A Tribute to James Glennon by Debra HollandJim Glennon passed away a few days ago. The news shocked and saddened me. I couldn’t believe such a vibrant, talented, brilliant, fun man was gone. Jim, who’d received an Emmy for his work as Director of Cinematography on the HBO show, Deadwood, had an impressive array of work in his resume, yet he’d remained down to Earth, always ready to mentor others. And I’d been the recipient of his generosity.
I’d met Jim through my previous boyfriend, Guy, who’d made his acquaintance in Malibu. One weekend, the three of us, and Jim’s son, Andrew, had lunch together, then went to see the movie, War of the Worlds. (Which none of us liked.) While in line for the tickets, Jim discovered that I’d written a historical Western romance, and he asked to read it. Surprised by his offer, I quickly accepted, although I warned him that the story wasn’t gritty like Deadwood.
The next time I saw him at a 4th of July party, I handed him the disk of Wild Montana Sky. Over the next several weeks, he read the book on his computer. It wasn’t until I saw his home office and the stacks of scripts and books he had waiting to be read, that I realized what an honor he’d done me by moving my manuscript to the top of the stack.
When he’d finished, he called Guy and left his opinion on Guy’s voicemail. He really liked the story, although he thought it was “a bit flowery at first, but got used to it.” He also said I had “an excellent grasp on the 19th century woman.” Later, when I talked to him, he offered to take 10 pages of the manuscript to David Milch, to see if David would be interested in me working for Deadwood.
Excited by Jim’s offer, I experienced a renewed interest in Wild Montana Sky. I’d become discouraged by the stream of rejections on the book, not because it wasn’t a good read, but because it was historical, Western, and sweet instead sexy. Three strikes against it in the current market. I made another editing pass through the book, then did one on the next book in the series, Starry Montana Sky, just in case David wanted to read them.
Although nothing came of submitting the pages to David, (Jim thinks he didn’t read them) other things occurred. But it took Jim’s death, and a backward review of what has happened since that time last summer to make me realize what a pivotal role Jim has played in my life this past year.
As I reflect on my relationship with Jim, I realized he’d made a larger impact on me than one would have thought from just a handful of meetings, phone calls, and emails. Mostly he was an important link in a chain that formed in that mysteriously spiritual way of networking opportunities.
I’d mentioned to my friend, Bill Freda, an actor who’d been cast in an independent film, Ghostriders, about Jim and the possible opportunity at Deadwood. At the time, I didn’t even know about Bill’s role in the Western. He mentioned me to the director who wanted to meet me because he needed someone with knowledge of the West to read the script.
To make a long story short, I read the script, made a lot of changes, realized I really do know what I’m doing when it comes to scripts, and instead of just consulting, was brought in as the actual writer. Although (as yet) the movie hasn’t been made, I still had a script under my belt, even if the story wasn’t mine.
That gave me the confidence to adapt Wild Montana Sky into a screenplay, which I submitted to the Kairos Prize contest for spiritually uplifting screenplays. When the script made the semi-finals, Jim was thrilled for me. He read the script, made some positive comments, and had a few suggestions, mainly to add a scene he’d really liked in the book, but which I’d left out of the screenplay.
This last weekend, I attended the Screenwriting Expo 5. While there, I realized how different things were for me this time around. Last year at Expo 4, I didn’t have a screenplay, and actually writing one was just a dream. This year it’s a reality. Happy with my progress, I made a mental note to email Jim and thank him again for being my catalyst. I didn’t know that I’d never have a chance to send the note.
I wish I could do a better job at describing Jim. I’m supposed to be a writer, but how do you capture someone’s essence, especially when they are so multifaceted? All I know is that his energy was upbeat and positive. He had a playful way of giving people nicknames such as buckaroo. His mind was always churning out ideas, both artistic such as producing screenplays, or business, for example developing a biofuel company. He should have lived a lot longer to have a chance to realize those dreams.
I have a new agent who’s edited Wild Montana Sky one more time. She’s found some new markets for the book, and sent it out. Once again, I have hope for selling the book. If it sells, I know one thing for sure. Jim Glennon will definitely be mentioned in my acknowledgements.
Rest in peace, Jim. I will always be grateful to you.