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Secret Screenplay Project REVEALED

Kelli and me making history at The Four Seasons
I've hinted before that I was working on a secret screenplay project, and I have officially turned in the first draft!

Let me go back a little. Last fall, my friend Kelli approached me about writing a screenplay. Kelli is a producer, actress, writer and all-around awesome person. She wants 2012 to be about creating projects with what she has instead of waiting for projects to come to her. (Take a moment and check out Kelli's website, Think Outside the Box Inside the Box. It could change your life.)

So would I be willing to write a screenplay for her to star in and produce? A screenplay that could be produced for a microbudget? And not a short, but a feature-length screenplay? That could be shot at her house so she didn't have to get permits? And Kelli's character had to have a missing tooth (the reason why is a long story)? And I would get full writing credit but basically no money?

Well, when you put it like that, how could I say no?

I'm pretty sure I'm nuts for doing this, but I really wanted to. I needed a break from the YA novel. And it had been two years since I'd last written a screenplay. It was a crazy challenge, but I was up for it.

Because of the limited locations, I approached it more like a play than a screenplay. Meaning I knew it had to be character-driven rather than plot-driven. I spent time writing full character sketches for the leads. These characters had to have believable backstories for them to do what they were going to do. And I had to know their stories well because the screenplay has to be dialog heavy.

But I also wanted to make sure that the screenplay still felt cinematic. So I wrote my very first non-linear screenplay. I wanted to play on assumptions and plotted things out so each section would have a twist. I wrote a detailed outline of the script before I typed FADE IN.

I had about six weeks to write the first draft, but a family emergency pushed the deadline into February. But I did finish it at 3 a.m. the day it was due and met Kelli later that day at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to pick up my (token) payment. (I also got a fabulous lunch, courtesy of a friend of Kelli's, who now gets a producer credit! ... that's right, make sure your screenwriter is fed.)

It is by no means a perfect script, but I am so looking forward to developing it with Kelli. Because creating a story is awesome. And even better when you can do it with a friend.