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This is the first time I'm in the B-boards area, & I noticed that at the top of this topic there was some question as to a newer writer embarking on a spec sequel. A point in fact, most producers do not own the derivative copyrights
(these would include novelization, sequels or adaptations of the work for tv series, stageplays, etc.), but the
Film Co. has purchased those & other ancillary rights in the work for remakes.
You'll notice the copyright symbol at the end of all films. This is the owner & 9 times out of ten, it is the studio. Independently-produced films are the sometimes tenth situation, if thay have not been acquired for major distribution.
In the case of writers owning some of the rights, that is worked out in the deal-negotiations (Separation of Rights are possible).
I have placed a few ads with Eva & SSM.
She is a wonderful woman & you can tell her I said so here in print, if you like. The e-mail address as stated in an earlier post is correct, as is the latest price quote (the service fee has gone up).
Okay, details: Let me start off by get- ting on the soapbox for a minute. A spec screenplay (especially by a newer writer) is not only FOR SALE. It is, or should be considered, your sample. One of at least three, hopefully. Services, such as Eva's can be utilized as a way to get your foot in the door of development execs. in some hard-to-crack companies. THEY CALL YOU based on a synopsis that intrigues them. If the writing is good, but the project not quite right, you usually will be asked to send another script (or three), you might be asked to PITCH an unwritten project that you would like to offer them. Or they might simply keep you in mind for future open-assignments. In short, the real purpose of posting in SSM (or even on the Net) should not be having the Great Expectation of making mondo bucks & having the royal red career carpet laid at your feet for your brilliant initial screenplays.
This industry is about building relationships and the only way to do that (& eventually have the career you wish & the big sales that presumably go with that) is by doing the best work you can, do so on a continuous basis & get it read by folks who need work of that caliber to show their bosses.
Hey, it's Sunday. Sorry for the sermon. D
BTW, as an aside, you will be able to deal with "PASS" much better if you adopt the idea, that the script you are sending out probably will not be bought (I'm an optimistic pessimist about these things), but it does offer you an opportunity to BUILD A RELATIONSHIP that might just lead to SOMETHING! It only takes ONE YES to erase however many NOs.
In addition, (since agents are not known to often send "unsolicited" scripts by "little-known" screenwriters to their clients (go figguh, huh?) - mostly because they assume that it should come from another agent if it's any good (notice I said they assume this, not I) - it is often a far better path to follow, if the talent in question also is a principle in their own Production Company. This, you would have to sleuth out via articles in the trades or search through imdb, inhollywood or hcd online, among other resources.
The ProdCos usually have Development Executives whom you would wish to contact via letter, phone or fax query.
Happy hunting, D
I bought it. Don't remember why. It
is not really anything you haven't seen
before & seems to rely on USC contacts
(ad anuseum for my tastes).
The writer came across to me as a perpetual apple-toting student & in fact I recall there being misinformation given, but I've wiped exactly what from my memory as well. The interviews were okay, but not as insightful as others I've read elsewhere.
Sorry, if the author or his fans read this, but I'm being honest.
Screenwriting books that I do value include: Viki King's HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY IN 21 DAYS (forget the calendar, it's a book as humorous & comfy as a well-worn pair of bunny slippers & that's what's needed for a first screenplay. I recommend it as a first book instead of Syd anyday), THINKING IN PICTURES by the incredible John Sayles (includes the script & entire production dirary of MATEWAN, also incredible in my humble estimation), any of Linda Seger's books are worthwhile (I have 4 - think I'm missing the latest woman-oriented one only), Andrew Horton's WRITING THE CHARACTER-CENTERED SCREENPLAY for those who are more interested in fleshy, 3 dimensional "hearts" of stories as opposed to simply formulaic H'weird concept pieces - whoops, my biase is showing), on that note, Stephen Soderbergh's sex, lies and videotape (which is his diary entries while he was writing the script, the actual shooting script & his entries through pre-production, production & post. Talk about a writer's mythic journey!)
There's a few more that I rarely see mentioned which I will, if questioned again. Yet, I would hasten to say, that my favorite screenwriting books are far & away GREAT SCREENPLAYS. One can learn so much simply through osmosis & heart palpitations when reading a wonderful story told in a marvelous way.
Oh, wait... one more book that every new screenwriter should, make that MUST buy: THE WRITER GOT SCREWED*but didn't have to by Brooke Wharton. It's out in paperback, although I spent too much & bought it new when it was first published a few years ago. You owe it to your career & sanity. For an entertainment attorney, she has a hugely warm & humorous style of writing in layperson's terms.
If you go to the Internet Movie Database
(now owned by amazon.com) at us.imdb.com
and do a search (I remember that as a film made for tv, but I could be wrong)
for the title, or Karen Black as actress
you will get your information plus more.
If a video is available, you might well be able to order it on-site.
Never read McKee. Of course I get oodles of mail from his organization & others, but I think there is something about the I MAKE MY STUDENTS' MILLIONAIRES aura that seems to permeate the man for me.
Honestly, I have my writing chops down & have found that the secret is that there is no secret, but being true to your story, making sure that it's one in which you have a passion of some sort & tell it well.
When folks PASS on my filmscripts, they often do so with many compliments on how they "Couldn't put it down. Made me laugh, made me cry, boy was I surprised." That's what counts to me, because it means I'm doing my job. The rest is an expensive crap-shoot, but all it's cost me is time & sweat of my brow.
All these gurus feed off the insecurities of newer writers to be able to do their own homework with conviction and belief that eventually the screenplay you wrote will fulfill its destiny.
But hey, if the gurus, or Dramatica (which I find hilarious) works for you, go for it. Like training wheels, eventually you gotta take off the training wheels & find the balance in your gut & inherent instincts.
Look ma, no hands, D
Addendum: With my changing computers & this place getting a fantastic new face-lift & tinker to boot, I miswrote that I'd never been here before, when in fact I had. Everything just looks so brand spanking new I hadn't remembered my previous word-adventures. I've tapped Frederick a private e, but now to make it public, I rarely post on Screenwriter chat forums anymore aside from the private BBS, PAGE. This one has really grown into something that has a friendly, yet infomative feel. It would be great if it could remain relatively flame-free.
Bravo Frederick, D
Scripts are PASSED ON for all sorts of
reasons, BUSINESS REASONS, which have nothing to do with the quality of the creative work.
That is something that writers, too close to their offspring, must come to terms with, in order to maintain their sanity & not lose momentum or feel REJECTED.
A pass means that someone (possibly not even someone in power) felt that as a Business Decision, this particular project was not the right fit. No point second-guessing who, what or why.
I've been told things as simple as: " we're already doing a period piece... or mystery thriller, but do you have something else?"
Yes, sometimes it's genre, but they had heard good things about my writing & wanted that particular sample with which to judge. Sometimes the budget could be too high, or too low for their particular means or industry-niche.
Whatever the reason, frankly I've learned not to dwell on it. I've opened a door and the only LETHAL thing to a career, is having bad sample-scripts read, where the door swings shut immediately. Luckily, that's never happened to my knowledge from anything I've had covered.
Every script won't sell & if one does, you want the purchasing organization to have a passion for making the project.
At least I do, D
A friend of mine just dropped me an e-mail regarding the Sunday 8/23 edition having an article highlighting Eva Peel, Spec Script Marketplace & in fact (I just read it) the state of spec scripts in general.
Veddy interestin' perhaps?
You can access the article at latimes.com Do a search for Eva Peel.
I hope it is okay that I gave this post it's own message header, as I knew that there was some intrigue with her service & I didn't want this opportunity to get lost in the shuffle.
What the higher fee schedule for the online service takes into account is that they supposedly maintain and update the listings for the Net-based service on a weekly basis, as opposed to the twice yearly full-tilt-boogie updates that are utilized for the print-editions.
That said, no matter how one is supplied with such data, it is a good rule of thumb, to always call (most likely you will speak to a receptionist) and ask: "Is this a good time, I am updating my records & want to be certain that my computer files for your organization are correct?" Sometimes, they'll put one on hold, sometimes, they'll ask you to call back. Often, if you speak clearly, quickly and decisively, you can go through current address, phone #s (including fax - which I always ask for, whether I have it or not) and contact names.titles. I always ask their name before hanging up, and thank them using that name, for their time.
blah,blah,blah, but it works, D
Unless a work has fallen into Public Domain, ANY ADAPTATION or derivation from the original work must have obtained permission from the copyrights owner in order to SELL this work that is based on another's.
In other words, you can use the script as a sample of your screenwriting abilities, but if it is offered for sale, the copyright owner can sue for infringement on rights not granted when such a sale is negotiated without prior permission.
Copyrights to a song are not always owned by the individual who wrote it. Often a Music Publishing Company or even an estate (for those writers who have passed) maintains the rights to the lyrics and or music. A screenwriter would do well to always research material they are basing their work upon. Having a headline stating you are involved in litigation is not the way you'd want to gain initial industry publicity.
There are companies online such as BMI, EMI and ASCAP where you could learn more on these issues. Knowledge is power -- D
Off the top of my head --
Nickelodeon & Fox Family are always looking for quality and/or quirky kid material. So is a specialty division of Paramount that does straight-to-videos.
However, in all cases (unless you have a personal contact/reference) you will do best approaching via an agent/attorney. These folks will only deal with known representatives for legal reasons.
Dind the loophole, and place script inside, D
Find the loophole, or dig your way out of a typo...D
Personal recommendation/contact most often is the best way in. If it's someone to whom the person owes a favoe, so much the better! -- D
D.G. - Was this last post directed to me? Mine was the previous post. If so,
yes, that's my heart's desire. I have a
film currently in pre-production. Someone else is directing it. I've been asked to be an associate producer. A
casting agent has also fallen in love with my screenplay & it seems likely he'll come on board next week. I have
also held aside two personal screenplays (one has placed in competitions, most notably Finalist the first year Independent Film Project & WGAe held their joint Screenplay Competition, 1995) that I plan to direct. I am currently directing a short film based on an original script. I also currently have two other larger-budget screenplays under consideration at Prodcos and Studios in
LA and a treatment for an animation
feature in England with a Director from Wales attached. So, yeah not only is it
a dream, but with my daily hard work,
a soon-to-be Reality.
So far as your prospective collaborative film-project, which I've read about on another thread, I wish you all much luck & enjoyment. I would be glad to read scripts, if you'd like a totally impartial pair of eyes, that has nothing invested in the outcome.
Let me know, D
The WGA has a very specific set of criteria for a Professional Writer within the film/television industry.
It does include published journalists,
novelists & produced playwrights. You
would do well to query the organization
for their own rules/guidelines.
BTW, you can read a condensed version of the WGA criteria in their MBA handbook & probably at their online site as well (although I'm not certain about the latter. Check their Membership area.)
Greg's right. It was UCLA & I agree it
was also really more tellie-oriented than I am.
So far as the other comments made re: my response, I was stating my opinion that I don't want to read a book that interviews folks more knowledgable about Teaching than avtually writing/producing. That's my bias. So far as my recommending Ms. King's book, I mentioned it as a book for a newer aspiring writer. I think that as a first book one does need that easing into getting a First Words on Paper Draft into the old word-processor. Many of the other books by supposed authorities are far less User-Friendly & actually scare would-be screenwriters with a compendium of rules & wrath of Gods' ideas of "your script should do this by this page & do that by that page" concepts. That's writing by numbers & formula which might stunt something wonderful & new from ever finding a way out from someone's mind.
King is easy-going & nurturing. After the initial euphoria of the script written with her as a mother/guide, then the rest of the gang's books can surely assist in the process of rewriting/revising/editing, yet until that first script is written & unless it was a wonderful experience there can be no forward movement towards the rest of the work necessary to hone & finesse it into a super-sample.
I am certainly not saying that my opinion is any more valid than anyone else's, just clarifying why I mentioned this book as valuable for the First Screenplay Odyssey. --D
You owe it to yourself to have a
STANDARD RELEASE FORM on your hard-drive. As an unrepresented screenwriter, you know to sign theirs, provided that they haven't slipped in anything about you owing them your firstborn live-progeny should they decide to pass on your script....
If you have an Entertainment Attorney or Agent, the scripts will go through their hands & therefore such a release will be unneccessary. In the last three cases, you would have seemed a hair more in-the-know & having the business accumen of owning such a standard industry document.
There are oodles of them online or in books for you to have for such future situations. Yes, this document is more for their benefit than yours, but having a bit of control over the wording is a good thing too.
As a further layer to your paper-trail when you submit a screenplay, always ALWAYS, did I write ALWAYS send a cover letter stating to whom you are sending the script (upon their request) with a date & the title of the script.
2 cents, for what they're worth, D
I'm not certain that you want to "pitch" any project to an agent. If it was me going to meet with an agent, I would be most interested in how s/he handles current clients, who those clients are, the types of projects & relationships that this person has & plans to have in the future. Who does s/he do business with in the Industry? Are they TV/Feature or MOW-oriented? Do they package or represent other types of talent (non-literary)?
You want to get to know if this agent/agency is the proper fit/environment for your work. so far as your writing, wouldn't you rather let the agent read your screenplay? Sure a teaser logline, or even a pitch to intrigue, but the fact is, most times a writer "pitches" to production people. Agents, if they want to represent someone will meet & talk, but the bottom-line is they need to be passionate about what you put on the page.... not just the idea or concept, but HOW, as well as What you write. What aspirations & career-goals you have & if the two of you are in the "same business". Not everyone is.
Different agents represent different "types" of writers, even within the same firms.
Good luck & hope you're found a winner. Don't just sign on the dotted line, unless you feel good about "employing this person" to REPRESENT YOU. That's what agents do.-- D
Not meaning to offend Stu, but you really do have a choice here. DON'T send a release & don't take the opportunity to perhaps begin a dialogue with someone/co. who is doing you the favor of agreeing to consider your work.
(They don't have to, you know.) Or DO tap a Standard Release into your computer, so that it won't be a big deal if you decide to go ahead with one.
Yes, it's pain in the (name choice part of anatomy) & yes the verbiage is a bunch of hogwash, but ultimately it's your decision. The person on the other end won't lose sleep if you decide not to send your script. Each of us makes choices on how we wish to handle our very own career. In mine, signing a Standard Release is no great shakes, but I always prefer when I'm not asked to do so.
I do think perhaps you are getting yourself worked-up over something that is rather trivial though. That zaps creative energy, which IS a serious NO-NO! Don't forget to enjoy, D
Tracy & Christopher: Thanks for your kind comments. It does seem that sometimes writers forget that what they are looking for in an Agent is NOT A GOOD SCREENWRITING SEAL OF APPROVAL, although that's often what it feels like at first. What we are seeking is a collaborator on this strange beastie which is our career. It is important that one gets a feel (& gut reactions are important here) for the Person. Does this person understand me & my work? Do I trust him or her to be able to talk about my scripts & me to prospective clients? Do I feel good about how s/he discusses film & the agency's current clients? Too often, we are so busy chasing a YES, I'll Read/or Meet/or Option/or Produce that we forget who owns the material that is the property & who is the beneficiary of the trust (all puns intended). & yes, Tracy I am a writer (although from the looks of some of my typos here I sometimes cringe at that assessment.) Best-- D
I agree. I'd also add: more than one
script. Write a 5 year plan for yourself. What kind of career do you aspire to & what you know you need to do (step by step) in order to achieve your goal(s). Be flexible, but reality-based. Tick off the items you meet as you do so. Change goals or approach, when necessary, but not suit others.
This is your career.
I don't think that a writer should go out (to producer or agent) with any less than three tightly revised screenplays. That means to have them in your repertoire, not necessarily to send all three at once.
You are proving that one good script is not a fluke. One script to which the reader might not "cotton" is just that (one screenplay with which they are not passionate about). You are in it for the long haul. You are busy honing your skills daily. You know varied structural devices of turning words into cine-mind images. You have a sample-portfolio that an agent can use to get you assignments & from which a producer can pick and choose those closest to his/her own sensibilities.
One script. A first script is a wonderful accomplishment, but it does not prove that someone is a Screenwriter.
Sorry if this offends, but it is also my fervent belief that too many new writers jump the gun & don't lay the groundwork for a career, but rather think some agent is going towave a magic wand & dollars; a life of luxary is going to be bestowed upon them.
BTW, I noticed that many newer writers are busy with Agent Queries when they would be far more likely to get rep-notice if a script of theirs went into production. They'll query you then, or you can query the dream-agent when you have negotiations already to begin. They enjoy dealing with working writers who know that relationships are how business is handled.
Few reputable agents are interested in working with a writer who has only one (their first) script to bring to the party. The more you can offer as proof that you can bring money into their agency, the more probable that they will see the viability of taking on a new client.
It's business sense. A screenwriter needs to pay attention to both the creative & the business aspects of their work. They are intertwined.
As a further note, novice writers should worry less about being repped by Major Agencies and be concerned with finding that right Agent, an individual, who will be a good partner for their work & personality.
--2 cents, D
What you have there is not a rejection.
Lose that word, it stings us to our souls. It is a PASS. A Business Decision. Don't run through a million pseudo-scenarios, that's a waste of your creative energy better spent in word-slinging on something productive.
Don't dwell on it. Move on.
(Or give the emotion to a character in your screenplay, if you must. Twist the pain into something your protagonist can experience & it dissipates from your gut. Use it creatively.)
Everytime someone PASSES on your project (in whatever format) take a deep breath, say aloud "Their Loss." Move on. It will happen often, if you are lucky. It means that your work is getting read. It is the job of those folks not to spend money on something they can't swear ahead of time is "A Sure Thing"!
Nothing is definite, so everything is a risk. We risk it on paper, phone & fax-calls. They risk their very jobs & financial wherewithall on projects they adore. Sometimes they bomb at the BO & heads roll. We have it cushier than that. We own our careers. Why do you think so many D-people move from co to co?
I've had oodles of close calls on options, productions, and so on & so forth. This is a roller-coaster ride of a career. Your skin & emotions must constantly be tingling, but until you find those folks whose PASSIONATE YES backed up by a deal-memo, can drive your word-vehicle off the page onto the screen, all the NOs are simply unimportant. Meaningless background noise. The tapping of the keys is what's important. Don't let a PASS drain the juice that makes the machine run.
I now have a few of those YES! folks & trust me, it's a great feeling, but you're still constantly on edge. The main thing is, IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE WORK.
My script that's going into production is the same screenplay I wrote four years ago. Some people loved it, but...
Others couldn't fathom it at all. This current crop of folks want to bring it to your local theater as is. I have hardly changed a word. Yet, the world is now much more accomodating to this (& in fact all of my) work because I'm no longer the one selling it. They're Sold & Directors, Producers, Casting Agents, etc. walk in with my words in their briefcases & are passionate about them.
They are spewing the spiel now. Not me.
Don't validate the naysayers & don't take them to heart. Keep on keeping on. Eventually, the rest of the world catches up. While you're building a portfolio from which these folks can choose. --D
Thanks Rene. What you've added to my little diatribe, did in fact get it
Said Much Better!
Looking and listening are the two key ingrediants important for screenwriters in the world at large. In a prospective Agent's Office, the sensory intake is quadrupled.
Be aware of your surroundings, but also filter through what you hear and say. Know what your overall career goals are, not just the one script or two, but what you want for the next 5, 10, 20 years.
Be honest & expect the same. D
A few things worth mentioning:
Treatment is a very loose term. Some writers consider a one page outline a treatment. Others write 60 page treatments. There is every variation in between as well.
Treatments are rarely sold as pitches to production companies by lesser-known writers (without a screenplay to back it up) with or without an agent. You won't get meetings as an unknown with "ideas".
Agents don't work with "ideas" that are not in some tangible format, by someone who plans to continue to perfect the screenwriting, (directing or producing) craft.
Unless you go to one of the "Pitch Kings" mentioned in earlier posts. That is your only possible option.
However, you need to think long & hard what your purpose in even trying to sell a pitch is.
Do you want to be a screenwriter? Do you want to build your credits & reputation? If so, this is not the way I'd recommend.
If you simply want to come up with oodles of ideas & make a little bit of money maybe, or none at all, but not have any samples to prove your writing skills & hone them, then I'd recommend submitting your "high-concept" ideas to a few of the guys mentioned.
It is definitely not a career move though.--D
There are companies that do not, as a rule, accept scripts from unrepresented writers. Yet, on occasion a writer might approach a D-person, or some other Story Editor, etc. who is interested in expanding outside the niche of writers they are currently doing business with, if the writer supplying his/her own Standard Release is not handled with a fair amount of decorum, then that D-person might not attempt such a boundary-jump in the future.
Sure, there are Wanna-Be Producers, slime that produce nothing more than promises (especially in proliferation on the Net), but there are many more ways to ascertain (through credit-search) if the company is legit.
Using the "who supplies the release" as a yardstick, does not seem to be an accurate assessment under all circumstances. If Stu decides that this is his standard criteria, that's fine.
Yet, I've noticed that many newer screenwriters online jump at the chance of (what seem to me) far more unlikely avenues for success, including pseudo-agents simply because these folks claim that's what they are (well, they don't lay claim to the pseudo part, butthey also don't require a release).--2 cents and what they're worth, D
Optimism is good, but that wasn't really what I was saying. Not everyone likes the color blue as much as I do. Some people adore green. Others dress always in black. Different strokes for diff. folks, ya know? What I was saying is don't second-guess WHY someone passes. They did and that's that. It doesn't taint the work, unless they send you a letter back explaining a problem they had (such NOTES should be read with a discerning eye).
I think that query letters are often a waste of a new writer's time. This is going to sound like a blanket statement & of course there are no rules, but most often the good reads one gets are when the work is recommended or when the person calls the writer requesting it.
You have no way of knowing why this person passes on your query & frankly, unless you have a Working Career to bring to an agency, it's really not a smart business decision for them to say "Yes, I'll read your script." They have a posse of clients currently & whose scripts are going to pay the mortgage?
It's also a tremendous fallacy to believe that an Agent is going to MAKE your career. Writers choose their own paths & make their careers by persevering, writing, rewriting, reading & forming relationships in the business with folks that will recommend them. Representatives do become necessary, but the wrong one is far worse than none at all.
Concentrate on the work and finding reputable prodcos with whom to form relationships (ie. they'll read your new scripts and/or allow you to pitch new projects and keep you in mind for open assignments).
Of course, it's your career and you should go about building it anyway you like (my advice can easily be ignored, no offense taken), but while optimism is great, having a real plan that you follow-thru is what will get you notice.
No query letter or agent can do it in a vacuum & you are the true master of your ship. Read the trades, write the best you can muster. then rewrite it better.--(another Sunday Morning sermon...) D
Believe me, Steven, some of our beasties would give Maurice Sendak giggles & S. King nightmares! Thanks for your many kind words.--D
Everything Sarah wrote is... er...right on the money. That there is the point:
money. Talent is great, but until you have the tools that an Agent can plainly see s/he can use to SELL THAT TALENT to pay for their time (and their employees & their office space, phone calls made on your behalf, etc. you get the gist)
a writer is a liability rather than an asset.
You need to work your a** off to become an obvious asset. It takes years of work in most, if not all cases. Doctors, lawyers, and all Professionals do the same. Writers must spend years educating and gathering up a portfolio before the payday can occur.
A writer needs to bring so much to the party, that the writer & agent are on near-equal footing. Each can benefit the other. An agent has a career too.--D
Ah, Sara, sorry for the typo in your name. One more thing, Angelia (hope I didn't misspell here too, one can't read previous posts whilst replying), I hope that you were being facetious about getting an agent to get an agent. One gets an agent by having production people interested in purchasing your work to bring to the screen. You were, if I'm not mistaken, earlier inquiring about selling "treatments". That is, almost without exception, NOT the way to interest an agent. Three SOLID SCRIPTS in the genre(s) you are interested in continuing your career in. There really aren't any sure-fire or surer short-cuts that won't have a tendency to back-fire.
You are making the right noises in that post Stu. Online Writers do need to seriously evaluate both the opportunity presented and the odds of something favorable occurring. A sale on the one script, however, should not be your only criteria, otherwise you will find yourself a nervous wreck! A worth-
while relationship, that means IF this person likes your script, they will read others. & IF they love a script, do they have the wherewithall & contacts to pay an option/purchase it or get financing and the film made?
Some of these folks asking for scripts online are stockpiling them, makes em feel as though they are big-Time Producers. They, themselves have NO CREDITS, NO FINANCING, NO DEALS and little knowledge of how this industry works. They only really know how to produce promises.
I've read some posts that make me cyber-SCREAM! But no one hears me because the novice writers are so anxious to get going somewhere! And fast.
One must seriously weigh the possible benefit of such an association. The Net has offered many screenwriters aching to break into the business something akin to spinning one's wheels in the sand. You know you're working awful hard, but it doesn't get you to the Promised Land any faster, or at all.--D
Oooh, we art cynical. Perseverence, seeking out beneficial relationships AND TWO GREAT SCRIPTS is the very least one should maintain to establish the career you are aiming to achieve.
Whining, like luck can play your theme song as background music on the World's Smallest Violin. Neither are part of my personal soundtrack.
Often, despite what the religious man says, We Manufacture Our Own Luck. Best to you-- D
I have a bit of quibble with yours as well. (love the way your mind/script) works, but many writers would consider a phone conversation, if a Char. is not at the scene a partial VO. In your scene above, QE would have a parenthetical stating (INTO RECEIVER). I actually place those on the same line as the Char. name, and if we didn't have a Transition that stated something along the lines of INTERCUT BETWEEN, AS NECESSARY: then Charles would not be considered OS (because he is not in the scene set up by your slugline/caption) but he would, in fact be considered a VO. That is the "filtered voice" that would presume he was replying to Mum, while in effect, the actor would have a special VO session for such an offscreen portion of his Char. dialogue.-- Cheers, D
Okay, as I recall the original question: if a character is in the scene (set by the slugline heading) but not seen at a particulat moment, while speaking then: JOE (OS)
If a character is heard (as a filtered voice, to use Sara's appropriate, but a bit anachronistic term) then he is heard as a voiceover, ie: JOE (VO/RADIO) or JOE (VO/PHONE) or JOE (VO/GOLDFISH BOWL). Last one was a mini-haha.
Seriously, you want the reader to fly through the words, but know exactly where the voice is emanating from. If a character is talking on the phone you let the reader know that they are: SWEEPEA (INTO RECEIVER), otherwise one might think that they are on a speaker phone: SWEEPEA (INTO HANDSET), SWEEPEA (VO, ON SPEAKERPHONE) or SWEEPEA (VO/LOUDSPEAKER). BIGJOHN (INTO MIC.) BIGJOHN (INTO MEGAPHONE).
Now, on any of the above, the writer must determine if we are simply hearing the voice, seeing the character & hearing the voice or hearing the voice from some device designed to carry it from another location (not the scene heading).
So, these are just my personal "guidelines," of course, your mileage might well vary, but the point is you want the reader to know quickly & without stumbling over terminology how the dialogue is heard & what's onscreen.
The INTERCUT is not necessary, but if the second voice is not seen, it is a VO, even though it is not a Narration, but the second portion of a phone conversation.
Were it a conversation, through dixie cups & a string between, then one character would likely be OS while the one seen onscreen is talking (or listening).
It's a fine line, but you best determine whether a character is OS or VO by whether they are at a slugline location (already captioned above their Char. Name) and what the "vehicle" is through which their voice is heard.--HTH, D
Keep track of your research material, for should the screenplay sell, it is important to have those notes (in this highly litigous environment). On the other hand, Tracy's right, you are weaving a cine-story and that's what's important on the page, not how well you've researched or stuck to the facts.
Of course, this is also a gray area, depending on whose bio & whether those you're portraying are living or dead. Fictionalizing (or dramatizing) true-life stories of a more contemporary nature often requires the Studio Attorneys to be more involved prior to releasing the product. HTH--D
PS The recent brouhaha over AMISTAD is a case in point. Luckily, the screenwriter kept excellent notes all during the writing & rewriting, so that he could prove that he had not "adapted" or lifted his story from the one book in question. Your sources will be necessary later on down the road, if you're lucky! --D
Be realistic. Do you know of which Production Company Tom Jacobson is a principal owner?
I do. It's highly doubtful that you have sent a query to his company & Sheila is correct, ideas are fair game, the execution of such is what is copyright protected. That's why writing a damn good script is the best way to protect your ideas.
No one stole or plagiarized your material from a query letter. This idea has been floating around H'wood for quite awhile. Between Edgar Burroughs and Philip K. Dick and many other book adaptations and derviations, Mars has always been a hot topic. It is after all the planet with the most earthling possibilities.
I'm sorry if you feel that someone might have gotten wind of your project, but even if you did read the script, you have no recourse by your own admission.--D
Waitaminute! I thought screenwriters are all psychics and abductees. That's what they told me at the induction center before I was allowed to retrun to the shambles of my precious life. You mean you don't have this little homing device (looks like a tiny brad, one) behind each ear? I thought you heard the same voices I've been hearing. Oh boy, am I embarrassed now. Then again, you might all be brainwashed into thinking you're normal & not para-anything. Yeah, that must be it. --D
Hi Fred & Gang,
I've just read this thread & it's my two cents time. Hope you won't read anything more into my intentions than just what is meant: another viewpoint.
First, I applaud Fred's looking at the concept from a different angle & seeking to offer screenwriter's with more skills than contacts a prospective opportunity to obtain notice.
That said, Loglines/pitches that intrigue are way different beasties than a full-length screenplay that covers all the bases of making an engrossing film if produced.
Under the auspices you are considering, someone who can snap together 4 WOW sentences could have a foot up on someone who has done so (including plot, character, dialogue, subtext and all of the many in-depth items that make for a well-rounded film) for 100+ pages.
If you want to work with something of this size, I'd suggest a 4-5 sentence pitch AND the writer's chosen 4 to 5 pages of THAT SCRIPT as an additional substantiation for semi-finalist status. That way the judges also see the concept put into practice in the end-product format as a screenplay.
I do understand that this would be more time-consuming, but it would also be much fairer to the screenwriters (who will be chosen & pay the fee as well as those that will necessarily slip through the cracks) & to the judges who will be reading entire scripts based upon those initial sentences.
I'm sometimes amazed at the lesser quality of screenplays compared to the loglines from which they supposedly spring. Again, not meaning to offend & certainly I appreciate the fact that anyone is even looking at alternative methods of rewarding writing talent. Regards, D
Addendum to my previous post: And vice versa (loglines that were not as strong as the screenplay which they are meant to synopsize).
(I'd also love to correct my 's typo, but I'm quickly adding these pennies of thoughts. haha)
Not meaning to offend, Sheila, but methinks you're missing the critical point that the original post above yours was making.
If the only notable sales are between folks who are questionable... the questionability factor rises, not diminishes.
I have no stake in this, as neither company interested me, so don't vent any undue ire towards this disinterested bystander, but do read between their Net-lines and ask questions often, as is your right & obligation to your work.-- D
There are plenty of Logline "rooms" in cyberspace. I don't know that they are frequented by real players, as they don't seem to have time nor inclination. What Fred is proposing is a New Type of Screenwriting Competition. One that rewards the writer first on the merit of the "concept" and marketability of the writer's idea & second on the execution of that screenplay. The fee scehdule that Fred proposes is also an innovation in that only the semi-finalists (and those who can be assured a reasonable return for their money, or "bang for their buck") will be footing the bill.
As such, I think the experimental nature of the competition is very workable & beneficial for the participants in more ways than most script contests which seem to be more interested in the Winners Circle than in those poor sods that forked over their dough for nada return.
I do tend to agree with John, that at least a few paragraphs of writing will give a better overview of the writing skills necessary to separate the writers of distinction, as opposed to those that simply have an idea that in another's hands would be an interesting filmscript. --D
One of the largest & well-respected agencies: International Creative Management (ICM) has headquarters in London, LA & NYC. Any of their clients has access to their other clients (as they are a packaging firm, attaching talent & directors to screenplays) in other cities. If you have the goods to bring to the table, you should check into their London office. HTH--D
Best to Simon & Claire. this is a reply to Tracy as I've not had a chance to check back here in awhile. ICM in London is not as it is in the States. I have a number of friends in the UK and things are a fair bit less stringent, so far as referrals necessary etc. That's why I mentioned the ICM in London to Simon. In fact, I have a UK producer who likes my work so much she refers me to just drop it off with a cover letter to studios here in the States. As if it was simply that easy. Of course, I phone first & go the whole permission route, but as I say, in the UK they are much, much less demanding of the same protocol. Cheers, D
So wadda ya wanna know? I got one a dem Nu Yawk whatchamacallitze. Born an' raised there, doncha know? `Scuse my language, but fuckin A! Fuggedabowde-it.
Seriously, Tracy, I'm a New York native. Lived in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island (that's all 5 boroughs, in case you're counting), as well as on Long Island and I know Upstate, and the surrounding state/regions. (NY, NJ & CT are called the Tri-State Area, FYI.)
I don't know of any sites, but I'd be happy to assist with specific questions, if I'm able. --D
Honestly, Miz T: If this is for a screenplay, I wouldn't overdo the accent in dialogue. Let the director & talent worry about dem & doze. If you want specific slang &/or specific locales (I've never heard anyone say "the harbor" It's the River or The East River. Or if Upstate, The Hudson River. You probably caught how we both called it The Bronx, all the other boroughs have no preposition.), then ask away.
M is right though, there are different accents. I mostly grew up in Queens, but sound nothing like Cindy Lauper who's from Ozone Park (is that a great name or what)?! I grew up in Flushing! Seriously. Does that name conjure up, um stuff or what? See, the or what, is
the type of thing that's a New Yorkism. I've lived in the South on & off for the last 15 years & I do know what are distinctly New Yorkisms because I get very strange "You're a Yankee" looks when I say them here!
Two words: water & radiator my husband always goofs on me when I say. Aside from those, I haven't much of an accent. My daughter still says chocolate "chawklit" though.
New Yorkers have an especially quick cadence compared to Southerners, Mid-westers, New Englanders... Speak fast, especially when excited. Most New Yawkers have a sensa good huma. We do like Mr. Softee ice cream too. --D
Hey, hey Fred!
Had to pop in to offer my congrats!
Glad to see you got more than just a cyberfoot in the door, but a real kick in the boot!
Best on parlaying it into more interst in you & your material, D
Development people (often called D-girls and D-boys) can be the first people who read/review your screenplay in production houses and studios. They sometimes hire outside readers & analysts to write coverage, but some Development associates do this in-house.
I have no idea who your friends are, nor why another industry-knowledgable guy would say that agents are useless, but Development people (Director of Development, Story Editor, Creative Execs, and the like) are the people screenwriters usually have initial contact with in any production environment. If they like the work, they pass it up to their superiors, so they're considered the "first line of defense."
Hope this helps.
Actually, Allen & Bill,
BW Project was being hyped online for about a year before they got accepted for Sundance. I remember reading oodles of hype by the Haxon gang & friends on lots of message boards (indiewire and filmmaker mag I recall specifically).
There are many filmmaker & production/producers' boards online, but you have to do your homework Mike Martin. There's indie film web rings & all sorts of places that offer viable exchange links.
It's nice to see a producer so hyped up about a screenplay, but it's another matter entirely to have the public jump on the bandwagon before it's even really rolling ahead. You're marketing an unknown quantity, so you need to offer more than "this is better than, bigger than..."
I would suggest some sort of short trailer/teaser online that offers proof that this is the Next Big Thing, otherwise all that's there is your say-so.
Hope the Muse and her dancing Fates are in your corner.
PS Sorry for inadverdant typo Allen. Fingers too quick for sleepy keyboard.
No offense intended Mike, but I'm stating publicly that I do not wish my comments nor name reproduced in your business/marketing or other plans.
I thank-you for considering my remarks off-the-record, as I'd intended. Any other usage should have been mentioned prior and would have been weighed accordingly.
Best of luck on your endeavors.
Actually Paco, there are right ways and less beneficial ways to go about getting the work out. There are people online who have never/will never produce anything more than posts & promises, but they promote themselves as Producers.
On the Internet, any cat can proclaim him/herself a dog... Who will know?
Agents and honest-to-goodness "reel" producers do want material which is fairly fresh & not overly shopped, but passed over. This is not a wall, but an industry reality.
Years ago (I've been online since the late 80s) I realized that this was a wonderful way to get work read, but most of the start-ups here have neither the financial resources, nor the clout to get material optioned/purchased/nor produced in the manner that is necessary to assist in my career.
I know that many here will say you should try any and all means to get your work noticed. I say, you will be judged also by the quality of the company you keep (95% of the loglines/synopses online are utter drek) and the ability you have of finding the proper approach to gain notice by the powers-that-be does matter more often than not.
The Net might be the great equalizer, but you still need to have great material that will stand out from the crowd to the reviewers that matter & can offer you genuine response that means something to your career. $s and production.
Blind, scattershot approach is often no more substantial in the longrun than turning your bicycle wheels in the quick-sand. Lots of seeming-motion, but the cycle is going nowhere, just digging in.
If you want to be transported forward, you need to choose your 'who & how' of approach more carefully. This is a creative business, but a business all the same.
Some of the people touting themselves as producers & some of the others who are being sent scads of e-mails & scripts in the mail, quite simply are a waste of the writers' time and money, better spent on locating real career resources much higher up the food chain.
Well, I don't work for Fred (the kind & gentle guy who runds/designs & adds great stuff to this site), but I'm sure he'll be along shortly to tell you to give a look at Who's Buying What (notice the arrow NEW! above to the right?)... Once signed up, you can do your research on folks that are often involved in negotiating spec screenplay sales & then you get a feel for them/their firm/the types of stories & writers with which they are involved. Barring that, ask friends in the biz who they'd recommend.
No, Sherlock. American Zoetrope has been in the film business (off-the-web) for well over 20 years. As of this date, they have not purchased or optioned anything from online sources.
Frederick! enjoy your bouncing bundle of joy. Grover: thanks for the name correction, but not pointing out the accompanying typo. Master Mensch might well rund things now with the sleep young'uns allow early on.
Speaking of which, I probably made that post early in the AM, because I do know his name preference. Not sure why I truncated it. I'll be more careful.
BTW: Nice article in AIVF's THE INDEPENDENT! Congrats on that as well.
This is going to sound strange, but here goes... you might not be using Brass Brads, but rather brass-plated ones. Many stores stock the plated ones, which are, in fact, flimsier. Many store buyers don't realize that there is this difference. The same companies (ACCO for one) makes both types. On the box, it should tell you which you have. I only purchase the heavier-duty full-brass ones because I also prefer those. Sounds picayune to some, but hey, you asked.
It's called a cover letter. Part of the importance of such a letter is for your own files. You have a paper-trail on the screenplays you send out for your own reference. You present yourself as a professional (with an attractive letterhead) who is looking to begin a business relationship with the receiving party. Don't worry about selling the script, that's a heavy burden to put on each submission & more times than not you will likely be disappointed if you approach your contacts like that. Think instead that this is an opportunity to find people who enjoy your work/samples and will be willing to review future material or recommend you to their associates. Should an option or sale be forthcoming, it will be an unexpected pleasure. should the more likely scenario of "Thanks, but this one's not right for us," arise you won't be devastated (which can take a toll on your outlook & creative well-being as well). Sending a screenplay out offers you the chance to find champions for your career. Without such people, you're writing in a vacuum.
Ooh Martell, the Grammer Monster's gonna get you! As always your post was spot-on in the ways that count.
Don't recall who posted it above, but a speculative script (one where the writer takes the risk of wasting her/his time) is nicknamed a SPEC, NO: T (I wouldn't mention the typo, but you miswrote it twice). Better you should read it here than not, I'd guess.
Happy T-Day, from one of the turkeys.
Wow Grover. Thanks & I'm on East Coast post-stuffing-time, so I can't promise I'll reply to all your commentary, but a few things stuck in my mind, so I'll attempt to recap.
Cover Stock: Don't worry about weight, just find good 8 1/2" x 11" card-stock. If you're using this as your cover -- keep it blank. Some folks don't use cover-stock at all, just have their "normal" title page at the front.
I use white 20#. Unadorned. No label, in any event, that tends to look tacky.
You can get the solid brass washers & brads online in a few places. http://www.nyscreenwriters.com (I believe they have a blinking banner on Master Mensch's site too).
I know I've left out some stuff with regards to your post, but the best I can say is that we each make our own career. Yours won't be like mine won't be like his. Don't get discouraged... get even. By that, of course, I mean writing well is the best revenge. (I know I'm quoting or paraphrasing someone, but I've probably had too much holiday cheer to recall whom.)
Best on your projects, D
Not meaning to offend, but perhaps your seeing Hollywood as a foe makes an opponent where collaboration and building relationships with likeminded (or even other-minded) people a losing battle?
If your subject header said How to Be Welcomed by Hollywood, you might be on a path that seems to engender less of a David & Goliath scenario?
I won't beat Hollywood. Not even at their own game. I'd like to be invited to take part & will even bring my own game markers, and cultivated skills.
If I'm not invited to join? I'll be cheering on the sidelines & doing my own thing behind Hollywood's back, until it takes notice.
2 cents & stretching a metaphor beyond all sense of proportion, D
Have no idea who this guy is. If he's an actor, call SAG. If he's a director, call DGA. If he's a writer, call WGA.
If he has a contact person (agent, lawyer, manager or other rep of record) the guilds will have it noted.
A couple of things for you to consider. You mention that you have a big-budget screenplay & that you're a lesser known writer. You also mention that you'll be looking into who the firm's clients are.
I'd suggest, you be just as concerned about who the firm's CONTACTS in Hollywood Studios are. More so.
You stated Terry Porter of Agape Productions Management of Flat Rock, IN
Well, I'd be leery of a company based out of Flat Rock, IN having the clout you need to get your work reveiwed by folks who can really do you any good.
Having a rep is fine and dandy, but having one that can make a difference in the respect your work is given is the name of the game.
How will this company provide you with valid opportunities if they're so far out of the loop themselves?
I'm not denigrating people that live outside of the eye of the storm, but you'd do well to ask about who they do business with on a regular basis at the studio level.
Good luck, D
That's Semi-Finalist, Joe. Advanced to the next stage of the evaluation when they will choose the Finalists.
Not meaning to offend, just to straighten out the discrepancy.
When "judges" are announced, those are the folks who read & judge the finalist scripts only. Not all of the screenplays submitted.
The initial readings & winnowing out are done by lower-level industry folks, at best.
This is true of all contests, but a post earlier in this thread seemed to state otherwise.
I agree with Allen. The conventions have shifted some in recent years. Less is more in the slugs, but don't go overboard by losing your personal style in the description stanzas by staccatto actions that simply denote rather than describe in your unique voice.
Great scripts are written by writers who aren't afraid to bend supposed rules and to be original. Mediocre scripts might have (at their heart) a superb story, but the writer's fear and straitjacket make the read much less intriguing.
Look at the original scripts that are nominated by the WGA this year. That's where the bar is set for us all.
Go for the gusto, D
Many of the competitions, especially the newer ones, who are online & trying to establish their first & second annuals, scour the Net for likely screenwriter prospects. They grab e-ddresses from sites such as this one and AZ, UseNet newsgroups, and listings areas like hollywoodlitsales. I'm on more e-mail lists than I care to mention or submit to! Asking to be taken off their lists rarely does much good as they now know for sure you read your mail! The really rotten thing is once you're on one list, folks share AND sometimes sell your e-ddress to commercial CD companies. They say that they are very eco-conscious, not killing tress for their unsolicited junque-mail. Bully for them. I suppose I do appreciate it more than the oodles of companies who have taken to wasting toner & paper (let alone tying up my phone) with their unwanted fax-ads.
What you're doing is a combo: Focus On/Mini-Slugline. Delete the "On," as it's not necessary & will get you into hot H2O. If you think of it as a slug/close-up shot/slugline, you'll realize that the actual description must be kept with it.
does what? (huh? Who?) The reader will have to flip back to the previous page, just to check, or they'll get pissed off that you've left them hanging mid-sentence. Neither events you want.
I work in a template I've developed for Word (on Mac now, but ported over from DOS years ago). I've designed my template so that certain elements or styles are always kept together & never split between page breaks. Character Name & the their dialogue, as you mentioned. Slugline and the description stanza which follows is another.
Realistically, you're looking at moving one word/line from the bottom of one page to the top of the next, but I would definitely say it's worth doing in every case.
How's that for an answer?
Spec scripts by lesser-known writers are judged differently than those that are assigned or by known-blockbuster-hitters.
That said, the "guidelines" are shifting some, but we've always had films like TAXI DRIVER and that ilk, even Rhett Butler & Scarlett O'Hara were not totally likable.
The thing about less-likable protags is: actors & their reps. Often, talent wants to play "the good guy." And their rep will only show them roles that they think will benefit career & bank-acct.
However, many actors are looking to stretch. To play the sleazy villain or against ype so they have a larger breadth of options. Many actors are even taking pay cuts to play in indie films, ensemble works &/or even cameos if they think there's something in the role that intrigues them or opens new doors.
So that's the alternative side to this coin.
Of course, the screenwriting gurus still hold to their mantra of character arc & hero's journey ad nauseum. That's their rule. Not mine.
I agree with many of your film assessments & felt much the same. Add RUN LOLA RUN and LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS as well. Intriguing characters, we haven't seen before taking the viewer on a wild ride. Those are better guidleines for a spec, methinks.
Managers are not agents. WGA franchises agents/agencies. Not commenting on that in any manner except to explain why the management firm is not a WGA signatory under their jurisdiction.
Lechner is no longer at Miramax. He requested a couple of scripts of mine to read a while back, but I do know he has left (to write a book!) and I think that Jennifer Berman has taken his position.
Before Jack requested my work, because I had a screenplay that placed finalist in IFP's screenplay competition the first year they held it, someone else from Miramax (she's also since left) requested to read that screenplay. She was from their California office though. But I know they keep the coverage and other stats on file.
I'd suggest sending your query to the New York (Tribeca) office and if it's a genre script, be sure to send it to Dimension, not Miramax.
Phone them first and ask who's their current story editor or development executive. They'll let you know if you are courteous and don't take up too much of their time.
Hah, Deb! I had a mind-urp too. forgot that Jack was involved in that next gen film co too (along with the book!) and that Colin had been brought over from the UK. So much trivia(L) info in this peabrain, sometimes it sorts the important stuff out through my ear passage of its own accord!
THE BUTCHER BOY, a masterpiece by Neil Jordan with Voice Over that adds so much, exquisitely executed by Stephen Rea.
Congrats! I agree with Eric H. & yeah, unfortunately it's standard that the writer forks over copyrights (duly compensated with a purchase price, but a loss of our creative rights, all the same).
A spec script magically transforms into a work-for-hire script upon sale. Sux, but it's not yet been changed (although I'm told is going to be part of next year's bargaining table discussions, during guild negotiations. We'll see).
Definitely speak to an AE before signing this document and I'd suggest you also try to hold onto publication & stage rights, if you can. Publication rights meaning that you can publish whichever version of the screenplay (your early favorite, or the shooting script) when Scenario comes calling (knock on wood)!
Theatrical play rights shouldn't be a deal breaker with the company & you never know. I don't recall what it said about "novelization," but you should be offered first right of refusal to do any novelization & even if you don't write it, there should be compensation (based on your characters, plot, etc.).
Have an attorney & your rep read through the material. Aside from their knowing standards & loopholes you might miss (in simple legalese verbiage & fine print), it would also benefit you by showing you have folks in your corner, should things not proceed smoothly later on.
I know, I know, we never expect that... but the voice of experience demands I raise that ugly thought.
Best on your success, D
By the way, the various copyrights I mentioned you might try to retain, would come under the legal terminology: Separation of Rights (for if/ when you discuss it with attorney).
Additional FYI Mark:
Copyright registration fee was raised to $30 July 1st, 1999.
Got it. Personally have no interest. For the reason you cite plus.
1) A winner needs to be given a prize worth having. None of the companies "touted" have any clout in the industry, nor has the commpetition any reknown.
2) As I recall (I deleted the message after a quick skim) the rest of the "award" was mention on their web-site, choice of software, and a "read" by an anonymous "production company". Oh yeah, and an undisclosed amount of money.
Sorry, not for $45. That's way too gossamer for my money.
I left a voice-mail message, a few days ago. A few days later I received an e-mail with this info (which I excerpted from the larger file):
Step Up Women's Network 2nd Annual Women's Filmmaking Lab Information and Screenwriting Contest Winners
Contest Winners "Robert's Wedding Day" by Kerri N. Bogda. After a brief courtship and a quick wedding, Robert becomes increasingly competitive for his new wife Jane’s affections. His foes? Her two cats. Tensions mount, communication ceases. Who will Jane choose? Missy and Cleo, or her new husband?
"The Widow Marino" by Joan V. Herndon. Middle-aged widow of a small time hood must learn to cope with living in the 90’s and making it on their own. Just when she resigns herself to a life of solitude, she finds herself being pursued by three very eligible bachelors.
"Chainless Soul "by Diane Ambruso. A period drama inspired by Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE.
While, I wasn't terribly impressed with the way the competition was run, I took part because I felt that at least the entry fee was going to a worthy, charitable cause, assistance to women in need. I do take solace in that.
Um, Eddie? John?
Your understanding is indeed only partially true. A WGA franchised Agency cannot charge any type of upfront fee to any screenwriter, period. Some WGA franchised agencies do charge for OTHER TYPES OF MATERIAL, ie. plays for stage and novels. Since WGA does not cover those areas of endeavor, it cannot make restrictions over those fees for other types of writers/prospective clients.
A WGA franchised agency cannot charge for treatments for film scripts, screenplays, or television program bibles. If someone is looking for loopholes, to charge writers fees, my concern isn't even so much the $s (although there is that) but it's more why are they charging the writer instead of earning a better percentage from the material's option or sale? Why are they looking for piddly amounts of money from writers at all?
Just a thought to mull.
I make no judgements as to if this person will benefit you or not.
Not meaning to offend, nor argue DMV,
But you haven't read the scripts which won, only someone's idea of the loglines. Possibly not even the loglines/synopses submitted by the actual writers.
I have no gripes with the winners (nor do you I'm sure).
The scripts are quite probably excellent for reasons we can't fathom from the little bit we have seen about them.
I know I don't like many motnhs of work and 100-120 pages of sweat and toil, to be judged on 2-3 sentences, which are not the script.
I give the winning script and their writers the benefit of the doubt.
I do agree with you that there are way too many competitions (it's become a cottage industry preying on the folks who can least afford it) and I'm very picky.
I do think we have to weigh fees & the real benefit of winning or placing. Many of them really give flimsy prizes, like "a producer's read" which screenwriters can get without such a win.
I knew your ire was misdirected in the other post, but I also wish the winners well and do hope that their win offers them the step-up we're all craving.
Best on your projects, D
Call SAG. They'll give you contact info for three talented people in each phone call.
As with all of the guilds & unions, they have an online site.
I haven't called in a while, so the #s I have on file might not be current.
Check out the web-page for LA/NY office updates.
National office (213) 954-1600
NY office: (212)944-1030
Okay folks, more for your confusion:
Copyright registration now costs $30 (since last July).
While WGAe & WGAw cost approximately the same, WGAe allows online electronic file registration (WGAw, does not) AND WGAe registration i\lasts for an initial 10 year period, while WGAw is for 5.
I usually do copyright registration, but it does take approx 6 months to receive the certificate. I photocopy my completed form, Money Order (not check, as there's no proof that the funds are good!) and also pay for a Return Receipt postcard, so that during the 6 month lag-time, I have proof that the work has been registered. FYI, registration actually is dated the date it arrives at the LoC.
Okay, that said, don't be paranoid. Don't spend oodles of bucks on all of this registration. But, I also believe that some other incorrect information was quoted above: WGA registration is simply filing & constitues no agreement on their part that they will arbitrate or take any legal action for a non-WGA member.
They will simply shelve it for you.
I would recommend LoC registration always when the work is deriuvative & adapted for the screen from another medium.
As far as the rest of the time? It's really not as big a deal as is perceived. Pick one & rest easy.
Hope this helps, D
This thread's interesting reading.
Just a minor tidbyte to add. I believe Deb, you are referring to CREATIVE SCREENWRITING magazine. Just in case, anyone's on the lookout per your recommendation.
I take what I read or hear about "Writing gurus" with a shakerful of salt, but by your examples, it seems that what Trottier probably means is that the setting/locale/environs or world in which the film is placed is quite nearly a character in and of itself. It's more than simply tone and ambience, but a large part of how the characters interact & who they are.
Other examples might be: THE FISHER KING, and many of Robert Altman's or Woody Allen's films. The place is foreground in the story rather than simply background. I hope this helps you, but frankly it's not a recognized "genre title."
Well, I'm pretty sure that Frederick posts those publicity releases he receives from the various contests and venues when he has the time to do so. Either they haven't sent in their notice yet, or he's backed up & will make the announcement when he locates the space of time to do so.
Hope this answers your question.
I went in `96. Panel discussions were fun & laid-back. Access to H'wood folks was so-so, but I'm pretty gregarious so I did well in meet `n greet. In fact, I was asked to write an article about the conf. for scr(i)pt magazine, which appeared in their Feb `97 issue.
I haven't been back, but have already decided to go this year. Many friends have been going in the interim & said it's still a blast.
Not sure what you're expecting & I haven't been to the Hollywood Conf. you mentioned. I truly believe though that these events are less 'reel networking with biz-folks' than substantial gooses in our respective butts to keep on keeping on.
I look at them as short working vacations -- the few I do. Can be expensive though, I agree.
Have your pitch down-pat & be professional but personable & ya never know what might happen.
My 2 cents, D
It's called LOVE SERENADE & the writer/director's name is Shirley Barrett. A fave of mine (have script & vid) as are a number of Jane Campion's!
Awards Ceremony is Saturday this year, Lois. Still awaiting their response for my entry too. Will be attending this year, regardless.
You're a class act.
I haven't been reading the threads, but I like what you said. I got a rather nasty e-mail (which I ignored -- did not reply) from someone who runs a contest, who felt that I spewed venom and bitterness. I don't even remember where I might have posted whatever he read (he just blasted me, but didn't mention what or where he read it) but it was very disconcerting to me that I was being chastised for simply stating my opinion on treatment I'd received upon winning an award there.
Thanks for your thorough, yet to the point post.
Stay well, D
You can write up your pitches (yes, more than one is fine) as quasi-treatments & register a whole batch of them (or one at a time, ir you prefer) with the WGA East or West in the same way as you would if they were completed screenplays. Same fee of $22 for non-members.
Of course, an idea is not copyright-protected, but if you put that idea into a tangible format (ie. write it as a treatment/outline/lengthy synopsis, you get the drift) you have more of a legal leg to stand on, should that ever become a necessity.
Of course, you should also leave a paper-trail of all meetings, verbal & phone conversations (ie. send a letter thanking the other party for "listening" to your pitch, and so on).
Hope this helps, D
PS Don't make a big deal to the other party that you've registered your pitch-treatment, as most producers are off-put when you basically tell them upfront that you think they might be a lowly, conniving, concept-stealing misanthrope. The ones who hate it the most and object the loudest are usually lowly, conniving, concept-stealing misanthropes.
Hope your nibbles turn into bites (hook, line & sinker), D
I'll be there too this time.
If you're on AZ feel free to Z-mail me.
I have a digi-photo, but the color went wonky, so it doesn't look all that much like me anyway & I have enough cyber-stalkers without putting my image online...
Another Congratz on THE CADDY, Mdme. C de M! Sounds like that one's a crowd-pleaser.
Didn't bother w/ Greenlight, just bizzee...
Interesting you mention this... so is my writing partner. Waiting for his comments, that is.
He sent the contestmeister an e-mail which basically said that he had entered a number of scripts in last year's competition & never did receive any response (although he lives outside of America, he imagined an e-mail or snail-mail bit of script-reply had been in the offing).
He was told via e-mail that one of his scripts was "personally read" by the head of the competish & he "thought highly" of the script & would get back to him when he located his "notes."
Needless to say...
(Yup, you guessed it: Nada, Zilch & The Quantum Zipperoo.)
Although I rarely do this: This has been a public service announcement.
Keep on, keeping on, D
If memory serves me correctly (and it's rather early AM where I am at the moment, so I wouldn't make any promises) it is a screenwriting competition which requires the applicants to reside in the fine state of Minnesota.
I'd suggest doing a search through an online engine (such as google), if Moviebytes does not have this contest listed in Frederick's stupendous database.
...but Melvin's response makes for better comedy.
A writer-director, who'd had her debut film screen at Sundance a couple of years ago, recently contacted me, requesting to read one of my screenplays listed in the database.
It came out of the blue, but was obviously in keeping with the terrain (& budget) she explored in her previous work. Her first feature garnered an award at the festival, so she expressed her interest as looking for another award-winner with the same potential.
By the way, I had to do some research to gather the above information. Her inquiry was fairly concise, but gave me enough info to learn more through online search engines.
My thanks go to Frederick for offering the opportunity for another qualified read. Always nicer when the cold-call is on the other shoe, right Max?
I think that those Wordplay Honchoes, Terry & Ted, have some full-tilt-boogie documents of their scripts ("Godzilla" and "Zorro" are two of I seem to recall reading online), but I'm not certain if these pitch-outline type formats are what you're seeking when you say synopsis???
I've found that the L-word is one of those buggers that has more than one meaning, depending on with whom one's speaking.
Others in that vein are: outline and logline. I've read some loglines which I'd call taglines, and some I'd swear are novels...
HTH anyway, D
Yikes, I'm over-tired!
I meant synopses, synopsis...
My synapses are likely misfiring, D
I know that your post was not a Public Service Announcment, but there's a few things that you might not have realized in your zeal to "set the record straight."
Not only had Colleen posted on this site while she was going through the difficulties inherent in getting representation on 'a possible option' (at that time) for "Good Cook, Likes Music," but I've also had the pleasure to interview her twice (once for Who's Buying What? and another time for an upcoming issue of Script Mag).
I found her honest, gracious and most likely a very talented writer. She knows she's been fortunate, however it also seems that Colleen has worked extremely hard to 'make her own luck.'
My recent interview with Colleen is archived on the subscription area of this site, should you care to read what she actually did to launch her career. It might be more useful than your merely attempting to belittle her and her accomplishments in this forum, without full benefit of the facts.
I've interviewed both Meghan & Brooklyn for pieces that appear right here on the Moviebytes site in the Who's Buying What? membership area.
Also another of Brooklyn's clients, Kyle Long, has given us an insightful interview which is archived there.
Check them out as part of the premium services (at an extremely reasonable annual fee) that Moviebytes offers.
If nothing else, you can find out the genders of these folks before posting on the message boards!
Kidding, kidding, D
Hello. This won't be much of a murder at all... (une petite morte?)
I personally have no problem with the logline & "brief synopsis" being within the same short stanza, (don't think you need the logline pointer to see first line, etc. -- just state, Logline & Brief Synopsis:) nor do I agree that you need to expand on the initial paragraph you've written for a more thorough investigation of all the acts, characters, etc. in a teaser query. If someone asks for three paragraphs, or a one-page synopsis that's something else.
In the first cold-calls and introduction, brevity will often be appreciated by busy industry folks.
Your project is well-presented and sounds fun as it sits. My only correction/finesse would be to change this final sentence: "In the meantime, the symptoms begin to become stranger and stranger..." to something more akin to this:
Meanwhile, Irma Hawthorn's symptoms grow stranger every day.
(You might find a synonym to "stranger" that's more humorous & contemporary, if you think that apt.)
The revision is more concise, less repititious (excepting the main character's name & thus the title is reiterated again) & "begin to become" is the type of writing I'd be happy to wipe off the face of the Earth!
You would do well to mention the genre. It seems like a dark comedy but I can see where the subject matter also holds the possibility to be written in another genre or two, as well.
Good luck with it.
Hope this helps, D
The point is blind judging -- not only is your name & possibly gender unknown (some names are probable gender clues), but also where you currently reside does not get factored in to the judge's review. It keeps the playing field somewhat even -- the work should be all that is considered.
Since these competitions also require an application (& often a second title page) with all of the aformentioned items affixed, and you will have a method of payment, along with your copyright/and/or WGA registration documents -- you certainly have an effective "paper-trail" of your work.
I truly believe that newer writers worry far more about having their work stolen than they should. It's funny though, many writers will blast their scripts off to any unknown "producer" who posts a blurb on a messageboard with nothing more to go on than a hotmail address or PO box.
I'm not directing this comment to any of the posters on this thread. It's just something I've noticed on the many script boards.
Research who and where you're sending your work. Upstanding/longstanding competitions have reputations and their continued existence at stake, fly-by-night "producers" who've never produced anything are far more suspect.
Once you send your screenplay out (in tangible form as a script & with a dated cover letter or e-mail) you are far more protected than sending out loglines or ideas for scripts which can not be copyright registered, yet writers post these types of things willy-nilly all the time.
There's so much misplaced paranoia. Newer writers ought to make it their business to learn how the industry really operates, doing scads of homework, while writing the initial four or five screenplays you'll likely need to really have anything worth stealing...
Make your voice and style so distinctly your own that there would never be any question that a specific work is yours.
Don't know if this will work for you, but I write notes to myself when I'mm having a problem rewriting (with story & character logic far more important to us than to the person who gives the notes).
I carry an index card with the situation with me (or sometimes a small hand-held recorder with a fresh audio tape) and brainstorm the possibilities. Works while walking the dog (with a pen in pocket, if writing) or kept nearby the sink while washing dishes, bathtub -- if showering. I find the flow of water particularly mind-opening & over the years have found myself walking to beach, lake or river to get the flow thing happening.
by far though, the "trick" that personally works best for me is to not get upset & know that my subconcious mind is working on the problem in the backgraound to all my daily-doings (having written more scripts than I have fingers, it's simply something I know is happening, so I've learned to trust my mind). Not freaking out is good. Thinking about the script-problem and the logistics that need to be satisfactorily worked out JUST BEFORE I go to sleep (for the night, or even a short catnap, if there's time in the day) quite often achieves wonderful results.
I'll dream the solution or one that gets me to the final one when I wake myself. It sounds more mysti-istical than it is and I know of many other writers who also help their brain/mind/thinking machine in ways such as this.
Don't stress, D
"but Didi" what, Pooks? If I'm to be the but(t) of some joke than at the very least... oh, typo -- got it.
(My sputtering flamegun was probably still switched on from another site.)
Congrats on the comp. results, Craig.
Drinks are on you... D
I'd suggest you check out this site: http://www.tvwriter.com
Ask your question on the message boards there -- you'd likely receive responses from some knowledgable folks.
Um... hate to be nitpicky, but that's not a bunch of loglines, but rather TAGLINES.
A different kettle of fish. Couldn't tell you which one I prefer since I don't know the screenplay and how it really relates to your character/premise.
In simplistic terms, a logline would be the sentence (possibly two or three at most -- but one is often best) that tells a bit about who your protagonist is (either through his/her profession or some personality or relationship specific) -- what s/he is battling/struggling or working against in order to achieve the character arc/growth that occurs through the vehicle of the script/film.
It's not "bad" per se, Gregory, but it is obtuse. Difficult to decipher. Unclear. That's just as bad as bad because if your meaning isn't in the logline, the reader will just toss it and go on to the "next."
You are still not identifying what the character's "seeing through pictures" means.
You understand it in your own mind, but haven't communicated the seed of your story well enough to the reader. You see the dilemma here?
You want the reader to say, "Yes," I want to know more but I'm sure this writer has a great story.
By sending this: "A man with the ability to see through pictures learns that this unique gift may end up costing him his life." You've only confused...
You need to tell us what the heck "with the ability to see through pictures" means. What IS his "unique gift?"
Sorry to seem so harsh, but you only have a couple of minutes, maybe even five seconds to convince someone you have the goods -- use the time wisely and clearly.
"I've been noticing that my work has been receiving some attention, but only from agencies that charge fees of some kind. I've read in a few places that a small fee is not a sign of a bad agency, just a way of covering admin costs. Has anyone else had these kind of offers?"
Okay, not to burst your bubble, but what you likely have been receiving is not the attention to your work, so much as to your wallet. Real agents don't need to charge fees prior to selling work for a new client. Small fees that just cover the cost of doing business for YOU (not their total overhead like rent, phone, etc.) are not necessarily the mark of scam-artists, BUT these folks likely don't have the clout nor connections to do you any good in moving your career & work up to the next level.
"Anyways, I've been approached by one of these fee-based agencies called S.T. Literary Agency. Has anyone had any contact with this Agency? I haven't been able to get much info on their experience - and they have no script sales that I can find. Their material makes them seem supportive of emerging writers and their fees aren't unreasonable. Any thoughts are appreciated."
Never heard of this agency. The fact that few on this thread have, and you can't find any sales, etc. should be a flashing neon sign for you, of course. How did this agency find out about you & your work? Did you include them in your query letters mailing?
This MB site has a really good subscription area for a nominal fee that would be money really well spent, methinks -- it's called Who's Buying What? and you have a button near the top of the page (WBW) to find out more about it. Frederick is fairly low-key (not a hard-sales kinda guy) about it, but it's a great area to research the folks who are buying and assisting first-time (newer) writers with spec sales.
I realize you're doing your "homework" now & checking up on this agency -- that's good, but you should also get to know who the real "players" are -- the names of the reps who are making the sales, what kind of work they lean towards (the genres, studios, prodcos and executives they work with often), and so on.
At some point, you'll be able to concentrate most heavily on doing the work, but part of a screenwriter's job is to write well and, especially when attempting to "break-in," the other equally important element is to understand how the industry works.
It's fun and actually funny as hell once you deconstruct and put it all back together. Figure out where you fit in & go for it!
Getting the right rep to champion your work makes an amazing amount of difference.
Kudos, Shell -- enjoy the ride!
The only time we ever see coverage on a script from a studio reader is when our rep or a producer (for whom we wrote a script on assignment) has sent us a copy of the coverage.
Ordinarily, the actual coverage pages are not sent to screenwriters. It's only done as a "favor" for their business contact (that is, the person who submitted the script for their review).
How long it takes depends on if it was a weekend or overnight read and how many people on the hierarchal chain of command (within a particular studio) need to review the coverage and perhaps (haha) the script before making their decision on its fate at that firm.
I hope I've answered the question you've asked -- I wasn't at all sure of the situation you semi-described.
First, no sweat -- don't fret about the situation. I don't know anything about PGL, but it is a common occurrence for scripts (and in fact movie projects, even finished films from country to county) to go by a number of names over a period of time.
If you're concerned, when you mention your script, make sure you mention both titles. For example: "A WHITER SHADE OF PALE previously known as GREY GHOSTS." Or you can substitute AKA for the previously known as, or previously registered as...
Your situation is not so out of the realm of possibilities within the industry that anyone should worry about it. You might even revise the title a few more times between now & when the film opens! Hey, good luck.
I just received my umpteenth letter from a management company stating that they love everything about my writing but they "do not feel passionate enough about the material to pursue it further". _____
They might like your writing style, but they are not passionate about your choice of story material because they do not feel that it is easily marketable. You might have what our rep calls a "strong voice in a small script." He's told me that he gets many script-queries like that, folks he can't take on, or those he previously hip-pocketed & "fired." He didn't drop my partner & I when he tightened his belt & made his roster substantially leaner this year because he knows that aside from our having pro-writing chops, we are also writing material that has already gained us fans & assignments (even before we hooked up with him). He knows we "think up commercially viable ideas." That's the best solution in finding someone to put their reputation on the line for you.
If you want to be in business with a rep, you need to look at writing what are obviously commercial properties otherwise they have no reason to spend their time on you rather than with their current roster of money-makers.
***High-concept, highly-castable (with A-list talent), genre-scripts with stories that are in keeping with the type often sold by newer writers -- that is, studio-fare aimed for the cineplex. The more ticks outside those boxes, the harder it wil be to find someone able to assist you.
If you don't want to attract a rep, you are free to continue to write those 'more difficult to sell' types of screenplays you have been writing and attempt to sell directly to buyers. That is, you do all the hard work, spend all the time & money & reap all of the benefits.
If you want to "employ someone for a percentage of the product sold" you have to deliver those samples the other party needs for them to have the ability to work within their sphere of industry contacts.
Reps have daily business expenses to cover and can only take writers onboard who show themselves to be market-savvy.
Are managers today interested in representing writers, guiding their careers and getting them work for hire gigs and taking their 10%? That's what I've always been told.
Or are they interested solely in selling an individual screenplay and taking their cut? Getting the "big sell"?
To which I can only say, please see my above comments & be honest with yourself as you ascertain where your work best fits inside the model for a new rep-client as a good risk, or colors well outside those lines. Plan or adjust writing your next works accordingly.
Or continue to seek that rep who feels they can allot you & your fledgling career the necessary time out from their current client list. S/he might still be out there, or you might be better off writing a new script, armed with this knowledge of what is necessary in today's spec climate.
I hope this prespective assists you in your quest.
I meant: Perspective... or maybe prescription, but "prespective" was definitely a typo.
Enjoying 'the read' and seeing a film-story that they want to chaperone through development & production-hell for the next however many years (spending time & putting their reputation on the line that it will be a commerical success) are light-years apart.
A spec script from an unknown writer has to have a fair amount going for it for a producer to consider buying it.
If they say they're willing to read other scripts, then they're telling you that this one doesn't suit their upcoming production slate openings.
A producer has to be immensely passionate about a project to be willing to go t bat & champion it.
Enjoying 'the read' and seeing a film-story that they want to chaperone through development & production-hell for the next however many years (spending time & putting their reputation on the line that it will be a commerical success) are light-years apart.
A spec script from an unknown writer has to have a fair amount going for it for a producer to consider buying it.
If they say they're willing to read other scripts, then they're telling you that this one doesn't suit their upcoming production slate openings.
A producer has to be immensely passionate about a project to be willing to go to bat & champion it.
I don't have the time to do more thorough research for you right now, but these links should all be in your resource bookmarks:
There are also many links on each of the above sites.
FYI, IFP publishes Filmmaker mag & they used to have an annual edition which went through three 'success stories' from inception - thru script development, pre-production, filming and post into sale, marketing, BO, and so on. They included numbers as well. There's a link on the IFP.org site.
Also check out: http://www.moviemaker. com/
Oh yeah, and if you're not shooting film, but Digi-vid, here's another:
What is funny is a pretty amorphous thing.
Aside from the fact that comedy is belittled as being 'less important' than drama -- perhaps in what the film achieves as catharsis for the reader/viewer... there is also the well-known fact that what one person finds hilarious, might not elicit event the slightest chuckle from another.
I think that for a comedy to do really well in a competition, it would have to be an especially 'smart' comedy, but those don't always do so well at the box office as comedy of the dumber/gross-out sub-genre.
The best thing to do with a comedy spec (as with any spec script) is to find those champions who absolutely love the project. Work with them to continue gathering steam so it has a chance to make it to the screen.
A well-written original comedy has just as much chance (if not better) of going into production. That's the end-goal, not a competition nod.
I cannot help you with your jealousy over "first-time sales," but I do caution you not to believe everything you read in a described deal.
Often first-timers (yes, even those who are interviewed for this site) have been writing for many years, but the "first sale" is their first big money (and sometimes even the dollar amount is given 'spin,' when in fact, the actual upfront money on an option/purchase deal isn't enough to actually quit one's day job). Genuine 'overnight sucesses' are as rare as hen's teeth.
I'm happy for anyone who makes headway in this crazy business. There's room for anyone who perseveres and works hard to find champions. As in many arenas, the real stumbling block & main competition is not another individual or group, but oneself.
Keep upping your own ante.
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