View Full Version : Any hope for a Biopic?

11-11-2004, 11:39 AM
I've written a screenplay based on the life of Henry O. Flipper (the first african-american to graduate from West Point). It's been requested and (hopefully) read by a few agents and a movie studio, all of which have said they liked the script but don't think a biopic can put enough butts in the seats.

Should I give up hope on selling a biography and focus my attention on screenplays that are "light and fluffy"?


11-11-2004, 01:55 PM
Not at all. Just know that you might be shopping to the wrong people. This subject might be too small for a theatrical feature. Henry O. Flipper doesn't have the name recognition of Ray Charles or Muhammad Ali. Maybe you should be shopping to HBO or some other television outlet. Maybe you should be shopping to smaller independent producers. Make a list of all the producers on some smaller biopics from the last few years. Get in touch with them.


11-11-2004, 11:54 PM
Just got done reading an article in the latest issue of "Scr(i)pt" magazine about the making of "Hotel Rwanda," a (soon-to-be-released?) biopic about the Rwandan genocide. You might find some names, contacts, etc. from researching that pic. The lead character (played by Don Cheadle) is a hotel manager who used his hotel as a refuge for those being victimized. He has next to no name recognition. The main creative force behind the project (George someone or someone George?) has made several other somewhat successful biopics ("In the Name of the Father," "Rabbit-Proof Fence"). Of course, we've yet to see how this one will play at the box office.

11-12-2004, 01:13 AM
THis sounds more like an MOW (TV movie) than a theatrical release. Try that route. Is there a strong woman character there? Lifetime is looking...

11-12-2004, 07:29 AM
Thanks for all the advise. Perhaps I was thinking too broadly. On my next "go round" of queries, I will narrow my focus.

All the best.

11-12-2004, 04:15 PM
That story sounds awesome. I've never heard of the guy. Could you post a few pages of your script on Script Pages so we could get a feel for it (him)?

Carlton Redford
11-13-2004, 08:44 AM

Weren't you curious that the script was requested by agents and studios who knew from your query or pitch what the story was about and that they were requesting a biopic -- then later tell you that they doubt they could market a biopic?

I had this routine once with a biopic and heard similarly perplexing replies as well as "the subject matter doesn't fit us" -- knowing exactly what the subject matter was when they requested the script. Possibly simply a gauche pass.

But more important, be certain that you've obtained all rights, options, and waivers if your story is based on any previously published material that's not in the public domain, public records, or which is still protected by copyright.

I know it's largely late 19th century but living relatives and estates may also need to considered as to how you've presented them and Mr. Flipper. If you haven't already done so, clear up all your legal requirements by having an entertainment attorney vet the script and advise you so you'll be ready for agent and producer questions about sources and rights.


11-16-2004, 08:36 AM
Thanks for all the good advice. I will do further research on the legal aspects of my story.

I, too, found it odd that a company/agent would request the script and then say it is "not their cup of tea". Knowing full well, what they were requesting. Perhaps the story wasn't tantilizing enough.:x