The following are recent questions sent to The Script Mentor.
While we don’t pretend to know ALL of the answers, we do our best in steering people in the best direction, and in doing so, thought some of these answers could help you as well.
Q – “Geno, can you advise on whether it is advisable to submit a logline within the opening paragraph(s) of a synopsis or should the logline be submitted separately to the synopsis (as in, within the body of the opening approach letter)? I’ve heard different answers to this same question and would like advice on which would be more appropriate.”
A – If the synopsis is part of a marketing “package” being sent to someone, which might include the query letter and logline, the logline would be the first section of the query letter, with the one-page synopsis being on a separate page.
However, if the “client” is requesting just synopsis, chances are they’ve read the logline somewhere, but I would still include a title and the logline as part of the synopsis as separate sections above the synopsis. It can’t hurt. Otherwise, they may be reading a synopsis and not know what the project title is, and may not be able to attach it to the logline they’ve read somewhere. Keep in mind, a producer may get a hundred or so of these in a given month, so help them out by including it for them.
To me, basically, the title and logline go together on everything you’re creating as far as marketing material, which is one reason why they are both so important to nail. The logline tells you what, essentially, your story is about- in 30 words or less. The synopsis walks you through that story without the extraneous details.
Q – “How exactly does a program like ‘The Script Mentor’ work?”
A – First, I would encourage you to review the website. It discusses the various options, cost and payment plans. Beyond that, I can tell you that we have well over one hundred members of the organization. Each are assigned one of the mentors currently active with us. Basically, the writer and mentor work in tandem, at a speed dictated by the paying member (you). The best starting point is discussing (via email or, on some occasions, Skype) a new concept and working from there, but in actuality, we are generally helping a writer with a script in progress or a handful of completed scripts. Together, through suggestions, advice, and yes- mentoring- we shape the screenplay to make it a more marketable and professional project. We can work on one project throughout your membership tenure, or a dozen projects- it doesn’t matter.
Through TSM’s program, you will learn to write a more marketable screenplay, as well as learn a networking plan (peers, cheers and rocketeers), the trademarked LOGLINE formula, and a marketing strategy that will vastly improve your marketing opportunities. Many writers may have a good script, but do not know how to market it successfully, while some others know a lot of the right people, but cannot get them interested in their poorly constructed screenplay based and bad concept!
Along the way, you’ll pick up and learn a number of writing rules, techniques and writing styles that will otherwise take years to learn, or thousands of dollars to learn through screenwriting courses, seminars, webinars, newsletters, services, books, etc. You don’t have to choose that option; we’ve spent the money so you don’t have to! Our mentors have already attended those courses and seminars, and from them, developed a more efficient way of passing this information on to the newer writer. The reason for this company existence is, when I was starting out, I was inundated with the number of different places one could get little tidbits of screenwriting knowledge and information. While learning from all of these different areas, I soon discovered the amount of screenwriting advice that was contrary to one another! There was nothing out there, housed under one service, that was even close to being uniform or standardized.
Obviously, we cannot guarantee any specific level of success, as ultimately, we believe that talent and luck are two important elements of the equation we cannot control. However, the number of successes from our past- and current- members would strongly suggest that we know what we’re doing. One writer, who had enjoyed a certain level of success on her own, paid thousands of dollars to more than one consultant with the hopes of landing representation. After a series of failed and unfulfilled promises, she was assisted by The Script Mentor, and within thirty days, had a meeting with a literary manager which resulted in an offer of representation. Other writers have gotten their scripts optioned or produced or have achieved levels of success in various screenwriting competitions that they never reached prior to the wisdom and guidance of their mentor(s).
We are largely a word-of-mouth company, as all of our mentors are working writers. We do little-to-no advertising, and yet have reached a fairly substantial level of success and growth as a result. Our cost is about one-tenth the cost of other similar services, and we are now seeing a number of more established consulting services taking on the “mentoring” business model as a result of our successes.
We were the first, and I believe, the best, in the mentoring class.
Q – “Hi Geno! Thank you so much for getting in touch with me. I’ve heard you offer a free first ten-page read and review. Just out of university and I’ve been advised to get my script out as soon as possible. I need to work on the script a little but this shouldn’t take me any longer than a day or two and then I’ll forward it to you. Again thank you for this, look forward to your advice and feedback.”
A – I’m curious- who “advised” you to get the script out as soon as possible? I hope it was someone who knows screenwriting, who has read the script, and definitely feels it is as good as it can be; zero spelling, grammatical and formatting issues, excellent structure, unique concept and well-written in all facets. That being the case, then hopefully it has been read by several various professional screenwriting coverage services, and has received strong “recommends” across the board. Perhaps instead, it’s won a number of high-profile contests on top of all of that. Without all of this- and more- in place, that advice is wrong, wrong, and wrong on so many levels.
I am excited to read those first ten pages and to give you my honest assessment of the project, and if it has all of that, I know several managers and producers who will read it in a second!
Q – “A question about chase scenes. I have a chase scene going from a café to a safe house, do I have to label every turn as a new location? For example:
Int. Café…Leave café
Ext. Back of Café…Exit.
Ext. Another Alleyway…Exit.
(I shortened each action line but I think you get the drift of can I write it in a paragraph)?
A – I think I know what you are going for, but I would have to see how it plays out when you write it to get a clearer picture. Generally, in a chase scene, not every location is noted unless action occurs there. Think “camera location”. If the camera is going to stop and be set-up at that location, it will be noted in the script as a scene location.
(after reading rewrite)
If the action narrative lines all relate to the same action, you should bundle them together. In other words, instead of this:
“Rogue exits the elevator.”
(new line) “He walks down the hall.”
(new line) “He finds the right hotel room and knocks”
(new line) “Bullets slam into the door, as Rogue dives to the ground”
It might be written like:
“Rogue exits the elevator on the fourth floor; cautiously slinks down the hall. He finds room forty two and knocks.”
“A click; the all-too-familiar sound of a shotgun hammer. Rogue hits the ground as a shotgun blast slams explodes through the door.”
Q – “I have a question for you. I translated dialogue and only have the English version in the script. Should I have the dialogue in Spanish?”
A – It depends on how much there is. If it’s substantial, I would write it in English, but make sure it’s clear the character is only speaking Spanish, by indicating as much in a parenthetical.
If it’s an occasional expression or cuss word, I wouldn’t even bother. Even if the reader doesn’t know what it means, literally, it’s probably understood to be an angry phrase or cuss word.
If it’s a character that speaks once or twice, but shares information important to the story (i.e.- a witness during a killing, etc.), I would write it in Spanish and either translate it in parentheses, or have another character translate it to others out loud.
More Q and A to follow…