Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bob DeRosa’

Bob DeRosa’s “Shortcuts”

“There are no shortcuts. There is only hard work. Perseverance. Luck. Craft. Failure. Success. Mistakes. And yes, dreams that come true.”
Screenwriter Bob DeRosa

Last week screenwriter Bob DeRosa started a new screenwriting blog and the above quote was pulled from his post Shortcuts. While it’s true that screenwriter Diablo Cody not only sold the first screenplay she wrote (Juno), and it got produced, found an audience and got rave reveiws—she won an Academy Award for that first script. That’s called an anomaly. Bob DeRosa’s story is more the norm for screenwriters who get produced and build a career.

“I moved to Los Angeles in 2001 with two solid indie samples. My manager at the time encouraged me to try writing a big studio spec. The resulting script got me my first agent and over thirty general meetings, which led to my first OWA (open writing assignment) for a studio. At the same time, I co-wrote “The Air I Breathe” with director Jieho Lee. It was probably my 15th or 16th feature screenplay, and the first one to get made.

My 23rd script was an original spec called “Five Killers”. Lionsgate bought it, made it, and shortened the title to “Killers. Since then, I’ve written a half-dozen scripts. Some of them have garnered interest but none have been sold yet.”
Bob DeRosa (Killers)

P.S. In the post Beatles, King, Cody & 10,000 Hours I do point out that while Juno was Cody’s first script, in interviews she talked about writing everyday since she was 12 years old so she had a good fifteen year pile of pages before she turned her creative writing to screenwriting.

Related Posts:

Writing Killer Screenplays
Bob DeRosa’s 5 Obstructions
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic (Tip #2)
The Secret to Being A Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when screenwriter Bob DeRosa commented on the post I wrote a few days ago (Writing Killer Screenplays) about his Killers movie which is currently in theaters. While reviewers have not been kind,  the Ashton Kutcher/Katherine Heigl film has pulled in $30 million domestic in its first two weeks.

Killers is DeRosa’s second produced feature. His first ,The Air I Breathe, starred Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia and Forest Whitaker. Though it was little seen DeRosa’s humor comes through when he posts out in an Orlando Sentinel interview, “It was HUGH in Korea, though.”

In that same article, manager/producer Christopher Pratt says of DeRosa’s climb up the Hollywood ladder, “Things get better for Bob with every movie he gets made. Like all his friends, I love seeing this happen to him. He’s really one of the good guys.” And to keep him grounded in Hollywood, DeRosa is the captain of an adult kickball team.

And from the comment he made on my post, he does appear to be one of the good guys.:

Hi Scott,

I’ve been reading some pretty mean reviews lately, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read your Killers blog. The fact that you did your research on me and the project and wrote something that actually dares to look at the good and bad of it from more than one angle is amazing.

And yes, though I’ve never publicly said, “they took me off the picture and ruined my script”, I will say that there is a really interesting story here about the Hollywood development process. That’s a story for another time, and if you’re ever in L.A., I’ll buy you a beer and tell you the whole tale in person.

But there’s also a story here about hard work really paying off and for making that point in your blog, I salute you.

Bob DeRosa

And just to show what a good guy he is I found a couple short videos on You Tube where DeRosa helps out some young filmmakers (Kevin Ward and Will Bowles) in a play off Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructions.

And here is the humorous follow-up video.

I don’t know how many screenplays DeRosa has written in the last 10 or 20 years, but I’m guessing he’s gotten in his 10,000 hours. (Beatles, Cody, King & 10,000 Hours).

“The emerging picture…is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything.  In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”
Daniel Levitin
neurologist

You can follow DeRosa on Twitter and find him at My Space.

Thanks for stopping by Bob and taking the time to comment. And congrats on your successes.

Related Post: Writing Killer Screenplays

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

“Unless you’re trapped on an airplane or enjoying movie night at the penitentiary, you have no excuse for watching Killers.”
Jeanette Catsoulis
New York Times

Reading the reviews of the new Ashton Kutcher/Kathrine Heigl film Killers is a little like watching a boxing match where one boxer is delivering one punishing blow after another and you just want the defenseless boxer to drop and end the bloodbath. I’m sure Killers is not the first film on Rotten Tomatoes to get a 0% from top critics…but it’s the first I’ve ever seen.

No need to rehash the reviews except to say they all generally agree with the New York Times evaluation; “A brain-deadening collision of high concept and low standards. The Consensus: “Dull, formulaic, and chemistry-free, Killers is an action/comedy that’s largely bereft of thrills or laughs.”

Here’s the good news for screenwriters—it got made. And it got made with two name actors. I know that may not be inspirational to you at first glance, but trust me it is good news. And it’s good news for a few reasons.(Beyond the salaries that were covered in the $75 million budget.)

#1) Everyone knows how the statistics are stacked against screenwriters. There are upwards of 50,000 scripts written every year and only about 500 feature films produced. (And keep in mind that means that there are 49,500 scripts rolling over into the slush pile every year.) So the screenwriting gurus tell you that your film has to be perfect to get made. No it doesn’t. It just needs to be as good as Killers.

Sure, everyone wants to write the next Chinatown. Sure, it’s good to study Chinatown. But the gold is in Killers. That’s the poster you should have above your computer where you write. That’s the film that should give you hope for the screenplay you are currently writing. Killers is the film that should take your mind off of oil currently pumping into the Gulf of Mexico, it’s the film that keeps you up late writing your script–and makes you wake up early to continue writing.

Because Killers is the film that makes you scream, “Dammit, I can do better than that!”

#2) Killers is also an example of a screenwriter who just keeps plugging away. The original story and script was written by Bob DeRosa who comes from my old stomping grounds in Florida. I’ve never met DeRosa but he comes from Orlando and is one of the survivors of Hollywood East back in the 90s. He wrote his first short story when he was 6, made videos and wrote scripts as a student at the University of Florida. He spent ten years working with an improv group, worked on commercials and corporate projects, and as an assistant programmer for the Florida Film Festival (during The Blair Witch Project glory days).  All the while writing scripts, watching films, meeting people and learning the business.

When he was 31 he moved to L.A. and basically started over with the help of manager/producer Christopher S. Pratt (also from Orlando).

“There were some pretty lean times. There were those big gaps between the jobs, and I was floating myself on credit cards. Then I’d get the next job, but I’d be scared to pay off the credit cards because I needed the money to live for the next eight months. It was a very precarious six years.”
Bob DeRosa
Interview with Jim Cirile

DeRosa ended up landing some studio writing gigs based on some spec scripts and eventually had the script The Air I Breath produced (written along with director Jieho Lee). In 2006, he wrote the script Five Killers and with the help of Pratt landed a big studio deal just before the writer’s strike. Credit cards finally paid off.

DeRosa was stoked when Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat came out and made some revisions based on it.  A top comic director (Robert Luketic/Legally Blonde) was attached to the script, and a top screenwriter (Ted Griffin/Oceans 11) was brought in to amp up the movie that became Killers. And yet here we are staring down the barrel of a big fat 0%.

At least, DeRosa can say (not that he has) “they took me off the picture and ruined my script.” (But that wouldn’t be the first time or last time that happens to a writer.) I will vote DeRosa’s title Five Killers is more intriguing than Killers. (And even with that 0% it still came in third this weekend at the box office pulling in almost $16 million. It doesn’t hurt that the Iowa born and raised Kutcher has over 5 million Twitter followers. But that film still has a long way to go to recoup its costs.)

All that to say that DeRosa’s long and winding road to paying off his bills and getting a studio script made should be of inspiration to you. On his blog he has a post written back in January of ’09 called How I Write a Spec Screenplay that’s a good read. And just to keep this all in perspective, despite the reviews, DeRosa is living the dream.

#3) Lastly, maybe, just maybe, Killers will be the film that makes some Hollywood studio executive reflect on the kind of films studios are making. Just long enough for him or her to walk over to a window in their office, open it and, in the tradition of Howard Beale in Network, yell out— “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

And, just maybe, we’ll all look back as that being the day that changed the kind of movies that got made. Don’t hold your breath. But do keep writing that killer screenplay you’ve been working on.

Related posts:
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic
Screenwriting from Florida
Jack Kerouac in Orlando
St. Pete Screenwriter (Michael France)
Screenwriting & Florida Surfing

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: