It happened again...
I blinked, and it's March already!
It seems like we were just celebrating the New Year, and suddenly, here we are, well into 2012!
So this is a good time to give you some quotes about time.
Thomas Jefferson once said:
Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.
Motivational speaker Michael Altshuler has this to say about time:
The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.
An unknown author once said:
Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.
H. Jackson Brown, author of "Life's Little Instruction Book" says this about people who complain they don't have enough time:
Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
And finally, a little "time humor" by academic author Louis E. Boone:
I am definitely going to take a course on time management... just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.
The point I'm trying to make is, if you have a burning desire to become a successful screenwriter, then you'll find time to write, and the time to learn the business of screenwriting – no matter how "busy" you are.
If becoming successful in Hollywood really is your dream, then you'll MAKE the time to accomplish this dream.
If this means cutting something out of your life to make time to write, then so be it.
If it means eating lunch at your desk with headphones on to listen to a BOSI program, then so be it.
If it means waking up an hour earlier to write a certain number of pages a day, then that's what you do!
Ambitious, serious writers simply create a schedule that works for them, and stick to it.
So I truly hope you're not using lack of time as a barrier to your success as a screenwriter.
I hope that was helpful to 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:
The Screenwriting Scourge!: is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I address a debilitating condition that plagues the majority of screenwriters in the industry today. Here's what it is and how you can avoid it!
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.
Other Pleasures: 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
. If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.
A Survival Kit for Screenwriters: 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 winning film-maker Martin Scorsese!
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...
Heighten Your Conflict: 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".
Dreamin' Bout "Wood and Re-Writin'...": 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!
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The Screenwriting Scourge!
by Marvin V. Acuna
If only I had an agent, If only I had a manager; If only I had a relative in the business; If only I were younger; If only I lived in LA; If only I had the money to invest in my professional pursuits; If only I were luckier; If only I had more time; If only I didn't work a full time job;
If only (FILL IN THE BLANK.)
While all the aforementioned statements undoubtedly feel very true for the screenwriter uttering them at the time, it's a trap. A mental trap!
It's the mental state of an aspiring screenwriter infected with "If Only" disease. I assure you that it's common in every industry, but rampant in the business of show. Typically the screenwriter is not even aware that their mind is invested in this vicious belief system. But, once the screenwriter of this disease has selected a "rock solid" excuse, they live with it. Then they rely on it to explain away to themselves and to others why they are not moving forward or are any closer to realizing their dream. It serves to insulate the screenwriter from really addressing the real problems. So anytime they can't figure out a solution to the challenge they encounter they just pull out old reliable... If only!
The reason I listed "If only I had an agent" first is because it is the most insidious, the most difficult to get across to thick-headed aspiring screenwriters, and the most difficult to conquer. No matter how many times you read this, no matter how often you hear stories about successful screenwriters (Variety's screenwriters to watch, Michael Martin, "Brooklyn's Finest") tell you how they made it without an agent, you'll have trouble believing what I have to say here:
AN AGENT IS NOT THE ANSWER TO YOUR SCREENWRITING PROFESSION BARRIERS.
How do I get an agent? Is arguably the number one question that I often hear at seminars, events, conferences, etc.
I can honestly say that I have sat on panels labeled, Filmmaking 4.0 or Diversity in Entertainment or "Fill in the blank" and without failure someone will raise their hand insistently only to ask...How do I get an agent?
In many ways it's probably why I'm so motivated to educate and prepare the aspiring screenwriters with a practical foundation of entertainment business acumen. There are so many incredible stories from so many wonderful and successful screenwriters in the business because they chose not to self-sabotage their dreams.
Agents are wonderful elements to have as part of your team, but they should not define your opportunities nor dictate your success. I strongly encourage you to revisit the discussions I had with many of the screenwriters (Allan Loeb, Jessica Bendinger, Vlas and Charlie Parlapanides, and many others) over the past year and become inspired. Additionally, you can listen to the invaluable lessons one can glean from the unsung, underutilized hero's of this business. All of them are available in the member's area.
Alternatively, you can continue to mentally masturbate about what you don't have and find yourself in the not to distant future sitting on a stoop at the ripe old age of ninety telling your grandkids about what could have been "if only..."
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The Box Office Report
|Wed, Feb. 29
|Act of Valor
|Tyler Perry's Good Deeds
|This Means War
|Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
|Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
|The Secret World of Arrietty
|Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D
|The Woman in Black
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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey
by mc foley
A friend recently asked me (twice) — "when is this town going to start buying stories again?!"
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This friend is someone whom I greatly admire and respect. A writer who has supported his entire family as the sole breadwinner for years, purchased a home, raised a son, and he did all of this — with money he earned as a screenwriter.
However, if you were to look my friend up on IMDB, you wouldn't find the epic list of projects he's been involved with for years. You would find two produced credits. Credits, which say nothing about his real career, his rewrites and polishes on countless features, his extensive network of writers, agents, executives, etc all over town, his commitment to — and success in — his craft.
There are several reasons for the shortlist on IMDB — one of which is that none of these websites can be considered the authority on anyone's actual work. Even resources like Baseline, TV tracker and the guild databases can't include every project in which a writer is involved. Especially if the writer is involved via rewrite, polish, or selling something that doesn't get made.
Another, less technical reason, is that my friend has managed to develop a solid reputation as a writer. Again — someone simply looking at IMDB would never know this. But the people who hire, have definitely known, for quite some time.
So — why discuss my friend's frustration with the industry?
Because he is someone with a track record. Someone who has built an entire career, a life, a family — with the money he earned from his writing.
And if he gets frustrated, then it is almost a guarantee, that someone else who still has quite a ways to go before they feel that satisfaction of "breaking through" — (in whatever manner suits their personal definition) — will also feel frustrated.
Sometimes, that frustration will only be a flicker of melancholy, a sigh, a shrug. Other times, it will be a full-on mid-life crisis or a long night full of whisky bottles and hugging a poor, defenseless jack russell who has nothing to do with the twelve years of "wasted effort" about which, his drunken pack leader sobs relentlessly until sunrise.
(...and maybe it's because summer just passed and we're nearing those heart-warming yet somehow dreaded winter holidays... but...)
...recently, I thought about my own long, drunken nights (except the dog, in my case, was a little brown chihuahua).
I felt that familiar pang of nostalgia
for when I was younger,
had more time in front of me,
lived in more luxuriously, ignorant bliss,
paid fewer bills
And the more logical part of my brain began to chime in:
You're forgetting how much worse your writing was
You're forgetting what an uninformed, arrogant jackass you sometimes sounded like
You're forgetting how unrealistic your dreams always tended to be
You're forgetting how "easy" you foolishly thought it would all be
that you were a lot less sure of yourself, no matter how much your I'm-in-college! brassiness helped you paint the most glorious picture of take-no-prisoners ballsiness and "I know exactly what I'm doing"
when you didn't
...what's happened in between all these times
when you think too much upon
where you aren't...
as opposed to
how far you've come
True. None of this is new. But it's necessary. Because — to pursue a career, a career with earnings and health insurance. A career, which arises from writing. That, is indeed, a monumental feat. And it will definitely include struggle.
Note — I did not say "writing" includes struggle. I'm not an advocate of the whole "writing is painful" school of thought. I don't find it painful. I find it uplifting, inspiring, releasing. I find it to be one of the most powerful talents available to the human mind.
What I said was — pursuing a paying career — off of writing — includes struggle. Period. Unless you are independently wealthy, a trust fund baby, or so damn lucky that everyone else hates you.
Requesting payment for your words — intrinsically means: asking for approval, review, desire... from other people. And no writer, no matter how talented or connected, can ever obtain all of those things from other people.
The "mean times" will come.
The "down times" will arrive.
The "unemployment line" may someday be mine.
And when they do
I try to remind myself
that it's the way I handle those chapters
and what I learn from them
that's most important.
I try to remind myself
that there are other,
in this world
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.
A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters
by Gordon P. Firemark
"I saw an interview on a talk show once and I feel in love with the story. Not the characters or the actual events. Is it plagiarism if I create an entirely different back story. Change the characters and the ending?"
Well, No, It's not plagiarism, it's creativity. BUT, (and it's a big one), if the story is based on real people, and they could possibly recognize themselves, and the events that they discussed in the interview, you still need their permission.
Have a legal question? Email them to:
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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/.
A Survival Kit for Screenwriters
by Daniel Manus
I was never a boy scout. I never went camping in the woods, never tied a perfect knot with rope, and never had the awkward homoerotic moments with the Boy Scout troop leader who strangely had no children of his own. Perhaps it was because I never needed to wear a pretty sash to feel accomplished. Or perhaps it was just because my parents thought it was a waste of time.
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But the joke is on us, because it turns out, the Boy Scout motto — is the same one screenwriters should always follow — Be Prepared.
Whether you are taking a meeting, attending a conference, entering a contest, or even picking up some Starbucks, you need to be prepared for who you might meet and what opportunities there might be for you. So while you may not need a Swiss army knife (other than to cut through the bullshit), there are a few things a writer should always be armed with...A so-called survival kit for screenwriters.
First, bring your "A" game and your thick skin! As I've said before, if you are going to a meeting or pitching at a conference, do your research. Know what projects the company is working on and do your due diligence. If you're meeting with an agent or manager, try to find out what other writers they are working with. And of course — bring hope and bring your confidence — show them you are meant to be in this business. But also be prepared to be rejected, shut down and even insulted a little bit.
Of course doing your research requires you put a few things into your survival kit...copies of the trades which you read daily (right?), a computer or some internet device so you can read www.deadlinehollywood.com and other sites so you know what's going on in the business. You should also probably have a copy of Script Magazine or Creative Screenwriting in that kit. They will serve you better than the copy of US Weekly you currently have in there.
Next, bring ideas — have more than one idea. In fact, have more than 3! If you have scored a meeting with a production company or studio, you better not be relying on THEM to pitch YOU stuff. They might, but you need to go in with a mental list of ideas or scripts you have written that you would like to talk about — and you need to go in with your LOGLINES ingrained into your head. Have your pitch ready — know the story, the main characters, the hook, which movies it could compare to, etc.
You also need to have a leave-behind. Especially at a pitchfest, you should have a one-sheet to give the person you are meeting with so they remember you and your project. Have one on each project you pitch. You don't need a one-sheet for an actual meeting, but you should have a business card or something with your contact information so that the executive can have direct contact with you.
Have your favorites handy. Meaning, know what your favorite movies/TV shows are and why. 'What's your favorite movie?' shouldn't be the hardest question you get asked. Know a couple of your favorite writers and directors — people you admire or want to emulate in your writing style.
Now, let's say you are at a conference — what do you need? Well, you need a notebook and a writing utensil. In fact, no matter where you are, you should always have these on you! Worst case scenario, most cell phones and blackberries have a notepad app — use them! Bring your computer if it's not too much of a hassle (no desktops, ha!). You never know when you'll need to take notes or inspiration might strike.
If you're pitching something that is based on a graphic novel or book series or YouTube video that you have the rights to — then you should have that material there to show the exec. Having copies of your short film or the trailer you created on DVD or on a flash drive could also be a good thing to have. If you are telling execs that you made this great short film, they should be able to ask for it. A water bottle, a mint or gum, and some hand sanitizer would be great for that kit too.
Having a calendar on you (electronic or not) is helpful in case you meet someone while networking and want to set up coffee or a meeting or if someone tells you to send them something in a week, you can quickly jot down your reminder.
What if you're just sitting in your room reading or writing – what do you need? Well, obviously a computer would help. If you read a lot of scripts, a Kindle may be part of your survival kit. Personally, I haven't switched over yet. But my birthday isn't that far away...hint, hint...kidding.
You need to have Final draft software (or Movie Magic). If you are still writing your scripts in Microsoft Word, you are doing it incorrectly. Your page count is off, your format is off, and it's really amateurish. I know Final Draft and other formatting software is expensive, but it does need to be in your kit.
Have an egg timer. Something that allows you to set a deadline for yourself, time to write, etc. Also, you should have index cards, post-its or a big dry-erase board to help outline your project.
I think every writer should have a book on structure, a book on pitching, and a book on the writing process. Now, there are a million books on screenwriting out there as I discussed in my article on the Second Act. So whichever one you find the easiest to comprehend and use – is the right one for you. And personally, I think my E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective" would fit nicely in that survival kit as well. I don't think the Hollywood Creative Directory is as necessary as it used to be as most companies can be found online and are constantly changing, but services like IMDB Pro can be helpful.
And while they may not fit into a kit, every writer should have someone they trust to give them honest feedback on their work. Not just mom or a best friend, but a professional or mentor that they know has their project's best interest at heart. Having a script consultant you trust is great especially before you start submitting your projects to companies or contests.
What don't you need? You don't need posters, designs, drawings, costumes, etc. You don't need trinkets or giveaways or candy to feed the execs. And you definitely don't need an attitude — leave that in your marriage kit. I hope these Boy Scout screenwriting tips help! If you have a suggestion for an article topic or a question you'd like answered, you can email me at Daniel@nobullscript.net or join the Facebook fan page and chat with me there — who knows — I might just pick yours!
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.
Best Business Advice for Screenwriters
Martin Scorsese – Academy Award winning film-maker - on his best advice for screenwriters:
"I'm often asked by younger filmmakers, ‘Why do I need to look at old movies?' I've made a number of pictures in the last 20 years and the response I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student.
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The more pictures I've made in 20 years, the more I realize I really don't know. And I'm always looking for something or someone that I could learn from.
I tell the younger filmmakers, and the young students, that do it like painters used to do—that painters do—study the old masters, enrich your palette, expand the canvas. There's always so much more to learn."
The Scoggins Report
January/February 2012 Pitch Sales Roundup
by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan
This week's edition of The Scoggins Report is our first regular Pitch Sales Roundup of 2012, with project details for each of the 12 sales so far this year. As you can see from the below grids, February's numbers slowed quite a bit compared to January. The same thing happened with spec sales this month, but we'll comment on that next week.
We'll have to wait and see whether February's numbers are the start of a trend or just a bit of a breather at the beginning of the Spring selling season. Regardless, there are two days left in February as of this writing and we're exactly even year over year so far.
Here are January's and February's raw numbers:
|| 1 Action/Adventure
| 1 Action/Adventure
|| 2 Comedy
| 2 Action/Adventure
Weekly Activity Breakdown
Week of January 2 (New Year's Day):
Week of January 9:
- 2 pitch sales announced ("Invasion" and "The Vatican")
Week of January 16:
- 1 pitch sale announced ("Something from Tiffany's")
Week of January 23 (Sundance):
- 4 pitch sales announced ("Untitled Brian Miller/Ryan Murphy Project," "Kill Switch," "Untitled Max Landis Space Adventure" and "Prosthesis")
Week of January 30:
- 1 pitch sale announced ("Untitled Oren Uziel Action Comedy")
Week of February 6:
- 2 pitch sales announced ("Untitled Geoff LaTulippe Ensemble Comedy" and "Interpol")
Week of February 13:
- 1 pitch sale announced ("Untitled Zetumer Spy Thriller")
Week of February 20 (Presidents' Day):
Week of February 27:
- 1 pitch sale announced as of the 27th ("Untitled Dracula Pitch")
Pitch Sales (alphabetical by title)
Untitled Brian Miller/Ryan Murphy Project
Writers: Ryan Murphy & Brian Miller
Reps: CAA (Rowena Arguelles, Billy Hawkins, Matt Rosen) and 3 Arts
Genre: Horror sci-fi
Attachments: John Palermo to produce through his eponymous shingle with Murphy.
Writer: J. Daniel Shaffer
Reps: Verve (Bryan Besser, Rob Herting)
Buyer: Reel FX
Genre: Supernatural thriller
Attachments: Brad Peyton ("Journey 2: The Mysterious Island") attached to direct and produce with Strange Weather Films' Andrew Adamson and Cary Granat.
Logline: Revolves around a group of unarmed and unprepared students from Philadelphia who have to become soldiers to survive an attack by a supernatural force. In the vein of CLOVERFIELD.
Writer: Ken Woodruff
Reps: WME (Mike Esola) and manager Rich Demato
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action comedy
Attachments: JC23 Entertainment's Michael Aguilar to produce.
Untitled Max Landis Space Adventure
Writer: Max Landis
Reps: WME (Dannay Gabai, David Karp) and Circle of Confusion (Britton Rizzio)
Genre: Sci-fi adventure
Attachments: Andrew Panay's Panay Films to produce.
Logline: Centers on a brother and sister as they undertake an epic adventure.
Untitled Oren Uziel Action Comedy
Writer: Oren Uziel ("The Kitchen Sink")
Reps: WME (Sharon Jackson) and Circle of Confusion (Britton Rizzio)
Genre: Action comedy
Attachments: Neal Moritz's Original Film to produce.
Notes: Lauren Abrahams will oversee for Columbia.
Logline: DIE HARD meets HOME ALONE.
Writer: Arvind Palep
Reps: WME (Elia Infascelli-Smith) and The Gotham Group (Peter McHugh)
Genre: Action sci-fi
Attachments: Palep is attached to direct. Serge Patzak will produce for 1stAveMachine alongside Sam Penfield and Gotham's McHugh, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson.
Notes: Sold based on Palep's 10-minute VFX storyboard presentation; currently an open writing assignment. Anikah MacLaren will oversee for Universal.
Logline: Under wraps, said to be an epic set in immersive worlds parallel to our own.
Something From Tiffany's
Writer: Melissa Stack
Reps: Paradigm (Mark Ross, Christopher Smith, Ida Ziniti) and Kaplan/Perrone (Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone)
Genre: Romantic comedy
Attachments: LBI Entertainment's Julie Yorn will produce
Notes: Daria Cercek to oversee for Fox
Logline: In the vein of THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, but with younger leads.
Writer: Dave Cohen
Reps: ICM (Emile Gladstone) and Generate (Jeremy Platt)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: William Brent Bell ("The Devil Inside") to direct. Vertigo's Roy Lee to produce with Lawrence Grey and John Powers Middleton.
Logline: Found footage conspiracy-driven thriller.
Untitled Dracula Pitch
Writer: Jason Keller ("Machine Gun Preacher")
Reps: CAA (Scott Greenberg) and Management 360 (Guymon Cassady)
Attachments: Roth Films' Joe Roth and Palak Patel will produce.
Notes: Price was reportedly high six against seven figures.
Logline: Period version of Dracula's origin story.
Untitled Geoff LaTulippe Ensemble Comedy
Writer: Geoff LaTulippe ("Going The Distance")
Reps: WME (Sarah Self) and Mosaic (Michael Lasker)
Attachments: LaTulippe is attached to direct. Marti Noxon and Dawn Olmstead will produce.
Writers: Brant Boivin & Jonathan Keasey
Reps: Paradigm (Valarie Phillips) and Kaplan/Perrone (Alex Lerner)
Genre: Action comedy
Attachments: Overbrook's Will Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz will produce.
Untitled Zetumer Spy Thriller
Writer: Josh Zetumer
Reps: UTA (Jason Burns) and Management 360 (Guymon Casady, Darin Friedman)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Rubin Fleischer will produce with Captivate's Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith and Management 360's Casady and Friedman.
About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business (in particular, spec script and open writing assignment activity) based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics and should not be relied upon as such. Past editions of The Scoggins Report can be found in the archives of The Business of Show Institute and now have a beautiful new home on www.thewrap.com.
Details on each person, project and company in the Reports can also be found at www.itsonthegrid.com, a proud division of The Wrap News, Inc. IOTG is a "for us, by us" film industry database, 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 Blog has a new home on the site, by the way: www.itsonthegrid.com/news . It includes daily highlights of recent database updates and individual posts on every spec that hits the market. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the blog's feed right where you'd expect them, and you can follow the site's Twitter feed here:http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.
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?
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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:
Vice President of Talent Management, NBC Entertainment
Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications, Time Inc.
CEO, All Nippon Entertainment Works
Executive Vice President of Programming, Shine USA
Senior Vice President of Publicity, LD Entertainment
Heighten Your Conflict
by Sean Hinchey
Does your conflict have enough, well...conflict in it? Not sure what I'm talking about? Ah ha! That could be why your script hasn't reached the Winner's Circle just yet.
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I've recently been poring through dozens of scripts for a recent screenwriting contest, and the same problems consistently leap out at me. There isn't enough conflict in the script to sustain the story. Conflict is the fuel that keeps the message, theme and characters moving. Keep the tanks full.
It's not enough to create a setback for your characters, then put them on the road where nothing really happens. For example, one story I read had two teenagers who ran away to New York from their small town. This story was ripe with conflict. They are children, they have little money and they lack experience in a city environment.
One of the characters gets involved with drug dealing while the other takes a menial job at a restaurant. The drug dealer gets into trouble with his suppliers, while the other one moves up through the ranks at the restaurant. This story is primed for some serious setbacks.
Their lives could be in danger, they could be fighting with each other due to their fears and unpreparedness, they could be on the street at any given moment. Instead, the writer had them go through some minor transgressions. This made the story both boring and unrealistic.
My guess is that — in general — writers don't want to put their characters through the worst case scenario for fear of losing their audience. If you pushed these characters to the curb on a cold, winter New York night, the contest judge might become disgusted and go on to another script.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Kick your characters out of the apartment, take all their money and leave them with no place to go. Why? It's not that we want to see your characters suffer, we want to see them succeed. When your protagonist hits rock bottom, the only place they can go is up.
Nobody wants to see a story where the main character hovers at the top of their game, untouched by any conflict. We also don't want to see your character wallow in mediocrity, playing it safe for the entire story. If you created a story where danger lurks at every corner, then you have to go all in and have your protagonist suffer. It's only through their setbacks that your character can grow.
To paraphrase Anton Checkhove, if you put a loaded rifle in the story, it has to get fired.
If you don't have the courage to pull the trigger, than you have to soften the environment. Movies are about characters overcoming conflict. You can put them in as much jeopardy as you want. The real fun comes when you help them get to safety.
Go on, do your worst to your characters. They're fictional entities, you won't go to jail for it!
If your script is lacking the punch it needs to cross over from semi-finalist to finalist — that means Winner! — it may be the action that is lacking in your screenplay. Am I talking about car chases, and shoot-outs? No, I'm talking about focusing on The "Other" Action.
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.
Dreamin' Bout "Wood and Re-Writin'..."
by Manny Fonseca
AAAAAANNNND we're back...
Here's the funny thing about this town, people forget REALLY quickly. The day after the Oscar's last year, all anyone did was BITCH about how absolutely horrible James Franco and Anne Hathaway were as hosts. So much so that people were literally issuing apologies for asking them to host.
What did every one say?
"We need Billy back."
Obviously he wasn't the first choice, but given the Brett Ratner couldn't keep his fat mouth shut, we turned to old faithful.
And what did everyone do?
And the next day? More of the same.
I get it... Billy has sort of become your father's Oscar host. You want someone young, someone fresh to take the reins.
You want the old white crusty part of the Academy to die off so us youngin's can rock out with our cocks out. Smoke dope and start a drum circle. Blast the ZZ Top and not worry about grandma and grandpa tellin' us to turn it down.
But when you think about it...
Hasn't the Oscar's really ALWAYS been an old persons game?
I remember, as a kid, wanting to stay up and watch the Oscar's because I loved the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. I loved seeing the stars get up on stage and grab hold of that golden idol and genuinely be happy to get it. I loved screaming at the TV when someone lost that I thought should have won and joyously screaming when the person I wanted to win, did.
Oscar night, to me, was a dream. It was sitting there, in my pajamas, wanting to be on that stage one day. So much so that I'd practice my speech... what would I say? Who would I thank? Don't forget shout outs to mom and dad!
But that's me. The next day, at school? There wasn't a heated debate about the Oscars. No one watched that shit. No one cared.
Think about it... does the average young person REALLY want to watch a three hour awards show? Probably not.
Being out here now and literally living a couple of blocks from the Oscars, it amazes me how many people in this business HATE Oscar night. All they do is bitch and complain. Look people, the Oscars are ALWAYS going to run long. It's a fact of life. Stop complaining. People will win who shouldn't and people will be overlooked entirely. It's just the way it is. If you don't like them, don't watch them.
A lot of people have become bitter by Hollywood. They'd rather scoff at the Oscars...
"Yeah, well, he just paid for that Oscar."
"It's just a popularity contest."
Yeah, that's right, it is. Always has been. Accept it and move on.
Some take the high art approach...
"I'm not really in it for the awards..."
Cool. Didn't ask, but good to know.
Me? I want one. Not because of the praise, but because I want to live the dream that small kid, living in Detroit, had when he was 10. The kid that wanted to be in the same club as his heroes. People like John Wayne and Woody Allen.
And yeah, the longer I'm in the business, the bitterer I will become. But not about Oscar night. I won't ever kill the kid in me that dreamt about being in Hollywood. The kid that I'm assuming all of us who work in this industry had at one point. The kid that pushed me to give up everything and move 3000 miles to a city I've never been to in order to try and make that dream come true.
And I hope, that somewhere out there, there's another kid laying in the living room watching Oscar night, no matter how "old" it is or how late the awards run, dreaming... dreaming of one day making it all come true.
K. Nuff about that...
A couple of people have asked me about doing another contest. Apparently everyone thought it was fun and interactive. Not going to do the logline thing again...it was more trouble than it was worth.
So we're going to try something new. As you know the past few weeks have been all about writing and re-writing.
So that's what the contest is going to be. Below I've written the first 3 pages of a script. And man, I've written them POORLY. I've used all the common shit I see ALL the time in scripts and the stuff I keep telling you NOT to do.
So here's your mission...
Re-write the pages. Fix them as I would fix them. Really get in there and tear it apart and make them better. Now, there are a couple of rules.
Number one: You have to use the locations given and the characters given. You can't change names or put them on the moon. You can change their ages (hint: I hope you do) and change their character descriptions. You can even change their gender if you'd like (FYI: this is the only acceptable way to change a character's name.)
Number two: You can't change the story per se. Meaning the opening scene is a chase scene so it has to remain as such. And you can't change plot points i.e. the party that's happening, still has to happen.
Last rule: You can add to the script as much as you want. Want to make the chase scene longer? More in depth? Cool. Go for it, BUT you still have to stay within the three pages. I don't want any of you sending me 15 pages thinking that you're auditioning for some shit.
THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
This won't get your script read. This won't get free consulting.
So how do you win, you ask?
Simple. The person that rewrites the pages the best, wins. Who decides? Me. Again, this is for educational purposes, so no one should feel cheated out of this.
What do you win? Winner gets their rewritten scene printed and will have me say a lot of awesome things about them. Translation: You win some bragging rights.
You have until March 14th to submit your pages. That's two weeks and should be plenty of time. Submit it in a PDF only.
But Manny, I don't have screenwriting software!
Celtix is free and Final Draft has a demo you can use. I've also just discovered Fadein, which I've actually really liked. They have a free demo too. So no excuses. Don't send me your shit in Word. Get real about your career and get the right tools.
Lastly, anyone can take a crack at this. If you've been paying attention to me, it shouldn't be that hard. And don't worry, you're not going to get called a fucktard if you mess up, I'll be nice* I mean, how else are you going to learn, right?
So without further ta do... here's your pages... go re-write some shit...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca
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