Monday, July 10, 2006

A writer's tragedy

From Technodirt.com comes this story that is the screenwriter’s version of the Darwin Awards. Apparently some guy wrote three screenplays (with the delightful titles of COLOR OF TULIP, BLOOD ON ICE, and – keeping with the theme – BLOOD ON SEVEN HILLS). He claims that at one point he was in negotiations to sell the screenplays for $2.7 million. But the talks went nowhere. So he ended up with nothing. Ohh??? There’s no middle ground between $2.7 and nothing?? But that’s not the point.

He later signed up for DSL and the technician installing it “cleaned up some unused items on his desktop” which included -- oh no! - the screenplays.

Oooops!

Data recovery was only partially successful in retrieving them. So the guy sued, claiming the screenplays were worth MILLIONS. He lost. And the jury felt he was also at fault FOR NOT MAKING A BACKUP OF SUCH “VALUABLE” FILES!

Ooooops!

I also question why the skeesix didn’t have a single printed copy. How did he submit them to these potential million dollar buyers? Did he make them come over to his house and read off his screen?

Always backup your scripts. I do it every time I finish a writing session. I also backup my hard drive weekly, and sometimes email the working draft to myself just to be triple sure.

Nothing’s going to stop me from breaking the bank when I sell my latest screenplay -- BLOOD ON MAPQUEST DIRECTIONS TO PISMO BEACH.

13 comments:

Philip Morton said...

Ken, really, LOL. What an iiiiidiot.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

In the early days of computing my writing partner and I once lost a whole days writing at the end of the day. It was quite close to the end, so we had done quite a few scenes. We ordered in and reconstructed the scenes in two hours. Most of the sentences seemed to come back verbatim. A couple of years ago I did an interview and it turned out the tape had backed up over itself. Again, I sat down, concentrated and relived the whole of the interview on paper. "Then he said... then I asked... but how did we get from here to here... oh, yeah, he said..." I'd almost recommend it as a way of working if it wasn't so nervewrecking.

Stephen Gallagher said...

I know exactly where the guy is coming from. I once got within an ace of a similarly lucrative deal with some producers I'd imagined.

Tom Quigley said...

If he knows nothing else, the guy should have saved it on a disk (or two or three if it didn't fit on one) and had the address of the nearest Kinko's taped to his monitor...

I once lost half a sitcom spec, two days before I was to show it to someone, because I had hit a wrong key somewhere on my old Brother word processor before I could afford a computer. Like Ger Apledoorn, went back and reconstructed it from the treatment, which fortunately I did have, but it was a lot of extra work and aggravation. The upside was that I essentially could do a re-write while I was putting it back together, and came up with some better stuff in the process -- but definitely not a recommended way to do a second draft.

glassblowerscat said...

In these great days of flash drives, no one should have any excuse when it comes to backup. It's a matter of a minute to insert and copy after every writing session.

Michael C. Jacobs said...

David Pogue from the New York Times likes to quote a line that I think is brilliant. "There are two types of people in the world; those that back up their files, and those that will."

benson said...

Ken, you and all the commentators on here have become a great addition to my morning surf and quest for show prep...

First thought: (about the lawsuit part of the story) There's no shortage of idiot lawsuits, as also evidenced by the goof suing Michael Jordon and Nike because he looks like Jordon...as they said in my neighborhood, "Nice try, pal-lie".

Glassblowerscat..Amen (and TigerDirect's got em now for $5)

And Ken, you and I have already lived this- Michael's comment reminded of the old radio saying. Two kinds of people in radio-those who have been fired, and those who will. (Or the one floating around the internet a few years ago- Three kinds of people in life, those who can count, and those who can't)

Emily Blake said...

Didn't he register his scripts? I would think if he did that the WGA would have a copy, even if it was an earlier draft. They let you get copies of your own scripts, don't they?

If he didn't register them he's an even bigger idiot.

Tom Dougherty said...

When the DSL tech left, there was a hook dangling from his doorknob!

The SCRIPTS WERE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Constance Reader said...

With a screenwriter that stupid, can you imagine how stupid the scripts could have been? As if we needed those titles as a hint...

Anonymous said...

Just to be safe and for shits and giggles (but more shits then giggles), I usually insert some copies into my rectum.

- Allen

Scoopy said...

I got a gmail account specifically as a depository of every session's backup. Every time I close my script in progress, I save it to the flash drive, to iDisk, and email the file to myself.

The thing I try to remember is: today when I shut off my computer, it will be the last time it ever starts up. Happens every day -- people find themselves with a $2,000 paperweight and all their documents are toast.

With my system, my computer would have to blow up, my thumb drive would have to be stolen from my person, and the entire internet would have to go kaput before I lost my work.

I HATE re-creating work.

Cage Free Brown said...

I had a great idea "Blood on the Nine Iron" but I spilled hot McDonalds coffee in my lap, bumped my head and now all I remember is the title.

they owe me big-time.