Screenwriting : Crazy dream? by Leana Vastine

Crazy dream?

Can anyone name a screenwriter who made a full length feature film from no experience and with no connections or funds later in his/her life? Is it a waste of time like playing the lottery?

Ian O'Neill

Pursuing your dream is no waste of time. Write because you love to write and if you put yourself out there, anything can happen.

C.m. Andino

I face the same question. I've been writing in one form or another since I was ten. I'll never not write. But I know where you're coming from, because if I'm not getting paid to write then it's just a hobby, and if it's just a hobby, I can't afford to put hundreds much less thousands of dollars into entry fees, coverage, and doctoring. The age of social networking has made it easier to promote my work without breaking the bank, but it's still an uphill battle, for all of us, young and old. All I can say is, never give up, never surrender.

Bill Costantini

It's impossible to achieve the goal you stated with the conditions that you gave (no experience, no connections, no funds). Even in the case of Kevin Smith that Sam brought up, he had some experience...he had connections (the people involved in the shoot)... he had funds (albeit a small bankroll of $25k)...and he also had the connections of having sets (the places he worked). Even if you truly have no experience, you can still shoot a movie, as long as you can get people involved who are willing to work for free (like crew and cast members); have places to shoot for free; and the ability to edit and complete your film for free. If you can accomplish that, those are your connections and your replacement for having funds. That's a tall order, to be sure, but isn't that how they shot Titanic? :)

Anthony Cawood

This list always gives me comfort that IF I write quality scripts then I've got a chance... Anthony

William Martell

When you start you have no experience and no connections... then you write a stack of screenplays and gain experience, and when your writing gets good enough those screenplays make the connections for you. It's a great deal of work, so the "later in life" thing all comes down to how much work you want to put into it at this point.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Great list, @Anthony. Thanks for adding it to the conversation.

Kerry Douglas Dye

@Leana, you're determined to both write and MAKE your screenplay?

Melonie Zarko

Wow! This discussion will brighten any 'newbies' day. Impressive list. But, I always imagined a writing gig to be much like an artist's life - as we are all creatives trying to turn our creativity into gold. Starving artists, I think is an apt term, for a writer trying to break into the field. A writer is an artist with words, and there are lots of writers with different styles and strengths out there. A good percentage of the some 400,000 members right here on this site have their own unique talents which include writing screenplays. We're all a dime a dozen here, hoping our next piece is the diamond that shines in the rough.

Anthony Cawood

Good article from Danny Manus on the subject...

Richard Toscan

Definitely read Danny's article that Anthony Cawood cites above. Spot on, I think.

Thomas C Koveleskie

My opinion is that, selling yourself as just a screenwriter isn't enough these days. Become and sell yourself as a complete FILMMAKER. You don't need anyone's permission to write and produce your own movie. You can do it for free, many people do. But as others have pointed out you must start somewhere... You're in Miami, and that should be a great place to get involved in the film scene. Write a short "SHORT", even a couple of pages... go film it, even if is with your iPhone.... than go home and edit it. Consumer cameras and editing apps are cheap and good enough to get some experience with. The idea is to go out and network, learn, and become part of your local filmmaking community. Grow and progress... and did I mention networking, networking, networking? Attend film festivals, networking events, film markets, seminars etc etc. Go where the serious filmmakers are. Many years ago I started out in the Indie Filmmaking world with zero connections and very little money... Fast forward, recently I became an Executive Partner in a Film Development Company based in LA called "New Pictures Group". NPG was started many years ago by an awesome man who is a 40 year Producing veteran of Hollywood. Currently, I have 2 films in development that I wrote and brought to the table. Things don't usually happen over night, although they can in this crazy business... just be prepared to work hard and keep making modest goals for yourself... Before you know it you'll be making great features down in sunny Miami!

Ernie Lijoi Sr.

I am one of those people that started writing at age 65 with no experience. Now at 72 I have ten books published with a Movie script and a TV show from my books (with more to come). I think that if you enjoy the writing and have fun with it, That's all that you can ask. Everything else is a bonus.

Anthony Cawood

Inspiration to us all Ernie!

Ernie Lijoi Sr.

Thank you Anthony all I have to do is find the funding to produce these shows...LOL...may take a while.....

Cherie Grant

So do you have a TV show or a TV script?

Ernie Lijoi Sr.

Cherie Grant, We have a movie project scripted from my book THE PREYERS and we have a TV show Scripted from my book THE BUTCHER OF BOSTON that I call The Pannoni Files all based on real cases that i worked as a deep cover operative. For almost 18 years I was Eddie Pannoni drug dealer and gun runner while in reality I was in fact Detective Ernie Lijoi Sr....Thanks for asking

Fiona Faith Ross

I have the crazy dream too. My first big piece is a high concept, high budget screenplay...because...that's what it is. I'm writing it because I'm so excited by the idea I am compelled to do it. When I put it out there, if it gets a life of its own, it's a bonus, but I'll still follow the crazy dream. Go for it. Why not? Good for you.

Ernie Lijoi Sr.

Fiona Faith Ross, congratulations for going after what you want. I read some where that; "The difference between a master and Beginner is that the master has failed more times then the beginner has ever tried." stay in there and fight for what you want. You project will, in time be created.

David Levy

Just like any career, you need to start somewhere. I was in financial services for a long time. Took me time to build my network and client base. The more knowledge and work I did, the more others were willing to put their business and trust in me. This is no diferent. It takes time. Some freams are meant to be lived.

David M Hyde

Leana. I too started late. I wrote my first screenplay at 49. Use your age/experience to your advantage. If I had done this at 22 I would have failed miserably. It is slow and steady. I am now on my third screenplay and starting to get some traction. As long as you have a love for the craft, just enjoy the ride.

David Levy

And I thought starting at 40 was late! lol. Like you David, I would have failed and my confidence would be nonexistant if I started this in my 20's. It is never too late.

Anthony Cawood

I started late too, I don't think confidence would have been an issue in my 20s (not that way round anyway), but I wouldn't have been mature enough to take feedback and use it to make my scripts better...

David Levy

Excellent point. Maturity was a big issue for me then.

Andrea Adler

Excellent question! I have an award-winning "kick-ass" novel. I wrote the screenplay and now , I'm trying to get producers, actors and directors interested in the film. I wish us both THE BEST of LUCK! I know I will NOT give up....Just like the title of my story... I am PUSHING UPWARD,

Virginia Shine

it is only a crazy dream if you think it is. We all have the power to create our own dreams. You may have to pivot and adapt to whatever occurs on a daily basis in your life. If it brings you joy then do the work to gain experience, educate yourself and get involved in every way you can. We are all trying to live our dreams, so dream big and good luck to us all.

MJ Brewer

The difference between dreams and goals is -- one is rewarded with the identical chances as a lottery without an effort, while the other one has a lot of effort and doesn't quit until the goal is reached.

Anthony Cawood

@ MJ - Depends on your definition of dream... Mr King worked his ass off to try realise his dream, didn't quit either.

Samantha Anne

Speaking of Kevin Smith, this is one of my go to clips when I need a reminder that pursuing my dreams is never a waste of time:

Debbie Croysdale

I don't think doing something "later on his/her life" is any more a crazy dream, than doing it when "early life" . It's down to willpower, and sourcing whatever tools needed , age is a number. I met Carlos Gallardo via Raindance London, and he made El Mariachi, virtually out of nothing when young in the 90s. Film cost 700 dollars, and most if the town helped with props and location. This gave birth to The Mexican Trio of films the big studios paid for, Desperado/Once upon a time in Mexico. Now older, Carlos is still making films, so the passion to do so is still there. If you have a dream, go for it. Age is no barrier in trying, as long as there is nothing to lose, give it a go.

David Levy

El Mariachi was filmed within a one block radius, but felt like he filmed in more locations.

Debbie Croysdale

Yes good point David. He also got help from The Lord Mayor of the town. "Anything Carlos wants."

David Levy

Carlos was creative for his special effects. He used batteries attached to weight belts that when activated, blood packs burst to simulate gunshot wounds.

Elisabeth Meier

Only know about the writer (no screenwriter) Margret Mitchell. Her first and only novel was not only sold out immediately, but also the rights for the film were sold soon and one year after the book was on the market the film came into cinemas. Don't know if that counts for you.

Debbie Croysdale

Interesting point Elisabeth, and thanks for invite. Novelists off course have the advantage of being able to "describe" characters thoughts and feelings, but screenwriters need to "show" the audience thoughts and feelings via dialogue and action, eg close ups on faces during filming. In other words the moment by moment visual story has to "show" how character really feels. Eg Novelists can put down "Joe was pissed off when he opened the envelope." But for screen we have dialogue/action. Sorry I'm rambling on now. Dave, I also think Carlos has a kind heart. There was a half starved monkey wondering around the countryside area where they were, and the crew didnt know what to do with it. So Carlos made it the star of one of the stills, the scene of the three on horseback (Banderes, Gallardo, Iglesias). It sits on his shoulder, now a star, well fed forever.

Debbie Croysdale

David. Just remembered the famous movie still with the monkey was where all three men were walking with the famous black guitar cases, not a horseback scene. I have so many indie films now blocking garage, it's easy to sometimes get mixed up with particular scenes. Have a good weekend's nearly here!

Elisabeth Meier

Debbie, I understand your point, but know the difference of course, that is why I asked if she would also count. The question was or is who made it to big screen without experience.

Debbie Croysdale

Quite right Elizabeth. Was just rambling my own thoughts. Long morning at the gym.

Ernie Lijoi Sr.

Steve Anzelowitz, I agree with you totally. I sat down at age 65 and wrote my first book, for something to do. I found that I enjoyed writing and on top of that the first book was published almost immediately. I taught myself to write scripts, I love writing poems and I now have 13 books, ten published with a movie and TV project (from my books) that i am trying to get funded. So i must agree, if you love what you do, there is no work involved, just enjoyment and a seance of accomplishment.

Debbie Croysdale

Great Ernie. The above, says it all, in answer to the thread question!

Leana Vastine

Thanks for the feedback

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