We were thrown off the merry-go-round again. One more time, all this work on the part of all these people who weren’t being paid, and it still wasn’t good enough. Daniel Zuta had clearly been a mistake as a potential Managing Producer; thusfar he hadn’t done anything at all, so apparently it was a good thing we never signed a contract with him.
July 8, 2008
Bill and Rob;
I got the explanations of what happened at the conference. I have asked Frank Cmero if he and Daniel want to continue putting together the production of GO WEST; the problem as I see it is the amount of the budget. Do you think there might be other funding opportunities for this particular script in future?
Sincerely, Debora Hill
Sorry I wasn't there today but couldn't log in. I spoke with Daniel before the conference call and know his problems. I am talking to some banks in Switzerland regarding Letter of Credit and should know by Friday if it's working or not.
If the banks are not able to proceed we might consider the following option. Daniel knows the budget is unrealistic. He believes he can make the movie for $10 million. We had actually the same figure from Tomas Krejci before Rob pushed us to inflate it. If we go down to real figures and ask SCGI for $10 million then I can offer as a collateral block of land I have in Slovakia. The official value is about $1.95 million (SK37.5 million) so we would have 15%.
The problem might be how to explain to Michael we are asking for $10m now. Please don't tell anything to Michael yet! Wait until I get a response from Switzerland and then we’ll tell him. Maybe Ian can just let him know in the meantime we are working on some options and will be in touch by Friday.
Wow, what a mess! I am still waiting to hear from Ian about DC, but here's what I would suggest -- you write to Rob and tell him Daniel had an independent assessment made of the costs involved in filming in Eastern Europe, and he decided that he could film Go West for about 10 million u.s. My only concern there is that SCG doesn't really want to work with less than 'a' list actors, and a budget of 10 million would put most of them out of range, wouldn't it?
Anyway, send me a report later this week with what you come up with; this has been a very confusing day!
June 25, 2008
Hello Bill and Rob;
On Wednesday I wrote to our network in the film industry to see about the last 15% for Go West and The Danger Club. I had two letters of interest yesterday, from Andreas Gruenberg in Germany regarding Go West and from Debra Bassett in California regarding The Danger Club.
Yesterday I sent them the materials I had (I don't have the LOI for Go West from Michael Clarner -- Frank Cmero received it, but I did send Debra Bassett the one for Danger Club). I've had a letter from Andreas this morning; there was some confusion which I'm going to need assistance in straightening out -- I'm going to send Frank a Skype message today as he and Daniel Zuta need to talk to Andreas soon.
I wanted to give you a heads-up as hopefully next week these two producers at least will be ready for a phone conference with you, and perhaps there will be more interest in one or the other of the projects elsewhere.
For the next month we were pretty much at a standstill, even though we were all trying as hard as possible to find a producer who could bring in the front-money we needed. To say it was ‘finishing funds’, as both Robert Simpson and Michael Clarner termed it, was simply ridiculous since it had to be the first money into the project. And the last money repaid.
The last week of July I became extremely ill with a sinus infection. My sinuses became so inflamed I lost the sight in my right eye, and I could barely move, much less function on any kind of professional level. During this period Tom and Sandra took care of me, and not much less went on elsewhere. I learned something that month – those dust masks you’re supposed to wear when you do anything that might having you breathe something you shouldn’t aren’t just for looks. I should definitely have worn one when I was clearing out the laundry room/storage room at Tom and Sandra’s house, but it didn’t occur to me until I got to the bottom of the room (through ten feet of stacked garbage) and down to the mildewed boxes and rat carcasses. Apparently something I breathed in out there caused that tremendous infection.
August 10, 2008
As mentioned earlier, we wrote two different versions of the GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! script; one that was 2.5 hours long and was, by our estimate, by far the superior version. And the second for Tomas Krejci of Milk and Honey Productions, who basically had us cut the story off halfway through with no real ending or resolution. Also, he convinced us to change the escape sequence to something more along the lines of an action film, with slavering dogs and running through the woods at night. In essence, it sucked.
Both Daniel Zuta and Andreas Gruenberg, the two producers we were considering as Managing Producer for the project, agreed with our estimation. Gruenberg was basically unwilling to work with us at all unless we paid someone else to rewrite the script and turned over the story and script to them completely, with no more interaction. We were pretty much ready to do that, but it didn’t work out that way.
August 12, 2008
I just saw your e-mail, thanks for sending the guidelines.
I will not be able to approach any source on my side unless having seen written proof that the 85% funds are in place or at least in place given that certain conditions are met. Too many verbal agreements tend to vanish in the moment you need them.
Please allow me to be straight forward, this might save us some time and work. If the proposal is valid and SCGI has extended the term and signed this extension - even then there remain some more difficulties (in my view).
I am afraid you will get no pre-sales for a script written by first timers, for a project without cast attached and without a director attached who has some track record and worth on the market. I am afraid every world sales agent I know also might question the budget, with too much going into the overhead compared to the entire budget.
I am not sure, but I did not find film credits for Ian Christensen or any kind of experience as a sales agent. Pre-sales are not easy to get nowadays, especially for a package that is not even existing, where key figures/elements are missing.
I had also a quick look at the script, just to get a feeling for the commercial potential of the writing and story, which would be also important for pre-sales. I am sorry, I believe this script lacks drama and thrill and structure, while the synopsis promises a dramatic escape and story, the script starts very talky, and the dramatic escape is a train ride without any drama. So - I do not see this as a basis for a 30 MM USD-film, not yet. I take it this is based somehow on your life and true events; these might have been dramatic, but as far as I can see (okay, I have not read the script, but this is my first impression) this is not mirrored in the script.
We are working with different sources, including world sales. I am afraid they all would turn down this project because of the script, even if the 85% could be proven (but I doubt the pre-sales etc. needed as collateral etc. can be achieved at the moment). After a re-write, with the 85% attached and a director, I might see a chance to help here, even to find a MG as collateral (within the 85%). But first the basic package must have taken shape, a strong script, a strong director, maybe LoIs or at least basic interest from the main actors, the budget should be redone in a way a bank or investor would accept (they usually want to see their money going to the screen, not into the overhead and general costs).
I believe the budget should mirror the commercial potential of the script, which I cannot see at the moment, and I believe the cast should also mirror the commercial potential of the project. It would not make sense to spend millions on cast which will never be recouped.
This is just my opinion, of course, you might want to show the project to a world sales agent to get his review and sales estimates, just based on the script, a second voice. But I am afraid you might get some quite similar feedback. In short - at the moment I cannot do much for you.
But the story in general seems to be interesting, so please keep me updated, maybe the project reaches a level where I can do more.
Best regards, Andreas Gruenberg
So...he never read the script, but he was willing to pass judgement on it. I was sick to vomiting of self-important, knee-jerk people in the film industry. It was a freaking miracle they ever made any movies at all, but not much of a miracle that this man had never made a movie shown in the U.S.
August 21, 2008
I wanted to give you an update so you know we haven't given up out here. Debra Bassett of Bassett Productions here in California is interested in taking over the production of THE DANGER CLUB and putting in the last 15% required. She has all the materials and is discussing it with Ian Christensen.
I had a letter today from a producer in England regarding GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!. She believes there should be no problem raising the last 15%; I am sending her all the documents I have tonight, but I don't have the letter of intent from Michael Clarner. I have his letter extending the offer until we get the 15%, but Frank Cmero never sent me the LOI. I'm not writing to Michael Clarner about it because I don't want to violate the chain of command here -- do you have that document for me?
We concluded a few weeks ago that Zuta Productions was not going to work out for Go West; he wanted a much smaller production -- in CZECH! which would mean that if there was any U.S. distribution it would be art houses only, on a small scale. So I've explained everything that has happened to the producer in England and she understands, and still believes it is possible to raise the money required.
Anyway, just a head's up -- hopefully I'll be sending Debra Bassett to you in the next week or so for a phone conference. If you do have that LOI, even though the date has expired, I'll need it -- I can send it with the extension letter.
Blessed Be, Debora
Thank you for the update. As soon as you can get that lOI for the 15% per each production, we can schedule another conference call with, Michael and myself and you and your associates.
Cheers, Rob Simpson
Over the next couple of weeks, yet another offer of funding from a new source came from Vision Angels. And a recommendation to a man named Paul Woolley who owned a distribution company. This is what Rob told me after I heard from Mr. Woolley, who claimed he was interested in working with us.
I would send him everything and let him know that I encouraged you to do so. I will follow up with him and than get back with you. I know I have his phone number buried deep in my data base, yet if you have it readily available, I would appreciate your emailing that to me. Hopefully, we can
arrange a conference call with us and Paul before the end of the week.
Ian Christensen had a terrible summer as well. He lost his smaller house and moved in with his sister and her small child in an attempt to keep her from losing her house as well. Towards the end of August he had to file for bankruptcy having to do with the restaurant that went bust. He was still part of the team, but we could feel him drifting farther away as he had to address his immediate concerns, and we missed him greatly. One of the nicest people we’ve met in this long, difficult journey.
Once again, there were numerous producers circling around us, most of them useless for our purposes. Some of them, like Debra Bassett, never got out of the starting gate and never even read a script, although she kept telling me she wanted to do so. That was normal business for most people who work in film, and we had learned to take it in stride. Through most of November our time was wasted by “I have many contacts in the film industry and we have an office on the Warner Brothers Lot” M.A.Willmirth II of The Lion’s Agency. He sent me photographs of his gay business partner with Elton John and his much younger girlfriend Kimberly in a sexy S.S. officer costume. ??? Some of these people were impossible to understand.
Amongst all the inane blather between Michael Clarner, SCGI, the Willmirths of the film world and those in Europe, another offer came from Vision Angels. So we signed yet another production contract with them to try again...with yet another funder. And what happened with M.A. (Mel) Willmirth II? He took offence at the fact that I could not read an incredibly violent script he wrote about the Holocaust entitled The Violence in Small Things. I read the first 60 pages, then I told him I couldn’t finish it even though it was amazingly powerful. He was so upset that I couldn’t read it and told him I would never see it as a film, that he chucked the whole deal with Rob after his business partner Michael told Rob he wanted to proceed, and that was the end of him in our lives. He told me that my decision not to see the film made from that script was ‘harsh’. In fact, I never see movies with that level of violence, and I naively imagined that he would understand that, since many people feel the same way.
November 20, 2008
I read 87 pages of the script and there are just too many mistakes for me to make you a list; some of them are just formatting and it might be in the translation from one program to the other, but there are spelling and grammar errors, instances of names not being capitalized, etc. I don't know who edited this for you, but you need a new editor.
I agree with you about war; I hope you get the film made, but I won't see it.
I'm relatively confused about what you said regarding Rob and the film financing. The several times I spoke to you this week and the time I spoke to Michael, you both seemed pretty set in submitting a slate of films that included ours and at least the one of yours that is to star Shirley McClaine. From what I heard of your phone conference with Rob, what our funders require is matching funds -- your investors' money doesn't have to be available until the film is funded, only accounted for. I've written to Rob for an explanation, but it looks as if we will not be working together after all.
As far as doing a rewrite on GO WEST at this time, we're not willing to do that without funding -- we've done it twice before, for two different producers, both times it was a complete mess -- in one instance the producer kept insisting we change major events, cut off the second half of the story, etc. until it was unrecognizable.
I told Rob you won't be submitting a slate for financing, and hopefully I'll be able to get a better handle on what he needs for the future.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
Like all lawyers, they want to muck up the deal or they are jealous that they did not find an investor so they could get a commission and I would not doubt that this applies to Mel and equally so. His appraisal of the situation is so off the map and even when we spoke, he had a negative attitude. Do you know how many lawyers torpedo film projects? It is in the untold thousands and I have heard this from Producers and Directors. This of course is confidential and between you and me.
If you, leaving Mel out of it, want to call me this afternoon, we can go over it as I believe there is a misunderstanding that you have about the arrangement of the financing.
Even though Frank attempted to understand what had happened with Mel and Michael, nobody ever really knew. So we moved on to Rob’s new deal and attempting to get it to some new producers. I wrote this to Frank on the 20th.
I know this is your part of the job so I don't want to interfere with the new producers' letter, but I would like a couple of things said in it, if possible:
This deal is based on a pension fund with certifiable assets of several billion u.s. dollars. The assets do not have to be raised from bank loans or instruments; the money is available 30 days from when the matching funds are verified. The financiers do not own any part of the production in this deal. Since most film financiers currently take up to 50% of the production, this offer is somewhat unique in the field.
This contains the most updated version of the conditions expected from Jeff, the Gate Keeper of the Pension Fund and an email he sent me. You might want to show this to Sonny (Rob’s name for Mel Willmirth) or forward it to him since accounting and finance is his forte.
From Jeff: My feeling is that any deals that get into que by Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving)you'll be closed before years' end. I will need bank officer contact info for the guarantee and contact info for the borrower's law firm. JB