Another Screenwriter Lands Her Agent Through Stage 32!
Another Screenwriter Lands Her Agent Through Stage 32!
I’ve been a member of Stage 32 since 2014. I have taken full advantage of pitching opportunities, webinars, contests and networking with other members since then.
I have a Theater Arts degree from Northwestern University. Not surprisingly, I spent my post college years doing theatre, including stage managing at the Groundlings Theater and New Regency Productions in LA. I moved to Denver in the late 90s. There I met a guy who would become one of my dearest friends and writing partner, Scott Gibson. We bonded over our love of ‘Northern Exposure’ and thought we were the ones to write the sequel. Then we came to our senses and wrote our own charming story about quirky people livening in a charming & quirky mountain town.
We called it ‘Crossing the Divide’ and it was optioned 6 months after we finished it. “Wow,” we thought, “This writing thing is easy!” Needless to say, nothing came of the option other than a lasting friendship with the producers who loved it as much as we did. Our next collaboration was a supernatural thriller based on one of Scott’s plays called ‘A Trick of the Light.’ That too was optioned, and that too came to nothing. Our final collaboration is another supernatural script, a pilot called ‘Dazzleland.’ This project was in development with Mozark Productions for a couple of years until Harry Thomason retired. ‘When in Rome’ is my first successful solo attempt.
The story of how I got an agent with my project ‘When in Rome’ begins in 1984. In the Spring of that year I graduated high school; an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Rome. Even way back then I knew there was a story to be told about my years there, the girls, nuns and even the boys, the Eternal City and the adventures we had in it.
Fast forward several decades. I wrote the opening scene to what would become ‘When in Rome.’ It features a girl walking down the hallway of her high school talking to camera. As she fills in more details of her world it literally changes around her. I loved the opening but was stuck on how to proceed. One day I read an article entitled How One Writer Used Fairytale Structure for her Script about Cannibals and something clicked for me (which is not to say that my little YA sitcom has any cannibalism in it!). Using the fairy tale structure I wrote my first draft. The story went through several iterations from being very autobiographical to having loads of magic in it and several places in between. In the final draft I kept most of the magic and made the lead role a Roman Goddess.
Then I did what we all do and entered the script into competitions and sent it off for coverage. It did pretty well. I received two recommends and it placed in a few contests. In fact, one of the recommends that ‘When in Rome’ received came from a Stage 32 reader.
I received lots and lots of contradictory feedback (*It needs more magic! It has too much magic! Why is it set in the 80s? Love that it is set in the 80s!...*and so on). I picked out the notes that resonated with me, made edits and tried again. In March a producer read it and we had a Skype call to discuss it. He hated it. He found it irredeemable. I was pretty shattered for about a day. Then I reminded myself about all the positive feedback it had received and moved on.
Amy Amani with one of her writing heroes, Jane Espenson (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, JESSICA JONES)
So how is Stage 32 involved in all of this? Because the story is set in Italy, I have very strong feelings that it needs to be an Italian co-production. I came across a webinar on Stage 32 about international co-producing presented by Anouk van Ghemen of One Four Films. I was very impressed by her breadth of knowledge and obvious passion on the subject, so I contacted her. I told her I have a project that needs to be an international co-production and told her a little bit about it, asking if she could point me in the right direction. She requested the script and pitch deck which I sent right away. A couple of weeks later Anouk emailed me back asking to meet.
At this point, I should mention that I am an American living in the UK and she was in Germany. We met a few days later (via Zoom, of course) and discussed the project - where I wanted it to go, how she saw it getting there. By the end of the conversation she agreed to represent me, ‘When in Rome’ and possibly other projects. Since that day last month we’ve signed a contract, had a notes meeting and set out a plan of action. Anouk is lovely and driven and a joy to work with! I look forward to working with her for a very long time to come. As it turns out, she had a move to Italy planned before meeting me. She now lives in Milan which sets her up nicely for finding an Italian partner. As she told me earlier this week, “it was meant to be!”
So all you Stage 32 members who are just sort of lurking or waiting for the exact right opportunity – stop it! You have this great resource available to you, use it! And find other resources and opportunities. Use them all.
After your script is finished it becomes a numbers game. The more thumbs you can stuff into more pies the more likely you are to pull out a plum, or something like that! Get to know people, be friendly, don’t be a jerk, and grow a skin tough enough to withstand years of rejection but not so tough that you can’t be flexible.
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About the Author
When I watch a movie or TV I like to be transported, to escape. My writing reflects that need to break from reality and to be a bit cheeky in the process. Ghosts, goddesses, demons and ethereal cats populate my magical worlds. A bit about me, the person: I'm an American writer living in Oxford,...