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No small problem

April 15, 2019

tom-hanks-big-movie-poster

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from WordPress. It went like this:

Dear (you-call-yourself-a-) blogger

It’s been three years since you last visited your webpage. This is the third year in a row in which we have taken our payment of $12.99 for hosting a site on which there has been precisely zero activity for 36 months.

What have you been doing all that time, huh?

HUH???

OK, perhaps that wasn’t the exact wording, but I did wonder to myself what I could have spent that precious $39 on, rather than hosting dead air. I should also factor in the Adobe Stock images account I created, of which only three credits were used before the license expired, the remaining 47 still sitting on their shelves, never fulfilling their illustrative purpose.

My last blog was dated 22 April 2016, and it coincides quite neatly with another event. No, my arms didn’t drop off, preventing me from writing, nor did the Brexit referendum render me mute (although I did vow never to blog on the subject). No, I actually started writing. Whilst blogging gave me opportunity to hammer out monthly, sometimes weekly, diatribes about issues large and small (mainly rants about local train companies), it did rather divert my attention from writing anything more meaningful. My two scripts to date remained not-quite-finished, and ideas I had for others stayed in my head (usually for the best).

But in the summer of 2016 I started to write something a bit… bigger.

It started as a joke, written purely to amuse myself, riffing off a favourite film of mine from the 80s. And then it took shape, and people liked the idea, and I saw a comment on a social media post which inspired me to carry on.

“What if Tom Hanks wished himself small on the ZOLTAR machine? I would totally watch a film about that.”

Well yes, so would I. Because I was writing one.

The premise is this:

Tom Hanks, super successful and respected A-Lister, is sick of his life. His movies have become humdrum, he’s getting a little slower and a little greyer, and he thinks fondly back to the days when he was a struggling actor, trying to land a great role. One night when a little drunk, he stumbles upon the ZOLTAR machine from the movie BIG, and accidentally wishes himself SMALL. Waking up the next day as a fifteen-year-old kid, he panics and runs away. He must then spend the rest of the movie trying to get himself big again, without anyone finding out.

Over the course of the next 18 months or so, I wrote this script, sitting at my desk on an almost nightly basis “doing Small”. Writing scenes, editing others, coming up with daft ideas, and replacing them with better ones. In November 2016 I met a woman called Arlene online, a screenwriter and script consultant working in LA, who read the first act of Small and got super-excited about the idea. Together, we’ve created a 112-page script of which I’m hugely proud.

But now what? We’ve written a role in a movie that can only be played by one person in the world. Literally one. And he’s not getting any younger! Consider that I spent all of 2016 writing this script, interrupted on an almost daily basis by headlines revealing the latest celebrity who had died. I spent that year in a state of perennial anxiety, convinced that either a) some other bugger would come up with my idea first, or b) Hanks would cark it.

And this fear wasn’t totally unfounded, either. One of the reasons Arlene was so excited about the script was because she had an ‘in’ to Tom. Years ago she worked for Penny Marshall, the director of Big, and still kept in touch with a colleague very close to her. Our idea was to get it to Penny, who could then pass it to Tom.

Very sadly, Penny passed away in December 2018, a few weeks after being sent the script. Whether she ever read it I won’t know (nor will I accept any responsibility!). But her untimely death did rather kill our dreams of getting it to Tom via a recommendation, which as everyone in Hollywood will tell you, is the best (usually, only) way of getting your script read.

We’ve not given up hope of course. At the last screenwriting festival I went to I shamelessly wore a t-shirt asking “Do you know Tom Hanks?” on the off-chance I might find someone who could give me an introduction. Arlene knows many other people in LA who might be able to pass it along. I like all of Tom’s social media posts, and have even bought one of his son’s handkerchiefs (a Hanks Kerchief – how brilliant is that?) in an effort to endear myself to his wider family. My level of stalking the Hankses knows no bounds and he should probably feel grateful I’m on a different continent.

So, my return to the world of blogging is basically a cynical ploy to find myself a way to the Big Man himself. It doesn’t score highly on the “Ways to get Tom Hanks in your movie” Venn diagram – but it is on there, along with Instagramming missing socks and becoming an expert on typewriters. It’s cheaper than a flight to LA in order to sit outside the Playtone offices until he shows up (also on the diagram) and considerably less illegal than some of the other suggestions I’ve since rubbed out.

If you can help me with my small, yet big, problem, I’d be very grateful. There have been so many remakes and sequels to ‘80s movies lately (not to mention a very recent film called Little) that my fear will no doubt be founded and some other bugger will do it sooner or later. Let that bugger be me!

From → Blog, Film, Script

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