcast. So, probably like, September 2013. I think I originally optioned it to a producer in Texas. She had a bunch of credits, I really liked her. She’s had a pretty good take on the material. She worked on it for probably a year. It did not go, the option lapsed. And I Emailed her a bunch of times, “Hey, what’s going on? What’s going on?” She never responded. And this is kind of an interesting sort of a side. So, I mentioned the SYS Newsletter that goes out once a month. So, basically what I did to create that, was I had this enormous list of, you know, producers and directors. And I do the Email and Fax Blast that I do. And see, I use myself to promote my own scripts. I basically Email that list, of what I say, five thousand producers and such that would listen. I’m putting together a much larger list of the newsletter. Which is from SYS writers would you like to receive this monthly pitch. And I mentioned this on a Podcast, it’s a service I sell, so part of SYS Select. I currently have about 200 producers that have status, “Oh, yes, sign me up!” There’s just a link to it, they click and enter their name in it. And they sign up to this newsletter. It’s over 200 now. But, one of the interesting things that’s happened with that? Is, I get to talking to them, a lot of these producers. It’s not like I’m pitching them my material. Anyway, so, so I send out this list, that Email to these five thousand producers, saying, do you want to sign up for the SYS Newsletter? This one producer Emails me, back and because I use the same list to market my own scripts. He had actually read this female protagonist limited vocational protagonist script years ago? And he remembered it, saying, “Hey, actually I remember you.” I’m not looks for new material, I don’t want to sign up for your newsletter. But I did read your script a couple of times many years ago? What’s happening with that? And through that Email exchange, he actually did option the script. And that one, I think is saying something. And it is the same thing, or maybe it was a little later, in August. But anyways, I think that goes till February or March, I think it was a six-month option that I gave him. He’s a producer in the U.K., you know, Dan seemed like a good guy. You know, he had a bunch of credit, and it seemed like he had a good plan for action, raising the money and putting it out there. So, I felt pretty good about that one. I hadn’t heard from him. I continue to send out the same Email out to the SYS Newsletter. To the list of five dozen booster. “Hey, do you want to sign up for the newsletter now?” So, I’ve sent that out a couple of times. And I’ve actually sent that out about a month ago. And he responded again, “Hey, I just working on this script.”
Trying to get this and the other thing, so. That’s kinda the update, he’s still working on it. And a, you know, mildly optimistic, let’s just say, I’m that one.
So, there are a few other options, that I’ve mentioned on the Podcast. Hey. I’ve optioned that script or this script. And basically if I am not mentioning it? That means the option has lapsed and I don’t even necessarily remember all those options. But I, there are a bunch of different ones I’ve talked. Hey I’ve got this script, so, those options have lapsed. And so, that’s kinda the unfortunate reality of optioning scripts. And you assume a lot of risk, any one of these scripts you get optioned. And ultimately getting into production. It takes a lot out of, a lot. Because it’s just a numbers game. Most of these options are not going to pan out. And that’s just kinda the reality. And I think that’s really a lesson learned. I remember when I optioned my first script. And somewhat ironically, the first script I ever optioned actually sold and was produced. And so I kinda thought that was sort of how things went. And really it was just, you know, it was pure luck I would say, that, that happened. Really keep this in mind because your own projects and your own writing. You know, you need to move onto your next project. You need to keep writing new materials, that you have a lot of new material that you can send out and get optioned. Because just getting it optioned while, that’s great, that’s validated. Which means a producer, someone who wants to make this movie. That’s definitely, gets stuff, that’s great! It’s the first step. But, there’s still quite a long, long, long, process before you’re actually going to sell something and get something produced. And the next step of that is, once you get something produced, the film actually is successful and actually pushes your career forward, is a whole other ball of wax. So, just optioning is just really the first baby step to actually getting this career going. So keep that in mind, and the way you’re going to get a lot of things produced is why you have a ton of things optioned.
So, the other big project that I talked about on the Podcast? Is the script that I wrote a week, last September, that was a writing assignment that I had gotten. I actually interviewed on the Podcast to remember me. And it was actually the same patterned thing, I was sending out an Email, saying, “Do you want to sign –up for the SYS Newsletter? And that spurred him to write me and say, “Hey, I remember you being on the Podcast.” And that’s how we actually got talking on the writing assignment he had me do? It seems that, so anyway, the update on that project, is basically that it does seem to have ground down a little bit. He seemed to have had some sort of set – backs in getting the production going. He got sick last week, when I talked to him. And when I say talk to him? I mean I just text message him, of back and forth basically. Saying, “What’s the update?” He says, he still wants to make a movie, even though he’s been sick. So it’s just basically some things do and don’t ways. I don’t know why, I’m still hopeful that he will make this movie. But there’s definitely lost some of the urgency in his definitely evaporating. So, I don’t know, I’ll definitely follow-up with him probably in the new year. Definitely give him a call or send him a text or Email, or something. But we’ll try and touch bases, see what the status of that project is? You just never know with these things? I mean, you know, it was a brutal week Friday. But I didn’t spend that much time on it. So, it never goes anywhere, he already paid me a little bit of money for it. So, it’s not a complete wash, but I am still hopeful. I mean, he seemed to like the script, keep doing a really good job with the material. He seemed to like the script. So, I’m hopeful. So, you can say, I how I filter that out. And I’m very hopeful he will actually make this movie. I’m not that optimistic about it?
So, a couple of assides? As you can see, one of the, here’s how interesting is? Running SYS Select, is actually helped me. So, there’s the one option in the writing assignments I do. As mentioned literally, running the SYS Select, it helped me get those, the option, and the writing assignments. So, I think it’s interesting again, I think it’s something really to think about in your own careers, just how you can get yourself out there as a screenwriter? And what I’m really finding in these SYS Newsletter? Is I’m really interfacing with a lot of producers. The newsletter, I just have over 200 producers on this newsletter. And I send it out every month. And every month, you know, get a few of them responding to the newsletter. And I’m getting probably a few dozen pitches from SYS Select members. Actually putting up pictures and you can view this newsletter. So, it has maybe 25-35 log-lines from different writers in the newsletter. And they are either Emailing me back, or saying, you know, these scripts look good but not quite what I’m looking for? I’m looking for, something like this. So, it’s just an interesting way I’m sort of interfacing with these producers. Again, most of these producers, have actually produced solids. So, it’s great to be on the front lines of that. Again, I would urge you to think of or about it? Maybe you started your own Podcast here. Maybe you start doing something like that. That can start to get you sort of into the scene with these people. Yet you interact with these producers. Because ultimately that’s what it’s all about! Really, no matter what avenue or marketing you use for your product. Ultimately it’s all about networking and all those lines of relationships and building them, those relationships. Whether it be cold quarry letter, or going to “Pitch-Fest” or going, you know, doing Twitter, or going on Twitter and trying to interact with them. Or sending old quarry letters, cold calling picking up the phone. But ultimately, yes, you’re trying to sell this one script, but really, the real goal is to interact with these people. As I said, SYS Select, is doing that for me. So, it’s another side benefit for most ones listening to this Podcast. I would urge you to maybe think it those terms, not always the most doable factor out, that you’ll do the most results.
So, as you can see, the other sort of conclusion of this. As you can see, a lot of them option. I’ve optioned a lot of stuff, scripts and a lot of these are falling through, most of the options are what I’m talking about here are free options. Typically what I do, is I did the producers six months for free, 90 days for free and then I allow them to extend it for let’s say $500.00. or $1000.00 for another six months. And that seems to be our good. I mean, $500.00 from them after six months, seems to just cut them off. It seems to be, that they don’t wind up paying it, $500.00. So, at least you won’t be tied up for six months.
What I am kinda thinking of, about is? Changing my strategy a little bit around. And instead of giving them a free option? Just charging them an up-front $500.00 or $1000.00 up front for that $1000.00. What I am finding is that, there actually is a opportunity cost in having all these scripts optioned. And what I mean by that is, like this female protagonist thriller screenplay. It is a similar location for the medical screenplay. Over the last few weeks, as a concrete example, I’ve seen some leads in Ink Tip specifically looking for writers, similar location, female protagonist scripts. And the script is optioned, so I can’t pitch it or send it in. And what I am thinking is, I might actually be better off, I mean, in my own using my own Email and Fax Blast Service. You know, there is ultimately a finite number of scripts that I have that I’m marketing. I would say there’s like, about eight scripts that I feel confident about they’ll think of pretty good that’ll work, spending money and time to push out there. There’s probably like, you know, maybe five options for those, six, seven, maybe eight scripts that I actually like and are marketing. So, there is an opportunity cost in giving people free options. My thinking was, I wanted to remove as many barriers as possible, to option and getting a script optioned. Which is hopefully then some of them will end up being produced. But as I said, there seems to be, I’m not having a big problem getting people optioned the scripts. But I am having a big problem getting those options to turn into productions. And what I’m thinking is, that if I charge $500.00 and up front and up. It will eliminate most of the options we’ve talked about. Most of those people won’t option the script. But maybe that’s good, maybe that will weed them out? Obviously, they haven’t produced a movie, so obviously not optioning it to them obviously wouldn’t have cost me anything? But if I hadn’t optioned it to them, then the script would not have been available. And I might have been able to send it out to somebody else. Who would have been able to pay the $500.00 out. And they would have been more invested in it. Would have had a better chance at it, which would have been getting it done.
These independent producers are not going to give you $500.00, they are not super wealthy people. So, giving them $500.00 is enough money to make them think. And at least they are getting committed that much. You’re personal a $1000.00 more the better. There is a point where you just being kinda ridiculous, you want $5000.00 for the option. Eh, how complicated agents and producers, they know there’s going to be? There’s a lot parts their working on, so they know they are not going to option and produce most of the projects they are working on. So they’re probably some amount of money that you’ve just begun. You’re showing too many deals. But me giving away a lot of free options is probably doing and having the opposite effect. So, that’s just my thinking way, now. I mean, it’s a work in progress. And maybe next year I’ll come back and I’ll say, “Eh, I’m just gonna start giving away free options again?”
The other big factor that I am including on this? Is I’m, next year I’m going to be spending, I’m keeping most of this Kick-Starter Campaign in the washing machine, January. I mean, next year obviously I’m doing the Kick-Starter Campaign. But then I got to produce the movie, edit the movie, post-production, start the film festivals. So, next year I’m probably going to be pretty busy on that project. And probably not writing a ton of new material. So, it’s even another reason to try and really consolidate and maximize the material I do have and be a little bit more selective. And so, again, it’s a work in progress. Just kinda my thinking now, I could do well and come back and say, “Yeah, maybe I should get out more free options?” Because If I don’t option a script to somebody, they’ll pay the $500.00 then I probably would be better off taking the free option. I just hope the person makes it.
Anyway, that’s what I’m working on, that’s a long, long story. I’m hoping it’s nice little week to wrap up the year. Hopefully I’ll tie it up soon and some loose ends. I do mention all these options so, hoping this gives some idea about where these projects are at? If you’re following along on the Podcast each week.
So now, let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing Andrew Haight, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Andrew to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast, I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Andrew: Good to be here, thank you.
Ashley: So, to start off, I was wondering if you could give us a quick overview of your background in the entertainment industry? And bring us all the way back as far as you want to go? Maybe even into your childhood? You know, were you into films as kid? And then kinda how did you turn that into your professional, you know, working experience in the entertainment industry?
Andrew: So, I wasn’t necessarily interested as a kid. You know, not having any family involved in film making. I did think that it should be a career I could involve myself in. But, I was always like, an avid watcher of films at kind of a very early age. But then when I left school, I went to university, I didn’t study films, I studied history. And I think it was early, just after I left university really. That I thought, now I could really start, you know, trying to try to start a career in it, in film making. And I started working right away in production really. I was an assistant to a small producer called, “A Small Merchant.” He does a lot of films, Schnidberry, English films. And I worked with them for a year. And then slowly I began working my way up. I did like production jobs, you know, PA jobs, Assistant Director jobs, and then I ended up working in editing. Actually quite a long time. I was fit for that, except for probably, I don’t know? For eight years maybe? It’s quite a long time. And then during that time, I thought about writing my own short films and making some short films. And then I just made the decision to not do any Assistant Editing, and kind of work anymore. Try and get myself my own ground. And I made a kind of low-budget kind of film, a drama called, “Creek Peak” which was back in 2009. And it kinda made the weekend with no money. And that got kind of a limited release and that lead me to working the weekend, which is kind of I suppose a film that kind of grab it the world a little bit more. And that got to where I am now, really. A slow kind of process, both realizing that I want to be a film maker, and kinda working my way up through different shoals in the industry.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let me dig into a couple of those things. I always get people asking me, you know, how do I get that first job? Maybe you can just give us some actual details of your very first Production Assistant job. How did you get some, just going from a recent college graduate into that production job?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean it’s basically, I wrote a lot of letters. And I think I got a rewrite I think message to a lot of different production companies here in London. And then I just kept writing, and kept writing and kept writing. And then after I had a few interviews. And then finally someone really offered me a job. And then they say, if they can get away with not pay anybody, any money? Thankfully they can’t do it anymore, which is good. It would be really hard to survive. To make Assistant without getting paid. And yeah, I started working for them and it was just through that credibility that’s normally held.
Andrew: And then you kind of take it from there.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so, let’s talk about some of these shorts, short films. It’s something I recommend on this Podcast a lot. A lot of the people I interview started out with shorts. And I think it’s interesting that you transitioned from short to a low-budget feature film. But, truth to get your, just, get your opinion of how did the shorts prepare you for that first feature film? Did you have some successes with short films? Or was it more of just the learning the ropes of being a writer and director.
Andrew: A yeah, it doesn’t I guess really help? When learning to work on how you want to do things? And learning to explore kind of the parts of making films. I made a number of short films. None of them were any kind of success. I had one that’s still rented quite often. There in Berlin and went to a lot of British Film Festivals. But certainly, you know, it wasn’t about me just kind of learning the ropes really. The great thing about doing short films is, you can make almost hundreds of mistakes. It helps you to just focus on what kind of film making you want to be. And I think that is the key to it. You really shouldn’t be trying to make a film to be a success at that point. You should be trying to like work out what kind of film maker that you want to be in the future?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And maybe just to give us a little sense, a sort of scope of what you were doing? How many film festivals you said, some of them got into? The foreign film festival, how many film festivals you said they went to. I always like to just heard it. Because I think a lot of film makers get to five or ten festivals, and they go and get rejected and they think, you know, something is wrong? In my experiences as a film maker, I’ll submit five or ten, and I’ll get rejected and I’ll just keep submitting to more and more, in the hope I finally get accepted. So, maybe you could just talk to that a little bit? How many just to submit to? How was your percentage, as far as those getting accepted?
Andrew: Yeah, and then really depends? There’s one film I made that had gotten nowhere. I sent it to like 50 festivals, and didn’t get accepted anywhere. And then there was another film that I sent to probably, you know, 50 festivals and got into like 30 of them, festivals. So, it depends, I don’t always think that it can, it’s all about the quality not quantity. Of the film, it’s very hard, short films and festivals. Because they can only take so many of them. There’s only so many short films out there. And it all depends on how long it is? Do we go with the other films, for the program they are trying to make? And I know from a lot of people who make short films. It can be very frustrating and very disheartening. When you spend a lot of money yourself when you apply to these festivals, and you don’t get in. But, in many respects, you just don’t, you’ve got to keep that self-belief up. And keep thinking, you know, It’s going to be alright. And if you get in, that’s great. And if you don’t get in? You know, maybe try and make another one. You know, or don’t make a short films and try to do a feature film across for money. Or whatever it maybe?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: You have to accept you may be rejected.
Ashley: Now, did you feel like you were networking, with these people who were running the film festivals. So when you came back with your feature film, if you had a little bit of a leg up. Was there some networking going on? Just meeting people, meeting crew people, meeting producers?
Andrew: Yeah, there definitely is just like that kind of thing you do in that from meeting a lot of different people. It’s all important, I think that’s a good thing. It’s just like, you know, it’s hard these things, festivals cost a lot of money to get them. And it’s not always possible. I mean, it’s like some people wind up spending all of their time going to festivals. Especially if they have no, festival hitch, without those, whether it’s a short film, or so. I’ve actually, gotten more work completed through the next ones. I think the key is, making sure you come and concentrate on everything important.
Ashley: So, let’s dig into “45 Years” Andrew, maybe you could give us a quick log-line for people who haven’t seen the film. Or have seen the trailer yet?
Andrew: Yeah, it’s a film about a kind of relationship that kind of starts to fall apart at the seams after the discovery that the husband’s ex-girlfriend, her body is being discovered perfectly preserved in the ice. The girlfriend he had 50 years ago. And it kind starts crumbling right away at the relationship that they have at the present. And the film is very much about their relationship and about the wife. And the both of them that comes to them.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about this script. It’s in an adaptation of a short story. Maybe you could kinda tell us how that short story got on your radar?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I discovered it. I was, seen it when I was making my movie. My last film at Caans, just by the publisher. After I knew a little bit, then I just really loved the short story I hadn’t picked it because it’s 18 pages. I, yeah, I just felt like the story was a really, really fascinating one. I mean, he was dealing with, kinda the issues I like to kind of explore. Because there’s many ways of the ways to adapting that an filling it out to a feature film. And yes, it’s a relatively long process. I think adaptations are always harder than you think you might end up being. And it’s just about me, and being relatively staying true to the original story. But also like turning it into a movie with work and making changes.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Can you talk about some of the things that maybe concern you? One of the things that occur to me as I sit here watching this. I mean, I know you are nowhere near 70 years old? So, it’s definitely a story about a very mature couple that had been together for 45 years. And that was one thing that struck me? Is, how does a younger film maker, you know, come up with this material and be authentic?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, in none of this did I worry too much about it. I like to think of it as personally, changes is fundamentally deep. Think he might, who you are at 20, it’s also who you are at 30, as well as 40, 50, 60, 70. Even though you experience a change and you learn more. And you learn to look at life in a different way. You’re fundamentally the same kind of person. So I just try to tell the story from like an honest perspective as I would deal with it. I think that is the active especially the actors, that’s what they found refreshing. That the scene was about two people still, questioning, still searching. Still looking for common and who they are and what they want. And now, within that context, kind of compelling about them. Okay, what’s it going to be like at 60? And that’s the course you get older people to play those roles, they become those people. So I never really worried about it much.
Ashley: So, let’s talk about the next step? What do you write in the script? What steps to actually getting this film finalized and produced?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s always the hardest thing. I’m lucky because I have the service in my last film, and did my short films. And so I have a good relationship. And in England we have the benefit of kind of having a public money. Because it helps make the bills. So, it’s like we go to those kinds of public body’s first. And they were very responsive to the script. And everybody liked it, and actually it was a relatively easy film to kind of get off the ground, financially. And then it was just about trying to find the right people to play them. And then you kind of look for a director as well as a writer. If I get to that stage, you know, you can’t play my direct half kinda know. And the right side of me, you know, puts you inside. I could have embraced the role of director.
Ashley: Did you, and obviously the two leads were superb. They played, they were great actors. But they also did a great job with these roles. Did that influence getting the funding? Do you put the package together before you try and get this money? Or do you get the money and then go get the actors?
Andrew: Um, we definitely got the money first, which was good. That was lucky in that respect. And then when you get active like that? It really correlates, anything, it just helps to get some kind of confidence. And you know, you’re happy with the way the situation is. And wants them to be seen like. But then, we were really lucky that they were active to come aboard, it really did help in selling it, helps abroad, helps sell the film itself solid, you know, other countries. All those things become very important.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, sure. So maybe you could tell us how people see, “45 Years?” Can you tell us roughly what the movie schedule’s gonna be like?
Andrew: Sure, I’ll tell you everything there is. It’s been going on for a long time now. It’s coming out in New York, and L.A. on the 23rd of December. And then it comes out nationwide after that in January and into February. And we will do a limited release in L.A. and current expand after that, after the holidays. And so, yes, hopefully we’ll be in town we can do it.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And I always like to wrap up the interviews with anything you feel comfortable with sharing. How can people kinda keep up with you? You got a Twitter handle you can mention that, a Facebook page, a blog, anything?
Andrew: A, yeah, I have a Twitter handle, which I always forget? I think it’s AndrewHaigh I think is my Twitter handle. And I’ve also got a website www.andrewhaighfilm.com, I think it is? And people can kind of send in and follow, lots there on that website.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. And I see the film probably as a Facebook page and a Twitter page as well?
Andrew: Yeah, I think so? I enjoy having other people look up after this kinda thing. So if you’re out and about look at that kinda thing. I don’t have to deal with those sorts of things anymore. But I think they benefit from a Facebook page and all that sort of thing.
Ashley: I really appreciate you coming on, this has been an interesting interview I really enjoyed it, and the film. I wish you luck on it.
Andrew: I enjoyed it, talk to ya later.
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In the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Michael Baffaro. He’s a Canadian Writer/Director who recently did a movie called, “Wrecker.” He’s a great example of someone who has made a career without having to live in Hollywood California. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. Actually, I take that back, keep an eye out for that in the New Year. I think January 4th 2016 is going to come out. The next week I have actually going to take a week off.
To wrap things up I’m just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Andrew. I’m not exactly sure, I am American and be in the L.A. area. So, I’m much more familiar with you know, how hard he works. Out, you know, cinema and especially, you know, foreign film works and the U.S. So, I’m not that up on how foreign works in the U.K.? If you are in the U.K. or probably any European country? You should definitely figure out how this government systems work? From what I’ve heard, getting funding from the government is key, especially for a film, like this. What I mean by, a film like this? This is a sort of independent art house film. It’s very, very, well done. But the marketing of it is not so cool in the U.S. And I think that’s why you find in Hollywood. The independent film is predominately these genre films that I talk about all the time on the Podcast. Predominately these sort of low-budget action low-budget thriller, low-budget horror script. The cool market film, have a clearer way of making it their money back. But with a film like “45 Years.” These art house genre films. The new marketing is not so cool, making their money back, is not so clear either. And so they need sort of, they just need that help of that show getting produced, is very, very difficult in this type of a climate. The U.S. Market, these films are still making, I mean, if you go to something like Sundance, or see films getting made. But in any event, I talk to you again. I want don’t want to premise all this by saying I don’t know a whole lot about how U.K. movies are funded in U.K. Or for that matter, in any European countries. So if you’re in, If you’re European, definitely figure that out? I think that’s really key. Is figuring out what kind of films that are making? And trying to decide how the scripts you ever write.
Again, in the U.S. it’s very clear, there’s tons and tons and tons of these low-budget, action low budget action thrillers, low-budget genre films getting made. So, if you are writing in those types of films? You’re chances of getting something made is pretty, and in the U.K. and these European countries, I don’t know, if that’s necessarily true? In those independent films need would be like 4-5 years. Which is the same sort of an art-house event.
I did talk with a Danish director a couple of months ago. So, I’m sure I’m not so. I did talk with a Danish director and I’m sure it’s not exactly how this system? But, it sounded like, at least in Denmark? From this particular director’s perspective, it was very much a lot of who you know. It was like a certain number of films that the government would produce each year. I think the number was like, twenty. And a lot of those land, went to the same people over and over again. And this guy thought some of these directors were absolutely terrible and were producing absolute garbage. And there was basically no market. Some of these films are being made by a handful of people. But they were in the system. Like he was having trouble getting into it, into the system. He was having trouble, he was working commercial, he was doing some real cool commercials as a director. But he was having trouble kinda breaking in as a feature film director. And he was actually getting moved into the U.S. So, there’s no easy answer, this is not like “The grass is always greener” attitude. Feeling like you look at it would be easier over in the U.K. because they have government grants and stuff. It’s not easier, you know, for anybody. You kinda have to think that in mind. Understand how your country works, how your local system works. That’s really going to be your best bet.
So, that’s it for the Podcast, for 2015. I really do appreciate everyone who takes the time to listen to this each week. Thank you very much, I mean, time is precious. I know I chose my Podcast very carefully, I have very limited amount of time each week to actually listen to Podcasts. So, I choose carefully. And if you’re listening to this I really appreciate it because it’s a ton of Podcasts out there that you could be listening to instead of this one. I hope you found some value in the Podcast, and I hope it’s helped you reach your screenwriting career. I just come on and try and just give you my perspective. And kinda what I’m doing? And interview people, and pull out as many as words of wisdom I can, as possible. Hopefully it’s helping you, hopefully at least it’s entertaining and interesting. But I really do enjoy my work. I really hope some of you are putting some of this into action. And it’s actually helping them learn. Actually pushing their screenwriting careers forward. If you have had some success, please do Email me. I love to hear success stories. I mean, it doesn’t even have to be anything that has to do with my services. I mean if you just found somebody on Craigslist and optioned a script and made it. It’s just great to hear. Really anything, any success stories you have. I always love to hear them. So please do Email those to me.
Anyway, have a safe and happy holiday, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to ya next year.