Sunday, August 28, 2005


Still having gastro issues after yesterday's all day pitch class at Wendall Thomas'. I definitely learned I need to carefully craft the pitch monologues, memorize them and practice just like an acting gig. Argh. It's amazing how this writing gig thing gets more and more discouraging every day...Wendall really broke down what we have to do; it's just on top of trying to squeeze writing and rewrites in every day, and for most of us work another job and maintain social and familial relationships. And someone in my class was talking at lunch about a writer who won the Nicholl and the UCLA award twice, and was written up in the LA Times for all the contests they've won and STILL never sold anything. Writing under a pseudonym for women's erotica is starting to look like a smart career move.

Screenwriting is just plain tough. Even Dave seems a little down about the road ahead. And this weekend I got three pages of notes about my character dynamics being wrong from a teacher who has only seen one "Medium" episode and said they don't watch TV. So THAT happened...

I know the statistics of making it: .05% for person on street, 25% chance for UCLA/NYU/USC grad/professional program students. So I try to remind myself that's not bad, even if it's not adjusted for the "I'm a woman" issue which probably puts the statistic back to about 2.5% (only 5% of the WGA is female...why doesn't anyone ever realistically address that people don't want to hire women?).

Sometimes it only takes one person to like your writing (what's the stat on in ten million?). But it's amazing how many great writers I know who are out of work, or struggling from year to year. The UCLA MFA program seems to more consistently produce screenwriting teachers and university administrators. Anyway, my writing/studying sojourn has come to an end: September is all about finding a workable job, and developing a schedule where I still continue to write. As Wendall says, even if it's only one page a day, that's two scripts a year.

On the upside, someone found this site by searching for "Hollywood Next Girls." Course it was just some words I used in the blog, not anyone actually saying I was the above. But it's still pretty amusing that I'd make it to page one out of 700,000 entries. Next in the blogging sphere: strategic journal entries to garner better hits!


Fun Joel said...

I absolutely can't speak to the higher -ups in the Development/Production world, but as a professional reader I can honestly say that the writer's sex has never affected my comments. I usually am not even aware (in a concious) sense, while I read, whether the author is male or female. I mean, sure I usually know, based on the name (unless it is a foreign name that I'm unfamiliar with, or a "unisex" name). But once I begin reading, the sex of the author really drops out of my conciousness.

American Knight said...

Ya gotta keep ya head up, I think that was Tupac but anyhow you get the gist. It's a tough road, I'm there along with you, a lot of us are. We all just have to remember that the road to making it is a marathon not a 40 yard dash. Keep writing!

Kid Sis said...

Good to know we can at least get past at least one of the first threshhold guardian...thanks, Joel.

So here's a different question: are you aware if you recommend female protagonists less because you know the studios aren't looking for those projects? Only 10% of the movies made a year have one, so I'm wondering where that discrimination begins. Do you have a feel of what the ratio is of male/female protagonists you read?

It does seem like the male writers I know who write female protagonists have had better luck with their scripts than the women writers. Which is interesting, but with the stat so low I just want ANYONE to get a female protag pic through.

The only professor who has ever honestly spoken about the 5% versus 95% statistic is Wendall, who goes by her middle name because it's masculine. Clearly there's a discrepancy at some point in the hiring process (and don't even get me started on the wonderful female directors who have a hit and never get hired again).

I've definitely heard you don't want to be known as a "woman's writer" because the female protagonist movies are so looked down upon, it's the kiss of death for your writing career. One of the reasons I'm playing with pseudonyms.

Kid Sis said...

AK, thanks! I am! Oh crap. you meant on screenplays, not my blog. Okay. Gonna go do that now.

Kid Sis said...

Sweet! I'm William Powell!

What are you? The Classic Leading Man Test.

Fun Joel said...

I couldn't tell you what percentage, but again I'd say that that isn't really much of a consideration. I know that most of my employers might make a film aimed at the female market alone, and certainly one that might be female-centric but appeals to both sexes. Thus, if it was a good script with a female protagonist, I'd probably be MORE likely, rather than less, to consider it.

On a related, but different note, I think that the number of scripts that I receive that have been written by women is significantly fewer than those by men. Similarly the case with those with female protagonists. Clealry this might be a chicken/egg thing, or it could be that the women writers have been "weeded out" by the agents before I even get to them. But anecdotally, I look at the ratio of female to male screenwriter/bloggers (as you know, I recently had the pleasure of finding as many as possible to send out invites for my get-together), and I see it as equally weighted in favor of males. I think there simply are significantly fewer woemn writing films than men. Again, I don't know if that's the cause or result, but I see it as the case.

TA said...

I think Joel is on to something. Not to say that discrmiation doesn't exist, but there are considerably less women out there trying to make it, too. And, speaking of my class -- and those immediately before and after mine at ucla -- many of the women went on to succeed. Marianne Wibberly. Kathy Stumpe. Those are two that come to mind. In fact, Kathy scored one of the biggest blind commitment tv deals, ever, as a woman using her own name:-). But, I can say the majority of those (men and women) I studied with who didn't make it really didn't keep with it. After a few years, they tired of the battle. Or got married. Started families. Found other passions. It's ten years, on average, to create a career. I think there's still time to break in:-). But, yeah, it ain't easy. And, I think one of the wildcards that isn't even being discussed isnt' necessarily skill, but luck. Being in the right place at the right time. But, of course, when you get lucky, you gotta be ready.

Anonymous said...

You know, I think TA has a great point. Luck, time, and perseverance. And maybe the big prize (selling a screenplay) isn't what we should be after -- something smaller, like just putting together some semblence of a career writing this and that. But working, you know?

Ah, true grit and the magic Lynchesque Cowboy. And keeping at it. That's not so bad, is it?

And I think your chances of getting that one producer interested increase the longer you're at it. So yeah, one in a thousand the first year, but then the next year, with more connections, your chances go up, and the next year they go up again... just keep thinking:

Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me
La la la la


Kid Sis said...

TA, thanks for the insight! Really good to hear. Especially about the ones who didn't make it giving up. That's helpful to know, too.

I've had more women in many of my classes than men, so I did just assume the amount of people trying was gender balanced...good point, I've never seen a statistic on it!!!

NN, I know, I know. But it gets freaky because for me it's been twelve years now, on and off. And of course if I'd been able to stay in town working for Barbara instead of having the car accident trauma, I'm sure I would have been one of her staff writers and in the WGA years ago...

So even though I'm a chick, it's not impossible. i just don't want to be stupid about this, you know? I'm investing a lot of money and time, and time that i could be spending with mom. I gave up acting not because I didn't like it anymore, but because I realized out of the thousand actors I'd worked/studied with, not one of them could make a living at it. At least I knew some writers who could eat.

Anonymous said...

The nice thing is that you're getting to spend a great deal more time with your mom as a writer than you would as a worker bee in your hometown. You can set your own hours, for the most part, and whatnot. That's really great!

And yes, twelve years. I hear ya. Though not all those years were as a screenwriter, right? Some were as an actor. You've been really going at the writing career full tilt these last few.

Or, alternatively, everything we do in life prepares us for the writing career. Not many 21-year olds have things to say. (Well, okay. *I* didn't, when I was that young. I really hated my writing, up until... well, there are things I still hate about it, but there are more things I like now, and I *do* think I have something to say.)

And I'm just saying, Kermit has a way with words. The Rainbow Connection, it's why I decided on H'wood, and it keeps me going!


Fun Joel said...

Good points TA. And in fact, I'll extend it one step further. In regards to TV (as opposed to film), where there are teams of staff writers on every show, most shows are specifically looking for good women writers to "prove" they aren't discriminatory. I don't think the small percentages of women TV writers is purely discrimination, but rather an indication of a dearth of women writers of quality (due to a smaller number of women writers overall). So bottom line, if you are a GOOD woman writer, especially in the TV world, you might end up with an even BETTER chance of getting a job.

Kid Sis said...