George Stevens was the first to know - months before Frank D. Gilroy had even an inkling. As they scouted locations for The Only Game in Town in 1968, Stevens repeatedly handed Gilroy his viewfinder to consider possible scenes. Asked to explain why he was so insistent on this procedure, Stevens answered with certainty, "You're going to direct some day." Gilroy recalled Stevens' words two years later when, unhappy with the limited role of screenwriter, he optioned Desperate Characters by Paula Fox, determined not only to adapt her novel for the screen but to direct the film. Fortunately for film buffs, film historians, film students, and prospective independent film producers, Gilroy is a compulsive diarist who wrote I Wake Up Screening! while he made four independent feature films - each accorded three stars in Leonard Maltin's TV Movies and Video Guide - for a total investment of two million dollars (for all four films!). These intimate logs of the making of Desperate Characters, Once in Paris, The Gig, and The Luckiest Man in the World show clearly that a film school that doesn't include in its curriculum discussions of negotiating with the Teamsters and of raising money by independent producers is leaving out vital parts of the film-making process. Because Gilroy wrote the scripts, raised the money, assembled the production team, directed, opened each of the four films, and even ventured into the murky world of distribution, I Wake Up Screening! is a vast repository of information about film making in general and independent film making in particular. It is not recommended for anyone who wishes to preserve a fairy-tale notion about feature film making. When Gilroy first consideredpublishing these logs, his wife encouraged him. "Do it, " she said. "If it stops one person from following in your footsteps it will be worthwhile."
Frank D. Gilroy is a playwright, novelist, television writer, screenwriter, director, and independent filmmaker. His awards include a Pulitzer Prize (for "The Subject Was Roses), "an Obie (for "Who ll Save the Plowboy?), "and a Silver Bear (for "Desperate Characters) "from the Berlin Film Festival. A member of both the Writers Guild and Directors Guild of America, Gilroy is past president of the Dramatists Guild, of which he is a lifetime council member."