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.
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