Vicki Speegle Interview #2

BlueCat Finalist (2007)

BlueCat: What is the latest news on Loved Ones? It was optioned recently, correct? How did that play out?

Vicki Speegle: Yes, it was optioned a year ago by producer Jessica Schatz and Babcock Jedeikin Productions. Jessica co-produced “Little Chenier,” starring Jonathan Schaech. Babcock has produced commercials and several shorts. The economy being what it is now, they were unable to raise the budget. So the option is available again. Interested parties can email me at vicki@vickispeegle.com.

BC: What did you learn from that experience?

VS: In a broader sense I learned that there are so many more steps to getting a film produced than I thought. Just when you think you’re at the top, you discover more steps! It keeps driving home to me the importance of writing for the simple joy of just loving to write. Because in the end that may be the only reward we get. Whether or not I get to see all of my creations come alive on the screen, I’ll always have those words on the page and the experience of putting them there – that excitement that comes from creating something new and good. It’s also made me realize more and more that us indie-type writers need to start producing our own material to get it out there, which is exactly what I’ll be doing next year.

More specifically, I learned a bit about how to negotiate an option agreement. I couldn’t afford an attorney, but through a friend I found one who agreed to give me a flat amount of time for a low flat fee. In that time she was able to look over the agreement and advise me on what terms were just downright unreasonable and which I could compromise on. There are so many legalities and rights involved in purchasing a screenplay that I was blissfully unaware of before. It was an eye-opening experience! I had to take off my creative hat and think of the script purely as a business tool. Weird. And not at all pleasant.

BC: Do you have any updates on Let Your mercies come also to me…?

VS: We’re in postproduction, and we’ve raised enough funds to begin editing, so many thanks to those who contributed! We still need funds for sound mixing and music composition. Anyone who’d like to contribute can do so through our fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions.

Donations are tax deductible. To watch footage from the film, people can visit our web page. My mom has led quite a fascinating life, and you can read more about it there. A link to our donation page at From the Heart is also posted:http://www.vickispeegle.com/Mercies.htm.

BC: Speaking more generally, what sort of challenges do you face in your day-to-day writing career?

VS: Definitely juggling a job and writing. I’ve been very blessed to have periods in my career where I was able to write full time. It’s pretty awesome to be able to focus every day on nothing but your creativity. To get to think all day about your characters and story, go to sleep thinking about them, and have ideas and solutions delivered through your dreams. Working breaks up that creative momentum. I’m back now to writing on my lunch hour each day and on weekends, which can be frustrating, but I wrote LOVED ONES that way. It’s not impossible, just more challenging.

BC: You have your own website with info on screenplays that you have written. Have you found your site to be a useful marketing tool? How else do you market yourself?

VS: I’m laughing right now because this is something I’ve been discussing a lot with my writer friends. How do struggling writers “market” themselves? A centerfold in Screenwriter Magazine? I just don’t know what “marketing” myself means anymore. I used to think it meant sending out query letters, but even with the writing credits I’ve garnered and my contest placements, I’ve never received a single script request from a query letter. It’s a real conundrum to me. Almost like the old “need experience to get a job, but can’t get experience without a job” puzzle. We want our work to be read and produced, so we have to try to “market” it, but that task has no clear job description, and takes so much precious time for few if any results. I would so much rather just stay holed up in my room writing. But I write because I want to share it with others. Ahhh!

And so I wouldn’t describe my site as a marketing tool. It’s more of a “if you want to know more about me, here I am” tool. I mean, agents and production companies aren’t out there [G]oogling “screenplays” to search for material. There is no way to reach them except through knowing their brother’s housekeeper’s personal trainer, or placing in a reputable contest, or producing something on your own that gets attention at a festival. But I do think a website has value. When I make contact with someone at a company, they usually visit the site and it’s good to have my work represented there. Whatever you can do to show your professionalism and dedication to your craft is a plus – give people a sense of who you are so you’re not just another faceless name.

As far as other ways of marketing myself, I think for writers the word is really networking. It’s important to meet and develop relationships with people who can either connect you with their personal trainer’s housekeeper’s brother’s agent or help you produce your own work. If anyone out there knows of other ways, I’m open to ideas!

BC: Are you still entering your work in screenplay competitions? If so, for what reasons? If not, why did you decide to stop?

VS: I still enter competitions. If you don’t have an agent or a connection at a production company, I think it’s the only avenue left for getting interest in your script. But I’m very choosy about which competitions I’ll enter. After LOVED ONES made the finals of BlueCat, I got a request from BenderSpink for the script, and I was hired to draft a screenplay for another company that enabled me to write full time for a year. Sometimes I enter contests that offer feedback, too, just to get notes on my scripts from completely objective readers who don’t know me.

BC: What’s your next goal for the immediate future?

VS: First to finish MERCIES. It’s a project that’s very dear to my heart since it’s about my mother – her life and her struggle with Alzheimer’s. She’s a real character, my mom. After the film is complete we’ll be screening it for families and caretakers in some Alzheimer’s facilities and sending it to festivals.

Next I’m rewriting a script that I plan to produce next year called DEAREST. It’s sort of a sequel to LOVED ONES. The main character’s all grown up, but while she was pretty precocious sexually in LOVED ONES, in DEAREST she’s very naïve about men and dating. In DEAREST we learn that her mother has disappeared and the story is about her journey to find out what happened while at the same time pursuing her own warped search for love. I am looking for an experienced producer to join the project.

BC: Our last interview was in Dec. of 2009. How have you grown as a writer during this time?

VS: For me the challenge is always about writing honestly – to not candy coat things or avoid the realness of situations. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means, but it’s just something I feel every time I sit down to write. This pull inside. A struggle to write “one true thing” as Hemingway said. Was it Hemingway? It’s kind of a scary way to write, but I do think I’m getting better at it. I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say, here, but even my comedic writing has a dark underside to it now, which I really like. Because I think most of life is pretty dark, really – even the joyful moments. And I just can’t write around that somehow.

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