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How to get your story on the big screen


Gio Messale is president and CEO of GiMe Productions

by Mary Yuhas

Gio Messale is president and CEO of GiMe Productions. Most recently, he was part of the producing team for AT&T’s  Love, Making History films: Jenny and Tale of Two  Dads. His first two feature films, Love or Whatever starring Tyler Poelle, Kate Flannery and Jennifer Elise Cox and  Real Heroes will be released in 2014.

Before taking the leap into the independent producing world, he worked at Paramount Pictures on such films as  J.J. Abrams’ Star TrekIndiana Jones 4MI:3, and Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese.  Currently, he is attached to produce: No Baby directed by Matthew Mishory, an Australian film named Skool Night and Kate Danley’s Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker book series.

LitVote:  What elements in a book make it desirable to turn it into a film.

Gio:  I always look for something that tells a great story and moves and elevates me, as well as one that takes me out of my current reality. If it works for me, it might work for millions of other people. Also I look for what is the next big thing. In the fantasy world, there were magicians, then vampires, and now zombies and witches. Who knows what will be big two years from now.

I also consider the author’s fan base. Is the book on the bestsellers list and how many books have been sold? Does that translate into making a profitable film? Is the book a series and does it have franchise capability. The author’s presence in the social media world is very important because the fans will be first in line to buy tickets when the film is released.

But above all, if I am passionate about the book and can see it as a film, I will find a way to make it. For me, It’s about the story.

Recently I optioned self-published book series called Maggie Mackay Magical Tracker by Kate Danley. Kate is a terrific writer in the fantasy world and is currently ranked number 25 on Amazon Best Authors list. I want to produce all of her books. Now my job is to attach a screenwriter and then set the project up at a studio. I am passionate about these books, and I will make them into movies.

LitVote:  Conversely, what elements make a book undesirable?

Gio:  If the story and characters are not compelling to a reader, they will not be compelling to a film audience.  It needs to have the right elements to keep people’s attention for 90 minutes.

LitVote:  If an author thinks his or her book would be a good film, what should the author do?

Gio:  First, become a salesperson for your book. Work hard at getting your book recognized, sold and on the New York Times bestsellers list. If you can get an agent, you are one step closer.

Search for producers or studio executives that have produced similar genres to your book.  If you don’t have their contact information, I recommend IMDB pro (IMDp.com/pro) or the Hollywood Creative Directory, which you buy through the internet although contacting a producer cold is a crap shoot. If you have meet with a producer, prepare a pitch that will make them want them to read your book. If they love it, they will option it. Your pitch is very important.

Another way is to see if one of your “friends” on your social networking sites is connected to that special industry person who will champion your book. That would be ideal. An introduction goes a long way.

Another way is that a producer may read your book for pleasure or might be tracking new releases. If they see film potential, they will find a way to contact you.

LitVote:  Is the book author involved in the film making?

 Gio:  There is not one answer for this as each project has different parameters. For myself, after the book is optioned, I find a screenwriter. The author, screenwriter and I discuss the vision for the adaptation, extract the best parts of the story, and explore fresh points of view, while maintaining the authors voice as well as satisfying the readers. When the film goes into production, the author is less involved.

Authors have adapted their books into screenplays but sometimes getting a screenwriter will give the story a new perspective.

LitVote:  In your opinion, what are some of the best books that have turned into films?

Gio:  There are so many, Gone with the Wind, The Help, The Notebook, The Princess Bride. On the larger scale, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings to name a few.

LitVote: . Author Dan Keyes’ book, Flowers for Algernon, is a short story that was made into the movie, Charly. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. Is it an anomaly to use a short story or typical?

Gio:  There are plenty of short stories made into films: Brokeback Mountain, Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Children of the Corn, even some of the James Bond films are based on Ian Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only short stories collection. Producers are always looking for compelling stories to make into a film. Source material can come from all forms.

LitVote:  What do you recommend to writers who want to write screenplays?

Gio:  It is important to invest in your career. I recommend taking a course at a reputable film school. There is a certain structure that comes with writing a screenplay. Also they are great books out there that you can read. I am a fan of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Be open to feedback and change. Be confident that you are presenting your best work to a producer as you get only one chance and most importantly, be ahead of the trend. At the end of the day, there are only seven stories in the world and it’s up to you to tell that story differently.


Author Mary Yuhas, has over 64,000 reads on Scribd of the first three chapters of her memoir, Quit and Be Quiet, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother.

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