The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, December 16 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

I've talked about how much I love the film "Tales from the Script" which features dozens of successful screenwriters talking about their successes, their failures, and the lessons they learned in Hollywood.

I thought this was a particularly captivating clip for newer writers looking to break into the business.


And remember, you can pick up a copy of "Tales from the Script" here:

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:

Your Biggest Advantage as a Screenwriter: is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I address the issue of "artist" versus "business-person" as it relates to screenwriting. There has been some chatter about this topic lately in the BOSI Community, so here is my take on it.

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.

People Want What They Want: 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.

Thematically Speaking: 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? Successful Screenwriter and Screenwriting Teacher – Corey Mandell!

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...

New Media – Part 3; Writing for Your Budget: 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".

This Just In! You Are NOT Quentin Tarantino...: is this week's article by Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson’s behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

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

If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna

The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

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

Click HERE!

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Your Biggest Advantage as a Screenwriter

by Marvin V. Acuna

Famed Marketing Professional Gary Halbert would often ask audiences at his various speaking events the following:

"If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?"

The answers varied. Some of the audience would say they would like to have the advantage of having superior meat from which to make their burgers. Others would say they want sesame seed buns. Others would mention location. And someone always wanted to be able to offer the lowest prices.

And so on.

In any case, after the audience was finished telling him what advantages they would most like to have, he’d usually respond with something like this: "O.K., I'll give you every single advantage you have asked for. I, myself, only want one advantage and, if you will give it to me, I will (when it comes to selling burgers) whip the pants off all of you!"

"What advantage do you want?"
the audience would ask.

"The only advantage I want," he’d reply...


A Starving Crowd!"

Think about it. This makes sense, right? Right!

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

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

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

Authors James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras of the famed non-fiction book BUILT TO LAST devoted a section of their book to what they called the "Tyranny of the OR." The authors believe that the "Tyranny of the OR" pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both.

They suggest that instead of being oppressed by the "Tyranny of the OR," you liberate yourself with the "Genius of the AND" - the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time.

So the next time you are ready to beat the drum of "I am simply an artist, hear me roar!" consider these liberated screenwriters who exercise the "Genius of the AND":

Neill Blomkamp, writer/director of "District 9": "There's a lot about this film that's very subconscious and just in the fabric of me, and Apartheid and the segregation in Johannesburg is how I grew up." -

Christopher Nolan, writer/director of "Memento": "...I don't consider myself to be an 'art' film-maker at all." -

James Cameron, writer/director, on writing "The Terminator": "I was just working out my childhood stuff" -

Finally, I leave you with this...

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Box Office Report

Wed, Dec. 14 Daily Total
New Year's Eve $1,026,098 $16,347,752
The Sitter $790,840 $12,564,772
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 $651,265 $261,451,406
Hugo $474,930 $34,926,859
The Muppets $419,949 $67,046,409
Arthur Christmas $369,894 $34,502,115
Immortals $280,732 $80,765,932
Happy Feet Two $258,224 $57,565,368
Tower Heist $196,555 $74,701,505
Jack and Jill $174,267 $69,085,785
J. Edgar $139,498 $35,197,030
Puss in Boots (2011) $108,541 $142,195,041

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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

People Want What They Want

by mc foley

It could be a motto for some asinine business. People Want — What They Want — When They Want It.

Especially in the entertainment industry — where certain a^&*holes have no qualms about working other people to the bone and watching them, or letting them, suffer.

Sometimes it's because the suffering is to that particular a^&*hole's benefit. Many times it's because he or she could give a flying f^&*()ck about anything other than their own success, and someone else's suffering is just an unfortunate byproduct. And again, that's especially, because they don't care. Because they want what they want when they want it. Regardless. Especially regardless — of me or you.


With that in mind, whenever I meet someone who wants what they want when they want it — yet they are completely aware of, and respectful of, my circumstances, current workload and/or obligations, realities of life, etc — I go out of my way to remember that person. Especially if that person makes my own situation easier somehow — or at least, makes working with them easier. Because they respect my time, and therefore: they respect me.

Since this type is rare, I not only remember them — I keep their names tucked away into my file of — PEOPLE WITH INTEGRITY: subtitle = PEOPLE WITH OR FOR WHOM I HOPE TO WORK.

These are the types of people worth getting to know. Worth building a relationship with. Worth respecting in the same manner that they respected me.

It takes a sh^&*()tload of work to get somewhere in this business, and no one can do it alone. We all need help. We all need guidance, good advice, allies, mentors, generals, soldiers, leaders, heroes.

We all need someone(s) we would feel good about being stuck with in a foxhole, stuck with in a submarine, stuck with somewhere when everything is on the line and my survival — our survival — rests squarely on the fact that we can depend on, and trust each other.

I tell myself it's like keeping track of my blessings. When I remember them, I do not take them for granted, I keep them in mind for when they will come in most useful, and I take care of them the way they take care of me.

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.

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A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

"Do I have to share my Author/Writer Credit with someone who collaborated on the script, even if he never wrote one word or typed one keystroke on the script?"

This comes down to the terms of your agreement with the collaborator, and to the definition of "collaborated". Most dictionaries refer to collaboration as "working together", without reference to the specific nature of such work. Many writing teams share the work of 'creating' ideas, coming up with dialogue, plot lines, etc., while only one member handles the 'data entry' part of the task. So, it's not enough to claim that your collaborator didn't write or type anything... if he or she contributed material to the finished product, in the form of intellectual 'work' then shared credit is appropriate.

BUT, if your collaborator didn't do ANYTHING at all, it's a different story. This, then, comes down to a breach of contract. Presumably, the agreement between the collaborators was to share the work (regardless of the actual division of labor). If one member failed to meet this obligation, then there's an argument to be made that credit should not be shared.

Now, for writers who are members of WGA, shared credit is a trickier issue, often involving subsequent rewrites by other writers, and ultimately, it's the producer and the WGA's credit arbitration panel who decide who gets credit. For a good discussion of the credit arbitration process, see the May 2010 issue of Script magazine.

Either way, sharing credit may be preferable to the battle that can ensue when a collaborator feels he's been unfairly deprived of credit. It's unwise, therefore, to proceed without some clear resolution of the matter BEFORE the script is sold. I've personally represented several creators in disputes over credit. Sometimes such suits have actually derailed the sale or production of the script(s) in question. Before deciding to exclude a collaborator's credit, it's wise to check with your lawyer about the situation and get some good advice.

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

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

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

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

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

For more about Mr. Firemark, visit

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Thematically Speaking

by Daniel Manus

I don't write about theme too much and that's because I normally don't care much about it. It's not what I look for in a script. Yes, it's important. Yes, it can help drive a story and keep a story on track. Yes, it can add shape and deeper meaning to your character's arc. But I rather have a script be driven by strong character, dialogue and story than a message or theme a writer is trying to teach the audience.

This is a complete generalization, but I find that instilling strong themes are for the more spiritual writer, and less so for the practical writer. I'm not saying either one is better – I'm just saying those two types of writers approach their scripts differently.

Themes are those things that I think consultants talk about when they don't know what else to say, and I've had quite a few people say that to me - which is why I am also not a huge fan of some of the authors out there who talk about how theme is the key to screenwriting.

I think if a THEME is what is driving your story, then your story is probably pretty preachy, boring and cliché. Why? Because having a universal theme is great for selling your project internationally, but your theme is not entertaining. There's nothing visual about "true love is everlasting," or "family is the most important thing," or "the grass is always greener." Yes, we can RELATE to that – we can understand it and it helps us connect with the characters, but there are no NEW themes. The newest themes I've found in stories relate to technology and how it is ruining or helping our lives or how it should be revered or feared instead of abused. But again - that's not important to me unless your story brings OUT that theme in visual, compelling, engaging, original ways.

The seven deadly sins are often used as themes. Religious beliefs or sayings are often used as themes. Basically, themes are overarching lessons or beliefs or sayings that you probably learned in Kindergarten.

Yes, if you have a small town story, then making sure that it employs a universal and relatable theme can help broaden its appeal. And yes, if you know your theme, this will help you plot out your character's arcs so that you know that THEY are connecting with your theme by the end. And yes, having a solid theme may help you see, especially during your rewriting process, what scenes are helping to progress and bring out that theme and which ones are perhaps unnecessary.

But I've never, ever heard anyone walk out of a theater going – the story sucked, I hated the characters, the dialogue was cheesy – but man did I love that theme.

That being said, you should make sure that your theme has been brought out in your scenes and characters' actions and reactions, and that your midpoint does a nice job in showing how you are attacking that theme in your story. But also make sure that we are not being nailed over the head with your theme and that your script is not becoming PREACHY or a message movie to get your theme across.

Your theme should be a silent understanding between you, your story and the audience. It's almost subliminal. Your theme should be set up through dialogue or action, usually in the first 15 pages or so, but the execution and tracking of your theme should not be as obviously stated. You shouldn't have a character every 15 pages come out and say "But true love conquers all." That's not how you express your theme – you do it through your characters actions and consequences that PROVE that theme.

Theme is what the audience takes away or feels or learns THEMSELVES from watching your movie and taking in your story, with just a little bit of set up and prodding from you. If it isn't almost subliminal, then it's a MESSAGE – and that is very different from a theme. Yes, there are exceptions. "There's no place like home" is one of the strongest themes of Wizard of Oz and cinema in general, and it's said out loud and driven home pretty hard - but that was also 70 years ago.

A message is your personal belief, feeling, mantra or thing that you want to tell the audience. And you don't want them to take away something for themselves – you want them to believe what YOU believe. A message is anything but subliminal. It's usually stated by a character over and over again, even if it's in the background. A message movie is harder to sell, depending on the message. Ripped from the headline or controversial messages are usually not a good idea. Messages about the environment are popular right now, and that's fine, but there's a difference between a message of "we should respect our environment" and "right wing lobbyists are the ones who should die for ruining the environment." See – there's a difference there.

'The power of true love' is not a message – it's a theme. 'You will only find true love if you date within your own race' – that's a message. 'Faith can be a powerful thing' is not necessarily a message. 'Have faith in your Lord and savior Jesus Christ' – is a message. See the difference?

A message is YOUR personal take and belief about a THEME. And as I've said before, I don't give a shit what your personal beliefs are.

So, theme is yet another thing you should be tracking throughout your script, but I always advise my clients to let the story drive the theme, and not the other way around. At least not in the first draft. But you should know what theme you want to bring out and track before you start writing, and certainly by your midpoint you should be able to tell if that is working in your story.

About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.

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Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Corey Mandell – successful screenwriter and screenwriting teacher - on his best advice to screenwriters:

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The Scoggins Report

2011 Spec Market Scorecard as of December 9

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

It's year-end list making time and we're itching to make our Top 5 Sellers and Top 5 Buyers lists. But here's the thing: Last year, half a dozen scripts sold in the week following the release of the Black List, and we think the same thing is going to happen this year. The 2011 Black List came out just a few days ago, and by our count 14 screenplays on the list are still available.

So since the #1 slots among sellers and buyers are set but the races for #'s 2 and 3 are still up for grabs, we're reigning ourselves in for a couple more weeks. Here are a few of our favorite items from the below grids; we'll do a proper 2011 year-end review once the year actually ends.

  • Even if no additional specs sell this year, 2011's total number of sales (115 by our count, all-in) damn near doubled 2010's total (62). Anyone who's been saying "The spec market is dead!" this year hasn't been paying attention.

  • The studios, led by the ever-dominant Warner Bros., have bought 62 specs so far this year, also damn near double last year's total (34).

  • CAA is poised to be the number one seller for the third year in a row.

Happy holidays, everyone. Keep an eye on your inboxes during the break - we'll publish our December roundup on the 30th as usual.

2011 Overall Spec Numbers (through Dec 9) :

The below grid shows sales of scripts in the month they originally went out. In addition to the below, there have been 12 sales of scripts so far this year that originally went out prior to 2011.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Specs 15 38 34 38 30 40 20 15 28 52 30 15 355
Sales 1 13 15 8 6 11 9 5 7 18 8 3 104
Percent 6.6 34 44 21 20 27.5 45 33.3 25 34.6 26.6 20 29%

Spec Sales By Genre (sold/totla):

Genre (sales) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total % of
2011 Sales
Action/Adventure 0/1 1/4 1/4 1/5 1/5 1/3   2/2 3/7 2/9 3/9 1/2 16/51 13.8%
Comedy 0/6 2/11 5/8 2/12 2/12 4/17 2/7 0/1 1/11 5/17 4/12 0/5 27/119 23.3%
Drama   0/2 0/1 2/3 1/2 0/3 1/2 2/3 1/2 5/6 0/1 1/1 13/26 11.2%
Fantasy   0/1 0/2 0/2   0/2             0/7 0%
Horror 0/1 2/3   1/2   0/2 2/2 1/1 0/2 1/3   1/1 8/17 6.9%
Sci-Fi 0/1 1/4 3/5 1/2 1/2 4/4 1/2 1/2   3/4 0/2 0/3 15/31 12.9%
Thriller 1/6 5/11 6/14 1/10 2/9 2/9 1/5 3/9 2/4 3/14 3/9 3/5 32/105 27.6%
Western     1/2 1/1   1/1             3/4 2.6%

Spec Sales By Buyer - Studios:

Buyers (Studios) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
CBS Films         1   1       1   3 0 2
Columbia   1 3     2             6 1 5
Dimension       1                 1 0 1
Disney   1             1       2 2 2
DreamWorks   1 1                   2 1 4
Fox     2 1 1     1   2 1   8 2 3
Fox 2000                   1     1 2 0
Fox Searchlight             1           1 1 1
Lionsgate                   2     2 1 3
New Line       1           2   1 4 0 0
Paramount         1 2 1     1     5 4 5
Relativity       1 1               2 6 3
Summit     1             1     2 3 2
Universal     2 1           2 2   7 2 6
Warner Bros.   2   1 1 2 3   2 4 1 1 16 9 6

Spec Sales By Buyer - Other Buyers:

Buyers (Other) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
1984 Films       1                 1 0 0
After Dark             1           1 0 0
Alcon                 1       1 0 1
Animation Picture Co.   1                     1 0 0
Arclight           1             1 1 0
Atmosphere                   1     1 0 0
Between The Eyes                     1   1 0 0
Bold Films 1                       1 1 0
Boss Media                   1     1 0 0
Caliber Media     1                 1 2 1 0
Cargo                     1   1 0 0
Chernin     1                   1 0 0
Code Ent.                       1 1 0 0
Crime Scene         1       1       2 0 0
Dark Castle   1           1         2 1 0
Davis Ent.               1         1 0 0
Emmett/Furla                 1       1 0 0
Endgame                     1   1 2 0
FilmNation               1         1 0 0
Freeman & Grossman                   1     1 0 0
GK Films                   1     1 0 0
Gold Circle           1 1     1     3 2 1
Gracie Films     1                   1 0 0
Hannibal                       2 2 0 0
IM Global     1                   1 0 0
Inferno           1   1         2 0 0
Intrepid               1         1 0 3
Mandate     1     1             2 2 1
Millennium/Nu Image               1     1 1 3 0 0
Montecito     1       1           2 0 0
Motts 9               1         1 0 0
MPCA           1             1 0 0
Nasser Ent.     1                 1 2 1 0
One Race                 1       1 0 0
Paradox                     1   1 0 0
Pierre-Ange Le Pogam               1   1     2 0 0
Radar           1             1 2 0
RCR   1                     1 0 0
Route One   1                     1 1 0
Safady                     1   1 1 0
Sidney Kimmel   1       1             2 0 1
Skydance         1               1 0 0
Stone Village       1                 1 0 0
Ten Thirty-One     1                   1 0 0
Valhalla     1                   1 0 0
Vuguru   1                     1 0 0
Wendy Finerman       1                 1 0 0

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

1st Degree Productions
21 Laps(2)
After Dark
Anonymous Content
Appian Way
Arcana Studio
Automatik Entertainment
Aversano Films
Bellevue Productions
Berlanti Productions
Big Kid Pictures
Blumhouse Productions
Branded Films
Broken Road
Centropolis Entertainment
Chernin Entertainment
Collider Entertainment
Crescendo Productions
Davis Entertainment
Di Bonaventura
Disruption Entertainment (3)
Escape Artists
Essential Entertainment
Film 360
Furst Films
Gary Sanchez Productions
Genre Films (3)
Hollywood Gang (2)
Infinitum Nihil
Josephson Entertainment
Katsmith Productions(2)
Langley Park (2)
Lawrence Gordon Productions
LBI Entertainment
Leverage Management
Linson Entertainment
Marc Platt Productions(4)
Mandeville Films
Matt Tolmach Productions
Michael De Luca Productions
MM Productions
Momentum Productions
Montecito (2)
Movie Package Company
Nick Wechsler Productions
Original Film
Panay Films
Pearl Street (2)
Platinum Dunes (2)
Protozoa Pictures
R.L. Entertainment
Red Hour Films
Salvatore/Ornston Productions
Scott Free
Silver Pictures (2)
Stuber Pictures
Temple Hill (2)
Top Cow
Tower Hill Entertainment
Unbroken Pictures
Vast Entertainment
Verso Entrtainment
Virgin Produced
WideAwake Wigram Productions
Wonderland Sound and Vision
Yorn Company

Spec Sales by Seller - Agencies (sold/total):

Sellers - Agents Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Efficiency
APA 1/3 0/3 0/1 1/3 0/1   1/3     2/4 2/3 0/3 7/24 29%
Bohrman     0/1 0/1 0/1   0/1   1/01 0/1 0/1 0/1 1/7 0%
CAA 0/1 3/51 3/31 1/2 1/3 3/41 2/2 2/2 1/4 7/9 2/2 0/2 25/39 56%
Gersh   4/5 1/1     0/3   0/1 0/1       5/11 45%
ICM 0/2 0/1 3/5 1/4 0/3 1/4 1/1 1/01 2/3 2/3   2/3 13/29 41%
Innovative       1/2                 1/2 50%
Original   1/3 0/1         0/1   2/3 1/2   4/10 40%
Paradigm 0/1 1/2 1/2 2/3   1/1 1/2 0/1   0/2   2/11 8/15 47%
Preferred   0/1     0/1       0/1     1/1 1/4 25%
The Agency     1/1                   1/1 100%
UTA   0/2 5/6 1/41 2/3 2/4 1/3 1/1 1/3 2/5 1/2   16/33 45%
Verve 0/2       1/01 1/3   1/1   1/1 0/2   4/9 33%
WME   2/3 1/3 2/21 3/4 1/4 1/3   2/3 3/7 3/5 1/1 19/35 52%

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.

Spec Sales by Seller - Management Companies (sold/total):

Sellers - Managers Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Efficiency
Baumgarten       1/1                 1/1  
Benderspink     1/1 0/1 1/2 3/3 0/1     0/1     5/9 55%
Binder & Assoc.                   1/1     1/1  
Brillstein       1/11 0/1               1/2  
Brucks     0/1     0/1   1/1 0/1       1/4 25%
Caliber 0/1   1/1     0/1   1/1         2/4 50%
Circle of Confusion   2/31 0/1 0/1 1/5 0/3 0/2     0/1 1/11 0/1 4/18 11%
Elements                   1/1     1/1  
Energy       2/11     1/2 1/1 1/1 1/1     6/6 83%
Evolution       1/1                 1/1  
Field Ent.                 1/1       1/1  
FilmEngine 1/1 0/1               1/1     2/3 67%
Generate   1/1               0/1     1/1  
Gotham 0/1     1/01 0/1 1/1   1/1         3/5 40%
H2F     2/4 0/1   1/1   0/1 0/1   2/2 1/1 6/11 55%
Hung 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1   0/1     1/1 0/1   1/8 13%
Industry     1/2   2/2     0/1   0/1 0/1   3/7 43%
Infinity               1/1         1/1  
Kaplan/Perrone     1/1 0/1 0/1 0/2 0/1   0/1 1/2 2/3   4/12 33%
Kevin Donahue             1/1           1/1  
Mad Hatter   1/1   1/1                 2/2  
Madhouse 0/1 0/1   0/1 0/2           1/3   1/8 13%
Magnet 0/1 0/1             0/1 1/2 1/01   2/5 20%
Manage-ment       0/1       1/01       0/1 1/2  
Management 360                   1/1   0/1 1/2  
MXN 0/1         1/1           1/1 2/3 67%
New Wave           1/2 1/2   1/1 1/2 1/3 2/2 7/12 58%
The Pitt Group                     1/1   1/1  
Principal                       2/2 2/2  
Principato/Young         0/1 1/1 1/1   0/1       2/4 50%
Realm           1/1             1/1  
R.E.D.           1/1             1/1  
ROAR   2/2 2/11                   4/3 100%
Safran Co         0/1       0/1 1/1 0/1   1/4 25%
Silent R   0/1     1/1             0/1 1/3 33%
Smart Ent.       1/2                 1/2  
Underground   1/1                     1/1  
Wirehouse     1/1                   1/1  

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.

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

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

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

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

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Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

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

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

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

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

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

Wynton Marsalis
Cultural Correspondant, CBS

Thomas Carson
President and CEO, Rovi Corporation

Melanie Frankel
Vice President, Original Comedy Series, USA

John Naveira
Executive Vice President, Post Production, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Brad Grey
Chairman/CEO, Paramount Pictures (re-upped)

Marc Juris
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, TruTV

Camilla Hammer
CEO, Sales and Distribution Division, Shine International

Jim Samples
President, International, Scripps Network

Amy Powell
President, Digital Entertainment, Paramount Pictures

David Dinerstein
President, Liddell Entertainment

J.J. Jamieson
President of Television, Landscape Entertainment

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New Media — Part 3; Writing for Your Budget

by Sean Hinchey

You want to test out a scene for that screenplay you're finishing up because you want to know if it works as well on the screen as it does on the page, before you enter it into a screenwriting contest. In previous articles we've talked about shooting a scene, putting it on the internet and getting feedback on your work. We've discussed the mechanics of making it happen, but how do you actually produce the project with little to no money?

Your thoughts may be, isn't that expensive? How can I come up with the time and money to make it happen? The answer is simple, ask yourself how much money can you spend and how much time do you have to make it happen.

It doesn't matter if you have $6 or $6 Million to spend. You have the ability to bring your project to life, it's a matter of scale. But let's get realistic and say that you may only have evenings to shoot, for a week, and a budget of $200. It's still possible for you to create a quality product. Here's what you do.

First, what do you have for locations where you could shoot your scene? Mostly likely you are living somewhere; at home with your parents, your own apartment or maybe you even own a house. That is your location. Turn your den into an office for the scene you want to shoot. Arrange a computer, printer and filing cabinet in a manner that resembles an actual office. Maybe you have a scene that takes place at the dinner table; use the dining room or kitchen.

The key here is to figure out what you do have. It's easy to get caught up in what we don't have access to; a list that is limitless. If you have a scene that takes place in a park, maybe you can shoot it in your backyard. Again, find what you have and make it work for you.

Second, get yourself a camera. If you don't have one, you should be able to make a phone call or two to find someone whose camera you can borrow. Many of these people are either camera people or directors. Work out a deal where they can be part of your project so that they get credit for their work. They may also have access to a basic lighting package. If they don't, you can get a good price from a camera rental house; you'd be surprised how little it will cost you out of pocket.

Third, find an actor or actors who are willing to work for free in exchange for reel material. Give them an accurate assessment of how much time they would have to commit to and be specific about what you are doing with the project. Focus more on how it will help them, rather than help you.

For a shooting schedule, it's better to overestimate, than free them up early, rather than go over the time you've asked them to commit to. If you think you can shoot the scenes over two evenings, tell them three to give yourself some padding.

Four, this is the most important aspect of shooting your project. You are asking people to give up their time and possibly the use of their equipment for free. While giving them credit and material for their reel is a wonderful opportunity, you need to sweeten the deal a little more.

Feed everyone, feed them well.

If people wonder where their next meal is coming from, they won't focus on the job at hand. Serve sandwiches for lunch, which you can make ahead of time, and a hot meal for evenings. Many restaurants serve hot platters that you can order ahead and pick up. Work out a deal with them, everything is negotiable. Buy soft-drinks and water in bulk at Costco or Walmart and keep them in a cooler.

By keeping people fed, you will be showing the appreciation you have for them bringing their skill set, knowledge and time to your project. You won't have to spend a great deal of money out of pocket, and in return you may wind up with a spectacular product that will grab people's attention when you launch it on the internet.

Are you struggling with a few pivotal scenes in your script and you're not sure how to rework them? Go back to the movie that inspired you to write your contest winning screenplay; understand what makes that story works and apply it to your script. Emulate the Best for Success.

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.

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This just in! You are NOT Quentin Tarantino...

by Manny Fonseca

You are not Quentin Tarantino.

(unless you actually ARE Quentin Tarantino...if that's the case, thank you, it's an honor that you find my shit entertaining.)


You are not Quentin Tarantino.

A lot of you are sitting there thinking, "I fucking know I'm not Quentin Tarantino! Where are you going with this?"

To answer that, I have to back up a bit and chat about a little thing known as "The Blacklist."

So what is The Blacklist you ask?

It's an annual list of the favorite scripts floating around Hollywood. The scripts are voted on by executives, agents and managers.

The Blacklist (as far as I understand it) was created to battle the fucking Hollywood schlock that gets made year after year. As I understood it, it was designed to showcase the unproduced scripts that don't get any love in the mainstream. They're either too expensive, or not necessarily a four quadrant type of movie.

So what does it mean for my career if I make The Blacklist?

A lot.

The list may have started small but now it's grown into a whole helluva she-beast. What used to be a list of the scripts no one paid attention to, is now the go to hot sheet of up and coming talent. Well sort of, more on that later...

Anyway...back to your career...

Because it's the go to list for executives, it's pretty much a guarantee that you're going to get some major notice from the industry. I have a couple of friends that have made the Blacklist in the past and it has led to them landing agents, getting major meetings and selling some of their shit.

A friend of mine who got his script on The Blacklist in '09, just sold a pilot to Showtime.

So yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

Which brings me to this year's quasi-controversy around the office. Although there were a slew of interesting scripts on the list (including a former colleague of mine) the one that stood out the most was Quentin Tarantino's script, Django Unchained.

Now as many of you SHOULD know, Django has been in pre-production for some time and has already assembled quite the cast including: Sam Jackson, Don Johnson, Jamie Foxx, Christophe Waltz, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell and Leonardo DiCaprio.

With that being said, what the fuck is it doing on a list, of what's SUPPOSED to be, unproduced gems?!

Now I have nothing against Quentin, but he has his time...he's fucking Quentin Tarantino! He doesn't need to be on the list.

The opposing argument was the list is made up of "favorite films read this year" and that it's a write in voting if that's what excited people, then that's what excited them.

I get it. It makes sense, but still...come on?! Keep in the spirit of what it should be.

I just think that it's a little lame that someone as prolific as Tarantino is on a list for what should be for the little guy.

'Nuff about that...

So back to my original statement: You are not Quentin Tarantino.

Because of the list coming out and the heated debate in the office, I decided to track down the script and give it a read.

First and foremost, I want to be clear...I'm not going to spoil the story for you. No worries there.

Second, I have no idea which draft I read other than the date. So I have no idea if there's a more current draft or not. Regardless, I read the April 2011 draft, so I would have to assume it's pretty current.

Lastly, keep in mind, just cause it's written, doesn't mean it's not going to change and doesn't mean it'll be in the final flick.

I'm really going to talk about his writing style anyway, but to do so, some generalities need to be known about the story.

So what's it about? Okay, this is kind of hard to explain, but for all of you Q.T. fans out there, this is the best analogy and will make total sense to you.

First, let's set the's set in the south during the slavery days.

Remember Clint Eastwood's character in the Man with No Name trilogy? Okay...take that guy and make him German.


Remember LeVar Burton (a.k.a. Geordi on Star Trek: T.N.G.), his character Kunta Kinte in Roots?

Okay, take that guy, but make him a total fucking bad ass.

Have the German free the bad ass, teach him to be a killing machine and then unleash him on the white slave owners that took his wife.

That's what Django Unchained is all about and let me tell you, it’s pretty fucking amazing. I mean really.

I've read Kill Bill before that came out and thought it was great, but thought the movies were a little weak compared to the script. The script had a lot more really awesome scenes and storylines that never made the final product. Mostly, I think, because the script got split into two movies.

I've read Inglorious Basterds before the movie came out and have to say, it was pretty fucking sweet on the page and was even more amazing on the screen.

As for Django? Yeah, it's going to be amazing. Especially with the casting involved. I'm most looking forward to Leonardo DiCaprio's performance because he's the main (and pretty ruthless) villain in the flick. that we're up to speed, why can you not be Q.T.?

A lot of the problem with a lot of budding writers is that they want to break the rules right off the bat. They want to do it their way (which, you'll soon discover isn't even THEIR way) and not listen to anyone else.

So a lot of writers will track down movie scripts and use them as their "get out of jail card." "Well he does it, so why can't I?"

Cause you're not him...Plain and simple.

For example. Much like any other script, first thing I do with Django is flip to the last page and see the count that I'm getting in to.

168 pages.

168 fucking pages.

Guess what? It's okay...cause HE can do that.

You can't. You're not Quentin Tarantino.

You get 120 MAX and even then you should bring it home at 110. He's allowed. You're not.

The first sentence of the script, right after EXT. – COUNTRYSIDE – BROILING HOT DAY is:

As the film's OPENING CREDIT SEQUENCE plays, complete with its own SPEGHETTI WESTERN THEME SONG....

Yeah, I don't care how cool you think you are and how cool the credit sequence you came up with don't get to talk about it in your script.

Why does he get to do it and you don't?

Cause he's Quentin-Fucking-Tarantino and you're not. Sucks, I know...but's the truth.

The first two pages are nothing but action. There's a couple of quick flashbacks and a whole lot of description. A LOT. Just looking at the text on the page is scary.

He can do that. You can't. He can take all the time he wants to set up his world because we trust him and know him and want to see where he's going. You? I would trust you to watch my neighbor's fucking cat who I why would I trust you long enough to see if you're going to get there or not?

Later on in the script, around page 47, there is a short scene that reads as follows:


A SCENE to be improvised (more or less)...

Yup, you guessed it. You don't get to write shit like that. You need to know exactly what's going on. You don't get to talk about improvisation.

"BUT MANNY! I'm going to direct my own script much like he is?"'re so adorable! Keep's good to dream.

The bad guy? Played by Leo? Yeah, he doesn't show up until page 61.


Don't do that and don't think cause Quentin does it, you can.

You're not Quentin Tarantino.

So knock it off. Got it?

We're all clear on the subject at hand? You don't get to use other people's work to excuse your laziness or what you think is clever. The only job you have is to write a good, compelling, script that's efficient in its word count and keeps people excited.

After you make your Pulp Fiction and your Kill Bill...THEN you can do whatever the fuck you want. Until then, obey the rules and stop using great screenwriters as exceptions to the rule.

Till next week...

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

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

For info, have a question or just want to tell him you love him, drop an email to or find him on Facebook at

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