A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a screenwriter.
I wrote screenplays, won some awards, had some optioned and a few produced. One of those screenplays I wrote at the request of a friend of mine, Jenni Gold. I recently mentioned Jenni in a post about her work on the documentary Cinemability.
Back in the last 90’s, Jenni, ever the pragmatic filmmaker, had a great idea. We were both living in Florida at the time and Hollywood was testing out to see if Orlando could be Hollywood-East. The work in Florida was seasonal and, because of the heat, film making slowed down during the summer.
Jenni thought she could get the Hollywood level stunt talent in the area for cheap during the slow season. And she was right. So, she secured financing for an insanely low budget and came up with an idea about an action film about an injured CIA Agent who uncovers a nasty plot and uses other discarded government thugs to form a team and save the day.
She asked me if I would write the script, so I took her original idea and wrote the screenplay for Ready, Willing & Able.
The writing process was very interesting. As Jenni gathered more resources, she would call and say:
- “We have access to a small plane. Can you add that in there?”
- “I was able to get access to the Universal lot. They have an exterior cafe set. Can you write that in?”
- “A guy offered to let us use his two wave runners. Can you write in a chase sequence?”
It was kind of backwards to fit the changing resource availability into the script instead of writing the story and then finding the resources, but I loved the challenge. I figured I had to dedicate 75% of the story to action, leaving 25% for character. So, any character development I wanted to include in the story had to be quick and simple.
The film was shot in Orlando (I got to visit the set) and I got meet the actors. (BTW – one of the actors, Isaac, went on to have a large supporting role as one of the ghost crew in Pirates of the Caribbean). RWA won an award at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, but never got full domestic distribution.
It did, however, get distribution overseas. Apparently, even today, it does very well in Russia and Italy.
The fun part about this process is, some 16 years later, I still receive a small residual check from the Writers Guild of America. The last one I got was about five years ago. Yesterday, in my mailbox, another one appeared.
So, it looks like Ready, Willing & Able is not only still being shown overseas, but its still making enough money to throw me a small check every half decade.
Who would have thunk it.
I hope my future work is as generous as the small script I wrote over 16 years ago.