Wow, today is the last day of 2011....
Was this year everything you hoped it would be?
Was it just "so-so?"
Was 2011 a disappointment?
Well let me tell you something you already know...
On the journey that is your screenwriting career, there will some days where you feel on top of the world.
Like you are finally making strides in Hollywood.
Like you are finally getting recognized for your abilities.
But then there will be days that will test your very soul.
Days that will chew you up and spit you out.
Days that will make you question why you ever pursued a career in screenwriting at all.
On these days it will be your attitude, your perspective, and your mental toughness that will get you through.
And to give you the correct perspective, I want to tell you a story that you may have heard before.
A long time ago a king placed a large boulder in the middle of a busy country road. Then he hid to see if any of his subjects would remove it.
He saw many wealthy merchants and even some of his courtiers pass by, but every one of them stepped around the boulder and went on their way.
Some people even loudly cursed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but not one of them tried to move the boulder.
Finally, a peasant carrying a basket of vegetables came along. But instead of passing by, the peasant actually set his load down and tried to move the boulder.
After much straining the peasant finally succeeded in moving the huge stone, and picked up his basket to leave. But suddenly, he spotted a purse in the crevice where the boulder had been.
Inside were 100 gold coins and a note from the king, thanking him for removing the boulder.
You see, the peasant understood what everyone else didn’t.
And that is, within every obstacle lies the opportunity to improve ones situation!
As you enter 2012 I would ask you to look at your trials, struggles, and challenges from this perspective.
Not only will doing so save you from countless hours of frustration and headaches, it will actually help you identify opportunities that other screenwriters will simply... pass by.
I hope that helps.
And I hope that we at The BOSI have been helpful to you this year.
We hope to be an even greater help to you in 2012.
Thank you for being part of this community, and I'll talk to you next year!
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:
How Dog Training Can Help You Become a Better Screenwriter: is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I give you 4 tips to dazzle an industry professional with your wit, professionalism, and polish. Experts say it takes just 3 seconds to make a first impression. Here's how to make your first impression a GREAT one...
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.
A Thin Line: 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.
2012: The Year of Armageddon? Or I'm-A-Gettin' Paid?: 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? Academy Award winning screenwriter of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Being John Malkovich," and "Adaptation" – Charlie Kaufman!
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...
Write What You Know: is this week's article from screenwriting contest judge and author of "39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make" – Sean Hinchey. The title of his column is "Insights and Screenwriting Wisdom from a Veteran Screenwriting Contest Judge".
The Year in Review... Yeah, I Know... But Trust Me... It's Funny...: 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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How Dog Training Can Help You Become a Better Screenwriter
by Marvin V. Acuna
What The Dog Saw is the title to Malcolm Gladwell‘s newest book, but the title was derived from Malcolm's article in The New Yorker: an article about Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer.
Cesar has been regarded as a dog whisperer since he was a child living in Mexico. He lived as an illegal in the US working odd jobs until he had his greatest epiphany. He recognized that he must commit to becoming a... People Whisperer.
In previous writings I suggested that you randomly engage people as you navigate your day then I offered you tips on how to initiate a conversation. Assuming you have implemented the suggestions...
I'll offer you additional tools here to assist you as you embark on the mission to connect with professionals at upcoming live events.
Experts say it takes only three seconds to make a first impression. WTF?
HEAR ME: You have three seconds to dazzle an industry professional with your wit, professionalism, and polish.
If you do just a little homework you will discover that the attitude of the folks at the top of your chosen field know just how important it is to prepare for the first meeting and how crucial it is to break the ice correctly; they come well prepared.
The following four tips will assist you in becoming a people whisperer:
- Prepare. Research the people you will encounter. Traditionally, the event program affords you the opportunity to review bios, but with just a little ambition internet research better positions you to familiarizing yourself with the entertainment professional on many levels and potentially uncover common interests.
- Confidence. The book "The Game" by Neil Strauss captures the transformation of one man's journey from low self-esteem to the mastery of self confidence. I'd encourage you to glance at the marvel and power of confidence documented from his personal experience. In fact the confidence you feel both about yourself and your material might well be the primary ingredient for winning over an entertainment professional. For clarity sake, I'm referring to confidence, not arrogance. There's a difference!
- Give. You must know how you add value to other people's lives. Who's in your network? What do you bring to the table other than just a script?
- Listen. At the last event I attended a screenwriter approached me and a very well known literary manager. The screenwriter was charming and easily engaged us in conversation. At some point the conversation was directed to his screenplay and its concept. He was an effective ice breaker, pitcher, but a terrible listener. Both the literary manager and I agreed to take a look at the material. However, it seemed as if he never heard our request and ultimately talked us out of our interest. That sucks, right?
Being a people whisperer can seem like a difficult task, but if you're genuinely committed to contributing to the lives of the people you meet, it won't be difficult. Be sincere, respectful and open-minded.
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Take the time to understand the needs of the people you desire to meet and they'll take the time to understand yours.
I wish you an incredible year full of interesting events and my hope is that you seize the opportunity to be a people whisperer because as they say...
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression" – anonymous.
The Box Office Report
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|Wed, Dec. 28
|Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
|Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
|Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
|The Adventures of Tintin
|We Bought a Zoo
|New Year's Eve
|The Darkest Hour
|The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey
It's A Thin Line
by mc foley
"Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained." ~William Blake
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I walked into the gym bathroom, and she was on the phone. 'She,' being this talent who'd penned major features and worked on some of the hottest shows. And there she was. Frustrated. Disappointed. Shouting into her cell about wanting to walk away from it all. It was something about her producer, something about the execs no longer backing one of her projects.... something about things not going well. Again.
I had a sudden feeling of deja vu. Wasn't I on the receiving end of a similar conversation this morning? Didn't I just hang out with a writer whose pilot wasn't picked up? What about that FB post from the friend who'd "given up on Hollywood" and moved east... (only to keep writing specs and flying back for meetings).
Ahhh... said my mind... such is the familiar sound of so many conversations in this place.
And I could sum those conversations up in one short phrase:
"This industry is f*ked up"
If we say that so much... why do we stay? Why do we keep trying? Why do we write another script? Outline another idea? Prep for one more meeting? Why do we work as our finances fall apart beneath our fingers until we're slamming away at our dreams from a makeshift bed in the back of a car? (The examples are plenty... here's one: Academy Award Winner, Michael Blake, Dances With Wolves).
What does it mean to us? Hold for us? How does it enchant us so much that we bear the showers of slings and arrows, starvation and abuse in order to stay?
True... not everyone has that experience. Some people live a golden life, making a break before ever breaking the bank, but the majority must... endure.
In fact, some of the most baffling personalities in this town are the ones who litter every conversation with despair, bitterness, dejected disappointed wailing critical fury... all of it directed towards "this industry"... and then... at the tail end of those words, comes a phrase like: "but this new project I'm working on is about..."
I suppose if everyone must have a vice— although I'm sure a lot of us have plenty more vices than just 'being masochistically drawn to Hollywood'— but I suppose if we must have these parts of ourselves, then trying to churn out stories that move audiences despite the battle we must wage to reach that end... is better than shoving dirty needles in our elbow sockets.
No, let's take it higher than that. Perhaps "trying to churn out stories that move audiences" — simultaneously moves something in our selves.
Perhaps it moves a part of us that is driven by passion, by the desire to participate in an industry that is, at its very core, regardless of execution, regardless of frustrations and f*ck-overs, failures and success, built on and fueled by — tales of human existence.
We may not love the industry. But we love stories. Not just listening to them — telling them. We love telling them so much that many of us would crawl naked across broken glass just to see our stories come to life from the words we typed.
And that feeling... is familiar. It's been around as long as time. The Persuaders knew that feeling. They also knew how to write about it and put it out into the world in the form of a story...
... a story that a million radios played on repeat back in 1971:
"It's a thin line... between love and hate"
crawling on glass,
- 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 read an article in a small town newspaper and felt it would make a great movie. It was about a true story that occurred one weekend to some guys on a trip. It is the kind of story you might tell some friends at dinner. It is not a story the writer spent weeks researching. He heard the funny story and wrote about it.
"Also, it is the concept that I believe would make a good story. I do not plan to write the actual story that took place or claim that it is "based on a true story". However, the basic premise would be the same. Do I need to buy the rights to this story's premise from the newspaper or writer or people that experienced the event? Or all of them? Since I do not plan to write their actual story, do I need to buy any rights at all? At what point does writing about an event requiring buying the rights?"
Basing your screenplay on true events, as reported in a newspaper or any other media outlet requires a careful analysis of what rights are held, and by whom.
First, the rights of the persons depicted in the story must be cleared. If the persons to whom the events occured, or anybody they know, will be able to identify them from the story told in your screenplay, you need their rights. In practice, when the story centers around one person, the producers of a film will obtain THAT person's rights, and require them to assist in obtaining any other rights that the producers' lawyers deem necessary. (the conservative position of most lawyers is to obtain rights from all involved)
Since you're planning to use the events you read about as a mere jumping off point, you MIGHT get away without clearing the rights, but ultimately, you will have to indemnify the buyer/producer of any film based on your script against claims brought by those you've depicted...You'll also have to disclose the fact that your story is (however loosely) based on real people when you make the sale of your script... So, you may as well secure their cooperation early.
If you're using any material that was reported by the newspaper, and which might have been uncovered by the reporter's investigation, etc., you will likely need to get a license from the publication and/or journalist. However, if the story you're telling is coming directly from those who experienced the events, then you probably do not need a separate license.
So, when do you get the rights? Best practice is to do so before you begin writing. Otherwise, you risk laboring on the script in vain, if the rights holder refuses to grant you a license or permission to use the underlying material. Many writers ignore this, relying on the eventual buyer of the script to clear the rights. Doing this, however, risks embarrassment if that buyer is unable to clear those rights. (in which case the writer would probably have to refund any payments received, etc.) One approach might be to put together a treatment and "pitch" the project to producers with the resources to secure the rights, and to pay you to write the script.
As always, the best advice I can offer is that you consult a lawyer who can explore the full details of the situation, and give you some specifically tailored advice.
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/.
2012: The Year of Armageddon? Or I'm-A-Gettin' Paid?
by Daniel Manus
Happy New Year BOSI readers! With every New Year, comes new resolutions. And you better make 'em good, because apparently the whole world is coming to an end this year.
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How about these for resolutions – you'll stop complaining about how you didn't get the shit done that you were supposed to and you'll actually do it. Or instead of thinking about breaking into Hollywood and becoming a professional writer, you'll actually do it. Or instead of toying with the idea of making the big move to LA and starting your career, you'll actually pack up and do it!
Now I'm not going to wax philosophical about 2011 because socially, economically and on a grand Earth scale, 2011 kind of sucked really hard. Between disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes, to unemployment and the Kardashian wedding, it was a year many could only wish to forget. But in terms of Hollywood and business (and my own personal goals), it was better than 2010! And 2010 was a shit-ton better than 2009. So, hopefully 2012 will keep us on the incline to happiness.
I want BIG resolutions from you guys this year, because 2012 is the year it happens! For all of us!
For me, 2012 is the year I finally finish and publish my book. It's the year I finish the script I was hired to write. It's the year I (maybe, finally) try stand-up comedy. And it's the year I finally take a real vacation overseas. And of course, I resolve to make No BullScript even bigger and better and more successful and offer more programs and classes for all of you! Those are just a few of my goals for 2012 – what are yours?
Make a set of realistic goals – really tangible, do-able immediate goals that you can start on January 1st without getting overwhelmed. And then make your pie-in-the-sky list of goals for the whole year and the future. Or if you don't believe in setting future goals and resolutions, then just cross your fingers and hope that the apocalypse is swift and painless.
Sometimes the smell of a new year makes people anxious and excited to start a new project. So cash in on that excitement while it lasts. Remember, live like it's your last year on earth, but plan like you'll live forever. Ha!
Executives and agents are back to work in a couple weeks, as the town is usually still pretty slow until Sundance. Late January/early February is a great time to go out with new projects. So take the next few weeks to get your shit in order, get some feedback, write a new draft, polish that query letter, perfect your pitch, and plan for your year of success.
I will be starting a 90-Day Teleseminar Program in the New Year – probably February – that is sure to help get you closer to your goals! More details to come in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
Happy New Year! Good luck and keep writing!
About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.
Best Business Advice for Screenwriters
Charlie Kaufman – Academy Award winning screenwriter of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Being John Malkovich," and "Adaptation" - on his advice to screenwriters:
"With a screenplay you're creating a world; consider everything, every character, every room, every juxtaposition, every increment of time as an embodiment of that world. Look at all of this through that filter and make sure it is all consistent."
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The Scoggins Report
Spec Market Roundup for December 2011
by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan
Talk about "The Year of the Spec." This is our last monthly Roundup of 2011 and we have 13 sales to report, 7 of which are scripts that first tracked this month. Since basically the entire entertainment business is shuttered this week (we're halfway out the door ourselves), we're saving our full year-end analysis for the next Scorecard, which we'll publish in mid-January.
We have to say, though, we're dying to see whether 2011's hot streak continues into next year. We're betting it will, since we know of several sales that were this close to closing before the holiday break, and a dozen 2011 Black List scripts remain up for grabs.
Your move, January 2012.
The usual breakdowns are below, and we'll be back with a full wrap-up of The Year of the Spec after the break. Happy New Year!
|| 1 Action/Adventure
1 This number is a tally of every script that sold in December
2 This percentage only takes into account scripts that came out and sold in December.
Weekly Activity Breakdown
Week of November 28:
- 6 scripts hit the tracking boards, none of which sold
- 6 additional sales were reported ("Guy's Night" and "Narco Sub," which we reported in November, plus "Into The Black," "Hidden," "Untitled Peter Morgan Heist Project," and "Tokarev" in December)
NOTE: The four of this week's scripts that came out prior to Dec 1 are not counted in the above December tally
Week of December 5:
- 10 scripts hit the boards, none of which sold
- 2 additional sales were reported ("The Follower," and "Sad Jack")
Week of December 12:
- 1 script hit the tracking boards and hasn't yet sold
- 4 additional sales were reported ("Bodies at Rest," "The Driver," "Mindplay," and "The Young, the Hot, and the Bothered")
Week of December 19 (Christmas Eve):
- No new specs went out
- 3 sales were reported ("Grand Piano," "Mapmaker's Lover," and "Sea Isle")
Week of December 26: (Christmas and New Year's Eve):
- No new specs went out
- No additional sales were reported
Spec Sales (alphabetical by title)
Bodies at Rest
Writer: David Lesser
Reps: Preferred Artists (Brad Rosenfeld) and New Wave (Josh Adler, Mike Goldberg)
Buyer: Caliber Media and Nasser Entertainment
Attachments: Caliber's Jack Heller and Dallas Sonnier will produce with Jack and Joseph Nasser. Adler, Goldberg and Lesser will co-executive produce.
Notes: Script went originally went out in June.
Writers: Spenser Cohen & Zach Luna
Reps: WME and Energy (Brooklyn Weaver)
Buyer: Voltage Pictures and Solipsist Films
Genre: Heist action thriller
Attachments: Cohen is attached to direct. Voltage's Nicolas Chartier and Stephen L'Heureux will produce.
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Reps: Gersh (Sandra Lucchesi, Frank Wuliger) and Exile (Gary Ungar)
Buyer: Versus Entertainment
Notes: Script originally went out in June.
Writer: Tony Giglio
Reps: Paradigm (Trevor Astbury) and New Wave (Josh Adler, Mike Goldberg)
Buyer: Millennium Films
Attachments: Richard Salvatore will produce through Salvatore/Ornston Productions. Katherine Heigl is in talks to star and will produce with Nancy Heigl through Abishag.
Notes: Script originally went out in November 2010.
Writers: Matt & Ross Duffer
Reps: Paradigm (Christopher Smith) and MXN (Mason Novick)
Buyer: Warner Bros.
Genre: Horror thriller
Attachments: Lawrence Grey, Roy Lee and Novick will produce, Sebastian Aloi and John Powers Middleton will executive produce.
Notes: Script was on the 2011 Black List but sold prior to its announcement. Jon Berg will oversee for Warner Bros. Production is expected to start in the new year.
Into The Black
Writers: Jim Agnew & Sean Keller
Reps: ICM (Ava Jamshidi) and Principal Entertainment (John Kesselman, Danny Sherman)
Buyer: Hannibal Pictures
Writer: Yaniv Raz
Reps: Gersh (Sandra Lucchesi, Frank Wuliger) and Chad Snopek Management (Chad Snopek)
Buyer: Route One Films
Writers: Joe Rosenbaum & Louis Rosenberg
Reps: Paradigm (Ida Ziniti)
Buyer: Echo Lake
Untitled Peter Morgan Heist Project
Writer: Peter Morgan
Buyer: New Line
Genre: Action heist
Attachments: Simon Kinberg will produce through his Genre Films banner.
Notes: Project was first mentioned in October, ended up at New Line at the beginning of December.
Writer: Chris Borrelli
Reps: WME (Daniel Cohan) and H2F (Chris Fenton)
Buyer: Code Entertainment
Attachments: Fenton will produce, Borrelli will executive produce.
Notes: Script hit the boards in November.
Writer: Stephen J. Rivele ("Moneyball")
Reps: Gersh (Sandra Lucchesi)
Buyer: Patriot Pictures
Attachments: Uli Edel is attached to direct.
Writers: Jim Agnew & Sean Keller
Reps: ICM (Ava Jamshidi) and Principal Entertainment (John Kesselman, Danny Sherman)
Buyer: Hannibal Pictures
Genre: Crime drama
The Young, the Hot, and the Bothered
Writer: Leah Rachel
Reps: WME (Hanley Baxter, Rich Cook) and Anonymous Content (Adam Kossack, Adam Shulman)
Genre: Action heist
Attachments: Dan Jinks will produce through his eponymous company. Mandate's Nathan Kahane will executive produce; Kossack and Shulman will co-produce.
Notes: Nicole Brown will oversee for Mandate. Script hit the market in June.
About The Scoggins Report:
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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.
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:
Los Angeles Film Editor, Deadline.com
Executive Director, Screen Actor's Guild
Write What You Know
by Sean Hinchey
There are so many writers out there who miss winning, or even placing, in a screenwriting contest because they ignore a basic tenant. In fact, it's possible that you could be working on the wrong genre of work right now. How can you win your next screenwriting contest? Write what you know.
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There was a writer who submitted to me his recent screenplay; the dialogue was well structured and the story was an interesting concept, but the genre was all wrong. It was a comedy that was somewhat funny, but it would've worked better as a drama. It didn't need to be a drop-dead serious script, but the tone didn't work as a comedy.
When I asked the writer what kind of movies that inspired him to write, the list was made up of drama movies. If you like dramas, then why are you writing comedies, I inquired as a follow up.
Because comedy scripts are an easy sell.
This person was partially right, comedies can be an easy sell....if they are done well! Stick with what you know and are comfortable with. When you hone one genre to the point where you have mastered it, you can shift gears. Every writer has their niche; this is different from pigeon-holing oneself.
When you write a screenplay that you enter into a contest, it needs to sizzle on the page. Writing is a big enough challenge, you don't need to push yourself further by trying to conquer a genre of screenplays that you aren't comfortable writing.
Writing dialogue for comedy is far different than that of a western, for example. A comedy has to end each scene on a high or low note that is funny. A western has to leave the main character in jeopardy, or push them towards their goal at the end of each scene. While the overall structure of the screenplay is the same, there are different tweaks that you need to make that play into the strengths of every genre of screenwriting.
Make a list of your favorite movies, that will give you an idea of what type of movie you should be writing. Again, make it as easy on yourself as possible when undertaking your next project. Creating a solid script on an empty sheaf of paper is difficult. But, the people who win screenwriting contests are able to let the judges know that they not only know the craft of screenwriting, but they also have mastered a specific genre. Those writers make it look easy.
Stuck in a rut with your script, yet again? The process of writing can be daunting, which is why you can jump start your passion for your project by Writing Backwards. Break the conventional way of writing, you'll be surprised at the great results, like winning a screenwriting contest.
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.
The Year in Review... Yeah, I Know... But Trust Me... It's Funny...
by Manny Fonseca
Hey this is my 69th article! Heh Heh...69.
Back to top^
I thought about doing a "Best of 2011" column this year, but fuck that, every lame 2011 list is coming out right now. All I've been doing is counting down the top movies, songs, news events and blah blah blah for the past two weeks.
Keep in mind I am totally aware of the fact that my dumb ass printed one last week. I hope most of you saw the sarcasm. If not...
Instead I thought I'd throw together just a weird hodge-podge of news stories that captured my imagination over the past year. Just take a look back at we, as a society, managed to do to ourselves and others.
These are in no particular order, just writin' 'em down...
Here we go...
IN "TALENTLESS TWEEN" NEWS...
2011 was the year of Rebecca Black and her shitty (yet horribly catchy) song "Friday." The thing that pisses me off the most about this story, isn't that we had to listen to that song OVER and OVER again, but that the company that created the song weren't prepared for any of the fallout.
For those of you that don't know, Black was taken, by her mother to Ark Music Factory where dear 'ole ma shelled out $4,000 to have Ark Music write, record and shoot a song/music video. They left the studio basically owning the song outright.
I guess Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson, who co-wrote and produced the song didn't have very much faith in their musical abilities and released the song as a "vanity release." Thinking that it would go nowhere and now a cute little spoiled teen could show all her friends that she was a pop star.
The song became a huge fucking success and, although it's hailed as one of the worst songs of all time, it brought fame and success to Black. Best of all, Ark Music and their "Ye of little faith" gave all of the rights to the song to the mother when she paid the $4,000.
IN "SOCIAL NETWORKING 'NICE TRY'" NEWS...
June 2011 brought us Google+. Sure, it's still around but it hardly made a dent in the social networking juggernaut that is Facebook. It's not that it's better or worse it's that the thought of any one moving their life from the already long established Facebook to Google+ just seemed like too much fucking work.
Sure, I checked it out. Sure, I have friends on there...but no one's doing anything on it. It seems like most of us just signed up to check it out and then quickly returned to Facebook to complain/bitch about it.
Not sure that's what Google had in mind. Maybe should strike back with the Facebook search engine. Although, I hardly go on FB anymore...so it might already be there.
IN "CELEBRITIES CAN'T SEEM TO STAY ON A FUCKING PLANE" NEWS...
What do Kevin Smith, Leisha Hailey, Gerard Depardieu, Billy Joe Armstrong and Alec Baldwin all have in common? They all got kicked off planes for the most ridiculous reasons.
Yes, I know Kevin Smith was technically 2010, but every time a celebrity got kicked off a flight, his name starts the story, so he gets grandfathered in.
Whether it be for size, pant location, locking lips, pissing pants or just wanting to finish a friendly game of Words for Friends...one thing is clear: The airlines are taking a stand against the fascist regime that is Celebrity.
Way to go airlines! It's about time these people get knocked down a peg. More importantly, it's even better that celebrities have no known ability to, almost immediately after the incident, tell the world of your secret plan. As long as there is no way for them to vent to their fans, you can be rest assured that your business is...
Huh? Oh yeah? REEEEEAAAAAAL-ly? Um...
IN "HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS THING CALLED TWITTER" NEWS...
Welcome to the world of celebrities informing you of their wrong doings IMMEDIATELY. As a regular joe, I too long to know what life is like for the rich and famous. What exactly is happening to Ashton Kutcher...RIGHT NOW!?
(Just in case you are wondering...like I was while writing this column...Ashton's last tweet was: " I am in Israel getting a 'metsetsa'... which in English is a 'massage blowup!'" THANKS ASHTON! I LEARN SO MUCH FROM YOU!!)
Best of all, Twitter is now an up-to-minute news source for TMZ, Perez and Extra.
Wanna know the minute a celebrity loses their shit and you're too lazy to check twitter? Just wait till the news and they will literally READ the tweets to you. It's fucking great. So much easier and faster than the newspaper. You can catch up on stories in 140 characters. Saves me time!
Plus, with added bonus, you can also follow the more recent breed of celebrity...the ones known as "why-the-fuck-are-you-famous-ities" It gives us an opportunity to remind us why we, as a society, hate them.
People like Courtney Stodden who posted last: "Bouncing out the door in a beautiful bronze bikini, sexy sun-hat & high heels as I take my precious pups for a stimulating stroll. --XOs"
Ahhh...the youth of America... speaking of which!
IN "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE YOUTH OF AMERICA" NEWS...
I get it. Being young, blonde and stupid is fun. I love a fun "party girl with big boobs" as much as the nice guy...as long as they are two things.
1) OVER 18!!
2) NOT MARRIED TO A 51 YEAR OLD!
If you haven't heard, been in a cave, or stabbed yourself in the ear and bleached out your eyes after hearing...Courtney Stodden (16) married Hollywood actor (LOST, The Green Mile) Doug Hutchison (51).
Come on! That's not right. I'm not a prude. Fuck, I plan on hitting my 50's and getting me a younger hottie too...but not 16!
What could you possibly talk about with a 16 year old? Justin Beiber? Twilight? Which Kardashian has the best figure because sometimes it's Kim but then, OMG, Kourtney comes out of no where and totally steals the show. WTF?! Ur either a hottie or ur nottie. I mean Kourtney and Khloe take Miami is like, one of my all time favorite shows. Did you see the one where Khloe...
Okay fine...maybe there's a lot to talk about with a 16 year old...but don't fuck them and marry them! That's not cool dude. Not cool!
Be a normal Hollywood creep and stick with the 24 year olds. They're just as fucked up by their fathers and at least you can take them to the bar with you!
Speaking of the Kardasian's...
IN "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH MARRIAGE THESE DAYS" NEWS...
Really? You're going to deny the Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered population and leave the sanctity of marriage up to Kim fucking Kardashian...the PORNSTAR by the way. You didn't forget that, did you? This chick is famous for fucking on camera! You know what that's called? P-O-R-N-S-T-A-R!!
72 days people! 72 days!
Missed that passage in the bible. How's it go? Only a man and a woman can lay together but only for as long as they really care to and if they make a shit ton of money off of it?
That how it goes?
What's worse about this year is that Kim doesn't even take the fucking cake...creepy anti-pope weirdo Sinead O'Conner (not that she really counts as anything anymore) only stayed married for 16 days!
What the fuck!?
But no...you're right America. Keep the gays out of "holy matrimony." it's the right thing to do to protect the "sanctity of marriage."
Which brings me to...
IN "WHO GIVES A SHIT WHAT GENDER CHAZ BONO IS" NEWS...
Nothing irritated me more than all of the hoopla surrounding Chaz Bono appearing on dancing with the stars.
Every conservative parent in America was up in arms...
"What about the children!? What do I tell the children?!"
You don't tell them fucking shit! Cause guess what? To them Chaz Bono looks like a man. Chaz Bono wants to be a man. Chaz Bono acts like a man. 'Nuff said. They won't ask questions because what questions do they have to ask?
Let me throw out an example: I know one of these conservative assholes. One of these pricks that is totally homophobic, but is "has to be cool about it" because his job doesn't allow him to be completely honest.
Oh yeah, and he's an ordained minister.
Anyway, he has a 5 year old and she loves watching Dancing with the Stars. So he tells me this story one day that she's watching and Chaz comes on the screen. She doesn't know any difference. She has no questions. But he wants to do the right thing and be a "honest" person...so he tells his daughter...
"See that guy there, sweetie?"
"That's not really a guy. That's a woman that turned herself into a guy."
"Cause she didn't like what God gave her and felt like God made a mistake."
"That's right baby girl, eww."
I wish I was making that up folks. Trust me, I wish I was making that up.
IN "I'LL NEVER WORK AGAIN IN THIS TOWN" NEWS...
There were two very weird legal issues in Hollywood this year, both involving lawsuits. The first one involves Justin Samuels who sued CAA and WME siting racism because they wouldn't represent him.
For 8 million dollars.
K...let's all call a fucktard a fucktard on this one. You're going to sue...the top two agencies in Hollywood...and think...that after the lawsuit...people will want to hire you?
It's lose lose. You will NEVER win the lawsuit. So...NO 8 MILLION DOLLARS FOR YOU! and you will never work in this town again.
That's cool. We don't want you out here anyway...you're an idiot.
The other story involves a group of unpaid interns that sued FOX studios after working on Black Swan citing a "violation of federal labor laws."
Okay, here's the thing...Hollywood is FAMOUS for having unpaid internships. The rule is: "as long as interns are getting an education in the field that will prepare them to enter the workforce, that is payment enough."
A lot of companies require that students get "course credit" for their internship. Which is kind of bullshit because if you think about it, not only are you not getting paid, but you're also paying fucking school to work there. All for a good eval at the end of your run.
So do interns get the education they need to enter the workforce upon graduation?
In my experience: NOPE!
As for the kids suing FOX...probably not. I'm sure, if they paid attention and were allowed around the set they might have learned a thing or two, but I'm sure they were kept their fair distance away from the action and asked to do mundane tasks...shit busy work that no one else wanted to do.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...long running gag in this town about getting coffee...but it's true. Well guess what FOX, I already know how to make an order at Starbucks...no need for you to teach me.
Now...will these kids ever work in this town again?
The one good thing about being an unpaid intern in this town...no one ever took the time to learn your fucking name. So they won't remember.
I wish 'em luck. Never going to change the town, but love 'em for trying.
Have a great and safe New Year. See you in 2012 peeps!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca