Two years ago I was working on a script when the producers hit my writing partner and I with an unexpected question: “Do you think this movie could be shot in Romania?” The movie took place at a summer camp so we thought, “not successfully.” Romania kinda resembles woodsy America, but considering that it was kept at third world status under the Soviet boot for nearly 50 years, we doubted they had a lot of posh summer camps to choose from. But being shameless whores we simply suggested changing the movie itself. What did Romania have plenty of? Castles! Summer camp? Pft. Boring. The change made no sense for the story, but who cared? We wanted to see a castle. In the end I got to spend a month and a half in Transylvania and Bucharest. Yes, friends, you too could win a free trip with screenwriting! It’s a straightforward system, but there are two invaluable rules you should know: 1. Make Your Destination Indispensable. Huge budget movies like Indiana Jones 4 shoot on location to show off. If you’re working on that kind of flick, you don’t need free vacations.

Most movies that leave LA do so for tax exemptions offered by places like Vancouver, but that’s hardly a decision for the writer to make. No, you need to make the production leave the confines of LA. The reason we sold-out our summer camp for a castle was because we’d previously written a script about a cruise ship, and briefly the movie was to be shot on an actual cruise (out at sea) until the producers discovered the cheaper, landlocked Queen Mary down in Long Beach. They weren’t gonna find any castles in Long Beach, if you follow me. 2. Make Yourself Indispensable. Say you’ve successfully achieved your location-shoot project. Well, paying to fly and keep a human on location is pricey, especially on union shoots. The script is already done; you’re an unnecessary budget drain. Even on money-to-burn studio flicks, WGA guidelines make it cheaper to replace you with an on-set ghostwriter. Since I’d been left in LA before, when the Romania thing came along I had a plan. I wrote myself a character to play in the movie.


Worm Miller, Mathiole, LIVING THE DREAM

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