June 17


HEADS UP FOR MAC SCREENWRITERS (Classic Post)

Apple GifMariner Software is beta testing new screenwriting software for Mac computer users. I have downloaded it but have not had a chance to play with it. Generally, in my opinion, technology is not that important to writing a good script. Some of the best were written on note pads or using Underwoods. Nevertheless, if you enjoy playing with the latest toys (as I do), you can get the download from Mariner software here.

April 29


PAID SUBMISSION SERVICES (Classic Post)

How do you plan to put your spec into the marketplace? I too just finished a comedy spec and am thinking of using InkTip.com. Have you used it before? If so, what were your results. Has anyone else tried it, or a concept similar to InkTip. And then there’s services like Scriptblaster. What are your thoughts about those services?
Thanks!
John (can’t get passed 4th place!) Hart

I have long been represented by a strong agency here in town (L.A.) and they handle initial marketing of my specs. I also have a great manager who does his share, too. Before I had an agent and a manager, I networked fairly aggressively and submitted scripts directly upon invitation. I have never sent a query letter to anyone and have never used a service like Inktip or Scriptblaster.

When I’ve been on the producing end of things looking for quality scripts, I did receive Inktip’s magazine which lists pitches. I don’t know how it happened to come to me since I never ordered it. I did not read it because I knew it was a pay-to-list service. Unlike agencies, which have some incentive to make sure the writing is marketable before they submit it, pay-to-list services do not. The material they list has had absolutely no professional eyes on it and no professional judgment. Ninety-nine percent of it is junk and neither I nor most producers have ever had the resources to review it to find the few diamonds.

Other services review your material for a fee, give you “coverage”, and claim that, if they like it, they will present it for you directly to industry professionals. These services claim to have sold some scripts. The services are very controversial for a number of reasons. Alex Epstein’s blog, Complications Ensue, has some material that presents both sides of the controversy – see it here.

A much sounder approach to your writing career is to share your writing through networking. As you network, you get real and continuous feedback on your scripts. It is a tough road because everyone has an opinion about your writing and most of the opinions can really shake your confidence. However, if you hang in and keep networking, you will develop a thick skin, learn how to channel input constructively, and improve your writing. The very process of working to make contacts for script submissions tends to help hone your craft.

While it is much easier to network from Los Angeles, you can do it from anywhere working through writing teachers, legitimate screenwriting contests, and other resources, honing your craft and getting your material submitted in ways that will get it noticed. It feels very hard to get noticed, but I can tell you from experience, once the writing really shines, it suddenly gets very easy to get noticed. Then begins the next level of hell – moving from getting noticed to making a first sale. But that’s a whole other topic.

Good luck with the spec.

June 14


IF YOU KNOW A STUDIO HEAD… (Classic Post)

Question

I am a pre-pro writer with three solid scripts (one was a Chesterfield semi-finalist) but no agent. A good friend’s next-door neighbor is the CEO of a small but successful film studio. The CEO is essentially a line a credit and probably doesn’t have much creative control, but I imagine he’d be willing to pass along my work to someone within his company. I want to take advantage of this seeming opportunity but am unsure how best to proceed. What can I reasonably ask for from this contact?

Ryan from Pennsylvania

Having the attention of the CEO of a successful studio is a good thing. Don’t assume he (or she) is not involved in creative decisions. A number of studio heads have built careers on creative vision.

You can ask for a number of things:

First, you can ask if he can refer you to an agent. Referrals are the best way to obtain an agent. If the CEO does not know any agents, ask him to introduce you to the development execs at his company. They certainly know agents. Let them know you’d like to find a beginning agent with a good agency who people in the industry really like. Continue reading

September 8


I READ IT FOR THE INTERVIEWS, REALLY (Classic Post)

Jasen from California asks:

I’ve been trying to find a decent screenwriting magazine to subscribe to, but I have no idea where to start looking. Would you have any suggestions that I might want to take a look at?

Read what working writers read: “Written By” magazine from the WGA. (Once at the WGA site, click on “Publications” and “Written By”.) You do not need to be a WGA member to subscribe. Annual subscriptions are currently $40. The website publishes selected articles for free.