Screenwriting : Getting a quality read and exposure by Shelly J Buckman

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Shelly J Buckman

Getting a quality read and exposure

I'm nearing final draft of my first screenplay and I've been wondering what my best options are for a quality read and what to do after. Example: I can get a read/review right here with Happy Writers but then what? How do I gain exposure after I get a thumbs up for my script? I've been checking out sites like "Spec Scout, The Black List, etc.". Those sites offer exposure to industry execs for scripts that have read well. I can get the same exposure here with Happy Writers by entering contests and such but I was hoping for kind of an all in one. Get the read, get the thumbs up, get exposure. I'll be honest. I've been feeling a bias in favor of Stage 32 because it's been my 'go to' site for incredibly helpful information and supportive people but I just want to make sure I'm starting out the best possible way. Any thoughts? All suggestions are whole heartedly welcome & appreciated!

Dan MaxXx

sounds like you're pushing the cart before the horse... or something like that. dunno. i read it somewhere. maybe in a fortune cookie? get a read by people u trust and respect. and the exposure part? I dunno. if I did, I wouldn't share :) best exposure is winning a Nichols or get heat from Black List. managers, agents, producers will find u. Winning or finishing top in a prestigous script contest gives you leverage. Leverage is key. good luck!

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan thanks for the response! All are appreciated. I've been looking over 'Happy Writers' here on Stage 32 and they actually do offer something like the all-in-one. It's there under 'Coverage & Development Notes'. A thorough read with notes and an included Pitch session to Execs. Just wondering if there are other similar sites I should check out?

Dan MaxXx

@shelly sites are all the same, same "pros' pitching bullshit and preying on "Hope." trust your gut, find people u respect. if your script is great, it will be noticed. tarantino worked at a video store. talent rises from shit. GL

Frankie Nicholas Baruch

Unfortunately, exposure happens to be a mixed bag. A combination of marketability, the merit of your work, a certain producers budget, current events and personal opinions all seem to play a big part. Only a handful of screenwriters at my last event had complete feature screenplays, most of them were short stories and only some of them sounded interesting. All of the advice i have been receiving is to schlep around Los Angeles and happen to meet the right people, but that is unrealistic and expensive. I think a literary agent and representation for your work is the smartest route, and if you have a good product and it is marketable, it will get picked up. In regards to finding that one perfect strange who will sweep us screenwriters off our minimum wage feet, it is impractical and I've come to terms that we make our own success. Tarantino was picked up by Jack Lucarelli, that is a one in a million. I sat in at Jack Lucarelli's panel and his work is incredibly mediocre, if it weren't for the cash cow Quentin under his belt, he'd be a two star writer and director.

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan. I know that shit exists, the pros pitching bullshit & preying. That's my concern but "trust my gut" I like. It's never steered me wrong but it's still a good idea to check with those of you who have already navigated a great deal of this (as you put it in another comment Dan) 'Ground Zero' stuff. Here's the thing ... I completely agree and have always thought that "the work will speak for itself." It's the "if it's good, it will get noticed part". Specifically, the "it will get noticed" part. I've got to make sure it's in the right place to get noticed. I guess that's what I'm really asking. Are there any places, in your experience, that are better than others for submitting my work? @Dan @Frankie. Let's just assume that I have a kick ass script ... that doesn't mean squat if nobody sees it .. well anyone that counts anyway. You know what I mean? I also realize that in this age of technology, there are a great many resources and venues available for getting my work in front of the right people. I'm just wondering, again in your experience/s, are there places better for submitting than others? @Dan. I remember you saying that you've had 3 low-budgets and are currently awaiting news on your first big budget. Have you heard anything yet, btw? I read that and I think, wow now that's success. My point being that I'm not actually interested in being a Tarantino or anyone else. I was born & raised in L.A. I'm not interested in "The Lifestyle". I'm just a writer who loves the shit out of telling stories and writing them down and, for me, being able to make a living at it is an absolute dream come true but it is still just my chosen way to make a living. My real life happens outside my career. So if anyone can direct me to the best place to submit, the places the 'might' give me even a seconds head start, I'd love to hear all you've got! Thank you both for responding! As stated in my post but worth mentioning a thousand times over, I do truly appreciate it.

Dan MaxXx

@shelly been waiting for 6 days! Being a drunk, i accidently send an email to the agent's assisant , saying "hey, honey, did u read my script... yada yada.... desperation email :) personally, your best way is to the people you think your script is a good match. send them a dinner invitation. or invite them to lunch at Ago restuarant. only thing is you gotta be in LA. nobody in town turns down a free lunch. thats my 2cents. thats how deals get done in movie business, over lunch or strip clubs. Mostly works for Actors. Writers don't have talent in front of the camera. U gotta win people with your personality. nobody really cares about the words. they are buying you and your concept. if your script is really awesome, pray someone like Aaron Sorkin rewrites your script. Newbie writers get re-written all the time, either they tell u or do it behind your backs. once u sign the contract, U DO NOT OWN the script anymore.. I hope you get re-written. that means you've made in the business.

Bill Costantini

Dan Chiu -- do you really think the industry professionals that provide coverage/consultations here are "pitching bs and preying on hope?" That sounds pretty cynical at best, or pretty delusional at worst.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yeah... I was going to comment that this thread has taken quite the cynical turn, when that really isn't the spirit of Stage 32. We're more a supportive community. :)

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan. LOL on the desperation email. I doubt that feeling ever goes away when you're waiting to hear something. Even the most skilled and successful writers must go through it. Also agree ... rewrites spell success! I'm not a writer who is looking to write the next BIG thing (though I'd be okay if it happened) or protecting the 'integrity' of my writing from the big, bad meanies of Hollywood. Though they are big, bad meanies (lol), I don't much care. Just give me my check and I'll be moving right along, lol. @Patricia. Thanks for the tip on LinkedIn! I have an account but it hadn't occurred to me it would be useful in this way. It's amazing the different stories for those who've experienced success. It seems everyone has gotten 'there' in their own unique ways.

Shelly J Buckman

@Patricia. One quick question. Do you think Spec Scout was worth it? It's fairly expensive but if it works, it's worth a second look. I'm still leaning toward the services provided her by Stage 32. For some reason, of all the other sites, I feel most comfortable here. My gut tells me the folks here can be trusted ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Shelly, if you have questions about Happy Writers perhaps reach out to Erik Grossman: Erik@stage32.com. Or, you could also do a general search by topic in the Lounge about Happy Writers and all related threads will be listed—see what others have posted. :) You could also glance over "Stage 32 Success Stories." I hope that helps. :)

Shelly J Buckman

@Patricia. Ya Gut! lol Thanks for the clarification :) @Beth. New to the site so the navigation tips really do help. I'm a total 'due diligence' kind of gal, lol. Thanks for responding Beth!

Philip Sedgwick

I second the positive opinion on Spec Scout. The three reads are great, the notes concise and professional, and unlike many notes, very helpful for a rewrite. The contrast between the readers is exceptionally worthwhile as well. Warning: If you are going to use these guys, they are tough. They are not mean, but there may be some "ow" moments in taking their notes to heart.

Shelly J Buckman

@Philip. Thanks for the detail on Spec Scout. I had really been considering them. Though they are fairly expensive, I felt it was a value given what they're offering.

Philip Sedgwick

I think it's worth it. I like the guys who run it. Their coverage is very tight. They also have samples of their work on their site.

Philip Sedgwick

By the way, it 's probably not worth sending an early draft to them. Maybe fourth draft or after.

Shelly J Buckman

So I've essentially made my decision to stick with Stage 32 and Happy Writers. I've got another week, possibly two, before final draft but then I'll be going with the Coverage & Development option. This includes a free live pitch session, something I have no experience with. Well, not professionally anyway. I pitch friends and family. But, knowing what's ahead, I decided to get on YouTube and check out some pitch sessions and pitchfests. Wow. Not Wow! But ... wow. I guess I just thought they'd be more animated, more alive, not so many umms and repeating what they just said. Don't get me wrong, if this is how it's done then this is how it's done and who am I to judge after all? I guess I just expected to be blown away. It seems as though most of them didn't prepare ... completely. I get that they were probably so nervous they could throw up but that's what practice is for. When you know what you'll be saying inside and out, it helps quell the nervousness. Fortunately, I have public speaking experience in my background so speaking in front of people doesn't bother me. Never the less, I'll be practicing in the mirror, setting up a camcorder and recording myself, the whole nine yards, before I give a live pitch.

Dan MaxXx

@shelly at a pitch, smile, wave your hands, eye contact, engage, wear something sexy. 99% of the time, u are pitching to guys. here is a tip: just imagine u are a bar and flirting with a guy or girl (not sure what u swing), that is all. It's just talking. u want people to think u got your shit together.

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan. It does seem very informal. I guess that's what surprised me. It really is just talking. It's so casual. I've also read that a part of the pitch is warming up the room, essentially developing quick rapport. It's so fast, fast, fast. Not much time to get the job done. As for the smiling, waving my hands, eye contact and engaging, I'm there. When I'm pitching friends & family, I'm so excited by the story, so animated, I get completely caught up in the moment! Granted, doing so in front of a group of my peers is going to be a completely different experience but, so far, I'm actually looking forward to it ... sexy outfit and all. By the way, I consider Jeans and a T-shirt a sexy outfit, lol.

Dan Guardino

Dan M. "Wear something sexy and flirt with a guy." Please when you respond to this guy use his last name initial because I don't want anyone here to think anything this guys says came from me.

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan M. will do. Sorry for any confusion.

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan G. Omg, I truly cannot believe I did that :) Dan G. ... will do. Sorry for any confusion. I'm still chuckling. It's 11 pm here and I was up at the crack of dawn. I'm getting a little punchy. Maybe time for bed. Good night all and good writing!

Bo. R. R. Tolkien

if you just want it to be read, then it'll be read, and that's it. you should demand that it be successfully and professionally produced, handled by an apt visionary director. that is what you should intend all your screenplays to be before and during you writing them. when you aim your arrow, hit the bull's eye not the bull's ass.

Shelly J Buckman

Update: I've been watching more and more pitches and I'm seeing some really good ones! I'm sitting here thinking, wow I'd really like to see that one.

Anne-Cecile Ville

@ Dan Max - 'wear something sexy. 99% of the time, u are pitching to guys. here is a tip: just imagine u are a bar and flirting with a guy or girl '. This is probably the worst advice I've read. Be a nice, open and professional individual (note: emphasis on 'professional') and let the writing do the 'talking'.

Dan MaxXx

@anne good morning. everything I typed is 99% BS, 1% truth. Shelly, from what I can tell, has a sense of humor and can detect BS. this is show biz. have fun. why so serious? we are just writers. end of the day, everyone has their own moral compass. like my mentor, Beyonce says, "best revenge is paper."

Anne-Cecile Ville

@ Dan Max I guess it all boils down to how you want to be perceived :) Also, I think people are looking for genuine advice on here :)

Dan MaxXx

@anne thanks! dont mean to offend. some day (when I have enough $$$ and power), I wanna write my memoirs like "The Wolf of Wall Street"... about the entertainment business, name names, tell it all from mailrooms, desk jockey ;s life. i wish i did more coke & hookers:) .. books gotta sell. :P

Aray Brown

Enter your script in the Nicholl Fellowship or HW contest, or both! Post your script on your page, you never know who'll read it (get it copy-written first). Click on the Happy Writers tab and register for a face to face pitch session or two ( feel like RB should be paying me to say this lol) maybe get a table read?

Aray Brown

@Liliana - Hey :) First and foremost, I'm touched. Secondly, anything I can do to help others out there, I'm in. Just let me know what you need

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan M. and ALL ... honestly, I have considered it humor .. raw, gritty & sometimes completely inappropriate but humor none the less, lol. Maybe he really did mean that bit about pimping myself for a nod but I didn't think so. I'm an Angelino born & raised and that stuff actually does happen but it comes down to who YOU are. If you refuse to play those disgusting games then you'll build your career based on being a professional. As far as I'm concerned, being a professional is the only way to fly ;) And just one more thought, if you can't handle Dan M., you might find it difficult to navigate this biz of show. Specifically @Dan M. ... you really can be an ass though ;) omg that cracks me up. I'm sitting here 'literally' laughing and thinking ... you called him an ass, you called him an ass!!! God I'm soooo grade school sometime! Wow, now I'm wondering if I should take that last bit out because I could be considered inappropriate. Look ... now I'm thinking of censoring myself.

Shelly J Buckman

@Liliana. Check out Stage 32's 'Happy Writers' page Coverage & Development notes. https://www.stage32.com/happy-writers/coverage This is what I'm going with. Also, as a side note, I sent an email to Stage 32 staff and got an immediate and thorough response. That's important to me. I'm trusting this site and the people running it more and more every day. As for your page count, I don't think it matters unless you're entering a contest or something that specifically states a page count requirement but you can always email the staff at Stage 32 and ask. I'm confident you'll get the same quick & thorough response. Good luck!

Shelly J Buckman

@Regina. Wow! Very helpful. Thank you!

A Alex

@ Dan Max: "Sites are all the same, same "pros' pitching bullshit and preying on "Hope." " I agree with this. Most new screenwriters don't know just how much scams there are circulating just over the Internet. There are hundreds of people & companies, many of whom exploit their 1 yr internship in a mail room or 80s success, who are thirsty for a chance to prey upon naivety of newbies. I know of one popular gal on the Web who is known to give ridiculous notes. These folks tap into the lack of knowledge about the industry & its protocols by selling ridiculous webinars, seminars & assortments of classes just to offer little bits of vague advice (not information, as they often like to claim) that may not even apply to you (& some of which I think should be free). It's getting a bit comical now; pretty soon I'll see someone selling a webinar about what webinars to purchase. Another thing is that you don't know if you're paying for a vanity & ego session with some "exec" instead of some time to sell your creativity.

A Alex

Liliana, Thanks. I'm being honest; think it will benefit newcomers much more than an attitude of HW-worshipping. It's important to discriminate when it comes to services; transparency is crucial & too often it's shady or absent. There's a very useful post here on The Black List with excellent comments. It's invaluable when deciding where to spend one's time & money, especially since TBL is widely acclaimed and recommended by the "pros". I know of people who spent thousands of dollars on a couple of scripts in just a few months whilst attempting to obtain feedback and exposure. It should count, not just be money in someone's pocket. On the webinars; I've seen those that are definitely worth it, but too many I feel shouldn't be paid material. I feel some industry insiders go too far with certain things. I believe the prospect of hundreds of uninitiated screenwriters set off $ signs in some people's eyes, & they think EVERYTHING they know is a business opportunity. Thankfully, a discerning eye can easily identify what's good for you & what's not.

Dan Guardino

@ Shelly. You received some good advise here. However if I read your OP correctly this is your first screenplay and if that is the case I strongly suggest you get someone with more experience to read the script to make sure it really is ready to be read by professionals in the business. The odds of selling a first screenplay are astronomical so start your next one asap. I think I had five or six screenplays under my belt before I sold my first one. I didn't mean to sound negative but I just like to warn new screenwriters that breaking in takes a lot of work and overnight success normally takes years. Good luck!

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan G. Thank you for this. Yes, it is my first. I'm not sure who I would have read it prior to the Pro's, the one's I would be paying, but it certainly makes sense.

Dan MaxXx

Shelly I'll read your script! Send opening 5 pages :)

Shelly J Buckman

@Dan M. THANK YOU so much Dan!!! I really appreciate that. Will be sending your way in the next couple of day. Thank you again! :) Muahhh

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