Why I Decided to Direct After Writing Movies for 15 Years…

July 6, 2015 § 1 Comment

We’re blessed on MY BLANK PAGE once again to have writer/producer/director Christine Conradt back for her second time as a guest blogger with a fantastic article about her transition from being a screenwriter/producer into directing her first feature.

Why I Decided to Direct After Writing Movies for 15 Years.

by Christine Conradt

“Action!” I yelled and slid the white painter’s mask back up over my nose and mouth as my voice echoed through the dark, dank corridors of the ‘dungeon.’ Tucked back into a dusty corner, squeezed up against my script supervisor, Katie, one of the co-producers, Noel, and Patrick, Lauren, and John—hair, makeup, and wardrobe, respectively, my eyes flicked back and forth between two monitors as I watched the actress struggle to free herself from the grip of the actor that was kidnapping her in another room.

Christine Conradt with Cinematographer Roberto Schein.

                 Christine Conradt with Cinematographer Roberto Schein.

Our dungeon was the basement of the Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles, now under renovation to become office spaces and condos— and it didn’t require much dressing. A labyrinth of low-ceiling hallways and cages, it was built in 1915 and housed William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper printing business until 1989. After that, it became one of L.A.’s most filmed locations. My movie, would be, sadly, one of the last to be shot there.

My actors duck past the second camera cinematographer charged with getting a low-angle shot of the action and disappear from my monitors. The only sound now is the hum of the overhead Tungstens. I wait a few seconds and call “Cut! Same thing again!” The set becomes a flurry of activity with props being reset, my DOP calling out orders for lights to be adjusted, and the glam crew making the actors look the way they did before the struggle ever started. Dan, the First AD, peeks around the corner and waits for my instructions. “Tell Camera B to stay on John this time and A to get a safety.”

“Got it,” he says and disappears as quickly as he came. A few moments pass and I know he relayed my instructions because Camera B focuses on Dan as he steps onto John’s mark for a frame check. I sit down next to Noel and discuss the following day’s preliminary call sheet, waiting for the next question to come my way. In an odd way, that’s what being a director is all about—answering questions.

         Writer/Director Christine Conradt and Co-Producer Noel Zanitsch in the basement of the Herald Examinder building.

Writer/Director Christine Conradt and Co-Producer Noel Zanitsch in the basement of the Herald Examinder building.

From the outside, I’m sure we appear to be a well-oiled machine—churning out scenes and takes like the dinosaur printing presses once did in this same basement a century ago. But inside, I’m nervous as hell. We are two hours behind schedule and we’re only four hours into our day. It’s our last day at this location and carrying scenes would be impossible. On top of that, we have a complicated chase to shoot after lunch and will lose an hour wrapping out. Everyone knows this and the pressure is on. Especially on me, because at the end of it all, if we don’t make our days, it’s the director’s fault.

And yet, despite the pressure and the nerves and the dust in the air that covered our sweaty skin in grit, I’m feeling exhilarated. This is my first foray into directing a feature— and I’m actually pulling it off! After fifteen years of enjoying a successful writing career, with 45 produced movies to my name, I needed that shot of adrenalin. I was getting burned out. Professionally and personally, I needed to grow and stretch and be inspired, and directing a film that I also penned, accomplished all of that and more.

Being a writer/director is both a rewarding and frustrating experience. So many times on set, it dawned on me how incredibly different it is to write than direct. I felt I was awakening certain aspects of my brain that had been slacking off for decades. When you write, you imagine in such detail how each scene will play out. You go over and over it in your head as you rewrite and hone dialog. It’s a fantasy, really. Writing is purely creative. You create the set, the characters, and the mise-en-scene in your own brain where it’s completely perfect. The actors deliver every line precisely the way you imagine it, the shots flow seamlessly, the lighting and timing is perfect. Fantasy.

Directing, on the other hand, is the process of merging that fantasy with reality. In real life, the locations you get are most likely not the ones you originally imagined, the actors need to be directed, shots are compromised by the need to shoot around c-stands and lights. It’s creative, but it’s creative problem-solving. It’s like staring at a Kandinsky for five minutes then being handed a pencil and paper and asked to reproduce it without looking. You get close most of the time. Sometimes you don’t come close at all and that’s frustrating. And then at other times, it comes out perfect—better than you even imagined it. The stars somehow align: the actors bring something new to their characters that you hadn’t thought of, the DOP suggests a shot that’s more interesting that what you planned, and everything that’s supposed to work a certain way actually does! Those moments, the ones where you realize this is even better than what you fantasized, are magical. And you’ll never feel them as a writer; only as a director.

Prior to directing The Bride He Bought Online, I thought I preferred the purely creative process of sitting alone behind my computer and inventing a world and all the people (or creatures) in it. And I still love it. I don’t think I could ever give it up. But like most artists, I needed to expand. I needed to make new mistakes and try new things. I needed to forgive myself for those mistakes and learn from them. And in doing that, I not only became a better writer, but I discovered a new passion. And passion is what drives creative people. We thrive on rebirth. It’s just who we are.

The Bride He Bought Online premieres on Lifetime Network July 18 at 8 PM ET/PT. For more information and on-set photos, check out the film’s Facebook page, my FB page or Twitter #TheBrideHeBoughtOnline. And yes, there’s an IMDB page too.


IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4819458/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

Movie Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBrideHeBoughtOnline

Director Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScreenwriterChristineConradt

Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23TheBrideHeBoughtOnline

christineChristine Conradt, a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, has been involved in production and development since 1996. She has earned writing and producing credits on more than 45 indie films and TV movies and just directed her first feature. Her movies have aired on Lifetime, LMN, USA, and Fox.  She also offers script consultation services. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter @CConradt.

The midyear screenwriter’s checklist: Keeping an eye on the big picture of your career…

June 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

BoulderFlatWe’re deep into ACT TWO of 2015 and who can believe it’s half over? It will be 2016 in a twinkle of an eye. I believe it’s always a powerful tool to look back over the previous year and critically analyze the good, the bad and the ugly choices we’ve made. Hopefully, you’ve learned from your failures and enjoyed your successes. Excuses abound, but what really matters is how productive have you been? Is there room for improvement? We must always adapt to survive while slogging it out in Hollywood’s trenches. Have you become a better screenwriter and have you been able to move yourself and your projects down the field? Have you opened doors and gained new “fans” of your writing? Have you been able to gain and hold new ground? Established new relationships and contacts? Created a solid body of material in a genre to show your unique voice? Sold or optioned a project? Follow your writing disciplines to stay on target?

screenwriter respect the climbThe responsibility for a screenwriter’s career begins and ends with the screenwriter. The hard fact: Your screenwriting career is probably the most important struggle to you and not to anyone else. Only you know the hard work and sacrifices you’ve endured for years going after your dream, so you need to protect your career path by taking responsibility for chartering the course of your career. Your time is precious and you need to constantly be moving forward and avoid the pitfalls of poor choices and negative experiences.

Too many times, I’ve heard screenwriters blame others for their own missteps or lack of success in Hollywood. Some writers look for the quick and easy way to success, but end up frustrated when their one script doesn’t sell, they have no other plans and they are not working on new material. Sure, it’s easier to soften the blow to blame the agent, manager, producer, or Hollywood itself for not getting your film made, but screenwriters need to step up and take more control over their choices. You can’t believe that every spec will sell—in fact most will not. Your new spec may not be the “one” — but one of many you’ll have to write and burn through until it jump starts your career.

Every time you write a new project on spec, you must consider how it fits into the bigger picture of your screenwriting goals. scripts 2It’s a risk when you write a spec and you are rolling the dice with your precious time. Did you just have a “fun idea” for a movie and thought it would sell, so you decided to spend months writing it hoping when you’re done for a huge payday? This is not an effective use of your time. If it’s your passion project and you must write it—do it and hopefully you’ve executed it properly and your passion will be there on the page—but choose your material wisely. REMEMBER: What you write about is as important as how you execute it and just because you write it doesn’t mean they will “love it. You’ll only figure this out after you meander through four or five scripts that don’t achieve the plateaus you had expected or do not sell. You’ll be forced to take a step back and examine your reasoning for embarking on the journey with each project.

If you’ve been successfully making noise with a particular genre, continue to establish yourself as an expert in that genre. script oddsWhen you secure a writing gig, you’ll move forward with steady work because you’ll be known for a genre. There is nothing wrong with being pigeonholed as a screenwriter. It means you’ll work and build up your résumé in a genre that you hopefully enjoy writing. Trust me, bouncing around for years with different scripts in different genres hoping that something sticks is a fool’s endeavor. I’ve been there. When something eventually hits and is a success, the producers will want more of the same from you in the way of screenwriting assignments—the bread and butter or working screenwriters. There is no shame in steady work. I find sometimes aspirants believe they’ll hold out and will only go with a script that is “their vision” and somehow it’s “selling out” to take a job offered writing something that maybe isn’t their favorite choice of material—but it’s a foot in the door.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the odds are already stacked against you and time marches on so quickly. If you don’t believe the odds, consider that only 4,899 WGA members reported any income in a year (annual report ending in June) out of nearly 9,000 members. The other half did not work. Over half of those numbers who did report income were working in television. Think about those odds for a moment and then get back to work. And if you add the non-union screenwriters working… it can boggle the mind with more stats and there are no stats for non-union screenwriters working or not working. The main issue is that you must stay busy creating projects and casting your best scripts wide.

I’ve been blessed, this year was very busy for me and I’ve pushed various projects down the field to production. In the last ten months, I’ve had two films go into production. Late last year it was my thirteenth screenwriting assignment, “Mother of All Lies” and that was my seventh produced film. And my eight produced film is currently in production in Canada and will be released in January 2016.  I also completed writing the first season of a new web series that is out to financiers, I finished editing my new book on surviving in Hollywood’s trenches and plan to publish in late 2015 on Amazon, and this blog hit over 48,000 reads this year alone. I also created a new free app for screenwriters called SCREENWRITING GURU, I taught my new workshop to screenwriters in Rome, and continued to expand my screenwriting consulting business. We must stay active and not wait for others to open doors. We create new opportunities with every project that we create.


So, it’s never too late, even though the year is nearly over, grab a piece of paper and if you haven’t yet, set up a game plan for the rest of 2015. Look back at the last six months and chart your successes and failures. Write down your goals. Hit the ground running and achieve your goals every day of the week. Treat your screenwriting like a business—it’s YOU, INC. and every decision you make affects your pathway to success. Ask yourself the hard questions: “Why are you writing this particular spec and will it serve you in the best way possible to create opportunities and open doors?” If you haven’t done this start now. Grab a piece of paper and…

1) Make a list of all viable projects. Completed scripts and what condition they are in—ready to be read, needs a rewrite, needs a polish, only a first draft, etc.  Add to the list any fleshed out pitches, log lines, one sheets, beat sheets or treatments. This is important if you cross paths with an agent or manager. They want to see you busy and prolific on your own. What do you have to offer? One script only and nothing as a follow-up? You’ll need a solid body of work to standout and it will take time to craft these projects.

2) Make a list of your achievements so far in 2015. Scrutinize the successes and failures so you can see where you need to pick up the slack in areas where you need to focus in the new year. List any accolades—did you win or place in a significant screenwriting competition? Did you option or sell a screenplay? Did you graduate from film school? Did you make any films, short movies or a webseries on your own? Did you work on a film production or complete an internship? Find a screenwriting mentor? List anything that shows you are working toward to your goals.

3) Make a list of any new contacts that you met by networking during the year.  If you have an e-mail, or the address of their company, send a holiday card. Nothing like the holidays as a good reason to reconnect, right? In January, make sure to send them a: “Midyear check in—hope this finds you well—this is what I’m doing” e-mail. It will put you back on their radar and if you list a few interesting projects, they might bite and ask for a read.

4) Make a list of potential deadlines for any rewrites or new ideas. Keep true to these self-imposed deadline as if they were real screenwriting jobs. Do not deviate from the commitment for anyone or any external forces. Trust me, either on purpose or by mistake, people will try to derail your schedule and will think it’s not that important because you’re writing on spec. It is that important. It’s vital training for the time when you finally do get a job on assignment and you’ll know how to keep a deadline under any conditions. Find respected screenwriting contests that you may want to enter and use their entry dates as a goal and deadlines to finish your new material.

5)  If you haven’t yet, attend more networking events before the year ends. Become a member of the International Screenwriter’s Association ( ISA ) for workshops, webinars and in person events in your area. Also Final Draft hosts meetups every month with known screenwriters and offers tips and many free networking events during the year. Network on Stage32.com also—it’s free and a great place to meet fellow filmmakers. Get out of your writing cave and meet other screenwriters and network. Make sure to support others and you will find they will help you.

6) If you don’t already, read scripts on a regular basis. Good scripts, bad scripts, classics—read! You’ll be surprised how much you learn from reading screenplays. Be careful of the screenplays that are posted during award season. Do not try to emulate their style as many are written in a protected bubble of development and were not specs, so they can get away with many things regarding format that you cannot with a spec from an unknown writer. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” —Stephen King.

7) If you don’t already, read screenwriting blogs, books, articles and film websites with news about the film industry. You must do your homework on a daily basis and not expect your representation (if you’re lucky to have an agent or manager) to do it for you. Many things slip through the cracks and information is priceless currency in Hollywood. It can mean the difference between getting in a door with a meeting that could land you the next job that launches your career. A game plan helps you allocate your precious time wisely. It shows that you’re your serious about your career and treating your screenwriting as a professional—not just willy-nilly writing a script and hoping it will sell on its own merits. It’s rare that one script makes a career. It’s always one script that opens the door, but you’ll probably have to write five or six to get to that “ONE.”

The overnight success is usually a series of little successes along the way that lead up to continued success.  You have to consider how everything you do regarding your career fits into your bigger overall goals. Your career aspirations can’t live or die by one project and you can’t focus on “the one” and hope it unlocks the gates of Hollywood. It’s always going to be a numbers game with horrible odds of success. Even if you sell a screenplay, there are no guarantees and still so many hurdles to jump.

The good news is—the more quality material you create, the better chance you have of garnering interest and that may lead to a sale or assignment work.  Keep your eye on the big picture.  It’s like what Bruce Lee said in Enter the Dragon, “It’s like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of the heavenly glory!” And read this eye opening essay on the current filmmaking business environment as you try to chase the Hollywood studios with your specs: “How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA.” All my best wishes for a glorious and successful journey for the rest of 2015 and may it be the best year ever. Scriptcat out!

Download my new free app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp. Weekly script tips, videos, and links.

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Did you just complete your latest screenplay? Time for in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website.

Screenplay consultation services

Have you lost focus on the bigger picture of your screenwriting career goals? Let me help you put it back in focus, check out my on-demand webinar: “A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game” now available to stream.

(click on photo below for the link to my streaming website)

checklist 2

“The professional prepares mentally to absorb blows and to deliver them.  His aim is to take what the day gives him.  He is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can.   He understands the field alters every day.   His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his insides, as sturdily as he can.”— Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art

“You must be arrogant enough to believe that you can “make it”—but humble enough to know it’s a long journey with much to learn.”—Scriptcat

“So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”—William Faulkner

“So give yourself that chance to put together the 80, 90 pages of a draft and then read it very in a nice little ceremony, where you’re comfortable, and you read it and make good notes on it, what you liked, what touched you, what moved you, what’s a possible way, and then you go about on a rewrite.”—Francis Ford Coppola

Scriptcat’s cool summer survival tips for your screenwriting journey…

June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

smash head in wallThe year is half over and I hope you’ve created new opportunities that have pushed your screenplays closer to success. Trust me, I know if can feel like you’re banging your head against a wall hoping for a breakthrough, but finding the same results of rejection and criticism. I truly hope you’re busy creating a solid body of work and forging ahead on your screenwriting journey. I hope that I’ve been able to offer a few nuggets of advice that you’ve found helpful. In addition to my tips on Twitter (@scriptcat), my Youtube Channel and my free mobile app Screenwriting Guru, I’ll be posting new tips here every month in addition to new articles. Dig in as I’ve written over 180 articles on this blog. I’m also broadcasting live on the new app PERISCOPE. Check it out. Thanks for reading and as always: Carry on, keep the faith and keep screenwriting because if you stop you’re guaranteed never to have any chance at success! Okay, let’s get right to the action—here are a few more useful survival tips for your journey…

TIP #1 Act like a professional even when writing your specs. the key to being a professional screenwriterAs a screenwriter, you must consider writing a job and this helps you to think of yourself as a professional. As with any job, it comes with deadlines, requirements and expectations, so it’s good practice to follow professional disciplines as you prepare for the time when you do get paid to write. If you train yourself to work under a deadline, it’s not a shock when the producer requires you to complete a script by a certain date. It’s no longer the romanticized dream of spending endless time working on your spec to get it just right—it’s “go time” and you’re now playing in the big leagues—exactly where you belong. The producer or executive expects greatness from you and you generally have six to eight weeks to deliver the first draft and its excellence will decide if they keep you on to write a second draft, or fire you. This is not the time for a “vomit draft.” If you start meeting your own deadlines when writing your specs, it will be easier later when they pay you under contract to meet a deadline.

TIP #2 Don’t take criticism personally and realize that it’s part of the process. feedbackIf you’re going to play in the majors, you’re competing with the best and you must accept that sometimes you won’t find the validation you need. Many times feedback on your script is disappointing and your high expectations become squashed. Your ego’s bruised, beaten to a pulp and you to doubt your talent and chances for success. Don’t take it personally, because feedback is a rite of passage necessary for the growth of any aspiring screenwriter. If you want to survive over the long haul of a career, you’ll need to toughen up and build your courage to endure disappointment criticism and rejection. Learn how to filter the good notes from the bad and ugly notes. As you embrace this process, you’ll begin to look at constructive feedback as a positive experience that helps make your script better, helps push it closer to something a producer wants to produce, and teaches you how to collaborate as a team player so you can work again.

TIP #3 Talk is cheap in Hollywood and people want credit for their good intentions. Money makes it real. quote of the dayTake everything as face value for talk is the cheapest commodity in Hollywood. Many times interest in you or your script and the endless talk is just that—interest and talk. Many times meetings are just meetings.  Too may people want credit for their good intentions and many times a producer’s upbeat attitude about your project can become infectious. You want to believe that others see your dream and can realize it. Why not?  It’s what keeps us going as screenwriters—belief in our projects and the faith that success is just around the corner. I’m sure when producers and executives tell you that your project is going into production, they just might believe it themselves, but sometimes they tell a writer this to buy more free time. Producers want to keep a writer’s interest in hanging on until they “work out the pesky financing details” and it becomes the bait for more free work. If they can’t raise the money for the budget or they have no money in their development budget, there really is no money to pay the writer. Be understanding to a certain point and look at every situation through a risk/benefit filter. Are you willing to risk your free time with free rewrites on the possible chance a project “might” get produced? Get excited when a producer gives you a contract, you both sign it and you get paid. That’s the professional way—otherwise, you can’t live on the currency of good intentions. Now get back to your blank pages. If you stop writing you’re guaranteed never to have any chance at success. @Scriptcat out!

Download my new free mobile app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp! Receive my weekly screenwriting tips, videos and links. It’s free with no ads!

Also subscribe to my new YOUTUBE CHANNEL with weekly screenwriting video tips.

Do you lack focus or haven’t set goals for the year with regards to your career? Check out my on-demand webinar “A SCREENWRITER’S CHECKLIST — 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game”

(click on the icon below for the link)

checklist 2

Did you just complete your latest magnum opus? Time for in-depth screenplay consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information.

Screenplay consultation services “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard. When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.”—Florida State University’s Anders Ericsson

If you’re worried about failing, you ought to get into a different business, because statistics will tell you that sixty or seventy percent of the time you’re going to fail.  By fail I mean that the movie won’t make money.  Just do the best you can every time.  And if you’re going to stay in the movies, and you like movies—and I love them—you’d better love them a lot, because it’s going to take all of your time.  If you want to be in the movies, it’s going to break your heart.“—Richard Brooks, director of Blackboard Jungle, Sweet Bird of Youth, In Cold Blood, Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure. But the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. [F]ailure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself to be anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believe I truly belonged. [R]ock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.” ~ J.K. Rowling

Tips to take a successful Hollywood meeting…

June 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

handshake cartoonI remember during the early days in my screenwriting career when I was excited to get a meeting—any meeting. It was my chance to get inside the inmost cave, behind the gates, and for a brilliant few minutes, I’d have the undivided attention of some Muckety-Muck:  Noun (mə-kə-tē-ˌmək\: “A person of great importance or self-importance : A big Hollywood Muckety-Muck.” I quickly learned after the first dozen meetings that sometimes a meeting is just a meeting. In fact, there are people whose job it is just to take meetings. They have no power to green light a project or kick it upstairs, they just meet daily with prospective aspirants and hope one will eventually deliver their next successful hit. If they like you and what you do, you just opened an important door and created a new opportunity. Meetings are necessary to network and build relationships.

I’ve met with everyone over the years—from assistants, agents, managers, low-level creative executives, producers, directors, actors, VP’s, heads of development, to presidents of production. Hollywood meetings are necessary to put a face with a project and to build new relationships. If your material sparked their interest, the meeting will be your audition to sell yourself, live in front of them. You hear about “being great in a room” and it’s necessary for them to like you and remember you for possible jobs in the future. Your script gets you inside and everything else is up to you including displaying a professional attitude and work ethic. You’ll spin plates, tap dance, juggle, fold balloons, breathe fire and perform your special magic on them. It’s what us writers do, right? time warp in Hollywood

Once your agent or manager sends out a project and casts the net wide, they wait for the feedback to trickle in.  Getting read in Hollywood seems to take forever, as there’s a bizarre time warp when it comes to business dealings.  But it’s understandable when you consider the tens of thousands of projects bouncing around town.  While your project is out there being considered, focus on your next piece of material and keep writing.  The distraction will help you from going crazy when it’s silent for a few weeks.

BoulderFlatOnce the feedback trickles in to your representation, they will set up meetings with everyone who wants to meet you—and you’ll take all of them. It’s your job to get in front of the Muckety-Mucks and dazzle them. Spin your plates or do hand stands for them. Your script got you behind the gates, now be great in the room. In fact, be fantastic.  You want to kick open as many doors as possible. Your script may not sell this time out, but the rounds of meetings you will take are the next important step in building a screenwriting career. It’s an numbers game at best, but if you’re constantly out there, mixing it up with the gate keepers with new projects, you’ll be holding new ground and advancing toward a sale or a writing assignment.

Examples of meetings? The general meeting, the pitch meeting, the “moving forward” meeting, and the notes meeting. The “general” meeting is just as it sounds: A meet and greet between you and the Muckety-Mucks. They may have read something of yours or maybe not, but they just want to get to know you and keep you on their radar.  It’s not about a specific project or job, but a chance for both of you to connect. Hopefully they tell you, “Keep in touch, we’d love to read your next project. The door is always open here.”

Make sure to leave a great first impression and show them you have developed a solid body of work—and you’ll be back. The “moving forward” meeting happens after a few early meetings and now it’s the big pow-wow to announce they’re putting your script into development and you’re getting paid. This is usually followed by the “notes meeting” where the producers or executives unleash their script changes, you take it on the chin. You go off and get the work done as you’re under a contract and getting paid—the best part.

Survival tips to help you take a successful meeting:

TIP #1

First impressions matter.

Always show up early to the meeting and come prepared. They will always make you wait, but that’s just one of those things. You don’t have the luxury of making a bad first impression. It starts from the moment they meet you and you can easily blow an opportunity if you don’t pay attention to the small details. It’s like a first date—did you answer your cell during dinner? A week goes by and you never hear back from your date and wonder why? It’s similar. Present your best professional image from the first handshake, to your pitch, and your follow-up.

TIP #2:

Be prepared. Know your backstory in a concise pitch as you are also pitching yourself in addition to your project. How did you start in the business? Did you go to film school? Do you have any screenplays produced? It’s your chance to craft a biography that will impress. Show them you’re open to rewrites and being a collaborator. It’s your time to display the best in your personality and professionalism. A script may have landed you the meeting, but they may not buy the script, but will ask, “What else are you working on?” Impress them with a solid body of material as they like screenwriters who are workhorses and can deliver the goods—not a “one script wonder.”

TIP #3

Do your homework. Know who you are meeting and a little about their background. Take a few minutes to Google them and in the meeting, reference some of your knowledge about their experience or career. They’ll appreciate your respect and be impressed enough to remember you as someone who values attention to detail. Muckety-Mucks like writers who have their shit together and present themselves as a confident professional. These are people they want to work with and can trust as team players.

TIP #4

scan4If you’re pitching, know your pitch inside and out and you have a solid body of work to back up the one project that got you through the door. Be ready for any questions they may throw at you. Always have a reply and prepare for back and forth improv a meeting can present. Keep it short and leave them wanting more. Deploy visual aids like a sizzle reel, photographs, paintings or anything visual that can help communicate the mood of your project. Pitch meetings are necessary, as it’s a chance to dazzle them in person with your ideas and memorable personality. They want to like you, but look for any reason to dislike you so be great in the room.

TIP #5

thank youSometime soon after the meeting, maybe within a week, send a “thank you” card to the person you met with to show your gratitude and to gently remind them of you. Most people in today’s world pay no attention to the small details of etiquette. It’s very old school to send a card and that’s exactly why it’s important. Executive’s assistants sort the incoming mail and the hand-written notes are always stacked on the top of the pile and read first. When the Muckety-Mucks are busy with a thousand other distractions in their daily commitments, your card will arrive and you’ll be a nice blip on their radar. They’ll appreciate the gesture and recall that not only are you a talented writer, but you’re respectful of their time and the opportunity they presented you.

You’re now acting as a professional, and preparing for when they allow you to play in the their big sandbox with their toys. Sometimes a meeting is just a meeting, but you have to treat every experience as the important opportunity if affords you to display yourself as a professional who offers professional quality work. As you continue these methods, they will become effortless and you’ll build a reputation that will eventually get you hired. You’ll step through the door you just opened into the coveted world of a working screenwriter in Hollywood.  Welcome, it’s a nice place to be working. Scriptcat out!

Did you just finish your latest draft and need in-depth and professional consultation? Check out my services.  Click on the icon below for the link to my website.  You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

Screenplay consultation servicesFollow me on Twitter: @scriptcat and live on Periscope!

Download my free mobile app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp. It features my bi-weekly script tips, links and screenwriting videos.

Also subscribe to my YOUTUBE CHANNEL for weekly screenwriting videos.

Check out my webinar “A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game” now archived on my video channel for rent demand.  Click on icon below for link to rent the webinar.

checklist 2

“The professional prepares mentally to absorb blows and to deliver them.  His aim is to take what the day gives him.  He is prepared to be prudent and prepared to be reckless, to take a beating when he has to, and to go for the throat when he can.   He understands the field alters every day.   His goal is not victory (success will come by itself when it wants to) but to handle himself, his insides, as sturdily as he can.”— Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art

“You must be arrogant enough to believe that you can “make it”—but humble enough to know it’s a long journey with much to learn.”—Scriptcat

“So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”—William Faulkner

“So give yourself that chance to put together the 80, 90 pages of a draft and then read it very in a nice little ceremony, where you’re comfortable, and you read it and make good notes on it, what you liked, what touched you, what moved you, what’s a possible way, and then you go about on a rewrite.”—Francis Ford Coppola

The art and craft of networking—it’s vital to your survival as a screenwriter…

June 10, 2015 § 2 Comments

handshake cartoonYou can’t sit in your protected bubble, writing your specs and believe that Hollywood will come knocking at your door with balloons, champagne and a giant check like you just won the lottery. It’s not going to happen. You have to get out there and make them notice you—mix it up and meet with other filmmakers, make valuable contacts, be a good contact, help and support others, share your work, take it on the chin with criticism and rejection, come back again with better work, create opportunities, open doors and move farther down your screenwriting pathway to success.

Networking is vital to your success over the long haul. If you’re just starting out, it will take a few years to build solid contacts and you’ll need the time to create a body of work. You have to offer something of merit and not expect that just because you wrote a screenplay that anyone cares or owes you a read. Also just because you know someone in the business, it’s not their responsibility to give you a break. Make your own breaks by creating well-written screenplays that reflect your unique “voice” and talent. You must have something amazing to offer—if not you’re just one of the many aspirants in the pile of 50,000 scripts a year that bounce around Hollywood.

Yes, a contact can help open the door, but it’s up to you to close the deal. You must respect that when they introduce you or help pass your script along, they are sticking their neck out for you and their reputation is on the line. The worst scenario would be if you used a contact to secure a meeting or a read and you blew the meeting or wasted their contact’s time being unprofessional. It would reflect badly on your contact and you’ll burn your bridge with them if you fail to respect these working professionals. Every project is either a new opportunity or a failed opportunity. It depends on the way you choose to play it.

A writer’s life’s blood is their relationships and this directly leads to securing work and getting hired for jobs. A solid discipline to follow during this long period is patience as it will take time to establish yourself as an excellent screenwriter before you can fully cultivate your film industry relationships. I’m sure along the way you’ve already discovered that many contacts talk more than act. Talk is cheap and it’s free to string you along with promises and excitement around a project and this can end up with the question, “If you can do a rewrite with our notes we might option it.” Don’t work for free and if you do—calculate the risk/benefit on your part because you’re giving away your most precious commodity—your time.

how to be a professional screenwriterYou’ll come across people who drop names and spin fabulous stories of their endeavors, but under closer scrutiny they’re really a house of cards ready to collapse. Professionals can immediately recognize an aspirant by their talent and the way they act. Given time, you’ll get better at recognizing those who are serious and those who just talk. If you always keep true to your word and focus on becoming a better screenwriter, your integrity will stand out and you’ll be on your way to building a solid reputation with those professionals who will recognize when you are ready, and will be happy to work with you.

As you build your solid network of contacts make sure that you are generous with those who deserve your time. If someone helps you—pay it forward. Offer help to others and it will eventually come back to you ten fold. If asked, read a contact’s script and offer notes. Help out with a live script reading. Work on a contact’s film production or short movie. Support a contact by attending their film’s screening. Even if you help someone and there is no pay, always do your best work because you leave behind the imprint of your reputation. Show your contacts at every level that you are a talented and generous professional who takes the craft seriously. When you project a professional attitude you will attract like-minded artists.

thAs you gain experience over time, you’ll quickly learn how to weed out the aspirants and bullshitters from the professional minded folks. The professionals are the ones who you want to keep as contacts. Professionals in Hollywood like to work and collaborate with people they can trust to deliver the goods on time. They will always evaluate you based upon your talent, but if they find it difficult to work with you, they will usually pick the writer who is a team player over the diva who is more talented. There just isn’t time to put up with a screenwriter’s ego getting in the way of a working relationship.

If you’re a team player and collaborator you’ll recognize your contacts who are team players and people you can trust. If you’ve helped them in the past, they will be more likely to go out of their way to help you when asked. As you build a solid network of contacts—be a solid and trusted contact yourself. It can’t be a one-sided relationship.  Respond to your contacts in a timely manner, help them when you can, and show them from your actions that you are worthy of being in their network. If you do ask a contact for help, do not play that card unless you are absolutely ready.

I’ve kept many important industry contacts for years and never asked them for help until I was finally writing at a level to seriously compete as a professional. The mistake many beginning writers make is prematurely asking a contact for help with they are not working at a professional level. Learn patience and focus on becoming an excellent screenwriter first before you consider using your contacts for help.

You never know where your contacts will lead and that is why you need to build a solid list through networking.  Here’s a good example of my own personal experience: After I graduated from film school and I was just starting out, my girlfriend at the time had a friend who was a producer’s assistant and she believed in my spec script (my fifth script) and got another assistant interested whose boss was about to form a new production company. He opened shop and got his boss to option my script, they eventually bought it, produced the film and it sold internationally. My contact’s position in the company grew over the years, he eventually became the President of Production, and years later he hired me for over a half-dozen paid script assignments.

You never know where your contacts will lead. While you are networking and building your solid relationships, make it easy for people to contact you. Spend the money for professional business cards. Do not print them on your computer or use a typewriter logo or other icons on the card. If you’ve ever seen a true professional’s business card it’s plain, simple and clean. No fancy icons or director’s chairs—just contact information. This is part of your professional image that you project and your card will represent you long after you hand it out. I remember once spending a half hour talking to a guy who name dropped and inflated his projects only to have him slide me a business card printed from his computer. His card listed five jobs that he supposedly does including “director, writer, actor, producer, and P.A.” I’m not kidding. The guy listed production assistant with those other abilities.

Not the real card.

After reading his ridiculous business card, he lost all credibility and I didn’t believe anything that he said.

His amateur business card didn’t hold up to the professional image that he tried to project. In this wildly competitive business, networking and solid contacts are the life’s blood of a screenwriter’s career. As you work on your craft and build your professional reputation, it’s important to cultivate your business relationships and respect the opportunities they can offer.  But you can only utilize your contacts to the fullest when you are working at a professional level.  When you establish yourself as a working screenwriter, your professional contacts are so important and will mean the difference between working and not working.

Click on this icon for the link

Another good way to make contacts with like minded people is attending film festivals and panel discussions from professionals in the business. A great festival is coming up later this year, the 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival & Conference ion October 29th to Novemeber 5th and they have confirmed panelists such as Norman Lear, Shane Black, Jack Burditt, David Wain, Kelly Marcel and Terry Rossio (along with other writers, industry agents and creative executives) to celebrate of narrative storytelling. Not only will you meet others and make valuable contacts, you can learn valuable first hand knowledge from there veterans of the business.

austin badgesThey have an early badge price deadline and it’s fast approaching (June 15th!) and you can get a discount of $50 if you click on the icon at the left it will take you to the website and then use the discount code: CON300.  This sale ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, June 14th so jump on it!  They offer 4 Badge levels for entry into their October festival. Badge holders not only have priority entry into all 8 days of films, they also receive entry into  Conference Panels (days dependent on badge level). Look through the different options, and find which badge is the perfect fit for you!

Keep networking and building solid relationships with a trusted network of contacts that can help lead you down the road to success.

Scriptcat out!

If you need professional screenplay consultation services please check out my website by clicking on the icon below for the link.  You never get another chance to make a first great impression.

Follow me on Twitter: @scriptcat and Periscope

Download my free mobile app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp. It sends out bi-weekly script tips from my upcoming book A Screenwriter’s Journey to Success coming to Amazon this summer.

Visit my YOUTUBE CHANNEL and subscribe for my weekly screenwriting videos.

Check out my archived webinar:

A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game”

(click on the icon below for the link to rent the webinar)

checklist 2

A professional respects his craft.  He does not consider himself superior to it.  He recognizes the contributions of those who have gone before him.  He apprentices himself to them.”—Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

“The professional understands delayed gratification.  He is the ant, not the grasshopper; the tortoise, not the hare… the professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that.  He recognizes it as reality. He conserves his energy. He prepares his mind for the long haul. He sustains himself with the knowledge that if he can just keep the huskies mushing, sooner or later the sled will pull in to Nome.”—Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

“This is, if not a lifetime process, it’s awfully close to it. The writer broadens, becomes deeper, becomes more observant, becomes more tempered, becomes much wiser over a period time passing. It is not something that is injected into him by a needle. It is not something that comes on a wave of flashing, explosive light one night and say, ‘Huzzah! Eureka! I’ve got it!’ and then proceeds to write the great American novel in eleven days. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a long, tedious, tough, frustrating process, but never, ever be put aside by the fact that it’s hard.”—Rod Serling

“Life in the movie business is like the beginning of a new love affair. It’s full of surprises and you’re constantly getting fucked.”—David Mamet

“The time we have alone; the time we have in walking; the time we have in riding a bicycle; are the most important times for a writer. Escaping from a typewriter is part of the creative process. You have to give your subconscious time to think. Real thinking always occurs on the subconscious level.”—Ray Bradbury

Two vital disciplines to help establish your screenwriting career: Collboration and teamwork…

June 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Not the relationship to have with your producer!

Yes… that sweet aroma of victory when you finish your spec screenplay. Every word is yours, every scene is yours, every line of dialogue is yours… it’s a joyous dream world filled with everything that came from your head… and now reality hits with a spec release and working in Hollywood—it’s always a collaboration. The moment you unleash your script for others to read you will receive notes, good, bad and ugly and open yourself up to criticism. It’s hard when they burst your protected spec bubble and you realize that just because you write a screenplay doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or produce it. Time to toughen up and strap yourself in for the bumpy ride.

handshake cartoonThe key to working and working again in Hollywood if you do land a job? Collaboration and teamwork. It’s vital to your survival over the long haul. No screenplay scene or line of dialogue—or any screenplay—is worth losing a job over. Professionals want to work with other professionals and not divas. Producers, executives, agents, managers, and directors look for workhorses—screenwriters who go above and beyond and realize the opportunities they have landed. If you want to work in this crazy business where it’s nearly impossible to get anything produced on any size screen—detach and get the script produced. You want to be the “go to person” who helps the producer, executive and director move the project through the development phase toward production.  A collaborator and team player does just that.

Your experience and attitude can determine if you’ll stay on the project or be fired. Have you learned how to take constructive criticism and mastered the ability to execute producer’s notes—and not gripe and grimace during the experience? Do you turn in your work on schedule or early? This is the delicate art of being a team player. It’s a necessary discipline for any real chance at success in Hollywood. A team player, not a temperamental diva, usually stays on a project longer and many times, through production. The constant barrage of notes and changes can make screenwriters frustrated and angry. They can feel totally out of control and like they’re just around to do the “grunt” work of writing. Avoid the temptation to go down a destructive pathway with these valid emotions.

Don’t become “difficult” or branded a pain in the ass to work around. Producers will hire a talented team player over a pain in the ass that has no regard for professionalism. how to be a professional screenwriterHollywood is a business of relationships and networking. People in Hollywood generally like to work with those people they’ve had a positive experience with in the past. So, always deliver your best work, every time, regardless of your salary and don’t ever gripe about the changes. Unfortunately, most producers have their radar up to detect if a screenwriter is easy or difficult when it comes time for the rewrites. They test you when you don’t expect it. Can you pass the test? The minute you’re viewed as problem, you’ll be branded as “difficult” and it’s a hard to dispel that reputation.

Hollywood is a small town when it comes to people knowing each other and if word gets out that a producer or director had a difficult working relationship with you it can mean the death of your next job. Let’s dispel that old stereotype and prove them all wrong. We’re the writers who want to work and make it all happen. Make a point to clearly show the producers how invaluable you are to the project and why they need to keep you around. As you’re the screenwriter, be the repository of knowledge about the script for the director, producer and actors.

Do everything you can to help the producers craft the script they need and  lend all of your support to get the movie competed. That’s the end game—getting your movie produced and receiving your credit.smash head in wall Initially, you may not receive the praise or validation you feel that you deserve for all of your hard work. I know it feels like you’re banging your head against a wall and coming up short. If this happens, patience is a good discipline to follow, as it will eventually pay off for you over the long haul. Your praise will come in the form of a payment for your writing, a produced film, and a vital part of your screenwriting career—a credit.  Produced film credits will determine your payment quote for your next project and secure you as a working professional. You’ll always find opportunities to be a collaborator team player and build your integrity as a professional screenwriter.

Every new project is a chance to build new relationships and show the producers and executives they can trust you by being a person of your word.  If you promise to do something—do it.  This is the mantra of a team player. It’s that easy.  Over time, these professionals will know they can count on you, that your word means something and you are a team player.  Your talent is equally as important as your professional work ethic and your attitude. These are the characteristics of a professional screenwriter and your reputation of being a team player will precede you. Keep filling your blank pages because if you stop writing, you’ll never have a shot at any success. Scriptcat out!

Download my new free app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp. Weekly script tips sent to your cell, weekly video tips and links to my screenwriting advice.

Also check out my Youtube Channel with weekly video script tips.

Follow me on Twitter: @scriptcat & on Periscope!

Did you just finish your latest screenplay and need in-depth consultation? Check out my professional services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website. You never get a second chance to make a first great impression with your screenplay. Make the time to get it right.

Screenplay consultation servicesmaster poCheck out my archived webinar:

“A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game.”

checklist 2

When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost—and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”— T.S. Eliot

“Don’t focus on where you’re not (famous or A-list writer)—focus on where you’re at—hopefully screenwriting. Regardless of success or experience, we’re all equals in front of that blank page channeling the muse.”—Scriptcat

“So give yourself that chance to put together the 80, 90 pages of a draft and then read it very in a nice little ceremony, where you’re comfortable, and you read it and make good notes on it, what you liked, what touched you, what moved you, what’s a possible way, and then you go about on a rewrite.”—Francis Ford Coppola “People really are afraid to find out just how much hardship and poverty they can stand. They are afraid to find out how tough they are. Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.”—William Faulkner “Writers, like most human beings, are adaptable creatures. They can learn to accept subordination without growing fond of it. No writer can forever stand in the wings and watch other people take the curtain calls while his own contributions get lost in the shuffle.”—Rod Serling freddy screenwriter

“Collaborative effort requires sharing that tiny little space which we reserve for ourselves.  We’ve got to bring it out and share it for a while, even if we put it back afterward.”—Stanley Kramer

Just because you write it doesn’t mean Hollywood has to buy it…

June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

first scriptThis reality was one of the hardest lessons to learn when I began screenwriting. I thought like many aspirants do, that just because I finished a new screenplay that someone would care and it would sell. It took about five specs into my journey to figure out that it takes many projects in the marketplace for one to succeed. I’ll admit those early scripts were not amazing and it took me years to write at a professional level to compete. Many times on your journey it’s a long dry period where no project moves forward and you can’t get anyone to read it. Other times every script you push garners interest and some brush close to a sale or option. It’s the ebb and flow as you pursue a screenwriting career.

After I began getting paid professionally to write screenplays, some ended up in development and did not get produced, while others moved forward into production. My eighth produced film goes into production next month and it was my thirteenth paid assignment job. I’ve had one spec sale (that was produced) and thirteen assignments out of twenty-eight total screenplays written on my journey. Out of my fourteen professional projects, eight have been produced. That’s slightly over a 50% production rate on everything I’ve written professionally.

It’s been along haul with many ups and downs and proof that not every project you write—even when you’re paid—will end up begin produced and distributed. You will learn that each project you write has its unique journey to failure or success. When you finish a screenplay, so much of the after process is out of your control and you have to let go and detach from any outcome. What is within your control is filling your blank pages, every day and creating a solid body of work to standout. This also helps build your writing experience and ability to sit for six hours a day and create.

script oddsAlways remember that selling a screenplay is a numbers game at best. Consider the odds of selling a spec screenplay the same as winning the lottery and if you believe the numbers—nearly 40,000 projects bounce around Hollywood each year with just over 100 specs selling at the studio level most years. Hollywood released 692 movies in theaters domestically in 2014. Don’t forget about the thousands of films without distribution that end up competing at film festivals every year with only a handful landing deals. Sundance had 4,057 films entered in 2014 and only 119 got in and about 27 got distribution deals. Ah, don’t forget about the hundreds of pitches that don’t sell. They’re worse because they struggle out there in the ether with the producer or executive debating if the writer can deliver the goods as pitched.

The script you are writing now, unless it’s a paid assignment, is probably a spec and you have to look at it as one of many you’ll have to write to reach any level of success. Always look at the bigger picture of a career. Your latest spec is a tool to build your writing experience and it becomes an example of your work. It’s shows the best of your ability and talent and the writing sample can land you a screenwriting assignment gig. That’s the bread and butter of working screenwriters. Trust me, you won’t sell specs your entire career.

This is why you must have multiple projects, pitches and treatments in the marketplace at any given time for chance that one might—and I stress might—find interest and move farther down the playing field. And talk is cheap in Hollywood, so add that to the journey of your projects when producers or executives head their praise on your talents and your screenplay, but string you along with offers of free work as they dangle the carrot of production.

Interest, even when you receive a payday, doesn’t always guarantee your film goes on to being a produced film. Sure, money makes their interest real, but your project still must jump over hurdles that are out of your control.

  • An option for little money doesn’t end up with the purchase of the script.
  • A script is purchased, the writer is fired, and it’s rewritten so many times it languishes in development hell and never gets produced.
  • A script is close to being financed when suddenly the investors pullout, the producer loses the money and the star as a result.
  • A project is put on hold because of scheduling conflicts.
  • A project isn’t produced due to changing global marketplace factors. It’s cheaper NOT to make the film than take a risk.

Sometimes a spec that didn’t sell two years ago can find a new home, but it’s a long haul journey for any project to find a producer or executive who likes it enough to move forward in some way. The project must also survive the dicey minefield of the development process and with luck, move into production.

Even when a film is produced, there still is no guarantee of success either. How many films considered a “guaranteed hit” end up a bomb at the box office? It happens every weekend. Look at the recent film Tomorrowland with a big Hollywood star. It underperformed at the box office to date making only $133 million worldwide and cost $190 million to produce. A film usually has to make about three times its budget to go into profits. As you see there are many hurdles that are out of a screenwriter’s control, but the one thing in your control is creating a solid body of work and putting it in the pipeline with the goal of having one move forward down the field to production. This is why you can’t be a “one script wonder” and burn out after a few drafts of your first screenplay.

feedbackThat’s okay. Take your lumps and move onto generating your next logline, pitch or treatment and hopefully another job. Never forget that Hollywood is a business and screenwriting is a profession with the same dilemmas of other jobs. Your goal is staying in the game and being hired again and again to write screenplays to establish a career. It may take writing a half-dozen projects for one to finally sell or get you assignment work, but every new script is a new opportunity or a missed opportunity–it depends on how you play it.

And while you are writing your specs, practice the discipline of patience during this period of your journey. I find many beginning screenwriters are too eager to sell their first script for a million dollars—like it’s just that easy. It’s not just that easy. And you need to respect your craft and practice it every day. You’ll need the time to fail and write badly before you can become an excellent screenwriter, execute notes and work on a schedule under pressure. You don’t want a yellow belt in screenwriting—you want to achieve a Grand Master 4th degree Black Belt—and to do this you’ll need to train by writing every day.

boxerThe only way you’ll be able to do this is to keep to a tight writing schedule. You’ll need to protect your precious writing time. Stephen King calls it “closing your door.” When your door is closed, it means that you are writing. You have to take your career seriously and become a master at scheduling your time. If you dabble at your career, time becomes your enemy, it passes quickly while projects burn out and life gets in the way of your most splendid screenwriting dreams. If you keep the pipeline always filled with your best work you will create opportunities and have a shot at success.

If you have a solid body of work and you’re always creating new projects, you will be more attractive to an agent or manager as they can see you are not a “one script wonder” but a workhorse. They don’t like divas and love writers who write and create the product. As you build up your projects, you’ll be working on your craft and becoming a better screenwriter in the process. And as it’s extremely difficult to sell a project, you’ll want to increase your odds by unleashing solid projects into the pipeline so you can attack a career on different fronts. Remember that just because you write it doesn’t mean Hollywood has to buy it. Eventually one great script will slip through and find the right producer and that will jump-start your screenwriting career.

Practice humility and never believe that just because you put words on paper you’re entitled to a read, a sale or a career. Your script must be amazing on every level—that’s the minimum standard. Good is not good enough. You have to be excellent. If not, the film business will humble you. Your script is one of thousands trying to compete and get produced. Standout and make Hollywood notice you by writing an amazing screenplay that showcases your unique talents.

Keep on writing and keep the faith!

Scriptcat out!

Did you just complete your latest screenplay and need in-depth consultation? Check out my services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website and more information.  You never get a second chance to make a first great impression.

Make the time to get it right.

Screenplay consultation servicesFollow me on Twitter: @scriptcat & on Periscope!

Download my free mobile app SCREENWRITING GURU from Yapp for my bi-weekly screenwriting tips, videos and links to help you survive in the trenches.

Subscribe to my new YOUTUBE CHANNEL for weekly screenwriting videos.

“Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizable portion of their childhood spirit despite the pressures and demands of adulthood.”—Robert Greene, “Mastery”

“As an artist, I feel that we must try many things — but above all we must dare to fail.”
—John Cassavetes

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”—Joseph Campbell

“When the last dime is gone, I’ll sit on the curb outside with a pencil and a ten cent notebook and start the whole thing over again.” — Preston Sturges

“Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you’re interested, keep working. If you’re bored, keep working.”—Michael Crichton


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