Posted On November 22, 2013 by Print This Post

Screenwriting vs. Novel Writing, Part II: The Passion Behind the Project by Suzanne Brockmann and Ed Gaffney

The Brockmann/Gaffney family is a media dynasty in the making. Their credits, individually and collectively, include writing best-selling and award-winning books, writing, directing, producing and – in Jason’s case – starring in an Off-Broadway play and movies. There is an abundance of talent in the family – their daughter is also a writer.

I’ve been hooked on Suz’s books since she started writing the Troubleshooters series. After seeing a performance of LOOKING FOR BILLY HAINES in New York a few years ago, I’ve been following Suz, Ed and Jason’s adventures in the world of film-making. I’m very excited about the release (on December 3rd) of THE PERFECT WEDDING on DVD.

Suz: Back in January, 2013, my husband, Ed Gaffney, blogged here on Romance University about the differences between writing a screenplay and a novel.

Suz Brockmann Ed Gaffney & son JasonTGaffney
See, in 2010, Ed, and our son Jason, and I began a family collaboration on a screenplay called THE PERFECT WEDDING. We wrote it (we all plotted and outlined, but Ed was in charge of the first draft, while Jason and I were in charge of shouting at him!), we revised it (again lots of shouting involved!), and when we had a working draft, we loved it so much we decided to produce it ourselves.

download

We have a production company called small or LARGE Productions, and previous to this, we’d produced an Off-Broadway play and a very tiny super-low-budget movie. We knew from our limited experience that we’d need a barge-load of help with THE PERFECT WEDDING, so we found a director with production experience, and together set out to find and hire a 50+ person cast and crew.

We filmed the movie in June 2011, in Sarasota, Florida, over the course of twenty-one extremely busy days.

Ed talked a bit in his blog about how a screenplay gets rewritten in just about every phase of the production and post-production process–which was both weird and wonderful.

As novelists, we’re God. Revision notes are “suggestions” that we’ll consider and then use or discard, depending on whether we think those changes will make a better, stronger, more compelling book.

As a screenwriter, though, we’re one of a crowd.

And as a writer-producer, I was as close to the God-type decision-making process as I could be, but decisions about the movie were still made through consensus with my fellow teammates. Weird, like I said, and wonderful.

THE PERFECT WEDDING was shown at its first film festival before the film was finished — and we all took notes on the changes that still needed to be made!

But finally the film was done. It wasn’t long after that that we found distribution–a rare thing for an indie film! But Wolfe Releasing, a major LGBT movie distributor, fell in love with our little rom-com movie, and we struck a deal for them to release TPW on DVD, via internet streaming and download, as well as on-demand.

That’s been a long, strange journey, and we’re happy to answer questions about the differences between releasing a book and releasing a movie if you have them, but today we’re going to focus on what I think of as one of the most important elements in the writing/creation process: the passion behind the project.

It all started, as most creative efforts do, with a little outrage and an idea.

Ed: I received the outrage in a phone call from Jason. At the time, he was living in New York, and he was looking for movies with gay characters that resonated with his life as an out and proud, well-adjusted young man. He couldn’t find any.

Apparently, all of the dramas were either tragedies centered around AIDS, or painful coming-out stories. For Jason, who came out in the late 90s at the age of 15 to a family and circle of friends who were proud and happy and fully supportive, these stories, however powerful, just didn’t connect with his experience. And the comedies – Jason’s personal preference – were either chock full of stereotypes (and usually focused on somebody in the closet), or sex-romps. And nearly all of the humor in the movies came from the characters’ sexuality.

“Why can’t there just be a good, romantic, funny movie about a couple of guys like me, who have families who support them, who fall in love?” he asked.

It was a good question.

And then, I realized that while Jace was talking, I was thinking about – of all people — Bill Cosby. I’ve been a fan of Bill Cosby’s since I heard him do his stand up bit about Noah and the Ark. I went on to get all of his albums (if you haven’t ever heard “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With,” you should do yourself a favor and listen to it immediately). But it wasn’t his brilliant comedy that made Cosby come to mind — it was the fact that he was African American, but he never made jokes based on the color of his skin. The Cosby Show was a sitcom about a black family, but it wasn’t a black sitcom. It was just a funny show about a family – the humor had nothing to do with race.

And I realized that’s what Jason was looking for – a romantic comedy about a couple of guys who fall in love, where none of the conflict or humor came from their sexual orientation. No jokes about anyone being in the closet, no jokes about being gay. Just a sweet, funny love story about two men.

Suz Brockmann, Ed Gaffney & son Jason T copy2

Next came a phone call to Suz.

Suz: Jason’s enthusiasm was contagious. And even though I was on deadline for whatever book I was writing at the time, I found myself brainstorming plot ideas for the sweet little boy-meets-boy rom-com that Jason wanted to write.

Jace’s initial idea was to use the standard romance “marriage of convenience” trope: two people who are not romantically connected have to pretend to be a couple, in order to XYZ (Avoid humiliation in front of an ex, win money from an inheritance, fool the bad-guy, etc. etc.). As a category romance author, I’ve written a number of “marriage of convenience” books, and the outcome is usually that the two people who are pretending to be in love actually fall in love, right?

Jason wanted to use that oh-so-familiar storyline in a screenplay about young gay men. The idea was to write the movie that Jason himself wanted to see — complete with all of the familiar rom-com movie essentials we could possibly include, like the obligatory family charades game, the crowd of supportive friends and family members with subplots of their own, the scene at the end where everyone piles into the car to keep the hero’s love interest from getting away. (Think Notting Hill, or Four Weddings and a Funeral.)

Usually, in a storyline like this, the ex-boyfriend character (Paul, in our movie) is the antagonist or the troublemaker.

As we brainstormed, I suggested to Jace that we spin the story a teensy bit (not too much, because our goal was to write a very familiar-feeling romantic comedy for two gay men), and make the ex-boyfriend, Paul, be our protagonist. And instead of the “pretend couple” (Roy and Gavin) falling for each other, Gavin, (the friend who is recruited to pretend to be Roy’s boyfriend) actually falls for Paul instead of Roy. Throughout the movie, Gavin of course assumes Roy’s still in love with Paul, and Paul assumes Roy’s head-over-heels in love with Gavin. Hi-jinx, as they say, ensue.

(We knew we’d have to include a journey for Roy so that he’s not alone and sobbing at the movie’s HEA ending between Gavin and Paul! We make it very clear that (despite Gavin’s confusion) Roy’s vehemently not interested in reuniting with his ex-boyfriend Paul. Nor does he have anything other than feelings of friendship for Gavin.)

We got Ed involved as we hashed out other details: Why is Roy forced to come face-to-face with Paul again?

Well, Roy happens to be one of Paul’s sister Alana’s best friends. And she’s invited Roy (and her other bf, Vicki) to her parents’ home for Christmas–and Paul is gonna be there. Together they’re all going to plan Alana’s impending June wedding. Alana needs their support, because she wants a small, intimate wedding while her mom has started talking about three hundred guests, giant tents, and trumpet fanfares.

We plotted out a juicy subplot for Paul and Alana’s parents (played by James Rebhorn, who is best known for his roles in Independence Day, and TV’s White Collar, and more recently, as Carrie’s dad in the Emmy-winning Showtime series Homeland, and Kristine Sutherland who played Joyce Summers AKA Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and a sweet subplot for Alana and her fiancé Kirk, too.

TPW stars James Rebhorn and Kristine Sutherland

So there’s a huge cast of characters in THE PERFECT WEDDING, as well as plenty of conflict, but everyone is loving, accepting, and supportive of all three young gay men.

This is life in Jason’s modern America — where having a gay son is (correctly!) normal, and where love is love is love.

Ed: We knew that we were cutting against the grain. An independent movie without explicit violence or sex, aliens, bank robberies, time travel or tragically dysfunctional relationships? Why put gay characters into that kind of movie if you aren’t going to take advantage of their sexuality to add some kind of edge?

But that was exactly what we were going for – a movie about gay characters that was edgy, because it didn’t use their sexuality to create edginess. Family and friends get together for a few days around Christmas, and three of them are gay. And you know what happens? No one in the movie cares, mentions, or questions for a moment that Paul, Gavin and Roy are gay. Instead, a new romance begins, a young romance is presented with a surprising opportunity, and an older romance faces a difficult challenge. And one of the romances happens to be about a couple of guys.

So how is that edgy? In the same way that a simple sitcom about a black family was revolutionary.

Suz: Our message was, “We’re here, some of us are queer, and the messiness and joy that come from making a connection and falling in love are exactly the same as everyone else’s messiness and joy!”

And young men like Jason, who grew up in a rainbow-filled corner of the world similar to ours, surrounded by support, love, and acceptance, will finally see a reflection of their own happy lives in a movie.

Well, a Hollywood rom-com reflection. Complete with a charades game and a frantic, full-family chase to the bus stop. :-)!

**********
writer-producers with (from left) star Kristine Sutherland, Ed Gaffney, Jason T. Gaffney and SuzanneBrockmann
THE PERFECT WEDDING is available as a rental and a download via WolfeOnDemand, and will be released on DVD on 12/3/13. Watch the trailer and download the movie at www.ThePerfectWeddingMovie.com To pre-order the DVD go to https://www.wolfevideo.com/products/perfect-wedding-the/?R=1435

P.S. Jason was busy filming a TV sitcom pilot, so he didn’t have time to contribute directly to this blog, but he’ll be popping in to say “Hi!” and answer questions throughout the day on 11/22.

Suz will send an AUTOGRAPHED ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of her upcoming release DO OR DIE to a random winner!

Do or Die for RU

***

Do you have any questions about the screenwriting, filmmaking, casting or film distribution process? Suz will be here in the morning, Ed will join us later and Jason will check in when he can. We welcome your questions!

Audra North joins us on Monday, November 25. Her topic is “There’s no business like show business”

***

Bios:

SuzBrockmannAuthorHeadshot
Suzanne Brockmann is a proud PFLAG mom and the New York Times bestselling author of fifty-three novels. Her favorite is the one where her most popular character, gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy, wins his happily-ever-after and marries the man of his dreams. Called All Through the Night, this was the first mainstream romance novel with a hero and a hero ever to hit the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list. In 2007, Suz donated all of her earnings from this book, in perpetuity, to MassEquality, to help win and preserve equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. Known for her hunky Navy SEAL heroes, Suz is also the author of When Tony met Adam, a romantic e-novella published in celebration of the repeal of DADT. Her next romantic suspense, Do or Die, will be released in hardcover and e-book by Ballantine Books and in audio by Blackstone Audio (formerly AudioGo) on February 4, 2014.

Ed Gaffney
Ed Gaffney is the critically-acclaimed author of four legal thrillers published by Bantam/Dell, the latest of which, Enemy Combatant, was a finalist for the EDGAR Award. He also co-wrote and produced a full-length play named Looking for Billy Haines, which ran off-Broadway for approximately 10 weeks during the spring of 2010. Earlier this year, Ed became an award-winning filmmaker, when The Perfect Wedding, a feature film he co-wrote and co-produced won the Bud Abbott Award for Best Feature Length Comedy at the Garden State Film Festival. And most recently, he became a finalist in The Writers Store TV Pilot competition with his original script, Unpunished. He lives in Florida and Massachusetts with his wife, New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann.

JasonTGaffney
Jason T. Gaffney was born in New York, grew up outside of Boston, performed his first professional acting job in Alaska, returned to Manhattan for a run as the tap-dancing lead in an off-Broadway play, and now lives in LA. As the son of two writers, he knew when he called and said, “I have an idea for a screenplay,” he’d be taken seriously. A proud member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA, Jason brought the actor’s perspective (and his tireless energy) to the writing and producing process of The Perfect Wedding. He’s a graduate of AMDA (NYC) and received his BFA in Musical Theatre from The New School. Jason performs regularly in LA with his improv troupe, Pregnancy Pact, and his latest project is a web series called The Comedy Minute.

Suz:
www.SuzanneBrockmann.com
www.ThePerfectWeddingMovie.com
www.facebook.com/SuzanneBrockmannBooks
www.twitter.com/SuzBrockmann

Coming soon:
– DO OR DIE, in hardcover, 2/2014
– THE PERFECT WEDDING, on-demand 11/5/2013, on DVD and via streaming 12/3/2013

Ed:
www.twitter.com/EdGaffney2
www.EdGaffney.com

Jason:
www.twitter.com/JasonTGaffney
www.facebook.com/JasonTGaffney
www.JasonGaffney.com

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62 Responses to “Screenwriting vs. Novel Writing, Part II: The Passion Behind the Project by Suzanne Brockmann and Ed Gaffney”

  1. Suz, Ed and Jason – It’s been so exciting to watch the evolution of this story, from screenplay to DVD. I’ve got my copy preordered!

    Any plans for another movie?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 12:19 am
    • Hi, Becke!

      Thanks so much for inviting us to Romance University! We’re glad to be here!

      Making this movie has been such a long, crazy journey! We have no plans to make another, but we also don’t have plans NOT to make another, if you know what I mean! (Sometimes you do something and you vow: “Never again.” Sometimes you do it, and for about a year you vow, “Never again,” but then you move to “Maybe some day.”)

      I’d say that’s where I am. I’ll let Ed and Jason speak for themselves! :-)!

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 7:40 am
    • I’d love to get the chance to make another movie! And we’d be able to take advantage of what we learned from The Perfect Wedding to do it better. BUT — even though The Perfect Wedding was a positive experience, we got a front row seat to some of the challenges a low-budget production can face. And since being a producer means being responsible for the working conditions and livelihoods of dozens of people, it can be stressful when these challenges arise. We’ll have to be well-rested well-supported to take on the next project, because no matter how well you plan, stuff happens!

      Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 8:03 am
      • Ed – Now that you’ve been involved in so many aspects of filmmaking, what parts of it were most enjoyable to you?

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 6:14 pm
        • Hey, Becke. Sorry — I missed this one!

          Matt (below) asked something similar, so that answer covers my favorite moment(s).

          The other things that I really enjoyed about the filmmaking process were casting, and meeting the actors and speaking to them about the roles they were going to play. One particular moment I remember with great fondness was a conversation I had with Sal Rendino, the actor who played Zack. Zack was the best friend and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor of Paul (one of the two romantic leads). In the movie, Zack has some funny lines in group scenes, and a few nice scenes with Paul. But the most important scenes he has are at the end of the movie, as Paul works through some important problems with Zack’s help.

          As Sal and I were talking about the movie, he said to me, “Paul saved Zack’s life.” What was so cool about that was that this was nowhere in the script. Sal meant was that he had worked on the character’s backstory in preparation for the movie, and decided that Paul had entered Zack’s life at a critical moment. And although Zack is Paul’s mentor as he becomes sober, the fact that Zack has Paul in his life was critical to Zack’s sobriety.

          It was a brilliant bit of work, completely appropriate, and solely the contribution of Sal. I love that kind of stuff. L O V E it.

          Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 8:34 pm
    • Hey Becke!

      Thanks for having us here today! I’m actually already working on a few other projects. The first is a web series that I wrote called, The Comedy Minute with Jason T. Gaffney. It’s a sketch comedy show based off of The Carol Burnet Show and SNL. I’m also in the works to write a horror film with a good friend of mine Sylvia Batey-Alcala!

      As for another production with my folks, nothings in the works yet. I for one would be thrilled to work on another project with them. I found the collaborative process with my parents to be very fun, exciting, and rewarding. If they called me up today with an idea I’d say when do we need the script by haha!

      Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 10:42 am
  2. I forgot to thank you for mentioning Bill Cosby’s fabulous “For My Brother, Russell, Whom I Slept With.” My whole family loved this album – my youngest brother is named Russell, and we used to tease him about this sketch. I used to think Bill Cosby had hidden microphones in our house, so much of it rang true!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 12:57 am
  3. I’ve got my copy preordered; I can’t wait to see it! I’d also love to get a copy of the play you mentioned, Looking for Billy Haines. Is it available for purchase anywhere?

    Posted by Melissa Dixon | November 22, 2013, 7:29 am
    • Hi, Melissa! Nice to see you here!

      And thank you! I can’t wait for you to see TPW, too!

      The play isn’t available! Sorry about that! (We should probably figure out how to e-pub it. Huh. That’s kind of a cool idea…)

      (Email me, and I’ll see if I can’t dig up a PDF to send you!)

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 7:48 am
  4. I have to say that I am happy to see a movie about well adjusted people regardless of sexuality. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    Posted by Cat Webber | November 22, 2013, 7:35 am
  5. Suz, first of all I love your books!!! Would you give up your writing and move more to the screenwriting and production??

    Posted by Joyce Jarrett-Gee | November 22, 2013, 7:36 am
    • Hi, Joyce!

      One of the things I learned from making this movie is that I truly value my alone-time! :)

      As a novelist, I spend most of my time locked in my office, completely alone.

      Making a movie is a group effort, and requires one to actually brush one’s hair and, you know, put on pants.

      I suspect I’ll keep writing novels (and wearing gym shorts or PJs) for a long time to come!

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 8:05 am
      • Suz – Was the switch to screenwriting difficult for you, or did you experience writing novels make it pretty straightforward?

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 6:23 pm
        • Hey, Becke!

          I actually wrote screenplays before I started writing novels — and used the basics of screenplay writing to make my novels fast-paced and visual.

          I think the most valuable writing “rule” that I ever heard came from William Goldman, who was both a novelist and a screenwriter. His advice was to “always begin and end each scene no earlier or later than absolutely necessary.” In a screenplay, it’s a necessity due to lack of space, but following this rule makes novels have crackling pacing!

          Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 7:02 pm
  6. I grew up watching movies and dreamed of writing one. My mother would correct me and say I wanted to be an actress. Nope, too much makeup and fancy clothes. I wanted to be the person behind the scenes who came up with the idea and brought it to life.

    Congratulations on your success, personally and professionally!

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | November 22, 2013, 8:12 am
  7. Morning All…=)

    One of my friends helped make an indie movie a few years ago as an assistant producer – it was her first ever journey into that field. She got the job mostly because she was the only one who wasn’t afraid to walk across a cow patty filled field and set up various shots. lol….we asked her about it afterwards and she said it was just craziness. Up early, bed late, sometimes you ate, sometimes you didn’t. But since that’s now her profession, she must have loved the craziness.

    Looking forward to seeing your movie! Love your books Suz!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 22, 2013, 8:31 am
    • Yup, Carrie.

      We found that as low budget movie producers, we ended up doing all kinds of things. Hanging curtains. I don’t know how to hang curtains, and I kinda suck at it. Like, that’s my idea of a really awful day — having to hang curtains. And yet, there I was on set, hanging freaking curtains! LOL! I remember thinking, “Hey, wait, this was supposed to be fun!”

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 8:55 am
      • I’ve often wondered who gets stuck with that sort of thing. It would be fun to pick out the curtains and sets, but not so much fun creating and installing them!

        Once you hung the curtains, were you able to leave them up? Or did you have to take down the sets and start over every day?

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 6:25 pm
    • Hi Carrie. Thanks for sharing your friend’s story! The people that helped us make the movie were unbelievably passionate about their work. We did everything we could to make conditions comfortable for them, but when it was all said and done, they were working six days a week, twelve hours per day, in 90 degree weather. And nobody complained. It was really remarkable — and inspiring — to see that kind of dedication.

      It is not a job for everyone!

      Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 11:09 am
  8. I had to stop reading about the movie because I want to be surprised when I watch it. I can’t wait!!

    Posted by Brenda Buschmann | November 22, 2013, 8:37 am
  9. Cool sidebar: A really fun TV show about writing and producing for the screen is EPISODES. (A Showtime Original series.)

    It’s really fun and (sometimes painfully) funny story about two British writers who are talked into coming to LA to produce an American version of their award winning UK series about the headmaster at a boy’s school. (It ends up being a sitcom about the hockey coach at a boys school, called “Puck.”) (Matt LaBlanc is in the series, playing himself, and he’s really amazing!!!!)

    Ed and I started watching it because it stars John Pankow (Kristine Sutherland’s husband) as Merk, the incredibly funny head of the production company.

    Currently there are two seasons. It’s really well written and the performances are excellent!

    Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 8:58 am
  10. I’m a huge fan of your SEAL books, fall in love with all your characters, male and female, and have enjoyed your early stories almost as much as the guys who started out in Team Ten. You sparked my interest in SEALs in general, and there has been much more about them in recent years. I truly admire the love and acceptance of your son, his lifestyle and his career. I followed the saga of the play and the movie, and one of these days in the near future I will watch it. Thank you for opening so many closet doors!

    Posted by Linda Morgan | November 22, 2013, 10:32 am
  11. Jason,
    Now that you have a made a movie as the producer and actor and are working on a sitcom pilot do you find yourself being more aware or paying more attention to the behind the scenes aspect of filming a movie than you would have been if you were just acting?
    Thanks and good luck with the new place, Matt and the pilot. Hope it gets picked up.
    Andrea

    Posted by Andrea Oliva | November 22, 2013, 12:59 pm
    • Hey Andrea!

      Yes! I totally find myself looking more at the behind the scenes aspects of filming now! I was always aware of what people were doing, but didn’t notice the amazing specifics of it, until I had the privilege of watching the crew during the filming of The Perfect Wedding.

      For example I can now spot when a line is filmed after the shooting is over (ADR, “Automated” or “Automatic” Dialog Replacement) is used, instead of a line that was shot on the set.

      But, while I’m finding that I love the behind the scenes work, I make sure to only wear my actor hat on set. Because trying to wear the actor, writer, and producer hats all at once can be a little overwhelming!

      Also thanks! The new place is looking good and Matt and I are happy! And I hope the pilot gets picked up too! :)

      Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 4:31 pm
  12. Suz – Have any of your books been optioned for movies or TV? Is there any one you’d particularly like to see on the big screen? Who would you cast as the Troubleshooters, if you had your choice of actors?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 1:31 pm
    • Hey, I’m still here, Becke! LOL!

      I was just flying solo this a.m. because Ed had a Thing, and Jason’s on west coast time!

      My mainstream romances (the TS series, etc) are too long to turn into movies, IMO. So much would have to be cut.

      Some years back I wrote a screenplay version of my time travel romance (TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE), and shopped it around a bit.

      Ed and I have discovered that the 60K word romances I wrote for Bantam transfer almost perfectly to a 90 – 120 min screenplay format!

      Ed recently did an adaptation of my book, KISS & TELL, hoping we’d get some interest from the Hallmark channel or Lifetime.

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 2:25 pm
  13. (OOps – just remembered, Suz had the morning shift.) Ed and Jason – Have you discussed filming any of Suz’s books? Or your own books, Ed?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 2:19 pm
    • Hey Becke!

      I have a few of my mom’s books that I would love made into a movie! The first is “Infamous.” I really like the fact that it’s a modern western film and in addition to that from a production stand point the sets wouldn’t cost that much to make.

      In the book most of the story takes place on a film set with cameras and lights everywhere. So it would be easy enough to have the set be multi-purpose! For example if you have a shot of the camera man taking a shot of the film their making in the book, you can also have that camera rolling to catch extra footage. Two for the price of one!

      Hot Target is another example of one of my mom’s books I’d love to see as a film! Again, a similar idea with movie within a movie. Great story and cost effective!

      I’d also love to see a film in which Sam, Alyssa, Jules and Robin are featured. Maybe this book has yet to be written? What do you think mom?

      Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 4:37 pm
  14. Oh boy. Filming books. I’ll be back in a little while to handle that one. Fun question, Becke!

    Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 2:23 pm
  15. I won’t repeat the I-love-your-screenplay-based-on-your-book-but-can-you-set-the-screenplay-in-Pittsburgh-instead-of-Phoenix story that I told in the last blog I did for you. Bottom line — Suz made tons of changes in a few short time to a screenplay (based on a time travel she’d written) for a kind of crazy reason (the potential investor was from Pittsburgh, so our contact thought he would be more inclined to invest) and nothing happened.

    As far as my books, nothing ever happened beyond some rather standard type inquiries from development people in Hollywood (super low on the totem pole) about whether the rights were available. The next step in the process would have been for the development person to write a summary of the plot, and submit it to the next person up the ladder. If that person had liked it, I probably would have heard about it. I am not holding my breath. :)

    Believe it or not, I have been told that Hollywood would rather option a book with a story they like (and then have one of their trusted screenwriters to write an adaptation), than read and produce original screenplays. Which I think is bananas, but I’m not in Hollywood, so that’s easy for me to say.

    I guess my most interesting Hollywood encounter came from an experience I had with a manuscript that my agent (and I) really liked. It was a Nicholas Sparks type book, a story of eternal love and sacrifice. My agent was so enthusiastic about it he sent it (in manuscript form) to the Hollywood agent he uses when he thinks there’s a chance that someone out there might option work by one of his clients.

    And the Hollywood agent loved it, too. (It made him cry.) So he tried to sell it, but was unsuccessful. The reason I was given was, well, amusing? Discouraging? Baffling? I’ll let you decide. The book was in sections, and the second section (probably about a fifth of the book) took place during World War Two. The rest of the book was contemporary. The reason the book wasn’t optioned was because “it was a period piece.” :)

    Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 3:15 pm
  16. This question applies to all of you — what was your favorite moment in the entire filmmaking process? This might seem nebulous, but thinking back to writing, casting, shooting, editing, distributing, etc., what really stood out as a highlight?

    Posted by Matt | November 22, 2013, 3:37 pm
    • Hi, Matt! :)

      My absolute favorite part was casting. I LOVED casting.

      But keep in mind that we wrote the movie with several actors in mind. Jason was going to play Gavin, Apolonia was Alana right from the start, and Annie Kerins was our Vicki.

      The casting process (traveling to NYC and other places) was hard work, but it was incredibly exciting and fun –and filled with hope and promise! You never knew who was gonna walk through the door.

      Yet, it wasn’t all light and laughter. We had to make compromises. There was one actor I really REALLY wanted to use but I was outvoted. Another actor was amazing but out of our price range! :)

      In the end, it all worked out, because we hired a cast that really delivered!

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 4:26 pm
    • Hey Matt!

      I had so much that I loved about the filming process. But I had different ones for both Producer Jason and Actor Jason.

      The one for me as Producer Jason was definitely casting. It really is amazing to see the endless amount of talent out there in the world. The only hard part about all the amazing talent is the fact that we weren’t able to hire everyone!

      As for Actor Jason my favorite part was getting onto set for the first day. There’s something so magical about walking on set and meeting all the people who you’re going to be working with for almost a month, who will eventually become your family.

      Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 4:41 pm
    • My favorite part of the experience was watching the actors, on set, deliver the lines we had written. It was so thrilling to see the contributions they made with their skill. When we wrote the dialogue, I had an idea of how it would look and sound on the screen. But actually watching it come to life …. magic. Just magic. I felt tremendous gratitude and excitement.

      Nice question!

      Posted by Ed Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 6:49 pm
      • I’m fascinated that you all enjoyed the casting process so much! One of the drawbacks to having a big production company produce a screenplay must be having the casting decisions taken out of your hands.

        I love the idea of one of Suz’s books being made into a movie, but I draw a blank when I try to imagine the cast. I have a mental image of each character, but I don’t think of their physical characteristics as much as their personalities, and the way they relate to their partners. I rarely like TV movies made from romance novels, because the actors never come close to the way I pictured them!

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 22, 2013, 7:24 pm
        • Yeah it would have been really tough to give up casting on this project for several reasons. The first is the idea of someone getting cast who doesn’t fit the role. The other idea is someone who isn’t a good team player! We really wanted to get to know everyone who was going to be a major player in this film to make sure that they would work hard and play nice! I’m glad to say that we got incredibly lucky and I’m thrilled with the whole cast (and crew) that we got to work with!

          Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 9:14 pm
  17. Always been a huge fan of the Seal series, Suzanne. I think it played a big role in helping readers move toward tolerance and acceptance of differences. Look forward to seeing this movie. Sounds delightful! Didn’t you just pinch yourselves sometimes and think, “Wow, look what we’re doing!” Congrats for taking another step toward mainstream. Y’all are a lucky family.

    Posted by Marsha R. West | November 22, 2013, 4:45 pm
    • Thanks, Marsha!

      It has been a really awesome journey!

      And JUST a few minute ago, I got an email with a rough draft of the cover art for the YA book that I co-wrote with my daughter Melanie (talking about family projects!!!).

      LOL — Mel has terrible phone reception in her apartment, so we just spent a frantic few minutes texting furiously back and forth!

      Our YA novel is being published by Sourcebooks and they sent us two (2) prospective covers! They were both great, but Melanie and I BOTH had the same visceral reaction to the same cover, which is great! (We are SO impressed with the art department!)

      Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 4:50 pm
  18. Thanks for clarifying to us the difference between the two, nice post! :))

    Posted by Alexander von Ness | November 22, 2013, 5:01 pm
  19. I can’t read or watch something like that. A good thing is people aren’t forced to read or watch what they don’t want.

    Posted by Anna Labno | November 22, 2013, 7:16 pm
  20. Okay, Romance University!

    Thanks for the fun chat, but it’s turning-into-pumpkin time for me!

    Thanks for inviting us to blog, Becke! I appreciate it so much! It was fun to be able to “talk” to Jason, out in California!

    – Suz

    (P.S. Love you, Jace! Can’t wait to see you & Matt for the holidays! Love, mom)

    Posted by Suz Brockmann | November 22, 2013, 9:02 pm
    • Alright guys! I’m also going to bed! I have to be up at 5:45 am tomorrow to continue filming the pilot! Fun work, but early! Thanks for all the great comments and questions and if you have any more please feel free to ask me on Facebook or Twitter!

      Thank you very much again to Becke and Romance University for setting this up and having us on to blog and talk with you guys! It was a real honor and pleasure!

      Much love!

      Jason T. Gaffney

      Posted by Jason T. Gaffney | November 22, 2013, 11:57 pm
  21. Argh! I lost internet last night – the weather wasn’t stormy, so I have no idea why it decided to cut out. I’m so sorry I missed the end of the party. Thank you so much for joining us, Suz, Ed and Jason!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 23, 2013, 4:49 pm
  22. Yeah I’ve always actually wondered what the clear difference is between the two, thanks for putting this out there! ;P

    Posted by Ken Mayor | December 20, 2013, 5:50 am

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