The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, March 16 2012 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

How did mega-star Will Smith achieve such massive success in Hollywood?

In this candid video, he tells you himself!

Best part, you can easily apply his success secrets into your screenwriting career.

Take a look at this inspiring and thought-provoking video:

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 3 Critical Components of a Successful Screenwriting Career (Component #2): is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I talk about the 2nd building block of any successful screenwriting business. Does your business have this 2nd pillar?

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.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit: 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.

How I Judge The PAGE Awards: 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 writer of "Schindler's List," "Moneyball," and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" – Steve Zaillian!

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...

Not Everyone is Important: 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".

The Polls are Closed and the Results are in!...: 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 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!

Share |
Back to top^

The 3 Critical Components of a Successful Screenwriting Career (Component #2)

by Marvin V. Acuna

"There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little; and, therefore, men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not keep their suspicions in smother."

- Francis Bacon

With that said, allow me to focus your attention on the second pillar of a successful screenwriting business...

Pillar #2: Market Intelligence

Market Intelligence is the information relevant to a company's market which is gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development metrics (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

So when it comes to your screenwriting BUSINESS the most profitable habit you can cultivate is the habit of understanding what the market needs. That makes sense, right?

Yet for some reason I often encounter screenwriters that draw the line in the sand. They remark, "Talent will prevail, a true artist makes his own market." And of course the big one, "I'm an artist, not a businessman."

To be clear I'm not suggesting that you discard any regard or respect for your craft. Nor that you simply become a drone and as one screenwriter said, " to the tune of the studios." I am suggesting that there is power, tremendous power in doing both. Developing your talent and knowing the markets needs. You don't have to be one or the other. There are too many examples of screenwriters who manage to do both very successfully. Very successfully!

LISTEN TO ME: You are your own Company. You are! When you begin to generate that huge revenue you aspire to attain, the first thing your reps will suggest is that you legitimatize your company and form a corporation.

The very same entertainment professionals that you are seeking to attract and partner with in your business are successful BECAUSE they gather market intelligence.

In fact, an agent's primary responsibility at an agency is to "cover" their assigned studio. In essence, they must report back to their superiors every bit of information they can mine from the studio executives and the entertainment community so that it can be distributed to the entire company. The more effective they are at gathering market intelligence the more valuable they become to the agency and to the agency's clients.

Consider this: Industry market intelligence is so valuable to executives, producers, and representatives that in the late 1990's a dozen or so very entrepreneurial studios executives formed the company, the epicenter of privileged information.

Immersing yourself in the business will afford you a competitive advantage over other aspiring screenwriters. And in a business as competitive as screenwriting... you want every advantage.

Entertainment professionals fully embrace Sir Francis Bacon's quote, "...Knowledge itself is Power." They recognize the value of understanding the market needs, demands, and opportunities.

Do you?

Share |
Back to top^

The Box Office Report

Wed, Mar. 14 Daily Total
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax $3,126,450 $132,194,010
John Carter $2,038,339 $37,553,595
Project X (2012) $941,131 $43,158,481
Act of Valor $592,448 $58,090,307
A Thousand Words $483,624 $7,837,791
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island $444,316 $92,113,397
Safe House $438,450 $117,041,795
Silent House (2012) $407,023 $8,095,731
The Vow $372,137 $118,659,864
This Means War $351,252 $48,016,899
Tyler Perry's Good Deeds $201,493 $31,136,680
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance $194,049 $48,674,444
The Artist $191,870 $40,856,839
Wanderlust $157,990 $16,053,895
Gone $81,289 $10,998,361

Share |
Back to top^

Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit

by mc foley

"I'm a drinker with a writing problem." –Brendan Behan

I've got a real weakness for dirty martinis and can relate to famed, Irish writer, Brendan Behan's oft-quoted comment above. But while Behan succumbed to the diabetic comas and seizures brought on by his alcoholism, in my situation, those words are more of a funny commentary, than a dangerous reflection of the doom that is to come.

At least... for now.

Or rather — for always! Because I have a part to play in the outcome of my future. After all, it is my future. And I can work to make sure that statements like Brendan Behan's remain 'comedy with a kernal of truth' — rather than sad life metaphors my friends reflect upon at my premature funeral.

And I can do this—

—by focusing part of my efforts as a writer on one, specific element. It is a crucial element, which seems unrelated to craft, networking, career planning, and all of those other pieces that come to mind when considering our careers — and yet, this element is essential to a lifetime of writing.

What is the element? Health. Or more specifically: physical fitness and diet. (And by "diet" I, of course, include the liquid kind...)

I have a certain bias when it comes to this topic — and for many reasons. One, I don't believe a person can tackle the blank page without some sort of consistent physical exertion that clears the mind and strengthens the body. Part of this belief stems from the fact that human beings are animals. And animals were not meant to live sedentary, inactive lives.

Two, I have seen some people very close to me experience the kind of severe depression, which halts a life in its tracks. And I have seen these people overcome their conditions — not via the bottle or the cocktails of prescription drugs mandated by their doctors (which tended to enhance the severity of their conditions) — but rather, through a combination of attacking the truer, deeper issues in their world (eg — issues like: "I don't know how I'm going to pay the bills each month. We're falling further and further behind." — "I'm bankrupt, never sold a script, losing my wife... when is my ship coming in?" — or )—


—through consistent physical exertion — exertion, which is enhanced by a life-sustaining diet.

Or, better said, and in the words of my great grandmother:

"A walk a day keeps depression away."

I'm sure there will be those who disagree with me, or who have had different experiences in regards to depression, but as the years pass, I grow ever more convinced that there is no way to push forward and to survive as a writer without pushing the limits of the physical self in the same way that I push my mind and my craft.

In fact, I believe so deeply in the need for physical exertion and attention to the body's role in the quality of the mind that in one of my office areas, I work at a standing desk. And in the other office area, I have the option of sitting or standing. I know from my own experience that our lives in the United States have become so hectic and overloaded and so 24/7 connected that there are often days where it is impossible to squeeze in a workout or even a walk. And if this is the case, at least I know that every single day, I am doing most of my ‘desk work' in a manner that requires me to use leg, gluteal and ab muscles, and which frees my back from the pain of slumped, lazy seated positions that suck so much energy from me that I lose valuable working hours to the cloud of lethargy that arises from inactivity.

I've also lost my patience when it comes to hearing that same old cliche description of the "depressed writer" or the "alcoholic writer" or the "depressed, alcoholic, self-destructive writer." Firstly, there are plenty of other "depressed, alcoholic, self-destructive" cab drivers, politicians, scientists, homemakers, teachers, athletes and so on. For some reason, the stereotype got lobbed onto writers many years ago, and never unhooked itself from our tribe. And what's more frustrating than the fact that the stereotype exists — is the fact that I know plenty of writers who feed into it. Who allow themselves to sink, to submerge themselves in an ocean of self-pity, to soak their livers in booze or swell their guts with a million cheeseburgers and super-size nachos.

If it's true that we script passion projects that we consider our "babies," shouldn't we be doing as much as we can to guarantee those babies have guardians who will live long enough, and healthy enough, to nurture them as they grow? And to have other 'babies'...?

To go even further, any writer considering a career in television or a career as a writer/director, writer/actor, or writer/showrunner, is looking at a possible world of 12 to 18 hour work days and sometimes 7-day workweeks that are so demanding, a weak body and a frail constitution will not be able to handle it. And even further, with regards to nutrition, how can sugar crashes or mental haze due to malnourishment or gluttony — serve us as writers? While someone out there may have a supporting argument, my common sense says these conditions tear us away from our stories, confuse us, leech away our moments of brilliance and grind us to a standstill with fatigue-induced writers block.

Not to mention — in the midst and sweat of physical trials, we can often find greater metaphors for life. Metaphors, which serve us as we lay our letters on the page.


I am a writer.

And I may pour the majority of my efforts into my words.

But that does not mean the rest of me has to suffer.

It only means that when I train my body to deal effectively with the world, I am also training it to handle the rigors of a writing life.

A long — and inspired life.

And Happy St. Patty's Week!

- 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.

Share |
Back to top^

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

What is the best contract that a screenwriter can use when writing another person's biopic screenplay based upon letters or conversations from that person?


Have a legal question? Email them to: 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

Share |
Back to top^

How I Judge The PAGE Awards

by Daniel Manus

As many of you may know, the final deadline for the Page Awards is April 2nd. I don't promote too many contests, but I think Page Awards is one of the best. And with over 4,000 submissions, it's also one of the biggest and most competitive. As a returning judge for the third year in a row (my top choices the last two years ended up winning the horror/thriller category), I thought it was a good time to share with you what I look for.

Basically, I just want something that makes for a fast, enjoyable and compelling read. If I'm reading an extra 25-30 scripts in two or three weeks time, it doesn't take much to turn me off.

Now by the time they get to me, all the people who don't know proper structure and format, can't spell or don't know what a scene heading is, have already been weeded out. So it's really about the story and the writing. In screenwriting contests, it's not JUST about if the script could sell, it's also about the voice and finding something special.

Here are the top things I look for while reading these scripts (in no particular order):

  1. Does it grab me immediately, set the right tone, and make me keep reading?

  2. Is there an interesting, new and engaging voice from the writer that makes it stand out?

  3. Do I care about the character(s) and do I want to know what happens to them?

  4. Is there something original and commercial about the story and hook – is it sellable?

  5. Does the story exploit the concept and setup in the best way – does it go in the right direction?

There are plenty more elements – but those are the Big 5 for me.

And do you know where MOST scripts fall flat? Number 5. Yes, having a great first 15 pages is really important, but making sure your story stays at that level and goes in the best, most natural and commercial direction – is even more important!

There's nothing worse than falling in love with a script on page one, and falling out of love by page 30. It's like breaking up with a girlfriend before you even get to sleep with her. Waste of time and energy. And it hurts a little bit...right...there. Because I can see the potential of that relationship, but it's just never fully realized.

Far too many really good scripts lose steam after the first act or half way through and go in really wrong directions that are not natural to the story or characters' set up. There was one script last year that had the best first 10 pages I've read in a long time – but by page 25, the story had already lost its fire and even the genre seemed to change.

All of my top 5 scripts from last year had good openings and grabbed me from the start, but 4 of them did not have the BEST openings. In fact the 3 scripts that had my favorite openings, sadly, finished in the middle of the pack. They opened super strong, set up awesome characters and a great tone and story – and then went off-track. I was really disappointed.

This is why plotting and outlining is so important, why knowing your characters and what they would (and wouldn't do) is so important, why creating a fully fleshed-out antagonist in a horror/thriller is so important, and why keeping your story on its natural track is the key to a satisfying read.

And the stories that seemed to take two great concepts and blend them together really well to create this new, more original concept and hook – those were the ones I think I scored the highest.

Since I read the horror/thriller category, I'm always prepared for vampires, zombies, werewolves, warlocks, and other creatures of the night. And as long as there is something truly original, cool and special about the twist the writer is putting on those genres, they can still win. Can they sell? Well, that's another story.

Another really important tip is to make sure your stakes are high enough, relatable enough and interesting enough - from the beginning. If there are no stakes already built into the story on page 1, this means it's going to take a while to get into the story and to know why what's occurring is important. And if I'm going thru a ton of scripts, it shouldn't and can't take me that long to get into the story.

The script should be an easy read. When judges have to read 20-200 scripts in a limited amount of time, it's the easy reads that get better grades. If it's dense, long (yes, 120 pages is long for a contest entrant), has huge passages of description, etc., then that is probably the script judges put off to read last. I know a script is great when it only takes me an hour to read it. I know something's lacking when it takes me 3 or 4 attempts to get through it.

Before you submit your script, give it to a few people who have experience reading (like perhaps a consultant who also judges contests) to make sure it is ready. NEVER submit a first draft to a contest – you are wasting your money! If you wouldn't send that draft to an agent, don't send it into a contest. Because industry professionals ARE reading your script and you never know who it is. You could be making a really bad impression on the judges not knowing they are the same people you are sending out your queries to.

If you miss the deadline because you couldn't fix your script quick enough – oh well, there's always next year. It's not worth hitting a deadline if you're hitting it with a pile of shit. If the script doesn't feel polished and professional, there's no point in submitting. It doesn't matter if you have a good idea when it comes to contests – it HAS to be on the page!

And especially with the Page Awards, being good is not good enough. At the end of the day, when judging a contest, I ask myself the same question I ask when I worked as an executive and it's what I ask still as a consultant - is the writing and story good enough that I would give it to my boss with my recommendation and put my name on it? If not, then it doesn't deserve to win.

I hope this helps you all with your next contest-winning script!

About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at 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.

Share |
Back to top^

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Steve Zaillian– Academy Award winning writer of "Schindler's List," "Moneyball," and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - on his best advice for screenwriters:

"I [write] everyday: bankers' hours—10 a.m. to 4:00—5:00 p.m. It's a job...On a script that goes well, I'd say I spend three months outlining and two months writing. That's ideal."

Share |
Back to top^

The Scoggins Report

March 2012 Pitch Sales Scorecard

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

Let's get this out of the way right up front: The pace of pitch sales definitely slowed over the past month, and by the end of March we'll see 2012 start to lag behind 2011 for both pitch and spec sales. The drop was to be expected, though, since February and March 2011 were such huge months (with 21 and 28 combined sales, respectively).

Here's the silver lining: The 2012 Spring selling season has barely begun, and fewer than half of the studio buyers who bought pitches in the first half of 2011 have picked one up so far in 2012. We hate to go all Effie Trinket on you, but think about that from the "glass is half full" point of view -- there's still lots of buying yet to be done in the coming couple of months.

Here's are the highlights since the last Pitch Scorecard:

  • Columbia Pictures went on a buying spree, picking up 2 pitches and 3 specs in the past four weeks. The studio has purchased 8 pieces of original material so far in 2012 (5 pitches + 3 specs), twice as many as the number two buyers (Universal and Warner Bros., with 2 pitches + 2 specs each).

  • WME maintained its commanding overall lead among the agencies (5 pitches + 9 specs), but CAA had the best month: Its 3 pitch and 1 spec sales jumped the agency into a convincing 2nd place (4 pitches + 3 specs in total). Paradigm had a very good month as well -- its 2 pitch and 1 spec sales (3 pitches + 1 spec in total) put it into a tie for third with UTA (1 pitch + 3 specs).

Overall Pitch Numbers:

Here are overall pitch sales numbers through March 10 on their own...

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
2012 Pitch Sales 8 7 0                   15 106
2011 Pitch Sales 4 8 13 7 8 15 10 4 5 10 8 14 106  

...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 9 4                   25 119
Pitches 8 7 0                   15 106
2012 Total 20 16 4                   40 225
2011 Totals 7 21 28 16 15 28 20 9 12 30 16 24 225  

Pitch Sales By Genre:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total %
Action/Adventure 1                       1 7%
Comedy 2 4                     6 40%
Horror   1                     1 7%
Sci-Fi 3 1                     4 27%
Thriller 2 1                     3 20%

Pitch Sales By Buyer - Studios:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
Columbia 2 3                     5 9
Disney 1                       1 9
Fox 1                       1 8
Paramount   1                     1 12
Universal 1 1                     2 12
Warner Bros. 2                       2 13

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

  Pitches Specs Total 2011
Columbia 5 3 8 16
Disney 1 1 2 11
Universal 2 2 4 19
Warner Bros. 2 2 4 30

Pitch Sales By Buyer - Other Buyers:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
Davis Entertainment   1                     1 0
Indian Paintbrush   1                     1 1
Reel FX 1                       1 0

Each of the following production companies has been attached to at least one pitch sale so far this year. Companies in bold are new since the last scorecard.

JC23 Entertainment
Captivate Entertainment
LBI Entertainment
Overbrook Entertainment
Original Film
Palermo Productions
Panay Films
Roth Films
Strange Weather Films
Vertigo Entertainment
The Walsh Co.

Pitch Sales by Seller - Agencies:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
CAA 1 3                     4 25
ICM 1                       1 14
Paradigm 1 2                     3 4
UTA   1                     1 13
Verve 1                       1 5
WME 4 1                     5 28

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

  Pitches Specs Total 2011
CAA 4 3 7 50
ICM 1 2 3 27
Paradigm 3 1 4 14
UTA 1 3 4 30
Verve 1 1 2 9
WME 5 9 14 50

The following 23 agents have been involved with at least one pitch sale in 2012. People in bold are new or sold an additional pitch since the last scorecard.

Two:     Emile Gladstone (ICM)
Ida Ziniti (Paradigm)   Jason Burns (UTA)
Rowena Arguelles (CAA)   Jay Baker (CAA)
      Kevin Huvane (CAA)
One:     Mark Ross (Paradigm)
Billy Hawkins (CAA)   Matt Rosen (CAA)
Brett Loncar CAA   Mike Esola (WME)
Brian Kend (CAA)   Rob Herting (Verve)
Bryan Besser (Verve)   Sarah Self (WME)
Christopher Smith (Paradigm)   Scott Greenberg (CAA)
Danny Gabai (WME)   Sharon Jackson (WME)
David Karp (WME)   Trevor Astbury (Paradigm)
Elia Infascelli-Smith (WME)   Valarie Phillips (Paradigm)

Pitch Sales by Seller - Management Companies:

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2011
3 Arts 1                       1 6
Circle of Confusion 2                       2 6
Generate 1                       1 1
The Gotham Group 1                       1 5
Kaplan/Perrone 1 1                     2 5
Management 360   2                     2 5
Principato-Young   1                     1 2
Rich Demato 1                       1 0
Mosaic   1                     1 5

Here are the combined pitch and spec sales for management companies that have sold at least one of each in 2012.

  Pitches Specs Total 2011
Principato-Young 1 1 2 4

The following 12 managers have been involved with at least one pitch sale in 2012.

People in bold are new or sold an additional pitch since the last scorecard.

Britton Rizzio (Circle)   E. Brian Dobbins (PYE)
Guymon Casady (Mgmt 360)   Jeremy Platt (Generate)
      Michael Lasker (Mosaic)
One:     Paul Young (PYE)
Aaron Kaplan (K/P)   Peter McHugh (Gotham)
Alex Lerner (K/P)   Rich Demato  
Darin Friedman (Mgmt 360)   Sean Perrone (K/P)

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

Details on each person, project and company in the Reports can also be found at, 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: . 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:

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, 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:

Share |
Back to top^

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:

Marco Müller
Artistic Director, International Rome Film Festival

Paul Robinson
President, A2E2 International

Marna Grantham
Senior Vice President, Domestic and Latin America Sales, Miramax

Gloria Lee
Director, Digital Sales, Miramax

Bobby Paunescu
Managing Director, Solar Pictures

Jared Underwood
Managing Director, Solar Pictures

Kearie Peak
Co-CEO, Solar Pictures

Christopher Taylor
Co-CEO, Solar Pictures

Cameron Bailey
Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival

Vinnie Malhotra
Senior Vice President, Development and Acquisitions, CNN

Andrew Wang
Vice President, Scripted Development & Production, Bravo

Henrietta Conrad
Joint Chairman, Shine Group

Jane Featherstone
Joint Chairman, Shine Group

Josh McLaughlin
Senior Vice President, Production, Focus Features

Steve Beeks
President, Motion Picture Group, Lionsgate

Molly Smith
CEO, Belle Pictures

Allison Rayne
Vice President, Development, Belle Pictures

Jon Schumacher
Development Executive, Belle Pictures

Emma Branch
Production Executive, Belle Pictures

Share |
Back to top^

Not Everyone is Important

by Sean Hinchey

Screenplays are populated by people; characters that you've created to tell your story. There's always a protagonist, maybe more than one if it's an ensemble piece, and usually an antagonist; the enemy of your main character. But what about those other characters running around your story? What purpose do they serve? You may have too many of them, because not everyone in your story is important.

What you need to do is focus on the characters in your story that either help, or hinder the main character in their quest to achieve what they want. Two major problems will arise if you have written in too many characters.

First, the story will get very confusing, because there are simply too many people to keep track of. Keep in mind, the contest judge has never seen your script until the moment they begin reading it. It's up to you to help them see the images in their head. Keep it simple, keep it smooth.

If you need a cheat sheet to keep track of the characters as you're writing your story, then it's too dense. I'm not going to give you a guideline of how many characters are too many. The next point should help you make up your mind as to what will work best for your story.

The second reason for keeping your character list lean is that having too many characters will dilute the message. If you have a main character who is trying to win over the affections of another person, you will have some of the protagonist's friends or family members try to help them, or possibly hinder them. If there are eight or ten dedicated characters helping the protagonist out, the story comes across as too fragmented. Why not have two or three close friends be the voice of reason?

Look at your script in the same manner as you making a sauce or soup. You want to add spices to create some flavor. But if you add too many different spices, the flavoring gets chaotic. Certain spices don't meld with others. You never want a "busy" sauce, you do want something where all the spices bring out the best in each other.

I recently read a script where the writer spent a great deal of time establishing the protagonist plus six characters in great detail in a single scene. This forced me to expend an enormous amount of energy getting to know who these people were. A catastrophe happens and only one character plus the protagonist were left alive. All of this happened in the first act.

Instead of doing a great deal of development on their personalities, only to eradicate them, the writer could've moved the story along at a quicker pace. I felt as if the writer had wasted a great deal of screenplay time, in addition to my time, for something that never paid off. It was difficult for me to tune back into the story.

Keep your character list tight. It's OK to combine the characteristics of two different people into one. You're better off having fewer, well developed characters than many two-dimensional characters inhabiting your screenplay.

If your scenes are running a bit long, it's time to Trim the Fat. You'll find that not only will your script be more concise, your script will flow better and that'll grab that attention of the contest a good way!

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.

Share |
Back to top^

The Polls are Closed and the Results are in!...

by Manny Fonseca

Alright, so contest is over. I read through the all of the entries and gotta say... there was no real clear winner. Hardly any of you did any of the things that I've been talking about over the past few weeks.'s what I'm going to do to make this a learning experience for everyone. I'm going to randomly pick pages and take my red pen to them. I have no idea which pages belong to who, but I'm sure if you entered the contest, you'd be able to recognize your writing.

So let's take a look and learn together...

Remember we're keeping sounds in ALL CAPS. There was some unnecessary action with the tourist...there's not really much of a payoff there. Same with the metal stubs. I agree that there's some comedy in that, but unless there's an actual payoff, it's not really important. By payoff I mean something happens to Jake that hinders his running ability.

Up next...

After marking this one, I realized that it could be a creative choice to have the 48 Hours Earlier in the scene heading. BUT, when you do that, you're telling the reader of the script that this is two days prior, not the viewer. They won't understand the jump in time, which is okay. Tarantino does it all the time.

BUT, if you actually were going for TELLING us the viewer that it's 48 Hours Earlier, then it needs to have a title card which is done like this...




The first would be explaining that it's a black screen with white letters prior to an image on screen. The latter would tell you that the words appear over the image that we're seeing. In this case, Jake asleep in his bed.

This is what overwriting looks like people and it's not good. Keep it simple. You're not writing a novel. I know this is going to sound a little sad, but using a lot of pretty words doesn't make you a good screenwriter. Save the poetics for poetry.

Here's what happens when you overwrite and I edit...

I think you get it.

A couple of you had trouble getting out of your dialog scenes. Above is one example, here's another...

No need for the "Later" line from Jake. Just get out of the scene. It's okay.

Here, we're dealing with a lot of sentence starters. We can also tighten up the dialog at the end there. Jake can easily get away with "I'm a sucker for legs" and we know everything we need to know. No reason to add the extra's in.

I picked all of the pages at random out of the entries. If one of your pages wasn't used (and I'm sure there's more than a few of you) it was mainly because all of the mistakes we're pretty much the same throughout.

Not putting your sounds in CAPS,


Adding in action or dialog that doesn't payoff


Over using parentheticals and sentence starters

You know, all of the stuff that I've been saying you should avoid.

Since there wasn't a clear winner, I'm going to offer a fast easy free lesson to all that entered. If you would like to get your three pages back with my red pen all over them (showing the mistakes) drop me an email and I'll shoot them back to you.


Also, if anyone would like to donate some scenes or pages and have me edit them in the column or give idea where things could be better, drop me an email and we'll make a future column all about you and your fucktard habits! ☺

On a personal note, totally spending the entire weekend watching Zombie movies. Saturday morning all the way through to Sunday night's Walking Dead Season Finale. I'm fucking psyched! Just had to say that.

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 or find him on Facebook at

Share |

Back to top^