By Carole A. Parker
LA Screenwriter - June, 2015

I got my start in the entertainment industry back in the 90’s acquiring content for several cable networks as a film buyer, but as I rose up through the ranks I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do for a living. I loved getting to choose what movies went on the air, but not the politics. I then set my sight on being an independent film producer and soon co-produced CAPPUCCINO, a micro-budget film noir which won that year’s IFFM Gordon Parks award. But out of the dozen
or so films I tried to get going, that was the only one that got made. I quickly learned
I just wasn’t good at asking people for money.

One of the projects I was developing was called SPIRAL, a true story about my friend Paul who hung out with Savannah, the biggest porn star in the world and his friend Andy, who was her stylist. Savannah dated celebs like Slash and Paulie Shore, and was actually a sweet, young girl with a bad drug problem. The story was about the three of them hanging out all night and binging on booze and drugs, and was a very dark, intimate drama. True to the title, things spiraled out of control, and shortly after Paul left the group, Andy had a nervous breakdown and Savannah killed herself.

Because Paul worked at Disney, he was able to pitch Miramax on the idea, so we flew to NYC and had a meeting with Jon Gordon, a development executive that lasted three hours. He loved the story that much. We flew back to LA thinking we had it in the bag, but what we didn’t know was because Miramax was now owned by Disney, they weren’t gonna make a ‘movie about a porn star.’ Never mind that there was no sex in the story, and only one scene that took place on a
porn set. New Line hadn’t made BOOGIE NIGHTS yet, and nobody wanted to touch the subject 
matter with a ten-foot pole.

So, pitch un-perfect, I did what any newbie indie producer would do – I wrote the damn script myself. And that’s how I got bitten by the writing bug. The movie never got made, but the die was cast. I was now a screenwriter. I then wrote my next screenplay, LEGS, about a toughtalking, chain-smoking alcoholic private eye, and I was off to the races. Although it was a bit rough around the edges, I found my voice, which I still have to this day.

Then a clusterf*ck of epic proportions changed my life forever. My house burned to the ground one night while I was asleep, and I lost everything. And, because I had to spend all my savings reconstructing my life, I could no longer play at being an artist. I had to work for a living again. But doing what? My shrink suggested I go back to doing what I did before I became a film buyer – being a legal secretary – so I registered with a temp agency and start working at various
LA law firms. But I continued writing on my lunch breaks and on weekends.

After a couple of years of doing this, my agency asked if I wanted to work at Disney. I of course said yes, and was soon on the studio lot. Suddenly I was working on my screenplay in the studio commissary. Time passed. I got jobs at in the legal department at Warner Brothers, then MTV, and then – at least for me – the golden ring, New Line Cinema. New Line was an amazing place to work back then because it was an entire movie studio in a single building. You got to rub noses with everybody in the corridors and elevators – and that was when I started to make invaluable contacts I still have to this day during the course of working on half-a-dozen films.  
The hallways were buzzing about their new production of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. A new AUSTIN POWERS movie. A RUSH HOUR sequel. It was a heady time.  I got to learn how the movie biz works from the ground up, and, most importantly, the nuts and bolts of how writers got hired – and what their contract looked like. In fact, I got to learn about –
and then create – writer, producer, director and actor contracts. And I was in charge of getting all of those people paid. Then checking to make sure the closing credits were accurate per their contracts. How cool is that? I’ll never forget Mike Myer’s agent yelling me over the phone because his check was late.

All this time, I kept writing, writing, writing – averaging a feature a year. I mean, I really had no spare time and no social life. And because I had to work extra hours to make enough money to pay the bills, I got up at five in the morning and didn’t get home until nine at night. But I was determined. Nothing was gonna get in my way.

After I got laid off at New Line due to budget cuts, I lived for six months on unemployment and wrote A NEW TOMORROW, a political mockumentary, which a director I met believed in so much, he took out a second mortgage on his house and funded it. I got to be on the ground floor for location scouting, casting and shooting it. We had a blast, and a made a cool little film that won a couple of awards at festivals that for awhile could be streamed on Netflix and now purchased on Amazon. I can’t tell you what a rush it was to see it on the big screen.
I then worked at Jaffe/Braunstein Films, a TV movie production company. If you look them up on IMDB, you’ll see they produced over 100 TV movies during their ten-year history, and for three brief, glorious years, I worked on about a dozen of them. And, since the company was only six people, I did about seven jobs. In addition to the legal stuff I did at New Line, I did all the paperwork for the DGA, the WGA and SAG. I also did the errors and omissions insurance. And licensed the music. And got people paid. Did delivery of legal documents to distributors. And, since there was no receptionist, answered the phone. And signed for packages.

And kept writing. Every day, on my lunch break, which got a tiny bit easier, as I was finally able to afford a laptop. Yes, Virginia, my first six screenplays were written long hand on legal pads.

And then, as if by magic, stuff started happening. I got a manager who had been the assistant to one of the agents I worked with. Then got hired to write FULL BODY, a pilot for a producer in Australia that I had worked with before they left their gig working at a distributor I had delivered films to. It never got made, and I didn’t make a dime, but I had a lot of fun – and believe it or not, that same guy just got me a really well-paying job doing a rewrite for a big-budget Turkish
animated film that starts in a couple of week. But I’ll get to that later.

Then I met a producer who ended up being one of the team that created GAME OF THRONES, and he became a fan of my work. He now wants me to be one of the writers of his next show, which I can’t tell you about due to a non-disclosure agreement. 
Then the bottom fell out. I got laid off during the great recession of ’08 and was left to my own devices. So, I went on unemployment and shamelessly started hitting up all my contacts for writing jobs. I also put an ad on craigslist for my writing services and started getting ‘civilian’ clients who were willing to pay me a few thousand bucks to write them a screenplay.

I went through another manager until I found someone fairly decent. Not a big-guns player, but someone who could get my work read in Hollywood. And, since I was writing full-time, I was churning out about five-six scripts a year. I’d work on the client script in the morning and then my stuff in the afternoon.

And then another remarkable thing happened. My screenplays started to get really good. All that writing over all those years in tiny increments over lunch hours and weekend afternoons became a full-time job, writing six hours a day, and that was the tipping point. All of a sudden, my resume had 27 features, nine TV pilots and 8 short films on it.

Then I saw that public domain projects were popular, like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, so I wrote a cool little thing called ZOMBIE & JULIET and pitched to someone I knew in passing at New Line who was now a Facebook friend and a fan of my blog, where I serialized my mostly crime and genre screenplays, and low and behold, the executive producer of THE LORD OF THE RINGS wanted to develop it with me.

I then embarked on an incredible six-month period in which I did four rewrites for him and had half a dozen meetings. The film didn’t get made – the budget was too high because 1) I had no real credits, 2) because of the recession – but it was an amazing ride in which I learned a lot and made a friend that’s a fan to this day, and I know someday we’ll work together. (Imagine being able to use him as a job reference.)
And then I got my big break. My manager hooked me up with a producer who was developing THE LEGEND OF FILLMORE SLIM, a biopic about an obscure blue musician who had become a pimp in San Francisco in the 70’s that had Snoop Dogg attached to star in it. I was off to the races. I was to be paid a low six-figure sum to write the script and even had points on the back end. (Okay. One point. But, still.)

But alas, it was not to be. What happened with this project happened over the course of two, very painful years, and could be the subject of another article. You see, I made a big mistake. I was indeed paid for ‘commencement of writing services,’ but I wouldn’t get the remainder of my fee until the film was funded, which seemed to be a done deal. It was all over the trades, right?

But the producer was an arrogant newbie and ended up alienated Snoop with a low-ball offer, and turned off any and all possible investors for the twenty-million dollar budget of the film.

During this time, I kept working on my own stuff and ended up creating a TV pilot version of my lesbian alcoholic detective ‘Legs’ (remember her?) that got some interest at Showtime, where it’s now in development.
After the original biopic producer’s option lapsed, my manager snapped up the rights and is now courting investors. All that hard work is going to pay off some day. The film will get made, just not now, and with a new, much better title: FILLMORE.

I’m now busier than I’ve ever been. In the last six months I’ve had four writing jobs. I did rewrite on BLACK LAMB, a dark crime thriller that will be shooting sometime this fall, and WONDERLAND: RETRIBUTION, a young adult ALICE IN WONDERLAND reboot that’s getting funded via Kickstarter. I also did an uncredited rewrite on AMERICAN KARMA, another indie that’s shooting later this year, and I co-wrote COW TOWN, a sitcom pilot that’s now being shopped.

But the project that I’m the most proud of is my current joint, RIDGEWAY, a cable/streaming series pilot about a crime writer who loses everything and drives half-way across the country to the Ozark Mountains to be with her online lover – but when her past catches up with her, she turns to a life of crime to make ends meet. It’s a female BREAKING BAD meets FARGO by way of TWIN PEAKS with the first female anti-hero not tethered to a man. I’ve got an A-list TV director attached and name talent interest in the lead role. It’s now being pitched to production companies and networks, and I know we’ll get to make a pilot. We’re currently in a golden age of television/streaming content, and there are more and more outlets looking for programming, so it’s just a matter of time.

In the meantime, I’ll be paying the bills from my next assignment, doing a dialogue rewrite on BAD CAT, a Turkish animated film that’s a FRITZ THE CAT for the new millennium, a job my old friend from my TV movie days got me. The graphics are amazing, like SHREK, but with profanity and violence.

For the past year or so I’ve also been teaching an online screenwriting class, which is also a lot of fun. I’ve discovered I’m a really good teacher, and it helps pay the bills between writing gigs.

So that’s my career. Still waiting for that ‘big break,’ but making a decent living, enjoying what I do, and once in awhile writing something that gets made.

And it doesn’t get much better than that.
© 2015 Carole A. Parker
Snoop Dogg To Topline Fillmore Slim Biopic
by The Deadline Team
September 14, 2011 7:50pm
EXCLUSIVE: Rapper Snoop Dogg will star in biopic The Legend of Fillmore Slim, announced today by Ames Universal and SRI Entertainment. Fillmore Slim — real name Clarence Sims — is a blues singer and guitarist. During the 1960s and ’70s, he was also a well-known pimp in San Francisco, referred to as “The West Coast Godfather of the Game” and “The Pope of Pimping.” Shelly Liebowitz is executive producing. Alan Ames, who is co-producing with Wayne Anderson, produces the syndicated TV series Texas Roadhouse Live. He was approached by Sims’ daughter Rebecca, who helped put the project together. Carole Parker is writing the screenplay. “This film will span decades,” said Ames, “from Slim’s emergence as a musician, to his fascination with the fast life, through his years of incarceration and his redemption.”  Sims, now 77 years old, is currently touring. Hawthorne James will direct the film. Pre-production is to begin in December, with a March start date targeted.
Deadline Hollywood
SPOTLIGHT ON … Carole Parker – Screenwriter : Part One
‘I‘m a Noir/Pulp/Hard-Boiled dame. A chain-smoking, hard-drinking, screenwriting beach babe, and all-around dangerous chick. If you’ve got the crime, I’ve got the time …’
Tom Cain, best-selling author of The Accident Man, The Survivor, (published as No Survivors in the US), Assassin and Dictator:

‘Carole Parker writes some of the sexiest, sassiest, dirtiest, ball-busting prose around and one of these days I’ll finally persuade her to stick it in the pages of a book – fiction or autobiography, I don’t care: both would be equally wild. She is also a creature of mystery and secrets, one of which is that behind that titanium- tough exterior there lurks a sweet, caring, loveable woman with a heart of pure gold.’ Tom Cain,author of a series of novels featuring Samuel Carver,: The Accident Man, The Survivor, (published as No Survivors in the US), Assassin and Dictator.
Shelly Liebowitz, Legendary Producer of Music, Television & Films:
‘Carole Parker has a unique style that carries me back to the days of Raymond Chandler. Her writing is fresh yet evokes the days of the great hard boiled detectives. I get caught up and find that I cannot put her work down. I have to read it all the way through and then I’m sorry it’s over. She is my favorite writer today!’ 

Carole Parker – Short Sharp Interview
Do you listen to music when you write?
Carole P)   Always. Depends on the story. Noir, it’s jazz. Spy story,fast-pasted techno. Sleazy crime, sleazy rock and roll … !
PDB) Who is your favourite of the characters that you’ve created?
Carole P) Carrie Love, hands down.Because she’s based on me …
PDB) Your screenplays are very funny. Who makes you laugh?
Carole P) As a kid, stuff like Monty Python,  George Carlin, Steve Martin. Nowadays, I love the extreme, angry comics like Lewis Black, Dave Atell and Bill Hicks. And of course, there will always be HOWARD STERN … !
PDB) Your writing is very vivid – even lurid at times. Are you really a shy, mousy librarian type?
Carole P) Not at all. Although I live a quiet life now, I’ve had a lot of wild, bizarre experiences over the years living in NYC and then LA … which I now put in my work.
PDB)What’s on the cards for Carole Parker in 2010?
Carole P) This is the year, baby.
1) WILSHIRE BOULEVARD is inches away from finding it’s production home. HBO is interested, but we’re now keeping them at bay, and also going toShowtime with a view to starting a bidding war.  The deal is for a theatrical film that will then be spun off into a series.
2) NOWHERE GIRL is in the process of being adapted into a series of four comic books, which after they are published, will become a graphic novel.  Part 1 will come out later this spring, probably in April.
3) Now that Sundance is over, my manager is going wide with several projects,GUN-WILD, LITTLE GIRL BLUE and BLOOD GETS IN YOUR EYES.
4) I’m now developing a new project with writer/comedian Dave Monsterburg, now tentatively titled THE OBSCENE, a micro-budget comedy/horror movie in the veinof THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.  I can’t divulge the plot, but it’s very controversial, and will have the church and parents groups very upset.
Novelist, screenwriter, writing mentor, namer, book critic, knitting addict and chocoholic
Carole Parker is cool
Thursday, March 5, 2009
One of the great things about Facebook is the networking. I met Carole Parker, a screenwriter there and we quickly became fast friends.  Not only is she hilariously funny and smart, but it turns out we frequented the same NYC haunts in our heydays -- from Danceteria to the Kiev to four in the morning 8th Avenue walks home when 8th Avenue was really, really hold-your-breath dangerous.  But the even greater thing is she is knock-your-socks off talented.  A New Tomorrow (poster on the left) is her savvy, sharp mockumentary that takes place around an election, poking fun at the Christian Right, reenactors (my fave), would be rockers, and more.  Her newest script, a pilot, set in 1980s NYC, is  groundbreaking.  Called La Femme Accident, it follows Candy (think Voltaire's Candide) a boy who leaves a bleak existence back home to come to NYC and make it with a makeshift family of friends ... as a woman.
What I loved about the script was all the highbrow references (smartypants like me will love the subtle Voltaire and Wizard of Oz references.) Carole gets  all the club details achingly right, with a few famous characters (think Billy Idol) thrown in for good measure. If this gets picked up, (and it should--it's that good) I am going to nag Carole to let me write an episode or twelve. Or at least a few lines.