Scriptcat’s three terrific tips for your survival in Hollywood’s trenches…
April 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, first of all—THANK YOU! I truly hope this finds you busy creating and forging ahead on your screenwriting journey and you’ve been able to take away a few nuggets of advice that help. As you may know, I’ve been adding short posts (nothing is EVER short on this blog!) and sharing various survival tips. I do speak about these in the various articles on this blog, but this feature will be a quick reference to glance over and consider as you navigate your screenwriting journey. So, in addition to my tips on Twitter (@scriptcat), I’ll be posting new ones here from time to time. Thanks for reading and as always: Carry on, keep the faith and keep screenwriting!
Okay, three more survival tips for the trenches that will help you on your screenwriting adventure…
TIP #1 “GET OVER YOURSELF!”
Never act like anyone “owes” you anything. Hollywood doesn’t owe you a read, a sale or a career. I find that many screenwriting aspirants expect that just because they’ve committed words to 110 pages of paper, Hollywood and the world will come to a halt and pay attention. It doesn’t happen. It’s a crowded and competitive marketplace. It wasn’t until about six years out of film school and my fifth spec that finally landed an option and eventual sale, production and distribution. Many times it’s even difficult when you’ve written an amazing script—but that’s where it all starts. It will be more difficult if you have a script that needs a lot of work and it’s not ready for a read by professionals, but you send it out anyway because you’re anxious. That’s when you’ll harm your project and your reputation as a professional screenwriter. You’ll have to learn, experience, fail, succeed, claw, scrape, plot, plan and write just like the rest of us to get ahead.
“EXECUTE SCRIPT NOTES OR GET EXECUTED FROM THE JOB!”
If you want to be a working screenwriter in Hollywood, you must learn the craft of executing notes quickly and effectively. You’ll usually get one crack at your second draft and if you haven’t mastered the art of rewriting, they will fire you. It’s business, not personal. Producers do not have time to deal with a writer who is unable to effectively make the necessary changes needed. Don’t fight your producers, executives or director about script notes or changes. Do your best to be the writer who understands and is willing to do anything to make the scene or script better. A team player considered a creative collaborator stays on a project longer than a temperamental diva who grimaces at every dialogue change. That’s why producers and directors generally don’t allow the writer on the set. There are just too many tiny changes to a script during production. If you aren’t a team player and feel that script changes are death by a thousand cuts, you will not last a day on a movie set. The minute your frustration shows, they will not invite you back. Part of being a screenwriting professional is acting like one.
“BE HUMBLE AND GRATEFUL — AND LET THEM KNOW!”
Sometime soon after you take a general meeting or a pitch 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. I learned something very 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-Muck is 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 from the meeting. Again, you’re acting like a professional.
Keep pressing on and stay in the game by creating excellent material while you master your professional disciplines.
Did you just finish your latest screenplay and need in-depth consultation/proofing/analysis? Check out my consultation services by clicking on the blue icon below for the link to my website. I look forward to helping you push your script closer to the best possible release draft.
“Luck is a prepared screenwriter who meets an opportunity and delivers the goods.”—Scriptcat
“One of the things that young writers falsely hope exists is inspiration. A lot of young writers fail because they aren’t putting in the hours. Whether you can write all day every day, or whether you can write four hours on Sundays, whatever it is, you have to protect that time.”—William Goldman
“… a basic “must” for every writer: A simple solitude—physical & mental.”—Rod Serling
“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
“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.” —Charles Bukowski