I have this vision of a modern version of famed movie CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. My vision has a multicultural cast with actor/comedian Wayne Brady playing the starring role (Dick Van Dyke’s character). I need a writer. How can I find one? And at what price?
On the scale of marketable ideas, that’s not bad, although I suspect in this remake-crazy culture, someone’s already working on it. Regardless, I’m sure Wayne Brady and his representatives are happy that you’re out there, working to find him roles.
Ignoring for the moment that someone actually owns the underlying rights (probably MGM, but maybe Ian Fleming’s estate), I see two main paths which you could take in pursuit of a screenwriter to implement your vision.
First, you could find a screenwriter who is already somewhat successful. I’m not talking Robert Towne or Callie Khouri, but rather a writer who got credit on Eddie Griffin’s latest movie, or a Mandy Moore vehicle. Since you’re not bringing a lot to the project other than your enthusiasm, you may have a hard time convincing this writer’s agent to take you seriously. But I’d bet out of a list of 10 candidates, you’d find at least two writers willing to hear you describe your vision for the movie. And if it’s as good as you think it is, maybe one writer will say yes. Working together, the two of you either write the script as a spec, or approach the rights holder and convince them to commission a script.
The other option would be to find a screenwriter without any produced credits, and convince her to write the script for you. Maybe you pay her a few thousand dollars, maybe you don’t. Either way, you work together to create the best possible script you can, with some sort of written contract between you clarifying that you’re attached as a producer. When it’s finished, you approach the rights holder and convince them that your script will make the definitive multi-ethnic CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG for the new millennium.
How do you find this newbie writer in the first place? You might have luck with online screenwriting forums and workshops. As long as you can read the writer’s work, it doesn’t matter where they live. Another good option would be to find writers who’ve won (or made the final rounds) in one of the many screenwriting competitions, such as the ones sponsored by Final Draft or the Austin Film Festival.
Which way is better? Honestly, they’re both difficult. But a producer’s job is always difficult, and many of today’s top producers started their careers exactly this way, with nothing more to offer than their imagination and tenacity.