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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Original Script Sunday - post author Don

Over on the Original Scripts page are sixteen original scripts for your reading pleasure.

and

Submit to The Lab at the Athena Film Festival

The Athena IRIS Screenwriting Lab is designed for female writers who have not yet had a feature-length fictional script produced. The lab is a two day intensive devoted to script development.

Screenplays must include one or more strong female characters in a leadership role at the center of the story and must be feature-length narratives.

Submissions are open September 6-November 7th, after which eight to ten finalists will be chosen by a committee. Four winners will be notified in January 2019.

Visit: Film Freeway to submit.

Any current (as of 9/7/2018 ) member of the discussion board who meets the criteria and submits to this will be reimbursed the cost of the submission ($65) by SimplyScripts. Just forward the submission confirmation email to webmaster @ simplyscripts.com.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

It starts with a concept – Lake Regret - post author Gary Howell

Every movie script ever written started with an idea or a concept.  They’re not the same thing, by the way.  An idea is just a short fragment of the larger picture.  “Guys capture ghosts” is an idea for “Ghostbusters”, but beyond that, it doesn’t tell you what the story is about. “A girl gets transported by a tornado to a magical land, but the only way to return home is to kill a wicked witch” is more of a concept (and turned out to be a great movie!).  This article, if you’re interested in the differences, gives you more details about what constitutes an idea and what makes up a concept: The Ten Greatest Movie Concepts of All Time.

In this case, Rick Hansberry and I shared ideas and concepts, and in some cases, full outlines, to try and land on a story that we would both buy into.  After some back and forth, we settled on what we have started calling “Lake Regret.”

“Lake Regret” started as an idea I had a few months back.  It was a crazy idea, one that would probably be laughed out of any pitch session.  Basically, I wondered if you could create a movie that could be filmed entirely in one day.  Craziness, I know, but it arose from a second viewing of “Birdman”, the Michael Keaton film. The original thought was, could you come up with a script that could be filmed in one continuous shot in one location, almost like you were watching a play.  The trick would be in making it interesting enough that it would hold your attention, as well as not be entirely dialogue driven.  Some other factors playing into my idea were doing something on a shoestring budget — i.e., it I had to film it myself, could I make it happen easily and quickly (I can hear you all vigorously shaking your head “NO, YOU CAN’T”).

With that as my guideline, I started generating places where this could happen.  I had some general locales I played with — a courtroom, a radio station, a bowling alley, and then I settled on a house, looking out over a this beautiful lake.  Nice, peaceful and picture perfect, located in a small town where parents would love to raise their kids.

Hold on, you say, what’s so interesting about that?  Well, that’s a post for another day. Read the link above, and in the next post, we’ll talk about how Rick and I are going to try and find something compelling in this little part of the world.

_____________

The further adventures of the screenwriting and marketing process of Lake Regret wherein Gary Howell documents his and Rick Hansberry's screenwriting adventures from concept, to the writing, to how they handle disagreements, to marketing the script. Reproduced with permission

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Original Script Sunday has come… - post author Don

… on a Sunday!

Over on the Original Scripts page are twenty five original scripts for your reading pleasure.

If you have a chance and are interested in the screenwriting and marketing process, take a look at LakeRegretMovie.com wherein Gary Howell documents his and Rick Hansberry’s screenwriting adventures from concept, to the writing, to how they handle disagreements, to marketing the script.

– Don

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Journey Begins – Lake Regret - post author Gary Howell

Well, this is going to be interesting.  And exasperating.  And educational.

Rick Hansberry and I have spent time writing screenplays together, and we’ve had success in getting both our joint and individual screenplay projects optioned.  So we know a little bit about writing for the screen, and the business of what it takes to get the film pitched, marketed, optioned, and (fingers crossed) produced.

We recently decided we wanted to write another script together, and we begin discussing how in this brave new social media world, you need to do more than just write the script.  You have to be adept at marketing, not just in making a pitch to producers, but also in using Instagram and Twitter and other platforms (like this blog) to start generating buzz about (and interest in) the script.

We thought it would be interesting for those of you out there who are interested in the entire process to see how we tackle it, from concept, to the writing, to how we handle disagreements, to marketing the script.

The idea is to provide encouragement and education to those of you out there who haven’t been through this process before:  Maybe you’ve written a screenplay, but you’re not sure what to do with it, maybe you’ve never written before and you’re curious how it all works.

Let’s take this journey together.

_____________

The further adventures of the screenwriting and marketing process of Lake Regret wherein Gary Howell documents his and Rick Hansberry's screenwriting adventures from concept, to the writing, to how they handle disagreements, to marketing the script. Reproduced with permission

Friday, May 4, 2018

Interviews: Mark Renshaw - post author Anthony Cawood

An Interview with Mark Renshaw

This interview original appeared on Anthony Cawood’s ScreenWritingOpportunities blog.

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?
I used to write short spoof stories starring people I worked with. They became quite popular in the office. A guy called Al Lougher read one of them and approached me to see if I was interested in writing some screenplays for him to shoot. I said yes for a laugh and found a love for the craft of writing scripts.

Q: And how long have been writing screenplays, and you write fiction too – which came first?
Fiction first. Can you believe I switched from prose to scripts because I thought screenplays would be easier? HAHAHAH! What a loon!
Anyway, I dabbled around for a while just writing spoofs and really bad scripts and didn’t really take it seriously until 2013. That is when I threw away everything I thought I knew, bought a load of screenplay writing books and started from scratch. That’s also when I joined [the] Simply Scripts [Discussion Board].

Q: You have taken direct action with some of your work and helped get them made, what made you take this approach?
I quickly realised that I had a lot of competition. There are thousands of scripts online from writers who are literally begging to get them produced. Most seem willing to offer their scripts for free just to get their first sniff. There are also thousands of entries from annoyingly talented writers in every major screenwriting competition out there.
At first I just believed folks would read my brilliant scripts and be queuing up to produce them. That bubble quickly burst. I decided to take action to get one produced myself. I saved up for a year, wrote the cheapest script I could come up with, snagged a director (having the funds REALLY helps with this) and got it made.
The idea was to showcase what one of my scripts looked like on screen, made with just the money from my own pocket, and hopefully give others the confidence in my work. I hoped this would help me stand out.
That didn’t actually happen the way I imagined. It took over three years, producing three of my scripts at my own expense, taking the films around the festival circuit and spending ages promoting them before I started to get the types of queries I’d been hoping for on day one.

Q: You made a great short (and starred in it!), I Am Peter Cushing, back in 2002, was that your first foray into movie making?
It was the first short film I made and it was great fun. I made that with Al Lougher and we filmed it guerrilla style. I wrote and starred in it as the main character and used my family and friends as extras. Al borrowed a camera and we just went out, found locations, set up, took some shots and ran as we didn’t have permission to shoot anywhere.
Prior to Peter Cushing we shot a trailer for a feature film that doesn’t exist called, “Winston: The Last Known Jamaican Witch Hunter.” Can you believe we got Danny John Jules from Red Dwarf interest in making a film based on that? It all fell apart when he found out we didn’t have a clue what we were doing lol but Al kept the voice mail with him agreeing to it for ages. He may still have it!

Q: What did you learn from that experience and your subsequent shorts?
Being involved in the script to screen process is one of the most valuable lessons a screenwriter can experience. Collaborating with a director on the script is an education. It’s an amazing but sometimes challenging process. The script will change, a lot! Some is unavoidable due to budget, location etc. some simply because the other person wants to pour some of their creativity into the story. The screenwriter must learn to be open to collaboration, to weave in the changes without breaking the spine of the story. You must also learn when to stand up and challenge changes.
Also, hearing your dialogue spoken by an actor is incredible. You instantly know what works and what doesn’t and the actor helps you figure it out.

Q: Any advice to writer’s considering a similar approach?
DO IT! Even If you need to use you own phone, family and friends. Making I Am Peter Cushing and that spoof trailer was one of the most fun, educating experiences I’ve ever had.

Q: You have a number of projects, including features, in development – what’s the situation with them?
I have a TV series I’ve developed called The Nearscape. It took me a year to write the pilot script, TV bible and supporting materials. I also made a proof of concept short film called The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape. I have the pilot script in all the major TV writing competitions, the film in film festivals and pitching the idea to however I can. I realise I’ve got zero chance of getting a big budget sci-fi TV series sold as I’m an unknown, but I’m passionate about the Nearscape and thought, why not try.
Saying that, it’s scoring well so far and reaching the final stages in some of them. I got an email from the BBC today as I was writing these answers telling me it reached the final 4% of the Drama Writer’s Room group. It also got to the final of the Inshore Fellowship.
Apart from that I’m writing a feature length version of Cyborn. My writing time is extremely limited, so those two are my main focus for now, although I’ve loads of ideas I dabble with.

Q: You’ve written a ton short scripts, why do you think they are useful?
They are the backbone of my writing. Due to work and family commitments, writing is a hobby. I may get 3 hours a week to write something, sometimes no time at all, so a short script or story is very much more achievable for me.

Q: Did you start with short scripts and then move to features?
I concentrated solely on shorts for the first few years, then half hour TV pilots. Last year was the first time I attempted a one hour TV pilot. I have tried writing features before but they’ve been disasters.

Q: When it comes to feature scripts, how do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?
My previous two features were horrendous. Due to the time constraints mentioned, I avoided features for ages. Then I suddenly attempted to write some with no preparation or structure. The results where vomit drafts that were beyond hope. I wrote myself into corners I couldn’t get out of without scrapping the whole thing and starting again.
With Cyborn, I’m trying to do it properly. Due to my time limits I needed help, so I’ve been following the guidelines in the book, The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time by Pilar Alessandra. I was luckily enough to attend some of her classes at the London Screenwriting Festival last year and she signed a copy for me. The book breaks down the planning, structure and writing of a feature into easy to follow ten minute segments.
So far I’m loving it. I’ve written the whole outline including character bios, broke it down into acts, sequences and scenes yet I’ve not written a single page of the script yet! I’m finally ready to begin this weekend. The plan is to treat each sequence as a short script, but one that is already planned as a connection to the next. I’ll spend the week planning the ‘short’ in my head just like I do for the Simply Scripts one week challenges, and then write it in a day. Rinse and repeat the following weeks until the first draft is done.
That’s the plan anyway!

Q: What was the first feature you wrote and how did you get it out there? Did you query Producers, enter competitions, use Inktip, etc?
The first feature I wrote was called Impulse. I paid £100 to have it professionally reviewed and it got such a bad report, I never showed it to anyone else and binned it.
The second was called The Twelve Step Killers. This was another vomit draft. I put it on Inktip to test the waters, got around 5 requests to read the script but no follow ups. I’m not surprised though, it was terrible.

Q: Your work has done well in a variety of competitions (congrats!), have you received interest from agents/producers afterwards?
Rarely. I got asked for some horror features after I reached the finals of Shriekfest in 2017 but I didn’t have anything suitable. Apart from that, nothing. I promote my wins as much as I can on social media but the queries I’ve had so far are a result of listings on Inktip, Simply Scripts, Script Revolution etc.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions in general?
In my opinion and experience, a lot of these competitions (and film festivals) are cash cows that take advantage of writer’s and independent filmmaker’s hopes and dreams. They are like a lottery in many ways. When I was at the London Screenwriting Festival I also attended a few sessions held by agents and producers. They said the only competition they take notice of is the Nicholl Fellowship.
So unless you are taking part in the top screenplay competitions in the world (there’s only about 10 which the industry recognise and thousands enter these) the rest are just digital laurels you can put on your writer’s CV that may help build your portfolio, but they won’t impress the big boys.

Q: Your feature script, Cyborn, recently won the Inroads Fellowship Awards, what’s the prize and what next for Cyborn?
The prize was supposed to be a trip to LA to attend the Robert McKee Story seminar. Unfortunately, the seminar changed dates late on and it was over before Inroads finished. So, they’ve given me a cash alternative of $1,200 (£814) and I’m going to the London seminar in May instead. It’s not LA but I’m still excited about it.
I also get Inktip listing and some copyright vault freebies. The main prize is they are going to promote me and my work for the next 12 months. I’ve no idea what this entails, they are getting a press release ready now. Whatever happens, I’ll try to take advantage of it.
As for Cyborn, I’m desperately trying to turn a three-page short into a feature as quick as I can in case someone asks for it!

Q: You’ve managed to go a step further than many with some of your work gaining distribution in a variety of places, how’d you go about that?
I got a bit lucky there. The distributors saw my film online and approached me with a distribution deal. This is a first for me, it is a 3-year deal, so I’ll see how it goes.

Q: And where can people see these released works?
I Am Peter Cushing, Surrender and The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape are all on Vimeo and YouTube. The links are on my website at www.Mark-Renshaw.com. No More Tomorrows and the So Dark episodes are on Amazon Prime.

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, position themselves as gurus etc, what’s your view on such services?
I’ve used such services for spelling an grammar. But if I want an opinion on the script as to the story, characters etc. I’m not willing to trust some anonymous person’s opinion who I have no idea how much experience they have. I like to get feedback on trusted beta readers, fellow writers at Simply Scripts and other writing groups I’m a part of. Some of these people’s work I’ve seen and really admire. I tend to reach out to those for feedback.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?
I love writing. Producing, promoting, networking; I pretty much hate all that. I wish I had a producer to do such things but I don’t, so it’s down to me for now. It’s a necessary evil, so I put on a mask and do it.

Q: You are fairly active online, SimplyScripts, Facebook groups and the like, why do you think these are important?
I think staying in touch with other writers is very important. We are like a clan, we support each other, which I do like. Sometimes it’s a very naughty distraction though. I end up checking Facebook when I should be writing sometimes.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?
Anyway to get your script out there is gotta be good right? I just don’t like paying a lot for these things, so I’ve used Blacklist but didn’t really like it. Similarly, I use the free Inktip short listings but the paid for section is used sparingly.

Q: What other projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits?
Due to time constraints I can only focus on one thing at a time. For now it’s writing Cyborn while promoting Nearscape and some shorts. I do collaborate with Al Lougher a lot and I’m always working on something with him. The latest was a brilliant short film called The Dollmaker, written by our old Simply Scripts pal Matias Caruso. I helped out with the producing on that, don’t think I got a credit (yet), but I honestly don’t mind as I just love collaborating with another creative like Al. The Dollmaker is killing it at the horror festivals at the moment.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?
Some feedback notes I’ve received from film festivals have been horrendous. The last bunch of notes I got for Nearscape was basically a list of TV shows they recommended I watch…and I’ve seen them all lol. The best, was to get honest feedback from people who don’t know me and therefore have no vested interest. Family & friends are nice, but they won’t tell you the truth.

Now for a few ‘getting to know Mark’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.
Predator. Cheesy I know but I think that film is pretty much perfect. My current favourite script is The Expanse TV pilot.

Q: Favourite author and book?
Legend by David Gemmell.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?
I quit alcohol a little over 4 years ago. Now my guilty pleasures are coffee and chocolate.

Q: Favourite food?
See above!

Q: Any other interests and passions?
Just the usual boring stuff, reading, music, training vampire dragons etc.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
You guys are amazing. You are creators. Most people on this planet, they destroy stuff. You are the creators of stories; there are not many greater callings in my opinion. The feedback and support I’ve received on Simply Scripts have been priceless. The One Week Challenges, I’ve enjoyed them more than any film festival. Keep up the great work!

Thanks to Mark for taking time out for the informative interview and check out his site for links to some great material!

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Interview – Joey Tuccio from Roadmap Writers - post author Anthony Cawood

 

Road Map WritersI recently caught up with Joey and asked him a ton of questions about Roadmap Writers – he was good enough to take some time and provide answers and some great insights.

Thanks, Joey!

 

Q: First up, how about a little bit of background on the man behind Roadmap Writers, how did you get into the industry?
A: I used to be an assistant at a company called Bold Films (that did movies like Drive, Whiplash and Nightcrawler) and part of my job was to turn away unsolicited writers/submissions. It was clear from most of the writers’ approaches that many had zero idea on how the industry works and how to put their best foot forward. So me and my team wanted to create something that helped writers get the lay of the land by working with execs in the industry that develop and sell material for a living.

Q: How would you describe Roadmap Writers to a new writer or producer?
A: Roadmap is an educational hub for writers to connect with and learn from hundreds of executives on our roster. Our monthly programs serve as stepping stones to help writers create the strongest portfolio and pitching materials possible. Our programs are feedback-driven and put the writer in immersive and interactive learning environments with the goal of making them competitive in the marketplace.

Q: You have helped over 40 writers get signed up to agencies, do you see this as a key success criteria?
A: Absolutely. For us, our goal is to equip writers with the experience and knowledge needed to get the attention of entertainment industry professionals. Working with writers is our passion, so when we’re able to help a writer get signed, it’s the ultimate reward for us. It’s such a great feeling and why we’re so fired up to do what we do.

Q: You’ve also a few writers optioned too, any close to going into production that we should be watching out for?
A: Yes. Roadmap has worked with production company Route One Entertainment twice on an annual contest where the winning script will be produced by them. Keep watching the trades for those announcements!

Q: And what was it like with the first few? Validation?
A: It’s not really validation for us because we know that we know what we’re doing. It’s more validation for our community to know that the industry is not a cold and distant place sitting on top of a mountain. It’s accessible if done right.

Q: Of these successes which are your proudest of, or most pleased with?
A: I always love to see success stories for the underdogs (i.e. diverse writers, writers that don’t live in LA, etc). I especially like to see writers of an older age getting traction because it’s proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Q: There are many other players in the training market these days, what do you think differentiates RW?
A: We really pride ourselves in working with what we call career writers and not hobbyist writers. We take the time to understand the writer as an individual and strategize to put them in front of the executives and literary reps that speak to their writing goals and style. We want to work with writers who are willing to put in the time and effort to master their craft and take advantage of every opportunity we have. We consistently encourage writers in our programs to audit other pitch and feedback sessions so that they can still learn from the exchanges and conversations between other writers and executives. We also don’t want to work with EVERY single writer trying to break in. That’s impossible to manage and prevents Roadmap from being a cold, assembly-line machine like so many other places. We have turned a number of writers away from using our programs. We only want to work with writers that want to do this as a career. Not writers that want to be famous in 24 hours. We only want to work with writers that we would feel comfortable putting in front of execs.

Q: You describe yourself as a training service, but you also offer pitch service, mentoring etc, can you give us a brief run down of the paid services?
A: We give writers a number of different resources to grow in their craft. Our pitch classes give writers an opportunity to practice pitching industry professionals at top management and production companies. The feedback they receive allows them to make changes to strengthen their pitch and identify ways to maximize effectiveness. For writers looking for more hands-on work to elevate their script we offer month long mentorships with executives who will help to develop and provide detailed feedback to the writer on their material.

Q: And what about the RW Network, how does that work?
A: The Roadmap Writer Network is our monthly program designed to give writers a comprehensive overview of a variety of Roadmaps education offerings. The RW Network includes one Open Pitch Session – Verbal or Written to an industry executive. Writers also participate in a 5-Minute Elevator Pitch to 3 execs in an online roundtable setting. Some of our past elevator pitch sessions included execs from Dark Trick Films, Original Film, Rumble Films and Lawrence Bender Productions. Writers also receive 4 Educational/Interactive Webinars covering a wide range of screenwriting & industry topics. All webinars are recorded so if you can’t attend live, you still get the recording. Writers also get a private logline review with Roadmap’s Director of Writer Outreach and a group pitch prep webinar with literary manager Chris Deckard of Fictional Entity.

Q: And any free content or tasters available for people to experience RW?
A: Definitely. We host free webinars sessions typically once a month on a variety of different topics. For example, we recently had a free webinar on Exploring TV Diversity Initiatives: Why We Need Them that was hosted by an exec from AMC Networks.

Q: There are a lot of people competing for aspiring screenwriter’s limited money, from guru’s, through coverage services, and a plethora of competitions. What makes RW a good investment?
A: We differentiate ourselves by bringing literary reps and executives into the educational process. Writers are learning directly from those working in the industry. We also know that transparency is paramount and while others services/competitions talk in vague circles we pride ourselves in being direct and candid with our writers. Our reputation with industry professionals is what makes us an invaluable resource. So maintaining the highest level of openness with our writers is extremely important to us. Lastly, our main goal is to try to get writers out of our programs (by providing them with enough tools and executive allies that they are ready to conquer the world without us!) and not feel like they have to stay in programs forever. We tell writers in our Top Tier programs that the main mandate is that we want writers out of the programs as fast as possible.

Q: And what are your thoughts on the plethora of competitions out there for screenwriters, RW run a few too… are any actually useful in careers terms?
A: I think competitions can be very helpful for a writer to get more industry exposure for themselves and their material. I think there are a handful of competitions that are doing things at a very high level. My advice to writers is to always look at the success stories of the competition they are looking to enter. What have they done to help further the career of its past entrants? Who are their judges? Identifying those things can help you determine the quality of the competition and make an informed decision.

Q: And what changes have you seen in the industry since you started?
A: The desire to find diverse voices is very real and has increasingly become part of the conversation when speaking with execs and literary reps.

Q: What future developments are in the pipeline for RW?
A: We’ve got some great new executives and companies that we’re bringing into the fold which will help increase the reach and access for our writers. We’re also looking to do an overhaul of our current writing competitions with the goal of generating even more opportunities for writers. And of course, we are always refining our programs based on writer feedback to make sure our offerings are the best they can be.

Q: Any advice in general for the aspiring screenwriters on Simply Scripts in terms of writing more saleable scripts and breaking in?
A: Never chase the trend. Write a story that speaks to something you are passionate about. Don’t forget that your characters are everything. Let us inhabit your story and your world through them and experience the fears and vulnerabilities that we has people are afraid to face or acknowledge. Also, I always tell writers who are newer to writing to look on scripts on SimplyScripts.com. I often host free opening page analysis training programs to writers and if it’s clear they don’t know how to format, I direct them to Simply Scripts so they can learn from scripts that have actually been produced. Also, when pitching or networking remember that you are human first and a writer second. Execs don’t want robots. They want human beings they can relate to and work with for years and years.

Okay, now for some getting to know Joey questions…

Q: Fave movie?
A: Jurassic Park

Q: Fave script?
A: The Spectacular Now

Q: Best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve had/heard.
A: Best Advice: “Have 10 different friends read your script and ask them to describe it back to you to make sure the movie in your head is the movie on the page.”
Worst Advice: “It’s okay if it’s not on the page. We’ll fix it on set.” Needless to say that is a recipe for disaster.

Q: Fave food?
A: Grilled cheese sandwich with chicken.

Q: Fave drink?
A: Vanilla Latte

Q: Fave thing to do outside of RW and screenwriting related stuff?
A: I’m obsessed with dogs. I’m the dog father to two gorgeous pit bulls, Piper and Gilly. I work a lot with a few local LA dog recuse shelters as well as being on the board of one, and am always happy to help a dog find a loving home. Anthony, do you want to adopt a pit bull?

Q: Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers out there?
A: Trust your gut. Know that this business is built on relationships so doing everything you can to build them.

Once again, thanks to Joey for taking time out of his busy schedule for the interview.

 

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Shore Scripts Definitive Screenwriting Course – Use discount code SIMPLYSCRIPTS to get 30% off - post author Don

Shore Scripts Definitive Online Screenwriting has launched! Sign-up using discount code SIMPLYSCRIPTS to receive a 30% Discount. This also enters you in a chance to win one of 6 Free IMDB Pro memberships that Shore Scripts are giving away. Visit courses.shorescripts.com.

The course is Led by Richard Walter, UCLA’s premier screenwriting educator; learn to write, pitch, and sell your screenplay in just 30 days. With 2½ hours of video lectures, 150+ page of industry guides, real-life writing exercises, plus lots more, this is your opportunity to learn from the pros.


Note: I have not taken the course and as such can not vouch for the efficacy of the course. As such whatever compensation I would have gotten I’m passing on to the writer in the form of a higher discount off the price of the course.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Interviews: Lisa DeVita, writer of Peelers. - post author Anthony Cawood

If you’ve not seen it… Peelers is a fun filled horror film set in a strip club, more details here.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the writer recently and Lisa Devita was good enough to spend some time answering all my dumb questions and her answers are insightful, entertaining and often hilarious – thanks Lisa!

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?

I was coming upon the last semester of my tenure at university… decision time… what do I want to do with my life once I must leave the sanctuary of school?  I was at a loss as to what to do with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English. My choices were to become a school teacher or get a job at a video store. I wasn’t very keen on either and then it hit me… all my life I’ve been a storyteller. I majored in English because I loved reading stories and I loved writing them. As a kid I’d spend hours in front of the mirror, not doing my hair and trying on makeup, but acting out plays, doing stand-up comedy and hosting variety shows. Just before I graduated I finally woke up and saw the answer that had been sitting right in front of me the whole time, I was just too wrapped up in university life to see it. But I wasn’t sure what type of writing I wanted to do so I enrolled in two courses that were quite different to see which one appealed: Copywriting and Screenwriting. The Copywriting class was interesting and fun but I didn’t like the whole consumerist angle to it and the storytelling aspect was kinda limited to an ADHD audience. The Screenwriting class however, grabbed me hook, line and sinker. I fell in love with every aspect… the character development, the dialogue, setting the scene, the hero’s journey, the plot twists, learning the lesson. All of it had me at “hello.”  The next day, I applied to Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film & Television program and have never looked back.

Q: Peelers is your first IMDB credit for Writing, but you have a number of credits in Editorial capacities – what did these entail?

I worked in Post Production mainly as a coordinator helping to streamline the editorial process. I loved it. Post Production is amazing to behold how it all comes together. I also worked in research and story development on a Factual TV series called “Vanity Insanity” that delved into the world of plastic surgery… very interesting and scary stuff. It was an amazing experience as I got to work in the area I’m most interested in (Story Development). I also worked in Clearances. Worst. Job. Ever. You’re basically asking permission to use someone’s likeness in a show, or a logo, or some footage, and nine times out of ten the answer is either “NO” or “what are you going to do for me?”  Although the best answer I ever got (from an actor whose likeness we wanted to use) was a 2-page, single-spaced essay on how the work I was doing (in this case clearances on a documentary on vampires in film) was the work of the devil and if I only chose to follow Christ, that my life would be better for it. I still have the letter. It’s gold. Either way, I’m not one to ask for permission, it’s just not in my nature. So I quit very soon after.

Q: Was this experience useful to your screenwriting?

I would say this experience was far more useful in the world of office politics and learning how the whole process of TV making happens, and how building and nurturing relationships is essential. But the number one thing I learned that has been the most important lesson and carries me through my filmmaking career to this day, is that no matter what happens, if your lead actor drops out at the last minute, or your camera gear isn’t working on set, or the caterer doesn’t show up, that there is ALWAYS a way to get it (your shooting day) done. You just have to have hustle and creative chutzpah, but there is a way. It was the producer of the factual TV series we were working on who taught me that, Laura Watson. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago from breast cancer, but I’ve never forgotten that lesson (and watched her implement it on multiple occasions). In fact, we dedicated Peelers to her memory because there’s no way we could’ve made the film without remembering her lesson.

Q: Did you write anything else prior to Peelers, Shorts or Features?

Yes, I’ve written a couple of features and many, many shorts. I love shorts. I find them so easy to write. All you need is one great idea, or a great twist. I know they’re not the best way to try and make a living (unless you’re Pixar) but I still love writing them.

Q: And Peelers, was that spec or commission?

It was on commission. I’m supposed to get a dollar for the script (still haven’t seen it though). Such is the reality of indie filmmaking.

Q: How did you hook up with Seve (Peelers Director)?

Sevé’s sales agent on Skew (his first feature film) suggested he make another horror film because they’re easier to sell in the indie market. His only two requirements were that it have more blood and more nudity. And while I’m all for nudity (who isn’t?), Sevé didn’t want to make a film with gratuitous boob shots. So he thought: where can a film take place in which nudity is the norm?  And the location for Peelers was born. At this time we were both working at one of the biggest production houses in Vancouver, BC within the post production department (he was a colorist and I was a post production coordinator). We had played baseball together a few times outside of work and therefore Sevé knew that I was working on my own screenplays, so he pitched me the idea of writing a horror script that takes place in a strip club. I used to live in Las Vegas so I had lots of source material and so I jumped at the chance to write the script. In fact, the story for Peelers was inspired by a crazy incident that happened to me while at a strip club in Las Vegas. But I’ll have to save that story for another time… Anyway, we both have the same sense of humor and we worked really well together so it turned out to be an amazing director-writer partnership where one person is a little nuts (the writer) and the other person reels it in and edits for structure and focus (the director).

Q: Did you have to change the script much to get the film made?

The basic concept for the story didn’t change but definitely a lot of the kills did. In my initial drafts I had some crazy kills that would’ve involved some pretty high tech special effects (or highly skilled visual effects) both of which we did not have access to and when Sevé read them in my script he kindly reminded me that we didn’t have a $25 million dollar budget, so it was back to the drawing board for many kill scenes. Basically, we discussed which kills we wanted to keep the most and spend our budget on. I was allowed to keep two or three, but the rest had to be “finessed” into indie budget standards in order for us to shoot.

Q: Peelers is proper old school exploitation, how much fun was it to write?

A ton of fun!  As most of my friends and family can attest, I’m a teenage boy trapped in a woman’s body. I love crossing the line, pushing the envelope. I love potty humor and boobs. I have no filter and so this is how I approached the screenplay. Of course this is where Sevé makes for such a great creative partner – he encourages me to write sans filter on the first go-round, just get everything out there on paper, but then he sees the big picture (and the budget) so he’s a pro at knowing what to keep, what needs finessing and what needs to go. Sure I fight for my favorite stuff to stay in the picture; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but in the end, I trust Sevé and it’s always a learning process. The ending for example (I won’t give it away) Sevé and I debated a long time whether to keep it or not. We worried that people might think we went too far and end up hating the entire movie because of it. But in this overly politically-correct world, I’m always looking to offend, so we decided to keep it. And I’m glad we did because people go nuts for it. Audiences scream with devilish glee at it. And then turn around and say, “I can’t believe you went there.”  And that’s my aim as a writer (well, one of my aims). I definitely was a champion for more humor in the script and Sevé wanted more of a serious tone, so those moments in the film that are cheesy and goofy and sick and twisted are my doing and the more pensive, somber moments have gone through the “Sevé edit.”  In the end, I think we got the balance just right. We’ve had so many reviewers write that we got the mix of gore and humor bang on, which is so great to hear especially after months of back and forth deliberation wondering if we went too far down either end of the dark/dreary or ridiculous/cheesy spectrum.

Q: And you were also involved in the film’s production as a Producer, what exactly did this entail? 

Producer = Do every role that you don’t have crew for (for indie filmmakers anyway). All you have to do is watch the credits roll at the end of Peelers and you’ll see mine and Sevé’s name on there at least 20 times (and of course there’s lots of stuff we didn’t bother taking credit for). And most of the roles I took on, I had zero experience in. But you learn pretty quickly, because if you don’t, there’s no movie. To this day (three years after production) I still have plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis from being on my feet all day, everyday during production. I refer to them as my battle scars. I worked extensively in acquiring sponsorship and music for the soundtrack, set design and construction, costumes, prop acquisition and rentals, location scouting, craft services and first aid to name a few. I was even a half naked body double. It was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my whole life. And I did it without pay. And I loved it. Sure there were tough times. But at the end of it all, it was truly amazing to take it all in and say, “Look at what we did!”  Truly unbelievable.

Q: And how was the film funded, it wasn’t through poker winnings was it?

No poker winnings involved this time, haha, although it was seriously considered. And that’s no exaggeration… as indie filmmakers, you honestly consider EVERY possible way to raise funds for your film and since I’m pretty consistent at coming out ahead when I play, we toyed with the idea of me going to Vegas for a few months to “raise” money. Ultimately, we decided against it, as it was too time-consuming and not as cost effective as we imagined. We funded the film however, through all of our own money that we saved up from working our asses off at our paid jobs, lots and lots of favors, begging, loving parents, and Kickstarter. Although I wouldn’t do Kickstarter again. It’s much more bother than it’s worth.

Q: You’ve been on the road touring festivals with Seve/Peelers, fun or grind?

Although I’m definitely a “glass-is-half-full” kinda person, if I’m being totally honest, I’d have to say it was more grind than fun. Don’t get me wrong, some festivals are great. For example, A Night of Horror Festival in Australia was amazing, but that’s because it’s run by an amazing guy (who has become a good friend now). The Julienne Dubuque Fest is also incredible too. Also, run by an amazing woman. But most festivals are a total waste of time and money. It is truly the people running the show who make or break a festival and most are definitely broken. After our festival run I was totally burnt out and despondent from the overall experience. I will definitely be much more selective when choosing which festivals to attend in the future.

Q: And where are you with Peelers now, distribution all sorted and festivals finished?

Distribution is continually ongoing but so far we have distribution in Canada, USA and overseas. Festivals are done now, although we occasionally get asked to screen at various venues and conventions still. We even screened at a Drive-in in Shelbyville, Indiana this year!  Very cool.

Q: And where can we see Peelers?

We are now all over the USA… RedBox, VOD, iTunes, Amazon.com, etc. Many foreign countries are picking us up and Canada is slowly coming along… I know that we are on VOD now. More to come…

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, notes, feedback and position themselves as gurus etc, what is your view on such services?

I’m sure those services are great if you can afford them, but I think the best script doctors are the ones who love stories, and yes, that’s probably most everyone, but that’s because I believe storytelling is an innate gift in all of us, some of us just practice it more often than others. My brother and sister for example are excellent script doctors. My sister is a book worm, and I give her my scripts to read all the time. I trust her because she knows instantly what works and what doesn’t, she has a great sense for pacing and flow in a story and yet she’s never been to film school or taken a course in screenwriting. My brother has seen every movie out there. He can tell you exactly what’s wrong with Star Wars Episode 3 before you even think about it. So I trust his input implicitly. You watch enough movies and read enough books, you know how a story is supposed to work, even if you’ve never written one yourself. Besides, the professional script doctors I’ve met are jaded, bitter and don’t have the time to watch movies or read books. I’d rather give my script to someone who wants to help me find the magic, not someone who wants to see me burn in hell, hahaha.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?

I know networking is essential in order to make connections, in order to get your work out there, in order to get discovered, in order to make a living off of writing, and so on and so forth, but I just loathe it. I live inside my head, I don’t want to go out into the real world and make small talk. Besides, no one wants to talk to the writer (even though writers are the most interesting of the bunch!)  But alas, if I want my work to be discovered, it is what I must do. And so, in between my writing and my drawing and my reading and my daydreaming, I plan on getting out there… I even got Larry King’s book on small talk entitled: “How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.”  It really is an amazing book, very helpful. I’ll be testing it out at an industry party soon. After a few drinks of course.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?

I haven’t used these services yet but I’m definitely up for doing so one day when I become that proud parent who has a baby script I’d like to show off to others. I don’t know any screenwriters personally who’ve found success with any of these services, but I’ve read the loglines on The Blacklist website and some of them are great, so I’m sure, or at least I hope, these screenplays will get picked up.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions, entered any yourself, any success?

I think they’re all a scam. Just a way to make starving artists starve even more. I’d only enter a competition if the fee was waived. The fees are just way too high on the majority of competitions and only a very select few are worthy of your time. Similar to festivals.

Q: You worked for the World Series of Poker and I believe you play a bit too, what’s the highest level/buy in you’ve played at?

While I was working for the WSOP I was allowed to enter the Media-Celebrity event since I was part of the media. It takes place halfway through the World Series tournament and there are approximately 500 entrants. The buy-in is taken care of for you and your final table winnings (if you make it) are donated to the charity of your choice. It was an absolute blast. A few times I was down to my last chips, in serious danger of busting out, but I miraculously built up my stash each time. Celebs at my table at different points in time during the tournament included Jennifer Tilly (she’s very good, very aggressive player), Dick Van Patten and his son Vince Van Patten, Shannon Elizabeth and even the legendary Ron Jeremy (what an entourage he had… ) Amazingly, I actually made it to the final table and busted out in seventh place overall! Because of this, I’m listed on Card Player’s website (which in the poker world is a big honor, haha).

Q: How did you get into poker?

I was living in Las Vegas at the time and I’d always been intrigued by the game. I love games in general as I’m highly competitive. So one day, my boyfriend at the time taught me how to play. After a few home study sessions he surprised me on my birthday with a night out at a live poker table in a real casino. I started with 40 dollars at a 1-2 table. I was SO nervous. Each time the dealer called action on me I could barely hear him over the deafening thudding of my heartbeat. Whenever I placed a bet my hands shook uncontrollably, I could barely hold the chips without dropping them. I don’t know if anyone else noticed this but my boyfriend sure did, telling me it was so obvious. To this day my hands still shake whenever I have good cards, so friends and family always look for this (my poker “tell”) and avoid playing against me when they see it. I’m still working on learning to control it. Anyway, two hours later, I had made $200 so we decided to leave on a high, nothing too greedy since it was my first time. I was absolutely hooked on the game from that day forward. It was a great birthday.

Q: What projects are you working on now and when can next expect to see your name on the credits?

I’m all over the map at the moment. I’ve written a sci-fi novel (first draft) that is in desperate need of a re-write (but I’m excited to do so). I’ve also finished a family-comedy feature film script (quite the departure from a stripper horror). And I’m currently working on a dark comedy.

Q: You write fiction and factual too, how do you find it swapping between disciplines?

I find it much harder to write factual, and a bore, I can’t help but embellish. I’m not a fan of reality.

Q: What’s the best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve been given?

Best advice:  “You can’t be afraid to look dumb, especially when writing comedy. You have to get through all the dumb stuff in order to get to the gold.”

Worst advice:  “Write only what you know.”

Now for a few ‘getting to know Lisa’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.

Well, I have a Top Ten List of favorite films of course, but my top 3 are:  The Natural, The Power of One and The Hangover. My favorite script however is Midnight Run by George Gallo. It is near perfect in every way. I never get sick of it.

Q: Favourite author and book? 

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It blew my mind. I didn’t want it to end.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?

A Moscow Mule.

Q: Favourite food?

Steak. And cheese. And ice cream. And burgers. Let’s just sum this up and say “COW” is my favorite food and everything that comes from cow. Butter too. Butter makes everything better.

Q: Fave type of poker? Favourite player?

7-card stud, hands-down. The “Old Gentlemen’s Game” as they call it. That’s the game I first learned to play at a casino. But with the rise in popularity of Texas Hold’em, it is near impossible to find a 7-card stud game anywhere these days. So I had to eventually learn Texas Hold’em. And while I do enjoy it, I much prefer 7-card stud. Texas Hold’em is mostly balls and luck. But 7-card stud is a thinking game of patience and strategy and timing. That’s probably why you’ll only see old men playing it. And me. Favorite poker player:  Jesus aka Chris Ferguson. I love his calm, quiet demeanor. He was so cool and unassuming. And a brilliant player. No loud showboating like Phil Hellmuth or Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. For the record, neither of those guys shut up. Ever. I was there and witnessed this first-hand at the WSOP. Oh and also, Doyle “Dolly” Brunson is another favorite. He is a sweetheart. A true southern gentleman and so fun to watch play. It’s as if he can read minds.

Q: Any other interests and passions?

I’m an avid comic book collector/fan. And not just now because Marvel has usurped the world of film, but I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, back in the day when they made fun of you for reading comics. I’m also a HUGE baseball fan. Which is why Peelers has a prevalent baseball theme throughout. I loved interweaving the baseball element throughout the film. The same reason I love 7-card stud poker applies to why baseball is my favorite sport. It’s a thinking sport; replete with drama, poetry, tension, failure, joy, accomplishment, retribution. All the elements that make a great story. It is definitely the writer’s sport. As the saying goes: “Baseball is only boring to boring minds.”  I totally agree.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?

Write on. And never. Ever. Give. Up.

Thanks again Lisa.


Check out Peelers Official Website and IMDB
Stream it on Amazon Prime or iTunes or get the Blu-ray

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Interviews: Jerrol LeBaron, founder of InkTip. - post author Anthony Cawood

Jerrol-Bio-lg Most screenwriters quickly discover that writing isn’t the only challenge they face… they’re also expected to ‘get their scripts out there’ and connect with Producers looking for material.

They also soon learn that this is a lot easier said than done!

So in my latest interview, I catch up with Jerrol LeBaron, the founder of InkTip, who has so far helped over 300 projects get started.

Jerrol has over 17 years experience and his answers cover a wealth of useful info for screenwriters everywhere.

 

Q: First up, how about a little bit of background on the man behind InkTip, how did you get into the industry?
I started off as an actor/writer. I had a script I was proud of and was determined to get it made, but I couldn’t get it to producers. What I saw was a gate. On the other side of the gate opening were producers, agents, and managers looking for scripts and writers. Trying to squeeze through the gate were writers like me wanting to gain representation, sell their scripts, or get hired. But getting the producers and reps to figure out which writers and scripts to let through the gate was maddening. Every now and then a few scripts or writers were able to squeeze through. So, I thought to myself, what if I build a website where writers could post their scripts and where producers and reps could log in and do searches for exactly what they were looking for?

Q: And did you ever get anywhere with that script (or any since)?
Nope. I realized I was better suited to help other writers get their scripts sold and produced and that’s what I’ve been focusing on. It’s very rewarding. I love helping producers find just what they need and helping writers move their careers forward. I’ve also reread my script and felt a little embarrassed.

Q: How would you describe InkTip to a new writer or producer?
It’s like matchmaking for filmmaking. Producers come to InkTip to find scripts and writers. Writers come to InkTip so they can sell their scripts or get hired by producers. We make it possible for them to access each other to get films made. We average 3-4 script options a week.

How it works is producers let us know what they need and we connect them with writers who have the types of projects they’re looking for through our secure online database. Producers visit InkTip.com and search for scripts and writers. They can search by a variety of categories and criteria and contact writers directly. Producers also put out calls for script submissions in our weekly Preferred Newsletter. We then send this out to our writers so they can pitch their completed scripts to producers, most of which don’t accept unsolicited queries.

We even out the playing field for writers. We make it possible for hundreds of producers to find them, no matter where they’re located. Our most popular service for writers is an InkTip Script Listing. Writers can post their loglines, synopses, scripts, and resumes in our secure online database. Producers then reach out to these writers to learn more about their scripts.

We’ve had writers from all over the U.S., the U.K., and around the world sell scripts on InkTip. Even if you are in L.A., getting scripts to producers without a rep or connections is very difficult. We make it possible for writers to reach producers directly and for producers to find new talent. InkTip is free for qualified producers. (Register here.) Writers can sign up here.

Q: You have over 315 success stories, what was it like with the first few? Validation? Getting a business going is always a labor of love. In fact, I lost most of my hair getting InkTip up and running! It was a lot of long days and late nights. When those first successes started rolling in and we were able to watch films that were made because we connected the writers and producers, it was amazing. It was exciting to see the result of the hard work we’d put in. I still get a thrill when I see a trailer for a film made through us. I miss my hair, but it was worth it.

Q: There are other players in the market these days, what do you think differentiates InkTip?
I’m proud to say that no one gets the kind of results we get. We’ve had more than 315 films made through people connecting on InkTip. In addition to that, there are hundreds of options, sales, and writers that found representation through InkTip. Producers come to us because they are seriously looking for scripts and writers. Writers use InkTip because they want to move their careers forward. We never pay producers to use the site or any of our services so the connections made through our site are genuine.

Q: People believe that InkTip’s producers are at the Indie end, with smaller budgets (relatively speaking), would this be fair?
We work with all types of producers. We do work with indie producers, but that’s not to say they’re all filming on small budgets. We also work with producers from large companies such as ABC, Anonymous Content, APA, CBS Films, HBO Films, ICM, Paradigm, Paramount Pictures, Hallmark Channel, FX, Universal, WME, Echo Lake, Zero Gravity, Bad Robot, 20th Century Fox, and more.

We focus on working with reputable producers who have proven they can make a film and who are open to working with writers who are repped or unrepped, have previous credits or not. Our producers are looking for quality scripts and to develop relationships with writers. Often what happens is that a producer and a writer develop a relationship and continue to collaborate. So while perhaps the first film they made had a small budget, their second is a bigger production. We’ve also had producers and writers develop relationships to the point where the writer will become a co-producer or even direct a film.

We’ve had scripts of a wide range of budgets bought and made through our site. Sometimes that’s a limited-location thriller, sometimes it’s a western with sprawling landscapes, or an action film with helicopter scenes and complicated stunts. You can see some of our films here.

Q: What advice do you have for writers to maximize their chances of getting noticed on InkTip?
It’s important for writers to be proactive and make their work available to producers and representatives. If producers can’t find you or your work, it’s impossible for them to contact you and for anything to happen. So first list your scripts on InkTip and submit to any call for entries in the Preferred Newsletter that your script is a good fit for. You have to get your scripts out there if they are going to get made.

Secondly, take the time to get your loglines and synopsis right. I can’t stress this enough. So many writers will spend months on their scripts and 30 minutes on their synopses. Producers read loglines and synopses first. You need to showcase your style and story in a way that producers will want to take the next step and read your script. Tweak and study how people respond to your logline. The more you improve your logline, the more producers will read your synopsis and then your script.

Be patient and persistent. Even overnight successes typically take years. It only seems overnight on the outside. Stay committed to writing and promoting your scripts and you can get your films made. I’ve seen it work literally hundreds of times.

Q: Can you give us a brief rundown of the paid services?
We have three paid services for writers: InkTip Script Listing, InkTip Magazine, and the InkTip Preferred Newsletter. These are all strong options to get your scripts read and yourself noticed as a writer.

Writers typically start with an InkTip Script Listing. They can post their scripts on InkTip’s secure online database so producers and reps can find them when they are looking for writers. Each InkTip Script Listing is made up of a logline, synopsis, and you have the option of uploading your script or a treatment. Writers include info such as budget, genre, cast size, resume etc. Producers can then search by these criteria to find projects that match their needs. Each InkTip Script Listing costs $60 for 4 months. It’s an affordable way to promote your scripts safely. You’ll also get a record of all the producers who have viewed your logline.

We also have InkTip Magazine. We send out our magazine to our full list of producers and representatives. Altogether a total of nearly 15,000 people receive this publication. For every script they have on InkTip, writers can publish their loglines in the magazine and reach even more producers.

Producers will come to InkTip with specific needs such as a grounded sci-fi thrillers or WWII scripts. We put out these exclusive calls for script submissions in our weekly InkTip Preferred Newsletter. The newsletter is sent out every Thursday and has 6-8 exclusive calls for script submissions from InkTip producers. There are often more than 8 calls for scripts included. It’s a great way to submit your scripts safely and directly to a production company at the exact moment they are looking for a script.

Q: And the free ones?
Registering for an InkTip account is free. Writers can register here and then get access to our logline lab, special discounts to enter contests and film festivals, and access to articles and how-to’s related to the industry.

We have a free weekly newsletter that anyone can sign up for. Subscribers get 1-2 script leads a week and they can submit their work to producers at no cost. You can also preview what’s in the Preferred Newsletter and if you see something you want to submit to, sign up and get immediate access to it.

Many writers have short scripts. All writers can promote their short scripts on InkTip for free. https://www.inktip.com/sa_short_script_listing.php

Q: You make sure you vet prospective producers before they are allowed access, why is that?
We work with companies and producers who are reputable. We connect our writers with producers and industry professionals who have the capability, experience, and connections to make a film. Our first priority is always making it possible for writers to get their scripts sold and find representation. A big part of that is making sure that the producers and reps we work with are credible. So we vet every InkTip producer. We also never pay producers to view scripts. We don’t pay because we don’t want anyone using InkTip under false pretenses. The producers who use our site are searching with the intention of making a film now and not for some other incentive.

Q: I’ve not accessed the site as a producer would, what do they see?
Producers log into the site and they’re able to search for scripts. They can narrow the search by genre, budget, locations, writer credits, and many other options. They then see a page with all of the scripts available that meet their criteria. They instantly see each script’s logline and writer’s name. They can then choose to read the synopsis, script, or contact the writer directly.

You can see a preview of the search page here.
You can see how scripts show up for producers here.

Q: There are a lot of people competing for aspiring screenwriter’s limited money, from guru’s, through coverage services, and a plethora of competitions. What makes InkTip a good investment?
It’s a low-cost way to make your scripts available to hundreds of producers. It’s a secure site, you always know who reads your scripts, and our strong track record speaks for itself

Q: Once a producer finds a script or a writer… what happens next?
The producer and writer make a deal. It might be a script option, buying the writer’s script or hiring the writer for an existing project. InkTip never takes a cut of the deal. The producer and writer are free to make the best deal for them without any interference from us.

Sometimes a producer will like a writer’s script and writing style, but the script is not the right fit at the moment. Often this leads to a relationship where they stay in touch and then down the line they might work together. This happened recently with If I Had Wings written by Michael Markus and Tim Stubinski and produced by Cynde Harmon. Cynde liked one of their scripts a few years back but wasn’t able to move forward with it at the time. She kept in touch with Markus and Tim who let her know what they were working on and she decided to produce one of their scripts. This happens a lot. Connecting with producers always has the possibility of leading to something later down the line.

Q: And what changes have you seen in the industry since you started 17 years ago?
So many changes! When I first started InkTip, the idea that producers could find scripts online was totally new. Now people are comfortable with it and it’s become common, which is great for writers. There are so many more films being made a year. With so many distribution platforms and companies, there are way more opportunities available for writers. It’s a good time to be writing and promoting your scripts.

This is an industry like any other. You gotta knock on a lot of doors to find the right place where your work can shine. Everything takes leg work. It’s about being consistent. One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Franklin, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” That has definitely been true for me. In the last 17 years, I’ve definitely seen how it’s now more possible than ever for writers to break in.

Q: Any advice in general for the aspiring screenwriters on Simply Scripts in terms of breaking in?
Be proactive. Get good at your craft, but don’t obsess about it being perfect. Put yourself and your work out there as much as possible. Follow up and always be professional.

Be positive. Writing can be so personal and it can be rough to handle rejection. If you can stay positive or at least neutral and not go down a road of negativity, it makes it so much easier for you to keep putting in the work. And that’s what helps you move your career forward.

 

Okay, now for some getting to know Jerrol questions…

Q: Fave movie?
I can’t choose just one. I really like Gone with the Wind, Outland, Matrix, and the Edge of Tomorrow.

Q: Best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve had.
Worst advice: Write a great script, and if it is truly great it will automatically get found and made. Your talent will get you through.
Best advice: The best way to NOT get your script made is to not let anybody read it. Believe in yourself and put yourself out there. Dedicate time to building your craft and dedicate as much time to promoting yourself as you do your writing.

Q: Fave food?
Nothing beats a great huevos rancheros!

Q: Fave drink?
Coke or vodka and Coke.

Q: Fave sport and team if applicable?
Basketball; Lakers

Q: Fave thing to do outside of InkTip and writing stuff?
Hanging out with friends and family. I also like woodworking. I used to work in construction and really enjoy building things. I recently redid my garage and it turned out great. I make all my friends and family admire it when they come over.

Q: Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers out there?
Work every week without fail on showcasing your scripts and skills, such as through networking, screenings, entering contests, query letters, follow-ups, etc. Take notes on what is and isn’t effective with your efforts and make improvements. For example, when writing query letters, figure out which one of your query letters works best and apply what you’ve learned moving forward. Do this for your loglines, your synopses, how you introduce yourself at events, etc. Pay attention to what works and doesn’t and act accordingly. Dedicate time to promoting yourself and your scripts and that’ll go a long way in making your career happen.

 

Thanks to Jerrol for being so generous with his time and providing such great answers.

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

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