I’ll discuss aspects of writing and I’ll even discuss technical minutia of how things go on the page but for the most part these days I won’t read your script and I’ll only give notes if you pay me for the service. Oh and I also don’t go to any sort of screenwriting conferences.
Why you ask?
What good does it do a writer to network with other writers?
Writers should go to film festivals. you know the places that directors, actors and producers hang out. I have plenty of relationships with other writers but none of them are going to fund my film. Screenplay conferences for the most part are where a high percentage of wankers and wannabe’s hang out and pretend their careers are moving forward or that what they’ve actually written means something. Real writers work their contacts and try to get the script to a place where it can be read by somebody who matters and by matters I mean who has the green to get the thing lit.
The irony is that while I’ve been to many film festivals, I have seen very few films.
But the whole, “Everybody has talent to write a screenplay,” thing is a myth perpetrated by people wanting to separate the rubes from their hard earned cash. Some of them are worth the outlay (at least for the show (I’m looking at you Mr. McKee)). Some even have value of knowledge, like Dara Marks and Chris Vogler and even Michael Hague but most are selling smoke and snake oil. Because the simple truth is, not everybody can do this. You can read all the books, watch tons of DVDs and take as many classes about writing as you can stand but if you can’t tell a story or if you’no ear for dialogue and an eye for a good character and conflict, well you’re dead in the water. You’re just pissing your money away.
My first option on a script came from a cold query, well sort of. I’d sent out a query but they took a year to reply to it so I sent them two scripts. The one they requested and another I thought they might like. I enclosed a note saying you took a year to reply, you’re getting two scripts instead of one. They optioned the second script. They ruined it in development but they paid for that privilege. I however had my in and I used it. It got me an agent, which got me more access and I made contacts.
And contacts are what gets you sold. Everything I’ve optioned or had made since has been through a personal relationship. Some good, some bad and few of the awful variety but every one of them a flesh and blood relationship and none of them the result of a sponsored pitch session (which you pay for), or a contact from a conference (which you pay for) or any venue where money changed hands.
You can either do this or you can’t it’s that simple.
All those other guys are just selling a dream and they make it sound easy.
Just remember success costs in sacrifice and it costs in blood but if it ain’t worth bleeding for, it ain’t worth having.
I’ll be on a bike trip as of Saturday morning (4:00am) so I may post something up from the road but if I don’t, don’t worry I’ll regale you with tales of two wheeled stupidity upon my return a week later.