Tag Archives: Screenwriting Scriptwriting

Ask “THE SCRIPT MENTOR” – #16

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Q. How can I sell my script to a producer?

A. Answering this question is like asking “how does one become an astronaut.” There are entire books and careers based on answering this very question, so it’s not likely you’ll find ALL of the answers in a single response, but considering I provide this kind of information every working day through various outlets, I’ll do what I can here.

In this microwave world of instant gratification, text messaging, IM’s and 24-hour instant news cycles, the craft and business of screenwriting needs to catch up. Many writers are hesitant and fearful of starting their journey, knowing that there is no guarantee of success at the end of that journey, and it will probably result in years (not weeks or months) of time and dedication to the craft.

Anything worth doing and worth doing well is going to take a major investment of time and resources; of that, there is no question.

These are but a few points of helpful advice that I have learned and developed along the way that might — just might — help save YOU a significant amount of that time and those resources.

These points are in no particular order:

1) You must write something worthy of being purchased, or write with a fresh voice or style worthy of getting paid. This means that it is unique, fresh, perfectly formatted, grammatically and punctually correct, exciting and appealing to the masses.

2) You must write a perfectly constructed logline that highlights all of the elements, including the “hook”- the one element that separates your story from all others in that genre.

3) You must prepare an excellent query letter, preferably in the format that is now considered the best for a query letter (from recent polling data).

4) You need to develop a networking and marketing strategy and stick to it, spending a set amount of time each day to nurturing it, and as much time as your spend writing. You should do both concurrently.

5) You should explore multiples avenues for marketing and/or breaking in. This includes contests, offering assistance, writing assignments, adapting source materials, etc.

6) You must understand that there are many ways to achieve your goal (whatever goal that may be), and that your avenue to success is as different as there are goals. In other words, someone wanting to work as a script reader may have a different tact than someone wanting to sell spec scripts for a living.

7) You should understand that because one person wrote a script this way, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Writing spec scripts are much different than the way QT or Cameron write theirs.

8) You need to develop your three completely separate support systems we like to call our “cheers”, “peers”, and “rocketeers”, and build that circle of trust around you.

9) People may offer constructive criticism and sound advice to your writing, but the vision is yours. Stick to the vision.

10) You have to be someone that others WANT to work with. Be polite and professional, and people will know you as such.

If you follow thescriptmentor blog, you’ll get a lot of other helpful articles along the way. Good luck!

Q. Why is selling a screenplay so difficult?

A. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

 

Q. As we are designing our online screenwriting classes, what Top Four things would you list that need to be learned by new screenwriters (remember – this is a writing course, not a filmmaking/production course)?

A. I find it odd that someone creating a course to “teach” screenwriting would look for input on what OTHER people consider to be important topics to cover. It seems a bit like going to a driving instructor, who then asks others “What does this foot pedal do?”

If you’re going to create a course, I would suggest that you first know the topic that you are teaching. Being that you’re designing it, it should come from YOUR theories and beliefs; this, in the long run, is what is going to separate you from the other thousand online screenwriting courses- most of which do not have it right. It’s all regurgitated pablum from other courses, famous quotes you find when you Google “screenwriting”, and arbitrary and random nonsense. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the way it is.

I read hundreds of scripts a year from writers who have never had a screenwriting lesson in their lives, and hundreds from those who have taken all of the courses and webinars, and read all of the recommended books. I can count on one hand how many were worthy of reading all of the way through- because the writer had never been taught how to write a basic spec script, and what gets their script read. You can’t sell a script if you can’t get it read.

If you were to create a course that dealt with how to write a spec script- and if you KNEW how to write a spec script well enough to create such a course- I guarantee your course would be the most popular- and profitable- course online today. It would be the ONLY online course to actually TEACH one how to begin to be successful in this business.

Most everything else is fodder, filler and bullshit.

Q. Does it matter how many camera directions you put in a script that is directed by you? Would this affect the ability to get it sold to a producer?

A. Yes, it matters, and outside of “FADE IN” and “FADE OUT”- as a spec script- there shouldn’t be any other camera directions. The one exception is that you NEED a particular camera direction to emphasize a key moment or the story is not properly told. Even then, I can’t think of a reason/situation to use as an example. Camera directions sound FX, title credits, etc. or NOT part of a spec script, although so many new writers want to include them. Camera directions will come later in the process when a “shooting script” is written.

Whether you direct it or not, is generally not up to you, unless it’s a deal-breaker regarding funding. Good luck in that case, unless you’re a recognized director of some acclaim. It also depends upon the expected budget- “The higher the budget, the bigger the names!” In other words, no one is going to fund a $50M movie with Joe, the neighborhood guy who videotaped my daughter’s wedding, “attached” as the director.

Assuming it’s a great script, perfectly written (sans camera directions and “beat” and a host of other spec script mistakes), your first concern should be getting it optioned or sold. In order to do that, it has to be damn near perfect. Camera directions are not part of that equation.

Q. How can I describe my girlfriend in one (1) movie title?

A. Hard to say. I don’t know your girlfriend.

If you want to describe her in a way that might MAKE a great movie title, keep it short (less than four words, so it’ll fit on a marque), pithy and make it have a double meaning, or “two-sided”. “American Beauty” was the name of the rose the wife obsessively grew in her yard, but it also aptly described the husband’s underage fantasy girl.

It would also help if you can find irony in the title, such as “The Book of Eli”. Eli possessed the last written works in his post-apocalyptic world, and protected it with his life. We come to learn (irony) that Eli is blind, and can’t read written words. The end reveals a twist that compounds the irony that much more.

Short, two-sided with a splash of irony. That would be your movie title.

 

Q. How much should I pay a ghostwriter for a 5000-6000 non-fiction word eBook?

A. The average word count per page for an eBook is approximately 250. At 6000 words, you’re looking at a 24–25 page non-fiction eBook.

Sounds more like a pamphlet.

Would the need for a ghostwriter be because you can’t write 25 pages, or is it that you don’t know how to create an eBook? If it’s the latter, it would behoove you to write the “book” first, then hire someone to create the eBook for you, or learn how to do it yourself, getting the right software, etc. If it’s the former, then you probably can get a decent writer- even a newer writer- and get it done for far less. Let’s be honest; you won’t need an established professional writer (My projects run between $20K-$40K, and I have plenty of work to keep my writers busy) to pen out a 25-pager. You just need someone who follows your direction, knows sentence structure, has a novel or two under their belt, and spells correctly. There are plenty of writers out there who would be THRILLED to do the project for you for $20-$50/a page. Good luck with the eBook!

 

Q. Should I take a screenplay class before writing my first screenplay?

A. Absolutely. You need a solid foundation of knowledge before even attempting to write a screenplay. A course at a local college or an on-line course/seminar/webinar will all be beneficial (just don’t waste your time or money with Hal Croasmun’s “ScreenwritingU” if you don’t know how to write first). But, keep this in mind; none of these courses will teach you how to write a SPEC script, which is what you’ll be doing most of the time should you continue in writing screenplays. The BEST tool is “The Screenwriter’s Bible” by Dave Trottier ($20–30), Read it through-and through, several times. If you like screenwriting, you’ll love to read it. Memorize it. Keep buying the updated editions, as these “rules” change on occasion.

If you put into practice what the book teaches, you will be miles ahead of almost everyone who writes spec screenplays.

Q. Is it popular to sell scripts to movie producers and executives and use that money to produce one’s own movie? I read that many screenwriters who are professors, lecturers and consultants sell scripts and concepts just so they can finance and produce their own movies. Is this popular? Can I do it? I have certain scripts and concepts I’d be happy to sell the complete rights to for decent cash.

A. Many people, at your level, finance their own projects. We’re talking short films, zero budget or extremely low budget projects (less than $10K), for film festivals, web projects, etc. Anything beyond that would – in all likelihood – need to be financed by others, and you may STILL be able to do it. Selling your current pile of screenplays is quite different than having a garage sale to raise money. If you’re sitting on a pile of scripts that you haven’t marketed to this point, I’d wonder why. Is there a diamond in the rough in that pile? Possibly, but not likely. You already know my strategy:

  • Get the scripts reviewed for notes;
  • Make the suggested fixes you agree with;
  • Enter as many screenplay competitions you can afford for that script;
  • Once wins and high finishes pile up, build your buzz and your network;
  • Market the script with a great logline, proper synopsis and proper query;
  • Use as many of the services, like “Ink Tip”, you can afford;
  • Review IMdb Pro for prodcos who have produced similar concept films;
  • Review IMdb Pro for actors and crew involved in similar concept films;
  • Target market those people;

If these scripts are good enough, you might get an option for $3500 or so, or a sale- but it won’t come from a studio. It’ll come from a small prodco or a producer interested in filming that kind of story.

But, it all starts with the script…OR a rich uncle.

Q. Is it true Marilyn Monroe had an IQ of 168?

A. Highly doubtful. Born to an unwed mother, she spent most of her childhood in foster homes, bouncing around in the Los Angeles area. She attended over ten different schools during that time, culminating in her dropping out of University High School at aged 16 and getting married. This is NOT conducive to a solid education, and IQ tests are largely based on learned knowledge.

What you see advertised as her reported IQ test is simply known as “click bait”, designed to get the reader of the ad to click on to the ad for marketing purposes. Names like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy and even Madonna and Kim Kardashian, have been proven to be among the most Googled people in history, both for name recognition and general knowledge. Therefore, it makes sense to attach an ad with someone as easily recognizable as MM. By claiming she had such an outrageously high IQ- with no proof to support or deny the claim- it’s safe to claim. Common sense will tell you that, while Marilyn was reported to have been “intelligent” (meaning she stood upright and could carry on a conversation), she probably was more wise than smart. If you want to learn about a particularly intelligent actress of that same time period, research the life of Hedy Lamarr.

Q. What was the best horror movie you’ve ever seen?

A. This is such a subjective question. While the original “The Exorcist” and “The Omen” were tops back in the day of my youth, horror movies have progressed further than any other genre except for science fiction. The word “horror” means different things to different people, too. In my book, if it’s outright scary, it IS horror- and it doesn’t necessarily need blood or creatures to be scary. Two movies come immediately to mind- “The Others” and “The Strangers”- neither of which I would watch alone at night. To scare the crap out of me, a movie has to be based in reality, as it relates to MY personal belief system. To someone who doesn’t believe in Heaven or Hell, movies about the Devil may not be as frightening. I am a believer, so if it includes the devil, chances are I’m going to be uptight about it. I’m not necessarily a “ghost” believer, but “The Others” had just a great story, it just made it that much more tense and suspenseful. Movies that involve particular crimes get me, as I lived this in my past. I’ve seen what some evil people in this world are capable of doing, and this is a thousand times more frightening than a giant gorilla, a blood-sucking man in a cape, or a burn victim with garden shears for hands.

Q. Since actors in movies that feature heavy CGI content know what was done behind the scenes, how do they feel when they watch their films?

A. Most actors understand that creating a film is a collaborative effort- from the make-up crew to the camera crew and all point in between. Most aren’t so vain as to think they’re the sole reason for the success- or failure- of a movie. As a result, when they see themselves interacting with a dinosaur on screen and know that, during filming, they were talking to a tennis ball hanging by a string to create an eye line, and regurgitating brilliantly funny dialogue that came from the mind of the talented screenwriter, they are as impressed as the rest of us. The FX people, like most people involved in the filmmaking process, are at the top of their profession and generally the best in the world at what they do.

If they aren’t, they don’t last long.

Q. Is talent a must in screenwriting? What are the core elements to be a good screenwriter?

A. I believe everyone has God-given talents in many areas; storytelling can be one. Screenwriting is a learned craft, and I believe one could do it with even the minimal amount of “creative writing” talent. I don’t believe you need to be a “talented writer”, per se, to be a successful screenwriter. I know many comedy screenwriters who write severely funny scripts, but are the most unfunny and least entertaining people in person. Ultimately, talent is probably going to be the factor that separates the wheat from the chaff at the professional level, but, like everything else in life, hard work at improving one’s skill often overcomes any lack of given talent.

As for the “core elements” to a good screenwriter:

a) Know HOW to tell a basic story.

b) When learning how to write a screenplay, get a solid foundation in knowing what is needed/wanted in a SPEC script. Dave Trottier’s “The Screenwriting Bible” is just $20–30, and it gives one everything they would need to learn how to write a basic spec script. Of any “online” course, Jeff Bollow’s “FAST Screenwriting” is the only one you should consider. The rest are garbage.

c) Develop a concept that has never been explored before. If you have a story that HAS been done before, than do it differently. The story of the three little pigs and the wolf who blew their houses down has been told- but it’s never been told from the wolf’s perspective! Stories like “The Mummy” have been told ad nauseum, but Tom Cruise has turned that tired, cliché-ridden concept on its ear! You’ll never think of “The Mummy” as some gauze-wrapped creature dragging his right foot as he “chases” his victims ever again!

Do these three things first, and you’ll be off to a very fast start; faster than 95% of your competition.

Q. How can I be attached to direct my own written screenplay financed by producers? Not a big budget picture…but more like an independent film trying to attach investors for a festival debut.

A. Producers are investors; they are not likely to risk millions of their dollars, or OPM (other people’s money) on the ego of a screenwriter who thinks he/she can also direct. If you have a proven track record, and have directed some good stuff, then your chances increase, but in all likelihood, if we’re talking about a multi-million dollar budget, then in order to secure financing at that level, the financiers are going to want a couple of “sure things”- be that a few name talents, a name director and probably a name cinematographer. The more money your film wants, the more names they’ll want, and it’s only practical. However, if the script is so good that they HAVE to have it, you’re in the driver’s seat and can make certain demands before selling it. Even then, you might have to be happy with an AD or 2nd Unit directing title.

Q. Why do people prefer new films instead of old films?

A. To a certain extent, they do, but “Gone With the Wind” and “Citizen Kane” continue to rank one and two as the greatest films ever made.

There will always be “new films”, as the original “Star Wars” is already 40 years old, and truthfully, that one hasn’t aged well. There are so many classic B&W films starring REAL stars, and not these Internet-created personalities. That’s one reason, actually. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, the stars were mysterious. The only time you actually saw them was in the film. Your imagination convinced you that John Wayne lived on a ranch branding cattle all day, when, in fact, he was in California on a boat most of the time. We didn’t have “paparazzi”, TMZ, websites devoted to nude celeb hacked phones, etc.

Today’s movie have the advantage of advanced technologies, which most people find more appealing, but it’s no mistake when critics and film historian continue to worship many of the great film of the old days. The writing, directing and actor were held and shoulders above today’s films. They know that even the crappiest of crap will make money in PPV, Red Box rentals or internationally.

 

 

Ask The Script Mentor, #15: Ghostwriting and Mentoring Services

Questions

Q. I see you offer ghostwriting services. I started a novel, and really don’t have time to finish it. Is that something you might be able to do- finish a manuscript already started?

A. Hello, sir. Very impressive website you have. You had asked, in response my article on hiring a ghostwriter, if helping you finish your book is something we can do. The answer is “Yes”, although it’s a somewhat unusual and rare request. I have an excellent novelist on staff that would be perfect for this type of work. I’d have to know where you are in the project, how many pages you are hoping to have when finished, and a few smaller details in order to provide you an accurate quote for the project. I’d also need to know what kind of budget you’re working with. I can work within most budgets, but it does affect some of the decisions we’d make going forward.

Thank you for inquiring about helping you with the project, and I look forward to working with you soon!

 

ILoveLoglines  Q. Hi Geno, I hope you are doing well. I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks, mainly keeping my head down and re-writing my script based off of your excellent notes. I’d like to sign up for your mentoring services, and re-send the ACTUAL “first ten” pages of my script for you to review, if you have time. I also have a logline that is much better than the one that the reader from the contest wrote. I used you logline formula and it was easy after that!

A. Hi K! I’m flattered that you’ve thought enough about our services to inquire about additional assistance. The interactive workshop is not scheduled at the moment, but I hope to schedule some in the near future.

We basically did the “first ten” pages (even though, technically, it wasn’t the first ten). You were given an idea of some of the real issues the script has from a SPEC screenplay perspective, so I don’t see a need to pay for- and receive- more of the same. At this point, all that would be necessary would be The Script Mentor Package or The TSM One-On-One mentoring, which includes the money-back guarantee in writing!

The Script Mentor Package, at $399.00 (originally $799) would give you a full review of the concept, screenplay and structure, as well as advice on a proper logline, query letter and synopsis. These three areas (L/S/Q) are instrumental in your marketing approach. After the screenplay is as good as it can be, we would also assist you in a networking and marketing strategy. With this package, you can continue working with The Script Mentor for up to one month.

The TSM One-on-One exclusive service at $1499.00 (originally $7500.00), provides you with the above assistance, and we’d assist you in choosing a minimum of ten competitions we feel is best suited to your screenplay, writing level, and most helpful to your writing career at this point. With this package, you can work with The Script Mentor for up to three months- no matter how many projects you’d like to work on.

Also, with this service, we would provide you with a written money-back guarantee if a certain level of success is not established with this screenplay. No other service in the world offers a money-back guarantee- ever. This is how strongly we feel about our mentoring assistance and program. Now, neither of these programs is inexpensive, so it would be an investment on your behalf, but if you’re investing in a career that you want, it’s a small investment.

Q. Hey Geno! Thank you. My name is B.C. My father was the former Underboss of themanuscripttomoviescript1 Colombo Crime Family in NY. He disappeared on May 26th 1999, and with my help, the government was able to bring the killers to justice. After 8 long years, we found his remains. Geno, so many people are sending me screenplay examples along w/ NDA’S, but I have not read one that feels right. I was hoping that maybe we can collaborate or maybe you can help put me on the right track? I feel lost if that makes sense. Hope to speak with you if you are interested.

Thank YOU in Advance!

B. Jr.

A. Hi B! I read your profile during my due diligence prior to connecting, and I appreciate you reaching out to me- both on this, and just for linking in. I’ve watched all of those mob history shows, so I’ve seen several of the shows highlighting your Dad’s story, and I know it well. I’m from Staten Island, and let’s just say my family and I and our friends have had a “colorful” past with the families as well.

I came across a mention of a book; did that ever get completed and published? If so, usually, you’d be looking at adapting that book into a screenplay. Book adaptations are a very specific type of screenplay writing, and most writers will tell you they’ve done and they’re good at it- but they’re not. Most haven’t a clue. I’ve done nine (9) in the past two years. I know how to do them, and it’s not easy. As for collaborating, the closest we get as far as collaborations are the ghostwriting assignments. We write the screenplay you want- it’s under your name, and you get all of the credit and retain all of the rights. This is what we do for a living, and we do it well.

Many of my clients are in the industry- actors, celebrities- many who can’t read or write well at all, but want credits for screenplays or have a pet project they want to star in, etc. Because I’m a ghost, my identity- and that of my client- is almost ALWAYS secret, but last year, we did four screenplays, a TV reality show outline and a TV bible for a celebrity currently starring in TWO cable shows running concurrently. My other clients include several A-list actors and authors who have never written screenplays before.

Normally, we would discuss the project, decide the actual story line, genre, etc. and as we write it, you would receive ten (10) pages at a time to review and suggest changes in direction, if any. We would do this for up to fifty (50) pages. When the project is completed, you’ll have an opportunity to review the screenplay in total.

You also have one FREE rewrite should you decide you do not like how something turned out, etc. We would work very closely most of the time, as the service is not inexpensive. I don’t charge the WGA rate, but as highly-recognized and multi-awarded writers, we ain’t cheap! We HAVE been able to work within almost any budget, though, and if I can’t, I can usually refer you to someone who can. We get at least 50% down payment to start and the balance prior to receiving the finished project. There will be a signed contract with strict deadlines, and we’ve never missed a deadline yet.

I also stay with the client through the marketing and networking strategy as well, which I also provide to them, and I GUARANTEE a certain level of success in the screenwriting contest world- a great way to gain exposure for the project. I also have hundreds of my own connections that I would help forward the project to, if it fits their interest. If this sounds about what you’d be interested in, hit me back. My email is thescriptmentor@hotmail.com. You can find my website(s) at www.thescriptmentor.com and www.sharkeatingman.com. I look forward to talking in the near future!

 

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Q. Hi Geno! I was going to contact you regarding adapting my novel into a screenplay. I saw that clicked on the book on Amazon, but didn’t buy it. I was hoping to get your feedback and evaluation of the story BEFORE I contacted you.

It probably wouldn’t break you to spend the three bucks to purchase the Kindle version of my book.  If you’re familiar with eBooks, you surely realize there’s an simpler way to distinguish good writing from all the crap that’s self-published every day.  All you need to do is click on the book cover, and you can read the first 10% of the book.

Since I saw no sign you’ve done the due diligence that could start an informed discussion about adapting my thriller, I’ve decided AGAINST using your services.

A. Hi, “D”- I’m really not IN the evaluation business, so it’s irrelevant to me HOW a novelist writes. Trust me when I tell you, most of the self-published “novels” and manuscripts/screenplays I’ve received from authors or celebrities who THINK they’re writers are practically unreadable.

Truth be told, I DID go to Amazon and I DID read the reviews, and your bio, and I DID read the Preface and the first couple of chapters. I even thought about buying the eBook, but I have about 70 eBooks on my Kindle that I’ve never read. Why? Because the dang screen is like a 3 x 5 postcard, and I can hardly see any of it. Adding “another” to that stack wouldn’t do me any good.

I am very busy myself, and said as much in my first email. We’ve been very fortunate to have started the year so strongly, and as of last night, we land a couple of more adaptation clients. As a rule, however, I don’t “buy” original source material and spend the time to read it. Time is money. As part of any contract, the original source material is always provided to us- free of charge- and we charge $250 for the reading of that material. This money is then applied towards the contracted total. It’s during this reading time where we actually evaluate and outline a potential screenplay, including characters, locations, main plot, subplots, develop a logline, a general synopsis, etc.

My only concern is CONCEPT; whether or not a particular story would make a good movie. If the author thinks so, that’s a starting point. Going simply by the title, I thought it was an awesome title and the genre sounded like it was right up my ally. In fact, I have a screenplay that, based solely on your title, I see as possibly having some similarities. They may be 180 degree different but, again, I’m basing it only on the title.

Another thought that goes into the process of selecting a project is overall SALES. I have no idea what your sales are, but I can tell you, based on your LinkedIn profile, you don’t make it easy for someone to simply click and get to the book. It shouldn’t take that much to attach a link to the Amazon posting to you profile, or post it as an update. If you notice on several of my client’s work, I am part of their team in promotion as well. I post their book link, their audio link; I tweet out announcements. I probably do more marketing on social media on their books than they do!

I’m hoping, in the future, you might reconsider using our services.

 

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Q. Hello! I’m interested in having the first 10 pages of my in-the-works screenplay reviewed, and would like to also have my one-page synopsis (and logline) evaluated. Would you be willing to do that? If so, what would you charge?

Thanks for your time!

Rob

A. Hi Rob! Thank you for contacting us at The Script Mentor. If you go to our website at www.thescriptmentor.com, you’ll see our services for our first ten-page review. I will include the logline and synopsis review as part of that first ten page review, at no extra charge.

Simply pay for the First Ten-page review ($19.99) and then send the first ten pages (or more) in PDF or Final Draft, if you are using Final Draft software, to thescriptmentor@hotmail dot com. I am also sending you a short questionnaire that you can complete and send back as well. It’ll provide a bit more information about yourself and your writing background, and give us an idea of your baseline writing skills at this point, as well as some additional info on the script that we’ll need to provide a better analysis (such AS the logline).

We know it’s a lot to trust someone to allow them to read your screenplay, and we’re honored to do it. It’s an honor we do not take lightly. Give us 24-48 hours after receiving this information back from you and I hope we can get a solid review in your hands, with notes that will help guide you to the next step in your project.

quote-Muhammad-Ali-its-not-bragging-if-you-can-back-104890 Q. Thank you Geno for your honesty, and your interest in my project. You won’t get bored with this project. There’s a lot more to come when you consider I spent 28 years putting this project together….

Looking at your credentials I would assume that you have your shit together. Obviously this is probably one of the biggest projects that could ever be developed in the entire United States based on the fact that it’s been a cover-up for 30+ years are you ready for some sort of that kind of entertainment?

A. Whether I have my shit together or not, is not for me to say; I’m successful in my chosen third career and businesses and putting two (months away from three) children through college doing what I’m good at; writing screenplays and teaching screenwriting through my mentorship. I do question anyone’s claim that says “biggest project ever developed”, and that alone raises concerns of being realistic or having realistic goals for the project. I think you’d understand where I’m coming from if you knew how many scripts I’ve received as a producer from people claiming their script was the next “Star Wars” or “will win 10 Academy Awards when completed”, blah, blah, blah. I’ll reserve judgment until I read and watch all of your videos, but you’ve piqued my interest thus far. Again, I know nothing about THIS project, but looking forward to learn more. You’ve written books, and had a documentary done; what’s next?

Q. (CONT’D) Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My goal is to clear my name. Next I’mscreenplayjunkie5 going to prove how easy it was to use fabricated evidence to try and send me to prison for 67 years. Then we’re going to prove why this was done to me. I have one book published and 2 done and ready for ink. I’ll be chatting with our investigation team about your experience and offers. We’re going to make history with this investigation 28 years in the making. You will be part of our project; three (3) books and three (3) movies.

A. Adapting one of the three books (eventually, all three) into feature film screenplays DOUBLES your potential revenue stream. While you’re marketing the novel, the screenplay competitions and network/marketing strategy for the script makes inroads in that industry. The marketing of the screenplay, and any success it will achieve, helps the book sales, and the book sales help advertise the script.

To form the novel(s) into a marketable script is where the real talent comes from; THAT’S what you’re paying for, mostly. I’ll also need to know what kind of (realistic) budget you have to work with for these projects. You mentioned several different projects, so we could put together a package deal. This doesn’t include the research (I have a research assistant on staff), reading the original source material, outlines, loglines, query letters, synopsis, AND my 30-year Rolodex of contacts that would take ANY project I’m involved in and read it- no questions asked.

Now, if you’re looking for a writer for $1,000 or $1500, you will end up with a nice pile of paper for your bookcase. No one charging that amount knows how to write, and doesn’t have one fraction of the network I have. Most likely, they don’t know how to correctly adapt a novel INTO a screenplay, but they’ll tell you they do. Writing adaptations is a learned craft; I wrote four in 2016; nine in total. All of the authors saw a spike in the book sales as a result of the marketing strategy and publicity the scripts brought. The contests these scripts were entered into should start choosing winners soon.

One client really wanted his project in George Lucas’ hands to read. We knew someone who used to work for him, and were able to get it to him. That guy read it, and thought the script adaptation was great! We only hope YOU have the same reaction to YOUR screenplay adaptation once we write it!

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN ACCEPTING PAID SCREENWRITING JOBS!

paid-to-write      Many of you have already joined The Script Mentor’s LinkedIn jobs group “Script Jobs and Searches”. As a result, you are probably also following us on Twitter @scriptjobs, and on our Facebook page “Script Jobs and Searches”. We make the daily effort of finding the best (paid) screenwriting jobs advertised throughout the internet, and re-post them in these groups. What separates us from “other” screenwriting jobs newsletters (besides the fact that they charge $100 for “premium” access to many of the same job and contact information that we provide for FREE) is that we provide the link to the original posted ads. Our scripts searches are mostly EXCLUSIVE to our network, as many producers looking for a particular project know the talent within our screenwriting network (over 10K) is wide-ranging, and include some of the best writers in the business.

While we’ve enjoyed hundreds of success stories among our network, taking on paid jobs; sometimes the first paid writing job they’ve ever had; we have heard from a few our members that they landed a paid assignment, but the client hasn’t, or won’t pay as promised. In some cases, this is unavoidable. The ads are original to sites like Craigslist, Mandy.com, Stage 32, Kijiji, Elance, Media Match, Done Deal Pro, GetFilmJobs, etc. and cannot/are not vetted. If an ad is “suspicious”, we take the effort to note that in a comment, or we simply don’t post it at all.

However, there are some things one can do to REDUCE this risk of getting “burned”. So, let me share with you some advice regarding your response to these ads and what you might expect:

1) Very few of those posting through free sites like Craigslist are “serious” industry folk. Some are, but so many are anonymous, you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth responding to.

2) Be realistic about your expectations. A “producer” advertising on a free website, like Craigslist, looking for a writer to write a 5-10 minute short, is NOT going to pay $1000 to have that done. Chances are they are financing the production themselves, and all of the money they have is going to be on screen. Sometimes, however, a free gig here and there leads to other good things, so don’t discount this entirely. For the record, however, we only advertise and promote PAID opportunities.

3) If the gig is advertised as PAID, determine how they are willing to compensate. Getting paid $500 or less for a feature screenplay written from scratch based on their concept, is probably too low for most – but maybe not to everyone. My first paid assignment was for $200- and I ended up rewriting the short six different times. This led to other, more profitable, gigs, as I got something much more important than money with that first assignment: confidence. You accept whatever YOU feel is good for YOU. Don’t worry about what others think; those telling you that you should’ve gotten paid more. We should ALL get paid more, but others, most likely, do NOT know your personal/financial situation. I still take writing assignments, on occasion, that pay less than I’m used to, but the producer may be a friend, or may have an excellent track record, or I feel that gig may lead to even greater opportunities. But, to date, I’ve never NOT been paid for writing a screenplay.

4) If the money is good, and the project is agreed upon, request the parameters of the agreement – in writing! If they hesitate, or claim they’re too busy, then take it upon yourself and write the agreement. Send it to them signed, and request that they sign it and return it – signed. I would advise you NOT to write a single word until the contract is signed.

5) Don’t hesitate to register the screenplay after the first draft, or so. If they do not pay you the balance and refuse to give you a legitimate explanation, “remind” the client that THIS screenplay is registered to you and you alone. If and when they do settle the debt, give them the registration number, and/or have them re-register it under their own name(s).

6) In the case of a paid assignment, request 50% up front. If they hesitate, they probably don’t have it, and if they don’t have it now, they’re probably NOT going to have it later. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for the money (I know how difficult that can be). If you want to be treated as a professional, act like one. Being quick to accept a gig, and “hope” that they come through with the pay afterwards is foolish, and anything BUT professional. You can make adjustments in the arrangement to fit the needs of all parties, but do NOT act like a doormat or you will be treated as one.

7) A true professional concerned about their relationship is not going to screw you over. Don’t think EVERYONE is out to take advantage of the lonely, lowly screenwriter. That’s just silly talk. Do not be OVERLY cautious, and make the client go somewhere else.

8) Most gigs advertising pay of $10,000 on Craigslist is probably NOT a legitimate lead. Check out each and every client your respond to. Ask who they are, what their website and IMdb page is. If they have a number of produced projects, chances are they are trustworthy.

9) Ask fellow screenwriters (or us) if that client is someone we know, and would trust. Ask if they are any red flags to be concerned about. We get group members all of the time who add information on a particular company or ad that gets posted. We don’t work in a vacuum; some of these ads are repeat ads posted from other sites, as the client attempts to spread a wider net.

10) If you accept the gig, let US know that you have, and we’ll promote you as yet another success story from the group. Make sure you meet all of the requirements that THEY are seeking as well, especially in things like due dates, approval of changes, etc. Personally, when I accept a writing assignment, I always offer a free rewrite, providing the basic storyline remains the same. They may want more comedic lines, or deeper character development, etc. Beyond the one rewrite, you should charge for your time.

These are some basic steps that you can take to protect the arrangement from going south. For a working relationship to be a good one, both sides have to feel happy with the arrangement. The last thing you want to do is spend six months writing a feature from scratch, based on a promise to be paid. If they break that promise, you HAVE to be willing to share this news with the masses. Only you can protect fellow screenwriters from getting ripped off, and we will refuse to post any other ads from those people.

The Script Mentor’s New Announcements!

thCAZ5C1XGGeno Scala, founder of “The Script Mentor” screenwriting mentoring program, is proud to announce that he has been signed to representation by creative artist manager Branden Cobb of “Starring Entertainment”. After reaching out to Geno months earlier, Branden has followed his blossoming writing career, which included a successful 2014 campaign in completing multiple paid assignments, as well as a TV writing assignment, currently being written by Geno and his co-writer, Brent Jones. The decision was made to sign Geno after the first of this year, coinciding with “The Script Mentor’s” announcement of the new “TSM Workshop” seminar series, kicking off April 2015.

TSM Workshop will be presenting eight (8) hours of webinar and seminar topics, to be packaged in two-hour, online, interactive “virtual classroom” sessions, with the material based predominately on writing and marketing the spec screenplay.

In addition, Geno and his production company, Shark-Eating Man Productions, are proud to announce that they are now one of the Executive Producers of Nicole Jones-Dion’s new horror film, “DEBRIS“, currently in development, . DEBRIS is about a down-on-his-luck treasure hunter who unearths a mysterious box that has washed ashore a California beach. Ms. Jones-Dion, an indie filmmaker in Los Angeles, is primarily known as a horror writer with two produced feature films (DRACULA – THE DARK PRINCE and TEKKEN 2 – KAZUYA’S REVENGE) that were both distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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