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The guys who pitched L.A. Confidential used post cards from the 50's as a visual aid. It got the execs pretty excited. Their interview was on NPR last Fall.
I'm on the waiting list for that, too. Doesn't look like it's going to happen. Last time I checked there were 47 people ahead of me waiting to get in. This comp is hot. I went to in '96, before they even had the pitch fest and it was still crawling with producers looking for an easy target. Good luck.
Robert Kosberg is open to specs. His company requested one of my scripts that received attention at Sundance '99.
According to the HCD, Robert Kosberg Productions has a deal w/ Merv Griffin Entertainment, so there's some backing behind this outfit.
His company doesn't seem any different than the others who've requested my material. Pretty straight forward. His VP of DEV did request via phone instead of returning the SASE - and they did contact me instead of my agency - but so did a handful of other legit companies.
If you have specs, don't rule out sending a snappy one-page synopsis to these folks. Good luck.
Has anyone run into any companies who try to offer an option with no money up front? There are several such indie companies my manager is speaking with, but they all have the same school of thought. Their credits check out when I cross-reference them on the Amazon and imdb.com websites - as well, they're listed in the HCD. I'm just surprised at this "free option" stuff. Maybe I'm too old school? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a million.
Thanks everyone. I see a lot of diff. thoughts re: options. Since my post, I've pored through more reference books and have found 2 things: 1) In dealing w/ major companies who play by the book, an option should be 10% of the agreed-upon purchase price of the script, and 2) In dealing with indie companies it's anything goes. The plus side to indies is that they generally work more closely with the writer and don't jerk around with overhead/development and other criteria that keeps a script from getting into quick prod'n. I'm sure the line bleeds gray between these two schools of thought. I do appreciate everyone's two cents worth on the subject.
I just visited the Greatscripts.com website after receiving a call from someone in their administration - and here's the sad sign of the times: Writers must pay a $90 fee to post their loglines at this site. However, if you're a producer or filmmaker then the service is free. How did writers get stuck in this hole - when everyone in the industry knows their next big paycheck centers around the next great screenplay? Stars aren't proven money-makers (Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black underperformed at the box office). I don't normally post in here, but just thought this would be more food for thought for other writers.
Stuart Gordon is the producer/director/writer of this company. Some of his works include Space Trucker, Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, Re-Animator, etc. The cast lists of several of his projects boast such names as Dennis Hopper and Edward James Olmos.
The IMDB also lists some of his past experience in the realm of TV prod'n.
Hope this helps and good luck.
Has anyone else out there rec'd e-mail invites for the upcoming pitch fest online w/ Imagine Entertainment's VP and others?
If any of you have done this before please share your experiences. Did you benefit? Was it worth it?
The upcoming class is held online for 3 nights at a whopping $89. My personal thought is that if I'm going to pay to play I want to tbe there in person.
Normally you can take the names off these conference rosters and write to them on your own. However, Imagine Entertainment won't accept queries -- unless they're coded from the online class. (Codes to be given out the first night.)
Please share your experiences re: this online conference.
(BTW, if any of you have the opportunity to attend the annual Writers Network/Fade In conference in L.A., it's really worthwhile - but you have to work it hard.)
You can contact the people involved w/ this conference/pitch session by calling 310-459-5278 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Imagine Entertainment is a legitimate company w/ name directors/producers attached (Ron Howard's company).
I have to admit I'm intrigued w/ the idea of an online pitch session -- but I'd prefer to have spoken w/ someone who's done this before. $89 vs. a 33-cent postage stamp for a query is what's making all the difference in the world between attending or not. I hadn't realized so many companies are out to make a buck off a writer. It's rather disappointing.
Still (to play devil's advocate) a lot of other businesses indulge in making others pay for information. I'm just not so sure these lucrative companies should be burdening writers with these excessive fees so they can pitch their ideas. Making themselves available to a select group (those that pay) comes across as being greedy and stand-offish. (That's an opinion, of course. They may be wonderful people who simply indulge in bad business relations b/c everyone else is doing the same thing. One only need look at the competition listings on this board to see what I'm talking about. It grows every week and they almost always ask for an entry fee - some are outrageous.)
"And that's all I have to say about that." -- Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump.
Maybe I need to re-read the TOS again, but here's what I got out of it: The transaction fee acts just like an agent's fee. 7.5 % is taken from scripts generating up to $100,000. (Less percentage for scripts generating more $$).
If you have an agent, this won't prove to be lucrative - you'll end up paying your agent the 10% fee as well as the 7.5 % fee for the rightsline service. (So, 17.5 % deducted from your sale.)
However, if you're not repped, this sounds like it could be a great deal. Normally, an agent asks 10%. Rightsline has a smaller percentage fee.
There are some drawbacks. With so many scriptwriting programs out there (ScriptThing, Movie Magic), is there a guarantee your format will be downloaded properly for viewing? We all know what happens w/ scripts that have wanky formats.
Also, we can't be guaranteed that VP's, Producers and Development people with legitimate deals to major companies or financial backing will ever visit the rightsline site. (I write this having not fully explored the rightsline site - other than the TOS. I may have to retract a statement or two if I find out otherwise.)
Has anyone registered yet - and what does your agent think about this? I'd love to hear.
Sam (and others),
I haven't tried the Zoetrope site, but I have some students who have. As I understand it, you post your script for free - on the condition you read and comment on four other scripts. (In essence, you would be acting as a reader for Zoetrope.)
The comments are all forwarded to the development personnel at Zoetrope. They pick and choose from there what they would like to consider.
I've heard good and bad. The good is that it's a free opportunity (unless you count time - as most people do - as $$).
The drawbacks: You have a group of other writers reading your work. These may be writers who know their format, elements, inciting incidents, etc. On the other hand, you could get a true beginner who doesn't have an understanding of scriptwriting, etc. Worse, they may not appreciate the genre you write in (war/historical, drama, thriller, comedy, romance?). A good reader may not have sci-fi scripts high up on his/her list of favorite genres, but he'd be be able to tell a well-written script from a poorly-written one.
Again, it's free - but you'll have to consider the possible drawbacks.
Also try pitching at inzide.com or checking out the HCD. If you can't afford the HCD, check out celluloidjungle.com. They list a directory of production companies.
Good luck. (And remember to network with us if you strike up a deal!)
What is your e-mail address? I can be reached at HavenerJR@aol.com. I'd like to discuss some things re: WGA, agents, etc., with you -- unless you prefer we keep it a public forum and start a new topic on this board.
I have a feeling you've already been versed in what to look for in an agent just from reading these boards. (Yes?)
(I'm agented and have a manager in L.A. and thought I might be able to shed some light. Just drop me some e anytime.)
1) Keep it one page in length.
2) Include a SASE (#10 envelope)
3) Offer a logline (a sentence or two that sums up your screenplay. This has to be exciting and sparkle with intrigue. Use choice words.)
4) Include info on any competitions or fests it won or placed in.
5) Give them the b.g. on your past creds (even published works of short fiction are good to mention).
6) Be patient with their reply. A follow-up is not a bad idea if you haven't heard from them in two months.
If you follow up and still don't receive a reply, just make note of that and perhaps try them again a year later after you've rec'd some buzz from other sources. (Trust me on this. A little buzz from one company really makes another company sit up and wipe the sleep from their eyes. Universal Pictures Prod's ignored my occasional queries for the past three years and recently decided they wanted to take a look. I believe this is due to the fact that other companies have expressed interest. Let them know other people are interested in your work when you get to that point.)
I had several communications from Anna last year as well. She claims to have some contacts through Merchant/Ivory in NY -- which is an excellent contact.
I may have ended up with her agency, but found a west coast rep instead.
They treated me very professionally while we were in communications, but I understand other people's reluctance at signing on w/ agencies who aren't listed as WGA signatories. I'm not sure if their status has changed or not, but one thing you can do to protect yourself is add the clause to any contract you sign that "all WGA rules will supercede this contract."
Contracts were meant to be shaped and negotiated between two (or more) parties before the signing. It's an agreement -- but a legal one at that. It's after you sign it that you need to stick with it.
Some agencies have standards -- such as the traditional 10% for domestic sales/15% for foreign sales, etc. See if you can keep the fees in this neighborhood.
Finally, make sure you can get out of the contract easily if there's a problem. Most agencies have a two-way street protocol they follow, in that they can release a writer from the contract w/ a 30-day notice before the contract is up if they're not satisfied w/ the production or performance of the artist. Likewise, the artist (writer) is able to break from the contract with a 30-day written notice, too. This is usually done in the form of a written document which both parties sign. It's a good idea to send this piece of mail certified.
A final thought on finding a rep: I've been reading a lot about a new wave in representation. A lot of actors/writers, etc., are relying more and more on management to help make the connections for them. (Contracts are similar to that of an agent.) If you want a more personal or involved relationship with your career, you may want to consider this route.
The drawback (isn't there always one?)is that some companies have not yet embraced this new attitude.
(This is just an aside. I think there's a big change in the industry -- and it all starts with indie filmmaking. More deals are being made and more talent is being discovered by people independent from the major companies. Since the major companies aren't in the picture at that moment, a lot of writers and other talent are able to get their foot in the door and grab a little exposure -- maybe a contact or two. There seems to be a lot of scrambling for indie product from the big guys once a project is complete. Along these same lines, could there be a shift in power re: representation in our near future?)
(Golly, you flatter me!)
This is a diff subject than the thread started here, but if you want to make sure you don't drop big $$$ on advice, info or hastily-made decisions in the future, check out your local library's copy of "The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to)" by Brooke Wharton. (If your library doesn't have it and you don't have extra buckage to drop on it, then ask the library to order the book for you. Libraries order hundreds of new books and other material every month. Take advantage.)
The book covers deal memos, options, agreements, copyrights, etc. Sounds kind of dry, but it will keep you savvy when you enter into a series of communications with an agency or production company. Believe me, you can make a $25,000 mistake in the blink of an eye if you don't know the lingo and are bullied into signing an agreement you don't understand.
This book will be your legal friend.
As always, best of luck in your endeavors.
The AA folks sent me a competition update via e-mail over the holidays. That communication is somewhat of a mystery to me as I never entered their competition.
I suppose a well-meaning colleague could have entered one of my scripts in the comp -- but why??
I suppose stranger things have happened.
Has anyone been through an option agreement in which the contract states that the Purchaser has all rights to hire other writers for rewrites and polishes? (original author gets first crack at the rewrite -- and must deliver the goods w/i three weeks -- but is not compensated for the rewrite.)
If so, is this the standard w/i the industry?
Is it also common practice to let the Purchaser of your script have exclusive rights to sequels and re-makes of your original story/characters -- in which you would be compensated 1/3 of the purchase price?
Any thoughts or advice on this?
Thanks for your input. Have you optioned any material that you wish you wouldn't have? I'm trying to avoid getting myself into that type of situation. I'm at work right now, but can check the boards later.
Thank you, everyone, for your input. The option agreement does allow me to take first crack at the rewrites/polish. It also allows me the rights to literary publications (novels), radio and stage plays and musical adaptations. What it doesn't do is allow me to take the gross over the net. I understand this is pretty standard -- unless you're Spielberg.
I can't recall which one of you suggested "The Writer Got Screwed" book. Thank you. I own a copy of that book and have been through it many times. Most of the options I've been offered in the past were 2-6 pages. This one is a 15-page document, and they're really covering the details -- all the way down to the waiving of the "droit moral" (meaning WGA or other laws cannot supercede the contract.)
I did, however, happen to find a new representative who has graciously offered to negotiate for me w/ the interested company (for the legal cut), but I like her past record and profile.
This brings us to a new topic -- and maybe we might start another board? The delicate art of leaving your (current)agent for a more high-profile agency. There will definitely be pros and cons.
What a business this is. I can't thank you guys enough for sharing your insight and experiences re: the wonderful world of options.
I think you're right -- if you're a member of the WGA. I've had options, but nothing produced. As I understand it, once you get produced you can buy into the WGA membership. I think once you do that -- there may be some kind of gray area to work with the "aldroit moral" (i.e. that a company's binding rules/claus cannot be superceded by any other set of rules or laws.) Certainly,if this were the case, every one and their brother's dog would add the aldroit moral claus to their contracts. Because I've not seen it (the term "aldroit moral") until now, my guess is that WGA members already have their own "aldroit moral" -- or set of rules that can't be superceded. (Wow!) It's the writers who are not yet WGA members that can get taken advantage of b/c they don't have that pre-existing protection from a guild.
Re: spelling in last entry
claus = clause
(Is Christmas on my mind already?)
Byron asked to see one of my scripts, too. I had my agency send it. Why not take that route?
If you're not repped by anyone at the moment, just make sure it's copyrighted and that you keep copies of all your correspondence w/ interested parties.
Best of luck.
Jack Lechner was the Creative Exec at the Miramax office in NY. He responded to a cold query I sent and requested one of my scripts. I'm repped, but they were willing to request the material submission directly from me w/ the release they sent. I think it's when you get some stronger interest after they cover your script that an agency needs to come into play. (Your agent should be notified if you submit on your own. They usually don't like this.)
Paramount MP Group will also respond (request submission)to a cold query if the interest is strong.
I notice a lot of companies say no right up front re: queries from unproduced, unagented writers. But if there's something that intrigues them in your query, they'll contact you. Miramax turned me down 3 times in the course of a year and a half -- but for some reason, the last query set well with them and they asked for a submission.
Moral? If any given company says no, just jot down the date of their refusal -- then try them again 4 or 5 months later. Good luck.
Colin Vaines is the Exec VP of Development at the NY office. And yes, I suggest the NY office over the Los Angeles branch, as well.
As for Jack Lechner (former Creative Exec), he was very accessible to writers during his time with Miramax. You may want to re-read what he's doing now in my last post -- b/c I see exciting things in the future for the company he's with now. With Lechner at the head of their NY film branch (@radical.media) I expect we'll see some great productions before too long. Keep us posted, and good luck with your endeavors.
Oops. Re: my last post. I didn't mention what Lechner was up to in my initial post. Sorry for any confusion. You can check out Lechner's current gig at www.radicalmedia.com. (Go to the film section. It lists their past creds and current projects. They have a Los Angeles, NY and European branch and are working with names like Terry Gilliam, Jennifer Lopez, etc.)
We'll have to swap Miramax stories and just network/chat sometime. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don't live in L.A., either, but my agent does. You can still make those contacts. Once you're produced and have a little $$, then you can decide about relocating. (A lot of folks stay put, though. Director Kevin Smith still works out of his New Jersey home/office.)
The world of communications has made the world a lot smaller in the past 5 years. It's not necessary to fly to a company to pitch or go over an agreement. Some producers are willing to take a meeting via teleconference these days. Some even insist on it. They tend to be indies who want to keep costs low -- but that's a smart thing. They should all do it.
At any rate, one of the ways you can make connections is to get your material out there in the competition circuit. Some of the high profile contests are the Nicholl Fellowship, Writer's Networkd, Fade In and Sundance. (Like Sundance, Writer's Network and Fade In host weekend conferences in L.A. I attended one and made my first verbal pitch there. Which leads me to the next point.)
Conferences are great places to make contacts. If you're normally a shy person or reclusive, it can be overwhelming. After a day of notes on the craft and the industry you're invited (corraled) into a swanky room for a party. There's usually a big butter sculpture of a swan and some other foodstuffs. This is where you work the room and hope to God you hook up w/ a producer instead of another writer so you can pitch. You start out w/ simple chit-chat. They ask you if you write. You tell them yes. Then they ask you to pitch. You hopefully have thought ahead and prepared a logline (a zingy one-liner) that intrigues them. They ask you more. If all goes well, before you know it, the two of you are hashing out scenes/characters. A very good sign.
You're smart to want to have a few finished scripts before you enter this territory. You will almost always be asked "What else do you have?" (I pitched three right off the bat and they were all shot down by the same guy. He bit on the 4th and wonderful things have happened.)
Once you get that one person's interest, you're bound to get other people's interest. People want what other people have. We all do. We're like little kids in that way -- and producers and agents top that list. A hot Property is like dangling candy in front of their eyes. All the kids on the block want it and have to have it.
You will be your own best publicist and saleperson in the beginning, so you have to make the buzz happen. Nobody will work harder to sell your first script than you. Let people know that you've had some competition success. Let them know how marketable it is. Above all, get that great logline down pat in your head so when someone asks you, you can whip it off w/o thinking about it.
There are probably a hundred other ways to make contacts. Everyone seems to try a window when the door is closed. Hang in there and keep knocking.
To all of you who saw my spelling error in the last post, yeah, I saw it, too. This is just a plea that we don't use up this board for a dozen other English lessons. We all use spellcheck on our scripts/queries. This particular topic board is for Jason. Please post something that will help him along in the industry. Thanks.
Pop Art doesn't offer an e-mail address on the HCD. If you need their address, though, it's:
POP ART FILMS 915 S. Mansfield Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Their credits include SLC Punk and Magician.
In addition to my own writing/producing, I also teach script workshops through the national Collegiate Arts Program (CAP -- formerly Creative Arts Program) at Ohio State University.
A handful of my students ventured into writing collaborations. All of them came back to me asking how to "get out of their partnership."
There are, of course, wonderful experiences w/ this process (judging by the successes from the other writers' posts), but before you start the writing process, it's a good idea to have at least a verbal agreement (a written contract is better).
Beyond the writing chores are the marketing chores -- and this seems to be where my students have gotten themselves into unhappy situations. Who will shop your script? You? Your partner? How much money is your partner willing to spend on postage? How often is s/he willing to send out queries? How often are you? (Postage may sound laughable -- until you figure 66 cents/query at 1,700 possible queries. Then you're talking approximately $1,122 in postage. That includes your SASE.)
It sounds like both of you are of the same mind and share a lot of the same creative ideas -- even inspiring each other w/ new input. Sounds like your creative process is already down pat. If either of you find yourselves working more than the other -- and start to hold grudges or ill feelings, it's best to nip it in the bud and simply ask the other to either help out more, or let you run with the story. If you choose the latter, be prepared to talk about who gets what if you come into any $$. 50/50? Who will own the copyright? Both equally -- even though you (or your partner) may have done most of the writing/rewriting? It's a serious business, and can cause a lot of heartache and bad feelings between friends and writing partners should you ever need to enter into legal territory.
By no means is this meant to dampen your goals and wishes to collaborate. Just thought another perspective might be useful down the road. Best of luck on your endeavors.
For those of you who have been through options on your own, I'm seeking advice:
In the option I was offered, there's an Exhibit 'A' called Short Form Option. Here's what it says. Please give me your thoughts:
"OPTION: For good and valuable consideration, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned (Me/"owner") does hereby grant to (production company/"Purchaser") its successors and assigns, the exclusive and irrevocable right and option to purchase and acquire from Owner all of Owner's right, title and interest (including certain motion picture, remake, sequel, and other ancillary and allied rights) in and to the literary work entitled "Title", written by Owner, including without limitation, any and all synopses, treatments, scenarios, screenplays and all copyrights in connection therewith and all tangible and intangible properties respecting all of the foregoing, whether in existence now or in the future."
The above section is taken from the 14-page document -- and is the only section I'm curious about. We've had one meeting already re: the contract, and I'm very pleased with the changes they made to accomodate me. This particular exhibit A still leaves me questioning. Though I'll receive credit, compensation and some other goodies, I still have trouble understanding that the writer gives up the full (copy)rights to the producer. Is this standard?
(NOTE: I'll receive 1/3 of the purchase price for each remake and 1/2 of the purchase price for each sequel, along w/ first refusal for the job. Any TV-based series is standard compensation. The above section re: sequels/remakes, etc., may have initially thrown some of you off, as it did me.)
If you have any thoughts/advice re: the above statment (granting coplete rights to a company) please let me know.
Thanks very much.
coplete=complete (spelling error.)
Thanks for your sound advice and opinions re: my option question.
(Didi, you answered it specifically. A gold star for you!)
I faxed copies of the agreement to my agent and manager and am awaiting their inputn re: details. (Their initial reaction: Manager: It's pretty straight-forward. Agent: It's an intensive/serious document.)
It's tricky territory b/c I bargained for(and received) extra credit as an Associate Producer as I already had a few interested talents considering the material. Producers and agents are not the best blend, so I'm venturing into unknown territory. I'm also brand new to my current agent -- so we're still catching each other up on my endeavors.
One of you asked about rights to a novel -- and like most of you, yeah, I wrote a novel to better understand (and have fun with) my characters. The agreement allows me to have reserved and exclusive rights to publication, radio, legitimate stage/dramatic rights and author-written sequel rights.
The purchase price is paid in three installments, 1/3 at a time, w/ the final payment delivered upon commencement of principal photography.
The option agreement is 6 months, w/an extension of another 6 months (upon proof of viable interest in the Property).
I think that covers the excellent questions you guys threw my way. If you have any other thoughts/concerns you can think of, it would be very appreciated. Especially those of you who have ventured into the area of producing (or is there another board for that?)
I attended a conference last Spring and a similar question came up. This was re: writing a script based on a published book (i.e., Property already in existence).
The answer was to go ahead and write the script. In your PA copyright form, be sure to list your source for any pre-existing works. Then approach the author w/ your script. This situation happened to 2 guys (names weren't given at the conference) who wrote a script based on a book by Clive Cussler called Inca Gold. They wrote it first -- then pitched it. They said up front in their query that it was based on this particular book. When they were approached about their idea -- they already had a finished, protected script to show.
Your situation is a little different. You would probably need to contact the creator (who is many times the producer) of the program you wrote the script for. Still, I see a lot of TV script competitions opening up -- and a lot of them have a category for scripts written for a specific TV program. (Do those competing writers contact the creators of the program they wrote for? I could be way off base, but my guess is no.)
I would copyright your TV script in the same way as listed above. Make sure you list your pre-existing sources -- whether it's based on or derived from any other Property when you fill out your copyright form. (Ex: Based on characters created by S. Bochco on ABC's NYPD Blue. You might need to explore the HCD or www.imdb.com to make sure you have the correct names involved for the program you're writing for.)
Try www.nolo.com for legal advice -- or the reference section of your library should contain the full volume set of your state revised codes (i.e. California Revised Code, Washington Revised Code, etc.)
The Revised Codes list all the laws of the state from A-Z. You choose the topic (Crime, Traffic, Real Estate, Domestic, etc.,) and the Code gives you the skinny on that specific state's law.
I'm seriously considering purchasing a Canon XL-1. However, I was wondering if it's possible that a better and cheaper (or similarly priced) camera, also with interchangeable lenses, is about to come out? (within say, six months?)
If anyone's aware of such a camera, please let me know. Thanks!
Thanks for the info. Have you tried the Sony VX1000 yet? If so, what are your thoughts on this model/make?
Ever since Blair Witch, all I ever hear about is the Canon XL-1. I was hoping a competing brand might enter the market place and drive down the price. I've noticed that the XL-1 has come down in price already (according to PC Mall magazine, it's dropped over $1,000 since March 1999). I wonder if this lower price means there's something else on the horizon that hasn't been marketed yet.
At any rate, I'll check out the trade you mentioned. Thanks again for your input.
I was contacted by Tom as well. They read 1 script which rec'd an option from another company while under their consideration. They requested a second script and passed.
He was very accessible, though, but I have a feeling they don't want to deal with writers who are agented or under management elsewhere. (Why would they? If I were a producer I'd much rather deal directly w/ a writer, too. We're known to be easier than agents who play hard ball for top dollar. Our agendas are different. One is after big bucks -- the other just wants to see the script get produced.)
That's a very interesting post. I just searched the HCD and the imdb.com website for Mr. Glazier's name and nothing turned up. Do you know what his past credentials or experience includes?
I've not entered that contest, nor have I encountered Mr. Glazier. Still, I find myself curiously drawn to the info you posted. The number of competitions is mind boggling -- and who are all these people asking for money when we don't have a clue what their background is? (This is not directed toward Mr. Glazier. This is a general concern. There are way too many start-ups out to make a buck from a script contest. I even considered it at one point. Oy!)
You know, even when I was in criticism class, the one thing we were grilled over and over again was how to critique. The big deal was that if there's a genre you don't like -- say sci-fi -- you still have to learn to weed out the good sci-fi fom the bad. You still have to pinpoint what made it weak or strong. I'm truly beginning to wonder about the backgrounds of these people/judges, etc. I have read many genres I don't particularly like to venture into myself as a writer -- but they were strong pieces and I was happy to give the credit where it was due.
Last year, Creative Screenwriting did an expose on script analysts/readers. It's the March/April '99 issue. It answers questions and examines comments that were made in this thread.
Their investigation involved paying for the services of analysts, readers, etc. While some of those readers offered meaningful advice, there were a handful of poseurs who didn't even know what an inciting incident was. The article is excellent. Check it out. (Creative Screenwriting, March/April '99, pp. 38-51.)
What is your background and experience in this industry? You seem to know your stuff.
Will you contact me via e-mail re: a possible networking opportunity which may benefit you? My e-mail is email@example.com.
(www.filmunderground.com. Check post on 4/9/00 re: Sundance '99 project.)
Sounds like you might need to go to a reference library and check out the state Revised Code books (California Revised Code).
Better yet, post the company's name here so we can all be warned. A follow-up after a 2-month wait is perfectly acceptable.
And now a question for anyone who wants to answer. What if a company treated you like crap, then tried bullying you into a lousy option agreement. Would you sign? Just curious.
Voigt Entertainment is different than Voight Ent. (as in actor Jon Voight.)
It's an indie company run by Sherry and Dustin Voigt -- located in CA. They asked for one of my scripts, too, but it's been a a little over a month and I've not heard back yet. They were very courteous and professional, though. If you've got a low-budget spec, it may be just what they're looking for.
These are interesting and insightful POV's. Still, Screenwriting Magazine is staffed by (mostly) screenwriters and boy oh howdy, do they have a field day warning other writers about who is legitimate and who to look out for. (Their excellent articles on rating the competitions and script analysts are some of the best.)
I would have to agree with the majority here that you should keep your horror stories to yourself while you're starting out. (BTW, the question I posed re: mean-spirited companies, lousy options, etc., is hypothetical. Thought I should post that in case anyone from the company I signed with searches this board. They are true sweethearts and hard-working people. Hi Jeanne!)
Thanks! I get both and love both. I think they're great little tools. And you're 110% correct. I just took a browse through my old issues and found the one we're discussing. (I think I posted another note re: this article elsewhere on this board.)
For those of you who are interested, the article I'm referring to is "Reviewing the Script Analysts: Seventeen Sevices Rated" in the March/April 99 issue of Creative Screenwriting. It's surprisingly frank (if you compare the thoughts of screenwriters on this board/posting w/ those on the staff at CS. No holds barred. They name names and tell you who's the best, average, below average and poor.) They give details of their investigation. Very interesting reporting.
The article is by Laura Schiff (just to give credit where it's due).
Arclight isn't listed in the HCD. Did you find them online?
Anyone have the skinny on FourSight Entertainment in LA? They're not in the HCD, nor do they have any names listed at imdb.com.
Thanks to whoever can fill me in.
I have the online version, and it's a dream.
You might want to double-check the spelling of someone's name if you come up empty. "Hallie Berry" is really spelled Halle Berry. It's an easy mistake to make and we all do it.
If a correctly spelled name doesn't pop up an answer for you, you might try typing in the title of a film which starred your actor in question -- especially if you feel that actor also served as a producer and/or director. I think this search is listed under "credits" towards the bottom of the page. (This info re: the online version of HCD only.)
Lots of opinions on this one...
My experience is that my agent does jack for me. She became interested b/c I rec'd an option while she was taking 9 months considering one of my scripts.
Have I dropped her? No. Here's why...
She's using me to get the 10%, but I'm using her name to market my other scripts. We all know that more than a handful of the 1,700+ companies require an agency submission. This is where your guy will really come in handy. (Drama in real life: ICM asked for an agency submission for one of my scripts for their client James Spader. My agent stepped in and made the submission to appease ICM policy. It made ICM happy --and it made me happy -- even though I busted hump to get it to Spader's attention. Sometimes you luck out and get a request -- but then they insist on an agent submission.)
If Tom Arbino is a WGA signatory, go ahead and sign. Most agencies have a 30-day termination process if either party wants out. If he doesn't, just ask to include such a clause in your contract. (Contracts are negotiated and every deal is different, though some things remain constant -- like WGA affiliated agents receiving 10% fee/15% fee for foreign).
So if you really want out after you sign, all you have to do is sign your name on a letter that states you're exercising the termination clause as stated in your contract -- and wait out your 30 days. During that month you could search for another source, but we all know it can take well over a year to find the perfect agent -- if you're lucky. Some of us never do find an agent to click with. And some of us never find agents at all.
This is one of the most frustrating things about our business as writers. Good luck with your endeavors.
This board has been kind to me in that I've been able to network w/ a few other writers/filmmakers -- and now I beg twenty seconds of your time for a promo on a novel I had published at www.mightywords.com called The Blue Boys.
It's based on the Sundance '99 official entry selection and Watkins award-winning screenplay Red Hot Charlie -- which is now under option at IndieGal Productions in Los Angeles. (Very cool people!) Here's a logline:
Welcome to the swingy-hot summer of '39 when romance, passion and lust run rampant through the Teddy Arnold and His Blue Boys Dance Band -- not only in their sexual awakening, but in the very music they strive to play.
(Search under fiction titles for "The Blue Boys" at www.mightywords.com. God forgive the self-promo, but this is what we all have to do. Market, market, market.)
The script is a little more tame than the novel. (A warning to younger writers -- there is some adult content and mature themes in the book version.) Get the uncut book cheap before the flick comes out.
Mucho thanks and keep writing!
Heya Randy -- you always say the nicest things.
Now when will I be able to see one of your films? Do you have plans to put any of them online? Let me know when you do and I'll check it out. I guess it's all about which ones get the most hits. Let's promote it on this board when the time is right.
Good luck with your writing vacation. Sounds fun!! (And I'm not being cynical.) Have a great time indulging!
Take everyone's advice and pass on this one.
Laura, Kate and a few others at Storybay contacted me with the same pitch. It backfired on them when the company they said was interested had actually already asked my agent directly for the script.
They still kept sending me invitations to submit to them, in which they would act as a third party or liaison. They contacted me four times -- and each time they dropped the name of a company I've already established relations with.
I sent them a letter asking them to explain their policy and procedures. Do they always make these slight mistakes and drop a "wrong" name? Why would a writer pay them $$ to read their material for (ex.) Blue Tulip Productions -- when Blue Tulip Productions has already requested a copy from the writer? Why would they want to shop a script that is tied up in an option?
I did receive a letter of apology from the President of Storybay and he explained that there was a slight glitch in their computer program. He also said he would cc my letter to his staff so they would be aware of this... Yet I rec'd another request not even a week later. Again asking for $$ for another "interested" company.
It seems to me that Storybay has us all on some kind of mailing list. Our names must get put on -- then they forget to take them off when we request it.
If you're getting invites from others to submit your script -- just hang in there. If you feel you just can't get by w/o a script consultant or analyst, then consider Storybay (though I'd personally shop around for one. It's like buying a car -- you want the very best performance for your $$.)
Storybay contacted me via e-mail. They didn't mention a specific script -- but they did mention a specific company that already has one of my scripts. This is what I brought to their attention.
I have four specs set up at four different companies. Maybe it's coincidence, but they dropped the names of each of those companies each time they contacted me. I can't imagine where they're getting this info.
There were a few other e-mail addresses on the initial e-letter that Storybay sent me. I've been in contact with two of those writers. They feel leery as does everyone, however, Storybay offered to look at our works for free due to the "computer glitch." I have passed on this offer, but I think one of the other writers did submit his Property. I don't know the outcome.
One final thing: Storybay sent a cover and release agreement as an attachment to their e-mail. Did you receive a similar package from them?
Most writers end up promoting and marketing their own specs. If they start getting a little buzz and some company requests, then the agents decide they have enough time to invest in considering you.
I'd say to get your brief, one-page query/synopsis zazzed up. Make it snappy. Send it with a cover letter that lets the company know about your experience in the business. Let them know you're not a slouch. Tell them about your NBC gig -- and mention any kind of awards or placement you've rec'd in the competition circuit. This will help your query get a second look.
If you have the right query, you'll get an invite to submit. I tried Zide/Perry three times over the course of 2 years before I changed it. They bit on the 4th try. Same spec -- different logline. Anyone on this board will tell you that as soon as you start getting this kind of buzz, you're going to get an agent -- but you have to let the agents know about your works, too. Let them know you have company interest -- and if you're offered an option, let the agent(s) know you'll sign it without them unless you hear back in a few days. That's about how long it takes to go over an option agreement anyway.
Also, have more than one spec to present to a company or agency. If they pass on one and ask what else you have, you can whip it right out and lay it on the chopping block.
Best of luck. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to network outside this board.
I forgot to comment on your short production of your script...
Everyone I've worked with, my agent, my manager, the companies I've signed with, really do throw unsolicited items item in the recycle bin -- unless the proper SASE is included (and then they'll send it back to you, unread or not viewed).
You always need that query letter asking if you can submit your material. And because hundreds of people ask, you need to make your query sparkle.
There are 3 other ways I can think of to consider getting your short looked at.
1) enter the competition circuit (Crested Butte Short Reel and Telluride -- both in Colorado, are good.) You will definitely make contacts -- if you work the crowd.
2) ask an agent or producer of any panel on a conference you might attend to look at it. That way you get personal experience and can establish a relationship with them. Most guest speakers (agents, producers, development people, etc.) are pretty laid back at conferences. Then when you submit your package, write on the envelope "Requested material enclosed" -- and make sure you put it to the attention of the person you networked with.
3)Put out a notice on this board (or similar boards) that you want to network with writer/producers. There are a number of us who have bargained to receive credit as an associate producer on our scripts. This means we have daily contact with the optioning/producing company. We pitch to agencies and distributors right along with them.
I've said this before, but no one will work harder than you to promote and market your scripts. You will be your own best agent -- even after you sign with one. (Expect to spend a big wad on postage!! Save your receipts and write it off on your taxes. This is your business.)
Thanks for inviting us to contact you via e-mail re: Storybay. I've taken you up on your offer and hope to hear from you soon.
I do like the idea of a forum where we can chat w/ Storybay staff members.
Also, to add to the e-mail I sent you, the writers who come to this board use it as a tool to help, assist and warn each other of experiences they've had in the industry. There have been some questions re: Storybay's service and policy, but I don't think anyone is slamming this company into the ground. Instead, I see a line of questions and communications springing from this topic/thread. That's exactly why these boards are here.
Your last message posted was great in that you invited us to contact you and also look into a forum -- 2 good ways to keep networking and communicating. I also noticed (from that post) how exasperated you feel at all this "investigating." Believe me when I tell you that we all understand. Imagine how we feel when we have to go through trial and error w/ the many scams that are thrown at us all the time. (This does not insinuate that Storybay is a scam game -- just to let you know that lots of writers have felt burned and drained and taken advantage of. Scams become evident even in the crop of new competitions that pop up every season. Writers will pour out their hearts -- and their pockets, if they feel there's a chance to promote their hard work.)
So, yes, the thread has become long, exhausting and exasperating at times -- but these boards are the way we communicate with each other w/o having to spend $$ on a SASE or phone call. From a business POV -- I know you can appreciate that.
Thanks again for the invite.
Its' been a while since we caught up w/ each other. Drop me some e w/ your news. I have some fun things going on. I'm at email@example.com. Hope to hear from you soon.
All the best,
You want a name actor? You need a deal. WMA, CAA, UTA, ICM -- they all ask the same thing up front -- even w/ properties they're interested in or decide to "track."
We have an optioned script that placed in Sundance '99, some talent requests, no attachments. It's all about who we bring on board first. It's friggin' nuts.
The optioning co. will get a look through Paramount for distribution (through their Classics division) -- IF we attach a strong director.
The director will attach himself IF we have a deal from a distributor. Every where you friggin' turn there's always someone waiting to see who's going to jump on board first.
Agents? For name talent, they'll look at it IF you have a deal. The dealmakers (distributors and backers) won't look at it until you have a talent.
Do you see the brilliant insanity that runs wild in H'wood? It blinds me. No wonder it takes three friggin' years (and more) for these companies to get a medium-budget film made.
There is a way to get started:
1) enter a comp and place high.
2) based on the comp status and a brilliant query, get your baby optioned.
3) in option negotiations, bargain to serve as an associate producer so you can have some hands-on experience. (You will still be treated like crap from the handful of "superiors" you'll inevitably have to pitch to when you try to get a commitment from your talent -- but I'm getting ahead of myself...)
4) With your option, your comp status and your new-found position as an ass. prod. (yes, that's intentional), you'll be able to pitch your goods to the agents of those glimmery stars that everyone just can't seem to live without. How exciting!
BUT WAIT! Here's how it plays out...
You still have to contact them cold. You'll have your optioning company name to stand on, your compt status and all the buzz you've built -- but it pretty much means jack. You will almost always be asked "Yes, but do you have a deal?"
"No," you tell them, "we need your client to get a deal." It's a thing of beauty to watch my colleagues and I bounce back and regroup time after time.
If anyone thinks writing a screenplay, placing in a several comps and snagging an agent is a true bitch, wait'll you market your stuff.
Just dig into the trenches, aim and fire. The worst that can happen is you get hit back. Unlike real war, you can brush yourself off and jump back in like the robotic soldiers we all are, and know that some day soon, we can all retire on the heaps of $$, love and respect the industry likes to shower on us screenwriters -- b/c they know at the bottom of their little hearts that they really can't go on without us.
NUTSHELL: create buzz, option script, bargain to act as ass. prod. so you can assist in bringing talent to the table.
Keep us posted on your endeavors.
Best of luck!
This is Deb. I lost your e-mail when I updated my server. (Sorry)
Do you have a demo or reel of your work? I'd like to bring it to the attention of the company I'm working with. Drop me some e for details. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Max Wong is the exec producer of Bring it On. She used to work at Beacon Pictures. I didn't see her name in the HCD. Anyone have any idea what's going on with her? Is she forming her own company, etc.? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Is it "High Noon" that has the famous clock scene during the duel? Maybe you can spoof that, b/c it almost borders melodrama as it is. (Lots of cuts to the ever-ticking clock, lots of squint-eyed cowboys and twitchy trigger fingers.)
There's also that famous soap-opera/western series Lonesome Dove and all its spin offs and sequels. I think the first Lonesome Dove installment includes some green cowboy kid getting attacked by a nest of vipers in a river. (Could be loads of fun w/ those big, springy rubber snakes! I actually think you'd have a ball choreographing and shooting a scene like that.)
Another sequel (actually a prequel) is Dead Man's Walk (if memory serves), which gives us a small band of Americans walking across a deadly desert pass. You get great lightning storms, vicious native attacks, bear attacks, bandits, executions in a Mexican camp -- you name it.
Sounds like good fun. Hope you're enjoying the process. Keep us posted!
You say that most prod'n companies don't accept unsolicited queries. The ones that do accept, don't read the script themselves. Instead, they pawn it off to their readers - whose opinion or coverage isn't really taken into consideration.
You have to be careful what you post here, b/c you very well could offend a Director of Development or a Creative Executive or a Story Editor -- or any number of people on the Development team of any given production company. These are people who are paid to find the scripts they feel are suitable for their company. Their opinion is highly regarded, and their coverage notes are passed on to their producer or president or CEO or COO. Development people will never charge a screenwriter to cover their work. It's their job to read and search for those gems. That's what they get paid to do.
You then add that Storybay is a team of "professional readers." I won't dispute that Stoybay may have gifted people working for them (I don't know -- I've never seen their own specs, have you?) But I've corresponded with a few of Storybay's team players last summer, and while the president was polite enough to offer an apology to me for getting their "wires mixed up" - it's evident that Storybay remains another third-party transaction entity. How many more hands do we need to get a movie made from script to screen? More and more, it seems that if someone can't make it otheir own, then they go out and find a way to become part of the industry. More guilds, more clubs, more rules, more hands in the process. It's getting polluted, wouldn't you say?
A few years ago, I paid $$ to have one of my scripts analyzed and picked apart. I didn't like what was offered as it was based purely on opinon and couldn't strengthen my structure or other elements that I was most interesed in. I was told that my script would sit dead on a shelf. My script went on to Sundance '99 and is now under option. Trust your own instincts and don't dilute or water down your specs b/c someone feels it is too edgy or not right for the market. (On the same token, sound advice on strengthening a script should be carefully considered and applied if necessary. Writers should be able to tell the difference between someone's helpful criticism and someone's opinion.)
I invite anyone and everyone who reads this to pick up a copy of The Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook. Almost every single person or company interviewed puts the power in the hands of the writer. Without a good script, you cannot have a good movie. Bottom line. Maybe the industry needs to practice what they preach and quit screwing over the artists with the blueprint for their next production.
Agents and managers are there to do what Storybay (and others) claims they'll do. The only difference is that the WGA-affiliated rep won't charge you anything up front. They get paid their standard fee (10% domestic, 15% foreign)when you get paid. If Storybay wants to attract potential writing clients, I think they'd do extremely well to offer a similar contract.
Please e-mail me and I can send you a sample query that garnered an option for the spec.
Rule of thumb is the briefer, the better. Use choice words.
My experience is that it depends on the company. I had one independent who contacted me 3 days after I sent the letter.
Paramount responded in a month. Miramax in 5 months. I think big companies get around to it -- eventually. It helps speed things along if you have an agent and have rec'd an option or gained some kind of buzz in the comp circuit.
I graduated from college w/ the ever-handy English degree. My professor and head of creative writing (a published author) beat it into our heads to get our facts straight. There is such a thing in the world of book publishing called a fact checker. This is actually a person who goes through the ms and checks out every detail for accuracy. Unless your story is set in a fictional town, there'd be better a Slaughter Road in Chillicothe, Ohio if you say there's one...
I can't recall the title of this popular book (a sequel -- it will come to me over the weekend, hopefully, and I'll post it), but it's an excellent example of what happens when a famous author decides to do her own editing and forgoes the fact checking. The story -- set in the sixties, uses the 1-800 number in the plotline -- and we all know the famous toll free number 1-800 didn't exist in the 1960's. This particular author rec'd a lot of criticism for not having the facts checked professionally.
So fact checkers are real and they're out there making a living. They're excellent for books -- but film and TV scripts take a lot of liberties. The decision to use one for a script is solely up to the writer, but if you write the great American novel, you can bet your last thin dime a fact checker will be attached to it at some point.
Look under the "Writers Wanted" tab at the home page for moviebytes.com. It's a small listing, but there are people/companies you can hook up with if they like your script.
hcd also lists the companies -- but it costs $$. Also check out ifilm.com
Write a quick, smart, brilliant short. Produce it on your own. (Use your local cable access station to help out -- or a University -- acting students will do this gladly). Use your finished, polished demo as your new business card.
In this competitive business it pays to be more than just a writer. You need to be your own little industry to get your work out there. A short film or video that shows off your stories and storytelling abilities will get you places.
(Randy, I'm notorious for losing e-mails. Will you drop a line at email@example.com? I'm upgrading to either a JVC GY DVD500 or 700 model. Have you seen what the 700 model can produce? What's it look like? The 500 blows away anything else I've seen. Beautiful! Crisp! Difference in price is about $5,000 - $6,000. Still have 2 features in prep in LA with 2 diff companies -- but am embarking on some true indie endeavors so I can call my own shots. Let's network some more. What's the skinny on your project(s)?)
Many thanks. I checked out session 109 as you suggested. We've pretty much decided on the JVC -- still trying to figure which model (500 or 700). If you do attend -- and you get the chance to view images from the 700 model, will you drop a line? We have an appt. this week to look at the 500 model.
One financier to beware of: Film Capital Corp. The Pres. contacted us a few weeks ago w/ the good news that they wanted to bankroll the entire budget for one of the scripts that's in film prep in Burbank. But a warning flag popped out in the letter of intent and contract. She wanted an upfront fee paid in check form and sent to a PO box -- and sent via a special delivery service. The policy of the company I'm co-producing with is to not pay up front on this type of transaction (all back end deal stuff when it comes to finance). Anyway, I did a little research and found that she had ripped off several filmmakers. Apparently, she cashes the checks at some pawn shop in Nevada to avoid dealing with a bank. Pretty crazy. Just want to get the name out there in case you happen to run into this company. (One of the companies that used to list their contest on this site was a victim. They unfortunately paid $$ and never heard back -- even though they filed a lawsuit, etc.
(Sooo, anyone else who bothers to read this, do not send anyone any $$ up front for their financial services. You are out to collect $$, not give it away. Make a deal on the back end. And make sure you have a top sheet or budget summary to ofer your potential investors.)
I have more news, Randy, but I'll email you.
Check out surfview.com
Also check overseas corporations, b/c even Ed Burns (actor/writer/director) is having trouble getting one of his new projects funded.
You guys think writing is tough? Writing is a piece of cake. Getting an option is piece of cake. (I say that w/o malice b/c I've gone that route.)Try producing a feature to really have the wind knocked out of your sails. 2 things will happen -- you'll become a better writer and you'll make more contacts (but you'll also face the chopping block a whole hell of a lot more).
When a company has you under consideration -- it means they have invited you to submit your script so they can take a look. (They don't do this for everyone. If you get an invitation to submit, you're doing better than most writers.) The requesting company will have you under their consideration for a possible option (which can lead to a possible production).
Option agreements don't come into play until they read your script, pass around the coverage and decide to contact your agent (or you, generally w/a release) because they think they can get it into production.
Sadly, many scripts that are optioned never make it into production. And many produced films never find distribution. Sobering, isn't it?
Several months ago, our independent company politely passed on the services of this "financier."
The marlenemendoza.com website address resurfaced in my mailbox and I thought maybe other writer/producers might appreciate a warning flag.
Apparently, the website was created by the company formerly known as Bad Kitty Films after they lost $$ through this person's services. (Note: Though I have had communications with Bad Kitty on this subject in the past, they had nothing to do with re-sending me the url to the above-mentioned website.)
This is just a heads-up PSA for writers/producers who are aggressively seeking investment for their film projects. Please check with your writing/producing community (and perform a thorough company profile search) before you sign contracts that involve large sums of $$.
I think it was Joy Czerwonky who was looking for a sub script -- not for herself, but for an F/X guy who wants to produce it on his own.
Joy is a line producer, and reportedly, has a lot of acquistions and financial experience.
Joan got it right -- the info was in the latest WSN newsletter. I believe Joy Czerwonky had 2 listings. One was a request for sub scripts, though she's not the direct buyer. Looks like she's acquiring this for an Effects guy who wants to produce and/or bankroll the thing.
If I just built or acquired a water tank for shooting, I'd want to find a script that calls for it, too. If I had a sub script, I'd definitely pitch it.
Good luck to the writer(s) who can follow up on this!
I just read this entire thread and have enjoyed myself immensely.
Same deal. My former manager sent one of my specs at their request -- only to find out that Story Bay is acting as their third party liaison (reading service). They asked for a fee. We ran the other way. I'm all for entrepreneurship (Hey! Let's make up a competition and make some money! Let's put together a reading service and make a buck!, etc.), but I'm completely against making writers pay for a reading service WHEN a company shows interest and offers an invitation to sumbit. That should never have been allowed to happen. There are too many third parties with their hands out in this business as it is. (What have the readers at Story Bay written? Are they produced? Not being facetious. If someone knows, please inform us.)
typo error alert:
"sumbit" in my last post is "submit" -- just to clear up any confusion and keep a spelling thread from starting.
They requested and passed on two of my specs. They probably thought they couldn't do Jack with them. So I pitched them on my own and got a couple of invites over at Diversa and IFG. Might not lead to anything, but then again...
The main reason for posting this is that it just proves once again that no one will work harder at promoting your own material than you.
Take the power into your own hands. You know your stories better than anyone else. (If you must, must MUST have an agent to make those occasional "agency submissions only" -- you can always get hip-pocketed for that particular spec.)
I hope others can find success with Linlea. If not, find it within yourself. It's there. It's where you keep all your stories -- along with all that fire, blood and heart writers are made of.
Wouldn't everyone agree that if you produce films, you must first go out and find the right script(s)?
And if you're too busy for that then you hire a development department (i.e., 1 to 4+ people who can sift through queries and pick promising ones).
And if you don't have money for that, or can't get a business loan to hire readers, you really shouldn't be producing films at all.
What has happened to producers? The majority don't seem to care about writers or scripts (the blueprint of a film!) -- only where they can find a cash cow or kick back.
Has anyone read Variety lately? Has anyone noticed the industry is not what it used to be? Everyone and their brother's dog can make a movie now. It must be pretty scary for non-talents and third parties to be staring down the loaded barrel of the digital revolution's smoking gun. They must be making deals with each other right and left in order to secure their futures.
What will they do when artists can finally distribute their own art to the masses? It will be a long, cold winter for them. Maybe we can charge them a small fee to be part of the new industry.
What do you think ?
Check out ifilm.com for online distribution for indie projects. This will act as your calling card. More than a few indie filmmakers have struck deals with Paramount, etc., through this online route. There are many more online distribution sites.
And when you're not busy with that you can still pitch your specs.
Yes, filmmaking is a business and we should all expect to pay business expenses (writers: toner, paper, submissions/postage, conferences, trades, time, etc. Filmmakers: tapes, heads, lenses, hoods, camera(s), tripod(s), dolly, crew, time, etc.)
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your camera. We upgraded our digital to a JVC GY DV700. Let's talk some shop & figures, but away from these boards so we don't clog up the space for other writers.
Drop me a line at email@example.com. It's been well over a year since we networked. I'd love to hear your news. I think you were working on a military spec last time we corresponded (?).
Check your e -- I sent you some related info.
See Amores Perros...
I'm totally inspired by this film. The writing, directing, lighting, set design, acting -- all the elements come together. A beutiful, vicious film.
beutiful = beautiful (typo -- sorry)
When ScreenArts wrote to you, did they send a general form letter -- or was it addressed to your attention (your name), and did they ask you to submit a specific screenplay?
Curious. Hope you can offer some insight.
Glad to see some creative talent coming out of the military. My grandpa was killed in WWII in New Guinea on a volunteer mission - the mission that would have let him and his men go home early had they survived the ordeal. They found parts of their reported plane crash, but the bodies were never recovered and are still considered MIA.
I met with a group called AWON (American War Orphans Network) -- and there's a rich, ripe orchard of stories there waiting to be plucked.
<< As far as the other comments like Bryan's about young writers, I concur. They do not have enough experiences in life to write anything interesting >>
Randy, Randy, Randy,
You made me think of a former writing student of mine (OSU screenwriting seminars). He turned 16 during the workshop, and had a lot of baggage. The kid was one of those military kids who has to move around all the time. He said his life was a yo-yo, spinning from popularity to getting the crap beat out of him. He'd ace at school, only to get caught smoking weed at another school. He had many labels from the education system, his police record and others: slacker, brilliant, special needs, ADD, regular student, thief, umarried father, honor roll, HIV-positive, etc.
At 16 he had a lot of stories to tell. Hopefully, he's more settled now. At the time I met him he seemed world-weary and ready to lighten the load -- and writing was a therapeutic tool. I was of the same opinion as most of the adult ("seasoned") writers on this board. I changed my tune. A young life can pack a lot of horror, a lot of missteps, and a lot of triumphs. They do have incredible stories to tell. They might not have the technical skills or craft down, but like the rest of us, they can book up a book or go to a class to learn the tricks.
If you have a contract, you probably have a built-in clause that will allow either you out of the contract.
If you do have such a document, double-check the clauses. Usually, a company or party will allow you to terminate a contract if they fail to secure work for you w/i a certain period of time. (Every contract is different. Mine has a 6-month period of time re: early termination. I've seen some that offer a 4-month clause.)
Your contract will also tell you how to terminate. This is usually in a written letter that both you and your rep will sign. Pretty easy, really.
Finally, there shouldn't be hard feelings as it's just business. Don't burn bridges. If you must leave, leave gracefully.
I kid you not ... Your manager sounds so much like my first agent (who has since lost her WGA status). Drop me some e at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can compare names and horror stories.
Did you see the Variety write-up? Bender & Spink are forming a partnership with the founder of Storybay (Bill Papariella) and Richard Bard (is Bard the Denver-based mogul .. or is that Richard Schmidt I'm thinking of?).
Their new company is called Brand X.
The following article on Storybay (and similar companies) was taken from Business 2.0.
Arm yourselves with this info ...
BOX OFFICE BOMBS
by G. Beato
"Inefficient and resistant to change, the billion-dollar-plus entertainment literary marketplace seems like the perfect business for some digital upstart to come along and disrupt. Many sites in addition to Warrington's Storybay are hoping to cash in on the potential market. Somewhat surprisingly, however, these sites have relatively modest intentions. Instead of trying to revolutionize the industry, they're mostly positioning themselves to service the existing order.
"Perhaps their conservative approach stems from the reception Warrington got last October, when he dabbled in the online script sales market. With financial backing from major Hollywood producer Steve Tisch (Forrest Gump, Risky Business), Warrington and two partners launched Gocoverage.com, a site designed to improve the coverage process, at least from a production company's point of view. "Production companies end up spending a lot of money on coverage because they want to read everything that agencies send them," explains Warrington. Recognizing the inefficiency of the system--scripts are gone over time and again as each production company scrambles to obtain its own reviews--Warrington and his partners introduced a more economical model. "Our idea was to get all the latest scripts from the production companies, do the coverage ourselves, then make that coverage available on our Website." Production companies that purchased subscriptions to the site could then obtain coverage on far more scripts than they could otherwise afford. "Basically, they'd be getting thousands of dollars of coverage for a few hundred dollars a month," Warrington says.
But as much as production companies loved the idea, writers and agencies hated it. The way it works now, fallout from negative coverage generally extends only to the production company that commissioned that particular set of reviews. But Gocoverage.com could theoretically kill a script's chances all over town with one quick thumbs-down. "No screenwriter in the world thought this was progress," says Alex Lasker, a longtime Hollywood scribe. "One cranky reader can destroy six months of work in a couple hours," he exclaims, illustrating with the story of a script he'd written with fellow screenwriter Pat Cirillo. "Pat's agent sent it out on a Wednesday, and it was a hot script. By evening, three or four producers had expressed interest. Then Gocoverage got the script, and on Thursday morning it posted really scathing coverage of it. All the interest from the night before suddenly vanished."
Needless to say, Cirillo, Lasker, Cirillo's agent, and every other screenwriter and agent in town weren't exactly pleased with the new service. "It caused an uproar the level of which people had never seen in Hollywood," recalls Warrington. Major players all over Hollywood were competing with each other to see who could scream loudest and longest at everyone involved with Gocoverage. After less than a week of operation, its creators shut down the site."
From Business 2.0
There are a probably more than a few writers on this board who have been contacted by Storybay (myself included).
Scott was very gracious the several times he and his associates have called. However, they can't do anything with my scripts as they're already at other production companies. So the interesting thing, of course, is how do they determine if your script is truly in need of their coverage service when it's already tied up elsewhere? Both scripts they called about are set up elsewhere -- and these are not companies who are associated with Storybay.
I get what they're doing -- trying to make a buck and carve a name for themselves in the business. But not at my expense. And it shouldn't be at yours either. It shouldn't be at any writer's expense.
If a producer wants your script, let his Director of Development or Creative Exec cover it. And if they happen to have a team of readers -- let them read it. I can say this w/o malice towards producers, b/c I'm trying to establish myself in the realm of producing as well. Producers need to do their work, too -- and not hire a middle man to charge the writers (who are already kicked around enough as it is).
Would you all agree that there are already way too many third parties in H'wood as it is?
That being said -- the Storybay co-founder (Bill Papariella) has aligned himself with a few legitimate producers/partners to form Brand X, a new production company. You could try to pitch to them directly and see if they take it, or see if they get Storybay to cover it. Interesting assignment.
If your option offer is for a fair amount of $$, I'd stick with that. Everyone and their brother's dog is offering what they call "free options" these days.
It sucks b/c it's not fair. We have actors and directors asking for outrageous fees -- but nobody seems to want to toss a dime to new writers. So, if your option isn't a "free" one, take the $$ and run -- just check them out on the imdb.com site before you do (and don't sign an option for more than 12 months. If they can't raise the $$ by then, they're not going to.)
Best of luck!
I signed an agreement w/ Andreas Gruenberg last April. He was very open to shaping the contract according to the situation.
Free option is typical -- but he's also interested in co-productions should you bring any attachments (or even strong leads) to the table.
He has also mentioned gap financing in the past (though this was for a different project I have set up elsewhere).
In my communications with him, he's been straight-forward and accessible.
3 things ...
1) Bjork (the singer/actress) challenges herself by going into a bookstore and grabbing a random book. She closes her eyes, opens the book and places her finger on the page ...
When she opens her eyes, she looks at the word she's pointing to and makes herself write something about that word.
I have tried this and it works. You will get some crazy challenges -- but it's great fun.
2) Try listening to music. Not your fave radio station or CD, etc. Get a whole collection of diff genres from your local library and sit on the couch with a handy batch of notecards or paper nearby. Just let the music take you to another world, another mood -- or see what kinds of images pop up in your mind. If anything really strikes you, jot it down on paper.
The key to this exercise is that you MUST use various genres of music. Put on some Strauss, Roy Rogers, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb -- go for classical, jazz (traditional, acid, etc.), pop, folk, gospel, ragtime, R&B, etc.
3) If you're really burned, nothing will help but a break away from it all. Go live. Go fly a kite, swim with sharks, eat a cupcake, look at the moon, buy a Coke. Whatever.
Just go live.
And then go write.
Anyone have the scoop on what happened to the whorepresents.com website -- or where it might be hiding these days?
Thanks in advance if you help.
For Mary Kay who wrote ...
"Have any of you really had any success getting scripts to star's agents without having a deal already behind your script?"
This is a definite help -- if you're producing and have some $$ to offer up front (even if you don't have a deal with a distributor). Most of the top agencies have the "no pay, no play" policy, but there are a handful of boutique agencies you can bargain with. WhoRepresents.com has been invaluable for quick info. Hope it's back up and running soon. Even their last e-mail address seems to be defunct.
If you go to anywho.com and use the searh words "Monaco, Mike" for the state of California, there are 5 listings.
The 2 closest listings to the LA area were Valley Village (Studio City area) and Ventura. Hope this helps.
I think I'll go out on a limb and go to bat for this guy.
Edgar has asked for several of my scripts (6 to be exact). He has passed on almost all of them. But he feels he has a buyer for one in particular and we are now continuing talks.
I see that a lot of people are down on the fact that Edgar worked as a caterer or in craft services. I have, too -- on an indie level. And as a locations scout, driver, etc. Unless you're someone's niece or nephew, you'll probably start out the way a lot of us are starting out -- at the bottom rung of the ladder.
One thing to remember is that all of these people who really hang in there and work the business are going to make the right connections in the long run. So, it's beneficial to have some respect for your hard-working colleagues in the biz. You certainly don't want to burn bridges.
Example to illustrate my point: Warren Zide decided he wanted to represent writers. He was told no by hordes of people b/c he wasn't an agent. Then he went to bat for himself as a manager. When he first started out, he probably didn't know any more people than the rest of us. But he sold 24 specs in a 24-month period of time (Fade In magazine) -- and now look how much prestige he has.
Since so much of it is about who you know, the best thing you can do is broaden your contact base. Perhaps Edgar Cayago has contacts that can help get your script to the next level.
Yeah -- it sucks that Edgar passed on some of my scripts, too. But the one that caught his eye (for whatever reason) makes it worth the rejections. His buyer may slap a great big pass on it, too. But it's another chance. Chances are hard to come by in this biz. Don't throw them away.
I'd suggest letting him (or anyone) read your script. If he (or anyone) asks you to consider paying for a script consulation, just explain that you've done that already.
In fact, if you're the one who has already had 2 consultations, let him know that. (Also, if these 2 consultations or analyses were similar -- what more do you need? However, if they were different as night and day, how many more opinions do you want to keep paying for? You can even voice these concerns to your interested party -- if they inquire whether or not you want consultation.)
Finally, let Mr. Cayago (or anyone else) know the status of your script. If it's been requested by a handful of companies or placed in the comp circuit, that's usually a strong selling point -- and a message to whomever reads it, that your script doesn't need tons and tons of analysis or development.
Whoever buys (or even options) your script will want to make changes anyway. That's a given. Once an actor is secured, the script will change. Once a co-producer comes on board, the script will change. Everyone and their brother's dog will find a way to lower the budget, raise the stakes, rewrite a scene -- what have you. But I'm getting into 2 different threads here.
Out of curiosity, were you happy with your script feedback?
Paula writes: "I asked what he had done. He replied back with "what script was I talking about?" I don't have time for this crap and neither does a true professional."
Excellent point to bring up in this thread, Paula. I think that could be 1 of 2 things: a person who has a lack of organizational skills and is just out to scam -- or a person who needs better organizational skills and is truly connected.
I can only say that I have done this type of thing before myself. I was hip-pocketed at Epstein-Wyckoff for a time, and when they called, I had to ask what screenplay they were talking about. If you're like me (and most writers), you send out info to many people about all of your specs that you feel are ready. So you may have word out there on a good half dozen properties. When someone calls and wants to chat about the script you submitted, etc., it's perfectly OK to ask which one. Let them know you have others that are making the rounds. It may even prompt them to inquire about other scripts.
I'm trying to put on the producer's hat -- esp. a producer who has publicly announced (in trades, online, etc.) that she's accepting screenplays.
I'm now trying to imagine reading through the tons of loglines and proposals and replying with a quick "I'm interested. I'd like to take a look."
Now imagine that all of a sudden, the small group of 15 people I've contacted are submitting their scripts and they all come in at once. And I'm still corresponding with the numerous logline submissions that are flooding my mailbox. I think I'd definitely ask "which script" so I'd know to go back and look at previous communications, logline, screenplay -- or what have you.
And then I'd see about hiring an assistant!
Storybay has fought long and hard to carve a niche for themselves in the industry. They are now a third party with several connections. (The connections are a handful of companies who utilize Storybay's services b/c they feel they're too busy to cover material on their own).
Is Storybay any good? Check out any of the Storybay staff names at imdb.com and see if they have any creds listed as writers.
My personal experience is that they could not help me since I have attachments to my script already (though they did call several times asking about it -- only for me to remind them that they couldn't help me at the stage I'm now in).
Since they're not WGA signatory agents, and not managers, and not really producers who can step in and co-produce or helm a project, they appear to be a new reading service who has worked hard to gain some kind of credibility.
Whether you want to spend money and time on a reading service for a third party (which could ultimately lead to another hoop for writers to jump through), I'd say weigh your options carefully. There are other companies and producers willing to consider material without the aid of an outside reading service.
While I'm on my soapbox, who the hell do some of these production companies think they are? If they want to consider your script, they should read it (or even a treatment or the 1st 10 pages). Remember who holds the blueprint to any movie ... you do, the writer! I don't know how things got so turned around and mismanaged in the system. Writers should be treated with more dignity. Just think if every writer sat on their specs and pitches for one month. The industry would panic, panic, panic. Hmmm ...
H.G. wrote "Someone above made a great point about creating another hoop to jump through."
That was me, H.G. Also, check your mailbox, I sent you a letter re: this thread.
To the rest of the moviebytes community, take note ... Storybay and other such services look at unproduced writers as naive writers. If they can get rich off your dime, they will. Any business would. Simple truth. Sad truth. It's like they say in the Godfather -- "it's not personal, it's just business." And a ruthless one at that.
Sean Riordan Posted: 07/18/03 07:04 PM
Has anyone who submitted a script to Colin O'Reilly received a rejection letter? Just wondering if he is contacting everyone, or just the ones he wants to represent.
Mr. O'Reilly called re: representation. However, I just signed with the Susan Gurman Agency on a different script (hip-pocket deal), but we're continuing talks to see how we can work around it. He did feel that one of my specs would be hard to market, but he liked it and feels he might be able to get a producer attached. Still a long way to go, but he's energetic and enthusiastic. I remain in a hopeful state of flux at the moment. His post has created such a buzz on these boards -- it's almost frightening.
"not even taking a few seconds to respond " Pass " to people who are in desperate need of a little dignity, doesn't make it the right thing to do."
I agree. Business is business -- and I would hate for Marc to burn any bridges with us. Just think? The pitch he ignores could get requested from Miramax Acqusitions (which mine did, due to attachments), or could find a reader at WMA (which mine did), or could receive talent interest from UTA (which mine did), or could find an agent (which one of mine did). I would hate for him to have to lose out, because he has been (above all else) a beacon of light throwing a little ray of hope our way.
Double-check those pitches, Marc! Other people have been picking up the nuggets you've discarded. (kiss, kiss)
Your pitch, as it is, leaves me with a few questions ...
1) If the aliens crash-landed on Earth, how could Vina be breaking a law by intruding upon their territory? (Now maybe this doesn't take place on Earth, but if not, then you need to make sure the reader or listener knows this.)
2) I'd like to know how Ginneshlav can help Vina. Why must Vina team up with an alien that feasts on humans? No doubt this question in answered in your script, but in pitching it, I'd like to know more up front.
Having said that, the "short pitch" you're working on reads more like a rough draft of a one-page synopsis. Have you tried to pare this down and come up with 1 to 3 sentences (i.e., a log line) that sums up the story?
As it is, I'd rather know a lot more (a one-page synopsis or a longer treatment) -- or a lot less (a simple log line).
"she sees a UFO crash" I assume Vina is a human on Earth.
"two aliens here, Cudra'al, the one that crashed, and Ginneshlav, who's pursuing her because she's breaking their law by coming here."
"So this is not an invasion, in fact these aliens are inherently opposed to killing, except their food, of course. Unfortunately that's us."
So, first they're good (they don't like killing) ... then they're bad (they need to kill us to eat) ... sends out mixed signals ...
However, that makes me think of people who love to eat meat products -- but loathe factory farming or other questionable animal treatment. (Is there a deeper, hidden message here??)
Try another draft. It needs to be simple, clear and compelling in order to compete with the pitches today. Everybody and their brother's dog has a script they want to peddle.
Also, please don't feel ruffled. If you ask any one of these writers on this board, they'll probably be glad to share their pain on how many drafts they went through to make their pitches sparkle.
Best of luck to you!
I don't know if this will help ...
I wrote back to Colin with an update on a spec he's interested in. This was at the Origin e-mail address.
He wrote back under a completely different addres, and then also proceeded to offer a third e-mail address, which is the content address ... so, maybe he's trying out several servers to see which one he'll stick with (????)
The content e-address was the most recent.
Kathleen Shaw and Rick Scott are at Suncoast. Kathleen's on the imdb.
From the DGA:
Freelance Low Budget (any picture budgeted up to $500,000)
MediumBudget (any picture budgeted over $500,000 up to $1,500,000)
High Budget (all pictures budgeted over $1,500,000)
Under other Guild guidelines, if a budget is 7 mils or over, it's considered a big budget picture. I think it's around 2 mils and under when it's considered a "low" budget picture.
Also, Movie Magic Budgeting is a great (but pricey) tool.
They have a website at www.oceanblueentertainment.com if this helps. They requested one of mine, too.
Personally, I'm rather enjoying the e-mail submission route these days. Less time and money on my part. If you have a good, clean PDF copy of your script, you never have to worry about the format changing -- plus, no one can get inside the script and alter it (as they easily could with RTF or other word docs, etc.)
Good luck with your submission! Let's keep each other posted. I'm at email@example.com.
"Also, does anyone know what they're record is?"
www.imdb.com has Richard Brennan's credits & experience listed. Also, I use PDF files for all e-mail submissions. Ever since Project Greenlight, it's one of the standards for e-mailing script transmissions.
Someone else mentioned Movie Magic on this thread, and that's what I use. It will also let you save your script as other file types (PDF, RTF, etc.)
They requested one of my scripts and passed on it -- then they requested the same script again. What does that mean? I don't know. Crossed wires.
The last I heard, he was no longer listed as a WGA affiliate (though you can check at wga.org).
If you don't have anything at all going on with your specs -- and he's offering to help, go for it. But if you have your spec out to a few companies and have placed in some comp's, you're probably already beyond what he can help you with. I think I read at one time that he had a connection with Malpaso Films, but don't remember the source. You might try typing his name in quotation marks ("Lenny Minelli") on a google search to see what other info you can find on him.
Jerry H. is right on.
I'm co-producing a feature with Diane Cornell (If Lucy Fell, 29 Palms, etc.), and we found out the hard way, too, that the agents at the big houses (WMA, in our case) insist that everything be spelled out - including what we put in a brief, one-page synopsis. They don't like second-guessing any more than we do. They want to know right now what the payoff is. Teasing is what you want on a book jacket or a movie trailer. Period.
Storybay ... the further decline of screenwriting opportunity and accessibility between writer and producer.
Note of interest:
I also received the "offer" from Cinevision, but that script is in prep elsewhere. I enjoyed letting them know that in a diplomatic way (just in case there's some kind of virus w/i their server/system that's sending out that e-mail pitch.)
About an hour after I received that e-mail, I received an e-mail from the Cedar Grove Agency, but it was addressed to Cinevision. In a nutshell, Cedar Grove let Cinevision know that they were appalled at their "scam."
Why would Cedar Grove's e-mail for Cinevision end up in my mailbox? It was clearly addressed to Cinevision. This makes me wonder if there is, indeed, some kind of e-mail virus at Cinevision. If Cinevision does have a virus, perhaps they're not aware of the damage it's doing to their reputation.
Either that, or they need to pay off a loan shark quick!
Who knows how often the wga.org websites (east and west) update their agency listings. As of this hour, Mr. Minelli is not listed as a wga affiliate. You should ask him if he's currently affiliated -- or if he has such plans for the future.
He's listed on the imdb.com as a craft services worker on a late 1990's film. Further, his agency is listed in the 2004 Writers Market. That listing states that he will charge writers for postage and long distance calls, so make sure you e-mail him during your initial dicussions -- just to save yourself a dime.
This question is for all you writer-producers out there -- and if you're from Canada ... even better!
The setup: In the US, producers' fees generally range anywhere from 125,000 to 250,000. This depends on several factors (clout, experience, budget of picture, etc.)
Is there a going rate for a Canadian producer's fee? This would be to shoot a feature in Canada, using Canadian content. Or does that depend on other factors, such as the nature and scope of the feature? (If so, let's use $12,000,000 as a budget figure.)
If you have any insight into this, will you let me know? Many thanks!
(Nutshell: Producer's fee for a 12 mils picture to be shot in Canada)
Without a protagonist, you don't have conflict.
Without conflict, you don't have a story.
Someone mentioned earlier in this thread: Man vs. God, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society.
Without any of that, you have something that's more of an essay than a story. You could end up with an experimental film; a collection of images and sounds to invoke a mood or get a point across. But if you don't want to go that route, study your character again and ask yourself these questions:
1) What is my character's goal?
2) What or who is keeping my character from reaching his/her goal?
Look at how you answer that last question. This is your antogonist.
3) Does my character have an arc? (Does s/he go on a journey from being happy to sad, or from being cruel to being compassionate? From cowardly to brave?)
These things will help define your character and clarify how s/he reacts to the obstacles encountered while trying to achieve the goal.
It sounds run-of-the-mill now, but do check out some of the chapters in any screenwriting book just for a refresher. Linda Seger writes some good stuff. I'm sure every one of us gets a little cocky about where we are as screenwriters, but it's always humbling (and rejuvenating!) to go back to the books to get that refresher course again.
Note: Going "by the book" does not mean you're caving in to a closed Hollywood system of structure. It means you're opening up ideas and possibilities that may have been overlooked. It's about research and exploration. You supply the creativity and imagination.
David responds to antagonist/character study question ...
"Society, law enforcement would if they knew about it, but they don't so nothing is keeping him from reaching his goal. Even his own morality seems to be on hold. If the serial killer knew my character wanted to kill him he would be the antagonist, but he doesn't, so no one is keeping my character from reaching his goal. Therefore he reaches his goal."
It sounds like your main character is having a conflict with his self (Man vs. Self). You write that his morality is put on hold, therefore, we know that some kind of traumatic event happened in order for him to tuck his morals away in his pocket for a period of time. Long enough to extract vengeance? Justice? This is a great inner conflict. How many of us could plunge the knife in the back of someone's neck or pull the trigger, point blank, in cold, calculated murder? (I'm not talking self-defense, here.) I think we might hesitate before we stab through flesh and bone because we do have a sense of morality -- and that deep down, we feel we would become the same kind of person we're seeking vengeance on. This is great stuff for inner conflict to turmoil. But passion, hatred, vengeance blinds people. That's why we have that temporary insanity clause in court. Crimes of passion change us. Good stuff to work with.
The very fact that your character has ignored his sense of morality is a huge conflict right there. He can be blinded by anger, pain, whatnot -- but somewhere along the way, we should see some kind of remorse or hesitation or guilt.
It also sounds like your main character has a conflict with a serial killer. It sounds like this is all backstory, though. (Does the audience see an actual murder of someone close to your protagonist character? OR do we get this information as the story/plot unfolds -- making it more of a mystery? Why is this guy stalking a serial killer?, etc.)
I have seen Double Indemnity, but it's been too long ago to comment on it.
Has anyone tried to enter the Int'l Screenwriting Awards online, and if so, did you guys have any problems with submissions?
Also, do these folks have a phone number?? I've got their fax, address and e, but not a phone. Any help is welcome and appreciated.
Sue, I think I know what Charlotte is saying. At the Grey Line website there are guidelines for e-mailing them info about your script. In other words, you can send an e-query.
I, too, have contacted Grey Line re: matters other than a script submission, (a co-production, actually) and have received similar treatment from Ms. Miller. It's disheartening to see others receiving this kind of treatment. I guess the best thing is to just move on, know that there are others out there willing to work with writers -- and just live a good life. Don't let this kind of treatment weigh you down.
He's working for Damage, Inc. now -- a shingle of Bender/Spink. He was a lot more accessible back when he first posted.
Maybe you can help get my award certificate to me. I placed 3rd in the first comp they held. I received my $$, and got to go to the conference, and all that jazz, but I never received my certificate. They were supposed to mail them to us, but to no avail. It sure would have come in handy as a reference for the agents and execs I've come into contact with over the years. The script was called "Red Hot Charlie" -- and it's actually in prep now with director Gil Shilton attached. If you can help, that would be great. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
I agree with you that Diana DeGarmo (sp?) seems like a real nice kid, and I wish her luck with her career, but your quote got me thinking about age and paying dues and all that.
Teremia Nicu, a Romanian "AIDS" orphan at "Happy Camp", didn't live beyond the age of 10, and yet I look at all that kid did in his young life and have to say that he paid his dues and he had his big dreams. I think you can be any age and have incredible dreams and goals. As for the baggage that only comes with getting older -- I don't know. You can certainly go through a lot of shit in your young lifetime; divorced parents, drugs, being different because you have unusual goals, disease, poor health, mental illness, being misunderstood, rejection, etc., etc. I'm enjoying my adulthood, but when I look back on my pre-teen years, it's not with a great amount of joy. Those were incredibly hard times because I knew what I wanted to study, but didn't have the means or support. Maybe that's why when I hear Diana DeGarmo or some other kid her age say they've put in their time, they've been working -- or what have you, I get the feeling that they're not kidding.
I forget her name, but there was a kid from the Columbus Ballet Met who moved to Chicago to be the voice for a Teddy Bear doll back in 90's. That girl was always so chalk-white pale because she never saw the sun. She was always practicing her dance when the other kids were out playing or swimming. That kid (Caroline was her first name, I think) gave up so much for a short stint as a dancer. There's so many more "kids" out there who really work against the odds to get a little dusting of the industry glitz so they won't be forgotten.
Paying dues, carrying a heavy load, and working until your back is about to break and your eyeballs are ready to pop out are not partial to adults.
Anyhoo, I feel a lot of tangents ready to fly off my fingertips, but will close for now. Good topic, though!
Does anyone know which office David Heyman works in at Heyday Films? LA or UK?
Does anyone have the lowdown on C & M Entertainment Group in Florida? They list a P.O. Box number, but when I cross-referenced the phone number they offered (786.306.8211), a couple of different businesses came up. One was for Adult Entertainment and one was for a Jewish organization. Odd. But I don't want to disregard them in case they're legit and good people with a strange phone mix-up.
I'd like to find our more before I send their request, so if any of you guys have heard of or have dealt with them before, I'd love to hear from you.
I have a job, a husband, mortgage bills and 3 stray cats -- but I'm sure if I won my employer would be so happy to get me out of her hair for 2 months that I'd get her blessing. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I want to enter even though all I have are feature specs and 2 short films under my belt. If I can handle learning the TV format and come up with a cool idea, you can bet your boots I'll enter. There are responsibilities, and there are opportunities. There's also fear (of change, failure, the unfamiliar, success) that keep us hidden safely away behind our monitors and keyboards. You don't need a contest or a producer or an agent or a 6 figure deal to validate you as an artist -- but damn, wouldn't it be great to have that in your pocket all the same?
Hey, this seems like a good thread to announce our latest effort. I don't know how to add a live link here, but this address will get you to a review of our latest short film, "Stay Clean".
The film reviews are listed in alpha-order, so just scroll down to "Stay Clean" and you can see a fun pic and review.
"Stay Clean" borrows elements from "The Twilight Zone", "Dazed and Confused" and "Alice in Wonderland", with a little Busby Burkley choreography thrown in.
Our fab music composer is Neal Havener (yeah, he's related), who has created and performed original scores for several indie flicks, MTV's "The Undergrads", Comedy Central and Planet Channel.
The screening went well, and we were picked up by another theater for a screening in November. We'll gauge that and see if it's ready for the rigors of the festival circuit. If there are other writer/filmmakers out there, drop a line.
Randy, how is your short coming along? Did you go w/ B&W or color? Good luck!
How dare anyone take advantage of an aspiring writer, but since they did ...
Go to www.bbb.org and click on the link to find your local Better Business Bureau.
You might want to e-mail the local New York City office, too, and see if there's a listing for this management company.
This is political, but it does tie in with your lives as writers & artists, so bear with me.
Has anyone noticed that the Boston Globe, The Washington Post and several other newspapers have recently written about the 80 billion dollar tax break for big corporations -- like GE?
Didn't GE just stick it to us and raise rates -- while we put our dreams on hold to work additional jobs -- while our previous, decent jobs have been packed up and sent overseas to someone else?
How does this affect you as a writer or artist? How many of you have lost your state's Film Bureau, as I have? Any kind of incentive or assistance to our field (film & arts) has been slashed and burned. Yet, the gov't feels it necessary to give these big corporations another huge break. Who needs the huge break? GE? Big Corporations? Or you and your family?
We're forced to pay taxes on the pennies we earn. Big coporations should have to pay taxes on the dollars they earn.
The deadline is looming for them to pass this new tax benefit on to the wealthy. You can contact your state senators in the next few hours by phone or e-mail and ask them to please ...
vote NO on HR 4520.
Time is running out on this one.
If you do not know who your state senator is, go to google.com and type in Your State and the word "Senators"...
(Example) "New York State Senators" or "Florida State Senators". Use quotations (" ") around your search words to get better results.
You should get a web page for your senators that will have contact info.
Writers tend to get shit on from all sides. But you actually can have a say in this matter. Protect yourself and your meager bank account. Ask your Senator to stand by the people and vote NO on HR 4520.
It's appalling that this is even being considered.
I use Movie Magic Screenwriter, but have run into some major tech issues. So, I went to their website under screenplay.com, but am still having trouble after following their instructions (for a damaged file that will not print to PDF).
When I tried to call the tech support numbers offered, I get a recorded voice massage that says "good bye". Surely they haven't closed shop ???
Does anyone have the scoop on where Screenplay Systems, Inc. has gone? Has someone bought them out? If so, do you know the name of that company?
Thanks for replying.
Greg, I did go to screenplay.com and updated my software, but am still having that same problem.
I work in a reference library, so I can at least dig into a few more sources to see if I can find out what's going on.
Paula, I like your suggestion, and have also deleted several old files, but to no avail. I appreciate your willingnes to help. If you guys can think of any other routes I would be thrilled to hear them.
Hello -- and thanks to all you guys for offering your insight.
I was able to get a reply -- and great advice from Ken Haberman at screenplay.com. He will forever be a hero to me. He came through with the trick I needed while I was under a deadline.
If anyone else is still having trouble creating PDF's from Movie Magic, here's his advice. (Even if you upgraded Movie Magic Software previously, as I did, you must do it again.)
1. Make sure Movie Magic is closed.
2. Go to your Start Menu, into Programs, and click on Movie Magic Screenwriter. In the cascasing menu, click "Check for Internet Updates"
3. An Update Information window will appear, which will show the status of your connection with our (screenplay.com's) web site.
4. Select clibpdf.dll (or any other files that you need. This particular file is for creating PDF's)
5. Click on OK
Movie Magic is now updated!
(Thank you, Ken!!)
Does anyone have an opinion on what they feel is the best -- inktip.com or Script Shark, for posting spec info?
I see from Script Shark's site that in the upcoming months writers will be allowed to go into their own posts and edit their info. Silly me, I thought it was the norm for writers to be able to go in and edit their work w/o having to first send changes to a site's tech/edit support team.
Just thoughs -- but am really curious what other writers prefer.
Before I get attacked by well-meaning writers who feel the need to point out my glaring typos, I will beat you to the punch -- "thougs" was meant to be typed as "thoughts".
Thank you for your support!
I pitched a couple of things to Helise and she agreed to take a look at two of them, and ultimately rep one. She was very gracious.
Unfortunately, I needed a WGA-affiliated agent for a specific submission re: talent consideration. She was up front about not being an affiliate -- which I appreciate tremendously.
There was one odd thing, however. I did not know that she had been editing my final draft screenplay (based on our director's notes) before we even discussed an agreement. Just found that really unusual as no other agent I've encountered would dream of editing a script that was already in prep -- and w/o an agreement. A very courteous gal, though.
Wow! I dropped by to see who was dropping who's name and was pleasantly surprised to find mine. Thanks, guys, for your kind words and well wishes. You're all heart (and maybe that's why you can't help scribbling out all those fabulous stories:)
Got requests from Buzz Media, Zero Gravity (but am already happily repped), and No Hands Prod's -- however, this was prior to placing my specs on the pro site, which I did 2 days ago. Will let you know if anyone bites.
Also, Frederick, is there a way we can tell who is looking at our details and synopses in the logfile? Thanks!
Robert McKee is awesome when it comes to self-promotion (we should all take a tip). But I would suggest going to imdb.com and looking him up to see his list of writing credits. You will be surprisingly amazed.
As for the book, it has some good stuff in it, but no matter what you read or who drops their little pearls of wisdom your way, always apply the 10th rule -- and that's to throw out any of the other 9 rules if need be.
Maybe a few of you old-timers that are still around from the inception of moviebytes might remember me from a handful of sporadic posts here and there. We finally (and officially) launched our independent, in-house company, Pretty Egg Productions. If you guys want to check us out, we're at www.prettyegg.org. I value your input as this is our first website attempt. The design and our news link will change over time.
Also, if anyone still has dial-up, some of the graphics on the pages will load slowly. Sorry about that.
Enjoy -- and be inspired! (And if we suck -- it will inspire you to leave us in a trail of indie dust:)
PS: If anyone plans to attend the OIFF, come say hi. We have a Thursday, Nov. 10th screening. Would love to see y'all there.
Congratulations on the Deep Ellum Fest. Very exciting! Which one of your projects got in? The one w/ the 1940's flashback? Did it screen already? How did it go?
The OIFF is the Ohio Independent Film Festival. The link is www.ohiofilms.com for the schedule. It's held in Cleveland every year. We already had an Ohio premiere, so this one will be the world premiere. Yeah. In Cleveland. Just our style. But as Drew Carey says, Cleveland Rocks!
To Andy and gang: Check out this site for festival listings: http://www.marklitwak.com/film_festivals/festival.php
To John, thanks for the invite. I sent you a longer e-mail re: this. Hope we can meet up in the next few weeks.
To Randy: You know I love those scenes w/ the lanterns -- and anything from the swing-era. Some day I'll be lucky enough to catch a screening of it somewhere. Until then , best of luck. It sounds like a real gem!
It's in limited release and is making more per theater/screening than King Kong. The following info is from imdb.com's studio briefing news 12/29/05:
" ... The so-called gay cowboy love story emerged once again as the highest earner on a per-theater basis among films showing on more than 50 screens. Brokeback earned $13,599 per theater, far surpassing the $9,305 for King Kong and $8,225 for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Brokeback is currently showing in only 217 theaters, roughly 7 percent the number that are showing the two box-office leaders."
If you do a google search for a specific name or thing, try putting quotation marks ("") around your search terms. Example: "JM Northern Media".
The following info is the first hit from such a search ...
2004 DIY Book Festival Call for Entries Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC. ... JM Northern Media LLC Attn: DIY Book Festival 7095 Hollywood Boulevard Suite 864 ... www.bookflash.com/releases/100784.html - 16k - Cached - Similar pages
Courtesy of your friendly neighborhood librarian
Does anyone have info on a company called Oh Drama Entertainment, or on Damon Banks who is one of its execs?
Thought I'd add my name to the list of C.E. ponderers. A very cordial man named David Klein who runs Aquisitions at C.E. became interested in a co-pro on a project we're running with out in LA. He had asked for our budget and copies of our LOIs, which we complied with. We have yet to hear back from anyone in their camp -- even a pass. Interesting that they have a claim re: working with Academy Award-winners. We have two on our team (1 for Art Direction and 1 for Costume Design), so I thought that would make them even more willing. I'm thinking now that maybe we're already beyond what they can offer us, but I still think it would be appropriate and professional of them to contact us regardless of whether or not they want to become involved.
I'll follow this thread to see if anyone else has similar experiences.
www.prettyegg.org (my site w/ links to projects)
We are updating a public library's screenwriting section and would love to get your input on what you believe are the best screenwriting books out there.
Currently, there are just a handful of titles on the shelves, and the community has been asking for more instruction-type books on format, structure and so on.
So, if there's a screenwriting book that you just cant live without, we would love to hear your two cents worth.
You guys are amazing. Thanks for sharing your input. We will be compiling a very nice list and will place the order before November 23rd for this particular library's request.
While the WGA strike continues there's a much more serious problem in another corner of our world.
Recently, I came across this video (links below). Not sure who to alert to this, but thought it deserved immediate attention. I will be sending this info to several news agencies, our US and Chinese Embassies and as many UN members as I can.
The You Tube link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjdyufjAnal The website I initially found it on is www.peta.org (on their home page).
The subject is on Chinese fur farms -- and the footage is quite graphic. If China wants to be a key player on the world stage, then this, sadly, is going to take a lot of new, strict policy, enforcement and PR work on their part.
We are all writers and artists here. I have written a few horror scripts myself -- and thought I'd seen it all in terms of graphic violence. When I saw this footage I felt crippled and helpless, and wondered what I could do about it. I'm reaching out to the screenwriting community to ask you to learn more about this. If you feel so moved as I did at the images you see on the video links (listed above), maybe this will fire you up to start a new script idea, or at the very least, reach out and lend a hand, a heart, your mind, your talent. Whatever it is you can offer.
What is wrong with our world?
What can we do about it? For anyone who might feel compelled to write to the UN, here's a link to their agencies and members.
Our writing can change the world. Never forget that you have that kind of power.
An interesting link from Martin -- which poses a whole new thread about pet overpopulation and specialty breeding kennels and puppy mills.
But that's another topic.
China is going through their industrial revolution just as America did. We were able to reap the benefits, and now it's their time to enjoy their wealth. But at what cost?
We have made mistakes along the way and are trying to share that info.
I understand that fur farms exist. I understand that people who work in fur farms need an income. But I am completely against the method they use (in the video). In fact, it would be better to abolish the fur trade and employ those people into the manufacturing of faux (or fake), synthetic furs. That seems like a doable transition. That way they can earn a living and no animals have to go through any of those painful and horrific conditions.
Oh the things we come across while doing research.
If you want to write to your state representatives about this, but not sure who they are, just go here: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
"Have you ever seen the National Geographic Channel? Have you ever seen a gazelle being killed by a lion? Or a pack of hyenas eating anything? Talk about brutal."
You're right, Gary. Nature is brutal. We are no different than the animals who tear apart other animals.
Or are we?
This has got me thinking about the nature of humans in general. We claim that we're advanced and above all other animals. We express ourselves through stories and songs. We strive to become enlightened. We seek truths to tough questions.
But we have a horribly dark side. I think we're closer to being animal than human sometimes. I would even venture to say that I think we can be worse than animals when it comes to the cruelty part of this thread.
Consider that a Great White Shark will strip the skin right off a seal or penguin. But that's not a case of cruelty for the sake of being mean. That's a Great White out hunting for dinner.
Consider that the people in the Chinese fur farm video are doing something similar as the Great White -- stripping animals of their fur and skins while still alive. But the difference here is that the laborers are not sharks. They are not hunting for dinner. They are filling the needs of the fur industry. And the methods they use are extremely mean and torturous. There are alternatives to this kind of treatment and methods. We are advanced enough to have discovered them.
These particular fur laborers are not animals. They are humans with some form of advanced intelligence (as intelligence goes). So when we talk about nature being brutal, I do agree. It can be horribly brutal.
But what about that side of us that strives to know and understand the world we live in? If we call ourselves advanced or higher life forms, and strive to be above animals -- but then turn around and torture another being just because it's easy or feels great to be mean (powerful?), then we are no more advanced than a flatworm. In fact, we are worse. We are numb to violence.
Thank goodness our words can lift us out of the all the hate and misunderstanding that seems to be going on the world today.
Off on a tangent ...
Imagine you're hanging upside down from a tree. You can't get down. Someone takes a knife and slices your calf open. Then they draw the knife over the other side of your leg, up past your knee. Then they grab the skin and pull it off. Imagine all those blood vessels open in the air -- and the intense pain in your leg. Now imagine that happening to your other leg, then your genitalia -- all the up way to your face. Imagine the skin on your neck being grabbed and pulled over your head, the skin from your jaws, your cheeks, your lips, all being stripped away from your muscles. Imagine being scalped.
Then imagine being cut down and thrown in a bloody heap with your muscles and organs exposed. But you do not die. The blood stings one of your eyes that's still intact. You are confused with pain. Every cell on your open body stings like a barbed ray. You lift your head and the blood pulses through your open wounds where your lips used to be. You writhe like this for another fifteen minutes before you finally lose consciousness.
That is unacceptable treatment from a human -- whom supposedly is above the lowly animal.
If this kind of pain is hard to imagine, then just imagine a paper cut between your fingers. Then imagine alcohol being rubbed into it.
Now imagine that over your entire body and face.
All good points. Good that a dialogue has been started here.
"Would the fur trade make a good subject for a screenplay? Since the conflict and drama surrounding the topic is patently apparent, clearly the answer is yes. Would a screenplay meant to enlighten people about the horrors of the fur trade be a good screenplay?
No. It would suck, and suck hard."
I agree. Any story that preaches or hits the audience over the head with a moral issue would suck.
On the other hand, it depends on how that message is woven into the script. Consider "Children of Men" -- clearly a statement about the future of mankind re: our need to muck up the world we live in. But message aside, that was a riveting movie.
Message movies can be compelling and give you a real charge -- as long as the theme-mongering is kept to a very low minimum.
It's in the way the story is told. If you can weave a message in it, in good craftsmanship (i.e., so we don't see the seams), then you've just given depth to your story.
As for myself, almost everything I have written has some kind of statement or message hidden in it somewhere with one character or another. Just things that inspire me to write them in the first place.
The irony is that the only things I've gotten produced are horror flicks with no message intended ...
www.thelodgemovie.com (to see trailer, skip intro -- but this was a writer-for-hire)
"Are there any books that focus on the craft of screenwriting: scenes, dialogue, etc... and completely ignore story structure?"
Not that I've personally come across. Though "Story", by Robert McKee, discusses how structure can be sliced and diced and written backwards and without a closed ending.
If you're looking for books on capturing dialogue, the very best advice I was ever given was to just hang out and listen to people talk ... listen to their pauses and language and slanguage.
And if you need slanguage from another era, there are so many excellent books out there. The Writers Guide to Everyday Life series are pretty fun.
And btw, are you working with Grodnick on that project you mentioned earlier this Fall? Good luck with that. I'll drop an e to catch up.
All I can say about movies with messages is this. If you can find a way to get your point across without being too preachy -- and write something that moves you, then good for you. Consider movies like "Gattaca" (cloning), "Gorillas in the Mist" (animal welfare), "Happy Feet" (environmental/animal welfare), "Mississippi Burning" (civil rights), "Cider House Rules" (abortion), and so on. Message movies can go either way; preachy and boring, or riveting and/or entertaining. Don't know if these scripts are up at Drew's script-o-rama or not, but they might be worth a look for anyone who wants to write about an issue they're passionate about.
And for those of you who are interested to know, I received several letters back from government officials and furriers, most recently from Senator Sherrod Brown, who was outraged by the situation.
In addition, www.fabulousfurs.com assured me that every fur they sell is a faux fur. The woman who created this line was en route to buy a fur when she heard a radio story about cats being used for furs. Her driver took her home immediately and she took action in her own way by creating a faux line.
Sadly, Neiman Marcus plans to keep selling furs. They prefer to keep a quality line of real furs available for their customers.
Guess where I won't be shopping?
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