You think, the idea of a theater play gone terribly wrong because of the lead getting drunk on the day of the premiere is unique? Hell, no! A UCLA short called ‘Shakespeare Uncensored’ exploits the same idea just like the Inarritu masterpiece does. So, what? Well, ‘Shakespeare Uncensored’ was filmed and released back in 2012, when nobody heard about ‘Birdman’. The idea proved to be genuine, however, nobody wanted to listen about it back then. Why?
A loser director Alex WU is given a chance to turn around his career. He directs ‘Romeo and Juliet’ hoping that a genuine interpretation of Shakespeare will bring him back to business. Unfortunately, his Romeo gets drunk on the day of the premiere. Alex is left with no other option than to play Romeo himself. Sounds familiar, right?
The idea that brought Inarritu his long awaited Oscar is not new at all. Basically, a movie exploiting the same idea could have been released two years before Birdman. Why did studio execs never paid attention to it?
‘The truth is that most studios, majors and even indie productions, follow the so called unsolicited submissions policy’, says Andrey Kochkin, director and post-production supervisor of ‘Shakespeare Uncensored’ – ‘That means that unless studios request your idea/script/short you cannot submit it. If you still email your stuff to them, 99% it will end up in trash folder. Even if you have written another ‘Titanic’ or ‘Avatar’, you have zero chances to submit it to studios’.
Technically, studios have an explanation why they do not want ‘fresh blood’. They are afraid that someone might sue them in future, because they might end up filming a movie based on a similar idea developed by a completely different screenwriter.
‘I guess, this problem has a very simple solution’ says Andrey Kochkin. ‘If submitters sign a rights waiver, that would not be an issue anymore’.
Andrey tried to pitch it to studios, but the result would always be the same – an email saying that unsolicited scripts are not accepted.
‘Technically, you can pitch it to talent agencies that can further pitch it to studios, but guess what… Talent agencies also have that ‘closed door policy’.
The question is – why are studios so reluctant of letting new people in the business? Apparently, they have their reasons for that. However, it is hard to believe that harnessing competition and cutting off new and good ideas’ inflow is beneficial to studios.
‘To a great extent, ‘Birdman’ proved that the idea we developed in ‘Shakespeare’ was awesome. I mean, I never doubted that, but now I got evidence supporting my point’, says Andrey.
Author: Martin Fuss