by Colin Costello
Charlotte Roi is a statuesque strawberry blonde with piercing eyes and a just-as-towering personality that fills the room when she enters.
A quick glance at her reminds you of Jessica Chastain or Jessica Rabbit. While you would expect to see Charlotte in front of the camera, and she certainly owns it when she is, the actress is also a talented writer with a script that she has shot a sizzle reel for called, “The Devil Inside Me.”
It’s a strange little piece that has elements of “Eyes Wide Shut” and 70’s horror films like “Beyond the Door.” After she tells you the story, Charlotte is quick to say that her project is “unsellable.” After seeing the disturbing trailer, a filmmaker even offered to save Charlotte from the devil because he thought her sizzle was so outlandish.
So why on earth do we as writers need our own Charlotte Roi?
A little honest talk about where I am in my career. Facebook, oh Facebook, allows us to show the world what we only want them to see. It’s our own “Wizard of Oz” and we are each Professor Marvel hiding behind the green curtain working its controls. To the world, I’m a pretty successful screenwriter. I’m constantly getting congratulation messages, especially when someone wants me to help them with a project of theirs.
But the sobering truth is that just like 75 percent of other writers in this town, I’m struggling, too. Yes, I’ve had what I consider some minor successes with having two features released. And yes, I had a book published this year (the publisher doesn’t have enough money to really advertise it) and directed my first short film. But I have not been able to attain that certain level of Nirvana that I came here for – landing a manager, not someone who “hip pockets” me, but a real manager who wants to help my career. And I have not been able to sell one of my spec screenplays. Not one. Granted, selling a spec in this current climate is damn near impossible.
So, these days, I wake up feeling “unsellable.” And I have felt unsellable and unwanted for some time. There are really bad days I wake up and go to sleep crying. And there are days where I just feel depressed and isolated.
So, what the hell does this have to do with Charlotte Roi?
As I said, Charlotte’s project is an odd mix of horror and sex. And she considers it to be the “un” word. But that doesn’t stop her. Charlotte has the tenacity and the balls to keep banging on doors with her “unsellable” project until it finds a home. And she is determined.
When I was in advertising, I had a creative director named Bob Scarpelli. Bob was the genius behind the Bud light “Give me a Light” campaigns of the 80s. He always championed creative ideas, even if it didn’t sell at that moment in time. He once told me, “all good ideas find a home.” That was 20-some years ago and it stuck with me.
David Kohner Zuckerman, who founded Virtual Pitchfest, once told me a story once about Louis B. Mayer and what he would do when taking a meeting with a screenwriter. The head of MGM would simply toss the screenplay out. Trash can basketball! And if the writer didn’t thow a fit and defend his work, he would throw him out of his office just as quickly. The one he kept was the writer who said, “this is the greatest script and it’s going to make you money.”
This is a mantra Charlotte reminded me of during the week I met her at the American Film Market – a place where hopeful filmmakers from around the world come to sell their projects.
Charlotte’s determination reminded me that every idea is a boat that does have a harbor it can dock into. We as writers need to remember that when we are down on ourselves and feeling “unsellable.” We, as writers, need to remember that our idea isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone. And we have to keep banging on those doors and sending those queries.
Someone will say, “yes.” It may not be at the time we want it to happen. But it will happen. We have to believe in ourselves. Thank you, Charlotte.