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I just wanted to second Marcel's spot on advice. Unless you're a "best seller" (ala King/Clancy/etc.) or have a top-ten literary agent, I've found it's pretty unlikely a producer will look at turning a book project into film. It's always the script itself that matters (no matter how great the story's potential!), then they'll see... :-)
I've found FinalDraft software super in easing the transition from novel writing form to screenplays. Also, check out http://www.script-o-rama.com/snazzy/dircut.html for a great place to download sample scripts in the genre you're pursuing.
On 8/12/02 D.G. Balazs put up an *excellent* post regarding proper script format and what producers are looking for. (Search for it; it will be well worth your while!) The move from novel writing to crafting scripts can be a big challenge, but also quite rewarding.
Have fun and enjoy! But mostly, best of luck. (And remember to try and keep that baby to under 120 pages.)
RE: marketing novels vs. screenplays
Marketing-wise, I think you'll find the two venues very similar, with the general idea involving sending out query letters in an attempt to pique producers'/agents' /managers' interest in requesting the full work. The benefit to shopping scripts is that this can often be accomplished on line, whereas the fiction industry is sorely lagging behind in this regard. Also, it's been my experience that the turnaround time for script requests (based on initial queries) is significantly faster, i.e., a few days to a few weeks (when submitting by e-mail), compared to months for book project proposals going the traditional snail mail route. Also, there doesn't seem to be the same penchant for "exclusive submissions" in film, as there is in fiction--which can make the process of placing a novel seem to drag on forever. :-)
While I'm definitely no expert, I've just completed the process of adapting two of my own published novels to scripts, and would be happy to share what I've learned in the process. (Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com with any questions.) There is also a book on the subject of adaptations by Linda Seger, although I'd recommend taking her advice--like that of any guru--with a grain of salt. I found a few of her suggestions ran directly contrary to those of a producer who expressed an interest in one of my projects. (You can guess whose advice I'm taking...)
The bottom line is that the writing field is rife with contrary advice, and what works for one person may or may not work for another. Sharing information and experiences always helps, though, as it gives us a general gauge to go by. In the end, of course, it comes down to our own gut instincts and ambitions. :-)
Best wishes and the best of luck, again--with all your work!
So far, so good, with WSN. Haven't been there long, but I've been getting exposure and some pretty good reads. And yes, among the companies searching my work, a few names are recognizable (i.e., well-known prodcos/managers in the industry); others are newer, I suspect. But supposedly, to search scripts at WSN, the companies have to have provable track records. In my case, the producers who've requested/downloaded my scripts have been verifiable through IMDB.com and the managers have checked out, as well.
Has anyone here heard of this guy and his outfit operating out of New York? He's advertising at Moviebytes for short scripts--and offering to pay $1,500 a pop, but I haven't been able to find anything on him at Google or imdb. That is, unless he's the same Peter Cohen as the 60-year-old Swedish movie director (which I doubt) or Peter M. Cohen who wrote/produced the terribly panned (by critics) comedy feature "Whipped"? Any word would be appreciated.
Do you contact other prodcos who've requested that same script, and let them know? (i.e., Hoping it might spur them into making an alternate/better offer...?) Or, does this merely appear pushy, particularly if they haven't had very long to review the script?
Also, assuming you ultimately sign an option agreement, is it industry protocol to contact those others reviewing the same script to formally withdrawal the submission? Or, do you only need to tell them the screenplay's no longer available if they call to make an offer at some future date?
Any thoughts from out there would be greatly appreciated! Still learning how the business end of screenwriting works.:-)
Many thanks, in advance, to any who might answer!
Thanks Steve, Bob and H.J. for chiming in. You all offer some sound advice.
Luckily, I do have an entertainment lawyer lined up who was recommended to me by one of my writers' associations, so that part is all taken care of, when & if the big moment comes. (Ever the optimist...) :-)
Mainly, my question was about protocol for the simultaneous submissions that seem so customary in screenwriting. Coming from fiction where that is frowned on (for full requested manuscripts), I wasn't sure how things worked on the screenwriting end.
You all had some great thoughts! 1) Contact the other prodcos simply to "let them know" and put the ball in their court, and 2) give the second company a limited period of time (not too short, but not too long!) to get back to you if they're interested.
Whew! Thanks guys. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for Hollywood to call. ;-)
Happy writing and happy weekend! (And congrats to Steve for getting repped!!)
I've also had good luck with WSN, and have tried posting both ways (full scripts or only loglines/synopses). What I've found interesting is that, even when my full scripts are posted, I still have prodcos & managers request I send the script(s) by snail mail. In fact--on whole--I've had more snail mail requests than downloads, although I've had those, too.
The tricky part about having your script "downloaded" is there's no way to tell if someone just opened it up, read the first page or so, then decided to forget it--or read all the way through. The same can be said of snail mailed scripts, of course. But I tend to feel when there's a hardcopy request there's stronger interest. Then again, who knows for sure?
My "hottest" WSN script has gotten more than a dozen script requests/downloads. A download of that and another WSN script of mine by a major LA agency resulted in my scripts being considered by major talent, and nearly resulted in two separate option deals set up through the agency with a producer. Sadly, as things sometimes happen in this business, neither one came through. Still, I think in those cases especially, having my full scripts available to instantly download once the reader had read and liked the synopses made all that excitement possible. So, for now, yes indeed, I'm keeping up those full scripts. :)
Welcome to the whacky hybrid world of novelist/screnwriter! One can indeed do both, but like Paula says you really have to develop a love for both mediums (for each definitely has its own unique charms
Another reference you might try is THE ART OF ADAPTATION by Linda Seger. And, naturally, reading through plenty of scripts from movies you admire helps.
I've found, in adapting, it helps to "let go" a fiction writer's commitment to detail and focus more on overall story. Say, for example, somebody asks you to verbally summarize your novel. How long would it take you? Perhaps an oral paragraph or two to give the gist? That itself (your synopsis) is your basic story, i.e. what is most essential to your script. So much of the rest is probably "window dressing."
It helps to focus on the fact that screenplays are primarily written for the eye and not the ear. Not to diminish good dialogue in the least! But yes, likely much--if not most--of that lovely prose will have to go. If you continue writing fiction, though, you'll always find a place for it. :)
Best wishes and the very best of luck with all your endeavors!
Seems like--other at Inktip, as said--the best place to list contest wins, etc. might be in the writer bio section of a query letter rather than in the logline proper. And if I were to list those at Inktip, I'd think of keeping the contest info. brief and putting it in parentheses or italics to distinguish it clearly from the logline itself. I've done this occasionally with loglines based on source material, i.e., (Based on the novel.) for example.
What you have is fine; you can use it just as is, if you'd like. Beat-by-beat descriptions are really overkill for a synopsis. All you need are the broad parameters of the story, key characters, inciting incident and at least a hint at the resolution. Just enough to hook 'em into wanting the whole script, of course. But I do have a few minor suggestions, which you're free to take or leave at your discretion.
First, a little thing... I'd pair down the character list, as only key players should go into a synopsis. (Mentioning the brother-in-law probably isn't as important as Jenny's sister, for instance, as she's tied more directly to the protagonist.) Then, sweeping a bit broader, I'd tighten up language for clarity. Personally, I think using "goofy" is fine, as that relates to the comedic premise of your story, but some of the other wording can be pared down a bit for faster reading and impact. Lastly, I'd be sure to end on a "funny" rather than a "deadly" note, as humor in dark comedy is general the bottom line. Here's a stab at it. Feel free to pilfer from or totally ignore, as you'd like:
Young San Francisco detective agency intern JENNY SWERDLOW is eager for "action," but is assigned the unimpressive role of "Restaurant Detective" by her boss instead.
Charged only with evaluating food and service quality, Jenny gets more than she ordered when her boyfriend's coworker DAVID O'MALLEY dies mysteriously at the bistro owned by her sister.
Determined to get to the bottom of what ultimately is murder, Jenny takes on gangsters, hoodlums, corrupt city officials, and, worst of all, David's slimy boss in her quest to solve the mystery.
Fine food, exotic San Francisco locales and a goofy bunch of characters, with a climax hanging off of Coit Tower high on Telegraph Hill, make for exciting, deadly yet hilarious adventure.
Just reread and realized David is the *boyfriend* not the corpse. :) Ergo...
"Charged only with evaluating food and service quality, Jenny gets more than she ordered when her boyfriend DAVID O'MALLEY'S coworker dies mysteriously at the bistro owned by her sister."
(This assusming Jenny and David are your two star players.)
Best wishes with your listing and good luck!!
The U.S. Copyright Office also offers very complete information online:
Basically, this is how it works. You need to register copyright in your legal name, but are free to use a pen name as you'd like on the cover of your book, etc. To learn whether an author uses a pen name, simply open the book to the copyright page and see whose name carries the copyright. If the name inside and on the cover match up, then the author is using his legal (actual) name; otherwise, what you see on the cover is a pseudonym :)
Sorry, should have added... I'm told the pseudonym issue is similar with registering scripts. For any registration to be upholding (either with the WGA or US LOC), the project in question should be registered in your legal name, i.e., the name on your voter registration card and the one you use to pay taxes. In using a pseudonym, one might say, for example "First, Middle and Last Legal Name, *writing as* Pen Named Author"... Don't know if that makes things more or less clear, but in any case yes, of course, if ever in doubt consult an entertainment attorney.
And, just as an FYI, I've personally written under three variations of my name (copyrighting only in my legal one), and have never had any problems. :)
Right you are, Terri! There's a definite difference between the literary and performing arts forms, but fortunately both are equally simple to complete (i.e., completely self-explanatory... LOL).
The union rules regarding pseudonym use for actors and WGA writers may be a bit different, I don't know. I've only had experience with pen names on the fiction end, and use my legal name on the screenplays.
Again, if anyone has questions/doubts, the best bet is to consult a rep who is well versed in these things or speak directly with the organization in question.
Registering copyright, though, shouldn't prove rocket science for anybody and certainly doesn't require legal assistance to complete. All you need do is download some forms and write out a check. Ever so much easier than filing taxes. :)
I think you all might be referring to tracking boards, such as those over at filmtracker, which are private (by invitation) message boards only studio execs, etc. are privy to. And yes, I do believe word goes out regarding which projects are hot and what industry folks are looking for both on these boards and most particularly by good-old-fashioned word of mouth. Also, Creative Screenwriting Magazine offers a regular "Production Company Spotlight" telling what specific prodcos are seeking, and both that publication and Script Magazine routinely list script and pitch sales (as do, of course, the online resources Hollywoodlitsales and scriptsales.com). There have been various articles/commentaries published on the nature (and some actually argue "questionable" benefits) of tracking boards, which have been discussed at great length over at the Done Deal site. Naturally, another way to stay on top of industry trends and know which places to target involves securing reputable representation, though it's common knowledge that's easier said than done, and is sometimes simpler to accomplish once a screenwriter already has a few credentials--or at least some solid production company interest. In any case, best wishes to you all with your research and much luck with the submissions! :)
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