Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cowboy Up

Let's say there is a director whose movies you love, and the script you've written is just up his alley. What can you do to get that script in the director's hands?
First, if you have a membership to IMDB.com you can search the director's name and find out who his agent or manager is, then use the Hollywood Creative Directory to get the phone number to the office. Now once you make this call, you'd better be 110% sure of yourself, and have your pitch down so tight you can say it backwards and have it make sense. Because you will have to be quick and convincing to get a word in before the assistant or receptionist says, "I'm sorry, we don't accept unsolicited manuscripts."
And even though I shouldn't have to say it, be as nice and charming as possible to whomever answers that phone, because he/she may the next executive at CAA. If you can at least get your log line in before she gives you the "I'm sorry..." line, you may be past the unsolicited part all together.
If you have as good a pitch as a fellow screenwriter friends does, you just may get the assistant's email address, and now your script isn't unsolicited!
Yes, it's possible, but you had better be able to daylight to vampires if you want to try this tact. This technique isn't for the weak or unsure. So if you think you are up to it, "cowboy up" and do your research.
First impressions are lasting, so make a fantastic impression and whatever response you receive, be pleasant and thank the assistant for their time. Hollywood is a VERY small town when you are trying to break in, and day after tomorrow that assistant may the the director of the next box office hit. Don't laugh, stranger things have happened!
One caveat, some people will tell you this isn't a good technique and warn you against it. But if you have an incredible script and are comfortable selling yourself, it can be worth a try. Phone calls aren't recommended, but they aren't forbidden like in the literary industry. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moderating Scriptchat

I'm moderating Script Chat this Sunday. Usually we all get together and discuss what the topic will be, but since I'm it I get to pick the topic. You'd think this would be easy. I could pick something that I'd love to chat about. But I can't think of a darned thing. Dang me.
I'm tweeting it out to the crowd to come up with a topic.
Yup, I know, this is an exciting post. But I had to put something in, it's been 10 days since my last post. Wow, that just sounded like confession, and I'm not even Catholic.
Have a great week!.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Outline x X

No the title doesn't mean this post is X rated. I'm here to discuss outlining. Before you cover your eyes and run screaming because of the "outline" word, let me assure you, IT'S WORSE THAN YOU THINK!
That being said, here is why:
First, we've all heard of the Save the Cat beat sheet, and there are many others out there. Not a screenwriter? This doesn't excuse you. The beat sheets are for all writers of fiction, and they do help save valuable rewriting time. Fleshing out the outline does NOT kill your creativity! It gives you a roadmap and helps you find huge holes in your plot so you don't have to go back and rewrite inumerable pages. I'll just include what I feel are the 7 absolute must haves, and you can take or leave what you want from them.
1. Ordinary, everyday life - the story starts with your main char (MC) doing normal everyday stuff.
2. Inciting Incident - what rocks the MC out of said ordinary life.
3. End of Act 1 - MC decides on course of action for incident in #2
4. Midpoint - Action takes a sudden & unexpected direction
5. Lowest of low points or End of Act 2 - No way in hell the MC is going to get out of this one.
6. Act 3 or the Ultimate Challenge - Something, anything that will reanimate the MC to continue.
7. Return to "ordinary" life - Only now the MC has changed forever.
Sounds easy, right? So here's the rub, ready?
If you want a really compelling story, you have to remember you don't just have one MC, there are many characters in your story. AND YOU SHOULD OUTLINE FOR EACH MC (secondary characters, not so much, or at all). You may not use all of the information, but you should have a progression for each of the main characters in your story. So the above outline isn't just a one time deal for each story, it can actually be 3 or more. Yikes. Hate me now? Or were you already doing this?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Screenwriting Info on Twitter

Pretty much everywhere you look these days, there is a Twitter account linked to a person's blog, business, or web site. Yup, I have a (okay a couple) Twitter account too. I'm @yeah_write because I use this account to Tweet about all things writing related and about my life. Not that any of it is all that interesting.
People not in the know always ask me, "What is Twitter? And why do you tell random strangers about your life?"
Twitter is the best tool I've ever come across for networking. I'm on Facebook and Linkedin, and I really only get to know people I already knew or have done business with. On Twitter I've met literally 1000s of people I never knew. Hell, I've tweeted with people from several European countries. These are people with the same common interests I have.
I can't even begin to tell you the evolution of my Twitter existence. At first I followed all the famous people, but not so much anymore. Now I follow writers I love, and new writers I've had the opportunity to meet. And mostly I now hang with a group of screenwriters. And this is where Scriptchat comes in.
After realizing I knew @zacsanford from a Yahoo group I belong to, he introduced me to @jeannevb. Now Zac works in Hollywood, and Jeanne is a screenwriter. I also met her writing partner @dawnbierschwal (who is now a customer for my wholesale jewelry business).
Anyway, one Sunday afternoon Jeanne invited Zac and me to Writechat. Thrilled at the prospect of meeting even more writers, we jumped on the 'net and joined in the chat. It wasn't long into the chat before we realized this wasn't for us. Zac and I started tweeting about starting our own chat, one that concentrated on screenwriting, and Scriptchat was born, well sort of.
We got together with Jeanne, and @KageyNYC and picked a time we thought would work for everyone. The decision was made, 5 pm PST. We tweeted the heck out of #scriptchat, trying to make it a trending topic. Well it didn't become a trending topic, but it did attract a lot of screenwriters. So now we have to work something out for our writers on the other side of the pond because 5 pm PST is like 1 am GMT, and that sucked for them. So along comes the talented @dreamsgrafter, or Mina as we know her. Mina moderates the chat for our European tweople at 8 pm GMT, while Jeanne moderates for the US chat.
As if that wasn't good enough, the wonderful @rachlanger set us up with a blog and taught Jeanne to pull transcripts of our weekly chats to be added to the blog for those unlucky enough to miss the chat on any given Sunday.
We call the founders of Scriptchat the #treefort. And thank God for the treefort, as not only have they been a great source for the chat, they have been inspiration, hand holder, back patter, and general, "thank god I 'met' you" kind of people. And I've actually met Zac in the flesh. My DH and I had a lovely dinner with him when we were in L.A. in January. Then he wrangled us into Screenwriter Karaoke, for which he'll forever regret.
And that is how Scriptchat came to be. Each one of the treefort has their forte in the writing of scripts, from TV writing to features to pimping and pitching, and we bounce off and compliment each other in a way I'd never have imagined a year ago.
So why do I tweet, and spend time on Twitter? Because I would never have met the #treefort gang, not to mention the hundreds of other interesting writers, producers, and directors that tweet too.
I consider myself lucky to be a part of so many lives, as they have changed mine, supported my writing (and my business), and opened my world to a new way of thinking.
I'm not even going to mention the crazy wonderful people like @wookiesgirl, @tylerweaver, @iamjaymes and @travislegge that make me smile daily. I could go on and on, but I'd inevitably miss someone important.
And in all of this, I've learned more about screenwriting than I could have learned in any workshop or screenwriting class. And I'll be the biggest fangirl when one of our #scriptchat tweople gets their first deal, be it option or production, whatever.
Thanks Twitter for making the world just a wee bit smaller. Oh, and you can follow @scriptchat on Twitter or visit the web site at www.scriptchat.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Online Workshops

I'm taking a class on presenting effective online workshops, so I can give my "students" their money's worth. I'll be starting online workshops in July. The first class will be WRITING COMPELLING QUERY LETTERS.
Are there any workshops you'd like to see offered? Let me know in the comments and you could win a free workshop.
I will be blogging about topics over the next month, so be sure to comment and check back often. I will announce the free workshop winner at the end of June.