A Studio Executive Told Me The Beetlejuice Script Would Ruin My Career by Larry Wilson
Film Courage: Larry I’m wondering if you can tell us about the first screenplay you ever sold and what was happening in your life at that time?
Larry Wilson: The first screenplay I sold was BEETLEJUICE. And I had been a screenwriter. With screenwriting I was also working as a story analyst. I was a Union story analyst (Local 854). I still have my card in case all else fails. And I worked all around…I mean I worked at every studio in town. I was working at Paramount as a story analyst. I suffered a real case of writer’s block and I had a chance to audition to become a studio executive for Jeff Katzenberg and Michael Eisner. I saw that as sort of a doorway out of screenwriting, which I was feeling very up in the air about and wondering if I could really do it. And I became a studio executive for a couple of years at Paramount and then I went to work for Walter Hill (the great director Walter Hill) as his head of development and there were a series of incidents that made me realize that I was giving away my best ideas and giving away my talent in a way I was no longer comfortable with. I wanted to go back to screenwriting and I formed a partnership with the “Two Michaels,” as I refer to them. The late Michael Bender who was my producing partner and the late Michael McDowell who was my BEETLEJUICE writing partner and we wrote BEETLEJUICE on spec and finished it. I had taken a reduction in salary and gone back to script reading to support us…to support myself and my family while we were writing BEETLEJUICE. So that was the first one and when it was finished I had a very good relationship with a very prominent studio head who shall remain nameless. When BEETLEJUICE was finished I gave it to him to read on a Friday. He said “I’m happy to read it.” And I got a call on a Monday that he wanted to meet with me. And I thought “Oh my Gosh! He read it? He must love it or he would not be summoning me to his office so quickly.” And I went into his office and he said to me “Larry! What are you doing?” He said “You have actually a very good future as an executive, as a producer. This piece of crap is going to sink you and sink your career! Why would you put this on the marketplace representing you?” And he said “It’s weird, it makes no sense, it’s not commercial.” I left that meeting (as you can imagine) to say…a little taken aback…a little would be putting it mildly…(Watch the video on Youtube here).
CONNECT WITH LARRY WILSON
Learn the screenwriting secrets behind successful cinematic stories in the world of film & television script writing.
Paul Castro the original writer of the Warner Bros. hit movie, AUGUST RUSH.He is a produced, award winning screenwriter and world-renowned screenwriting professor. Success leaves clues and so do masterfully crafted screenplays that sell for millions of dollars.