Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't be a sucker

I admit I have a snobby attitude about screenplays sometimes. If I could look at early Screenwriter Emily I'd smack her in the face for being such a silly girl. I was one of those people who jumped into screenwriting with all these ideas about selling and making money and being famous and whatnot, and reality is cold.

Some guy emailed me what I think is supposed to be a query letter the other day. I think he thinks I'm a producer because on my production company website and all my business cards it says "Producer" which is why I am one of those assholes who made a short film that's not even finished and now calls herself a producer. At the time I thought I would make a bunch of shorts and even one day make a feature. But that shit is HARD.

I still plan to make my boxing movie but it's taking way longer than I thought. If you donated I'm putting a thank you on my current film. And thank you.

Anyhow, this dude sent me a query but it wasn't properly formatted, and the fact that he sent me a letter says he's just blanket emailing anyone who claims to be a producer, and he's going to end up either scammed or dejected if he keeps on this way. I told him so, and offered to show him the ropes. I probably won't hear from him.

This one guy asked me to read his first script once. I only read the first ten pages, then told him I kept running into the same basic structure problems over and over, so he needed to fix his format issues and give it back to me so I can concentrate on the story and won't be distracted by thousands of little format notes. He thanked me very enthusiastically, and wrote me back a week later to say that he'd finished his screenplay and was submitting it to the Nicholl. I asked to read the newest version so I could give him a real critique. Never heard from him again.

Every day across America, dozens of people complete a screenplay and immediately email anyone anywhere to ask how they get an agent. And this irritates me, even though I used to be one of them. The people in a hurry.

I guess I believe that if you want to be a professional screenwriter you need to do some damn research and you need to be patient. God knows I'm all for using back routes and whatnot to get your career going - I've never PA'd in my life - but you need to at least understand what you're doing. I couldn't be a teacher without a degree and some training. You can't go be an electrician if you've never changed a lightbulb. You can't pilot an airplane just because you rode in one once. And you can't write a screenplay in 8 weeks or whatever and expect to have an immediate career as a professional screenwriter.


  1. well-said, a good post.

  2. Well what person aspiring to pro-screenwriting hasn't daydreamed about millions of dollars, your own production deal, fansites devoted to your brilliance (a la Joss Whedon), ha. That said I'm afraid I've taken the exact opposite approach. Five scripts plus two tv specs later and I still don't feel my stuff is good enough -- whatever that means.

    How are the responses for Not Dead Yet coming along? It probably sounds weird for a stranger to say it, but I hope it works out well for you and NDY.

  3. Nah. This is a community. I appreciate the interest. And I think it definitely takes several scripts to get it right, anyway. I wrote about that some a couple of posts ago. At the moment I'm twiddling my thumbs with NDY. People are reading it. I just have to wait to see what they say.

    Thanks for the good thoughts and good luck with your stuff.

  4. Anonymous10:15 PM

    unless you're diablo cody... but i digress... eggo my leggo preggo jello.... her 'writing' makes me die a little inside.

  5. Glad you posted this...means you'll be in the trenches with us for a while.


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