After I was divorced in the early 1990s, I ended up living in a small apartment in Hollywood, near La Brea and Franklin, three blocks from the Chinese Theater. I scrambled to make a living, to be creative, to make movies.
I walk a lot, and always have. When walking a lot in Hollywood in the 1990s, anyone would discover the “boys of the streets” populating Santa Monica Boulevard. This was when people found sex the old-fashioned way: on street corners rather than hookup apps. As a writer and a human being, I was fascinated about how this world of gay boy hookers could exist, and I thought there might be a story there. Then, months later, I worked on a film shoot that took me to the beautiful mountains of Big Bear Lake, far from Hollywood, and remember listening to rural good ol’ boys talking about how they’d throw out any boy of theirs who came out as gay. That, too, fascinated me. Eventually, I wrote a screenplay about the world of boys on the streets who were thrown out of their homes for being gay. It was about the father, and how he had to change when he recognized the mistake he made.
My screenplay EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son got a lot of attention. It floated around some studios for a while (Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros.) but always died there because it was just too edgy. Nobody, in the end, could trust a movie that was about men buying boys.
So, I tried the indie film route. I had made a lot of video and film by myself, but nothing as big as this.
This was way back at the turn of the century. The indie film world was very different than it is today. This was before the near destruction of indie film caused by the triple disasters of the Writers Strike, Digital Disruption, and the Great Recession a few years later. The excitement around “cheap digital filmmaking” was centered on the Canon XL1 mini-DV standard definition camera. If you were cool in Hollywood in those days, you had to carry around an XL-1.
When I looked around at how indie films were financed, I didn’t like what I saw. Too often, it involved telephone boiler rooms with ignorant high-pressure sales people talking ignorant investors (what is commonly called “dumb money”) into investing in something they really didn’t understand. Or it was the enthusiastic but unrealistic kid who managed to talk some used car dealer into funding his movie if he’d put the mistress in it as a star. Too many pushed pie-in-the-sky nonsense to get rich people excited about parting with their money.
I despised that.
My thought (stupid, in hindsight) was to fully educate the potential investors (in those days, there were not a lot of investors who understood the indie film industry).
To do that, I poured virtually everything I understood about indie film into a way-too-long Business Plan & Financial Projection. It was a booklet of about 100 pages of details, charts, history, comparisons, and projections. This was long before we moved to using simple “pitch decks” for concise, brief presentations to more savvy investors.
I recently stumbled across my Business Plan & Financial Projection that I wrote way back in 2003! It shocked me to realize that’s now more than a decade and a half ago. Wow. History.
What’s interesting about this document is that I captured a lot of information about how the indie film industry existed and functioned at the turn of the century. You might find that history interesting; some of you may find it nostalgic. Here is my 2003 Business Plan & Financial Projection for the indie film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son.
By the way, I never raised enough interest or money to get my indie feature film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son made. I always got close … I would call it my “fishhook in my eye” that kept drawing me in long after I should have given up. I will never again do something so expansive again. I learned that dumb money may be the best money — at least those producers who set up boiler room operations with morally-suspect methods usually ended up financing their indie movies. I think of what I could have done if I had simply used honest telemarketers.
The sad thing is, around 2010, interest in EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son perked up again because of widespread awareness and concern about gay teen suicides. And again today, as homophobia is once again raising its ugly head in society and our laws.
EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son is a screenplay that continues to be relevant and empowering.