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Hi, I'm new to the board (though not to the site).
My favorite ensemble films are Magnolias, Short Cuts & Grand Canyon.
What makes them good? Each story thread is equally strong and interesting and impacts on all the others.
I've never attempted one because it looks so daunting. You're a brave guy!
At this very moment I'm 42 and a half pages into a romantic comedy. It's very enjoyable because I don't know what happens next.
I'm also following up some promising leads for my other 3 screenplays.
My biggest problem is that I keep breaking off to look at message boards!
My comedy/drama Snowflake missed out too. It's always a bit of a lottery getting past the first cut. The real competition starts with the 320 finalists.
Funny thing is, Snowflake got me a meeting with a well-known producer in LA a few weeks ago who is very interested in putting a deal together. I'm not holding my breath, but it shows that a script isn't necessarily dead when it doesn't advance.
In the script, Snowflake is a kid's pet. Picture me at the producer's office for my meeting. I announce myself to the secretary and she phones through to her boss - "the guy's here about the rabbit."
Ron, you are absolutely right. On the other hand, maybe my script really stinks!
If I don't get a response within 48 hours - forget it. I won't hear anything (though I did once get a reply (negative) after two weeks once.
If, like me, you like stats, you may be interested in my recent experience. Before traveling to LA from Australia in May, I queried approximately 120 Hollywood producers, agents & managers (about 40 to each group) in the hope of setting up some meetings.
My query stated I was a screen writer; I would be in LA 17-23 May; these are my loglines; can we meet?
I had zero replies from the agents; 6 replies from producers (2 script requests) and 13 replies from Managers (8 script requests).
I ended up with 2 meetings. One with a producer, one with a manager.
One past experience, that felt prettty good, but I think the fact I was going to LA for a limited time gave my queries an urgency they wouldn't otherwise have had.
It was a great experience, though.
I agree with Terri. There are many successful movies with extended flashbacks.
What I would ask myself, in your position, is:
Do I need the old guy to be there at the beginning? i.e. does the fact that the audience knows the guy survives to old age help or hinder the suspense of the story?
What if the movie opens in the flashback? Does the story suffer?
Basically, I would challenge everything I've written and make sure I can argue a clear case for it being there.
At the end of that you will either feel comfortable with what you have, or you will have thought of a better way of doing it.
Sorry to butt in, Terri. But be happy for the guy by calling him and congratulating him. If he wants to chat, he will. If not, he'll still be glad you called.
I sent a script to Colin O five or six weeks ago, so I sent him an e-mail follow-up a couple of days ago. He responded straight away with a polite pass.
I'm constantly checking out leads and sending out queries and and scripts/samples. I keep a spreadsheet of contacts and responses (I'm very anal about this).
I figure it's very reasonable to follow up on submissions after several weeks, especially after I've gone to the trouble and expense of printing, packaging and posting out a script (it's bloody expensive to do this from Australia!).
Most of the people I query are happy to respond to a follow up message and I've made some promising contacts in this way.
If you haven't heard from Colin after several weeks, get in touch with him. He's the one who requested material; the least he can do is let you know what's going on.
"And can anybody tell me the name of a major movie that has been produced after being discovered in a contest?"
I think Finding Forrester was a Nicholl winner, but I'm not sure if the contest win resulted in the sale. It certainly became a major movie & made a modest profit.
I think the big contests are worthwhile (Nicholl, Chesterfield, Disney etc) because they are well-regarded in the industry and can lead to valuable contacts. Anothing thing I like about them is that their deadlines are great motivators for procrastinators like me.
I limit my entries to the 'biggies', because I don't see much point in paying an entry fee to an organisation no one in the industry is interested in.
You might find this article by screenwriter Bill Martell of interest. #20 talks about contests.
Jaret (Manager) - Passed on some of my scripts, but I corresponded with one of the assistants there (Victoria) few months ago, who was very helpful. They're pretty small, I think.
Late Bloomer (Producer) - Lee Levinson is a really nice guy and very approachable. He's produced some TV movies and seems to be regularly on the look-out for new material. He's got one of my scripts in his portfolio which he shows around to possible investors. Says he likes it, but obviously not enough for him to buy it or offer me an option. Still, nice guy who always answers my queries promptly.
Zero Gravity (Manager)- Mark Williams asked to see two of my scripts, but I didn't hear from him again and he didn't answer my follow-up query.
I like to do it like this:
INT. JOE'S KITCHEN - NIGHT / INT. SALLY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
INTERCUT TELEPHONE CONVERSATION
JOE Why'd you run out like that?
SALLY I told you not to call me.
For me, it just makes the scene flow nicely and it's still clear what's going on (I hope!).
The previous script example was properly formatted when it left my computer, honest!
"Sorry, but you can't insert two locations into a single slug line."
If you clearly establish for the reader what's going on, there's nothing wrong with doing this. I assumed Jerry was referring to a spec and not a shooting script.
Like I said, shooting scripts.
In a spec script I want a smooth read through and this way of intercutting works for me.
There are certainly guidelines for scriptwriting, but they change too often to be called rules.
As far as I know, his company, J K Livin', is still going. I corresponded with an assistant earlier this year and if I can find the contact details I'll let you know.
Take a look here:
My favorite script is AMERICAN BEAUTY. I've got a published version without direction and it is so well written it reads like a novel. Now, if only I could write like that...
I agree with your less is more comment. Some of Alan Ball's one liners would take me two pages of dialogue to convey!
I haven't read The Usual Suspects, but it's one of my favorite movies so I'd better take a look!
Gosford Park is a funny one. I didn't think the movie worked very well, even though I thought the characters and the dialogue were first rate. The murder mystery detracted from what would have been a satisfying social drama. (Note: From the positive comments around me, I must have been the only one in the packed theatre who thought this!)
I'm ashamed to say I haven't seen Field of Dreams, but it's on my growing list of must-see movies.
Now I'm ashamed of being ashamed.
I've been trying to sell a script that sounds very similar to yours and Kaufman's for the last six months, so you will both soon be hearing from my lawyer! :)
I think these things happen all the time and the thing to remember is that there may be one common starting idea, but a million directions in which you can take it. How many different movies have been based on 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl'?
I live in Australia and have no plans to move at the moment. I visited LA for a few meetings last year and ended up developing a project with, and being hip-pocketed by, a manager there. I also get regular requests for my scripts from LA producers & I've never had an adverse comment on where I live. I'm instantly available by phone & e-mail and only a 12 hour flight away.
I'm also negotiating my first sale with a company in the UK, so I'm happy with my location.
Oh, and I've never been able to get a single script request from an Australian producer!
I've been fortunate enough to be able to write full time for the last six months.
I tend to spend the morning handling correspondence, researching producers, agents etc, keeping up to date with the movie world. I have my current project at the back of my mind during this time while my subconscious is working on it.
At about 2pm I run out of excuses not to write and get started. I write btween one and fours hours from that point and it's usually quite intense. I don't set any goals as I find they restrict my process.
At first I felt like I was wasting most of the day, but I've come to realise that I'm most productive in the morning. Allowing my imagination to wander has revitalized my writing and it's almost like I'm taking dictation in the afternoon.
I haven't sold anything yet, so I can't vouch for the quality of my work, but it's made me very ambitious to make enough money so I can keep on doing it!
You will find a few release form examples here:
I agree that the Oscars should be performance based, but that's not always the case. Last year was a good example, when Nicole Kidman's nose won the best actress award.
Unless there's a drop-dead, no argument, knockout performance, the voters seem to be swayed by hype and/or sentiment.
I'm really too frightened to see the movie now!
I met a manager last year who told me that Robert McKee's Story and Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey are used by major Hollywood producers to assess scripts. I don't know whether that is true or not, but I read both books and found them extremely useful.
Very sorry to hear about your father. My dad died four years ago, though it only seems like a few months ago. I'm glad you have a good support network.
The only complaint I have about the Nicholl finalists is that they are not me!
If you want to contact managers, there's a good list on scriptsales.com (click on Agency List); and you can do a lot of valuable research here on 'Who's Buying What.'
A manager is helping me develop a story. It's been a fantastic one-on-one experience and has helped my writing a lot.
I don't think producers would care about who wrote a great script. A great script is a great script is a great script. A studio would be more interested in the producer presenting the project than the writer (unless it was someone like Shane Black).
I don't think the issue is about producers taking a chance on a new writer, it's more about them being reluctant to read scripts by new writers. Let's face it, most specs aren't very good, and producers like to read material from writers with a track record. That's human nature. It's unfortunate, because many great scripts must go unread - like mine :)
However, those writers with credits were like me once - unproduced and struggling to get so much as an acknowledgement to a query. But they persisted and made it.
We know what your hero is (a bounty hunter) and we know what he is going to do (rescue the kidnap victims). There is nothing unique in this premise, so I assume the difference between this story and the many others in the genre is the 'consequences of his past actions'. IMO, you need to spell out out these consequences and past actions in your logline so that whoever you are sending it to can see that you have written something more than a run-of-the-mill thriller.
You logline should be longer if that's what it takes to convey the flavor and uniqueness of your script.
As for comparing your script to other movies, it's up to you. I described my seafaring time travel adventure as HORNBLOWER meets DIE HARD, but I didn't use that in the logline, only in the letter. I got plenty of reads, but who knows if that made a difference.
Have faith, Faith (if you'll pardon the pun).
I met with a manager last year who read two of my scripts and told me in no uncertain terms, and in considerable detail, what was wrong with them and why I did not have a hope of selling them. After giving me this cheerful news, he went on to praise my writing and asked for ten one-sentence movie ideas. Fortunately, he didn't ask for them on the spot, so I submitted them later.
He picked one of the ideas and for the last few months I have been developing one of them with the manager, who has given me significant input and feedback. We're up to a 20 page treatment at the moment.
Perhaps if you approach the managers who have praised your writing with a few diverse ideas, they may be more willing to work with you. Nothing may come of it, but if they were genuine it seems a shame to waste their positive comments.
I have no idea if my project will go anywhere, but the free professional assistance I have received is invaluable.
Anyone posting on this or any other board is going to get all sorts of advice. Good and bad. And most of the posters will be trying to help. It's up to you whether you take any of it on board.
Regarding books, I read a stack of them when I started out, but when the writers got bogged down with things like 'the correct use of continuous,' my eyes glazed over.
A screenplay is about story and character. The format serves those things, not the other way round.
By the way, you don't have to agree.
I think this thread demonstrates 'continuous' extremely well. :)
Professionals write in whatever way gets the story across clearly and simply. And that's why newcomers get confused when they see produced scripts full of 'we sees' and other devices they have been warned against using.
As long as your work looks like a script you can do whatever you like. It's very liberating when you stop sweating the small stuff and allow yourself to be creative.
I agree; 21 Grams was a great movie.
Just saw Monster and Charlize Theron blew me away. What a performance! I liked the way the movie made me sympathize with her character, yet it did not try to excuse her actions. Another great movie.
Also saw The Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's a very detailed and slow moving movie with terrific performances. I have friends who found it boring, but I sat back and let it wash over me and I loved it.
'Who's Buying What' here at moviebytes has a good list, but you have to pay for it.
The Hollywood Creative Directory is much more comprehensive (www.hcdonline.com), but much more expensive.
The best free list I know is at www.scriptsales.com. They also have a list of agents.
Just made the discount deadline!
Ah, New Zealand - where men are men and sheep are nervous - is a wonderful country. I lived there for 5 years and Lord of the Rings only scraped the surface in showing its beauty.
And DJ, if you want to go there, fly across the Pacific from the States and turn left about 1000 miles before reaching Taiwan.
I don't like 'continuous', because I think it's an extra distraction on the page, reminding the reader he/she is reading a script instead of a story.
I like to think that in scenes where it could be used, I've made it clear by my choice of words.
I had the same experience last year, Gil. Just figured it was sent to the wrong reader. :)
The incentive for an agency to find a buyer for your screenplay is the commission. By charging a fee, that incentive is removed or reduced.
Randy is absolutely right. Run a mile from any agent or manager who charges fees.
I couldn't see any redeeming features in this movie (pardon the pun). It was a sickening orgy of voyeuristic and sadistic violence.
Fortunately for Mel, I'm in the minority.
You left Adolf Hitler off your list. He considered himself a Christian and he certainly gave the other guys a good run for their money.
Evil is evil and a belief in God has hardly proved to be a restraint through the ages.
"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."
[Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 46]
"What we have to fight for...is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator." [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 125]
"It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher god." [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 2 Chapter 2]
"The greatness of Christianity did not lie in attempted negotiations for compromise with any similar philosophical opinions in the ancient world, but in its inexorable fanaticism in preaching and fighting for its own doctrine." [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 1 Chapter 12]
"And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God." [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.174]
"This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief." [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.152]
Hitler was evil, sick and twisted, but we shouldn't rewrite history. My point is that a non-religious person is as capable of evil as a religious one.
D Jay: "The only religion that consistantly kills in the name of their god is the Muslims. (Oh yeah, and there were the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. Kinda the same deal.)"
Any true Muslim has nothing in common with murdering extremists, just as true Christians would abhor the people who, for instance, murder abortion doctors. And as for the Amerindians, didn't the very Catholic Spaniards murder a large proportion of them?
People are responsible for the evil acts they perform, whether or not they use divine justification.
I think it's safe to say that you need to be a Christian to appreciate this movie. If you believe that Christ died to save you it must be a profoundly moving and rewarding experience.
Without this belief (and I'm an unbeliever) I found the movie shallow, heavy handed and unsatisfying.
I realize the movie was made for the faithful and not aimed at people like me. But it is a fine example of the manipulative power of the medium.
This story has been done to death (if you'll pardon the pun). I felt that Mel could have captured more of the essence of Christ's character and showed us why he is so special, instead of taking us through a gory Bible picture book.
Jesus is supposed to be the savior of mankind, but I got no sense of the enormity of this premise or of his character and I felt no emotional involvement.
It may be an 'in-house' movie, but I think Mel missed an opportunty to spread the word outside the circle.
I agree completely, Jerry. The Bible has many wonderful stories that would make great movies. Lots of mainstream movies have a 'message' so I see nothing wrong with Christian orientated movies. Or Buddhist. Or Hindu. Or Islamic. Or atheist. A great story is a great story.
With The Passion of the Christ, I missed the human element that would have drawn me into the story. Mel made a lot of assumptions on behalf of the audience that, in my opinion, reduced the movie's appeal outside the Christian world. A shame, but hey, he made the movie he wanted.
For a general wide release movie I expected more than a passion play. I was curious to see it because of the fuss. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered.
Saying it was manipulative was probably harsh, as most movies try to manipulate the audience in some way. So I withdraw that. The comment stemmed from seeing people sobbing after the showing and talking about how moved they were. Maybe I was jealous, as the movie left me cold.
From my side of the world Michael Moore is a shining ray of light in these dark times. It's a shame so many people want to shoot the messenger.
You make some good points, Alyssa, but I think Mike Moore is motivated by a deep love for his country. He just doesn't like what's happened to it.
For those of us outside America it's very reassuring to hear a dissenting voice. America is a fantastic country and the most powerful nation on earth, so it's a great shame that it has a leader who displays so little understanding of the world.
I agree that Moore's movies are propaganda, but someone has to counter the bull emanating from the White House.
In no particular order:
Phantom of the Opera Motorcycle Diaries Wimbledon Finding Neverland A Very Long Engegement
Whoops! That should have been a list.
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