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As a year has passed since we got together with Karin on ‘Hippy Children’ and as I’m not - as yet - employing an agent on this project, I thought it time to write you an ‘agent type’ letter; this in part because I’m currently interviewing a couple of new agents and there are questions they’re asking to which I find I don’t know the answers.
Also, with the great commercial success of ‘Kids’ and ‘Trainspotting’, and the realisation that ‘Hippy Children’ is similar to them in that it exposes a powerful and hitherto unfilmed section of society with no holds barred, I have become even more aware than before of its potential value; and also of the vagueness in some areas of the verbal agreement we have about it.
If what follows seems a bit rigid, I’m sure our long standing friendship is warm enough to survive an unexpected burst of formality!
So, to the point; although you have said that you’d like to buy an option on ‘Hippy Children’ and I sent you some appropriate documents some months ago, nothing has actually happened from your end and the most likely explanation, it seems to me, is that you’ve decided not to.
Screenplays are like brides used to be until recently - their street value drops dramatically if word gets out that they’ve ‘been around’.
I don’t personally feel too worried about refusals - ‘Cathy Come Home’ had so many, I’ve forgotten the number. However, as you know, I’m planning to apply for backing (probably from the European Script Fund and the BFI) to develop it to first draft screenplay and I feel they are likely to ask me whether the project has been discussed elsewhere.
The extent of my knowledge so far is that it has been shown to:
A person unknown to me at Channel 4 who said he/she would be interested in seeing it again at first draft screenplay stage.
David Thomas at BBC who declared he did not like the subject matter.
A person unknown to me at the BBC who said she thought it would be better as a documentary.
Susie Conklin at BBC who liked the idea but felt it might clash with a project in development about Romanies; she has since then left the BBC.
Hilary Virgo at BBC Birmingham who delcares he likes it.
Because I feel it was a mistake to show it to David Thomas, I have requested both you and Karin to check with me before showing it to (as opposed to discussing it with) anyone else - such permission not to be quixotically withheld.
There has, for example, I think, been mention of an approach to Ken Loach and/or Tony Garnett, but I think such an approach would be far better made by me because of my personal and long standing relationship with them.
I haven’t actually had an acknowledgement of my request from either you or Karin.
The way forward, from my point of view, would be, I think;
a) Can you acknowledge that you are not at this point going to buy the rights?
b) Can you amplify the list so that I know at any rate the names and if possible the comments of people who have so far seen it?
c) Can you acknowledge receipt of my request that you will not show it elsewhere without first checking with me?
d) Finally, as you know, I didn’t feel happy with some of the changes requested to the treatment at a late date; especially if we are to think of it as primarily a television film rather than a cinema film. The version I shall be sending you shortly contains a couple of small changes which I feel important to the integrity of the film and also its saleability.
I am really grateful to you and Karin for taking so great an interest in the project and for your faith in it. Plays are not only like brides, they are also like babies in that their authors worry no end about them; and I hope you may be able to empathise with the worries at my end which have prompted this letter.
With best wishes
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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