Home The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, June 29 2012
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, June 29 2012
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute
Wow, the BOSI cocktail party and the Chez Upshaw screening were a huge success!
We'll post pictures and video soon.
But every BOSI screenwriter that made it to the events thanked us for providing REAL Hollywood Access (which in my opinion is better than the stuffy, fabricated environment of a pitch fest) where they could practice their connecting skills.
As for me, it was a chance to meet some of The BOSI Community for the first time, catch up with old friends, and network with business associates (remember, I practice what I preach!).
Speaking of which, I had a downright fascinating talk with entertainment attorney and BOSI Newsletter contributor – Gordon Firemark – about a very special skill-set he's developed over the past 22 years.
It's a skill-set that could really help your screenwriting career immensely.
Check out our conversation below:
That email address again is:
Let us know if you would like us to create a helpful resource about this important topic!
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!
Success of an Unlikely Screenwriter (part 4): is this week's article by guest writer Mary Haarmeyer. In this series she will outline how an ordinary screenwriter from New Mexico used The BOSI principles to turn her screenplay into a Hollywood feature film! Best Part? She got Marvin V. Acuna to help!
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.
The Cure – part five: 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.
Another Writer Ruining Their Chances: 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? 3-time Academy Award winning screenwriter – Paddy Chayefsky!
FilmFunds Tracking 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...
Rewrite, Getting it Done Right: 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".
Reader's Be Cray!...: 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.
By now I trust that you have gotten your writing goals down and have begun implementing your plan...if not, stop what you're doing, and go do it. I mean it, stop reading this article and get it done.
Okay, now let's talk about the craft of screenwriting. For those of you who have mastered your art, please disregard this article and enjoy the rest of the BOSI's editorials, for the rest of us, I would like to talk about a few of the tools I have used and continue to use, to improve my writing.
After determining my screenwriting goals, I mapped out the various phases needed to accomplish those dreams. It didn't take me long to plow head first into my first obstacle, the one in which I found, "I don't know the first thing about formatting or structuring a script." As stated in previous articles, I live in a remote area without the benefit of a college to teach me screenwriting skills.
Add to that my limited time and situation, I was not an eighteen-year-old student who could pull up roots and leave, I was busy running a company and taking care of my husband and our teenage children. Since I knew I couldn't take off to parts unknown, I had to devise a creative plan of action, one that would put me on the fast track to learning the art of screenwriting.
A wise mentor of mine once said, "If you don't have a lot of time, money, or resources to waste in the pursuit of your dream, you should seek out the most successful people in your chosen field and learn from them."
And that, my fellow screenwriters, is exactly what I did. I began a firestorm of research into the most talked about, most successful and most accomplished professionals in the field of screenwriting. Bear in mind, this is my interpretation of successful, and yours may differ.
With screenwriting, I learned that when you begin writing, you must understand your idea, your characters, their motivation, and the plot. You must understand the world in which your characters live. For knowledge on this front, I read the book ‘Story" by Robert McKee, and then flew out to LA to attended:
"Story Seminar" by Robert McKee
"Story Genre Seminar" by Robert McKee
The book and McKee's classes are not about formatting, or the technical side of writing, they are about story itself. McKee's principles teach you to take your concept to new heights, about building the substance, structure and style of your screenplay. I believe this is a must-read for any storyteller.
Once I had this broad knowledge of constructing a story, I wanted to get my ideas down on paper, and quick! I'm not the most patient person in the world, so the long drawn-out process of treatments, outlining and structuring was not for me (at first). So in order for me to write my first few scripts quickly and get them out of my head, I found these tools useful:
"The 10 day Screenplay" by Jonathan A. Browne
"How to Write a Movie in 21 Days" by Viki King.
Of course, you do have to get your script formatted to industry standards. If not, your script won't be read past the first page. For writing and formatting information I turned to:
"The Screenwriter's Bible" by David Trottier.
"Save The Cat" by Blake Snyder.
"The Writer's Journey" by Christopher Vogler.
"Screenplay: The Foundation of Screenwriting" by Syd Field.
There are many books and classes out there, do your research.
In regards to attending writing classes, if you are lucky enough to have a college nearby that teaches screenwriting, then by all means, sign up! If however, you do not, there are still many amazing online classes available. Just as there are numerous books on the subject, there are also numerous options in regards to online writing classes. Three I have worked with:
"Gotham Writer's Workshops."
"Screenwriting U Workshops."
It is important to find the class and or classes that best suit your needs.
With conferences and seminars, you not only have the chance to listen to your mentors, you are also allowed the opportunity to ask them questions. Add to that, the possibility of visiting with other writers who might be struggling with the same obstacles as you, or even better yet, having the chance to talk with writers who have made it past those hurdles and getting to learn their secrets to success.
Conferences, and their awards ceremonies also help to give you a visual. Let's face it, screenwriters are visual creatures, and it helps us to see the success of other writers who have been where we are today, and show us where we can be tomorrow if we work toward our dream. A few of my suggestions on conferences:
"The Screenwriting Expo"
"Austin Film Festival"
"The Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe"
"Southwest Writers Conference"
Again there are countless classes, workshops and seminars, I advise you to seek out opportunities in and around your area to help you keep expenses down, at least during this very important learning curve.
One last thing, in regards to educating yourself in the field of screenwriting, save yourself the frustration of trying to format your script in Microsoft Word and purchase a screenwriting software. The two I use:
"Movie Magic Screenwriter."
Okay, so you have a few ideas to get started, now sit down and continue building your pathway to success! Next week we will talk about the business side of screenwriting. Until then...keep writing!
The illness, the one that almost killed me, or almost killed my soul, was also the thing that brought me here. A new home in my city of angels. Heads on stakes. Enemies impaled. All of this revenge surrounding what used to elude me - Power. Until now. One visit to the bird streets and everything changed. They say absolute power corrupts. Absolutely. Yes, it does.
Numb. That's my defensive stance as I look at the email. It's what I expected. It's what I'm used to. I read over a few of the lines again. "...story didn't keep my attention..." "...not sure who the main character is..." "...thank you for your interest..."
I add another dent to my mental armor and move the email to that swollen folder: FUCKERS WHO DIDN'T GET IT. The folder, which used to be named: TOLD ME TO FUCK OFF... until I changed it in an attempt to maintain a more positive outlook.
Off in the distance I hear that murmuring. Oh yes, that's right, my sister is still lecturing me. I hold the phone closer to my ear.
Worry? You should worry... I think as she breathes her nerves into the phone. I just sent a man to his death.
I know he deserved it... I tell myself. But it's... the way he's going to die... it's... it's just... just so...
What? Exactly. So what? I don't feel bad. Not really. Why? How is that possible? Why am I forcing myself? Struggling to make myself feel bad? Why is every inch of my body tingling with that same, saturating sensation... that... pure... golden...
"We haven't seen you in two years, Evan!," my sister says. "Dad isn't the healthiest man on Earth, y'know? And don't you want to MEET your nieces and nephews?!"
Not right now... I think. Not while I'm trying to figure out what this is...
"Of course I do but I told you I'm struggling," I say. "Do you know how expensive it is over here? I'm barely paying rent and you want me to buy a frigging plane ticket?"
"You say that like it's nothing to be embarrassed about," she spits at me. "You're a grown woman and you can't even afford a plane ticket?!"
She snorts into the phone. No doubt, she's shaking her head. Again. Like always. I hate to admit it to myself... sometimes I'm proud they think I'm such a disgrace.
"Why don't you come back. We've got everything you need to start over again."
"Start over and do what? Get knocked up like all the rest of you and squeeze out more babies that the world doesn't need?!"
"—If I went there," I say, "I'd be dead in a year."
"If not from the boredom, then from offing myself."
She's disgusted now. I can hear it in the silence. In her strained breathing. She wants me back. Of course she does. We've always been opposites, but we've also always been close. Closer than siblings who never had to hide each other. Take beatings for each other. Keep patrol for each other whenever that name-in-only-mom made the malevolent rounds, double-fisting like she always did. One butcher knife to threaten and one wooden stick to hit.
"How's Christopher?," I ask.
She exhales now. Holds the catch in her throat.
"He's fine. He's... taking new medicine."
Christopher. Our brother. Our brother, who... if any of these wishes could do me a favor and give somebody something good... I'd give it all back to Christopher. All the ability. The youth. The lean muscle. The working hands. All that life he used to have... before the goddamned rheumatoid arthritis came and took it all away.
I could do something to her... I think. Something to that selfish, life-sucking, poor excuse for a girlfriend. That bullshit-leech who made him spend all his money and time worrying about her instead of taking himself to the doctor... instead of getting the meds that would have stopped the RA from taking root...
And after that happened – what does she do? She up and leaves him. Like the soulless scumbag she is.
I could do something... something really fucking awful... I could give her the same disease...
"You'd be surprised," my sister says. "He's eating all these greens now. He even stopped eating red meat."
"Wow," I say.
It's not fair...
Wet pools spread themselves around my eyes. My voice shakes. My chest hurts. I can't say another word.
"That's huge, right?," she says. "Imagine... Chris, the barbecue master... now he won't even go near that thing. Won't even cook the greens. He says he's going to eat everything raw."
"Raw?!," I balk. "That stupid, fucking RA... it's doing a number on him."
"Evan," she spits at me again. I can imagine her on the other end of the line, pursing her lips and clutching that cross around her neck.
"Frigging. That frigging RA. Okay?," I say. I'm not in the mood to fight about pointless bullshit or her oversensitive ears.
"Yeah," she says. Loosening up. Half-swallowing the word as she says it. "Only thing that'd surprise me more is if your alky butt stopped drinking."
I laugh then. I know she means it, but I also know she's cracking a joke. I know her chest hurts too. Of course it does. Because we had to watch a bright light fade.
"Seriously Evan... I want to see you. We all do. Please."
"Then...," I start. I don't want to agree, but I feel myself giving in. I feel the guilt.
"Then, Nissa... someone else has to buy the ticket. And I can't go for at least a month. I need to give notice at work."
She'd better try to understand... I think. With the most recent cut in pay, even the most basic things are difficult. Just two airport cab rides could break the bank.
"Evan, just buy the ticket. I know you have the money or a credit card somewhere. When you get here, you've got a free place to stay and all the food in our fridge, so you have no excuse."
"I'm NOT fucking around!" I feel like throwing the phone against the wall. "You wanna know where I get my toilet paper, Nissa? From work. I steal that shit from WORK. Okay?!"
"That's ridiculous," she scoffs. "Then use a CREDIT CARD."
"I don't HAVE ONE," I shout. "I filed BANKRUPTCY after the last goddamn pay cut. HAPPY NOW?!"
I said that on purpose. Goddamn. Said it to make her uncomfortable. Just like I'm uncomfortable admitting what a fuck up my finances are. Admitting how my "stupid Hollywood dreams," as they liked to call them, aren't working out.
My neck feels tight. Something inside me is seething. There it is again. That rage. Damn lucky thing she's my sister.
"Your mouth," Nissa tries.
That's it. I'm over this.
"You know what, forget it. You guys wanna see me, fly your goddamn asses over here."
About mc foley:
MC Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and resides in West Hollywood, CA. After winning a poetry slam competition in Oakland, CA, Foley toured as a performance poet, doing shows across the U.S. and overseas. Foley then wrote/acted lead in "The Coconut Masquerade," a play written in verse and produced by Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco's SOMA district. Segments of "Coconut," were featured in theaters around the country including the national Hip Hop Theater Festival and LA's Greenway Court Theater. Now in LA, MC Foley is an active novelist, screenwriter and weekly e-columnist. 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.
"What happens if a friend, or someone else, makes a suggestion that you think is good and without written permission include the line, scene, or piece of business in your screenplay. Is there now a copyright issue?"
Assuming, for the moment, that the friend just blurted out this suggestion, and you've decided that it really works for your screenplay.... technically, that IDEA is not protected by copyright or any other law. It's essentially a GIFT, and you're legally free to use it, or not. IT gets slightly more complicated for lines of dialogue, or original 'bits', but basically, if they're just GIVEN to you, you don't owe the friend anything more than your gratitude.
Of course, this doesn't mean that your "friend" won't sue you, or even that if he does, you'll win. (And, even if you do... lawsuits are VERY expensive, even for the winners.)
You see, this is actually less about the copyright, than it is about the contract between you and the friend.
"Wait!", you say. "There is no contract!"
Are you sure?
Despite Samuel Goldwyn's famous quip that "An oral contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on", Contracts need not be in writing to be enforceable. So, let's look more deeply at the situation. If you made your friend any kind of promise that he or she relied upon in giving you the suggestion, you MAY have just entered into an oral contract... a collaboration agreement, and this person is now your co-writer.
Now, joint authorship does depend on the mutual intent of the parties to co-own the work in question, so if you're careful not to make any promises, or give any indication that you'll "share", you should be ok...
But, ultimately, you have to let your conscience be your guide.
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.
Much like Manny's article a couple weeks ago about the writer who emailed him in a way that totally shut down his chances, I thought I'd bring you yet another true story of a writer who talked himself out of a yes and shut a door of opportunity for no other reason than his own impatience, inconsideration and stupidity.
I don't read unsolicited scripts and especially since I am now a full-time script consultant, I don't search out projects nearly as much as I used to. But I still get plenty of random query emails every week, most of which I delete.
I happened to get an email on June 17th (the dates will be important) from a writer named Nick (I'll leave out his last name to protect the innocent). He didn't actually write a query letter – just sent me a random email to ASK if he can send a logline. He said his script had won a contest and had gotten some interest (which I never believe because if there was real interest – it would be in development), but I emailed him back on Monday June 18th and said - "Sure, send over the logline and I will let you know."
I must have been in a good mood. Easy enough, right?
MINUTES later, I had the logline email in my mailbox. And his email back to me with the logline was short, simple and to the point. Fine. Great. Done.
Now, yes, I could have read the logline and gotten back to him that second. But guess what – I'm a busy fucking person. I'm on a deadline for a script that's due next week, I'm at least 2 weeks behind on clients with more coming in every day, I'm closing a deal on a book option that I'm adapting to a TV series, I still haven't gotten back to half of the Great American Pitchfest writers on their scripts, and as some of you know, I also got a massive spider bite on my knee 2 weeks ago that left me in great pain and unable to walk for a few days (P.S. - God Bless Vicodin). Then I was out of town at a seminar from June 20th-24th. So yeah, I'm kinda friggin' busy.
And I don't know how many times I have said it (or Manny has said it in his column), but you're not going to get an immediate response from an executive. For an unsolicited, random query email from a stranger, you're lucky if I get back to you EVER, but if I do – it's going to take a few weeks!
Yet just 4 DAYS later, on June 22nd, I received this email from Nick:
I guess the logline I sent didn't really grab you. Being a movie expert you'd agree that it is hard to do justice to a comedy with a logline or even a synopsis. Some screenplays must be read. It is a good thing Tarantino didn't have to pitch his "Pulp Fiction" with a single logline because he would have been in trouble.
I'm not trying to convince you to read my story, you've made up your mind. You wouldn't be an unbiased reader anymore and I'll be swimming against the current. It is a good screenplay though, that's all I'm saying. That is why I want to ask you for an advise: if you had a good broad action/comedy who would you pitch it to? Could you refer me to somebody?
First off – it is incredibly easy to get across a comedic story and concept in a logline. Honestly, it's not that hard. Either it sounds like a good, funny, original idea or it doesn't. So, I don't buy that argument ever.
Second - any email I get from a writer who compares their experience to Tarantino pisses me off to no end. You know why? Cause YOU'RE NOT FUCKING TARANTINO! His story is an EXCEPTION, not the RULE. And guess what – Tarantino made his OWN movies – he didn't send anemic loglines to random executives around town hoping they'd read his shit.
Third - he just told me that I did not like his project, yet asked me if I could refer this stranger, whose script I have not requested or read, to someone else! Why on earth would I ever refer a project that I didn't even read to someone ELSE?? My reputation is everything in this business and I DO NOT refer random stranger writers I do not know personally (or whom aren't clients of mine) to anyone. Why would I? I don't even know if he can write – I was only sent a logline!
These three faux pas could be overlooked, however, if I was in a good mood. But Nick committed two cardinal sins that are unforgivable. Can you guess what they are?
He ASSUMED. He assumed that just because I did not get back to him within 3 days, that I had made up my mind, hated his logline, and dismissed his script. He talked himself out of a YES before I ever even got to respond. And you know what assuming does...
He was so impatient and inconsiderate that he thought his logline must be the MOST important thing in my day and thought 4 days was a respectable amount of time to check in with me (which it's not) and not just to ask if I've had a chance to read the logline, but to assume that I had passed.
So here is my very blunt email I sent back to him...let this be a lesson to the rest of ya...
I'm going to give you the best advice anyone has ever given you with query letters, emails and responses - Never pass on yourself before someone else does. I just got your email on Monday with the logline. I happen to be away at a seminar all week and am not in the office, and am not replying to most emails until I return. But even if I WAS in town, it would still take me more than a week to get back to a query letter email.
But 3 days later, you've already assumed I have passed - and in fact, you have passed FOR me. You told me I passed. YOU told me I wasn't interested and that your logline didn't grab me. I didn't tell YOU that — YOU told ME that. Why would you want to assume or talk yourself out of a YES, before you even get a response?
I hadn't made up my mind in any way whatsoever because I haven't gotten to it yet...I'm a little busy. And, out of town. But now you're trying to convince me to re-think something I haven't even thought of yet. And telling me I wouldn't be unbiased is probably the worst thing you could ever say - I'm a script consultant and producer - my JOB is to be completely unbiased...and I'm good at my job.
You weren't swimming against ANY current except your own belief in your work. NOW, of course, you are. Patience is a virtue, my friend. And never ever talk yourself into a Pass or assume you've been passed on when it's only been 3 days! You know how long it takes for me - and every other producer out there to answer an UNSOLICITED email query letter from someone we don't know?? For the 10% who even DO email back (which I usually do), it takes WEEKS. And you assumed I passed after 3 days.
Yes, I am unfortunately now passing. But good luck and please take this as a learning lesson for your other queries!
Nick wrote me back with a mea culpa, apologizing and saying he was at a frustrating point and was over-excited. And I get that – I do. But the worst thing you can do when you're frustrated or angry or excited is to take it out on the exec or producer or agent who is still actually considering your work.
And now that you've heard it from both myself and Manny, maybe you will listen!
Don't talk yourself out of a yes, don't assume to know our opinion or think that we have passed when it's only been 4 days, don't ask us for a referral when you don't know us personally and we haven't even read your script, don't compare yourself to fucking Tarantino, and do NOT check in with us after 3 days to see if we've read your shit – give it at least 3 weeks! Got it? Good. Now go write something worth reading.
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.
Paddy Chayefsky – 3-time Academy Award winning screenwriter - on his best advice for screenwriters:
"The best thing that can happen is for the theme to be nice and clear from the beginning. Doesn't always happen. You think you have a theme and you then start telling the story. Pretty soon the characters take over and the story takes over and you realize your theme isn't being executed by the story, so you start changing the theme."
Our publishing schedule has us rounding up pitch sales a few days earlier than usual, but no worries: We're well under June 2011‘s big number, true, but this month's total (as of the 23rd) is already way ahead of May's, and we're still only a few pitch sales under 2011's mid-year total.
Here are our favorite highlights from the past four weeks:
Disney's three pitch purchases sent a clear message to the marketplace ("Seriously, we're open for business!"), putting its tally at roughly half the number of pitches it bought in 2011. As we wrap up the Spring selling season, Fox is the only studio significantly off its 2011 pace (2 pitch purchases so far, compared to 4 in the first half of last year).
WME is all-but uncatchable at this point: Its three pitch sales in the past four weeks puts its year-to-date tally at 15, compared to second place CAA's 9 and third place UTA's 8.
Here are June's raw numbers, followed by the usual breakdowns and project details.
4 Action/Adventure 2 Comedy 1 Thriller
8 Comedy 4 Sci-fi 4 Thriller
Weekly Activity Breakdown
Week of May 28 (Memorial Day):
No pitch sales were announced
Week of June 4:
1 pitch sale was announced ("Temple of Heaven")
Week of June 11:
1 pitch sale was announced ("Stuff of Legend")
Week of June 18:
5 pitch sales were announced ("Untitled Allison Burnett Thriller," "Bloodstrike," "Untitled Chris McCoy Romantic Comedy," "High Value Target," and "Untitled Scott Rosenberg Action Comedy")
1 other pitch was announced but hasn't been set up yet ("Untitled Josh Hamilton Biopic")
Pitch Sales (alphabetical by title)
Untitled Allison Burnett Thriller Writer: Allison Burnett
Reps:Gersh (Bob Hohman, Devra Lieb, Bayard Maybank) and Industry Entertainment (Jess Rosenthal)
Buyer:New Line Genre: Thriller
Logline: A noir thriller with sensuality and intrigue, in the tradition of Body Heat.
Bloodstrike Writer: Rob Liefeld
Reps:Energy Entertainment (Brooklyn Weaver)
Buyer:1984 Films Genre: Action
Attachments: Adi Shankar will produce with Weaver.
Notes: Based on the ‘90s comic book series by Rob Liefeld.
Logline: Follows a team of top-secret super agents/assassins who had died but were revived by the government via a secret initiative called "Project: Born Again."
Untitled Chris McCoy Romantic Comedy Writer: Chris McCoy
Reps:WME (Jeff Gorin, Sharon Jackson, Simon Faber) and The Gotham Group (Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Shawn Simon)
Buyer:Disney Genre: Romantic comedy
Attachments:Mandeville Films' Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman will produce.
Logline: Under wraps, but said to involve iconic fairy tales.
High Value Target (aka HVT) Writers: Spenser Cohen & Zach Luna
Reps:WME (Mike Esola) and Energy Entertainment (Brooklyn Weaver)
Buyer:Energy Independent Genre: Action
Attachments: Spenser Cohen to direct. Weaver and Anna Halberg to produce.
Notes: Went out in March accompanied by a rip-o-matic.
Logline: Centers on a multi-national black-ops mission inspired by real events. In the vein of Black Hawk Down, set on a Somali pirate ship.
Untitled Scott Rosenberg Action Comedy Writer: Scott Rosenberg
Reps:WME (Adriana Alberghetti, Ari Greenburg)
Buyer:Disney Genre: Action comedy
Attachments: John Jacobs' Smart Entertainment will produce.
Notes: Sold for seven figures.
Logline: Under wraps.
Stuff of Legend Writer: Shawn Christensen
Reps:Verve (Bryan Besser) and Caliber Media (Dallas Sonnier)
Buyer:Disney Genre: Fantasy adventure
Attachments: Commercial and music video director Pete Candeland to helm. Mandeville Films' Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman will produce with David Manpearl. FilmEngine's Jake Wagner will executive produce.
Notes: Based on the graphic novel by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith and illustrated by Paul Wilson III. Will be a live action/CGI hybrid.
Logline:Toy Story meets The Chronicles of Narnia. Set in 1944, centers on a boy who is abducted by the Bogeyman and dragged into a realm called "The Dark." The boy's puppy rallies his toys to follow his master in a rescue mission. Once in the closet, each toy becomes menacingly large and agile, and engages in a war with the Bogeyman's forces, comprised of the other toys stored in the closet, a mix of medieval knights, cowboys and toy soldiers.
Temple of Heaven Writer: Chad St. John
Reps:CAA (Spencer Baumgarten & Billy Hawkins)
Buyer:Warner Bros. Genre: Action adventure
Attachments: Jason Reed and Michael Andreen will produce.
Logline: Under wraps, but said to be based on aspects of Chinese mythology.
About FilmFunds Tracking Report:
FilmFunds Tracking Report, formerly known as 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.
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.
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:
SVP Comedy Development, 20th Century Fox TV
SVP Drama Development, 20th Century Fox TV
VP Physical Production, Dreamworks Studios
Do you hear that ticking clock? No, not the one in your screenplay, the actual one over your desk. It's the one telling you that the contest deadline is near. You need to get cracking on your rewrites, but you don't have the faintest idea how to go about doing it efficiently.
In past articles, I've discussed different aspects for performing a front to back rewrite of your screenplay. Some methods work well for one person, not so well for another. Here is another angle - a tool - that you can employ when you do another pass on your script. The first thing you have to do may sound simple, but it's surprising how many people don't do it.
Have someone you trust read your script and give you feedback. Again, this has been discussed in some of my other articles, but it is worth repeating and is very important. As a writer, you are too close to your script and it's hard to see where your writing may not be clear. There may be several scenes that you are concerned with, that actually are well written and get your point across. The other scenes that you believe are solid, may need more work than you realize.
The second part to a successful rewrite is to break down your script into components that need to be worked on. On your first pass, you may find that your scenes need to be trimmed down, so focus on that. The second pass may have you working on the dialogue, punching it up or toning it down. The third pass may entail a detailed spell and grammar check.
This isn't to suggest that when you are trimming down a scene, you don't touch the dialogue. The exchanges between your characters may be causing your scenes to go long. Obviously, if you find grammar, punctuation and spelling errors as you progress you would correct them. The point here is that you shouldn't try to fix everything in one pass.
By breaking down your script into different components - and the above examples are just that, examples - you will create a work flow that makes your rewrite easy. Try not to bog yourself down when going through any one of these processes. You can always go back and do another pass on scenes, dialogue, etc.
The third part to performing a successful rewrite is reading your script with fresh eyes. This can be difficult as you know the characters and story theme better than anyone, after all, you wrote it. The way to go about this is to read scenes at random. Simply flip to any page and read all or part of a scene.
This method helps you break out of the "A to Z" mode of reading your material, allowing you to anticipate what is coming up next. By mixing up your reading process before a final polish, you are challenging your mind to read the story as if you've never read it before. Why does this work? Because you haven't read your script is such a disjointed manner! At some point, you will do another read through, start to finish to make sure everything flows properly; the final touch up.
Working hard doesn't mean you have to be frustrated. Find a method that works best for you, so that your script gets the polish it needs before its entered into the next screenwriting contest. Do that, and you're sure to catch the judge's eye.
While you are hammering away on your next screenplay so you can submit it just under the contest deadline wire, you've probably taken time to watch some movies. While kicking back to enjoy some downtime, you may realize that there is one aspect of your script that is missing. Read next week's article; One Ingredient Your Script Must Have.
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.
Gonna kinda cheat this week and share with you a couple of emails I got this week. The first comes from Karen who, like many of you should, has taken my advice:
I love your column and appreciate the time you take to help out those of us trying to break into the business. I particularly love your advice on what not to do when you get an opportunity to meet with mucky-mucks.
I'm a fairly new screenwriter in New York, and have been working hard to master the craft for about three years. My goal is to get a job in TV at the staff table. I've applied for the network fellowships and workshops, but know what a long shot it is. Everyone has told me that I have to be in LA to work in TV, and I have taken this advice to heart. I definitely don't want to die without at least giving it a chance.
A few months ago you mentioned the "living in LA" question in your column, and said something like -- if you're married, and your spouse doesn't want to move, leave him. Although I know you were joking, I agree that there are worse reasons for separation! In my case it is not only my husband, but also my two teenagers who have no desire to be in LA. I am making preparations to move out there on my own in the fall and give it a shot. If it works, I'll bring them out there, if not I'll come home. I've worked too hard and love this too much not to take a shot.
My question is, other than the usual approach of meeting everyone possible and attending networking events, do you have any particular advice to hit the ground running? Since I'm leaving my family to pursue my dream, I want to make the best possible use of my time.
Once again, thank you for your time and attention. I'd love to buy you a drink sometime to show my gratitude and shoot the breeze.
Trying hard not to be a fucktard,
Now, although I'm very proud of Karen, I do want to say I'm not about breaking up families...although I know it seems that way. Every situation is different and in a perfect scenario you can move out here AND keep your family dynamic in tact.
That being said, I want to throw out a call to all of you. Let's show Karen a warm LA welcome. She wants to network and meet people, so let's make it happen people. She's leaving her FAMILY for this shit. Let's show her that it's gonna be worth it!
Next up, another soul who needs some help...this one comes from Marie who wrote me in a frenzy and I feel like her story is definitely one that needs to be shared.
Once again you have hit me where it hurts, and so I figure I'd better ask for your advice in the hopes of extricating myself from a possible pile of s**t from acting like a triple f***tard.
First, the set-up:
I attended a local industry info session and at the cocktail party afterwards, I flitted around looking for more info from people whose names had been mentioned. Whilst waiting to speak to Person A, I stepped into the little cocktail group around him and while Person A was talking to B, I struck up a conversation with C while her husband D turned to talk to E.
I mentioned to C that I was a screenwriter and we talked about how important lighting was to a movie (I thought her hubby might have been a DP). Anyhow, we exchanged cards and I discovered she was a line producer.
Call to Adventure:
Next day, I get an email from Producer D (aka "husband D" above) with his IMDb Pro link asking me for a one-page on all of my finished screenplays. I panicked because I have 5 completed screenplays, but only one of them is ready to "go out", IMHO. So I stalled by sending Producer D the loglines and asking if any of those loglines were of interest.
Producer D wrote back asking for 1-page synopses on all of them. So I sent one synopsis per day (as I wrote them round the clock). Time elapsed: one week.
1st Turning Point:
Producer D requests the full screenplay for the locally set Romeo & Juliet story (called So Hard to Love), explaining he's turning down the others because he's looking for locally shot thrillers. (The others are set in faraway places.) I panicked. Time elapsed: about a week and a half.
Did I mention I was in a state of panic? When I opened up SHL again, for the first time in many years, I re-discovered that I had left SHL in the middle of a re-write because I had been diverted by a request to adapt a novel to screenplay.
Here is where I may have gotten truly, horribly f***tardy: I wrote back to Producer D saying I wanted to tweak and polish SHL before I sent it to him. Did he have a deadline?
Act 2 Part 1
A family emergency cropped up that required 4 days to resolve. On top of that...
I re-outlined So Hard to Love (SHL) to play up the thriller aspect, but try as I might I could not turn my little ol' Romeo & Juliet Romantic Drama into a roller coaster Thriller.
After 2 weeks of panicked silence on my part, I sent Producer D a short note updating him that I was still tweaking and polishing SHL and expected to deliver at the end of the week.
Producer D replies, "Thanks for the update."
I bled sweat and tears, sent it out for feedback, incorporated feedback, still was not 100% happy with it but it was Saturday and I was so sleep deprived I couldn't even see straight anymore (literally) so I registered and submitted it.
After 4 hours sleep I realized I sent him the wrong version, of course, and spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday agonizing about whether I should re-send the "better" version and risk looking like a double f****tard. I resisted and said, "What will be will be."
Midpoint High or Low?
On Monday, Producer D writes, "Thanks for this." Total elapsed time from the day we "met": 4.5 weeks.
So you see how your column fit into my tragic story. Now here's where I need your advice...
Act 2 Part 2
Producer D has now had So Hard to Love for 3+ weeks.
Should I send him a note asking if he's had time to read it yet? Or will that mark me as a triple f****tard that he will prompt him to change his email addy?
I hope this hasn't been too agonizing for you to read. I probably did EVERYTHING wrong. Nope, wait — I never pitched to him, so I couldn't have done THAT wrong ;-).
Anyway, should I follow up? Should I wait another week or so? Or have I already f***ed this up beyond redemption and should just fahgeddaboudit?
*Sigh* I do appreciate what you are trying to help your readers to NOT do stupid things.
BTW, should I mention that my screenplay that is set in a diamond mine in the Arctic, "Rough Diamonds", could be tweaked to be re-set at a newly opened diamond mine in northern Ontario (which would make it much more "local")?
So to summarize, in case your head is spinning:
1) Should I follow up on "So Hard to Love"?
2) Should I offer to tweak "Rough Diamonds"
I do hope you'll take pity on another mid-Westerner (could ya tell?) and put me out of my misery! And I do apologize if writing to you has wrecked your day,
First and foremost, guys...I'm here to help YOU. Don't EVER feel like you need to apologize for sending me your problems.
You don't. That's what I'm here for.
Many of you can probably see where the fuck up went, right? Never pitch something that you don't have prepared.
Cause people might like it and want to see it!
Okay, so that's that. We can't take it back.
So what does she do now?
Don't write, don't ask, don't do anything.
Let it be. The reality is, if the person likes it, they are going to like it. Period. They welcome to you regardless of how they got it.
And the reality of it... we're busy. Just cause we asked to read your script, doesn't mean we're going to sit down and read it right away.
So just do nothing. AND, learn from these mistakes and don't repeat them. Marie is never going to pitch something she doesn't have done again. Right?
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.