By Chuck Hustmyre
My latest movie is filming right now in Kentucky. Never Forgive stars Guy Pearce, one of my favorite actors, with York Shackleton directing.
My wife and I visited the set last week and I brought with me several black T-shirts, printed on the front of which, in stark white letters, were the words, “There’s a horse?”
I gave out the T-shirts to some of the cast and crew, including the producer, the star, and the director.
My wife, Kristie, and I had a great time on set, and everyone thought the story behind the T-shirts was pretty funny, and they all seemed genuinely appreciative of the gesture.
Since coming back from the set, I’ve posted some of the photos of cast members and crew posing with the T-shirts on Facebook, and several of my writer friends have asked what the story was behind the T-shirts.
So here is the story:
The movie’s producer had an option on the script for a year and a half; he was lining up financing and distribution and was trying to cast the lead role, a small-town marshal who has to defend his town against a gang of outlaw bikers who have taken over in order to rob the local bank and an armored truck loaded with cash from a nearby casino.
During one of our many phone calls, I told the producer that whoever he got to star in the movie needed to know how to ride a horse. The producer shot back, with a bit of incredulity in his tone, “There’s a horse?” (And I kid you not; those were his exact words.)
I reminded him that during the big shootout at the end of the movie, between the town marshal and the outlaw bikers, the hero is riding a horse. The producer had no idea. So I told him that if he had read the script he would know have known. He said he had read the script—but only the first ten pages.
Proof positive of what we screenwriters have always suspected: producers don’t read scripts, even scripts they are spending millions of dollars on to make into movies!
I wrote that line—“There’s a horse?”—on a piece of paper and tacked it to the corkboard above my desk. That line looks down on me every day as I write, along with other bits of writing wisdom I’ve collected over the years, things like: “Get it made and get paid,” “Write for a movie star,” and “The first draft of anything is shit.”
And that simple question—There’s a horse?—reminds me that no matter how much blood, sweat, and tears we screenwriters shed onto the pages of our scripts, very few people actually read them, and even fewer read them to the end, because the screenplay is just one part of a movie, and in the end, not even that big of a part.
But take heart, because without your script there wouldn’t be a movie.