Archive for May, 2013

The Realities of Screenwriting

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Wayne at Paramount

CONSIDERATIONS

TALENT. You will need a good visual imagination, confidence, perseverance (most important talents), outside encouragement and confirmation of your abilities and character (if you don’t want to go nuts, this MUST be balanced first.)

EDUCATION. School can teach you discipline, encourage talent, and demonstrate format and technique, but it will not prepare you for the realities.

IN PRACTICE

PRODUCT. Remember, no matter how brilliant you think you are, your first three screenplays exist only to vent your own personal obsessions and hang-ups. Don’t throw them out – because you can always re-write them later when you’re successful – but don’t take them too seriously. If you’ve written three, that just means you are BEGINNING to get serious. If you’ve written one or two, you’re still messing around, you know nothing, you are nowhere, you haven’t even stepped up to the plate.

AGENT. In the movie business they are worthless until you are already established. An agent is not going to get a first-time screenwriter a job. YOU have to get the job. THEN the agent will be interested and can negotiate the deal. I guarantee you that if you walk into the office of an agent of your choice and tell them (fill in the name of big studio) wants to buy your script or idea, they WILL sign you. Once you are established, agents are good for Christmas cards and perhaps a re-write job or two, not much more. Fortunately, they earn their money above what you thought you could get for the deal, once you are marketable.

EXPOSURE. Getting read. Using an tenuous connection you can. An encouraging note, response or phone call is a crack in the door. Push politely but not too hard or you may find the encouragement was merely a form letter. Use your intuition about PEOPLE. This is where character comes in. If you have it, you will attract like-people you can trust. If you don’t, you will be used, exploited, and trodden – as easily and as superficially as you have sought to use, exploit or trod the people cracking the doorway for you.

FIRST BITE. Don’t let it go to your head, it could be a fluke. But, more importantly, it is a validation that you CAN sell.

THE UN-PRODUCED SCREENPLAY ZONE. What is your goal? To write and make a good living at it? To get your vision to the screen no matter what? Chances are, you WILL accomplish your goal, but remember, the un-produced zone is comfortable. No one will ever sue you for stealing their ideals or their life in an unproduced movie. An un-movie protects you from critics and the responsibilities of a higher visibility success. Carry these thoughts because, ultimately, for screenwriters, whether it gets produced or not is outside your job description or powers and is almost completely serendipitous.

DISAPPOINTMENTS. ALWAYS have something else in the fire.

PITCH MEETINGS. Once you are a known screenwriter, you will get the chance to pitch your own movie ideas to studio executives before you ever have to write them. You have less than five minutes to convince them your idea is worth spending upwards of $25 million to make a movie on. Here’s the big tip… Turn it around on them. Pick their brains before you say anything. Make THEM want to be acceptable to you and to please you (it’s not that hard considering the neurosis and insecurity inherent in their always-shaky positions). The bottom line is they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing (because who can really predict what the audience wants), and you will most likely be pitching to someone else in their same job next week.

RE-WRITES. Get used to them. You get one shot at your own version before you have to do ten others for the development executive, producer, director, actor, distributor and the producer’s girlfriend.

DO I HAVE A CAREER? Chances are you will never ever be sure of this no matter how many credits you’ve stacked up or how much money you’ve made. This is perhaps the greatest reality of screenwriting, acting, directing or even the free lance creative life.

But… compared to most everything else… It’s a Wonderful Life.

– A. Wayne Carter

Hollywoodaholic: Confessions of a Screenwriter  … the book

When did we become so mean?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

(A post worth reprising)

Go to any of your favorite websites and read the posts or comments to the original blog or article. Try not to get distracted by the illiteracy and just focus on the mood or the message:

“He’s like this weird combination of gay and white-acting black. It’s really unappealing.”

This one’s from Kitalyn posting on Defamer.com to a story about Justin Timberlake.

“If only it was to death.”

That’s how Texas Tranny reacts to the Superficial.com headline, “Britney is starving herself.”

“good riddance, ya die hard commie.”

That love note from a sensitive poster known as government is killin, posted in response to this obviously provocative headline on Politico.com: “Walter Cronkite dead at 92”

And these are the polite ones.

When did almost everyone in this country develop a vicious, foul-tempered opinion about every other person or event, and feel self-importantly compelled to express it publicly? Is it just the veil of anonymity on the web that allows these putrid and toxic blossoms to flourish? Or have Americans really become that hateful and, well, mean?

In more than 30 years of passively monitoring the culture, I can’t remember a time when anyone and everyone seemed so impassive about contributing their own bile to the topic, or “target” of the day. Gossip or political websites that spew poisonous diatribe and serve as a platform for hundreds or thousands more to do the same are sprouting up faster than fungi on feces.

I’m no Mr. Manners – I’ve been on the cynical bandwagon before the theme song ever started playing, but there used to be some restraint and, dare I say … art to putting someone else down.  Now it’s just pit bulls fueled on Red Bull in an open field with fresh meat tossed out hourly.

I wish I could explain what happened or why, and offer some way out of this dark and ugly mess. But then no one can figure out how to get out of Afghanistan, either.  Some shit holes (and assholes) defy any meaningful comprehension.

Perhaps it’s enough, or at least a start, to just notice that it’s happening. To take a closer look, even in the mirror, and admit we’ve slid down into a slimy pit. We can continue to read and watch and surf the things that interest us, but must we contribute to the negative, bitchy meanness of it all? Does the simple right and access to post a comment mean we have to crawl onboard? It’s so easy to toss something cruel, cutting or vile out there when you’re hiding behind some anonymous user name in an online forum. Imagine if you were standing up, fully revealed, in a well-lit room full of living, breathing, sensitive human beings …

… like a town hall meeting on health care.

Would you really still make those same comments?

Oh. Shit. It’s much worse than I thought.

— A. Wayne Carter