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Topic: Professional reader says "bury it"

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/13/07 12:38 PM

I had a professional reader from a reputable comp. informing me that I should "bury my script" and there is absolutely zero possibilities of a re-write success. BUT...he/she did mention that my script was creative and full of life.

I have a list of scripts(those produced into movies) that made the round in LA where the readers said the same thing..."bury it, pathetic story, but mind you this writer can write". For eg. Hustle and Flow, Pulp Fiction, Lorenzo's Oil, Rocky, The Lady in the Water, Passion of Christ etc.

Should I listen to the reader or continue marketing it blindly.

Mind you so far I averaging close to a (B minus) from all the coverages I received this summer. I have 8 more coming after July.

What should I do.

Regards

Author: ERIC SENTELL Posted: 06/13/07 02:42 PM

Bill - You have eight more coverages for the same script? You're certainly a sucker for confusion. That's what we call serious overkill. If I were in your position, and thank God I never have been, I'd send it to someone whose opinion we all value, someone like Barb Doyon, see what she says. If Barb says bury it, buy yourself a shovel. Remember that too many opinions can lead to a major clusterfuck but if all those opinions are negative, they might have hit the nail on the head and you're screwed.

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/13/07 03:09 PM

Eric....

I only got one coverage that said to "bury it".

Others liked it and some are on the fence. One reputable company used the word compelling and entertaining.

I'm doing a survey with my script this summer. Just like producers do screen test and take an average.

I think my approach is very business-like.

O.k. if I get over 3 coverages saying to "bury it", actually I might do a massive re-write.

Author: Martin Stack Posted: 06/13/07 06:41 PM

Maybe I'm niave but "bury it" seems a little harsh for any story. I wouldn't be too concerned over one "opinion". There are several reasons why good screenplays don't get produced and probably even more for why bad screenplays do.

If you're at the final draft stage and no one seems interested in it, you may want to put it away for a while and start on something else. Continue to keep an eye out for similar screenplays that might be peeking some interest in the market and then try again.

You can withdraw and regroup but "Never give up; never surrender!" I'm such a geek.:)

Author: Bobby Deol Posted: 06/14/07 01:45 PM

Martin!

I agree "bury it" means the writer should become a director also.

And could you answer the following :

Is good writing more important than good story?

If the writing is good, does that automatically make the story good?

Is it true that a good story, cannot be well written if the writer does not know how to write?

Author: Harvey Papush Posted: 06/15/07 03:42 PM

It is the nature of readers in this industry to "pass" on 95% of the scripts they read. It's the safe move if they're actually employed at an agency or production company.

On an individual level, readers often enjoy the "live or die" power they have over the scripts on their desk and feel almost compelled to find manifold flaws, as a way of demonstrating their expertise.

That having been said, the phrase "Bury it" is way out of line. There are more diplomatic and professional ways to let someone who's paid for a read know that this particular draft of his script is inadequate.

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/16/07 09:42 AM

Hi Harvey

I'm thinking trying something new by sending my script to ambitious "film diretors" to read. Instead of going through"READERS", would if wise to get DIRECTORS(associated with with the production house)to read it?

I find my script is geared for readers.

Please advise.

Author: Paula Smith Posted: 06/16/07 12:39 PM

This is a screenwriting contest website. You might submit your script to contests (the fees are much less than for readers) and see if it places.

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/16/07 01:10 PM

Hi Paula,

Is this an urban tale -->> I heard that most readers rejected PULP FICTION when it was doing the round. And when the movie became a sensation, producers and readers were affected, some got fired.

Is this true? If yes, then readers should learn to take some risk.

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 06/16/07 01:42 PM

Bill,

I agree that entering contests is a great way to get cheap feedback. If you advance at all you know you made it past someone who had the chance to say "no". If you enter several that offers notes you can see a pattern of your strengths and weaknesses. Much cheaper that a consultant.

I met with Blake Snyder yesterday and I can tell you that the man knows his stuff. If you can afford him I think he's one of the best. (Blake, you can send that promotionnal fee to me at... just kidding)

Best of luck,

Heather

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/16/07 01:48 PM

Thanks Heather,

I heard Blake has a software where the 14 beat techniques -- is illustrated. This might be cheapeR than travelling LA, for now.

You ever used the software?

I think the software is called, same his "...cat" book name.

Thanks

Author: d santiago Posted: 06/16/07 11:08 PM

Bill,

I agree with Heather and Paula. Entering a contest is much cheaper and you will get a sense of how good your script really is. Also if you place well or even win, notice how many agents and producers it will reach. I am not too sure how much of this is true(maybe somebody can add to this), but I have heard placing well or even winning a contest looks better/appealing to producers than independent coverage.

Author: John Pusztay Posted: 06/17/07 12:16 PM

Don,

Just because you place well or even WIN script competitions is no guarantee that agents, producers, and managers, etc. will come knocking at your door like rabbid zombies.

I had a script that placed well and got absolutely no calls. I know of a writer/director that moved here to Cleveland from New York City who has WON numerous screenwriting awards with the same results (no one calling). He finally got a hip-pocket deal with CAA through a friend begging on his behalf and they've done absolutely NOTHING to help him promote his career. Every job or lead he's gotten, he got himself. So he decided to become an independent filmmaker. He made a pitstop here on his way to L.A. but decided to stay because the cost of living is tolerable and it's cheaper to make movies here.

So it's absolutely NO guarantee that just because you place well, or even WIN script competitions that you will get the attention of anyone.

I agree with Paula and Heather. However, you must choose a competition where is specifically states that you WILL get feedback. Not all contests offer it.

Author: Terri Dickey Posted: 06/17/07 05:25 PM

Are there no free "Screenwriting Groups" in your area you can belong to?

I have belonged to many but the best one was for free and was only allowed to have 13 Writers at a time because each member would read a specific member's script then, at the next meeting--each member would verbally critique that script in a "constructive" manner.

THOSE were the BEST CRITIQUES I ever received. Each member had their turn to speak. You then had 12 critiques to help you re-write your script. Of course, with different, subjective views, as the Writer--you're the one who has to make the final decision.

In my opinion, any Reader who says you should "bury it," SHOULD BE SHOT!

Yes, I've read some very, VERY bad scripts. But every single story has potential. Even if you have to start over from the very beginning.

I, myself, made the big mistake of paying bucko bucks for a Reader who turned out not to be very good. Too busy, during that hour, to try and get me to join Scientology. UGH!

Before my "critique," he left a voice mail message that said, "This script will NEVER sell to Hollywood." Well, guess what? I'm now happy to say HE WAS WRONG!

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 06/17/07 07:21 PM

Bill,

I haven't tried the Save the Cat software, but I might since it's realtively cheap.

With regard to contest I have to say that they have done a great deal for me. You can't wait around for people to call you. You have to use the contest wins as a conversation starter with agents and producers.

However, the cheap script notes are useful even if you don't place. I've gotten good cheap notes from Slamdance, so that's one you might want to try.

Best of luck,

Heather

Author: PJ McIlvaine Posted: 06/19/07 10:00 AM

Join Zoetrope. I've gotten some great notes (and not so great notes).

Author: Harvey Papush Posted: 06/19/07 11:17 AM

Look, the reality is you're competing against 70,000 new scripts per year, every year, so the odds are MASSIVELY stacked against any one of us ever selling a script.

So what! Writing is a form of art and self-expression that are their own rewards. If it doesn't become a profession, it's still one of the most creative and productive "hobbies" you can engage in.

Unfortunately, what may indeed be a good script---even art---doesn't by any means translate into one of commercial viability or interest. Half the movies that make it to the screen are largely junk, but someone thought they could make money from them, and often they do.

Everything that gives you a leg up increases your prospects. Placing well in contests is obviously no guarantee of success, but it certainly does tell you you've written an excellent script and yes, you should focus on both improving and marketing it. A cover letter that touts such accomplishments is far more likely to get attention than one that doesn't.

There are many contests that offer decent feedback either in connection with their contest or as a separate service. Spend some time exploring their websites for details. Many are moderately priced.

Yes, entering contests and getting pro feedback costs money! But in my view, that's far better than wasting it on food and rent!

Author: Bill G Chaulau Posted: 06/19/07 11:47 AM

Hi Harvey,

I just found that some "up and coming MANAGERS" from LA would scan the contests winners (esp. quarterfinalists) like there's no tomorrow.

And I heard from one specific MANAGER, the logline has to be one line only or else they will not read it.

HOoooray for Contests. Thank you Contests.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 06/21/07 12:15 PM

I've always been a big believer of knowing when to move on. It sounds like you're spending a lot of good money searching for a reader who "gets you." Since you're a writer, I'm sure you have dozens of ideas swirling through your head that you'd love to get down on page. Why not work on something else? If your next script gets attention, you can always pull out this script as a work sample.

I've seen too many friends and too many would-be writers work on only one script for years. It was their masterpiece. By the end, they had invested so much into one script (and had that one script rejected) that they couldn't face starting again on something new.

When you do get to your coveted meeting with an agent or producer, most likely, they'll ask, "What else you got?" and if your answer is "Nothing," you haven't done yourself any favors. Agents and producers want to see someone who can consistently hit a home run.

So, I wouldn't necessarily tell you to beat a potentially dead horse.

And now that I've told you to quit, it's time for another story.

A well-known producer once did me the favor of reading my script (he was a producer on the year's highest grossing romantic comedy; the same genre as my script). He called and said, "It's very clever and very well-written, but there's something inherently wrong with the concept." When I asked him if there was a way it could be improved, he replied, "My advice is to move on to something new."

He was really nice and he was doing me a favor, but his advice was essentially "bury it."

However, three months and a massive rewrite later, that script earned me representation.

You'll just need to figure out for yourself if it's time to bury your script or keep plugging away at it.

Author: Jeff Lewis Posted: 09/05/07 07:01 PM

Bill:

Give up the ghost on that one. You should be working on the next great story that only you can tell. Side-bar is waiting for the feedback from "READERS" that you trust. It's got to be constant motion. Story boarding one or two ideas while writing the next one and waiting for feedback to arrive from the first script. Never sit still. That's the formula for success at anything. Good luck.

Author: Raymond Belair Posted: 09/09/07 11:47 PM

I've seen these types of posts before where are writer gets negative feedback after paying for professional coverage and appeals to the forum for guidance. The majority of teh responses to such an appeal is a resounding "it's just one reader's opinion, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

While it's always great to get supportive go-for-it feedback like this, you have to ask yourself what the point of paying for professional coverage is in the first place?

What if you posted on the forum that a reader gave you gold stars across the board, told you that you are the next big thing, and your screenplay will spark a bidding war the likes of which Hollywood has never witnessed. Would the majority reply with "eh, it's just one reader, what do they know, put it in the bottom drawer and forget about it."? Hmmm...

If you are only willing to accept positive feedback, and dismiss the negative, then aren't you just wasting your money? If you are going to forge ahead with marketing your script regardless of what the professionals advise, then don't bother paying them for an opinion that you really don't need (or neccessarily want).

There is no doubt that we can dredge up plenty of anecdotes about the rejected scripts that made it big in the end - in fact since every script ever made into a movie has probably faced at least one rejection, there's probably no end to such tales. But as one of many thousands of outsiders competing for a few positions in a game absolutely dominated by insiders, we have to show up at the try-outs with our best stuff. Stuff that is so difficult to say no to they have to put us on the team. (Is anyone else starting to hate this metaphor? The start of the football season has poisoned my brain, sorry)

So, to sum up, I feel that if you're going to spend your hard earned money on (well-researched) professional feedback, then be prepared to accept it - good or bad. If the feedback isn't going to sway you one way or the other, then send me your money and I'll tell you how wonderful your writing is - this way we all win!

-RayB