First of all let me thank everyone who reads this Blog. I am constantly amazed at the nice mail I get from writers. You have to look around my website to get my address (firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way). So you made an effort. I appreciate that. And some of you have asked questions. The ones about writing I’m happy to answer. Luckily, the personal ones mostly inquire about how my wife’s doing since her serious illness late last year. (She’s doing fabulously well, thank God)
So, let’s dive into three of the many writing questions I really received which I will paraphrase for brevity’s sake.
Dear Bob, What’s it like to write with a partner? How do you find a good partner? I know you write scripts on your own, but you’ve mentioned writing and selling scripts with other writers.
Well... it’s been a pleasure to write with other people when I have. I’ve sold one script I wrote with another writer, Jeff Willis. Jeff and I were friends (I went to his wedding) before we ever wrote anything. I also respect him as a writer and one day we decided to try and write together. We also decided on a style for writing, which consisted of me writing 5 to 10 pages, sending it to him, and then he edited my pages with his ideas and wrote 5 to 10 pages to add on to the story, and back and forth editing each other and writing until we were done. Then he did a polish and then I did a polish and then we discussed things and ended up with a first draft. It was about as smooth as you could imagine an experience like that could be. We’ve written three scripts together and all were that good an experience.
Good partnerships are born out of friendship and respect. Otherwise I don’t see them working. In order to do something as big as creating a film from nothing with another person both people have to be able to listen to the other person’s point of view and be open, understanding, and honest. Only with having true respect for each other’s talents can trust like this take place. Get to know the person you’re thinking of writing with. That means not just reading their work and liking it, but personal contact. Get to know each other as people, not just as writers. I’m about to embark on writing a script with a guy whose writing I respect a ton, but I’m also excited to work with him because I genuinely like him. And again we were friends before writing this script ever came up. The point is, don’t rush into any writing partnership. Feel each other out and get to know each other first.
Don’t go post on some board: Looking for someone to write a movie with. Or answer some Craigslist or Facebook post asking for a collaborator. You’ll most likely be sorry. Let it happen organically as you meet and get to know other writers. If it’s meant to happen it will.
Dear Bob, Do I need to BOLD my sluglines? I read a famous script and the Sluglines were in Bold.
Are you frigging kidding me? Really? This is what you’re wondering about as you try and write a script that you want someone to spend a million dollars or more to make? This also applies to Cut to:, and “We see”, and all those other things the “RULES” say you’re not supposed to do. First of all, please let me say this... There are no real rules about these things. Sorry.
The only thing everyone needs to do is to format your script correctly, meaning you use Final Draft or whatever screen writing software you choose and you don’t screw with it. Don’t screw with the font or font size or margins. Then... write what you damn please.
Cut to: “We see him writing in the correct format.”
The truth is, no one cares about these things if you write a fantastic story. That’s the only thing that matters. The story. Bold Sluglines? If your story is crap, does that matter? Nope. If your story is amazing and they can’t stop reading it? Does it matter? Nope. It’s your script. Do what you want. But damn, concentrate on story, ok? The rest is white noise to distract you.
Me? I don’t use Cut to: or We see or Bold Sluglines because I choose not to. Why? Because I choose that. I want the reader to see the film in their head as they read it and don’t want stuff in there that’s not story to take them out of it.
Last question for this Blog...
Dear Bob, Can I write a Batman movie? Will anyone in Hollywood read it?
Can you write a Batman movie? Sure you can. You can write anything you want. I’m not sure why you’d want to write a Batman movie except to see if you could do it. Will people in Hollywood read it? There’s a guy that lives in the bushes on Sunset, he might read it. He’s in Hollywood.
Ok. Seriously. First of all, there is no “Hollywood”. There’s no secret cabal of bigwigs who meet at a Starbucks on Ventura Blvd twice a week to decide the fate of the film business and who have decided you will never succeed. Sorry. Not real.
There are, however, hundreds of producers, production companies, and directors out there, and they all want to make films or TV shows or Cable films or films and shows for the Netflix’ of the world and they hire writers and buy scripts from writers. They also want to buy and make things they own the rights to. So they don’t want to see any Batman scripts. Warner Brothers and DC own the rights to Batman so only they can make a Batman film. So the array of buyers you can approach with your Batman script is a little small. In fact, you can count them on one finger. Plus, they don’t want to read your Batman script ever. And if you try to sell it to them, they may have one of their many lawyers write you a nasty letter asking you to never darken their door again and to burn your script because you don’t own the rights. That should also figure into your decision to write it.
But I’m also not saying you shouldn’t write it if you think it will help you learn screenwriting. As a sample, it’s kinda worthless, but as an instructional experiment? If you want to do it? Ok. I think it’s a waste of time to write something you can’t sell or try to sell, but that’s me.
Well... that’s it for today’s edition of Ask Bob. Keep those cards and letters coming.