The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, February 24 2012 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

I have a confession to make...

Ready?

Here it is...

I'm a self-improvement junkie!

While that may not actually be such a shocker to you, I can tell you that changing my mindset and habits have helped my career in ways I can't even describe.

You see, I'm sure you're aware that Hollywood is an emotional roller-coaster.

One day you're on top of the world, and the very next day you're having a "dark night of the soul."

Sound familiar?

Well I gotta tell you, one of the ways I cope with emotional dips is to watch inspirational and uplifting videos.

The video above was originally shown at a Tony Robbins seminar (that's what a friend of mine told me anyway) and it has never failed to motivate and inspire me.

Sometimes, all you need is a good kick-in-the-pants to get back on track.

You know, motivation to sit down and write, to make that phone-call you need to make, to register for that event, whatever...

I hope this video serves as that kick-in-the-pants for you!

And with that, here's what we've got for you in this week's edition of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter:

The Business of Show Institute Recommends: is the weekly screenwriting product or service that our staff has personally reviewed and feel you would benefit from. This week? Free video reveals the #1 secret to getting your screenplay read by top Hollywood professionals... even if you don't live in Los Angeles!

Check it out here:

http://screenwritingsuccessnow.com/bosi/

Your Blueprint for Breaking Into Hollywood...: is this week's article by yours truly. If you ever wanted a clear-cut map to succeeding in Hollywood, this week's article gives it to you! And it's only 7 steps...

The Box Office Report: gives you the latest feature film releases as well as the opening weekend projections, so you can be on top of this critical information.

Go The Distance: is this week's article by mc foley. mc is an active writer and regular contributor to this newsletter. The title of her column is "Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey".

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters: is our column by entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark. To ask your legal questions, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.

...But I Thought Of It First!: is this week's article from Script Consultant and Producer Daniel Manus. The title of his column is "No B.S. for Screenwriters - The Executive Perspective."

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters: is dedicated to asking a top executive or successful screenwriter the absolute best advice they could give a screenwriter looking for success. This week's contributor? Academy Award nominated writer of "Bridesmaids" – Annie Mumolo!

The Scoggins Report: is our weekly spec market analysis and/or pitch report. Use this column to see what's selling, who's buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This real-time Hollywood market intelligence is pure gold...

Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty: is our column dedicated to tracking the promotions and movements of Hollywood's Executives. Use this market intelligence wisely...

The Ticking Clock: is this week's article from screenwriting contest judge and author of "39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make" – Sean Hinchey. The title of his column is "Insights and Screenwriting Wisdom from a Veteran Screenwriting Contest Judge".

Who Is This "She" And Why Is She Always Saying Stuff?...: is this week's article by Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson's behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

That's it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.

If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to http://www.TheBusinessOfShowInstitute.com and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna





The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

Free Video Reveals The #1 Secret To Getting Your Screenplay Read By Top Hollywood Professionals...
Even If You Don't Live In Los Angeles!

Click HERE!



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Your Blueprint for Breaking Into Hollywood...

by Marvin V. Acuna

Rule #1: Never Give Up!

People come and go in this business. They have their own reasons; it's not a judgment. But, if you stay you'll discover that the opportunity you have been working towards will present itself. The KEY is you must be ready. You must continue to prepare yourself: a) always hone your craft; b) continue to immerse yourself in the business; and c) absolutely nurture and add value to ALL your relationships.

Rule #2: Believe in Yourself.

I think this quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums it up:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Rule #3: Know Yourself.

Have a deep understanding of your strengths AND weakness. By doing so you're able to better communicate who you are and what value you can contribute to other people.

Listen — we all have weaknesses. Recognizing your weakness affords you the opportunity for it to serve you versus hurt you.

A simple example:

You have the ability to craft great characters and dialogue, but struggle with developing original commercial ideas. In this instance it serves you to seek out source material such as books, articles, or to partner/collaborate with someone that is a great idea person, but struggles with really flushing out characters.

Rule #4: Personality IS Your Unique Selling Proposition

There's a massive opportunity in putting yourself out there immediately. Your personality is what makes you STAND OUT. It cannot be copied. Don't wait until you become comfortable to show people your true colors.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of screenwriters vying for their shot. And you now know from being a member of the BOSI community that writing talent is necessary, but not enough. It just isn't. There are many talented screenwriters that will go unrecognized because they simply blend into the herd like sheep.

If for some reason you are unclear as to what makes you unique, ask your trusted friends and family. Because in this business you are not solely selling screenplays, you are selling yourself too.

Rule #5: Be Consistent

Think about how to make all you do more consistent so people say "Oh that's something ____ does." The more people can identify you and associate you with something, the more your name will get out there through word-of-mouth.

This is essential. It's important and financially beneficial that you become the go-to person for something. What can people expect from you on consistent basis? Do you make something that is familiarly different? Does your unique view of the world offer a fresh perspective to an old idea/theme?

In essence, what is your brand? In simple terms, are you Doritos or simply like everyone else... generic run-of-the-mill potato chips?

Rule #6: Passion, Expertise and Support are MUSTS.

They are essential ingredients to your success. A) passion fuels you when times get rough...and I promise you they will. This is a marathon business, not a sprint. Everyone and I do mean everyone has challenges in this business; B) you must become an expert in your business. Becoming an expert separates you from the pack. You may even become a pack leader; and C) you need an individual or a group of people who you can trust to serve as a support system, to lend a shoulder or an ear. But, to be clear, this does not mean they serve as your venting and whining group. It's a group of people or individuals who simply remind you of your successes and the bigger picture, or may point you in a new direction. Remember, it takes a village to build a career.

Rule #7: Do More Than the Minimum

Doing the bare minimum creates minimum results. This business requires tenacity, perseverance, sacrifice, and simply put — hard work. I promise you will get what you put into it.

I understand that you may find yourself exhausted after a long day of work, but if you neglect the short term responsibilities (ie. creating fresh inventory, mining market intelligence, and networking) of your screenwriting business you simply won't generate the long term results you desire.

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The Box Office Report

Wed, Feb. 22 Daily Total
Safe House $1,467,125 $85,260,900
The Vow $1,266,647 $91,655,994
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $1,206,333 $61,994,185
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $1,047,550 $28,038,743
This Means War $1,025,112 $23,995,419
Chronicle $496,448 $53,799,484
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D $439,123 $36,804,790
The Secret World of Arrietty $418,653 $9,713,686
The Woman in Black $397,440 $47,310,696
The Grey $235,500 $49,134,796
The Descendants $221,569 $76,062,423
Big Miracle $179,740 $18,046,865
Red Tails $106,044 $48,109,010


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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

Go the Distance

by mc foley

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."
(-"Anton Ego" in Ratatouille)

I often think about writer/director, Brad Bird's (and Pixar's) fictional food critic, Anton Ego, when I am faced with rejection.

I thought about him the other day during a lunch meeting, when I was informed that a certain publisher had gone back and forth on my manuscript for months, and finally decided "no."

I thought about him when I looked at the calendar and realized that almost three years had passed since the start of a certain feature project — optioned twice and still in un-produced limbo.

And I think about him every time I consider the story behind author, William P. Young's The Shack. I've discussed this story in past articles, and return to it now, because Young's struggle to get his book to the public is a powerful example of persistence, patience, and belief in one's unique voice as a writer.

Originally written for his family, and then passed to friends, Young's story caught the eye of two former pastors who believed so deeply in the book that when 26 traditional publishers rejected it, they chose to push it out into the world on their own.

Young and the two pastors spent their own money to self-publish the book, and then utilized word-of-mouth and internet marketing to reach the public. The result: The Shack became a USA Today bestseller, long maintained its status as #1 Paperback trade fiction seller on the New York Times bestseller list, and has sold over 7 million copies worldwide,

I recently discussed Young's journey to reach an audience, with a friend of mine who owns his book. She said something in that conversation, which struck me.

"Publishers think they know what the people want to read," she said, "But [in this case] the people decided on their own."

And the people were able to make that decision — because, rather than crumble in defeat, Young and his two pastor supporters, took steps to transcend the mountain of rejection. Rather than forming the perspective that something was wrong with the book — they formed the perspective that — if the traditional publishers refused to support The Shack the way that they did, then they would find another way.

While it's true that every piece of writing can benefit from revision, and while it's true that constructive criticism can clarify a vision — and push a story forward — in leaps and bounds, I often find that one of the trickiest parts of the writer's journey, is recognizing the difference in someone's:

—perceptive, and helpful, editing suggestions
—honest questions about plot holes or confusing scenes/characters/etc
—dislike of "unconventional" writing
—manifestation of that person's pessimism or bitterness
—attempt to smash a writer down, so that he/she can graciously lift the writer back up and "show them the proper way"

It's a messy challenge. And one, that we must all face — often, and always — if we choose to release our creations into the world.

For my own projects, I've learned one very important lesson:

In addition to my own belief in the story, my own willingness to stand beside my creation, no matter how long it takes, and no matter how much mud may get thrown at it — I've learned that one of the most powerful elements along the way, is finding a supporter. A person — or people — who latches onto the story and believes in it so intensely, that he/she is willing to join me, and to go the distance.

Someone like a partner, a good producer, a devoted manager, a perceptive editor...

Someone who sees the essence of the creation, the heart of the story, and knows it was created for a reason. Knows it's the real thing.

Or — as Anton Ego also said:

"But there are times when a critic truly risks something — and that is in discovery, and defense, of the new.

"The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new... needs friends."


-mc foley


About mc foley:
Melinda Corazon Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and currently resides in West Hollywood, CA. In 2005, MC Foley was named East West Players' James Irvine Foundation Mentee affording her the privilege to craft a new original stage play, the result: "Down and Out." It debuted at the Union Center for the Arts. Foley was then awarded the Asian American Writers Workshop Scholarship, which she utilized to re-imagine the aforementioned play into a web based series incorporating verse, motion graphics and comic book illustrations. Recently Ms. Foley completed work on a debut YA novel, The Ice Hotel. The novel is a fantasy adventure written especially for readers experiencing the profound pain of loss. In the book, a family, reeling from their eldest son's death, escapes to the Ice Hotel, where an age-old, arctic magic connects this world to the next. The Ice Hotel is now available at Amazon. Order your copy here.

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A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

Question:
"Is something you wrote/published on Internet, a valid evidence in a copy-right process, if you can prove it's yours?"

Answer:
The only 'valid' evidence of a copyright is the copyright registration certificate. Sure, if there's other stuff out there that helps establish the timeline of when a work was created, it's useful, but Internet sources are viewed with some skepticism, since dates and times can sometimes be 'spoofed'. The bottom line is this: If you create a work of original authorship, spend $35 to register the copyright. Do this as early as possible, so you have access to attorneys-fees and statutory damage awards if you ever need to sue someone for infringement.


Have a legal question? Email them to: legalquestions@thebusinessofshowinstitute.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The foregoing is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Firemark. This information is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. Neither Mr. Firemark nor The Business of Show Institute will be responsible for readers' detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this column.

About Gordon P. Firemark:
Gordon Firemark is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television,and music. He is also the publisher of Entertainment Law Update, a newsletter for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media and business/corporate matters for clients in the entertainment industry.

Mr. Firemark serves on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater), and The Academy for New Musical Theatre. In the past he has served on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, where he served as liason to the Association's Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).

Mr. Firemark holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. Before opening The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark, Mr. Firemark was a partner with the Business Affairs Group, a boutique entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. He has also worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group, and started his legal career as an associate at Neville L. Johnson & Associates, a West L.A. firm specializing in entertainment litigation.

For more about Mr. Firemark, visit http://firemark.com/.

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...But I Thought Of It First!

by Daniel Manus

There are no original ideas in Hollywood. How many times have you heard or said that?

And generally, it's kinda true.

Case in point – the newly announced thriller project "The Tomb" starring Schwarzenegger and Stallone about a man who is imprisoned in the very prison he created and must seek help from a guard to escape – is pretty close in basic concept to the project I was hired to write a few months ago, which was registered and copyrighted and all that good stuff.

Did this make me think twice? Maybe.

Does it mean I stop writing it? No.

Did they steal our idea? Not at all. This shit just happens.

But it means once it's done, my plan of attack for how I try to sell it will be different and the timing of how to sell it may change. Plus, it means I will have to come up with ways to make our script different and even more original.

Another example – when I was still an executive at Clifford Werber Productions, we developed a project for a couple years called "Family Bond," a family action film about a father/spy whose kid gets kidnapped and whose arch-enemy moves in next door in their suburb town. The SAME week we decided to go out with it to the town, another project was also sent out by a different producer called "Family Bonds" (with an S). Guess what it was about. Yup – almost the same exact fucking story.

And there was nothing we could do. Yes, I looked into the chance that the idea was stolen from us after mentioning it in some meeting to someone, somewhere. But we'll never know and it pretty much killed our project.

Clifford and I sold a Wizard of Oz project to United Artists before two of the other Oz projects sold. Now there are FOUR other Wizard of Oz projects out there and ours is in turnaround because the others got going first (through no real fault of our own).

There are TWO Snow White projects about to be released within a couple months of each other. Last year, No Strings Attached came out just months before Friends with Benefits. And this is nothing new.

Deep Impact and Armageddon came out in the same year. Volcano and Dante's Peak. Antz and A Bug's Life. Mission to Mars and Red Planet. Capote and Infamous. The Prestige and The Illusionist. The Score and Heist. Chasing Liberty and First Daughter. And The Back-Up Plan and The Switch, which funny enough also killed a sperm donor comedy Clifford and I were developing.

They ALL came out within months of each other, which means they were all developed and green-lit around the same time as well. Did the writers of all of those movies scream and yell and wonder if someone stole their idea? Probably. But it didn't stop them from going forward and making their movie.

If anything, it should tell you that at least you're thinking commercially – you're just thinking commercially 3 months too late.

And I can't tell you how many times at a pitchfest I have been pitched the SAME exact idea 2, 3, 4 times in a day. If it DIDN'T happen, I'd be shocked.

So for all you writers out there scared of pitching or sending out your project because you're worried about it getting stolen – don't be. Because it's probably already been written by someone else. In fact, if you're truly writing something that has never – in any way – been done before – there's probably a reason for that.

That's also part of the reason studios like intellectual property – because they KNOW it's not original material. They know that when they get the rights to a book, there isn't some other writer trying to adapt it. They don't have to worry about random writers suing them.

This is not supposed to depress you – it's supposed to make you realize that some things are out of your control. All you can do is write your story as originally as you can and study the market to see where you can and can't sell it to and when the best time to do so might be. That's the business, baby!

***Join me Wednesday Feb 29th for my Writers Store Webinar, "What the Heck are Executives Thinking?" It's your chance to learn how to think, read, and write from the Exec Perspective, uncover 15 notes execs most often give and how to avoid them, and learn what to expect and how to survive the development process. Best part is you get access to the course for a whole year even if you can't make it live! Click here for more info - http://www.writersstore.com/what-the-heck-are-executives-thinking


About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.

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Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Annie Mumolo – Academy Award nominated screenwriter of "Bridesmaids" - on her best advice for screenwriters:

"My token advice is do it—make your own stuff. Whether it's short films or whatever you can do, my advice is make your own stuff. I'm a real believer in preparation meets opportunity. When this opportunity (to write Bridesmaids) came along I really had been at this a long time...I was really prepared when this came along. I'm just a firm believer in ‘just do it.' If you build it, he will come."

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2012 Spec Market Scorecard as of February 17, 2012

February 2012 Pitch Sales Scorecard

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

This week's edition of The Scoggins Report is our first Spec Market Scorecard of 2012, with numbers from January 1 through February 17. As we started to do with last week's Pitch Sales Scorecard, we're now including combined spec and pitch sales tallies throughout, along with more detailed year-over-year comparisons than previously.

Rather than droning on and on about how WME keeps lapping the field, here are a few other tidbits worth noting in the below grids:

  • The studios have picked up a total of 8 specs so far this year, compared to 5 at this point last year. Even more interesting is the fact that none of this year's 12 non-studio buyers bought scripts in 2011.

  • Seven of this year's eighteen spec sales (39%) were of scripts that originally went out prior to 2012.

  • Year-over-year numbers for genres are basically the same, which suggests buyers' tastes remain steady.

Enjoy the grids.


2012 Overall Numbers :

The below grid shows sales of scripts that originally came out this year. In addition to the below, 7 scripts have sold this year that originally went out prior to 2012. Here are the spec sales numbers through February 17 on their own...

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
Specs 21 25                     46 370
Sales 9 2                     11 119
Percent Sold 43% 12%                     24% 32%
2011 Sales 3 13 15 9 7 13 10 5 7 20 8 10 119  



...and here are combined spec and pitch sales numbers for the same period.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
Specs 12 6                     18 119
Pitches 9 3                     12 106
2012 Total 21 9                     30 225
2011 Total 7 21 28 16 15 28 20 9 12 30 16 24 225  




Spec Sales By Genre (sold/total):

Each cell in the below grid shows the number of specs in each genre that came out and/or sold that month, plus the number that sold that month that came out previously. The percentage column on the right is that genre's percentage of total 2012 spec sales.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Sold/
Total
% of
Sales
Action/Adventure 1/5 0/6+1                     2/11 10.5%
Comedy 3/7 0/5                     3/12 15.8%
Drama 2/2 0/1+1                     3/3 15.8%
Horror 1/1 2/4                     3/5 15.8%
Sci-Fi 0/1+1 0/2                     1/2 5.3%
Thriller 2/2+2 0/7+2                     6/9 31.6%

Spec Sales By Buyer - Studios:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011 2010 2009
Disney   1                     1 2 2 2
Fox 2000 1                       1 1 2 0
New Regency 1                       1 0 2 2
Syfy Films   1                     1 0 0 0
Universal 1 1                     2 5 2 6
Warner Bros. 1 1                     2 14 9 6




Sharp-eyed readers might notice we previously had Disney buying a spec in January. We'd incorrectly tagged the Untitled Max Landis Space Adventure as a spec (it was a pitch). Disney's February purchase is Kelly Marcel's 2011 Black List script Saving Mr. Banks.

Here are the combined pitch and spec purchase numbers for the studios that have bought at least one of each:

  Specs Pitches Total 2011
Disney 1 1 2 11
Universal 2 3 5 19
Warner Bros. 2 2 4 30




Spec Sales By Buyer - Other Buyers:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011 2010 2009
Amazon 1                       1 0 0 0
ANA Media 1                       1 0 0 0
College Humor 1                       1 0 0 0
Chockstone 1                       1 0 0 1
Cinetic Media 1                       1 0 0 0
Endgame 1                       1 0 2 0
Exclusive Media   1                     1 0 1 0
Lava Bear 1                       1 0 0 0
Nick Wechsler Productions 1                       1 0 0 0
Sentinel 1                       1 0 0 0
Skyrock   1                     1 0 0 0
WWE 1                       1 0 0 0




Each of the following production companies has been attached to at least one spec sale so far this year.

Blumhouse Productions
Intrigue
MXN
Quadrant Pictures
Ruby Films
Strike Entertainment
Sunswept Entertainment
Vertigo Entertainment
Wonderland Sound and Vision




Spec Sales by Seller - Agencies (sold/total):

Each cell in the below grid shows the number of specs each agency took out and/or sold that month, plus the number it sold that month that it took out previously. The efficiency rating shows the percentage of scripts taken out this year that have sold -- it'll be more meaningful as the year wears on.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Efficiency
APA 0/1 0/4+1                     1/6 0%
CAA 1/1+1                       2/2  
ICM 1/1 0/1                     1/2  
Original Artists 1/1                       1/2  
UTA 1/1 0/3                     1/4 25%
Verve 0/0+1                       1/1  
WME 3/3 2/2+3                     8/88 100%

Here are the combined spec and pitch sales numbers for the agencies that have sold at least one of each:


  Specs Pitches Total 2011
CAA 1 1 2 50
ICM 1 1 2 27
UTA 1 1 2 30
Verve 1 1 2 9
WME 8 6 14 50




The following 16 agents have been involved with at least one spec sale in 2012:

Four:        
Mike Esola (WME)   David Karp (WME)
      Jordan Bayer (Original)
Two:     Julien Thuan (UTA)
Dan Cohan (WME)   Kimberly Hodgert (CAA)
      Matt Leipzig (Original)
One:     Matt Rice (UTA)
Adam Levine (Verve)   Philip Raskind (WME)
Amanda Urban (ICM)   Ron Bernstein (ICM)
Chris Sablan (Original)   Ryan Saul (APA)
Danny Greenberg (WME)   Stuart Manashil (CAA)



Spec Sales by Seller - Management Companies (sold/total):

Each cell in the below grid shows the number of specs each management company took out and/or sold that month, plus the number it sold that month that it took out previously. The efficiency rating shows the percentage of scripts taken out this year that have sold -- it'll be more meaningful as the year wears on.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Efficiency
Anonymous   1/1                     1/1  
Brucks   0/0+1                     1/1  
Energy 2/2 1/2                     3/4 75%
Hung 1/1                       1/1  
Kailey Marsh 1/1                       1/1  
Mindframe 0/0+1                       1/1  
New Wave 0/0+1 0/2                     1/3  
Prolific   0/0+1                     1/1  
Silent R 0/0+1                       1/1  
Untitled   1/1                     1/1  

No management company has sold both a pitch and a spec yet this year.

The following managers have been attached to at least one spec sale:

Three:        
Brooklyn Weaver (Energy)   Jewerl Ross (Silent R)
      Jonathan Hung (Hung)
One:     Josh Adler (New Wave)
Adam Goldworm (Aperture)   Kailey Marsh (Kailey Marsh)
Bryan Brucks (Brucks)   Mike Golderg (New Wave)
Elana Barry (Anonymous)   Nick Fariabi (Mindframe)
Jennifer Levine (Untitled)   Rosalie Swedlin (Anonymous)
Jesse Silver (Mindframe)   Will Rowbotham (Prolific)


About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics. Caveat emptor. Molṑn labé.

Details on every person, project and company covered by the Report can also be found at www.itsonthegrid.com, a proud division of The Wrap News, Inc. IOTG is the only place mere mortals can find listings of Hollywood's active open writing and directing assignments, not to mention comprehensive spec market data; active film development information; and relevant credits for released movies going back to 1988.

The IOTG newsfeed (www.itsonthegrid.com/news) includes daily highlights of recent updates to TheGrid. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the feed right where you'd expect them. Follow our Twitter feed here: http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.


About Scoggins:
Jason Scoggins recently launched Eureka Canyon Enterprises, a literary management, production and consulting company that represents feature film and TV writers, directors and producers. He also founded and runs www.itsonthegrid.com, the aforementioned database of feature film development information. Jason got his start in the entertainment industry in 1995 as an agent trainee at ICM, which led to stints as a TV Lit Agent at Gersh and Writers & Artists. He left the business (and California) for several years in 2000, returning in 2007 as a partner at Protocol, a literary management and production company. Follow him here: http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.


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Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

What do you do when a friend gets promoted or moves to a new position? You congratulate them right?

What else might you do? You might send them a card telling them how excited you are for their new position. Later, you might follow up with that person to see how they're settling in. Then, you might send them an interesting article once in a while.

Why would you do this? Because that's how relationships are nurtured and developed. (They're not developed by asking for favors before the relationship has matured)

So we'd like you to help us in congratulating the following executives who have just been promoted or moved positions.

The Business of Show Institute Congratulates the Following Executives in Their New Positions:

Angelica McDaniel
Senior Vice President, Daytime, CBS Entertainment

Andrew Cripps
President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, IMAX Corporation

Janeen Faithfull
Chief Executive Officer, Southern Star

Courtney Menzel
Senior Vice President, Domestic Distribution, Discovery Communications

Rob Golenberg
Manager/Producer, Evolution Entertainment

Michael Flannigan
Head of Production, Emmett/Furla Films

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The Ticking Clock

by Sean Hinchey

Does it seem like your script doesn't have an end to it, or your current ending goes on for too long? Maybe it's because you haven't indicated if it will have a definitive ending. What you need to employ is The Ticking Clock. Let the contest judge know that not only are you going to have an ending to your script, you will have told them a complete story.

What's the difference between an ordinary ending and complete story? Keep reading!

The Ticking Clock is an often used device that creates tension, but also indicates when the story will end by using....a ticking clock. It could be the countdown to a bomb going off, or the stroke of midnight holds a certain significance. However it is used, the characters in the script agree that at a specific time, something important is going to happen.

Does your script need to have an actual clock marking the moments until a tragedy occurs? Absolutely not. But the same idea can be utilized in different ways. For example, in a comedy, weddings are often used as the moment of truth. One person is in love with a bride or the groom who is about to be married. They only have a certain amount of time to profess their love before it is too late.

In a drama, it could be a controversial news story that is going to hit the newspaper stands the next morning, giving the protagonist little time to resolve their conflict. In a western, it could be the train that arrives in town once a week. The sheriff has to figure out who the guilty party in a murder is before the suspect vanish on that train.

The Ticking Clock helps the contest judge gauge the pacing of your script. It also lets them know, that you know what you are doing. There are thousands of scripts that tell a story, that doesn't leave a satisfying ending. Or, they end without resolving key issues.

The best way to end your story is to have the protagonist resolve their conflict in a manner that is satisfying to the contest judge. As an example, Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star in Star Wars (talk about a great Ticking Clock example!) which gave a definitive end to the story. Darth Vader getting away at the end allows the world to continue — there could (and were) two sequels. However, the story of Star Wars had a satisfactory ending.

Find an similar key element in your story and give the protagonist a definitive deadline where their goals and conflicts will be resolved. It's that "It ends here" moment that makes the person reading your script, the one who decides if you'll be the winner of that contest, sit up a bit and take notice of your work.

Let them understand that your script will end definitively, and that it was worth the read. See you in the Winner's Circle!


Have you gotten feedback on your script that suggests that your story telling is limping along? Did the Second Act drag a bit? It's not necessarily your story nor your characters that are lacking. It's time to Heighten Your Conflict.


About Sean Hinchey:
Sean Hinchey has been a script consultant for International Creative Management (ICM), Miracle Entertainment, Nash Entertainment, and Viviano Entertainment. He's also read the preliminary drafts of Michael Crichton's best-selling novels, State of Fear and Next and has performed extensive research for the stage plays and screenplays of writer/director Floyd Mutrux (American Hot Wax, Million Dollar Quartet).

Sean's expertise has made him a highly sought after judge for such prestigious screenwriting contests such as: The Big Break Contest, The Miramax Open Door Contest, Artists and Writer's Contest, Energy Contest, Smart Contest and The Chills and Thrills Contest. Throughout his career, Sean has read over two thousand scripts, giving him an insight into what it takes to become the winner of a screenwriting contest.

Three of Sean's screenplays have been optioned and one was a finalist in the Film in Arizona Screenwriting Competition. He won an award for his first non-fiction book, Backpacking Through Divorce.

Drawing from these experiences, he's written a book, 39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make, set for publication this year.

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Who is this "she" and why is she always saying stuff?...

by Manny Fonseca

All right. Got a lot I want to cover this week, so let's just dive right in.

First, some more dialog talk. (see what I did there?)

There are a couple of other things that you really want to avoid in dialog. Last week I showed you how sentence starters can really clog up your dialog and how useless "hello's" and "goodbye's" are a no no. There's another thing I see rookie writers do all the time that you want to run from like the plague.

Using character names.

What do I mean by that? Let's take a look...

INT. RESTUARUNT – DAY

JAKE HARRIS and HEATHER HILLARD sit in a booth quietly. Both have cups of coffee in front of them. Jake has his nose buried in the LA Times whereas Heather's nose is buried in the latest celebrity rag mag.

Jake lowers his paper.

JAKE

What do you want to do today, Heather?

HEATHER

I don't know Jake, any ideas?

We all know, no one talks like that. Do you use your friends name when you talk to them? You DEFINITELY don't do it when there are just two of you in a booth. That would just be weird. The only time I actually use a friend's name is when I need to call them in a store, otherwise it's "hey" or "babe" or just look at them and start talking.

That's normal.

Another thing you want to do is avoid writing heavy dialect. Leave that for the actors and the director to decide on for the character. The only exception to this rule is if the dialect somehow relates to the story. Everything you do services the story.

If you have a character that NO ONE can EVER understand...fine, it's okay for the reader to not understand him either.

Otherwise...stay away from shit like this...

HANKY

'Sup, muthafucka, how 'bout we fuck sum shit up!

JIMMY

Dat's what I'm thinkin'!

Now, not to say you can't have a little bit of that in your script, but keep it to a minimum.

Couple of other things about dialog that I want to go over. First, do NOT overuse parentheticals. It's really annoying. If you don't know what I mean, here's what they look like.

SARAH
(wipes her nose)  ←PARENTHETICAL

I think I'm coming down with a cold.

MARCY
(hands her another tissue)   ← PARENTHETICAL

It is that time of year.

At one time, this used to be the way things were done, but in all reality, it's sort of a thing of the past. Especially when you use it ALL the time. I've seen scripts that have entire scenes where the action is written in parentheticals. I mean, imagine if your script looked like this...

SARAH
(wipes her nose)

I think I'm coming down with a cold.

MARCY
(hands her another tissue)

It is that time of year.

SARAH
(takes the tissue)

Thanks. I know, it's been creeping up on me slowly.

MARCY
(rummages through her purse)

I think I might have something for you.

(pulls out a pill bottle)

Here it is.

(hands it to Sarah)

Take this, it'll help.

SARAH
(swallows the pill and washes
it down with a swig of water)

Thanks.

Do you see how annoying that can be? And just look at it...see how dense the dialog looks? Don't read it, but just look at the scene as black letters on a white page.

Cluttered, right?

So let's clean it up...

Here's how you SHOULD write this...



Sarah sneezes and wipes her nose with her sleeve.

SARAH

I think I'm coming down with a cold.



Marcy hands her a tissue.

MARCY

It is that time of year.

SARAH

Thanks.



Sarah BLOWS her nose.

SARAH

It's been creeping up on me slowly.

MARCY

I might have something...



Marcy rummages through her purse and comes out with a pill bottle. She hands it to Sarah.

Marcy

Take this, it'll help.



Sarah throws back the pill and follows it with a water chaser.

SARAH

Thanks.

See how much cleaner that looks?

So when do you use parentheticals? Here's how I use them...

I use them when I'm pointing out that one character is talking to another. This is mostly done when I'm dealing with a group and want to make sure that the reader understands that a person is addressing another person and not the group as a whole.

Looks like this...

L.T.

Listen up, some of us might not make it back, that's a fact, but trust me when I say, we're not leaving anyone behind.

(to SERGEANT)

Lead 'em out Sarge.

I always put the character's name in caps, but that's my choice. I've never seen a steadfast rule on whether that's "the right way to do it."

Another way I use parentheticals, and again I use this sparingly, is when a character needs to comment about a specific item in the room.

So let's assume the scene looks like this...

INT. BUNKER – DAY

Kate and David argue as the bomb ticks down in the corner. John stands nervously to the side. He flip flops between the argument and the bomb.

DAVID

I told you we should have taken the other tunnel!

KATE

You did not! The first peep outta you was when you figured out that we went the wrong way!

JOHN

Guys?

DAVID

It's the last time I let you lead!

KATE

FINE BY ME!

JOHN

HEY!



The two stop and turn to John.

JOHN
(re: THE BOMB)

We going to deal with that?

Again, I use CAPS but that's my choice.

One more thing I want to address before moving on is the whole (beat) or (pause) issue as some of you have written in asking about it.

Again, this was a tool that used to be quite popular with writers. I've heard both sides of the argument and found my own solution to the problem.

For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, the (beat) or (pause) parenthetical was thrown into dialog to...well, show a pause or beat in the speech. Looks like this...

KILLROY

I don't know what to say.

(beat)   ← or (pause)
I just love every last one of you.

I'm not the biggest fan of this as a tool. What I like to do, is for longer pauses, simply describe the action. So I would write that dialog like this...

KILLROY

I don't know what to say.



Killroy takes a moment to fight back the tears.

KILLROY

I just love every last one of you.

For shorter pauses, I use ellipses. I've heard that this annoys some readers, but for me, it conveys the change in speech that I want to pass along. For example, my guy just got shot in the gut and he's hanging on by a thread but still wants to give that final speech...

JIMMY

I... feel... cold...

HENRY

Just hang in there!

JIMMY

You... were always... my... my... favori...



Jimmy fades away, unable to finish his line.

Okay. Staying in the realm of dialog, but moving on, I want to bring up the (CONT'D)'s. The rule used to be that if a character's dialog is broken up by action, you would put a (CONT'D) next to the character name.

So using the scene above, it would look like this...

MARCY

I might have something...



Marcy rummages through her purse and comes out with a pill bottle. She hands it to Sarah.

Marcy (CONT'D)

Take this, it'll help.

For those of you that use Final Draft (and I hope you are) this is an automatic feature to the program. It will always add a (CONT'D) if you use a character's name twice in a row.

I used to do it all the time until I got yelled at by a couple of producers to "knock it off!" (their words exactly.)

We just don't do it anymore, so you shouldn't do it either.

Not sure how to do it in any other program, but in Final Draft go to the menu at the top and click "DOCUMENT." From there click on "MORES AND CONTINUED'S..." Find the box next to "AUTOMATIC CHARACTER CONTINUEDS" and make sure that it is NOT checked.

Do this and it'll remove the feature and save you a shit ton of time. If you finished a script and need to take them out after the fact, go to the EDIT tab, then SELECT ALL and then follow the steps above. That'll kill those for you.

Enough about dialog, as always if I've missed something or you want me to go over something more specific, drop me an email.

One of the issues I see a lot in scripts is the overuse of ALL CAPS.

You really want to watch the ALL CAPS usage. For me, and I know there are a lot of people who argue against doing this now, but I'm old school. I use it for SOUNDS and that's pretty much it. The only other time is when I want to emphasis a word within dialog.

Here's would be an example...

EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY

The team takes cover in a nearby ditch. Bombs EXPLODE all around them. Dirt and debris rain down on our heroes as gunfire RINGS OUT.

At the end of the line is MAJOR HANKS. He yells to him men.

HANKS

Stay down! Stay the fuck DOWN!

Notice that I did not use CAPS for bomb and gunfire. That's because those are the objects in question. I only used CAPS for the SOUNDS they create. Make sense? Unless GUNFIRE is the only sound mentioned. More on this in one second.

One other note about this, and trust me, I used to be quite the fucktard at this too. There's no point in using SOUNDS OF in your script. The sound alone explains that it's a sound. For example, I used to write...

The SOUND of gunfire can be heard in the distance.

See what's wrong with that? It's redundant! We know gunfire is a sound, so why are we calling it a sound?

Today, that sentence would read...

GUNFIRE in the distance.

Reads better anyway.

There's going to be a new contest announced next week. One that I think you all will enjoy quite a bit, at least the people I've pitched it to seem to find it exciting. So more on that then...

Quick note before I head out...not doing the full Oscar treatment I did last year, but do want to say that I'm looking forward to having Billy Crystal back as emcee and as for winners...

I'm pulling for The Artist but that seems like a lock. Also calling it for Midnight in Paris (it's Woody, have to go with my fave) and The Descendants for Original and Adapted respectively.

Have a great Oscar Sunday!

Till next week...


About Manny Fonseca:
Manny Fonseca hails from Dearborn, Michigan and now lives in the glamorous Hollywood. Always knowing that he wanted something more than a menial job in retail or the auto industry, he attended Ohio University where he received his M.F.A. in screenwriting.

He quickly navigated the industry, landing a job at Kopelson Entertainment where he plays mild-mannered exec by day, constantly looking for the next big script and turns into Screenwriter by night. You can often find his foul, yet honest, opinion at pitchfests around Los Angeles. You can also retain him for script consulting/developing services as well as pitch consulting services.

For info, have a question or just want to tell him you love him, drop an email to weekendread@gmail.com or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca

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