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Butler's Script Sale of the Week & Interview EXTREME DATING Screenwriter Jeff Sc

The most interesting sales this week seemed to be rather high-profile projects. There's the comic book adaptation THE WATCHMEN by X-MEN (2000) scribe David Hayter. TERMINATOR 3 (2002) scribes John Brancato and Michael Ferris have been hired to adapt the crime drama THE OWL. Michael Douglas is attached to star in and produce the adaptation of the Arthur Miller play A RIDE DOWN MOUNT MORGAN. And Ridley Scott is attached to the thriller pitch SWIFT.

My sale of the week, however, is not high profile, which doesn't mean that it won't be as good as, if not better than, the above projects. It's the purchase by FilmStar Productions of the romantic comedy EXTREME DATING written by Jeff Schectman. This is the first sale for Schectman who has been putting his nose to the Hollywood grindstone for a few years now. As always, we here at SU celebrate the first time scribe - as the introduction of any fresh new talent can only be a benefit to a Hollywood which far too often sticks to the same old tired hacks.

EXTREME DATING tells the story of four friends who, in an attempt to expedite love, arrange to find themselves in extreme circumstances with the objects of their desire. It sounds like a pretty cool twist on the romantic comedy genre. I had the opportunity to ask Jeff a few questions about the sale and his now burgeoning career:

How long have you been writing screenplays and how many have you written?

I've been writing screenplays for about 5 years. I have four of my own, and one that I co-wrote with a friend.

Did you find it difficult to find an agent/manager?

Personally, I did not have a difficult time getting my agent and manager, but that is uncommon. The first script I wrote was a TV spec for "Mad About You", and that script got me into the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop in 1996. Since some of the participants typically end up as staff writers on WB shows, agents are not reluctant to gamble. My manager came on board about 2 years later, as he had read my first screenplay when it made the spec rounds, and was eager to work with me when he moved from development into management. So basically, my reps came to me - but it was all from the strength of my spec sitcom that got me attention at the WB program ... I have watched other writers struggle very hard for years just to get representation.

How long did it take you to write EXTREME DATING? Did your agent and/or manager give you notes on it?

I wrote EXTREME DATING over a 2 or 3 month period. It has gone through several drafts off notes from the agent and the manager, and I am currently doing revisions for the director and Filmstar.

Where did you get the idea for EXTREME DATING? Did your agent and/or manager suggest you write in a specific genre?

The idea started as part of a brainstorming session with my manager. It grew from there. I have had the most success with comedy, so I have been focusing my efforts there - even though I entertain ideas in several other genres.

Do you recommend having both an agent and a manager? How do they differ in the work they do for you? What kind of cut do they take?

I like having both manager and agent. Their jobs are similar, but it is like doubling your chances that one of them will hook you up. Managers tend to have fewer clients and are usually able to devote more time to the ones they have. Mine also has a development background and is very helpful with my creative process. Some people go with just an agent, others with just a manger. It really depends on your individual situation. Agents take 10 percent. Some managers take 10, others take 15. Generally when you have both, they each take 10.

Take us through the sale process - from the prodco's initial interest to the final sale.

Months after we initially specced the script, my manager sent it to King Size Entertainment, a small independent company that had a few movies under its belt (King Size would go on to merge with Filmstar productions). Lorena David (director) read it, loved it, and wanted to meet with me. I had lunch with her and the producer (Mark Roberts), and a couple months later we had a deal. The nice thing about independent companies is that you don't have to go through 100 channels like you do at the studios - a few people get behind it, and it's a go.

Does your contract provide you to be compensated for any revisions that might need to be done?


Will you be involved in production?

I will be as involved as I can be, and as involved as they let me be. It looks like I will be involved in some degree throughout the entire production.

Are you working on another script at the moment?

Currently brainstorming for my next project. Got any good ideas?

Finally, give us your overall thoughts on the selling of your first script and the process behind it.

The hollywood process is difficult and frustrating a lot of the time. Also, the longer it takes you to sell something, the more you feel like you went through hell to get there. And you probably did. But I'm very excited to get this opportunity, and hopefully the film will turn out great.

-- Edward Butler

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