Monday, June 18, 2018

1000 and counting...

A big shout-out to Barrie North Collegiate Academy of Barrie, Ontario. They just gave me my 1000th production with their performance of You're Driving Me Crazy!

It took a long time to get here! I got my first two productions in 2006, when my wife and I ran a children's theatre company in Colorado Springs and I took my first few tentative steps in playwriting by penning a couple of plays for our students.

It was a long dry spell after that until 2010, when I got my third production as a result of a national playwriting contest. And then things really started heating up in 2011, when Pioneer Drama Service published The _urloined Letter.

So I couldn't have done it without my publisher. But just as important, I couldn't have done it without all of the school and community theatre directors who've chosen my plays. So to you I want to send out a great big...

Friday, June 1, 2018

Beating the odds

They say you can't break into Hollywood with a cold query.

They say you can't break into Hollywood if you don't have any connections there.

They say you can't break into Hollywood if you're over fifty (or forty or thirty...).

Well, they must be wrong, because I just did it.

Yesterday, I signed with Gravity Squared Entertainment, a management company based in Beverly Hills. They work in a variety of fields but their specialty is turning books into movies. As far as I know, they've never signed a playwright before, but they must have liked something about my plays because they're hoping to do the same with them.

Make no mistake. It's still a longshot getting a movie made. Only around 500 feature films are released in Hollywood each year, and although streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video are fueling a rapid increase in that number, the fact remains that a lot more screenplays end up in the trashcan or "development hell" than on the big screen.

The play that got their attention was, you guessed it, The Enchanted Bookshop. My managers say it has a Night at the Museum or even a Shrek feel, and think it might get picked up by one of those two major streaming services, since they're both ramping up their offering of children's films.

Surprisingly, they don't think the script needs much work. The main thing is that it needs to be bigger. They want to see a lot more book characters popping in and out of the story, so that's what I'll be working on over the next couple months.

But first I need to polish a different screenplay, an original script that tries to recapture the spirit of The Goonies.

More on that one later...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bookshop reaches the Emerald Isle

I love seeing photos from productions of my plays, but they're even more special when they represent a new country for me. That's the case for these stills from last weekend's production of The Enchanted Bookshop in Drinagh, Ireland.

The WACT Youth Theatre performed the play as part of a night of one-acts. I've never visited the Emerald Isle myself, but I wish I had, just so I could have seen this great-looking production.

Nice work, everybody! I hope you had fun!

Friday, May 18, 2018

My 7th year sales

I just received my annual royalty check from Pioneer Drama Service and I'm happy to report that this year was another record-setting one for me. That's largely due to a little play called The Enchanted Bookshop. In the nine months since it was released, this play made almost as much money as my other eleven plays combined.

Not bad for a bunch of public domain characters.

My total number of productions was 312, a 37% increase over the 228 productions I had last year. Strangely enough, I'm still reaping the benefits of the ten months I was laid off as the last three plays I wrote during that time were released this year, including The Enchanted Bookshop (July), Wicked Is As Wicked Does (August) and The Purrfect Crime (January).

So yes, The Enchanted Bookshop was my #1 play for the year, blowing the roof off my previous record with a whopping 108 productions (Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye had 63 productions two years ago). I'm thinking it'll do even better in the coming year as it has already booked 41 productions.

My #2 play was You're Driving Me Crazy!, which has been a big hit with schools due to its short playing time (40 minutes), flexible casting (7 to 13 actors) and minimal set (four chairs). It dropped quite a bit from the 61 shows it snagged last year, but still managed to pull in an impressive 37 shows. It remains especially popular in Canada, with 8 of those productions coming from our neighbor to the north.

Million Dollar Meatballs surprised me this year with its strong showing at #3. It got 34 productions, the same number as the previous year, which was its first full year--traditionally the best year a play ever does. Schools gots to have their farces.

I was really pleased to see my #4, Trouble in Paradise Junction, do so well in its first full year, with 30 productions. My publisher told me that this large-cast satire of reality TV is her favorite play of mine. It holds a lot of meaning for me as well, since the perfect little town at the center of the story was largely based on my own hometown.

My #5 play was The Stinky Feet Gang with 23 productions in its first full year. I owe a lot to Lori, the editor at Pioneer who fought to put this one on their slate. It had a slow start last year but appears to be heating up now.

I'm sorry to see Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye, my #6 play, continue to drop in popularity. It had 63 productions two years ago, 40 last year and just 19 this year. I don't why it's dropped so much, but I suspect there are so many fractured fairy tales released each year that its hard for an older one to get much attention. One nice surprise, however, is that at the end of this month, it'll get a production in Germany, my 11th country.

My #7 play was How I Met Your Mummy, which also struggled. It dropped from 30 productions last year to 14 this year.

The Butler Did It! is my feast or famine play in the #8 slot. It had 34 productions three years ago, 14 two years ago, 30 last year and 14 again this year. Here's hoping it pulls off another strong showing in the coming year.

The _urloined Letter and Wicked Is As Wicked Does tied at #9 with 10 productions. For The _urloined Letter, that represents a tie with its previous best, an impressive showing for my first play. As for Wicked Is As Wicked Does, those 10 productions represent a bit of a slow start. As a brand new fractured fairy tale, it should have done much better. Will it get some heat next year? I think so, as it has already booked 8 productions.

Rounding out the list is Long Tall Lester with 7 productions (its worst year yet) and The Purrfect Crime with 3 productions, which should have done much better in its inaugural year. It's my most female-heavy play and fairly easy to produce (one set, mostly) so I've got to think it'll do much better next year.

So a few down results, but the up results are so strong that I can't complain. Plus, as they say in baseball, there's always next year.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Danville Bookshop makes connections

The Enchanted Bookshop got a nice write-up in the Commercial-News of Danville, IL, where the Red Mask Players are performing the play this weekend. (Fun fact: This is the same theater where Hollywood icon Dick Van Dyke got his start.)

Positive feedback is always a good thing, but I'm continue to be thrilled by how people have taken this play to heart. In the article, reporter Brianna Kirkham writes:
[Director Ruey] Sandusky said she feels a special connection to the story because she's an Oakwood librarian herself. 
"I think a lot of kids aren't reading as much now," she said. "I love this play because it inspires people to read more."
Thanks for the kind words, Ruey. I hope you have a fantastic performance!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pioneer launches photo contest

My publisher has just announced their first photo contest, which I think is a fantastic idea. For full details, check out their Facebook post below.

I hope all of my loyal followers submit something. I've seen a lot of great photos from my plays, and I think any one of them could win the big prize.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

I get profiled

I was pleased and a little surprised when my editor Jeremy Johnson said he wanted to interview me as the second in Pioneer's brand new series of Playwright Profiles. Well, that profile came out in their newletter today and I'm really happy how it turned out. Jeremy and I had a wide-ranging conversation, covering everything from where I get my inspiration to whether I'm as big a cat person as my plays suggest.

To read the interview, click here. And if you want to get all of the Playwright Profiles (as well as a ton of other helpful articles), be sure to subscribe to Pioneer Drama Service's twice-monthly newsletter. You'll be glad you did!