Saturday, July 18, 2009

Advice for Screenabes

A few aspiring screenwriters have asked me for advice.  So here it is all in one place:

First, visit boards:

1.    Keen is a moderator there now.  Bit more advanced than TriggerStreet usually and some good info there.

2.    Info on contests but also discussions.   

3.  TriggerStreet.   All familiar with the Street.   Join it.  Review scripts.  Post your own (after you copyright it).  Get notes, revise, repost.

4.  The Artful Writer.   Board there.   Pros answer questions.

Second, on all these boards remember everything that you post is, in effect, advertising.  Are you someone people want to do business with or not?

Amazed to see people insulting contests, reviewers, getting in flame wars, etc. on these boards.  Not exactly winning friends in the industry and it's a small company town at the top.  

One writer posted that he'd been working on one script for 3 years, 180 drafts. 20 pro readers gave notes.    ??   He apparently believed that was impressing someone.   It didn't.  Less effort = more talent.

3rd, your profile.  Be careful to avoid "aspiring" or other things that make you seem unsuccessful / newbie.   Don't mention contest wins over 2 or 3 years old.   Keep the "discover a great new talent" possibility there for producers.   Putting 50 contests on a list is too much.  3 or 4 big ones says enough.   Don't be a long-time wannabe that can't
make the leap to pro.

4th, send hand written thank you cards.   You can buy a box.   When a pro reader service or contact comes into contact with you follow up with a note.   Gets your name out there for them again and creates a favorable lasting impression.   

5th.   Networking.  Things like the Hollywood by Phone calls.  Listen to those and send letters thanking them for their insights.    Don't ask for anything up front.  Just open the door with the letter and provide your email.  Not asking for immediate help prevents you from being one of the dozens of instant "No"s they'll do that week.  Don't ask questions or for advice that they've already given in interviews/blogs/podcasts.   Do your research.

6th.   Travel.   If you can afford to go to seminars, retreats, events go there in person.  Put a face to the name.   Again, don't go into 'sell mode' or elevator pitch.  Read GOOD IN A ROOM.   Good advice on approaching people.  Small company town.  People know people.  Expanding your network helps.   Follow up with cards after the conferences.   

7th.  Body of work.  Keep working to create a number of scripts.   When the heat hits you want to be able to cash in.   Keep momentum moving forward.  

8th.    Short films. allows you to post short scripts. lets you post a summary for free.   Why?   You network with filmmakers.  Your name on a completed work and it can land on IMDB if they enter select contests.   Plus, short films can lead to features.   You want CREDITS.   Films being made from your work = momentum.

9th.  Get PRO ADVICE on your screenplay from multiple sources.   Then rewrite.   I've mentioned several pro services on this blog.   

A few...

a.   David Gillis.  Great writer who provides great notes.  Best for 'first stop' on the page line-by-line edits;
b.  Tim Long in Florida.  Great 'big picture' structure notes;
c.  Michele Wallerstein.  Big picture notes from a former agent guiding you how to revise your script for the market;
d.  Carson Reeves at Script Shadow.   Excellent notes and you can see a sample of the quality from his website;
e.  Michael at Script-A-Wish.  Great notes and great contacts;
f.  Gregory Sarno.  Pro screenwriter that does very detailed notes; and
g.  The Script Department (Julie Gray's group).   Talented bunch. 

I've left out a few but that's a good start!   As great as you feel your script is you really have no idea until you get pro feedback.   Even contests are a measure of your script against other amateur writers.   Still a long way to go to achieve professional quality work.


  1. Great tips! Thanks for consolidating it in one place.

  2. Thanks for your help.
    your blog got me going on a marketing run.
    thank you.