The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, November 4 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

Wow, exciting announcement for you today!

I've put together what I believe will be the missing link to success for MANY talented screenwriters!

But instead of explaining it all here, I made a quick video for you to watch instead.

And fair warning, this is a time-sensitive message, so check it out now!

www.TheBusinessOfShowInstitute.com/dinnerclub/

And 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:

http://screenwritingsuccessnow.com/bosi/

7 Types of Financiers to Avoid!: Instead of drafting a new article today, I was compelled to repurpose the one below. As you journey out into the universe of fund raising, I thought that this article would be a great tool for you to draw from.

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.

It Ain't Over Till It's Over: 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.

Creating Set Pieces for Success: 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? Oscar winning screenwriter for "A Beautiful Mind" – Akiva Goldsman!

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...

Why Can't I Get What I Want?: 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".

Fake Celebs, Stop it Already, and Bitch, Please...: is this week's article by Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson’s behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

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

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

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna





The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

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

Click HERE!



Share |
Back to top^

7 Types of Financiers to Avoid!

by Marvin V. Acuna

Instead of drafting a new article today, I was compelled to repurpose the one below. As you journey out into the univierse of fund raising, I thought that this article would be a great tool for you to draw from. All relevant contact information for the originall author is located at the end of the article. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have no affiliation nor relationship with the author. I am not endorsing his services, simply directing you to a potential resource. - Marvin V Acuna

In a tough economy, all capital is created equal, right?

Wrong. Even in a credit-starved environment like this one, the source of your money matters. A lot.

When it comes to courting angel investors - well-heeled individuals looking to put some of their stash in promising young companies that could yield juicy returns--entrepreneurs should take great care. Some angels can be a mild nuisance, others downright conniving and unscrupulous.

Here are seven types of fallen angels to avoid.

Suit Slingers. These nettlesome types look for any excuse to take you to court. Rather than try to help your company grow, instead they try to make money through intimidation, threats and lawsuits. They know you don't the resources to fight them and most likely will cave to their demands.

Smart Guys. Successful business people who become angels often have a prodigious sense of superiority. They tend to be overbearing, negative people hypercritical of every decision you make. Their money may spend, but don't let them intimidate you into bad decisions.

Control Freaks. This kind of angel starts out looking like your new best friend. Don't be fooled. As soon as you hit a pothole, he'll trigger a "gotcha" clause in your agreement that gives him more ownership and operational control of your company. Only your Board can save you here.

Hand Holders. The tutorial investor is not after control, but he wants to guide you on every niggling issue. What feels like benevolent mentoring before he writes the check becomes a painful nuisance soon after. Unless you have an overabundance of time and patience, keep your distance.

Has-Beens. These angels take to wing with every perturbation in the economy. Typical profile: former high-fliers with a liquidity problem. They are still at the country club every day, but now are running up a tab. They will meet with you, ask a thousand questions, but never get around to closing a deal.

Numb Skulls. Wealth is not synonymous with business savvy. You can spot a dumb angel by listening to the questions they ask. The more superficial the questions, the less value (and more potential harm) they will bring to your organization. (That goes for financial journalists too.) One caveat: Numb-skull angels may have important and much smarter friends, so don’t disregard them entirely.

Brokers In Drag. Deal brokers posing as angels (they may be lawyers or accountants by trade) have little intent to invest in your company. Their goal: to get you to pay them to introduce you to actual investors. Brokers may be worth their fees, but don't mistake them for angels.

General rule of thumb for avoiding fallen angels: Eschew investments from private individuals and focus on credible, professional angel-investing organizations. Even then, do your own due diligence: Ask what other companies they've invested in and talk to the chief executives of those outfits to get their feedback. Finally, make sure your lawyer--not the investor--writes the initial investment document or term sheet. This should be a standard document and not negotiated on a one-on-one basis. Beware requests for last-minute clauses that could come back to haunt you.

Yes, money's tight. But choosing the wrong angel could put you on the flight path to perdition.

Martin Zwilling is the founder and chief executive officer of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to start-up founders and small business owners. Check out his daily blog at http://blog.startupprofessionals.comor contact him directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Share |
Back to top^

The Box Office Report

Wed, Nov. 2 Daily Total
Puss in Boots (2011) $1,881,337 $40,505,295
In Time $1,012,036 $15,493,885
Paranormal Activity 3 $988,773 $85,767,540
The Rum Diary $543,947 $6,907,733
Footloose (2011) $396,644 $39,801,878
The Three Musketeers (2011) $342,652 $16,003,865
Real Steel $312,215 $75,016,683
The Ides of March $263,755 $34,519,532
Moneyball $223,121 $68,184,084
50/50 $167,742 $31,837,565
Courageous $159,053 $28,213,878
Johnny English Reborn $117,025 $6,924,590
Dolphin Tale $116,229 $67,469,082
The Thing (2011) $83,985 $16,389,070


Share |
Back to top^

Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

by mc foley

I try not to be a cloying, saccharine-sweet optimist with people. Especially people who've been "at it" — whatever "it" is — for quite some time. I respect those years of sacrifice, and the battle scars people have to show for it. And I've also heard that common saying around these parts... "What do they tell you in Hollywood? One day you turn around — and you're 60."

However, I recently had a conversation with a friend facing his 40th birthday, and I thought it bore repeating...

Him: "Sucks getting old. You look around and realize you're never going to do all the things you wanted to do with your life."

Me: "There's still time. You're ambulatory, you have your health, your mind, you made it past friends I've known who died in their twenties and early 30's."

Him: "M, [groaning]... easy for you to say, you're not my age."

Me: "Do you know anything about Paula Deen? She didn't even open her first restaurant until she was almost 50."

Him: "Are you gonna start with one of those annoying survival stories? I hate those f'ng stories. Everybody always wants to tell them, like they're on some kind of self-help mission but they're all bullsh*t."

Me: "Okay but... people tell those kinda stories for a reason. At least I do. She's got a pretty cool one. And I... [sensing his growing agitation / insert nervous face here]... er... ahem... I know a bunch of other ones... too."

Him: "Fine dipsh*t. Go ahead..."

What follow are not the exact stories I relayed in that conversation... but they cover the same ground. I've never been an admirer of people who had it 'easy,' (which is a relative term anyways), or of people who hit a home run on their first time at bat. Maybe it's because I can't relate. And I can't say everyone feels this way — I'm sure there are plenty of people who love to hear about teenagers publishing novels or people starring in and producing films before they can legally drink. However, having been raised in a government/military family in the DC metro area, it was as daily as dinner to discuss things like honor, like perseverance, like hard work and sacrifice...

...to begin:

Carol Barbee had been acting for over 10 years and was in her early 40's when she got her first credited TV script on NBC's Providence. She immediately joined that writing staff — and a few years later, she was at the helm, acting as showrunner on Judging Amy, then showrunner on Jericho, and most recently, creating and showrunning CBS's Three Rivers.

After losing both parents before she was 20 and suffering from agoraphobia so severe it trapped her inside her home, Paula Deen began to recover through her great love — cooking — and opened her first business, a catering service, at age 42. Seven years later, at age 49, she opened her first restaurant. One year later, she self-published her first cookbooks at age 50. Two years later, she was introduced to Gordon Elliott and became a guest on his Doornock Dinners series on Food Network. Two years after that, at age 54, she shot her first pilot with Food Network. It didn't go to series, but the next year, at age 55, her first show, Paula's Home Cooking, premiered on Food Network. Since then, she's had two more shows, a new food line, appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and guest appearances in film.

Now collaborating with director, Doug Liman, on a film exploring the 1971 prison riot at Attica Correctional Facility in New York, screenwriter Geoffrey S. Fletcher had been toiling away at his screenwriting and filmmaking dreams since he was very young, before receiving a 2010 Oscar nomination for 'Best Adapted Screenplay' for Precious — his first produced screenplay — at the age of 39. It was his student film, Magic Markers — made back in 1995 — that brought him to the attention of director Lee Daniels over ten years later, in 2006. Although Fletcher had been working as an adjunct Film professor at Columbia and NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, it was the request from Daniels to adapt the book "Push," written by Sapphire, [now, the film Precious] that finally brought him face to face with his dream.

In 1992, with CBS's Hearts Afire, actor/writer/director/musician Billy Bob Thornton finally landed an acting role that lasted for three seasons, and which helped him to develop a friendship with John Ritter, who would later join him in a number of notable films. At that time, Thornton was 37, and he had been struggling to make ends meet and to get some kind of traction in his film/TV/music goals since 1978. His odd-jobs included managing a Shakey's pizza, selling pens, catering, waiting tables and at one point, the lack of money landed him in the hospital with myocarditis, a serious inflammation of the heart, due to a diet that consisted of only potatoes. Five years before landing his role on Hearts Afire, in a fit of frustration, Thornton created the character of Karl Childers in an on-set trailer for a film in which he never appeared (his scenes fell to the cutting room floor). That character lead to his 1993 short film, Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade — which he adapted and turned into the 1996 film, Slingblade, in which he also starred and directed. When he accepted his Oscar for Slingblade, in the Best Adapted Screenplay category the following year, he was 41.

Of course, being in your 40's when you get an Oscar nomination is not the same as being in your 40's when you first begin to write, but a lot of these stories can be put in the "late bloomer" category. It's a category shared by names as reputable and varied as Rodney Dangerfield, Anthony Burgess and Georgia O'Keeffe.

And yes, while I'm not yet facing my 40th birthday, what I appreciate most about stories like these, and the people who live(d) them — is that I can't help but wonder if many of them faced that infamous phrase, "over the hill" and replied:

"What hill?"


by word & by deed,
- mc foley


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

Share |
Back to top^

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

Question:
"I'm currently working on a screenplay with four other screenwriters. We are in the beginning stages of character/plot development. Should we have a legal contract drawn up to protect us against theft or should we wait until the screenplay is optioned before we think about the legal aspects? We don't have a screenplay as of yet, so I figured we shouldn't worry too much, but we are accomplishing more towards completion with each meeting we attend (currently every Saturday)."

Answer:
This is a very important question. Don't wait. I believe that every time writers work together to create material, they should have a carefully thought-out collaboration agreement. It's not about protecting yourselves against theft (Copyright Law takes care of that). The purpose of a collaboration agreement is to articulate the nature and scope of the relationship, ownership, creative and business controls over the material created.

Essentially, a writing collaboration is a business partnership, and in some ways, a bit like a marriage. The collaboration agreement is the 'prenuptial' agreement. It sets forth the rights of the parties and the procedures to be followed if the relationship breaks down, or if one of the collaborators dies or becomes incapable of finishing the work.

On my theatre law blog (http://theatrelawyer.com) I've written a series of blog posts, (linked below) that outline this in greater depth. Although those posts are directed at theatre collaborations, many of the issues and principles discussed apply to film and television writing teams as well.

While there are plenty of "form" collaboration agreements available on the internet, in books, and elsewhere, entering into a collaboration agreement should be looked at in the same way someone would view starting any other new business. The advice and counsel of a knowledgeable, experienced entertainment attorney is invaluable in protecting the interests of all concerned. The cost of preparing such an agreement is negligible compared to the losses that can be suffered if a project is abandoned, or winds up mired in litigation.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Share |
Back to top^

Creating Set Pieces for Success

by Daniel Manus

Ever wonder what it takes to create truly memorable movie moments? Those scenes that just stay with you long after you leave the theater? Those scenes that, when someone mentions a movie title, immediately rush back into your mind? Those scenes that allow you to picture the trailer?

These scenes are often called set pieces. And this week, I want to share with your how to create them and automatically make your script more commercial.

While I had heard the phrase "building set pieces for your script" hundreds of times, I never truly thought about it until the recent panel/interview I moderated with A-List comedy writers Tim Dowling and Joe Nussbaum. Dowling has written Just Go With It, Role Models, the upcoming This Means War, and more. Nussbaum has directed Sydney White, Prom, American Pie: Naked Mile and has written some very hot scripts around town, two of which landed on the Black List.

I learned something so valuable from our chat about the importance of set pieces that it has changed the way I look at scripts. And maybe it will have the same affect on you.

Set pieces are not just locations – they are a scene or a short, connected sequence of scenes that builds in a way that not only makes for a memorable and trailer-worthy moment, but also develops your characters, plot, increases emotion, and exploits and explores the hook of your story. One of the keys to building great set pieces is building layers into your scene. If your scene is not accomplishing all of the aforementioned things, then it is not a set piece – it's just a scene.

Nussbaum and Dowling said that it's their ability to brainstorm and picture these 3-6 major set pieces that tells them if their concept has potential. If you cannot think of 3-6 scenes and moments that do all the things mentioned above, then you may not have a strong enough concept to write about. All the big comedy giants – the Farrelly Brothers, Judd Apatow, Weitz Brothers, etc – use these types of set pieces in their scripts.

And this is NOT only for comedy – action, horror, thrillers, sci-fi, and even drama – ALL should have some version of set pieces. When you come up with a concept and a hook, you need to brainstorm and ask yourself what kind of big set piece scenes could EXPLOIT this idea - where are the big moments within this concept? What are the scenes that are going to get this hook across, connect an audience with my main character, and create big cinematic, iconic moments?

The difference between a scene and a set piece is in how it builds. Your set piece should build so that you’re not JUST writing or building a scene to hit that ONE joke line or have that ONE visual gag moment, but instead the comedy is constantly and continuously building and hitting throughout the scene. So basically, there are at least a handful of big laugh (or action, scare, suspenseful) moments within each set piece.

To create a set piece, I've come up with a basic formula for the scene. Though sometimes the steps are not exactly in this order and not every set piece is alike, this is a basic guideline:

  1. Set-Up – This includes your location, setting up what your character wants to get out of the scene (so we know why it's funny when it all goes wrong), and the situation your character has walked into.
  2. Bring out the conflict of the scene.
  3. First big funny moment/visual (or action, scare, suspenseful moment)
  4. Payoff for first funny moment/visual which causes or increases an uncomfortable situation, tension, anxiousness, or other funny emotion. Changes your character or the way others view your character.
  5. Regroup and try again hoping for different results – but unsuccessful.
  6. Second big funny moment/visual that raises the comedic stakes.
  7. Payoff for second funny moment/visual.
  8. REPEAT steps until you have exhausted the hilarious moments and visuals of the scene and exploited your hook.
  9. Last button on the scene which is the final, if not funniest moment or visual of the scene that makes it clear how the scene affected or progressed the story.

And just so you can see exactly what I'm talking about, I want to give you a few of the examples Dowling and Nussbaum used, which will help illustrate this perfectly;

  • The Zipper scene in There's Something About Mary – Stiller gets to the house, is already nervous and wants badly to impress her and her family and seem like a suave guy. He sees Diaz in the window (first funny moment), her father isn't too happy with him (conflict), Father goes into the bathroom to help – doesn't work, raises humiliation (second funny moment), they regroup and wife comes in (third funny moment/line/reaction), cop comes to the window (fourth funny moment/reaction), then the memorable visual of what's stuck in the zipper (fifth funny moment), then the button final action and reaction (fixing the zipper and Stiller's hilarious scream). Then he's taken by the paramedics – prom is ruined and he's lost his chance with his dream girl.

  • The Dinner/Urn scene in Meet the Parents – the set up of the conflict was set up previously but increases in this scene as Stiller tries to impress and win over DeNiro's character (his motivation). The scene builds with the "milking" dialogue (first funny line), the VISUAL of Stiller milking the invisible cat (first funny visual), DeNiro's reply (the payoff and second funny line), Stiller regrouping and trying again unsuccessfully which makes him even more nervous and anxious, the revelation that Stiller's girlfriend was engaged before (creates more conflict and affects the story later on), champagne cork hits the urn and smashes it (third funny moment), the cat takes a shit on the ashes (the button on the scene).

  • The opening Masturbation/Sock scene in American Pie – it's clear what Jason Biggs' character wants. We have the scrambled porn and porn dialogue (first funny visual and line), mom comes into room and he scrambles to hide and excuse away what he's doing (second funny moment, causes uncomfortable situation), more porn dialogue (third funny moment), father comes in (fourth funny moment, raises stakes of comedy), Biggs tries to regroup without success, reveal of the penis sock (fifth big funny moment/visual), and the father's dialogue and look at Biggs' humiliated face (button on scene).

And a few scenes I thought of which also exemplify creating great set pieces – you can watch them and do the breakdown yourself:

  • The Bridal Shoppe scene in Bridesmaids where they all get sick
  • The Beauty Pageant scene at the end of Little Miss Sunshine
  • The chase scene in The Departed that leads to Martin Sheen's death (spoiler, sorry)
  • The opening scene of Scream.

Each of the above-mentioned scenes USE and EXPLOIT the hook of their story piece – a guy who can't get laid, a guy meeting his fiancée's family, a woman dealing with her friends' wedding arrangements, etc. And they build from that hook with a visual, a set up, an action and/or dialogue, and a payoff – then another visual/dialogue and a payoff that builds the moment even more – then repeat and repeat until that scene leaves you in stitches, or crying, or scared, or on the edge of your seat, depending on the genre.

All of these scenes don't just have ONE payoff moment or line or visual - but a constant build of big moments/visuals and creates those trailer moments. Memorable moments.

Even smaller personal private journey movies often employ this technique. For example, in Call of the Wild, each of the important characters that help the lead character on his journey is a different set piece.

Sometimes the first big set piece is in the first act, but if not, it could serve as a great scene to begin your second act. Just as your characters are starting their adventure, this is a great time for a big set piece because normally your set pieces also serve as OBSTACLES for your characters (look at all the examples above).

Another key to set pieces is that they must feel incredibly natural to the story and concept you are writing – they are not forced moments. They fit naturally within your story and structure and character arcs. Do not force a set piece – it will throw your story off completely.

So, take a look at your scripts and stories and see if you are creating set pieces for success. Good luck and keep writing!


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.

Share |
Back to top^

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Akiva Goldsman – Oscar winning screenwriter for "A Beautiful Mind" - on his best business advice for screenwriters:

"When I'm laying down the first draft, I try to write 10 pages per day, and then it's a matter of hours like a regular job. I generally don't write at night and on weekends, because the danger of writing is that you could be doing it anytime, so unless you build rules, you're never free of it."

Share |
Back to top^

The Scoggins Report

Spec Market Roundup October 2011

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

By now you've probably heard how fantastic October's spec sale numbers were: 18 pieces of original material were set up last month, and the total number of spec sales for 2011 is already up over 2009 and 2010 in a huge way (+18% over 2009, +39% over 2010). Here are our favorite highlights:

- CAA had seven spec sales in October, the highest single month tally we've ever seen, for a total of 18 so far in 2011, the highest among the agencies. The next highest number in the past three years was in September 2009, when ICM sold 4. WME had 3 of its own sales last month, for a total of 15 this year, and ICM had 2. Four other agencies each had one.

- Eight different studios bought specs last month. Lionsgate bought its first and second spec of the year, Universal bought its fourth and fifth, and Fox and Paramount each bought their fifths as well. Five other buyers bought one each, including Gold Circle, which bought its third of the year.

- Warner Bros. continued to set the pace with four purchases in October. The Burbank studio's 2011 total is now 14, twice its nearest competitor (Columbia, which hasn't bought a spec since June).

Congratulations to newly-minted Kaplan/Perrone manager Josh Goldenberg, who left Red Wagon just a couple of months ago and already has a notch on his belt.

We're looking forward to pulling together the updated Scorecard in a couple of weeks. October's raw numbers and weekly breakdowns are below, along with the details on each sale. Enjoy.

  October 2011 October 2010 October 2009
New Specs 45 42 46
Number Sold1 18 6 5
Percent Sold2 31% 14% 11%
Genres Sold 2 Action/Adventure
5 Comedy
5 Drama
3 Sci-Fi
2 Thriller
1 Unknown
1 Action/Adventure
1 Comedy
2 Drama
1 Sci-Fi
1 Thriller
2 Action/Adventure
2 Comedy
1 Thriller

1 This number is a tally of every script that sold in October
2 Only counts scripts that came out and sold in October.

Weekly Activity Breakdown

Week of October 3:

  • 8 scripts hit the tracking boards, none of which sold
  • 4 additional sales were reported ("The Envoy," "Flesh," "Thicker Than Water," and "Sex on the First Date")

Week of October 10:

  • 6 scripts hit the tracking boards, one of which sold ("Hyperdrive")
  • 3 additional sales were reported ("Gone," "The Imitation Game," and "The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto" )

Week of October 17:

  • 6 scripts hit the tracking boards, none of which sold
  • 4 additional sales were reported ("He's Fuckin Perfect," "Untitled Matt Damon John Krasinski Project," "Tammy," and "Wake Cycle")

Week of October 24:

  • 9 scripts hit the tracking boards, one of which sold ("Grim Night")
  • 5 additional sales were reported ("The Chung Factor," "The End," "Grace of Monaco," "The Voice," and "XOXO" )

Genre Breakdown*

Genre Total Sold % Sold
Action/Adventure 8 2 25%
Comedy 15 3+2 20%
Drama 6 4+1 66%
Horror 2 0 0%
Sci-Fi 4 3 75%
Thriller 9 1+1 11%

Spec Sales (alphabetical by title)

The Chung Factor
Writer: Andy Selsor
Reps: Original Artists (Jordan Bayer, Matt Leipzig, Chris Sablan)
Buyer: Lionsgate
Genre: Comedy
Attachments: Ken Jeong ("The Hangover") is attached to star and produce with his manager, Brett Carducci.
Notes: Previous version of the script was on the 2005 Black List under the title "THE EX-FACTOR."

The End
Writer: Aron Eli Coleite
Reps: CAA
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Sci-Fi
Notes: Jesse Ehrman and Andrew Fischel will oversee for Warners Bros.

The Envoy
Writer: Robert Lynn
Reps: UTA (Charlie Ferraro) and Kaplan/Perrone (Josh Goldenberg)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Unknown
Attachments: Andrew Rona and Joel Silver will produce through Silver Pictures.

Flesh
Writer: Kristin Hahn
Buyer: Summit
Genre: Drama, romance, supernatural
Attachments: Temple Hill's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce.
Notes: Based on the YA novel by Laura Whitcomb.

Gone
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill
Reps: ICM (Harley Copen) and Elements Entertainment (Christopher Pratt)
Buyer: Universal
Genre: Action
Attachments: Marc Platt will produce through his Marc Platt Productions. Pratt will executive produce.
Notes: Scott Bernstein and Tara Case will oversee for Universal.

Grace of Monaco
Writer: Arash Amel
Reps: CAA
Buyer: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
Genre: Drama

Grim Night
Writers: Brandon Bestenheider & Allen Bey
Reps: Verve
Buyer: Universal
Genre: Thriller
Attachments: Marc Platt will produce through his Marc Platt Productions along with Unbroken Pictures' Adrienne Biddle and Bryan Bertino.
Notes: Script was accompanied by a teaser trailer.

He's Fuckin Perfect
Writer: Lauryn Kahn
Reps: WME
Buyer: Fox 2000
Genre: Comedy
Attachments: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay will produce through Gary Sanchez Productions.
Notes: Emma Stone is attached to star, purchase price was $1m against $1.5m, and rumor has it there's an offer out to Stone's "Easy A" director Will Gluck to direct.

Hyperdrive
Writers: Alex Ankeles & Morgan Jurgenson
Reps: CAA & Kaplan/Perrone -- Ankeles; APA (Ryan Saul) & Jonathan Hung --Jurgenson
Buyer: Paramount
Genre: Sci-Fi
Attachments: Cale Boyter and Mary Parent will produce through Disruption Entertainment.

The Imitation Game
Writer: Graham Moore
Reps: CAA (JP Evans) and The Safran Company (Tom Drumm & Peter Safran)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Drama
Attachments: : Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Peter Safran are attached to produce.
Notes: Based on the Andrew Hodges biography, "Alan Turing: The Enigma." Script hit the market in September. Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly "has the inside track for the lead" and Ron Howard is considering directing.

Untitled Matt Damon John Krasinski Drama
Writers: Matt Damon & John Krasinski
Reps: WME
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Drama
Attachments: Damon is attached to direct and will star with Krasinski. They will also produce along with Damon's Pearl Street partner, Chris Moore.
Notes: Jesse Ehrman will oversee for the studio.

Sex on the First Date
Writers: Sall Grover & Emma Jensen
Reps: WME (Daniel Cohan) and Magnet Management (Michael Diamond)
Buyer: Gold Circle
Genre: Comedy
Attachments: David Brooks ("ATM") is attached to direct. Dan Clifton will produce with Gold Circle's Brad Kesell and Jeff Levine.
Notes: Script went out in September.

Tammy
Writers: Melissa McCarthy & Tate Taylor
Reps: CAA
Buyer: New Line
Genre: Comedy
Attachments:: Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids") will star and executive produce.
Notes: Script went out in September.

Thicker Than Water
Writer: Tess Rafferty
Reps: New Wave(Josh Adler & Mike Goldberg)
Buyer: Scott Freeman and Adam Grossman
Genre: Comedy
Attachments: Freeman is attached to direct. Wayne Carmona will produce with Freeman and Grossman.

The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto
Writer: Michael Vukadinovich
Reps: ICM
Buyer: Fox
Genre: Adventure
Attachments: Shawn Levy ("Real Steel") is attached to direct and produce through his 21 Laps banner with Dan Cohen and Billy Rosenberg.

The Voice
Writer: Robert Davi
Reps: Binder & Associates (Chuck Binder)
Buyer: Atmosphere Entertainment MM
Genre: Drama
Attachments: Atmosphere's Mark Canton and David Hopwood will produce, Jack Kavanaugh will co-produce.

Wake Cycle
Writers: Christian Cantamessa & Chris Passetto
Reps: CAA and Energy Entertainment (Adam Marshall & Brooklyn Weaver)
Buyer: Boss Media
Genre: Sci-Fi
Attachments:Cantamessa is attached to direct. Boss's Eric Gores and Frank Mancuso Jr. will produce.
Notes: Jennifer Nieves will oversee for Boss.

XOXO
Writer: Mark Heyman ("Black Swan")
Reps: CAA (Matthew Rosen) and Management 360 (Daniel Rappaport)
Buyer: Lionsgate
Genre: Thriller
Attachments: Darren Aronofsky and Michael London will produce through Protozoa Pictures.
Notes: Alli Shearmur and Michael Paseornek will oversee for Lionsgate. Script originally hit the market in June.


About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business (in particular, spec script and open writing assignment activity) based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics and should not be relied upon as such. Past editions of The Scoggins Report can be found in the archives of The Business of Show Institute and now have a beautiful new home on www.thewrap.com.

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

The IOTG Blog has a new home on the site, by the way: www.itsonthegrid.com/news . It includes daily highlights of recent database updates and individual posts on every spec that hits the market. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the blog's feed right where you'd expect them, and you can follow the site's Twitter feed here:http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.


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


Share |
Back to top^

Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Mook
Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, News Corporation

Greg Silverman
President of Production, Warner Brothers Pictures (re-upped)

Andy Weil
Vice President of Comedy Development, Universal TV

Miura Kite
Executive Vice President, Cineflix Studios

Doug Vaughan
Senior Vice President of Special Programs and Late Night, NBC

Pam Levine
Head of Marketing, HBO

Linda Yaccarino
President of Cable Entertainment & Digital Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal

Steve Stark
President of Television Production, MGM

Josh Hornstock
Partner/Agent, Television Literary Department, UTA

Mickey Berman
Partner/Agent, Television Literary Department, UTA

Anne Globe
Chief Marketing Officer, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.

Share |
Back to top^

Why Can't I Get What I Want?

by Sean Hinchey

I often hear from so many people that they just can't seem to get over that hump of winning that big prize; the screenwriting contest. No matter how hard they work, it often seems they never get what we want. Somebody else is winning the contests, that person you work with is getting the pitch meetings, a friend of yours just landed a top Hollywood agent. Why is it that life is unfair, but it's never unfair in our favor.

Simple. It is fair, your perception is out of balance. Right now at this very instant in your life, you have everything that you want.

The car, home, finished screenplays — everything you've accomplished is by your own design. Sure, it's easy to say that we want to be a sought after screenwriter, the one who won every top screenwriting contest in existence. But what are you willing to risk to get it?

Unconsciously we are always in competition with other people. You get the idea that you want more from something you've seen, or heard. For example, you read about that person who landed a writing job based on their contest winning screenplay; or perhaps that screenplay is in pre-production. You wonder, why can't that be me?

Before you get yourself worked up about their gains, versus your — well they're not really losses — let's call them non-gains, ask yourself: What does that person do each day? I've spoken to people from all aspects of the film and TV industry. I'm particularly interested in the people who are able to get their script to the top of the contest heap. You'll find that their day goes something like this:

They wake up at 5:00 every morning to review what they wrote the previous night. Most of them have jobs outside of the film and TV industry, so they have to be at work by 8 or 9am. Some of them have notebooks so they can jot down ideas during lunch. Their idea of unwinding after work may be some exercise or family time, but then it's back to writing until they collapse at their computer just before midnight.

Weekends are spent in writing workshops where they get feedback on their scripts. Then it's back to more rewriting. While their friends may be out meeting up at bars or going out to dinner, the future contest winning screenwriter may be eating leftovers at their computer.

"Wait a minute", you say, "I have a family, I enjoy my free time and I don't want to work at all hours of the night. I want to have a social life, I like hanging out on the weekends."

And there you have it, that's why the other person's name is in the trades when the winners are announced. I'm not saying that they are a better writer or better person than you. They work harder at it. Recognize the fact that this is the price they are willing to pay.

Nobody gets wash-board abs by sitting in front of a TV every evening.A body builder has to have the discipline to hit the weights and cardio machines. Your "gym" is your computer and writer's groups.

I've talked with world class screenwriters who have worked on one story for over ten years! It just took that much time for the characters, setting and dialogue to come together. During that time, they may have written other scripts, but that one took a great deal of time. Nobody ever wrote a screenplay by sitting back and wondering, "Why can't I do that?"

Just as the main character in your script has to figure out what they are willing to sacrifice to get what they want, you have to understand what you are willing to put up with — and give up — to win a contest. It's not about stacking yourself up against other people. It is about setting your personal priorities.

There's a saying that says, "The person at the top of the mountain didn't fall there." Start climbing.


Coming up next week: We talked about using New Media to give your writing a test drive. It's time to dig a little deeper and come up with a game plan to make it work for you. If you're serious about getting what you wrote before the eyes of actors, agents and producers, you'll want to read New Media Part 2 — Let's Get to Work!


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

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

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

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

Share |
Back to top^

Fake Celebs, Stop it Already, and Bitch, Please...

by Manny Fonseca

Can we talk about Kim Kardashian and her 72 day marriage? Really? Good thing we don't let the gays get married cause they would really fuck up the perfect image of marriage that we have. What the fuck is wrong with people? With the exception of ACTUAL porn stars, has anyone gotten famous off a sex tape? (yes, I know Paris eventually...but Kim came first...literally. Literally.)

Fuck Kim Kardashian.

Wanna chat a little about Lindsay Lohan? First, she agrees to appear in Playboy for less than a million dollars. I know, I know...it's still a nice paycheck but come on...couple of years ago she coulda got a couple of million. I view her appearing in Playboy for under a million as a sorry attempt at staying relevant. How fucking sad is that? Still going to get the issue, but so so sad.

Not only that, but what the hell is wrong with this chick? She doesn't have a job. All she does is party and she could not get herself out of fucking bed and do her community service? COME ON! Just do it. You're not doing anything else! Come on! Just show up and DO IT! Fuck! That's fine...she's going back to jail for 30 days. Hope some big ass prison bitch takes her over to the dark side. Who am I kidding? With all the overcrowding in this town? She'll be out in minutes.

Fuck Lindsay Lohan.

Can Justin Bieber just go away? Show of hands...how many people would be cool with Justin Bieber just going away? Yeah, seein' a lot of hands. Some dumbass fan is accusing him of knocking her up.

Okay...tangent time...ladies...can we please stop with the "it's your baby" routine? Come on! Especially with the celebrities. Have you actually seen pictures of Billie Jean? That shit be nasty.

Look, Bieber is a musician. A hormonal one at that. This is what they do. They bang chicks on the road. This is how it has happened since the dawn of music. Think Beethoven wasn't banging groupies in the back of his horse and buggy? You think the Pied Piper was really about rats? Ha!

It's not about love. Just be happy you got them for a hot minute. Enjoy your Bieber-dick and move on with your life. It's okay. Why you gotta go right to pregnancy?

Even more reason why Bieber should just go away.

And while you're at it...fucking take those Twilight pieces of shit with you. Again, ladies...stop camping out for this shit. They are horrible actors people. Stop encouraging them to be in movies. Seriously. Stop. If I was making a movie where I needed an actor to stand there and look stupid...totally would cast Kristen Stewart. She's totally got that down.

And while we're on Twilight...stop buying the merchandise ladies. Wearing a Twilight T-shirt is the female equivalent to the Star Trek uniform. I mean you do want to have some sex in your life at some point, right? Let me help ya out then. Burn that shit up. You'll thank me for it.

Alright, enough about that shit. Sorry, was totally reading entertainment news before I started writing my article. Had some things to say apparently.

No news on the script front. I have been feeling so fucking unmotivated to write. Even sitting here now writing this is bugging the hell out of me. I'm eventually going to have to force myself to sit down and just do it, but I've been lacking in the motivation department lately. Which is weird because I have so many motivators in my life. Hmmm. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that gets like that.

I'll keep you posted.

Movin' on...

It absolutely amazes me how many people are so unaware of the shit that they do. I see it every day. Denial. Like, serious denial.

"What? I'm not like that!"

"I didn't say that? When did I say that?"

"I don't do the same things my mother did!"

Yeah ya do. Yes...you said that and yeah...you are EXACTLY like that.

I read a logline yesterday about a rockstar who becomes a vigilante poet who writes poem songs for every person that he kills.

The best part is...wait for it...

The writer of the logline made the claim that this was, and I quote, "highly marketable."

Really?

Fucking really?

Do you think FOX is going to try and get their vigilante poet movie out before Warner Bros. does?

Are you thinking Will Smith's agent has been desperately searching for a vigilante poet script because Will wants to meld his music career with his love for Batman?

Ya think tweens are going to camp...well, they do for Twilight...so fucking bad example because they probably will.

Do you even know what the word MARKETABLE means? I don't think you do.

Stop it people. Please. I'm asking nicely. It's not funny anymore.

And where are these people's friends? Stop being nice to these people. Friends don't let friends pitch shitty material. So when they give you this shit to read do not go back to them with "no that's awesome dude! I loved it. You're totally talented. I was just telling Fred the other day 'we need more vigilante poet movies.'"

Sigh.

One last thing... which I know seems a little hypocritical given my approach every week, but it still needs to be said. If you work in this town you are going to end up working with and mostly for, people who are absolute pricks. I mean just really horrible people. They will yell at you. Treat you like shit and then want you to do things for them.

A lot of that comes from just people bending over backwards for them for so long that they're just used to it.

Now. You have two ways to go here...you can take it. Or you can fire back.

As most of you imagine, I'm typically the kind of person that fires back. Sarcasm and the ability to use it properly, comes in handy quite a bit.

I just received an email from a producer that said:

"But you do acknowledge that I was right??????????Your arrogance and stubbornness is sometime unbearable!"

Frankly I'm amazed they only used one exclamation point at the end.

I simply wrote back:

"Thanks. Love the motivational speech. ;)"

Eh...this town makes me smile.

Till next week...


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

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

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

Share |


Back to top^