The following is another retroactive post, so, really, it's new but I'm playing catch-up.
You ever get one of those surprises that's simultaneously nasty and yet kind of amusing at the same time? Like your girlfriend telling you she's pregnant just seconds before you were going to break up with her?*
I was bored at work, counting down the minutes 'til my job would end (as it did on August 1st), and I was surfing the Net. I was thinking about my future as a writer which, naturally, got me thinking about my past as a writer. I started wondering about my former - tiny - triumphs and I decided to narcissistically Google the titles of my scripts that had placed in various competitions over the years. (I would've Googled my name but I've done that before and found many links to a pro golfer and some Australian guy who's a flag expert.)
I typed in the name of my very first winning work (and one of the first serious stabs at scriptwriting I made waaaaay back in 1989), Dead End Diner. Originally written as a one-act play, (under the full title of One Particularly Dark Night at the Dead End Diner) D.E.D. was a finalist in the Texas Playwright's Festival in 1991 and received a staged reading. It was informative, nerve-wracking and fun. And that was it.
Then, in '95, my girlfriend at the time (a talented actress with a love of behind-the-scenes work too) suggested I re-work the one-act play into a feature length screenplay. Seems she had a director friend who was interested in doing a low-budget indie flick. Guy's name was Gary Parker, a commercial director. He was a nice guy (I met him a couple of times) and wanted to work with us. My girlfriend was going to produce and take one of the roles. Investor packets were composed, financial plans drawn, promotional work done, contracts ... may have been signed. I don't know, it's been a long time.
But, shortly before I left Texas for California, the word was that the project wouldn't happen. No funding had appeared and I hadn't heard from Parker in a while. I was more concerned about my upcoming move and whether or not it spelled doom for my relationship with the lady in question.
Well, the relationship did end - awkwardly and painfully - and with it went any mention or concept of a movie based on my very first play.
Imagine my surprise to find out that, somewhere out there, a film version of Dead End Diner was made without my knowledge.
The Google search produced a couple of articles from local (Houston area) periodicals about filmmaker Gary Parker's Dead End Diner which, from what I could gather, was produced and released sometime in '99 to 2000. It had an extremely limited run at one local theater and showed at a film festival somewhere. That's it. I think he actually sold copies of it on Amazon for a brief time.
I guess the main thing that stuns me is: did it ever occur to Mr. Parker to contact the writer to let him know the project was back on?
I suppose it's possible that Parker wasn't able to find me. My ex-girlfriend was my only connection with him and we fell out of contact early in '96. She herself ended up having nothing to do with the movie (she's not listed as producer or cast member), so I'm sure she was as in the dark as me. As for screen credit, I noticed that they listed the film was written by "Brandon Jones" - an amazing misspelling considering I had my name prominently displayed on every draft of the script the man had.
I'm a little miffed, though not to the point of litigation. I'm sure Parker probably made lunch money at best off the thing so there's no money to be had. More than anything I'm just curious as to how bad it must've turned out and, at the same time, kind of jazzed to have something I wrote be produced - even if it was by Cletus McShifty and his All-Star Band of Ackters.
Next step is to track Parker down and remind him of who I am. I'm hoping to get an explanation, an apology and a copy of the damned thing. If I ever do, I'll have a viewing party at my place and you're all invited to share my pain!
* This is a purely hypothetical example and has never been experienced by the author.