Dutch Dreams

I have this fantasy about Elmore Leonard calling me and offering me a screenwriting job.

First, a little context.

Last year I ran across a screenwriting contest as part of the Elmore Leonard Literary Arts and Film Festival. You had to enter a five page screenplay written in the style of Elmore Leonard featuring a Michigan landmark. I had a perfect flash story I’d written years prior for the old Flashing in the Gutter website about two guys hijacking a cigarette truck only to find out it’s full of nicotine gum. I wrote the screenplay, passed it around to some friends, polished it and entered the contest. The finalists would be read by Elmore Leonard and the winner would get a chance to meet him at the festival and get some cash. I didn’t win the contest, didn’t even make it to the finals, but the fantasy remained because I thought it was a good screenplay with some nice dialogue. So I still have this fantasy that somebody at the festival liked the script and sent it Elmore anyway and he calls me up and asks me to write an episode of Justified that takes place in Detroit because they’re looking for local color and my script was just what he was lookingn for.

Sounds far-fetched, right? Not really. I’ve been a big proponent of writing and publishing stories without receiving cash in exchange for that nebulous reward of exposure. My thought is once you get it out there into a vetted arena, you never know who’s going to read it and what they might have to offer you. My friend Mike Maclean published a great story for free in the online zine Thuglit. An editor from Best American Mystery Stories liked the story and published it in their annual collection. From there, a scout for film legend Roger Corman read the story and asked Mike if he’d like to write some screenplays. Next thing you know the dude’s writing Sharktopus and other great movies. And just yesterday I read this story in Wired Magazine about a guy who posted some thoughts in a comment thread that were detailed and engaging enough to get him a gig writing a screenplay for Warner Brothers based on the ideas. Let me say it again. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S READING YOUR STUFF. This doesn’t mean you should post your stuff randomly to any old website. Do your research, it’s pretty easy to figure out the legitimate sites and the crap sites. But also make sure what you put out there is top notch because you may not get the opportunity for that exposure again.

Now, because I’m feeling generous, I’m going to let you read that short screenplay here. You’re welcome.