Yes. It’s been too long since I last blogged but I have a good excuse. I’ve been in LA for more than a month and writing like a fiend before that. I shall be writing like a fiend again until the end of the year, too. Thank You God.

So... what did I do on my summer vacation. I was in LA.  And what did I see? I did and saw a lot. I learned a lot. I had two spectacular producer meetings that have the potential to change my professional life for the better. Whether they do remains to be seen, but it’s nice to hear from influential people that they are fans of what I do.

But the main part of my trip? Culmination of a dream. I’ve had produced films from scripts I’ve written before. Seven, to be exact. Each one was good, except one, in their own way. All have been successful, even the one I hate, unfortunately. I got a fan Email just yesterday about the one I hate saying they loved it. The fact that the film doesn’t have one single thing I wrote on the screen and that it’s kind of an embarrassment to have my name on it notwithstanding.

Back to Summer Vacation. Our first stop.  A script I did a complete page one rewrite on that was NOT my idea nor my original script, but one that I did LOVE the premise and basic story for and a lot of the people who were involved, went into production. I got to spend a couple of days on the set, including playing a small part in the film they were kind enough to offer. I even got to play guitar on screen, another dream fulfilled. Wait, I got to play guitar while Joey Fatone danced to it. Not bad for an old guy like me. Even if my scenes end up on the cutting room floor it was a wonderful experience, so my profound thanks to all involved. But beyond that I also think this could be a very good and maybe groundbreaking film in a genre that’s not known for its groundbreaking films. I hope so. Thank you, John McGalliard, Stephen Baldwin, Christopher Shawn Shaw, and Thor Ramsey.

The rest of my six weeks of vacation, minus the things I’ve mentioned? Ok... this is where it gets really good.

One of my original spec scripts shot at the same time as the other film. Yes, I had two films in production at the same time, something that probably will never happen again. The fact that I’m still under embargo not to mention the specifics of this second project because it hasn’t been announced yet makes this part of the blog post a little tricky, but I shall try to be as vague as possible while still telling you how incredibly damned wonderful and exciting and spectacular it was.

Let’s start with casting, and holy crap what a CAST. Better than I could have ever imagined down to the smallest character, all of those filled with fabulous very recognizable talented character actors... and the leads, forget about it, just remarkable. Only one sore thumb in the cast. Me. Once again these wonderful people asked me to play a small on camera role, which was mega fun. I never write roles for myself when I write a script because... well, I never write roles for any actor. I write CHARACTERS who fit the story I’m trying to tell and hope actors want to play them. It’s worked out well. They offered me a role that surprised me, though. Which if you think about it, is damn cool. And I’m crazy about the casting agent who did this, too. She was wonderful, sweet, smart, innovative and yes, I will name everyone when the embargo is lifted.

The director. Can I say I love him without it sounding pervy? No? Then I don’t care. And even though he is now my lifelong friend, I’ve never worked with anyone I was so on the same page with. Watching him work to bring my story alive was so amazing that I did cry sitting there on set on a few occasions. Watching characters come alive the way I wrote and pictured them was something I hope every writer gets to experience.

The producers. More love. The one on set everyday worked harder than I’ve ever seen a producer work and got more done than I thought possible.

The crew. The best. THE. BEST. In every department. The best.

And every time I was there and there were a lot of extras (some days a whole lot) I went and sat down with them. That’s where I started in this business. Right there in extra’s holding. Right there with the people who get to eat last. And I talked to them and I told them to never give up on their dreams. That I didn’t and even though it took 18 years of not giving up, my dreams were now seeing the light of day in ways I never could have imagined.

I got to share some of it with my wife and daughters. My wife was with me most of the time, except the days I acted (or attempted to act) and was, as she always is, one of the most popular people on the set. The fact that she baked piles of homemade cookies for everybody helped. Two of the stars came up to her separately after the first batch to ask for more please. Immensely satisfying to her... and me. She’s been at my side for this whole journey and I couldn’t have made it without her. I can never repay her for all she’s done. The greatest wife ever.

My daughters came for one night of filming each and that was also wonderful. Not only so they could share it with me, but to see the scope of the production, which in both cases surprised them. Hey, I’m Dad. They’ve lived with this dream and all the failure and hard work and rejection and been uber-supportive. I wanted them to see that it all paid off in a big way.

Now I’m off to write the first of three paid jobs I need to get done. Two movies and a second episode of my series I hope to tell you about soon. Everything moves so slow in Hollywood and everything can blow up and disappear at any time too. So that’s why I am careful about specifics until a project is really real.

Or announced. Damn it.

Follow me on Twitter @BobSnz

Short time between Blogs this time... mainly because this one was kind of forced on me. I had to write about this stuff.

Which is good because I’m not really writing anything right now. I came up with what I think are stellar ideas for the second and third episodes of my series... but I’m still waiting for the greenlight on the pilot which the Production Company tells me is going to happen. I will remain healthily skeptical just for my own mental stability until then.

I spend my time working around the house. The skylight on my roof blew off in the last big storm flooding my pool room and ruining my pool table and a TV and some other stuff. Plus I’m working on some other home based projects I neglected during my five month writing marathon. And I’ve been surfing the interweb...

It was on one of these adventures (and a subsequent phone call) that I knew I had another Blog that needed to get out.

So on this episode of Just When You Thought You’ve Heard It All, we’ll be discussing the stupefying things writers sometimes do to try and get into the industry. A warning, again, to all you new writers who think you have a new special idea to procure a short cut. Sorry. Doesn’t work that way. And there’s no idea you can come up with that dozens of desperate writers haven’t tried before you thought of it.

So... Let’s start with Craigslist and work our way to Marvel. I’ll bet that got your attention.

First up: A young writer posted on a screenwriting board how he didn’t understand why he hadn’t gotten any response to his ad on Craigslist for his latest Script. He’d put it up for sale and was wondering what went wrong. He thought it would be snapped up by a studio or at least get some offers. I refuse to make jokes at the expense of this writer and his choices because that would be piling on. But... just for anyone who thought he had a good idea... Craigslist is terrific if you want to buy cheap motorcycle parts or get your stolen bike back (as one of my friends did), but for screenplays? Not optimal.

It amazes me that people who want to do this can spend the time to write a script but can’t spend the time to find out how to correctly get it out there.

So, to that writer who was startled that he got no traction on his Craigslist ad, look up the words... query, screenwriting contest (Nicholl to be exact), literary manager, and networking. The information you glean from these will help you more than Craigslist.

Next candidate was a writer who was on a screenwriting board laying out a strategy of giving their script, that this writer had written with a particular actor in mind, to that actor’s father and asking him to give it to his son. Making sure the father told his son that the script was tailored for him.

Does this writer actually KNOW the actor’s father? Well, no. But somebody the writer does know kind of knows him and this writer was going to ask that friend for an introduction so said writer could give the father the script to give his son. Easy.

This isn’t networking. This is USING people. In the worst way. The chances are the actor’s father will tell the writer he can’t do this because I’m very very certain that this has been tried before, more than a few times, and the father knows better. And knowing some actors with high profiles, I’m also fairly certain that the overwhelming reaction to this would be some pretty righteous anger involving said actor. For USING his father this way.

Yes, Networking is the best way to get your work out. I know this for a fact because it’s how I got my work out originally. But I built friendships and real relationships with people before they ever read anything I wrote. Using people to get your scripts out never works. Ever. And again, it’s a desperate move.

And finally, was a writer who posted on a board he had a Marvel film script he’d written. Based on one of the more prominent characters in the Marvel Universe, he was sure they’d scoop it up if he could just get it to them. It was then that I was surprised that he was told by a large majority of posters that he should go for it and send it because “YOU NEVER KNOW”. He was elated by the support. A couple of writers with a little more experience came on and told him it wasn’t going to work, but they were shouted down as “Bullies” and “Trolls”. Amazing.

So, fascinated by the fact that all these supposed writers on this board were encouraging this writer to send his script to Marvel, I called a very good friend who works at Marvel Studios in the executive offices. You never know? Well, NOW I KNOW.

Marvel gets dozens of unsolicited scripts a week. Dozens a week. They are all routed to the Security Department who return them to the sender with a nice letter saying no one read the script and please don’t send any more.

He also told me that some really desperate writers were faking CAA and WME return addresses on their scripts so Marvel would think the Agencies sent them and read them. Every one of those scripts were also caught by the Security Dept who checks everything. DON’T DO THIS. THIS IS A VERY BAD AND STUPID THING. It won’t work and you will make some lists that you don’t want to be on.

My friend also told me that about 40% of the calls they get every day are from writers, actors, would be directors, and other people looking to work there. They are politely told thanks but no thanks. Unless they get a particularly obnoxious call, which unfortunately is not that rare, then they’re transferred to the Security Dept. My friend says he has no idea how they handle it, but it does get handled.

Marvel doesn’t fool around and neither do any of the big studios or big production companies. You can dream that you’ll be the one exception, but that ain’t happening. Ever.

Thus ends another episode of Just When You Thought You’ve Heard It All. My guess is there will be a few more down the road. But none of them will be original ideas. And none of them will work.

Follow me on Twitter @BobSnz



It’s that time of year when all screenwriting thoughts are directed towards snowflakes and candycanes and Reindeer and Santa... yeah right. Nope, if I remember correctly it’s about this time of year a lot of screenwriters look back on the year past and wonder why they still don’t have a damn agent or manager.

The screenwriting boards light up in Holiday multicolored complaints from writers who talk of how stupid agents are for not recognizing the brilliance of their scripts. Others lament how they query just like they’re supposed to but the damn managers won’t even respond or have the bad taste to pass on them.

That’s when the “You don’t need an agent, they just profit off of your hard work” and “They don’t do anything anyway.” comments spring to life. Or worse “You can sell a script to a studio without an agent or manager. Just buy my book.” offers spring up like ugly uncontrollable kudzu.

So in the spirit of the time of year I’m going to offer my thoughts on this topic.

First of all, Agents and Managers are looking for writers who will have careers, not one trick ponies. You aren’t going to get one from your first script unless it’s so groundshatteringly good that people read it and faint from ecstasy. This is not likely. In fact let’s be honest, it isn’t going to happen. Honestly, it might not happen for your first ten scripts.

For sure, it is about quality, but quantity counts, too. You have to have an answer to the age old question, “What else do you have?” besides, “Well, I got some ideas.” or “Isn’t this one enough?”

Most new writers have the wrong idea about agents and managers anyway. They think that once they have one the heavens will open and manna in the form of instant sales and produced films and writing jobs will shower over them.

A good example of this kind of thinking is from something I actually witnessed in a different aspect of this business. I was sitting in my acting agent’s office one afternoon shooting the breeze (this was when I had occasion to actually make use of my acting agent, unlike now) and there was a commotion in the outer office. My agent, who although she’s about 5’1” and pretty petite but could probably throw someone through a wall, went to see what was going on. I followed.

In the outer office, as her assistant and the office manager stood between a young man and my agent’s office door, he waved something in the air. “I have my SAG card and I’ve CHOSEN you to be my agent.” My first reaction to this statement was to wish I was anywhere but there as I watched my agent’s blood pressure increase so much you could feel it in the air.

Then she wound up and delivered. “Get the hell out of my office! Now!” He looked like she’d shot him, which I believed she would have if she could get away with it. He slunk out. I think I started laughing until she gave me a look.

We went back in her office and she regaled me on how stupid wannabe actors can be. I guessed correctly that this was not the first time this had happened. She finally laughed, although it may have been an ironic one, and told me that most all of them were extras who got a SAG card by Taft-Hartley vouchers, not by actually acting in anything and believe once they are visited by the SAG Fairy they will instantly be cast in all varieties of film and TV, mostly as the star, and are blessing her by choosing her to represent them. She called it Psycho-SAG-cosis.

This is what a lot of screenwriters think is going to happen when they get an agent or manager. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are good enough to get a good manager or agent all they can do is open some doors for you and advise you how to handle it. This IS quite important for sure, but you have to do the rest. They DO NOT GET YOU JOBS. You get you jobs by being great in a room, having what the people who you meet with want, and impressing the hell out of them with your personality and talent. If you can do this, then you get to keep your agent or manager to go out and do it again, keeping in mind that the person waiting in the outer office when you finish is there to do the same thing.

Yes, with an agent or manager the Opportunity Fairy can visit a lot more often and that’s a very good thing. But you as a writer have to be just as ready for an agent or manager as they are for you. Confident in yourself and your work, not ridiculous big ego confident, but sincerely there and humble confident. You have to be honest and tell the truth, not just say what you think people want to hear because that always bites you on the ass eventually. And to have enough faith in yourself to answer a question with “I don’t know, but I can find out.” if that’s the real answer.

These are the things, besides having some great scripts, that will keep you in good stead with any agent or manager. That and a real work ethic.

Writing one script doesn’t make YOU ready. Being desperate doesn’t make you ready. Everything is this business takes time, as I have said dozens of times before. You HAVE to be patient. There is no Agent Fairy to instantly make you a screenwriting star. Agents and managers are there to work with you in building a career one block at a time. You can’t sit back and wait for them to perform miracles, because that’s not their job. And you’re not their only client either. There’s nothing magical about it.

So if you think you’re ready, query managers and agents. They ARE looking for new talent all the time. And keep networking. I got my manager through a referral from a director. He had to read my work first and talk to me and do all those things they do before agreeing to represent you, but the referral got me through the door.

Getting an agent or manager is just another stepping stone in managing your own business as a screenwriter. A big one, but one that needs to come at the right time. Knowing that this is a long game, don’t be so anxious that you try before you or they are ready.

And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me and my family.

Follow Me on Twitter… @bobsnz

Welcome to my Annual Thanksgiving Edition where I give thanks. Or sometimes complain a little. But mostly gives thanks.

First up... My Wife. Number one. My kids. Right there. Spectacular. Thank you.

A quick long overdue thank you to Jeff Lowell. Who a few years ago said this in a DoneDealPro posting: “As for Bob, I don't think that, given his resume, he should be handing out advice that contradicts actual industry pros.” This said in reaction to some BAD advice I gave on an IMDb Screenwriting Board because at the time, I thought I knew it all. I didn’t. Not even close.

I had optioned a couple of scripts (never made) and had a couple of small independent film rewrites (made, but never distributed), nothing big. So... of course, I thought I knew everything about screenwriting.

Then someone told me about the DDP thread and I read it. I also looked Jeff up. He’s the real deal, but then most of you know that. To have someone of that stature saying that about me by name was an eye opener. Made me look at myself and realize my ego was much bigger than my knowledge by a long shot. Made me take a BIG step back. I realized having a couple of optioned scripts, of which there are hundreds out there, does not make you an expert. Yet here I was offering black and white advice about screenwriting when I had no business doing it. I hadn’t been in a production meeting, I hadn’t ever worked with a development exec, I had barely ever worked with producers, I didn’t even have a rep. Idiot. Was talking when I should have been listening and learning.

And I'm still learning, 6 produced films later. I just had a two week rewrite session with a director (Thank you Jay) on one of my spec films that goes next year and the amount I learned from that session alone is staggering.

Do I give advice now? Yes. Hey, I have a blog. But now I give it from a background as a produced writer who makes a pretty good living at it. I also rightly label it as my OPINION based on experience and not like I walked down off some mountain with Gold Tablets. If you learn one thing from this: One unmade optioned script to your name? Look for advice, don’t give it.

So thank you to all the writing pros who took me under their wings and to executives, both at the production company and cable network level, and to producers and directors who have let me suck the knowledge from their brains over the years. You’ve all made me a smarter better writer. I hope to never stop learning.

Thank you to my Manager, John. Not with one of those big management companies. An independent guy. We’re having a pretty special year so far. And next year looks even better. Which goes to prove that, yes, even though you often strive toward a big name manager, sometimes it’s better to find one who just believes in you even if he’s not a household name. Something I think new writers need to consider when they’re looking down their nose at a person they’ve never heard of who wants to work with them, waiting for a better offer from a bigger rep that may never come.

THANK YOU to the execs and producers that believe in and support my work. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.

Thank you Jay Lowi. Ten years. TEN YEARS. Let’s go make a movie.

Thank you to my real life writing pals. All of you. The people who come and drink with me when I’m in LA. The writers who want to, but can’t make it. The writers I talk to on the phone and trade scripts with. The writers who I want to be successful in the biggest way. Your friendship is one of the things that makes this journey so much fun. Just know how much you mean to me. The writers on Twitter, who make me laugh and who make me happy when they share their successes.

I walked up to my wife 23 years ago and told her I was quitting my pretty successful day job to become a film actor and a screenwriter. Also maybe a radio DJ. She could have said, “Hell no.” Instead she said, “You gotta follow your dreams. But only if it takes you a couple of years.” (See why I always thank her first?)

That was enough for me. So I ventured out KNOWING NOTHING about any of these things or how damn hard it was to even be a part of them, let alone succeed. And in those first two years, I got my SAG card, did some movies and commercials, I was an actor was on a successful TV show (for 6 seasons in a microscopic part, but I was there getting paid to learn how to make movies and TV, Thank you Don Johnson), I optioned the first script I ever wrote to a production company at Warner Bros (never got made, and BOY is that a sad story), and I was on the air as a DJ on KYCY, a country music station in San Francisco. AGAIN, I KNEW NOTHING. I didn’t know how hard these things were to do so I went and did them.

I’ve had a Forrest Gump kind of life. Right place, right time. (Thank You God) Got to work for directors like Coppola, Eastwood, Fincher, Ron Howard, even Michael Bay in blink and you’ll miss me parts. But I got to watch them work. I’ve met and talked with acting heroes of mine I couldn’t have imagined meeting. They wouldn’t remember me, but I’ll always remember them. I’ve gotten walk around movie studios, and not as a tourist (although I’m sure I looked like one). The list of the amazing things I have lucked my way into is too long and boring to list. But damn... my grateful quotient is off the chart.

Finally, thank you to the readers of this Blog. The numbers who read it constantly amaze me. I appreciate you, too.

And everybody have a Happy Thanksgiving.




I was talking to a friend the other day about his film project and how excited he is that his Kickstarter worked and how he now had the seed money to begin the arduous trek to actually getting his film made.

He’d set a realistic goal, for starters, not one of those “I need to raise Two Hundred Thousand dollars in 10 days, so if you have Two Hundred Thousand friends who can give a dollar each we’ll be funded for our film about the dangers of Glitter Tattoos”. He also said he got a couple of nasty notes from people who didn’t understand how HE could get funded when they couldn’t. I wasn’t surprised.

It got me thinking about why I think it’s important to actively support people who are trying to write and/or make films and TV. I am a firm believer in independent film and love what it can be in the right hands. I’d rather see a good small film than a big blockbuster any day of the week. (Except for the Lego Movie… that one kicked ass and now I’m singing “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!”)

It’s a relatively small community, this group of people actively trying to be a part of this industry, and I’m startled and saddened when I hear writers and actors and filmmakers getting upset or disappointed that someone has achieved some success and it isn’t them. We should all as a community honor success and genuinely be happy for the people who worked so hard to get it. I feel great when I see someone I know, or don’t know for that matter, get that golden ticket they worked so tirelessly for.

I know how it feels to be on both sides of that equation. I know friends and colleagues and acquaintances who are happy for me when good things happen and I’ve been with people who don’t understand why it couldn’t have happened to them instead.

Success is NOT a Zero Sum Game. Because one person is successful doesn’t mean another person won’t be. Success is open to all comers. Yes, you do have to perform. Yes, there is a modicum of good fortune involved at times. Yes, who you know can be important. But those last two things fall to the wayside if you write something or make something wonderful. Every overnight success I know worked like crazy to get there. They honed their chosen craft. They trialed and errored their nails down to the bone. They networked (the right way), building real lasting relationships with people in the industry. And they were encouraged by their friends and by some of the people trying to do the same things. It should be all of the people.

I love to encourage new artists. I give to projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo because I LIKE the project or the person whether I know them or not. I’ve helped writers in past by something as simple as giving notes on a script to as much sending a script to a producer because I loved it and it fit what was being sought. I’ve done this for friends. For people who have networked with me the right way. I’m no great shakes in the industry right now. I hope to be soon and things are looking pretty favorable, but what little I can do right now I want to do.

Why? Because we all have a shared goal. That’s the thing that binds us all in a kind of wonderful desperate hopeful community. To someday see our words, our images, on a screen entertaining, inspiring, exciting, scaring, thrilling, and educating people depending on what we’re trying to do.

So I encourage you to stop being jealous of other people’s success if that’s what you do now. Be joyful when someone gets what they’ve dreamed of. Mike Le got some amazing news this week about his script and a director hired for it. I couldn’t be happier for him. I don’t know him, but I bet I know how hard he worked for that moment. I’ve had moments like that and know how they feel. Pretty damn good. Way to go, Mike.

This Blog also came about when I heard someone bitch and moan about an acting part that went to someone they know instead of them. I’ve been on the actor side, too. If I hold my hands about four inches apart that gives you an idea of my acting range. If there’s a part within that range I’ll knock it out of the park, but those are few, so I’ve had my share of no calls after an audition. But I’ve never been angry at the person who got the part, like some I’ve actually heard. The person who got it had a better audition than I did or looked more like the director or producer envisioned that part to be. You can be disappointed and still be happy for the others.

When success eludes you or someone else gets what you wanted, it’s NOT personal. The factors involved, including the other person probably did a better job than you, are out of your control. I know that’s a very hard thing to swallow sometimes. I’ve had to do it a lot over the years I struggled. But all you can do is strive to be better and hopefully honor the person who was.