Wow, it's already December!
With only 1 month left in 2011 I wanted to share a story that will hopefully act as a theme for you in 2012.
Some years ago a British shoe company sent 2 salesmen to Africa to investigate the market potential.
One salesman came back completely dejected.
"There is zero potential there - no one there wears shoes!" he exclaimed.
The 2nd salesman had a completely different attitude.
"There is unlimited potential there – no one wears shoes!" he exclaimed.
These are basically the 2 types of attitudes you can have as a screenwriter trying to succeed in Hollywood.
I've met many jaded writers who are so consumed with all the reasons they CAN'T succeed that they ignore all the reasons they CAN succeed.
It's sad, because this attitude usually acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and these jaded writers often end up failing.
I don't want you to end up like this.
So with a brand new year approaching us, I would like to issue you this challenge:
I challenge you to look at all the ways you CAN achieve your dream of succeeding in Hollywood.
I challenge you to look at your situation with fresh eyes, with hope, and with optimism.
I challenge you to see the positive side of every experience, every encounter, everybody.
In short, my challenge for you is to look at your screenwriting career with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.
Do this – and I promise you – you'll not only be happier and healthier, you'll dramatically increase your chances of succeeding in this business.
I truly hope you take me up on this challenge =)
And with that, 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:
Dealing with Fear as a Screenwriter: is this week's article by yours truly. This piece is about the fears and doubts you experience as a screenwriter. In fact, the entire entertainment industry is filled with fear and desperation. So what do you do to overcome these feelings? This article will address that issue.
The Box Office Report: gives you the latest feature film releases as well as the opening weekend projections, so you can be on top of this critical information.
The Cost of Getting There: is this week's article by mc foley. mc is an active writer and regular contributor to this newsletter. The title of her column is "Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey".
A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters: is our column by entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark. To ask your legal questions, email us at
. If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.
The Five Stages of Grief (For Your Character): 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? Emmy nominated producer for Jerry Bruckhemier - Jack d'Annibale!
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...
A Good Want is Hard to Find: 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".
You can sum it up in two words... Development and Zombies. Development and Zombies...: is this week's article by Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson’s behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."
That's it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.
If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to http://www.TheBusinessOfShowInstitute.com and have them sign up there.
May Your Life Be Extraordinary,
Marvin V. Acuna
The Business of Show Institute Recommends:
Free Video Reveals The #1 Secret To Getting Your Screenplay Read By Top Hollywood Professionals...
Even If You Don't Live In Los Angeles!
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Dealing with Fear as a Screenwriter
by Marvin V. Acuna
Each morning I awake at 6am and take Parker, my adopted Jack Russell Chihuahua, on a hike for about an hour. I then head to the gym for a 30min run on the treadmill and swim for 30mins. This has been my ritual for the last 11 months.
My intention was to simply be healthy and more importantly spend some time just caring for me. I firmly believe that if you don’t care for yourself first, you can not care for anyone else properly.
I find it to be meditative and I gain so much joy from watching Parker explore each morning. It is so rewarding and enlightening to see this little dog take the same hike each morning for 11 months and it’s as if he has never hiked it before. Everything is new and exciting. The gift of his consistent life in the now has had a profound effect in my own life. I can truly say that it was he who has recued me, not the other way around.
This month I decided to switch up my ritual. I thought I’d begin to use free weights to begin shaping my physical form and take a break from swimming. In essence, I want to sculpt my physique.
Needless to say I have been in pain. I mean pain. I say PAIN. But, two things keep me focused on my outcome: 1. A great saying, "Pain will make you bitter or better, it’s up to only you" and 2. The photograph of the body type I aspire to emulate.
The pain is enough to frankly cause me to simply slip back into what makes me comfortable and more importantly, doesn’t cause me pain. I hear the constant chatter in my head, driven by my natural instinct of fight or flight, yelling out, "stop!"
But, I remind myself that I will overcome this uncomfortable pain. I am building slowly. And one brick at a time I will build the image I have crystallized in my mind.
There is overwhelming evidence in my life that my dreams and ideas manifest. I simply need to apply the same principles that I have in the past to my new desires.
Embracing your fears of the unknown, of the uncomfortable, and of the potential pain of disappointment and frustration is a key and crucial ingredient to your success as a professional screenwriter. Otherwise, I promise you. Fear will rob you of your dream. It will paralyze you from taking the necessary actions to attain your dream. Don’t let it.
I had dinner with a few friends last week at 25 degrees in Hollywood. As we sipped our wine and dined on our very tasty burgers, a question was posed to the group, "Only 1 month left in 2011, what have you learned about yourself?" A variety of answers peppered the conversation. One stood out. My friend Tara replied, "I don’t need to be fearful anymore. Fear is not real. So now I take a step forward even if at first I’m scared."
Screenwriters who succeed move past their disappointment, their frustrations, and they move past their fears. They take action in spite of their fears.
One of the screenwriters I do business with deals with his fears and doubts about himself and his work in a very unique way. It may serve as a potential tool for you. So here it is:
First, it should be noted that he’s fully aware that he’s naturally a pessimistic person. He actually does believe the sky is falling and that some day someone will discover he’s a fraud... that’s he’s really not talented. Now, to address this he devised the following routine. A timer sits on his desk which rings at ten minutes to the hour. For those ten minutes he steps away from his laptop and allows himself to vent all of the doubt, all of the fear and all of the frustrations he’s feeling. At the end of the ten minutes he returns to his writing.
That’s one possibility of addressing your fears. Here’s another:
- Be crystal clear as to what you desire - have VISION & PURPOSE. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you get there?
- Declare your vision in written form and then share it with others. Let people know what you want.
- Take small baby steps. You have heard it before… The Great Wall of China began with one brick.
- Be flexible/adaptable - It’s really simple: Is the current plan working or not working?
- Reward yourself for the small and big improvements. You sent out 50 queries’s this week. You attended one networking event. You completed a new script. Developed a new idea. Rewarding yourself is crucial. Sometimes we get so caught up looking up (at where we want to be or what we want to have) that we never look down — and acknowledge how far we have gone or what we already have.
Make that call. Attend that event. Ask for what you want. Step outside of what you know to be comfortable.
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To make your dream come true you must be willing to accept that you can not please everyone. Everyone will not like you. Everyone will not like your work. Everyone will not be supportive. Everyone will not help.
And more importantly that everyone experiences fear. But, only some allow it to imprison them. Be afraid, be very afraid then leap anyways.
Because as John Burroughs so eloquently said, "Leap, and the net will appear."
The Box Office Report
|Wed, Nov. 30
|The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
|Happy Feet Two
|Jack and Jill
|Puss in Boots (2011)
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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey
The Cost of Getting There
by mc foley
"Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind."
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—Catherine Drinker Bowen
It was true. I knew it as I felt the wind blow through my hair on a Monday evening when I'd gone against my better judgment and walked instead of drove through the dark night to run an errand. And it felt good. I knew it as my long raincoat flew open and flapped around me in some Clive Owen anti-hero silhouette. I knew it as I passed the headlights glued against each other on Sunset Boulevard like a Christmas-traffic string. I hadn't been alive. Not really. Not for quite some time.
Living, after all, is not the pursuit of the future. Or rather — of course it is, because technically anything you do while you're still breathing qualifies as "living".... but... feeling my life... I hadn't done that, not all the way, not in quite some time.
There had been times before — before every moment was spent hammering away at a dream. Of course there had — when the richness of everything around me wrapped me up in a summer wave. That was a long time ago. Now, it seemed like everything whipped past, constant baby tornadoes. Constant, increasing speed. Chasing the pulse of a city filled with angst and all the things so many souls wanted and only sometimes attained.
I remember living. I remember feeling my life. I remember riding to that brewery on an August night in Virginia, my brother commanding the wheel and his three punkass, beer-drunk friends turning the simplest ride into a party. I remember feeling my life. Standing face to face with that lead singer of a band after a mutual friend introduced us, and losing all sense of propriety a few short hours later, once the vodka settled in and we lost ourselves in the parking lot. I remember his hat flying off in the force of the way we swallowed each other. I remember. Feeling my life.
When did it become one hundred percent about the sales? About the deals. About the networking and 'building relationships' and playing the game? When did it become a 24-7 hamster wheel and everything restrained? When did it become about saving face and being civil and keeping in touch about nothing in-depth but everything in-business. When did it become about building a favor bank?
Or maybe I'm just... feeling my life... as it is now. Maybe I'm feeling the change. Maybe I'm not liking it... but I'm paying attention to it as I clutch the board and I ride the wave.
There was no guarantee when I was small. None as I grew taller. Only the wind at my sails and the ever-swelling knowledge that I'd need money to make things meet my expectations. And to make that money, I'd need to change my ways and station.
But I still remember.... and I still imagine.... the way it will be... once this section plateaus and I reach the next chapter, the next adventure... because One love is for putting the words on the page — and One is for living the words before using the words in pursuit of a wage.
"Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money." —Moliere
- 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.
A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters
by Gordon P. Firemark
"I am new to the screenplay business. I do not have an agent since I have not yet had anything produced and the agents that I have approached are not taking on new clients. I have written a screenplay that has been a contest winner. I have shopped around and have attracted some interest from producers. There has ben discussion about re-writes and touch ups. At what point is it appropriate to discuss the payment for the screenplay? Further to this, at what point does one seek legal advice?"
Producers love to give "feedback" on scripts, and ask the writers to re-write, revise and tweak the script before they commit to purchasing the rights. My usual advice is that writers NOT perform writing services for free, especially if the producer asking for such rewriting hasn't yet purchased an option on the material.
The harsh reality, for many writers, though, is that produces won't option material they feel needs work unless the writer is prepared to make some changes. Moreover, producers may want to see whether the writer is one they will want to work with. So, writers often agree to perform a free rewrite or polish in order to entice a producer to purchase an option.
What I recommend is that writers listen to all producers' comments and notes with an open mind, and if something 'feels' worthwhile, go ahead and do a little rewriting, before resubmitting the material. Otherwise, it's appropriate to discuss business before doing the rewrite.
I'd only go-around like this once, though... after that, the producer should put some money where his/her mouth is. Purchasing an option is not a tremendous capital outlay. If a producer has some "skin in the game", he's more likely to push forward with the project, so don't be shy about asking for a deal, payment, etc.
A producer who's unwilling to pay for a script, rewrite, or whatever, is probably not that passionate about your material. Moreover, if you're going to spend time writing, I think you're better off writing another, new spec, rather than reworking your older material.
Have a legal question? Email them to:
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The foregoing is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Firemark. This information is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. Neither Mr. Firemark nor The Business of Show Institute will be responsible for readers' detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this column.
About Gordon P. Firemark:
Gordon Firemark is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television,and music. He is also the publisher of Entertainment Law Update, a newsletter for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media and business/corporate matters for clients in the entertainment industry.
Mr. Firemark serves on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater), and The Academy for New Musical Theatre. In the past he has served on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, where he served as liason to the Association's Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).
Mr. Firemark holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. Before opening The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark, Mr. Firemark was a partner with the Business Affairs Group, a boutique entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. He has also worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group, and started his legal career as an associate at Neville L. Johnson & Associates, a West L.A. firm specializing in entertainment litigation.
For more about Mr. Firemark, visit http://firemark.com/.
The Five Stages of Grief (For Your Character)
by Daniel Manus
When something traumatic happens, it's said that we all experience the five stages of grief. So as your character goes on their journey - which should be full of trauma, drama, action and emotion – it stands to reason that they should go through the same steps.
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I believe that part of the test to see if your have fully fleshed out and emotionally genuine characters is to have them go through the Five Stages of Grief. And if you look at most films out there, you’ll see what I mean.
It usually occurs around pgs 17-25 or so, though not always. But it's in these pages where your character, now faced with whatever issue, problem, question, situation, etc, you introduced with your inciting incident, reacts and realizes what has to be done. Your inciting incident basically is, in many ways, the destruction or intrusion of something into your character's world – and when your world is turned upside down, you grieve a little bit. So it's in these pages where your character goes through a cavalcade of emotion before finally landing on acceptance.
The inciting incident should cause your protagonist to feel a certain emotion. And the first emotion – the first stage – is probably denial. They refuse to believe that whatever is going on, is actually happening. This is almost always used in comedies because denial is funny. Look at The Hangover when they wake up the next morning, Knocked Up when Katherine Heigl gets pregnant, Liar Liar when Jim Carrey realizes he can't lie, Shaun of the Dead when they realize there is a zombie attack, or Toy Story 3 when the toys learn that their owner is leaving for college. In The Kings Speech, it's when Geoffrey Rush shows how he can help Colin Firth's character in a new way and Firth denies it.
Or horror movies like Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Nightmare on Elm Street – the inciting incident occurs and tells the characters something terrifying is going on and the characters deny it's happening. "No, she's not possessed – she's fine!"
And the higher your stakes are, the stronger the denial should be. "No, absolutely not, not me, this is not happening, no way." Sometimes this can be seen as refusal, as Chris Vogler says, but denial is funnier and more emotional.
Then comes Anger – they are PISSED this thing is happening. Look at basically every action hero – even Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow or Shia LeBouf in Transformers – they get angry when the new adventure comes around. It can be anger at the situation, anger at the antagonist, anger at anything really. They may lash out, they may scream, they may throw things – especially in a drama. In a comedy, anger should be played for big laughs. In horror or thriller films, anger is played for conflict amongst the characters which usually leads to a bad decision and usually a death, especially in a slasher film.
Third comes Bargaining – this can be where your characters debate over what they are going to do. Or it could be where your lead character debates within themselves or makes a deal with themselves – like, "ok, I'll go here, but that's as FAR as I go." "I'll do this, but I'm not doing anything more." "Fine, I'll follow you, but I'm still in control of my own destiny."
Basically, that's what they are saying. They are giving in to the situation, but only enough so that they still feel like their old world which you've set up in the first few pages, isn't completely changed and they are still in charge. Of course, the reality is, it's too late – they are no longer in charge. But they won't realize this for a little while still.
Fourth is Depression, which can be expressed in a number of ways – even in just a look. Now sometimes, this can be taken literally – if the inciting incident is a death or a divorce or a move. Sometimes depression is saved for when your character REALLY realizes how dire the situation is, which may come a bit later. Depression is more than just crying, it's a deeper and more psychological emotion, and having this moment in your script can flesh out your characters and make their inner journey a bit stronger.
And finally, Acceptance. They know what they've got to do and have accepted that it's their place to do it. They may be the reluctant hero, but they are now officially, the hero. Your characters can be willing or unwilling heroes – they could look forward to what the inciting incident has to bring, in which case they may not experience some of these stages.
But immediate acceptance is usually just a false confidence, like in horror movies. Ya know, they all plan to go away to an uncharted island or out of the way place because it's gonna be "awesome" – they move to new house that no one else has lived in for 30 years because it's gonna be "awesome" - they just don't know what they've agreed to do or what the inciting incident will actually mean for them later on.
Many times in family films, especially where kids are charged with going on an adventure, this is what happens. Every kid wants to go on a cool adventure – right? But they don't know what is in store. From Jumanji to Bridge to Terabithia to Harry Potter to Narnia. Most of those kids are willing heroes just looking for a good time, so they may only go through 2 or 3 of these stages – usually denial, bargaining, and acceptance. But in pretty much every movie, once the inciting incident or catalyst occurs, your characters will go through AT LEAST 2 of these stages.
And all of these reactions can be brought out over time or just in ONE moment or one line or all on one page. The perfect examples of this may be in Juno and Bridesmaids, as Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig's characters go through all of these when Wiig's best friend is getting married and Juno finds out she's preggers. So, think of this moment as a chance to let your actors, act. Think of this moment as the one that's going to attract a name star, show their emotional or comedic range.
Once acceptance happens, this is also where your characters take the first step in their arc. So, make sure your characters are more humanized by making sure they experience what we do – a full range of emotion and the five stages of grief.
About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.
Best Business Advice for Screenwriters
Jack d'Annibale – Emmy nominated producer for Jerry Bruckheimer - on his best advice for screenwriters (From "The Inside Pitch"):
"If you can grab our attention in a minute with a logline, or a good pitch, or just a zinger, that's the same kind of process in terms of being succinct, being simple, being sexy, being interesting, being engaging, being chilling, being thrilling—that is the key. The key to screenwriting is very, very simple, but it's not easy. And the key is make it simple, make it clean, but make it damn good."
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The Scoggins Report
Spec Market Roundup for November 2011
by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan
Good thing we held our horses a couple of weeks ago and waited to do a year-end analysis: Despite the Thanksgiving holiday, the second half of November was as strong as the first, bringing November 2011's total sales to more than double 2010's. Not unlike 2011's numbers overall, as we’ve been saying for a couple of months now.
Here are our favorite highlights from last month:
- Universal picked up two specs and Fox bought one in November, tying the two studios with Columbia for total specs in 2011 (seven each). Warner Bros. uncharacteristically stayed on the sidelines, perhaps conserving cash for this week's Seth Grahame-Smith project and their annual contribution to Dan Fogelman's retirement fund.
- H2F's Chris Fenton had a great month: His two spec sales brought his yearly total to five so far, tied for second place with Benderspink. New Wave's dynamic duo Josh Adler and Mike Goldberg extended their lead in the managers' race with an additional sale, bringing their 2011 total to nine.
November's raw numbers and weekly breakdowns are below, along with the details on each sale.
|| 2 Action/Adventure
1 This number is a tally of every script that sold in November
2 Only counts scripts that came out and sold in November.
Weekly Activity Breakdown
Week of October 31:
- 8 scripts hit the tracking boards, none of which sold
- 1 additional sales were reported ("Self/Less," which went out in September)
NOTE: Three of this week's 8 new specs went out on the 31st, so they're not included in the monthly numbers above
Week of November 7:
- 6 projects hit the boards, one of which sold ("The DUFF")
- 3 additional sales were reported ("Autobahn," "Dreamt" and "Leonardo," which originally went out in May 2010)
Week of November 14:
- 10 scripts hit the boards, none of which sold
- 1 additional sale was reported ("In The Blood," which originally went out in June 2010)
Week of November 21 (Thanksgiving):
- No new scripts went to market (surprise)
- 1 sale was reported ("Untitled Bryan Bertino Project")
Week of November 28:
- 5 scripts have hit the boards as of this writing, none of which have yet sold
- 2 additional sales have been reported ("Guy's Night," which went out in July, and "Narco Sub")
Spec Sales (alphabetical by title)
Writer: Scott Frazier ("The Numbers Station")
Reps: WME (Daniel Cohan, Mike Esola) and H2F (Chris Fenton)
Buyer: Between the Eyes
Untitled Bryan Bertino Project
Writer: Bryan Bertino ("The Strangers")
Attachments: Jason Blum will produce through his Blumhouse Productions with Unbroken Pictures' Adrienne Biddle and Marc Platt Productions' Marc Platt and Adam Siegel.
Writer: Josh Cagan ("Bandslam")
Reps: WME (Rich Cook) and H2F (Chris Fenton)
Buyer: CBS Films
Attachments: McG will produce and Mary Viola will executive produce through Wonderland Sound & Vision. Vast Entertainment's Lane Shefter Bishop will also produce.
Notes: Project is based on Kody Keplinger's YA novel of the same name. McG has been developing the project since June 2010.
Writer: Andrew Alexander
Reps: Original Artists (Jordan Bayer, Matt Leipzig, Chris Sablan)
Buyer: Safady Entertainment
Genre: Psychological thriller
Attachments: Safady's Craig Chapman, Todd Moyer, Gary Safady will produce.
Writer: Christopher Baldi
Reps: CAA (Bill Zotti) and New Wave (Josh Adler, Mike Goldberg)
Buyer: Millennium Films
Attachments: Millennium's Trevor Short and Avi Lerner will exec produce with Danny Dimbort, Adler and Goldberg. Matt Bass and Jim Valdez will produce.
Notes: Script hit the market in July.
In The Blood
Writers: James Johnston & Bennett Yellin
Reps: Magnet Management (Jennie Frankel)
Buyer: Cargo Entertainment
Attachments: John Stockwell is attached to direct. Cargo's Marina Grasic, Jan Korbelin and Mark Lindsay will produce with Verso Entertainment's Baron Davis and Cash Warren as well as The Movie Package Company's Ray Mansfield and Shaun Redick.
Notes: Script originally went out in June 2010.
Writer: Jonny Kurzman
Reps: Circle of Confusion (Ashley Berns)
Attachments: Charles and Larry Gordon and Philip Westgren will produce through Lawrence Gordon Productions.
Notes: Peter Cramer will oversee for the studio. Project originally hit the market in May 2010.
Writer: David Guggenheim ("Safe House")
Reps: APA (David Boxerbaum) and Madhouse Entertainment (Adam Kolbrenner)
Attachments: Tony Scott is attached to direct and produce through Scott Free. Simon Kinberg's Genre Films will also produce.
Notes: Steve Asbell will oversee for the studio, Aditya Sood will oversee for Genre Films and Michael Costigan and Elishia Holmes will oversee for Scott Free
Writers: Alex & David Pastor ("Carriers")
Reps: CAA (Stuart Manashil) and Kaplan/Perrone (Alex Lerner)
Buyer: Endgame Entertainment
Notes: Script hit the market in September.
About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business (in particular, spec script and open writing assignment activity) based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics and should not be relied upon as such. Past editions of The Scoggins Report can be found in the archives of The Business of Show Institute and now have a beautiful new home on www.thewrap.com.
Details on each person, project and company in the Reports can also be found at www.itsonthegrid.com, a proud division of The Wrap News, Inc. IOTG is a "for us, by us" film industry database, the only place mere mortals can find listings of Hollywood's active open writing and directing assignments... not to mention comprehensive spec market data, active film development information and relevant credits for released movies going back to 1988.
The IOTG Blog has a new home on the site, by the way: www.itsonthegrid.com/news . It includes daily highlights of recent database updates and individual posts on every spec that hits the market. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the blog's feed right where you'd expect them, and you can follow the site's Twitter feed here:http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.
Jason Scoggins recently launched Eureka Canyon Enterprises, a literary management, production and consulting company that represents feature film and TV writers, directors and producers. He also founded and runs www.itsonthegrid.com, the aforementioned database of feature film development information. Jason got his start in the entertainment industry in 1995 as an agent trainee at ICM, which led to stints as a TV Lit Agent at Gersh and Writers & Artists. He left the business (and California) for several years in 2000, returning in 2007 as a partner at Protocol, a literary management and production company. Follow him here: http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.
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Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:
Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives
What do you do when a friend gets promoted or moves to a new position? You congratulate them right?
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What else might you do? You might send them a card telling them how excited you are for their new position. Later, you might follow up with that person to see how they're settling in. Then, you might send them an interesting article once in a while.
Why would you do this? Because that's how relationships are nurtured and developed. (They're not developed by asking for favors before the relationship has matured)
So we'd like you to help us in congratulating the following executives who have just been promoted or moved positions.
The Business of Show Institute Congratulates the Following Executives in Their New Positions:
Executive Vice President and General Sales Manager, Sony Pictures Releasing
Agent, TV Literary Department, UTA
Executive Vice President, Marketing and Digital Programs, CW (re-upped)
President, Comcast Entertainment Studio
Chief Executive Officer, Time Inc
Senior Vice President of Publicity, Sony Pictures Worldwide Marketing & Distribution
Chief Marketing Officer, EPIX
A Good Want is Hard to Find
by Sean Hinchey
Before you enter that next screenwriting contest, there's one aspect of your script that you should scrutinize which could spell the difference between winning and losing. Surprisingly, it's not that hard of a fix.
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Do you have a great want or goal for your main character? Without something any judge can root for, your script doesn't stand a chance. There are far too many scripts lacking a clear cut, yet simple want that their character is trying to reach for throughout the story. The want is the thread that everything else in the story is tied to. I've been a judge for many contests where the want is "sort of this" and "kind of that". The want is not something that should leave people scratching their head, it's a definitive thing.
For example, in Up In the Air the protagonist wants to get Ten Million frequent flier miles with American Airlines, something only a handful of people have attained. As the character puts it, more people have walked on the moon. The beauty of having a want is that as the writer you can decide if the character achieves it or not.
An interesting twist is to have the character get what they want, but then it is revealed to be a hollow victory. Either way, the want is something binary — either the character reaches it or they don't. In many action movies, the want is for the good guy to get the bad guy. In sports movies, it's winning the big prize.
The important thing to remember — and this can't be emphasized enough — is keep it simple. It can't be "Well, the main characters wants to get his job back because he wants his wife to take him back in, because he wants to fix the relationship with his son so that together they can build that house in the mountains, which is what the main character has always wanted to do."
If it's too complicated, that tells the judge that the story is going to veer off in different directions. Another thing the want can't be is something nefarious. It can't be closure on a bad situation or finally coming to grips with a fractured family dynamic. Why is this? Because it's too hard to define, and it's hard to tell when the goal the has been reached. How do we know if the character has closure? Is having closure a big enough want?
How many movies have you seen that have "closure" as the want of the main character? Look at your favorite films, see what the goal — the carrot at the end of the stick — is for your protagonist then study how the journey was handled. In the end, you'll find that the best wants are the universal ones. Create a simple, universal want that anybody can tune into, and you'll have the attention of the contest judge all the way until the last page.
You're putting your script out there to several screenwriting contests, this makes for a nice ice breaker when you meet new industry people. When they ask you what it's about, you tell them it's difficult to sum up, but you could provide them with a copy to read. Understand why no one will read your script if you can't pitch it. Pitching, The Art of Not Striking Out.
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.
You can sum it up in two words... Development and Zombies. Development and Zombies...
by Manny Fonseca
So I hope everyone had a great holiday. I myself was happy to get back to L.A. from Detroit. I went from raining 30 degree weather to sunny 82 degree weather. Nothing better than hitting the pool at the end of November.
So this week I'm turning to the mailbag to generate content for y'all. Mostly due to the fact that I feel that all of you would benefit from the answer as it's something that keeps coming up.
Rewrites and what you do about the notes.
So let's get to it...
A few questions I had on the development process and rewrites you currently are working through...
- Understanding the process needs to be collaborative, do you or have you ever given in too much from where you felt the story should go?
No because at the end of the day it's my fucking script and if I don't agree with something, then I'm not going to do it.
BUT, the key to being collaborative is to use their idea to get you to a higher level. It's spit ballin', that's all. They say, "what about this..." and you think about it and fire back with "No, that's good because then we can do this..."
And you hammer it out so that you're both equally happy with what you're looking for.
Now, keep in mind that I have yet to encounter studio heads and junior exec's that want to fuck up the script for stupid reasons (ego, product placement, star head fucks...etc.) so this is coming from a purely positive development process.
Remember one important thing: You should always be on the same page as to "where the story is going to go." That's already been talked about, re-talked about and discussed a little more. As long as you're there before you even start writing, then the only things that are going to get hammered out are the finer details.
Further have you agreed to rewrite something - it sounded great at the time - then a day or so later determine it is not the best way to go?
Sure, all the time. It's part of the process. Sometimes you can make it work, sometimes you can't. Sometimes what seems like a good idea in a development meeting doesn't turn out to be a good idea when you actually sit down at the keyboard.
Don't worry about it. That's first and foremost. Remember, you're the writer. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and make do. Who knows, maybe it'll spark your imagination in another direction and you'll come up with something even better than what you did in the meeting. Roll with what feels right to YOU and then be prepared to defend your choice(s) when you meet again.
I know that is also part of the process discovering new things, but I am looking at it from the perspective of the writer who does not have the pull in the situation.
Okay, I get what you're saying but I want to change your attitude a little bit. Recognize son! You DO have pull. Know why?
CAUSE YOU'RE THE FUCKING WRITER!
Of course you have pull, they asked you to do it, right? You haven't gotten fired, have you? You're doing all the hard work. They're just sitting in their chair throwing shit out at you. Don't undermine yourself. You have just as much say in that room as they do. More so if it's your script and your idea.
Even if it's your pitch on THEIR idea, it's still yours. So buck up and act like it.
Now, that doesn't mean be a dick and be arrogant. But do put a little bass in your voice and have some authority.
Should the writer just continue the rewrite since he said agreed in the meeting?
Yes and no. It depends on what you're feeling. If you can't make it work, do the best you can and understand that it's just a rough sketch.
If you take it in another direction...fine. Just be prepared, as I said above, to defend your decisions.
Best way to defend? Get excited. Go in there and go "Oh my God, I figured it out and you're going to love this!" Then launch into your new idea. 9 times out of 10, they're going to get excited that you're excited and completely forget what they even said in the first place because yu presented your idea as being AWESOME!
Manipulate people. It's all part of the game.
- Somewhat tangent to the above - you meet with the team, exchange notes, and agree to meet again by such and such date to review the new agreed rewrites. Have you ran into moments where you needed more time to complete the next set of rewrites before the next meeting?
Okay, this is tricky. Once again, it's going to depend on who you're dealing with. The situation I'm in right now is kind of a fluke. I'm working for free for a guy who wants to set this up as a side project. So he's not really in that much of a hurry and wants me to take as much time as I need to get it right. That being said, I don't have too many hard deadlines.
Now, doesn't mean that I want to slack off and fart around with it. I still want to present myself as an efficient writer that can bring a script home in a timely manner.
With that, I ALWAYS over compensate. He wants 15 mages by Monday? I punch through and bring him 20. He's asking for the first 30? I bring him the first 40-45.
Then, when I get into re-write mode, I can sort of be a little slacker-ish because he knows I can deliver when I need to.
Read the situation accordingly and do the best you can. If you have the right group you can either a) call before the deadline, tell them you're stuck and then brainstorm to get unstuck, b) call and ask for more time or c) go in there and say that you ran into a wall and let's put our heads together and figure out a solution.
Have you come back to the meeting with only a portion of the agreed rewrites completed due to time constraint?
Yup. Is what it is.
Understanding you likely gave advance notice before the meeting of where you gotten... I guess this also depends on how elaborate the segment being rewritten is...
So that's the end of the screenwriting portion of the email. So if you got what you needed, I would suggest tuning out for the rest because we are about to get pretty fucking geeky up in this bitch.
Yup. That's right. Comic books.
So for those of you that are tuning out...catch you next week...everyone else...let's get fucking nerdy!
- Totally tangent... I know you read Year One, so I'm guessing your read others... I am not much of a fan of The Dark Knight Returns, but loved Year One. Is this a complex of mine :)... or do you know others in this boat?
Big fan of Year One, obviously. I mean if you like Batman, Year One pretty much fills the Bat Love Juice quota. I haven't read Dark Knight in years but I don't remember being turned off by it. So it might just be you.
Anyone care to weigh in?
Books 1 & 2 of DKR were great, though I was not connected with Robin which diluted the fight against the Joker in book 3...
Sorry, but Fuck Robin. Robin is a... oh, DAMN YOU BRETT RATNER!
Yeah, not a fan of the Boy Blunder.
and Batman and Superman save the universe on a yearly basis, but they cannot overcome this "misunderstanding." Superman could just ask "did you really kill him" instead of going into full on battle with his long time friend...
You know what? That happens everywhere. I was watching a movie last night where shit could have been resolved by just having a conversation. Think about it though, what would you rather see?
Batman and Superman fucking sipping tea and having a heart to heart?
Batman and Superman fucking going fist-a-cuffs, razzling through the streets?
Yeah, I thought so. Remember, sipping tea is only allowed in stuffy, British period pieces. Everywhere else?
Do you have any favorite reads or specific books you follow?
I'm so glad you asked this because I've sort of wanted to talk about this for a while now, but couldn't really find a way to bring it up in the column.
This might be a little trendy given the fact that it's been turned into a TV show, but seriously...people...
The Walking Dead.
The books are fucking phenomenal! I downloaded the entire series (91 books to date) and read them in a weekend. I just couldn't stop. I even got my friends hooked on it too. So now we read the books, watch the show and then discuss where it's going, how the show it veering from the books, where the show is making up for things lost in the book and vice versa.
The art is amazing. The action is off the hook and the best part is that no character is sacred. Anyone can go at any time which, in a zombie apocalypse, is pretty accurate.
Even if you're not into comic books, I highly recommend you give these a peep. You won't be disappointed, I promise you.
Thanks Jovan! Hoped I could help and hoped you all learned something.
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 email@example.com or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca
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