H o l l y w o o d   D r e a m s
by Beverley Wood
CUT TO: Early Fall, 1998.
The option is in place. He'd actually started working it as soon as we had an agreement in principle and he took it to some well known names. The kind of names that 98 out of 100 people immediately around you would know if you asked. Movie stars with production companies. (And it's an absolute given that if a star like a Tom Cruise or a Robin Williams wants to produce something, it will get made.) I was very excited.
The first choice star ProdCo sounded hot on it. They looked at it for a goodly time, about six weeks. This was all internal...way out of my hands...and even out of our LA producer's hands. We waited. And then that snake reared its ugly head again. "It's great, really. But we were looking for more of a Free Willy."
I don't understand. DogStar could just as easily be titled, Free Buddy. In the end, the kid finally lets go of his dead dog...and as a direct result, the dog climbs through the heavens to the Dog Star. This really confirmed Rule # 1. Nobody knows anything (with all due respect). I guess they were looking for a whale story.
That's okay. The next star ProdCo was just as good as far as I was concerned. Another game of invisible snakes and ladders ensued while we waited. The longer it takes, the more ladders it climbs... But all it takes is one snake. And there we were, back down the ladder.
Our producer kept pitching it though, starting at the top of his impressive list and moving on down through a major direct-to-video company, which wasn't our first choice (but not our last choice either...and we HAD signed an option to purchase). In any event, the choices weren't ours, no matter what. (Life's tough, get a helmet.)
CUT TO: February, 1999.
In the end, the producer folded at the raise of stakes too. (Jesus, I wish I could get in a real poker game with people who behaved like this.) We talked about it; He'd played his best cards, he'd held nothing back. It was time to fold and he played extremely fair with us. And we're still pitching him other ideas.
But there is no rest; Another producer is interested. He's local (Vancouver). He found us because a Vancouver book reviewer had called him and suggested he go get himself a copy of the book. After finding out there was an option in place (with the star ProdCo), he kept in touch and emailed me when the option was due to be renewed to check the status.
I got in touch and we met for lunch in late February.
Lunch was great (even the fries were good). He really opened my eyes to one approach I hadn't considered...the screenwriters are Canadian... there are Canadian actors who can play the roles...there is Canadian funding money available for this kind of thing. I always assumed that DogStar would filmed in B.C., even if a studio made it (the story takes place in Alaska and the Canadian dollar is a steal).
Then he says, "Air Bud was made in Canada with production funding for $1 million and took in $120 million world-wide. Disney bought the distribution almost as soon as it was in the can." Okay, so maybe I can adapt it to the Hollywood Distribution Dream.
We left it that he would call our agent. And then the industry in BC got really busy...and I'm still waiting. It's been two months, but I'm much more sanguine than I was two years ago.
Given that when I'm not busy I tend to get in trouble, we are scheduled to do a book tour in Ontario (Canada) in June -- the province represents 50% of our Canadian market and the tour coincides with the Silver Birch Awards.
I also continue to build web pages to promote the book (check out the School Section at www.patsyann.com and our free dog memorial pages at www.gonetodogstar.com).
I pitch the story wherever and whenever I can -- on Canada Book Day, someone from CBC radio put a mike in my face and asked me what my favorite book was and I said, "DogStar", and then Chris piped up that I was one of the authors, damn him.
I ask my American friends (who are spread around geographically) to do things like write a letter to Oprah and tell her how good the book is and bless them, they do it. She hasn't called yet, but I'm still waiting. (And please, the ban on any nationalist Canadian response is still in effect. Dini just doesn't have the same reach.)
And any friends who have aunts, uncles, long-lost cousins in the movie industry are fair game -- suffice to say their relatives have been DogStar-ed. (And thank you, every one of you.)
This will be a movie. I'm shameless. I'm not doing it for the glory. And not even for the money. The pool and the hot tub and the maid holding the calls...well, that's really just part of it...the set dec(oration).
The Hollywood Dream is much more complex. At the heart of the dream is 10 million people who see the movie and think it's the best $8 they've spent in their life. It will take a lot of people and a lot ladders to get there. And DogStar will undoubtedly meet a lot of snakes on the way up.
In the end, it all comes down to story. And faith. And patience. But can someone please call me soon?