Friday, November 06, 2009

How do I get someone to read/buy my script/logline/great idea?

I'm often contacted by people outside of LA in other fields who have read some of those pipedream screenwriting books (written by out of work screenwriters) and are now confused as to WHY they can't get anyone in Hollywood to read or buy their script, logline, great idea that only needs to be fleshed out into a screenplay.

This is, of course, the equivalent of me walking into a surgeon's office and asking to scrub in on their next surgery: frustrating, insulting, and people get angry when you take the scalpel out their hand and tell them they haven't done any of the schooling and work they need to be qualified.

I hope the following honest answer helps explain the REALITY of the film industry today so that y'all stop emailing me and my friends. Because dealing with this BS has gotten beyond old.

Dear "New Screenwriter" Working in Another Field Not Even Living in LA,

If you read the trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter you'll see that A-list screenwriters are not able to sell a script in this economy.

(And if you aren't reading those trades daily you've already failed the first daily chore you need to do to call yourself a "screenwriter".)

Studios are closing, they are all making less pictures, and the people who used to be able to make money in this town are packing up and leaving. It's turned into a game of Survivor out here the last two years since the Writer's Strike and the recession.

Nothing is better in LA than it is in the rest of the country. And it's certainly WORSE than whatever chosen career you are currently practicing, but trying to escape through writing.

I can't name one person I know who knows someone who has sold ANYTHING in over two years. We are not getting read or getting meetings either, and our agents and managers are dropping us.

These are friends, classmates and former co-workers of mine with Academy awards and Emmys, a rolodex of contacts, several film school degrees. We have all joined the union, paid off 50-100k of film school student loans, and put in our fifteen to twenty years of Hollywood shit work "paying our dues". We've all also actually committed to living in expensive and soul-sucking LA; often at the expense of having a normal life with marriage and kids.

We are all astronomically more deserving of being read than YOU.

And all of us are going bankrupt.

I would suggest putting your screenplay in a drawer and waiting out the economy several more years like ALL OF US living in LA.

Or make your movie yourself where you are. There are many websites and books out there that can steer you towards how to raise the money and produce and distribute it yourself! But be will lose your life savings and possibly your marriage. Just like the rest of us.

And for gods' sake, STOP buying screenwriting books, going to bogus expos, pitch sessions, and entering screenplay contests. When there is that much information and "opportunity" out there to join the Gold Rush, it's because THERE'S NO GOLD LEFT.

Entrepreneurs got rich selling shovels to prospectors. THE METAPHOR IS APT.

And if you don't like my advice and think I made it all up to spite your dream and your vision board...Go pay an out of work screenwriter-turned guru script consultant a lot of money to blow smoke up your ass. You'll find hundreds desperate to do it because it's how they afford their apartment rent and late-model Hundai payment. Or just check the Writer's Guild stats and see for yourself that the average screenwriter makes less money annually than a manager at McDonald's.

If you love writing more than your current job and know in your heart it's your calling and it's easy to get paid for it...Might I suggest the flourishing career of journalism? I hear they're opening fancy newspapers every day and lobbing Pulitzers at anyone. The NY publishing industry too, if you have a great novel inside you. The best place to find a Full-time Writer to ask for career advice is at the unemployment office.

Good luck,



Oh, but it's different advice in one case: if you're downloading movies and books for free off the internet. In that case, great ideas and first drafts are all Hollywood is looking for! Sell your car and cash in your retirement and pay thousands for a script consultant. Immediately. And start buying lottery tickets.

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Marty Nozz said...

When one of the tags on a blog post is "suck it" either there's pron involved or someone has completely had it with something.

wcdixon said...

Ha! Someone had to say it. Awesome.

Kid Sis said...

Thanks guys.

Marty Nozz said...

Now, about my screenplay....

*Ducks and flees*

Kid Sis said...

hahaha...ummm...suck it?

ml said...

This is awesome. I'm one of those hated screenwriting students at USC. I forwarded this to my teachers. This is like what they want to say to all of us, but can't because they have to optimistic for us. But they really want to tell us how hard it is out there. Great post.

Kid Sis said...

Hey Max, you're not this a bruin thang? I could care less!

And at least you're in school racking up debt like the rest of us, paying our lives to dream!

Kid Sis said...

By the way, a good friend and USC grad was about to become a showrunner when the Writer's Strike killed his deal. Nada since...And his favorite USC teacher retired because he couldn't ethically tell his students to hope anymore.

Kid Sis said...

Will, I'm finding this to be true too often...under the "Someone had to say it" category I'm all "DUDE! I AM SPARTACUS!"

But I mean really, what are people going to do...NOT hire me harder? :)

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

brutal. just brutal.

Kid Sis said...

Aw Charles, you've heard worse from me!

Are you up? Want to chat and share a virtual beer?

rob said...

Perhaps what you are writing is not what Hollywood wants. Or is not good enough to make the grade.