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Old January 30th, 2004, 05:39 PM   #1
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Screenwriting networking tips

I haven't been around for awhile and there are a lot of new names I don't recognize, so a reintroduction. I got an Xl1S more than a year ago and shot a few things among which is episode 13 of Lady X with my bud Dylan Couper.

The reason why I've dropped out for the past three months is because I've been concentrating on screenwriting. About four months ago I was laid off from my company (I'm back at work now) and during my layoff I wrote two feature-length screenplays and a couple dozen treatments and 'concepts'. This week I got my first bit of recognition for writing when one of my feature-length's was selected for workshopping (along with six others) after winning the Praxis competition, a screenplay competition for Canadian aspiring scripters.

While I'm pretty happy with that, my next concern is how to parley this into the next step. What winning the competition entitles me to is a round of meetings with professional story editors and other screenwriters with an eye to improving my script and my craft. One thing I can take out of this is more knowledge on how to develop my script as a commodity. However, the other unsaid part is that this is a chance also for me to market myself and network with these people and other writers. So, I'm opening this up to others in the industry who are on the board (and who are going through similar experiences), asking what steps you think I should take in ensuring that this is another win for me. What networking tips do you have? Now that the door is open a crack, how can I get in all the way?
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Old January 30th, 2004, 09:42 PM   #2
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Right now, no one gives a damn about you. You're only worth is your script. It is the money of the industry and without it, you are worthless.

And your script is worthless if no one reads it. If they read it and it isn't any good, it's still worthless and so are you.

My point is, you have to get a script into perfect form to present to others to read. You probably won't get an agent so you have to send it to producers, directors and actors who show interest. There are agents who accept new writers AND are credible.

If you can meet another writer who has connections or an agent, try and get him to show it to his agent or producers/directors he knows. At least you might get feedback on ways to improve what you've got.

I have a friend who is a writer for Paramount and Disney. It's funny how he says he can't help me if I ever finish the two I've got but he always lets me know he wants to read it when it's done.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 12:35 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response but I have to say, I don't understand your last line.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 12:38 AM   #4
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Also, what kind of script is it? That drastically changes how you try to network. If it's something larger budget, then chances are you need to work the scene over in LA. If it's more of an indie thing, then it can be a very different story. For example, there's the Sundance Institute, which is hard to get into, but quite an amazing opportunity. There are also festivals where you can try to network - Toronto, Tribeca, etc.

No matter what, it's going to be a crapshoot. But perseverance is the key, and also not being afraid to really sell your script. And of course, ALWAYS carry it with you!!!
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Old January 31st, 2004, 01:18 AM   #5
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GEEZ, Rob, you're killin' me.

Rob,

With all due respect...don't mince words, please, tell us how you really feel!

While I agree that Hollywood is a cold, un-feeling, egotistical, cold hearted, egocentric, un-caring , money grubbing bitch, I feel that your response is pretty damned harsh.

Just because someone does not like your script doesn't make you worthless, even if your script is not good.

There is no perfect form for a script. As an example, take any great book that has been made into a movie that hardly resembles the original plot. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. There are many scripts that are weak and made into blockbusters based on actors, action sequences, even name recognition, etc. And there are also great scripts that have not done nearly as well as some of their "weaker" predecessors.

Keith,

Imran is on the right track. Perseverance is the key. Believe in your work, believe in succeeding, and above all else, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

As far as, "Always carry it with you", I agree. Always have a copy, in some form on hand. You never know who you might come across on any given day. It is much more productive to hand a copy over on the spot as opposed to telling someone it's "in the mail".

Good Luck and Good Writing, RB.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 09:54 AM   #6
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The reason some of that B.S. exists in Hollywood is because people like Rob keep it going and going.

The fact is (and I have lived and worked in Hollywood doing film) - everything people say to you is crap. No one can tell you how your script will be sold...whether the person who reads it will screw you or give you the ultimate break.

Don't listen to people who say you or your screenplay is worthless. When I was younger I listened to stupid advice like that...and eventually realized that there are lot of good people out there. As a matter of fact...if you follow the basics like copyrighting your work, get some representation to get your work out there...and believe in yourself whether you MAKE IT OR NOT - everything will work out. Who gives a shit whether you sell a script or not?! Go fishing this weekend, go see a play, make love...watch a movie and relish the idea of being a part of the film community...experience life and forget all the negative junk people throw at you.

Be the master of your own destiny...be content with being the screenwriter who loves his work no matter what happens. Say to yourself, "I could make money at this or not...who cares, I love it and I'm ok with dying at an old age living my life as a screenwriter."

If you take this advice, you'll probably sell your screenplay at some point! The people you deal with in the industry will see your self-respect and be more apt to work with you. I've seen it for REAL and this isn't B.S. It's almost like being a guy trying to get chicks...all the chicks like confident guys who know exactly what they want and don't take no for an answer. They will bust ass over and over...because they have a dream.

The chicks are attracted to dreamers who actively go out to make them come true...and so is Hollywood. They make boatloads of money selling your dreams, so keep it intact and enjoy it.

I hope this makes sense..

Murph
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Old January 31st, 2004, 11:15 AM   #7
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Call me Simon Cowell. Do you want to be told how it is or how you dream it should be. (Can you handle the truth?)

When you present a script to a producer or studio you are presenting to marketing and sales people, not necessarily "film people". What I mean is they are looking at how much money you can make them not how artistic you or your script is.

Sure there are nice people out there. But they are hounded all the time and have to filter out those who do them no good. Just like an famous actor will stand behind the ropes and wave at you but he doesn't want you coming to his table at a restaurant.

Perseverence and confidence and energy are key for presentations and networking. What I mean by "you are worthless" is "you are worthless to them". Them meaning the studios/producers/investors etc.

I once shook the hand of a producer who promptly ignored me and walked by until he found out I was the one with "the script". Then all of a sudden we were good buddies. I had "the script". I had "the money"!

Is it harsh out there? Am I being harsh? Damn right. Networking helps when you have a script to show but knowing a lot of people doesn't help if your script is no good, or you don't have one.

Keith,

What I meant was my friend doesn't want to let on he can push a script forward. So he denies he can help. Yet, he wants to read my script because he really can do something with it.

BTW, he was on the list of possible Oscar nom's for writing this year but didn't get it. You all have probably seen some of his work. No, I won't say who he is.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 12:27 PM   #8
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I understand what you mean about the writer being a commodity (along with anyone who is perceived as having 'the juice'). And to the others, I certainly value myself and my talent.

You can tell me if my attitude is wrong but I wrote the script mostly as a calling card. I don't really expect the film to be made but it is in a genre which I like and it shows off my skills. If it was an ideal world, would the script make a good movie? Would I be confident pitching it? Aside from having to improve my pitching skills, I wouldn't hesitate to pitch it. However, I really want this as a door opener. From what I understand and have read, only a tiny tiny percentage of scripts are actually developed and some writers may never have their scripts taken out of the option stage. I have a few dozen ideas I can pitch if someone asks me 'what else?' Someone is now probably going to tell me that I should probably have another script to show. Which I do. And am planning on starting on another one.

Imran, the script is a military / political thriller but it is tailored to the Canadian market. It probably wouldn't work as an American film because it is similar to "Tears of the Sun" and has a specific mindset which wouldn't suit the American audience. I wrote it specifically so I could market myself in Canada first. My next script that I will develop will be tailored to a more general (read: Hollywood) market.

To return to the first question, what I really would like to know is some basic networking techniques.

- Carrying the script is a good one. I guess I need a better bag.
- Getting representation is another good one. After I get another script done I'll be looking for that one so I have more than two to show.
- how about the legendary "15 seconds in the elevator" meeting with a big wig?

How about other basics? Is the script the substitute for a business card? Do Producers ever look at websites? How do you network with other writers?

What else?
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Old January 31st, 2004, 12:57 PM   #9
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Writers are not commodities. Good writers are hard to find. Good scripts even harder.

Your script would be a calling card to what? Don't even try to present an unfinished script. You have no credits that say you can finish one so why should they believe you will be able
to finish this one?

They almost always ask what else you're working on. Don't tell them you have one that will be finished soon. They've all heard that one before. If you do take a meeting with someone, it really helps to have your second 'finished' script because you may ever get a second chance.

In fact, you should aim at having three to five 'finished' scripts but not more than that. Having too many makes people think you're not polishing what you have. Especially if you haven't sold
anything.

A big wig will not want to see your script due to legal concerns. You would need to sign a release first. You can mail them and ask if they would be interested in reading it. They will send you a waiver if they are.

Yes. The script is your business card. But don't hand it out to anyone. Make sure they can really help you. Bob Gale ("Back to the Future") can help you. A friend of Bob Gale can, too. Your next door neighbor can't.

Producers are taking more than a casual interest lately in the internet. Some are known to send their readers on such searches.

You meet other writers by working in the business. Otherwise it would just be chance meetings. Film festivals can work. If they have a q&a it's a good way to meet, too.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 01:59 PM   #10
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///Your script would be a calling card to what? Don't even try to present an unfinished script. You have no credits that say you can finish one so why should they believe you will be able
to finish this one?///

What I meant by "calling card" (I thought this was a common term) is that even if it doesn't go anywhere, that it shows that I can write and that I understand the product. And I think I already said that it was a finished script (though what happens in the workshopping process I hope polishes it more) and I have another. Actually, I have three but one isn't worth showing so I didn't mention it previously.

//They almost always ask what else you're working on. Don't tell them you have one that will be finished soon. They've all heard that one before. If you do take a meeting with someone, it really helps to have your second 'finished' script because you may ever get a second chance.///

This is good advice.

///In fact, you should aim at having three to five 'finished' scripts but not more than that. Having too many makes people think you're not polishing what you have. Especially if you haven't sold
anything.///

Well, I can understand not broadcasting that you have a whole raft of works drawered. It wouldn't mean you're not still writing, just that you're only marketing a small number you think are gems.

///A big wig will not want to see your script due to legal concerns. You would need to sign a release first. You can mail them and ask if they would be interested in reading it. They will send you a waiver if they are.///

Heard this before. Thanks for bringing it up again.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 02:50 PM   #11
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Keith,

Some good advice here. I'll add some practical info.

Inktip.com

It's a clearinghouse for producers and agents looking for scripts. The internet is full of these sorts of places. Inktip is the one I trust with my scripts. They VET the people who log on. First you have to be a bonafide producer/director/agent to log on to search the script database. And when you do, the writer gets an email"receipt' of who searched, when and what they looked at. This is particularly good for establishing a paper trail.

Yes, real procos and agencies look at the site. I have a script right now in the hands of ABCFamily getting a read through.

Don't take my word for it, go to the site and read the fine print.

I've HAD an agent when I lived in California. He was in LA. He got my script into some impressive doors, and he RECCOMENDED Inktip.

Read books on screenwriting. Go to seminars. There are screenwriting forums you can join online.

"Don't get it right get it written".

Richard

(Yes, I've optioned two scripts, won some awards, currently shooting a short in 35mm that we plan to expand to a feature.)
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Old January 31st, 2004, 05:29 PM   #12
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I don't know anything about networking in the film industry, but I just want to say -- Keith, congratulations! I think it's great you won Praxis.
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