Monday, May 21, 2012

My take on the whole Disciple Program thing

Last week The Disciple Program sold to Universal for big bucks and with Mark Wahlberg attached to star. And the arguing began.

For those of you who have not been obsessing over this particular development, let me 'splain:

A while back, aspiring screenwriter Tyler Marceca entered the Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest, in which he was given a vague logline (After waking to find his wife dead in their backyard, a man conducts his own investigation, and uncovers the hidden life of a woman he thought he knew) with which to write the beginning of a screenplay. The top writers were then given guidance from professionals to build an entire screenplay from those initial pages. Tyler won and developed a script called The Disciple Program.

While he was already gaining some traction with his contest win, Tyler submitted this script to Carson Reeves at the Scriptshadow blog for notes. Carson loved the script and generated a lot of buzz for it, and Tyler was signed by WME and Anonymous Content. On Friday, The Disciple Program sold with a director and actor attached. And Tyler is on his way.

I don't know Tyler personally. These are just the facts as I have gleaned them.

This whole series of events has generated some rather aggressive discussion among the screenwriting populace. There are those who are in a kerfuffle over whether or not Carson is responsible for Tyler's success. Carson helped in a big way, no doubt, but let's get one thing straight: Tyler is responsible for Tyler's success.

No matter what you think of the script (I think it was great with pacing and an easy read because I have an English teacher's vocabulary skills, but a bit predictable), you have to respect Tyler's devotion to the craft here. He entered a contest where the prize wasn't money so much as it was hard work under a mentor's supervision. But he didn't stop there. He knew he could do more with the script, so he sought out more help in the form of notes from Carson.

I have my issues with paying for notes. Namely, there are very few screenplay consultants who are worth the price. I can name four, although I personally have never paid for a note in my life. For some people, though, paid notes are a very useful tool. See This Post by the Bitter Script Reader for really good advice on the subject.

Anyway, Tyler worked on this script, and then worked on it, and worked on it again. That much is obvious from his story. And when he hooked up with WME, they gave him notes and he worked on it again. He could have rested on his contest-winning laurels and imagined himself a perfect writer with nothing left to learn, but he didn't.

Honestly, all this fighting people are doing over whether or not Scriptshadow helped Tyler out or not, over whether or not the script is truly amazing, it doesn't matter. That's not the moral of this story. The moral of this story is, this guy worked his ass off to make this the best script he could possibly write, and now he's a professional screenwriter.


  1. Man, that Tyler was so lucky…

    That’s right, luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. Tyler worked his ass off to get the script ready to go and was ready to seize the opportunity when it presented itself.

    Well put Emily. I am happy for the man and wish him nothing but the best.


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  3. I couldn't agree more, Emily. Almost verbatim what you said. It's hard sometimes for us screenwriters to separate our envy from enjoying others' success. I'm of the thought, if the script is good, then awesome! We're heading in the right direction to seeing a great film on screen (which have been fewer and far between with each passing year). Yes, I'm jealous I couldn't have written it, but I loved the ride I was taken on with its story? Which is better? I chose the latter. I always jokingly say, "For the cause!" For the cause, indeed, for better movies being made!

  4. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Great post!

    Out of all the posts out there talking about the sale (and the scriptshadow hype and debacle) yours is by far the most concise - and accurate. I've refrained from joining the comment frenzy both pro- and anti-scriptshadow because I agree with you - it really just comes down to Tyler's talent and all the hard work he put in.

    Believe me, I want to shout from the rooftops that Tyler would have gotten to this point without Carson Reeves. Tyler had yet to meet with Benderspink or Adam Marshall at Caliber Media, or even Robert Mark Kamen when he sent the script to Carson.

    As a matter of fact, Tyler didn't believe me when I told him his script was far and above the winner, which is why he sent it to Carson in the first place.

    Obviously Carson agreed with me :)

    Kudos also need to go out to Mario Moreno, who was Tyler's coach and mentor for writing the completed script based on Tyler's submission.

    Dana Hahn
    Industry Insider Contest Coordinator
    The Writers Store

  5. What is it they say? "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan." Yeah. That said, I'm sure no one sells a script on their own. Everyone has plenty of people to thank for any sort of success in this industry. That doesn't take anything away from what the writer has accomplished. And it certainly doesn't mean one path or another was the only way a writer could have succeeded. But it's easier for everyone to try to divine the secret in the tea leaves than it is to just do the effing work and bust their hump.

  6. I respect Tyler's hard work, and truly am happy for any screenwriter getting loads of attention, but the script wasn't any good. Huge, huge plot and logic holes. Lazy writing.

  7. Well said, Emily. Carson's great to have in your corner. I believe the man sincerely wants to help us aspiring writers. Still, it was Tyler who did the work.

    Also, we should all be thrilled. The days of having to move to Paris to be successful are over. You can connect online. It's the new American Quarter!

  8. Why is it a bad thing if Scriptshadow did give Tyler a boost?
    Take all the help you can get.

  9. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Gotta agree with Recovering Booth Rat. Hurray! A scripter has made good. But the draft I read was clearly the work of an amateur. I'm always amazed at what Carson considers good. (Don't get me started on the Brigands of Rattleborge')


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