I’ve spent most of my creative life as a playwright, exactly because I wanted to write personal stories. And I’ve been very lucky, as all ten of my plays have found a home, and full productions, some multiple productions. Lucky, indeed. As a playwright, I own the copyright and a theater literally has to GET IT IN WRITING FROM ME if they want to change a word. The down side, which I don’t mind at all, is in my best year I made $25,000 as a playwright. Most years it’s more like five to ten.
But I do just fine coaching actors, which I love to do. And it does not hurt that my wife is an executive for a technology company. I did get into the film world by the back door, as a small production company bought one of my plays after they saw a reading in LA. BUT my eyes where wide open. It was more than I ever made as a playwright, and I got lucky since it only went through a first draft, two rewrites, and a polish. I was the only writer. (I think!) And they were really nice.
On the other hand, I was more than happy to do notes. So it worked out fine. I don’t think the film will ever be made, but my agents think I have a fine sample. And if it gets made, well, I know I’ll be rewritten. So? I got to see the play produced twice exactly as I wrote it, before I ever signed over the rights to film. The only reasons I’d write movies again is for the money, which is not to say it can’t be or was not a lot of fun. It is. You just have to know what you’re getting into. Which is your very smart point.
I also teach playwriting from time to time, and tell people if they don’t want to collaborate, write novels! Which would lead me to my final thought: I know Peter Hedges a little, (he was first a playwright), and he wrote “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” as a novel. And they don’t get more personal. Then it sold to film. I ran into him on the street in NYC with his novel in hand years ago and he smiled a big smile and said, “Hey, they’re making it into a movie!”
So, while I sneak in to