Thursday, May 17, 2007

Emily talks about her first time

Remember your first screenplay? Mine was a 90 page sci-fi drama about a teenage girl who's been stranded on an uninhabited alien planet for five years after she watched all her friends die off one by one until an expedition finds her and asked her to tell her story. Island of the Blue Dolphins in space.

I still stick by it as a good idea, but I made all the rookie mistakes: Voiceover, flashback, a protagonist who is reactive instead of proactive, lucky breaks, characters without goals, B stories that went nowhere. Too much telling. Not enough showing. And I wrote it way too short, which is a problem I've slowly outgrown over the years. And I did all this after obtaining a graduate degree in creative writing, so I can only imagine how bad my script would have been without all those writing workshops.

As soon as I printed out this wondrous tale of crapitude, I started the old query letter carpet bombing. Nobody else read it because at the time I didn't know anybody who read screenplays, so I just figured I knew enough about storytelling and I cried when my love interest died, so this must be a brilliant script. Of the 100 queries I sent out I got a response from one agent, a woman who had pictures of her cat on her website. That's how I got her attention, I told her I loved cats. So she asked to see my work and never got back to me after I sent it to her. So there went that opportunity.

Were you in a hurry too in the beginning?

It was a learning experience at least, and one most of us end up going through, judging by the daily posts on Wordplayer about how to get an agent. Instead of focusing on growing as a storyteller, we all start off reading too many articles and books about how the mighty AGENT is the answer to everything. It's not like anybody's paying me to write at the moment, but I've been in this long enough to see just how unimportant an agent is in the grand scheme of things. With all the contacts I've made an continue to make just by going places and being a decent person, when my material is ready it will find its way into the right hands. I'm hoping this short film will be the key. Either way, I've completely stopped worrying about representation. It'd be nice to have and I certainly won't turn it down when the time comes, but it's just so clear how much more important it is to concentrate on your work than to figure out how it can land you an agent.

I remember before I moved out here somebody on Wordplayer posted this: "In LA you can't spit without hitting someone in the Industry." So true. All I had to do was move here and things started happening. It also helps that I'm no longer writing crappy science fiction stories with no sense of direction.

FYI, Ari Gold is the only man on Entourage I would have sex with.


  1. My first attempt ended after 30 awful pages. Ending it there seemed to be the kind thing to do. :)

  2. I have a man-crush on Ari gold.

  3. Yeah Ari/Piven's hot. He makes the best case that 40 is the new 30.

  4. Anonymous5:51 PM

    My first script was 183 pages set in college with a lot of talking heads. And that was only the first act! I thought I was writing gold at the time. I wish I could go back to just writing and not caring.

  5. Gotta go with Eric and then Ari. Vince would be a fun fling though...

  6. Anonymous6:11 AM

    Yep, me do Ari too... my first one was shipped out to all the top contests and I did make the first cut of one... I plan on redoing it down the road ans send it out again as part of my Triumvirate Of Terror

  7. I've been writing for 8 or 9 years now. Never sent one out. I couldn't care less as long as I don't feel it's a work of genius. Of course a big chunk of that time I was writing for my own movies that I would direct, so no need for representation.


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