A bit less than two years ago I was welcomed into the Script Magazine world by my editor, friend, and– caps for emphasis– All-Around Good Human Being– Jeanne Bowerman. She’s a mentor to thousands of folks around the world both with her column and choices of contributors. Many in-the-biz folks write for Jeanne. These are sharp people, not just in film but TV, not just with writing but producing, direction, micro-budget. If you’re interested in the craft of screenwriting, please check out Script Magazine.
Consider this a sampler of what Script Magazine has to offer. You can check out my own articles for Script Mag here. Here’s a taste of what they offered in 2016:
- Feel My Pain: Travails Of An Undernourished, Unproduced Screenwriter
Bukowski once told me: “Anger is vindictive. Disgust is the Holy Water.” — Meaning laughter among the ruins. I love the black tone of this article. You can hear Michael Giampa’s voice clearly, sharp, take no prisoners. He walks the line between giving the reality of the screenwriting landscape for a newbie today, while still being able to provide hope. Here’s a sample:
“I sent my labors of love out to “industry people.” Heartless, cigar-munching “industry” people who dress in black and drink gallons of Evian. I wasn’t prepared for their abuse. Abuse can be in the form of: no response to your script, response on characters that don’t actually exist in your script and a response in which your script is returned stuck together by a substance of unknown origin.
Even if their response is favorable (“We’d love to see your script about the bionic monkey”) the odds are still stacked monstrously against you. Over 40,000 new scripts a year are registered with the Writers Guild of America and another 10,000 at the Library of Congress and assorted author’s agencies. Factor in a batch of online registration services and the “mail it to yourself poor person’s copyright” and that adds up to about 60,000 newborn scripts annually. Considering there are really only 12 major studios that each release about 12 movies theatrically within 12 months and about triple that for serious production houses that manage to get out, say, a half dozen films for wide market “straight to video” and – are you keeping up? – I’ll do the math. Your script has a .0006 % chance of seeing the light of any screen in any aspect ratio ever….
Now, this is the moment where “overnight successes” are born. Somebody actually does get that life changing let’s-do-lunch-this-is-Steven-Spielberg-calling phone call. The reality is it’s not going to happen. Forget that cover story about the teenager who sold Hip-Hop Hootchie for more money than Iraq’s defense budget. Do not base your motivations on this. That is an exception to the norm. And you and I are likely “the norm.” Some screenwriters are lucky. Some are deserving geniuses like Billy Wilder and … uh … Billy Wilder. The rest of us will have to settle with being marginally talented. Skills come with practice. Style comes with discipline (“ass/desk” etc.).”
- HOW TO SELL A SCRIPT LIVING OUTSIDE OF HOLLYWOOD
Lots of people writing screenplays. Lots living outside Hollywood. The age-old question: How to break in? How to make a sale while not living in L.A. Here’s a podcast from Ashley Scott Myers of Shane Weisfeld, a guy who did just that…
“Shane Weisfeld is a great example of a persistent writer who has been able to forge a career while living thousands of miles from Hollywood. He gained representation and sold his first script, Freezer, starring Dylan McDermott, all while living in Toronto, Canada.”
- 10 LESSONS FROM HAMILTON
Love this article by Staton Rabin. Of course Lin-Manuel Miranda is talented, but what else contributed to the monster success of Hamilton? What can a beginning writer take from his example? This article gives you ten lessons for screenwriters, playwrights, novelists or librettists. Check it out…
“But in the more than six years it took to develop HAMILTON and get it to Broadway, I can only imagine the puzzled and skeptical reactions Lin-Manuel Miranda must have gotten when his show was pitched to various people who had the power to invest in it, and to others. It probably took a lot of courage and persistence for him and his collaborators to soldier on.
The moral of this story? Be brave, be bold in your own writing. If you have a clear vision for the script you plan to write, and are sure the concept and story are structurally sound and will draw a large audience, don’t let anyone deter you from doing it. Chances are, if what you have in mind is something fresh and new, it will go against many people’s grain—especially if they haven’t seen the finished product. Wild horses couldn’t drag my 87-year-old aunt into a theater to see a rap musical, even one as brilliant as HAMILTON.”
- HOW TO ACE IT AT PITCHFEST
The last taste today is from Wendy Kram. Expert in the fine art of pitching, this one is for all you about to attend a Pitchfest. Wendy knows her stuff. Full article here.
“Keep in mind production company executives, agents and managers receive hundreds of pitches a month so they are extremely busy and not every pitch is of a high quality. Therefore, the responsibility lies with each writer to have a great product and to present that product in a concise and enticing manner. Once you encapsulate the origin of your project, i.e. it’s a true story that happened to your neighbor…or the inspiration came from something your child said, and so on, you should then be prepared to summarize your story in a few sentences.
It’s important to prepare ahead of time you’ll be confident and less likely to lose your train of thought or stumble. Moreover by spending time to prepare your pitch, it will start to feel like second nature. While preparing your pitch, be cognizant of the fact that just because you know your material inside-out (because you have lived with the material for some time) doesn’t mean the person listening is going to know as much about your story and characters as you do. Therefore it is essential to paint a vivid, descriptive and clear picture of your story. Reviewing the high points and writing them down in bullets is a good way to prepare yourself so that you can speak about your project in an organized yet natural fashion.”