The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, July 15 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

A quick but exciting note for you today.

Pre-production is ramping up for "Chez Upshaw" and we have some exciting casting updates to announce!

Here is the cast thus far:

Kevin Pollak, Heaton Upshaw
Illeanna Douglas, Rita Upshaw
Molly Sims, Claire Bird
Shane Johnson, Slade Woodshed

The rest of the cast is being locked, but we are obviously very excited and proud of the team so far!

An interesting point to make is that the writer/director of "Chez Upshaw," the talented Bruce Mason, was an individual I met at a local restaurant we both frequent.

Starting with a few polite "hellos," then progressing to some short chats, and then finally escalating to serious business discussions, we eventually got to the point where we are now working together on his film!

By being polite, engaging, and persistent, Bruce got me to work with him!

And although he didn't know it, Bruce was actually using the same BOSI principles I teach YOU when speaking to Hollywood Professionals!

So remember, these types of situations DO occur.

Bruce is living proof of this.

So keep studying The BOSI principles... they can (and will) lead to YOUR success if you apply them!

And speaking of your success, here's what we've got for you in this week's action-packed 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:

Screenwriting's Magic Pill: is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I talk about the single biggest factor that determines your success... or failure as a screenwriter!

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.

Albert Einstein's Clothes: 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.

The Keys to Writing a More Compelling Script – Part Two: is this week's article from Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions, 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 producer of "The Sting" and writer of the book "Movie Speak" – Tony Bill!

The Scoggins Report: is our bi-weekly/monthly spec market analysis. Use this information to see what's selling, who's buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This information 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...

Read And Watch: 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 King, Outta Towners, And Carmageddon...: is this week's article by our newest contributor, 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!

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Screenwriting's Magic Pill

by Marvin V. Acuna

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

Morpheus – "The Matrix"

If you're looking for the magic pill, the secret ingredient, the elixir that will transform you into a superstar screenwriter, then here it is...

There IS no magic pill!

There IS no secret ingredient!

There IS no spoon!

The secret is that there IS no secret.

The single mental quality that separates successful screenwriters from those who fall by the wayside can be reduced down to one word:

And it's not what you think. It's not "ambition," "connections," or "talent."

The word is... decision.

Successful screenwriters decide to become professionals before they actually achieve their desired success. They are already celebrated, respected, and wealthy screenwriters in their minds, before they become so in the real world.

And the most important thing is... they ACT accordingly. They work as if they were million dollar screenwriters who are in high demand.

Do you want to be a successful screenwriter? Then ACT like it!

Here's an example of a million dollar habit that you can immediately apply into your life. In fact, this habit is so powerful, that it could quite literally be the "keys to the kingdom." This is what every successful screenwriter does everyday, as a routine.

Ready? Here it is...

Successful screenwriters schedule time to write, everyday. It's that simple.

Academy Award Winning Screenwriter, Oliver Stone once said that he placed a banner above his desk that simply read, "Ass plus chair equals script."

My hope is that you have made the decision in your own mind to be a successful screenwriter.

Assuming you have then the following tips may assist you with scheduling time to write while you manage all the other aspects of your life.

  • Make a Writing Plan — I believe the written word is powerful. It motivates and inspires people to take action. As a writer I have to believe you'd agree.

  • Keep It Simple Silly — Your plan only needs to address three specific things: A) What? B) When? And C) How?

  • Look at your Plan Everyday — Mine is written on a white wash board in my office.

A very simple plan may look like this:

  • What — To complete a first draft

  • When — By March 1st

  • How — # Pages per mo/# pages per week/#scenes or pages per day

If you are so inspired to add more detail to your plan go for it, but the bottom line is this: The Great Wall of China was not built in a day.

I'd encourage you to focus on laying down one brick at a time every day and soon you will have a wall. I mean script!

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The Box Office Report

Wed, Jul. 13DailyTotal
Transformers: Dark of the Moon$4,624,283$277,633,524
Horrible Bosses$3,373,455$39,503,999
Cars 2$1,956,799 $155,179,395
Bad Teacher$1,091,345$82,371,009
Larry Crowne$684,555$28,444,930
Monte Carlo$642,732 $18,246,923
Super 8$552,181$119,844,734
Mr. Popper's Penguins $515,596$59,640,559
Green Lantern$408,231$111,052,940

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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

Albert Einstein's Clothes

by mc foley

There are differing opinions as to whether or not the following story is true. However, when I first heard it, the meaning behind it is what struck me the most.

According to the story — At a certain point in his life, Albert Einstein wore the same clothes everyday. When asked about this strange (and seemingly unsanitary) quirk, he'd say that these were not the same clothes - just the same outfit. Basically, he had countless pairs of the same pants, the same sweaters, the same socks, the same daily uniform, so that each morning he wouldn't waste even the tiniest bit of thought on something as trivial as clothing. He knew it was essential to use his brain, and his time, for what really mattered. In his case — Physics.

In my case — Writing.

While the story may not be true, I can relate to its description of a creative mind's quest to shape the day. To be more proactive about molding the waking hours — using them before they fly away and are gone forever.

For example—

During phases when I need to work a survival job, I go out of my way to live within five to seven minutes driving distance from that job's location. This is not an exaggeration. Years ago, I walked into a temp agency up the street from my house. I knew this agency had placements at Paramount, so I signed up and said "put me at Paramount or anywhere within five to seven minutes driving distance from here." They thought I was kidding. I wasn't. I worked one non-industry related gig for them in Santa Monica, then called two days later and asked them never to place me that far again.


In my gameplan, the only purpose for these survival jobs is twofold: networking — or earning dough. If the gig offered good networking, I'd be willing to drive out further. If it were only about money, then I'd rather waste as little time as possible sitting in my car. Once, when I was a bus rider, I moved to an apartment right on the bus line that went directly to my day job. Because it was more important to me to be able to lose no more than a few minutes walking to the bus stop — and less than half an hour riding the bus to the gig.

Those hours in traffic are precious. Especially for someone like me, who — when following my schedule correctly — wakes each weekday morning so that I have at least three to four hours before the rest of the world gets moving — to write. I knew friends who were losing as much as four hours a day in commutes. We all have our preferences, but if I were inside that car, I could only imagine the deep well of resentment that would churn inside of me each and every day I gave up the most precious resource in life.


Time. Time. Time.

The examples of where to whittle down wasted time are endless—

When choosing a doctor, I pick one nearest my neighborhood. When selecting a gym, I look for one right up the street or as close as humanly possible. When shopping for groceries, I hit the local store. When buying food, I pick the most quickly prepared to eat — if not already made. And by this, I often mean toast. A bag of almonds. A banana.

Of course, I don't apply this rule to everything. Not to relaxing and reading and seeing good friends. And especially not to new experiences. Because those experiences will fill the well. They will inform and expand my writing.

But to the daily necessities of life — yes, I definitely apply it. Practically everyday. Because, to me, one more hour wandering the aisles of the grocery store, is a waste. One more hour sitting on Wilshire Blvd. staring at the stop-and-go bumper in front of me, is a waste. And while it's true that the U.S. is undergoing tremendous economic turmoil, leaving fewer jobs out there for people to be picky, if I need to work a day job, I do everything in my power to make sure it expands my network or saps as little of my time as possible.

I've trained my mind to think this way.

Because no matter what anyone tells me, my deepest belief is that letting those hours disintegrate into the ether without stepping up and grabbing hold of them, turning them into the goldmine of possibility that they could very well be - is a profoundly tragic waste. A loss. A loss of one of the most important elements in human existence. One of those rare and special things I'll never get back. And, in order to preserve it, to protect what is irreplaceable, I need to place it — place time for writing — as high on my list of priorities as possible. It needs to be right up there with keeping myself healthy, paying the rent and caring for loved ones.

And sometimes, in order to really slam out something good — a script, a novel, a creative work that even Albert Einstein might've taken some time to read—

I need to put it — above everything.

-mc foley

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

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A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

"My current screenwriting project is taken from the old adage to 'write what you know.' As such, it is a story from my perspective, working in a medical office. Many of the characters are either an amalgamation of patients, or possesses the characteristics of a single patient, that I have encountered over the years. The breathless doctor and his demanding wife are lifted from my perspective of the actual people as well. How much do I need to camouflage these characters in order to sell the project, make it commercially viable and not get my butt sued-off?"

No matter how much "camouflage" you use, if the characters are recognizable as particular real people, you may be vulnerable to claims of defamation (libel), invasion of privacy, etc. If, however, they're broad caricatures, amalgamations, or 'stereotypes', and not obviously based on real people and events, then you're likely to prevail in such claims. So, ask yourself whether your script is really a work of fiction, or not. If the answer is yes...then make sure there's no implication otherwise. If it's non-fiction, then be absolutely certain that everything in the script is factually correct, and isn't revealing private, confidential information.

When you sell a screenplay, you're required to make "warranties and representations" that the work is original and doesn't infringe anybody's rights, invade privacy, etc. So, your best bet, I'm afraid, is to hire a lawyer with experience in this area to discuss your specifics and to review the script and give you a legal opinion before you go too far down the road. Be sure to remind your lawyer about your background and the situation, so he can negotiate the terms of the representations and warranties to protect you.

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

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The Keys to Writing a More Compelling Script – Part Two

by Daniel Manus

Last week, I discussed how setting up your stakes and tone will help create a more compelling script. Well, another key to creating compelling stories is by creating dynamic characters.

It boggles my mind how many scripts I read that have ZERO character description. If you tell us something important or physically distinctive about your characters, that will help hook us. And for the love of God, tell us their age! Don't worry about if an executive wants to make movies with 34 year old leads and you say your character is 32! If I don't know if your character is 17 or 47, that's a much bigger problem.

I've read dozens upon dozens of scripts where the lead characters don't even have last names! Do YOU have a last name? Well, then why doesn't your protagonist? You're trying to create a world in which these people ARE ALIVE. And living people have last names. And if you're writing for television, this is extremely important too! Would you invest 10 years of your life with characters who don't even have last names? Think of shows like "Friends" – I'll bet you still remember all of their last names. Because they became real people to you and without last names, characters are unimportant. (And btw, it's Geller, Green, Tribbiani, Buffay and Bing).

Now, you don't have to go overkill on description and tell us things that we can't see for ourselves on screen. And you shouldn't tell us the character looks like Jack Black because that's who you want to play him. But which of the following introductions draws you in more, makes you understand the character more, and gives insight into the writer's voice?

Roger sits at his desk, clearly bored, as he fiddles with a stress ball.


ROGER REEVES, 30, sits at his desk, mindlessly fiddling with a squishy stress ball. He's good looking in an uncomfortably officious way – like there's a former partyboy inside of him that's been beaten down by years of mouse clicking.

It's such an easy way to bring your script and characters to life. Capitalize your characters when we meet them – it subconsciously helps them stand out. Give their ages and a general description. We don't need eye color and exact weight, but you need to paint the picture. You don't need to give this kind of description to every character – just your main characters.

Setting up the stakes for your main character is done in two ways. One is by giving us enough insight into where he or she came from and what has brought them to this point. This doesn't mean you need a 5 page flashback scene – there are very easy, subtle ways to bring out back story without even telling the audience. Cutaways to photo albums, date books, their reactions to names or songs or items or something another characters says, etc. It all helps flesh out the character and set the emotional stakes.

The second way is making sure the problem your protagonist has or has to solve is big enough, cinematic enough, understandable and relatable enough for an audience. For example, if your protagonist is a super-rich guy who has too much money and sleeps with too many hot women and he just can't stand it anymore -- Boo-Fucking-Hoo!! Who cares? That's not a relatable journey.

If your hero's journey is getting from one location to another location 16 blocks away - that's pretty fucking boring. What's important or cinematic about that? However, if your hero's journey is that he has to make it from one location to another 16 blocks away while protecting a federal witness and troublemaker who is a target for every criminal in the city, that's exciting! (And obviously, that's the Bruce Willis movie "16 Blocks.")

Setting up the "hero's journey" as some refer to it, has always been important. But often writers focus too much on the journey itself and not with where the journey starts. Every journey begins with a single step, but if that first step is leading the hero to a place no one cares about, it doesn't matter how interesting what he has to do to get there is.

Connected to the stakes and your characters' goals, is setting up the emotional connections TO and BETWEEN your characters. All too often writers are so worried about the reader connecting with their characters individually, they forget about making sure their characters connect with each other on the page in a genuine and believable way. It's about creating an instant chemistry between your characters. Again, just because we meet them on page 1, doesn't mean that's when they meet each other. If your two leads have been friends for 20 years, their dialogue and the way they deal with each other needs to show that. And when done well, setting us these connections should make the reader feel like we've known them that long as well. The more connected we are, the more compelling the script will be.

Knowing what your characters mean to each other will help make the story and action resonate more. Let's take the movie "Taken" - would that movie have been as powerful and would we have understood and connected with Liam Neeson's motivations if we didn't know that the girl that got kidnapped was his daughter or what kind of relationship they had prior to him trying to find her? No, of course not. If you set up a romantic comedy where the two leads knew each other years ago, it's not enough to just say that they met – we need to know what their relationship was, what happened, what went wrong (or right), etc. This is creating back story. And when done correctly, creates a more compelling relationship and therefore, a more compelling story.

But it's not just creating and introducing a strong protagonist – it's doing the same for your antagonist as well. Making sure your antagonist is just as explained as your protagonist will flesh out the story and create a more compelling conflict. A crazy killer isn't interesting unless there's a reason he's a crazy killer. Even horror staples like Jason, Freddy, and Michael Meyers all have really fleshed out and interesting back stories that inspired their insanity. So if your bad guy is just there and pissed, he's not an interesting character and therefore, your story lacks substance and motivation and will be less compelling. And this isn't just for horror movies. If your comedic foil tries to sabotage everything your protagonist does, there needs to be a reason.

As important as your characters are, if what they are saying isn't compelling, they will fall flat. One way to create compelling dialogue is by using subtext. If your characters are saying every emotion they are feeling in a direct and on the nose way, your script isn't compelling – it's a Saturday morning cartoon. I want to be able to tell from your dialogue that there is something you are withholding that resides in your character's head or heart and I want to keep turning the page to see when it gets revealed.

The combination of setting your stakes high from the get go, setting up a consistent and attention-grabbing tone, creating and introducing dynamic characters that speak words that hit hard or make us curious, and bringing out your voice as a writer, will guarantee that you create a more-compelling script. And if you can do that, you can seduce any reader and make your story shine.

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.

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Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Tony Bill – Academy Award winning producer of "The Sting" and writer of the book "Movie Speak" - on his best business advice for screenwriters:

"I have scant patience with the lament of writers who claim they cannot get someone to read their script. Instead, I'd offer that a clever-enough submission can get anyone to read (or rather start reading) a script... In fact, I'm opinion enough to say that anyone who can't figure an original, imaginative, and fresh way of submitting a script probably doesn't have what it takes to write one."

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The Scoggins Report

2011 Pitch Sale Scorecard through July 13, 2011

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

Since we're several days away from pulling together our mid-month spec numbers, this installment of the Scoggins Report is an update of the Pitch Sales Scorecard we put out in April. As you go through the below grids, remember that no one has perfect data on how many pitches actually make the rounds every year. All of the below are just the projects that we've heard about so far this year.

That said, we've heard about a bunch: There have been nearly two dozen pitch sales since our last report. Here are our favorite highlights:

- There's a three-way tie for first among the studios so far this year: Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. have each purchased 7 pitches in 2011. By contrast, the three have bought 3, 3 and 6 specs so far this year, respectively. The biggest spec buyer this year, Columbia Pictures, has only picked up 3 pitches so far.

- CAA has absolutely dominated the pitch market so far in 2011, with 14 sales. WME is not all that far behind, with 11. Together, the two giants account for 60% of all pitch sales, and the gap between their numbers and everyone else is huge. UTA, which is number one in spec sales so far this year, is a distant third in pitch sales, with 6.

Below are the grids, followed by the list of each pitch sale since April 15.

Overall Pitch Numbers1:

All Pitches Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Pitches 7 5 11 6 5 10 3           47
Sales 4 4 10 6 4 10 3           42

1 This grid tallies monthly sales in the month the project originally went out. Total Sales includes one that went out in December 2010. All other grids tally sales in the month they sold.

Pitch Sales By Genre (sold/totla):

Genre (sales) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total %
Action/Adventure 1   1     1 2           5/5 11.9%
Comedy 1 2 3 1 3 4             14/15 33.3%
Drama 1   2 2                 5/6 11.9%
Fantasy     1                   1/3 2.4%
Horror                         0/1 0%
Sci-Fi   1 2     3             6/6 14.3%
Thriller 1     2 1 5             9/10 21.4%
Unknown     1       1           2/2 4.8%

Pitch Sales By Buyer (Studios):

Buyers (Studios) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Columbia     2   1               3
Disney   1                     1
DreamWorks     1                   1
Fox   1 1     1             3
Fox 2000 1                       1
New Line     1     1             2
New Regency         1               1
Paramount 1   2 2 1 1             7
Sony Pictures Animation 1                       1
Summit           1             1
Universal   1 1 1   4             7
Warner Bros.       1   3 3           7

Spec Sales By Buyer (Other Buyers):

Buyers (Other) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Alloy Entertaiment     1                   1
Annapurna     1                   1
Chernin 1           1           1
GK Films 1           1           2
Indian Paintbrush             1           1
Route One         1               1
Strange Weather Films       1                 1

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

21 Laps
3 Arts
Apatow Productions
Broadway Video
Chernin (2)
Color Force
Di Bonaventura
The Donners' Company
Evergreen Media
Gary Sanchez
The Gotham Group
Imagine (2)
The Jinks/Cohen Company
Little Stranger, Inc.
Laurence Mark Productions
Original Film (2)
Panay Films
Rat Entertainment
Roth Films
The Safran Company
Thunder Road (2)

Pitch Sales By Seller (Agencies):

Sellers (Agents) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
CAA 1 1 4   1 5 3           15/17
Gersh     1 1 1               3/3
ICM 1   1 1   1             4/4
Paradigm   1                     1/1
UTA     3   1 2             6/7
Verve       1   2             3/3
WME 2 1 1 2 2 3             11/11

Pitch Sales By Seller (Management Companies):

Sellers (Managers) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
3 Arts     1     1             2/2
Anonymous Content 1                       1/1
Arlook Group           1             1/1
Benderspink           1             1/1
Brian Lutz Mgmt           1             1/1
Brillstein           1             1/1
Circle of Confusion   1   1   1             3/4
The Gotham Group 1 1                     2/2
Kaplan/Perrone     1  1     1           2/3
Madhouse           1 2           3/3
Manage-ment     1                   1/1
Management 360     2                   2/2
Merhab           1             1/1
Mosaic 1         1             2/2
Principato Young     1                   1/1
Prolific       1                 1/1
Schiff Company           1             1/1
Thruline         1               1/1
Underground           1             1/1
Untitled           1             1/1

Pitch Sales: April 15 through July 13 (Alphabetical by Title)

Writer: Max Landis
Genre: Thriller
Reps: WME and Circle of Confusion
Buyer: Universal
Attachments: Ron Howard will direct and Brian Grazer will produce through Imagine Entertainment.

The Best of Me
Writer: Nicholas Sparks (source material)
Genre: Drama
Reps: UTA and The Park Literary Group
Buyer: Warner Bros
Attachments: Denise Di Novi and Sparks will produce. Sparks' lit agent, Theresa Park, will co-produce.
Notes: Project is based on Sparks' forthcoming novel, which will be published on October 11, 2011.

Best Lem
Writer: Nick Kurzon
Genre: Comedy
Reps: Verve and 3 Arts Entertainment (Oly Obst)
Buyer: Indian Paintbrush

Untitled Bieber/Wahlberg Project
Writer: Ian Edelman
Genre: Drama
Reps: ICM (Harley Copen)
Buyer: Paramount
Attachments: Justin Bieber and Mark Wahlberg are attached to star. Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson will produce through Leverage along with Beiber's manager, Scooter Braun.

Untitled Cook/Weisberg Female Action Pitch
Writer: Douglas Cook & David Weisberg
Genre: Action comedy
Reps: CAA (Adam Kanter) and Benderspink (JC Spink, Jill McElroy)
Buyer: Summit
Notes: Went out in April, sold in June. Project was formerly called "Bitches 11."

Blood Brothers
Writer: Eric Nazarian & Sergei Bodrov
Genre: Thriller
Reps: CAA, UTA and The Arlook Group
Buyer: Chernin
Attachments: Channing Tatum is attached to star and produce with Reid Carolin through 33andout along with Nazarian and Bodrov. Bodrov ("Mongol") will direct.

Writer: Carey & Chad Hayes
Genre: Thriller
Reps: Circle of Confusion (Ken Freimann)
Buyer: New Line
Attachments: James Wan ("Insidious," "Saw") is attached to direct. The Safran Company's Peter Safran and Evergreen Media's Tony Derosa-Grund will produce.
Notes: Walter Hamada will oversee for New Line. Went out in March, sold in June.

Untitled Cyrano de Bergerac Project
Writer: John Whittington and Gary Ross (story)
Genre: Comedy
Reps: WME and CAA
Buyer: New Regency
Attachments: Nina Jacobson and Allison Thomas will produce through Color Force. Gary Ross is attached to direct.
Notes: Bryan Unkeless will oversee for Color Force.

Untitled Dan Fogelman Project
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Genre: Drama
Reps: WME
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Tom Cruise is attached to star.
Notes: Purchase price was reportedly $2m against over $3m.

Untitled Gaius Julius Caesar Pitch
Writer: Chris Boal
Genre: Action adventure
Reps: CAA and Madhouse Entertainment
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Basil Iwanyk will produce through his Thunder Road banner.

Untitled Glickert Sci-Fi Thriller
Writer: Bobby Glickert
Genre: Sci-Fi thriller
Reps: WME and Merhab Management
Buyer: Universal
Attachments: Bobby Glickert will direct and produce with Justin Lin and Stuber Pictures' Scott Stuber.
Notes: Jeff Kirschenbaum and Jay Polidoro will oversee for Universal. Michael Clear, Nick Nesbitt, and Jone Mone will oversee for Stuber.

Letter of Last Resort
Writer: Peter Landesman
Genre: Thriller
Reps: CAA
Buyer: Paramount
Attachments: 3 Arts' Erwin Stoff will produce.

Untitled McCarthy/Mumolo Project
Writer: Melissa McCarthy & Annie Mumolo and Ben Falcone (story) ("Bridesmaids")
Genre: Comedy
Reps: UTA, CAA, The Schiff Company and Thruline
Buyer: Paramount
Attachments: Broadway Video's Lorne Michaels will produce with John Goldwyn.

Untitled Michael Gordon Project
Writer: Michael Gordon ("300," "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra")
Genre: Unknown (...though one presumes it's big. And awesome.)
Reps: CAA and Kaplan/Perrone
Buyer: GK Films
Attachments: GK Films' Graham King and Tim Headington will produce.

Writer: Will Staples
Genre: Sci-Fi action
Reps: ICM and Brian Lutz Management (Brian Lutz)
Buyer: Fox
Attachments: di Bonaventura Pictures' Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Sam Worthington will produce; Lightstorm Entertainment's James Cameron will executive produce.

Untitled Paul Feig/Judd Apatow Comedy
Writer: Paul Feig
Genre: Comedy
Reps: CAA
Buyer: Universal
Attachments: Feig ("Bridesmaids") is attached to direct. Apatow Productions' Judd Apatow will produce.

Save the Date
Writer: Tom Gormican
Genre: Romantic comedy
Reps: WME and Underground
Buyer: Columbia
Attachments: Toby Ascher will executive produce and Neil Moritz will produce through Original Film.

Shadow Runner
Writer: Hossein Amini
Genre: Thriller
Reps: WME (Adriana Alberghetti, Philip d'Amecourt)
Buyer: Columbia Pictures
Attachments: Chris Hemsworth is attached to star. Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson will produce through their now-shuttered Contrafilm banner. Will Ward will produce for ROAR. Amini will executive produce.
Notes: Hannah Minghella will oversee for the studio. Project is based on a New York Post article by Ginger Adams Otis. Pitch originally went out in April, sold in June.

Untitled Space War Project
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Genre: Sci-Fi action
Reps: Verve and Madhouse
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Sam Worthington is attached to star. Basil Iwanyk will produce through Thunder Road.

Untitled Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman Project
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Genre: Comedy
Reps: WME (Sharon Jackson)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Joaquin Phoenix is attached to star, Spike Jonze is attached to direct. Megan Ellison will produce through her Annapurna Productions along with frequent Jonze collaborator Vincent Landay.
Notes: Pitch originally went out in December 2010. Annapurna bought the project in March, Warner signed on in July.

Swear to God
Writer: Alan Cohen & Alan Freedland ("Due Date")
Genre: Comedy
Reps: WME and Mosaic
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay will produce through their Gary Sanchez Productions banner.

Terminal D
Writer: Brian Horiuchi
Genre: Thriller
Reps: Gersh and Untitled
Buyer: Route One Films
Attachments: Route One's Chip Diggins, Russell Levine and Jay Stern will produce alongside Naomi Despres.

True North
Writer: Rob Pearlstein
Genre: Comedy
Reps: CAA (JP Evans) and Brillstein (Naren Desai)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Brian Grazer will produce through Imagine Entertainment with Ed Helms, who is also attached to star.
Notes: Anna Culp, Erin Fredman, and Kim Roth will oversee for Imagine; Greg Silverman and Jon Berg will oversee for Warner Bros

The Vanguard
Writer: Chris Boal
Genre: Adventure
Reps: CAA and Madhouse
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Attachments: Alexander Skarsgard (HBO's "True Blood") is attached to star and produce with Atlas Entertainment's Chuck Roven, Richard Suckle, Andy Horwitz, and Jake Kurily.
Notes: Jon Berg and Chris Gary will oversee for the studio.

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:

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Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Salke
President, NBC Entertainment

Lisa Porter
Vice President, Lippin Group

Dawn Taubin
Professor of Public Relations and Advertising, Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

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Read and Watch

by Sean Hinchey

It's hard to rewrite your own script because it's hard to read your own material. How do you figure out if your plot is working, your act breaks are effective or your characters are strong enough to win the next screenwriting contest? One method that is very effective at helping you achieve your goals can also be fun. It'll take a little bit of legwork at first, but when you are done, you'll have an opportunity to Read and Watch.

Take some time and figure out what movies you would like to watch some evening. It could be a classic, a newer film or something you've seen before. However, before you watch it, you need to find the screenplay - that's right - an actual copy of the script. There are many different ways you can go about this. One place to find a script is by checking out Samuel French. They have a wide variety of screenplays and stage plays for sale. If you aren't able to visit the store in person, they have an extensive webpage.

There are other stores and even some screenwriting magazines that publish produced screenplays. If you have friends in the industry, they can get you copies of screenplays as well. However you find the material doesn't matter. Just get ahold of the script and a copy of the movie that you are going to watch.

The best way to go about this process is to read the screenplay cover to cover. This is very important - do it without stopping. Treat it as if you are watching the movie in a theater. No interruptions. If you have to turn off your phone, lock your door and hunker down to it, then make it happen. If you really get into the script, it should take about as much time as it would for you to watch the film, roughly two hours.

Next, make yourself some popcorn, kick back and enjoy the film. As you're watching it, take note of how the story unfolds on the screen versus the actual text. Sometimes the screenplay that you read may be different than the film. It could be a different version, or things may have changed in the filming process. I read the script for the original Highlander which was drastically different than the film. I wasn't sure if it was the selling version, a preliminary draft or if it was the shooting script that changed a great deal in the editing room.

As you're watching the film, don't get too caught up in the changes. What you should be focusing on are these aspects of the screenplay. How did the script describe a specific scene? Did it reveal itself how you imagined in the film? Did the dialogue sound the same in your head as it came across in the film? Were the scene transitions what you expected?

What you are looking for is the transformation of the words on paper, onto the screen. If they are similar to what you expected, than the screenplay was successful at relaying the writer's vision. Emulate those aspects as you write your next script. When you are done watching the movie, go back and re-read the screenplay. You don't have to study it, a quick skim will help you with the process even more.

Reading a screenplay and watching the movie is not only a fun process, it'll help you deconstruct some of the mystery about writing a feature. Contest judges can pick out the writers that truly understand their craft from the one's that just go through the motions. That is what can separate your script from a contest winner.

Having trouble writing? Summer time can be full of distractions. There's so much to do that's fun and exciting that makes you not want to stay inside and write. However, if you change your writing process just slightly, you can still find the time to crank out material so you can stay on target for the contest deadline. Read next week's article, Summertime Writing Made Easy.

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 in Spring 2010.

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The King, Outta Towners, And Carmageddon...

by Manny Fonseca

So, um... Rodney king got busted for a DUI this week. Would YOU want to be the cop that pulled him over?

Yeah. I didn't think so. I would have taken one look at his license, put my hands up, stepped back and made sure the camera caught me doing ALL of that.

Maybe we can help Rodney out... isn't there SOME reality show that has "stars" or "celebrities" doing bullshit things, looking for cast members? Whattia say? Celebrity Rehab? He can dust off his old catch phrase "can't we all just get along" when the junkies start throwing shit at each other and arguing. I mean if Amy Fisher is considered a "celebrity," I think we can make room for the King. Fuck. I'd watch that.

Just sayin'.


I know I have a lot of readers all over the world and because of this, I want to share a little story with you.

When I was in undergrad, I was dating this lawyer that was 10 years older than me and already had an established practice. Inthe middle of this relationship, I made the shift to studying film. Toward the end of the relationship, she kept using the "you're going to California anyway" spiel. She was adamant that I had to be out in Cali to be successful and she had NO plans to ever leave Michigan.

(Funny Side Note: She also said she would never wear a wedding dress, dance at her wedding, marry a guy that she didn't "try out" first in the sack or have a wedding reception. She now lives in San Antonio and, having gone to the wedding, she wore a wedding dress, danced at the reception and, as of the wedding night, had yet to fuck hubby to be... which made it slightly awkward when I met him... knowing that I had been in his wife and he had not.)

Every time she threw the "you have to be in California" line, I fired back with...

"Babe. I'm a writer. I can do that ANYWHERE. All I need is a laptop and an outlet to plug in to."

Having been out here for a year I can honestly say: I was utterly and completely full of shit.

If you want to be a Hollywood screenwriter, then guess what? You gotta be in Hollywood. I know. It sucks. But it's true.

To be honest, it kinda perplexes me. I mean, with all the iPads and the iPhones and the Skype and Facebook and the webcams and the technology and the gizmos... you still have to be able to pop in for some real face time.

Hollywood Fact: Even though everyone owns every latest toy... NO one knows how to fucking use any of it. You're talking about a town that still relies heavily on assistants to do EVERY thing. Which includes updating and maintain their gadgets. Tell a producer that you wanna have a Skype meeting and they'll say "Great!" and then turn to their assistant and say "What's this Skip and do I have it? Really? You can do that? Well set it up."

Even though these things exist to make communication and life in general EASIER, it actually complicates the process.

Why don't they know how to use them? No one has time in Hollywood. Everyone is busy moving and shaking. Who has time to sit down and learn to use an iPad?

That's what they have assistants for.

It's this mentality that keeps Hollywood here. In L.A.

So you gotta move out here if you want to make it. You have to get known around town. Meet people. Network. You know the old adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know?"

Well it's fucking true!

"But Manny... I have a job. Kids.A husband. I can't just pick up and move to Hollywood!"

And this is my problem how? As far as I'm concerned, stay where you are. Keeps the fucktard population small. I like that. More room to move around.

"Yes, but there are successful screenwriters living all over the world!"

I love it when people throw out the "yeah, but..." argument. Yes... there are exceptions to every rule... doesn't mean you're going to BE one of those exceptions. You don't know what those exceptions did to BECOME an exception, so don't throw yourself into a fucked up rationalization that allows you to "keep the dream alive."

Plain and simple: You're never going to be able to compete with the writer that comes out here, rolls up the sleeve and immerses themselves in the industry.

And trust me when I tell you... there's a LOT of fucking people to compete with out here, so all you're doing is watching the game from home. You're not even tailgating in the parking lot.

Hollywood is a business and management likes it when they're employees show up. Know what I mean?

I have a friend in New Zealand. Wrote a great script (period we know how that goes). Has gotten turned down by Hollywood producers left and right once they find out she doesn't live here.

"I'm literally willing to get on a plane and be here tomorrow if I have to, but no. They don't want to deal with me. It's only an 18 hour flight!"

Studio Execs have one fear and one fear alone: Getting fired. In this town, you're only as good as your next project. You can go from hero to zero QUICK so they need help because where do you think they get their next project?

From you, dumbass.

So you have to be available to them day and night. You have to be around when they need you. Scripts can take YEARS to develop and they need people they can rely on.

Studio execs are crack heads and you're their dealer. And crack heads don't like it when their dealer is out of town and they need a fix. Trust me when I say...they will just get their crack from another dealer. Someone more reliable.Someone who's HERE and STABLE.Someone who takes their crack dealing SERIOUSLY because you never know when they're going to need a fix. Professional crack dealers don't leave town and don't come in for visits. They stay put. Ready to sell crack.

Ever try selling crack through the mail? Try it. I'll wait.


Didn't work, did it?

Not only that, you're probably going to have the feds knocking on your door soon, so I'd probably stop reading my bullshit and run. Maybe hide out somewhere. Hey! Look at the bright side, now you gotta reason to come out here! Problem solved!

"Yes Manny. You're so fucking clever with the whole 'crack head' analogy, but I've ALREADY moved to Los Angeles, so I want to thank you for wasting my time yet again with another pointless column. Fuck you very much."

First... you're the dumbass that kept reading.

Second... I didn't forget about you! Wanna chat a little bit about some Angelino shit that no one else will get?

How about Carmaggedon this weekend?! Whattia say? Barbeque?I'm good for Saturday afternoon. Maybe we all get together, walk up on the 405 and grill some fucking steaks. Can someone bring a baby pool? Fuck, we might need a few.

Seriously, if there are any USC or UCLA students that read my shit and you have aspirations for shooting a student post-apocalyptic movie... I better see your fucking ass out there,cause you're never going to get another chance again.

For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about. Good. Don't hate. You want to be in the "in," then get off your fucking ass, put down the remote and get out here and get in the game.

That or google 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 or find him on Facebook at

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