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Those Screenwriting Blues, part 532


Jordan_E
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So, this morning, I received an email that both made me smile and deflated me a bit. A 14 year old sent a message and said that he wanted to produce one of my scripts! I replied very kindly that currently the script isn't available, and then I was a bit depressed that this was the first script request that I have received in almost 6 months. About 5 years ago I used to receive 5 emails a week from producers (or producer wannabes), but the internet market has since dried up completely. Actually, I rarely even try to get my scripts out there anymore. Sure, I write, but do not think I will ever see production anymore. Any other writers out there? It would be nice to read that someone is getting his/her stuff published/produced.

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There are quite a few place where you can post loglines of your scripts and back in the day producers used to actually email you to request a script. Now that I have, like, 20 scripts to offer I get no more requests, even though back then I only had 3 written. I even had a producer of AIR FORCE ONE call me on the telephone about one of my scripts, but there was a subplot where the President gets assassinated, and the producer promptly said that no one would want to see a movie where the President gets killed! My, how times have changed, as I see at least 3 movies in production with that very plot.

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Interesting thread Jordon! I have always wanted to work on a script (even read several to get the format down). I'm surprised you receive so little response. It appears to me the movie industry is really desperate. If they are not remaking a film, they are converting old TV's shows into feature films.

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That's the whole point. Hollywood would rather take a property they already own, hire an "in house" writer, rather than pay for an original idea these days. I probably could get more hits on my scripts if I put the effort into sending query letters again, but the last time I did that I received 1 response from over 100 queries, and that wears you down after a few times. If you have any questions about format, etc. feel free to ask. Writers have to stick together.

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As far as internet market goes, it?s like anything with the mainstream industries. They will grab a hold of something and exploit it, wring it by the bloody neck, and either change the face of a concept entirely (Sundance being a prime Hollywood example of this) or simply have their way with the latest fad and then cast it to one side, and the latter is very much true of how studio system once used the internet as a tool five or six years ago. They?d exploit it for advertising, bribing and sending faked in house reports/reviews to horrendous and ever gullible sites like Aint it Cool News, even buying out news sites of a similar vein (Dreamworks was guilty of this in buying out Countingdown.com).

 

When it came to sites offering a platform for new filmmakers and writers to have their work seen, again it was a new and fresh idea with a lot of excitement and interest at the time, but in making a public arena for anyone to have a go at a specific art form it is quickly going to become bloated and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bad material outweighing the good.

It?s the internet in a nutshell in a way. You give people a place to say and do anything they want, yet barely a handful will have something to show or say that is of any worth to anyone else. Shows like Pop/American Idol are essentially televised versions of this same situation, but of course even there the result is generally abysmal standing as yet more proof that at the end of the day, executives are not really looking for something unique at all regardless of what they may say for the purposes of marketing. They?ll use platforms like TV shows, websites, even film festivals to make ?talent? think that?s what they?re after. But really all they want is something they can package and market easily, and make a killing with. So really anyone with a unique voice wanting to break into any such industry has to ask themselves why they wish to seek the attention of such imbeciles in executive offices in the first place.

 

With talent shows on TV like that (and I do use the word talent loosely), they know they have that installed base of public attention on their star, and least we forget that in all walks of entertainment, those who quite happily endure and pay to see and listen to such garbage are just as guilty as those responsible for those we criticise for creating it and putting it out there in the first place. As you say, with screenwriting, they already have their usual suspects to turn to in their time of need so why should they even bother seeking out new talented writers? Writers must have the single most important role in the industry that is so consistently treated with utter distain by those actively searching for new material

 

It?s hard not to come off sounding like someone who seeks to deter someone from doing anything they have an interest in, everyone should try if they truly have the will to do so, but what a lot of these hopefuls fail to understand is just how hard it is to be a good actor, a good writer, editor, director, musician and so on? Take your pick. The creative industries are immensely difficult firstly to even attempt for one?s own gratification, and moreso when trying to gain the recognition of others in such select fields. These are not jobs anyone can do, nor are they jobs where there is any one single defining route to success in.

 

I?d say to you don?t lose heart. Don?t follow where everyone else has gone before and continues to journey. I can?t imagine the difficulty of being someone trying to put yourself up for hire in this industry; it?s something I personally can not do.

I write my own work, but then I look to produce and direct it myself in order to see it become a reality. That in itself is an immensely difficult and arduous process (and I dare say damn near impossible) to undertake, but to me, it is still easier. If there is one thing I do know about the industry is that anyone who is self sufficient in creating work for themselves is in fact looked upon with a good deal of respect?. If the result of all their hard work is actually any good of course.

 

I?m always far too fearful of letting anything I?ve written be put into the hands of another, there?s just too much of me in the things I write that makes it so personal for me to ever dare consider letting someone else take the reigns, and at the end of the day I still consider myself a director foremost. This latest project of mine for example is so much hard work, but it is gratifying as I progress and interest from other parties builds.

 

So my advice to you is to forget about appealing to people sat behind desks all day. That?s fine if you just want to write and have no interest in directing your own work, but maybe seek to find those with interests in directing who are searching for a good script to make into a film, get together with them and seek to make something independently. That?s truly the best way to be creative and get attention in film these days. Studios can support more unique talents, it's just that they really don't want to take any risks in establishing such talents if you follow me. Establish yourself that way, and then the doors for bigger things become open to you.

 

Daniel

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Sage advice, Daniel.

Myself, I had written a horror script specifically for a low/no budge shoot, tried to get it off the ground myself, but a grand-standing actor brought it to a screeching halt almost before getting anything down on digital video. I managed to cull an almost decent trailer, but the experience really brought me down for a long time.

As far as writing, I am still doing it, am writing a new script right now, but after a long 5 years of multiple bites, but not hooking anything, it can drag you down a bit. If you love what you're doing, do it, but don't expect to make a living out of it unless you're one of the lucky few. I just read a quote from a writer: "Writers don't have fans, just people who want our job."

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I managed to cull an almost decent trailer, but the experience really brought me down for a long time.

 

Oh trust me, I know the feeling. I went through stopping and starting on two projects of mine that have subsequently led to this current one. The funny thing is the experience now feels so right, like I was meant to go through all that grief on two films I put almost four years of my life into that never came to pass simply to get to this point I am at right now. It's not like the projects even shared anything in common from one film to the other, they could not in fact be any more different. Yet here I am, grateful that this is the film I have come to as a result.

 

I think that?s what a lot of hopefuls often don?t understand is that it can be years of work to just say to yourself, never mind the industry you want to work in, that you?re doing the right thing, and the reality is when a lot of these kids do find how hard it is, they do give up because it is such a struggle. It?s a dangerous business to rest your career prospects on the simple ?yes? or ?no? decision of someone in an office. It?s a struggle actors have to face constantly, as they know they are little without their agents. They don?t create work for themselves. Writers are much the same, except of course they are creating a piece of work, but are often still reliant upon the same kind of people deciding whether they can have a job or not, and still the writer is treated so poorly. A successful movie would never exist were it not for the writer, yet screenwriting remains such a shockingly underappreciated profession for the majority of those doing it.

 

What I like about going it alone with what I am trying to do is, you?re not just helping yourself but hopefully other talented people looking for good work too be they directors of photography, composers, sound editors, actors?etc. Here in England, it is even harder to get an independent film off of the ground than it is in America. Our industry is an utter shambles confused as to what it should be investing money into, and how it should be promoting the films it makes, but there is a certain excitement about discovering new talent and embracing the people who carry it on an independent project. It?s something I really hope never to distance myself from.

 

Daniel

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Dan writing an essay length post about writing with somewhat cynical undertones? Say it Ain't So! :lmfao

 

I won't chime in on this too much as it will get out of hand with brimstone like verbosity on the evils of conveyor belt "creativity". Suffice to say I once wanted to write screenplays more than anything else, even to just sell and move away from without any inclination to direct like Dan (of course that would have been great, but I was realistic). Of course being obsessively anal about every miniscule detail was quite problematic, couple that with growing disdain for everything the movie industry represented to me and a winning recipe for disinterest is your reward.

 

I see the book world as a far more accessible area where creativity and originality can actually still be combined with a financial reward, and as such I've been writing for the last two years and pray I can get something accepted this year (*gets rifle ready for flying pig hunting*). Oh and I want to make a video game, but its the lack of knowledge on programming and the japanese language there... :)

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I have a novel under my belt, and getting it read by anyone seems to be even harder than getting a screenplay read! The novel clocks in around 445 pages (been a long while since I have actually looked at it, treating it like a bastard child of mine, or something) and is something I had picked up and gone over again and again over a 15 year period. I have even dabbled a bit with playwriting, but really couldn't get the timing right.

 

At the time of the filmed project, things seemed to be going right, but behind the scenes one of my actors, one of the types who has father pay for everything and wasn't struggling, apparently was trying to get the other actors to take the project away from me, only the guy who actually wrote the damn thing! Sure, I could have fired him and started over, but by then it just seemed like it wasn't worth the trouble. Ah, life!

 

BTW, the best of luck with your project, Daniel! I would like to say some day: "Hey, I knew that guy from LCVG!" :tu

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BTW, the best of luck with your project, Daniel! I would like to say some day: "Hey, I knew that guy from LCVG!" :tu

You will. Most likely under the headline "First Time Director Responsible for the deaths of thousands in on set rampage" and I'll be down as an accomplice as I have the unfortunate honour of being the good friend and "advisor" ;) on this opus.

 

I have a novel under my belt, and getting it read by anyone seems to be even harder than getting a screenplay read!

Hey don't burst my bubble. I have something new and interesting to say and people will listen. Right? Anyone.............echo echo echo.

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Well, I've tried for 26 years to get someone to seriously read my novel with little luck, other than the "sounds interesting but it isn't something we're going with this year." Best of luck to you too, Awesome-O 4000! I still have fun coming up with a well written line, so I'm not too jaded...yet.

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Dan writing an essay length post about writing with somewhat cynical undertones? Say it Ain't So!

 

Was that somewhat cynical? I thought I did rather well there to be honest...

 

 

You will. Most likely under the headline "First Time Director Responsible for the deaths of thousands in on set rampage" and I'll be down as an accomplice as I have the unfortunate honour of being the good friend and "advisor" on this opus.

 

Do you not realise I'm good either way though? If the film is a success then great. If not, we can at least capitalise on the documentary footage of said rampage through London as I tour cinemas to burn every single known film print of a Michael Bay film.

 

 

I still have fun coming up with a well written line, so I'm not too jaded...yet.

 

That?s surely always a good sign that despite the knocks nothing has deterred you enough to truly throw in the towel. I think we all have days when we do just give up, then the next day we're upbeat again, and the (to steal the President's phrase) flip flopping of emotions and utter self loathing is just on a loop you never can control.

 

I'm due a 'cynical hatred of everything rant' come to think of it, as I can?t recall having one throughout the month of January. Perhaps I should post something in the Valentine?s Day thread.

 

Daniel

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You're right. I was going through a very dark period with my writing right after the holidays, but now that I'm working on a new script my attitude has changed for the better. Oh, I still doubt that I'll find anyone to read the dang thing, but just the writing process makes me feel better. Hell, I may even think of trying to shoot something again later this year, as I have a low/no budget horror script (the second attempt at writing with that sort of budget in mind) about sasquatch that I have gathering dust in a drawer.

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I'm due a 'cynical hatred of everything rant' come to think of it, as I can?t recall having one throughout the month of January.
Love it. Sounds like a Joe DiMaggio esque hitting streak or something. :)

 

Write for the pure love of it I say people. If you are making a living doing other things, write for recreation and self satisfaction for if you build it he will come. Although I did start a new job today and that may be the last of my idealism :D

 

Oh and 26 years trying to get something published? Wow I can only imagine it, I'm not even 26 years old yet. Good to see that you still have heart. Fair play to you! :tu

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Oh and 26 years trying to get something published? Wow I can only imagine it, I'm not even 26 years old yet. Good to see that you still have heart. Fair play to you! :tu

 

Oh yeah, go ahead and make me feel older than I already feel! ;) Actually, if I got off my butt and looked into the Amazon thing, where you can publish as demand sees fit, but my almost-2-year-old daughter takes up a HUGE chunk of my day! And I don't want to miss a second of this time.

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