SimplyScripts.com - Read Movie Scripts Online

Friday, April 18, 2014

Notes from a Veteran Writer – Querying (P.J. McNeill) - posted by wonkavite

As you may already know, we’re a varied bunch at STS.  Our main focus is – and will continue to be – showcasing scripts.  Short and Sweet.  Feature lengths, long and hard (um, okay… that came out WAY wrong.)

But in addition to the reviews, we’ll also be presenting interviews with directors and writers, book reviews, and various articles about the script writing industry.  Today, we’re honored to present to you our featured guest writer “P.J. McNeill” – a talented writer and 10 year veteran of the industry.  This guy’s seen it all.  So sit back – enjoy the read. And learn a little something today.  (And for alot of foreseeable Fridays to come.)

***********

Querying

 

I was once at a dinner party, talking with a writer who had just sold something to Sony. My interest, naturally, piqued upon hearing this. “How? Did you query a lot of producers?”, I asked. He arched an eyebrow. Clearly the term “query” was lost on him. “No, I just gave it to a friend…and they gave it to a friend…and THEY gave it to a friend, until it wound up in the hands of an agent.” I stared back at him in shock. Then he said “Honestly, I don’t even know who gave it to the agent.” His nonchalance made me want to ram my plate of hors d’oeuvres in his face.

Those of us not lucky enough to just release a script out into the ether and have it immediately sell are left with the dreaded query letter. Over the last 10 years, I must have sent out a couple thousand query letters. I do not have an agent or a manager (but believe me, I’ve tried), so I’m left with the task of pitching my material myself. (Side Note: A few months after my infant daughter was born, my wife and I were approached by a talent agent; looking to represent her. We declined, but as we were walking away, my wife said, “4 months old, and she would have had an agent before you.” Ha…ha.)

When I first started writing query letters, I would send these long, bulky letters that I’m almost 100% positive no one read. They were boring to write, so I’m sure they were boring to read. It was only several years later that I realized I needed to do something special. Something that stood out from the one-hundred-some e-mails producers must receive every-single-day. I won’t go into detail what I did, but suffice it to say, I received the most reads I had every gotten from a query blast, and optioned my script within a couple months. It’s important to stand out. It’s such an obvious piece of advice, but I ignored it for YEARS. I just thought “Hey, my work speaks for itself.” Well, no…no, it doesn’t.

It’s also worth mentioning that you need to strike a balance. Get a producer’s attention, but don’t go too far. There’s the obvious example of the guy who left his script in a briefcase at an agency in LA (that was subsequently blown up by the bomb squad – the script, not the agency). Run your idea by a few people before executing it. Ask them “Will this make me look like a nutjob?

Avoid query e-mail blast services. It’s all a crock; believe me, I’ve spent money on them (Future article title: Don’t Spend Money). Don’t get me wrong, they’ll hold up their end of the bargain: they’ll send your query letter to a BUNCH of people; I just wouldn’t expect them to be quality. The way these services get you is by showing you an incomprehensibly large list of producers/agents/companies and expecting you to just give them your money without looking into it; which I didn’t do…AT FIRST. After the service provided me NOTHING in return, I looked into the people on their list. Most of them either a.) hadn’t produced anything in YEARS, or b.) had no real connection to the film industry at all. You’re better off getting a subscription to IMDBPro (or if you’re cheap like me, the 2 week trial) and doing your own work yourself. That way YOU control who you’re e-mailing. It takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it.

So, to sum up: if you’re ever at a party and some writer is going on and on about his recent sell as if it’s no big thing, just take your plate of hors d’oeurves, get a good solid grip on the plate…and offer it to them.  Then give them whatever the hell they want.  Seriously, screw querying.  Just make a powerful friend.  It’s a lot easier.

Contact info: Got a question, a comment or just general bile (or overwhelming praise) you want to spew?  Email PJ at pjscriptblog@gmail.com,  If you’re nice, you might just get an hors d’oeuvre!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wheel of An Hero – How to make the most genius film by mistake. - posted by Don

Simon Cathcart (writer and director of the wonderfully campy StagKnight has a new book out.

Wheel of An HeroHow to make the most genius film by mistake.

Felix James had been living in an underground, airtight cell, in total isolation, for twenty five years. And all Max Gutman needed was $25 million to finance his feature film. But Max had to prove he could do it. Maybe shooting his first short film in a care home for people with severe learning difficulties wasn’t such a great idea. Until he met Felix James. Felix James had a rare terminal illness. Felix also had an idea for a show. A show that could easily make $25 million.

Journey to centre of the world’s first crowdfunded suicide machine as it rips through California taking out waitresses, cage fighters, hookers, journalists, gardeners, fundamentalists and hundreds more all playing this astounding game of monumental idiot savagery.

Film is the only art form which requires a lot of money to make it. A musician only needs an instrument, a painter paint, said Orson Welles. Having made films himself this subject was an obvious piece for Simon James Cathcart to reflect upon. Raising millions for any venture is not an easy task, ever. Today, the film industry has stalled in a state of sad confusion. It wrestles with the rise of the internet, remaining at all odds with it; rather than joining it. Media is now everywhere and everyone a walking filmmaker. Entertainment is now abundant – time short. Combine this with the advent of crowd-funding.

Wheel of An Hero enabled me to push the hidden pressures a director suffers from and a film crew in motion while the wheels are coming off.It enabled me to explore the archetypal situations, characters and places I’d been in with the possibilities of being over funded, coupled with the relentless demands of a largely desensitized youth market watching live and I was able to take it to levels I’d never even anticipated.

Read the first chapter on WattPad or buy the book on Amazon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Voice Over screenwriting magazine relaunches! - posted by Don


After a seven-year hiatus, Henrik has brought back Voice Over, the first online scriptwriting magazine directed at the community of hobbyists and aspiring writers.

The magazine is released four times a year and is packed full of interesting articles, interviews, reviews and all kinds of helpful tidbits that will take your writing to the next level.

The magazine is released in PDF, ePub and Plain Text formats, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the magazine with pretty much any device out there.

Download Voice Over now!
PDFePubPlain Text

In this issue:
  • Cautionary Tales from Production
  • Interview with Darren Tomalin
  • Free Software Alternatives
  • Reviews
    • Loserville
    • Anne Goes To Camp

Questions or Comments? Join the conversation on the Discussion Board

Monday, January 17, 2011

BlueCat Fellini Screenwriting Awards – January 20, 2011 - posted by Don

BlueCat Screenwriting announces a call for entries for the BlueCat Fellini Awards.

Join the BlueCat community in January for a unique opportunity to celebrate the birthday of filmmaker Federico Fellini with the BlueCat Fellini Awards.

To honor Fellini’s uniquely creative spirit, and to provide each screenwriter a new screenwriting competition experience, during this special one-time contest, BlueCat will offer TWO ANALYSES for each screenplay. Your submission will be read by two different readers, receive two sets of detailed analyses, along with two sets of numerical scores used to judge your screenplay.

Further honoring the visionary Fellini, we are accepting Short Screenplays (5-40 pages) and Feature Screenplays (70-130 pages).

The final deadline is Fellini’s birthday, January 20th, at midnight PST.

Five winners will be chosen, with each winner receiving a MacBook Pro plus Final Draft software, or the cash equivalent. Each winner will have the option to select cash for either, or both prizes.

Finalists will be announced on April 15th, and the five winners will be awarded on May 15th. All analyses will be returned by April 1st.

Entry fee is $60.

Join BlueCat in January to share your work and honor one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

SUBMIT YOUR SCREENPLAY: http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com

BlueCat Screenplay Competition
PO Box 2635
Hollywood, CA 90078

Website: http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlueCatPictures
Facebook Fan Page: Facebook Fan Page

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Babz Buzz – 007 The Shape of Things to Come - posted by Don

Babz BuzzBabz Buzz

Each month Literary Agent, Babz Bitela of Silver Bitela Agency talks soup to nuts about screenwriting.

The subject is The Shape of Things to Come – how the industry is changing.

Babz also talks about

Talk about this Babz Buzz podcast on the Discussion Board

*********

Babz Buzz is produced by Michael Cornetto and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 license*

Music provided by Incompetech

You can subscribe to Babz Buzz as well as SimplyScripts Radio and the occasional iScript on iTunes

*In English, this podcast can be share with others as long as you mention the site and link back, but you can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Babz Buzz 006 – Questions are answered - posted by Don

Babz BuzzBabz Buzz

Each month Literary Agent, Babz Bitela of Silver Bitela Agency talks soup to nuts about screenwriting.

The subject is Your Questions.

Babz also talks about

  • 1 What stories can you tell us about scripts that started out as small innocent things and grew into different creatures, monstrous deviants than their original concepts?
  • 3 Why do people who work craft service get treated so poorly on the set?
  • 4 Seriously though, does it help to pitch a script if you have sequels in mind? Franchise is always attractive.
  • 5 If I add the word “3D” to the end of my script title will it get more reads?
  • 6 What genre is going to be hot in the spec world next year?
  • 7 I think my scripts are definitely not for everyone. Any suggestions for writers who write weird stuff that most people don’t like?
  • 8 Should those writers change their way or continue to write what feels real to them
  • 9 What’s the appropriate turn around time for a script
  • 10 Same question — but for edits/rewrites. Let us say an extensive rewrite, where you are given notes, and there will be alot of changes that are beyond superficial. “ASAP” has lost its meaning in today’s world — what is reasonable, and (generally, of course) asking for how much time is asking too much?
  • 11 What makes people in your position balk?
  • 12 Do you think there are any stories that have been told enough now?
  • 13 When working with a client, is it more about a single property or the package deal?
  • 14 Is it more about constantly developing new ideas or keep polishing that one big apple
  • 15 Which client do you think is better to have in your stable?
  • 16 The one with a polish complete script with solid concepts? Or…
  • 17 The one with a fistful ideas in development, but only registered treatments up front?
  • 18 Do coverage providers offer those services for script treatments as well as scripts?
  • 19 Is it viable to pitch a writer to executives with only a treatment or synopsis?
  • 20 What qualities in a script inspire you to take a chance with a new client?
  • 21 How would you segregate or differentiate the categories of the producers seeking your company’s services? Big, medium and small organizations by percentage? Commercial, speculative productions and in-house corporate projects?
  • 22 At SS we see a moderate amount of absolute nube “material” (including my own). Likewise, do you have a fair percentage of nube producers coming to you without a clue?
  • 23 Would you consider the producers pretty good at what they do or do you run across the gamut on their products?
  • 25 Across the five years you’ve been doing this what desired product trends have you noticed
  • Mr Silver’s been doing this a while longer, right? What trends has he picked up on, as far as general, desired subject content?
  • 26 It seems you’ve hit the market at a very unique period of history. You were doing this a few years before US unemployment started bouncing around the 10% mark. Are you seeing every Tom, Dick and Harry without a day job all of a sudden banging out “material” all over the quality spectrum? If so, does it make the industry more daunting being choked with “more product” of the previous quality? Is the Coverage business doing pretty well as a (suspected) result?
  • 27 What does the agent industry buzz about behind closed doors? What articles in professional journals or seminars do you glaze over?
  • 28 What would writers be surprised to know about many of the producers that come to you?
  • 30 What are some professional disasters “other” agencies have had befall them? Almost happened to us; I literally hit a wall of disgust. I can’t speak for other agencies but for a while I was allowing writers to take the joy out of what I do.
  • 31 Through the Babz Wants… thread there are many generic, standard genres your business receives requests for: action, comedy, thriller – nothing really specific. And there are the “niche” market small dog, Hispanic wedding, Irish setting, airplane comedies, horse scripts, Jewish characters, etc. requests.
  • 31a Why does a production company look for such specialized screenplays that they don’t already have a director that can write that him/herself?
  • 31b Like a real estate broker, the buyer is responsible for having the subject house inspected and it’s the local city/county inspector’s job for gross violations and issues – not the realtor’s, are there similar caveat emptors writers should know about directors and producers?
  • 33 What industry agencies does everyone go “Oooo and Ahhh!” over? Are there villains, fools and other party animals? Can you name names?
  • 34 What in the biz makes you go “WTH?! Ya’ll are… freaks/nuts/bonkers/whatever”?
  • 35 What makes you groan, beat your head against the desk or make you want to beat the customer’s head against the desk?
  • 36 Do you have a professional specialty—Does your agency?
  • 37 What jobs does your company not touch with a ten foot pole? What can you not get enough of?
  • 38 What impresses you about a producer and/or writer?
  • 39 How many times have you seen a perfectly good deal get shot right down the toilet? What are the top three reasons?
  • 40 What quality do writers need to hone on the page?

Talk about this Babz Buzz podcast on the Discussion Board

*********

Babz Buzz is produced by Michael Cornetto and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 license*

Music provided by Incompetech

You can subscribe to Babz Buzz as well as SimplyScripts Radio and the occasional iScript on iTunes

*In English, this podcast can be share with others as long as you mention the site and link back, but you can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Babz Buzz 005 – Coverage - posted by Don

Babz BuzzBabz Buzz

Each month Literary Agent, Babz Bitela of Silver Bitela Agency talks soup to nuts about screenwriting.

The subject is Coverage.

Babz answers your questions

Talk about this Babz Buzz podcast on the Discussion Board

*********

Babz Buzz is produced by Michael Cornetto and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 license*

Music provided by Incompetech

You can subscribe to Babz Buzz as well as SimplyScripts Radio and the occasional iScript on iTunes

*In English, this podcast can be share with others as long as you mention the site and link back, but you can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SimplyScripts Radio – The Mythic Edition: Interview with Pamela Jaye Smith - posted by Don

SimplyScripts Radio – The Mythic Edition: Interview with Pamela Jaye Smith

The panel talks to Pamela Jaye Smith about the tools of story telling and applied mythology.

You can check out Pamela’s site at PamelaJayeSmith.net. Pamela is the author of Beyond the Hero’s Journey

Show Notes

******************
SimplyScripts Radio is produced by Michael Cornetto and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 license.

This episode the panel consisted of host, Michael Cornetto and panel members Pia and Don

Music provided by Incompetech.com.

Interested in joining the panel? Send an email to radiosimply (at) gmail.com

Please, we’d love to have feedback on the show.

iTunes users can subscribe to the SimplyScripts feed and have the show automatically downloaded to your iPod. – Don

Saturday, September 4, 2010

SimplyScripts Radio – The Haunted Doily Edition 9/4/10 - posted by Don

SimplyScripts Radio – The Haunted Doily Edition. Interview with Drew Daywalt.

The panel talks to Drew Daywalt, screenwriter, director and producer. You can watch some of his short films on Daywalt Fear Factory. Help fund Drew’s latest short horror, NAKED – a period fantasy/horror film at IndieGoGo.

You can follow Drew on Twitter.

Show Notes

  • Stark Raving Mad
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Haunted Houses
  • Writing Horror
  • Dreams of the Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft
  • Fear
  • Drag Me to Hell
  • Writing for Studios
  • The Shining
  • Daywalt Fear Factory
  • Fangoria
  • Wes Craven
  • Horror Filmmaking tips
  • Polydeus
  • FEARnet
  • Suicide Girl
  • Ringbearer
  • The Queen Mary
  • Hostel
  • NakedIt’s 1736 in the New World, & 2 German hunters & their Mohawk guide hunt for a hideous demon who murdered one of the German pioneer children.

******************
SimplyScripts Radio is produced by Michael Cornetto and released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 license.

This episode the panel consisted of host, Michael Cornetto and panel members Pia and Jeff “Dreamscale” Bush

Music provided by Incompetech.com.

Interested in joining the panel? Send an email to radiosimply (at) gmail.com

Please, we’d love to have feedback on the show.

iTunes users can subscribe to the SimplyScripts feed and have the show automatically downloaded to your iPod. – Don

Search with Google

    Google
    Web SimplyScripts

Award Season Screenplays

ScriptSearch

Advertisement

More Navigation

Latest Entries

Categories

Script of the Day
April 18, 2014

    Not Just Yet by Steven Harvey (NI-Gunner)

    A young man struggles to host a dinner party and manage the tensions his guests help to create. 17 pages
    Discuss it on the Forum

    *Randomness by Cornetto.

Advertisement


Donate

Advertisement



Writers I dig

Advertisement

Search Amazon

Search Sheet Music


Search All Posters

SimplyScripts Newsletter

    Subscribe to the SimplyScripts Newsletter