Screenwriting : How is this for a truly uniformed opinion? by Stephen Thor

Stephen Thor

How is this for a truly uniformed opinion?

Hello. all

This is what I believe in:

1. Script coverage and reviews and consultants, several of them, from different sources. Somebody is bound to have a better concept or ideas which you can use. Some will be useless. Just have to take the good and throw out the bad.

2. A perfectly, or as near as perfectly as possible, properly formatted screenplay.

3. A very interesting story nobody could resist and some really good trailers.

4. A competent, aggressive, well known, connected, liked and studio- respected agent to rep you if you are an unknown spec screenwriter. Oh, they will likely want references btw.

5. Making your own, if possible, short indie movie short or tv concept. Winning at Sundance.

The things which I either do not believe in or are seriously over-hyped:

1. Pitching sessions, treatments, logline contests, etc. If your story, script, formatting and agent are superior, you don't need to "pitch" to anyone. They are, imo, for the most part are just rabbit holes designed to get hopes up and dreams dashed. Think about it... if these pitching folks were so good and effective, why are they doing it at all? To get your lousy $75 bucks or whatever the fee is? Now, if the Cohen Bros. or if ACTIVE, WORKING and WELL-RESPECTED top/senior Warner Bros..(or equivalent studio) executives offer pitching sessions directly to them, I would change my mind on that.

Or if who you are pitching too is a mega-star or major studio rep or sleeping or related with one. If your story is that good, then it will pitch itself thru an outstanding agent or in other, more creative ways or just plain luck or being in the right place at the right time (which can include pitching sessions).

2. Screenwriting contests.

See #1 - 4 above.under what I believe in, and #1 and #2 under what I do not believe in. Just scams to cheat the unknown spec screenwriter out of a few dollars.

Ok, I am ready to take some real heat on this one. I am not saying I am right, in fact, I am problably dead wrong. If so, feel free to "throw shade" on me and don't be concerned about me "clapping back".(gawd I hate these hip new terms coming out). It takes a big man to admit he is wrong... I am not a big man.

Or, think about my comment like this... I am the devil's advocate. Tell me and the others where I am completely off base or wrong. Don't assume that I am completely serious. Maybe I already know I am wrong and just waiting for you to tell me and the others to say just how wrong. No need for hostility... Just some good constructive advice or whatever and be sure to give examples of how wrong I am if you have any, I am sure a few of you certainly have such examples. Cite what scripts were either optioned or bought as a result. Give the folks something to go on hoping or dream and writing about.

In any case, I sincerely hope ALL of you will make it, one way or another. I am not the bad guy here... I just play one on tv.

Stephen Thor

Craig D Griffiths

There is no barrier to entry for screenwriters. So there are thousands of delusional people. They are perfect for the “there is a format that guarantees success” or “I am a consultant with connections to Hollywood”.

So the rest of us are exposed to this leaf litter of exploitation.

Most would leave if the first thing they heard was “it is really hard. It may take years and you will not make it. It is all craft and talent”.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I believe one can believe whatever one wants to believe. There's no one way or right way, and there are many different paths and possibilities. Each individual option or route or venue should be considered and weighed by its specific individual context and your specific goal and whether there is a tangible benefit to you or not. Does it open a door? Do you make a valuable connection? Does it move you forward in your development as a writer or advance your goals?

Generalizations are reductive. They may or may not be true, nor relevant to one's specific circumstance or situation. You must acknowledge the complexities. Plus each writer and each script has their own and its own context to consider which truly affects a specific outcome. Whether or not a script is effectively written and whether or not it's a good fit for whomever or whatever company are factors too, absolutely. To deny that you yourself and the work itself has little or no bearing on any of this is rather one-sided, yes? Are we not responsible too? Nonetheless, all these choices and options you list above are yours to make. It's really up to you.

Me, I believe in due diligence and never making an uninformed decision. I also believe cynicism is not productive nor is it helpful. So I tend to ignore a lot of nonsense and focus mostly on the work itself and focus on gaining true insights, and forming professional connections and/or building relationships.

A lot of those options above are things to build upon, to better your writing, perhaps, or to gain further knowledge or to use to gauge your work. How does it compare? To think that one of those options in and of itself is some magic lottery ticket to sudden "success" is unrealistic. We gotta keep our expectations in check. Be practical. Be realistic. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling falsity and false hope, which is why doing your due diligence is important. In truth, this is difficult. It takes time. There are no short cuts. You gotta be willing to dig in for the long haul. And/or carve your own path. There's no one way or right way.

Anyway, sorry if you are feeling frustrated, Stephen. Yeah... we've all been there. ;)

Dan Guardino

It is a tournament career and nobody knows what is going to work for anyone or when it might happen if ever.

Stephen Floyd

Don’t say it, prove it. There’s so much BS in this industry no one should care what you think, they should care what you do.

Nick Assunto - Stage32 Script Services

Hi Stephen, I understand your concern for the writers of the world out there, but a lot of it is very unfounded. Sure, there are contests out there that may not get you there, and there are weird things about online that are shady. Stage 32 isn't that. We're an education and networking platform. Our goal is to help you get better at a writer and then help you get your foot in the door. All of our past contest winners have been flown out to LA and sent to meetings they wouldn't have normally gotten, and the past 10 have either been optioned or repped as a result of those meetings.

When it comes to our pitch sessions, they're there to help you get better at pitching. You're pitching to actual professionals who are looking for material, they then provide you with feedback AND if they like your pitch will request to read your script. You can check out our success stories on that end. We're not here to dangle hopes and dreams in your face. Nobody should use our website like a submission lottery. I treat it like my own personal networking and training center. I pitch every other month or so, apply the feedback, and have gone on meetings I wouldn't normally have gone on if not for this site. Even found my first manager through here. I didn't have a clue where to begin otherwise and I live in LA.

So I get where you're coming from, but Stage 32 is not here to prey on anyone. We're provide resources that will help you get your screenplay to "great" status, get better at pitching it, and a ton of other endless things I'm still discovering and I've been here for over 3 years now.

Jason Mirch

Hey Stephen Thor Thanks for the post! I think you make a lot of interesting points. I do want to offer some thoughts on your opinions on the lack of success that comes from pitch sessions and contests.

At Stage 32, we have had tremendous amounts of success from writers improving their pitches through the pitch sessions. While they are educational experiences many times writers do make connections with representatives and executives through the site. The executives we bring in are at the top of their game and at some of the most prolific companies in the industry and/or have produced big titles with massive talent. For instance, this weekend we have Jason Piette who has produced The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino and Berlin I Love You with Helen Mirren. We also have Dan Ingram the Head of the Story Department for the De Laurentiis Company who just did Arctic with Mads Mikkelsen as well as Travis Mauk who runs development for Smart Entertainment, the billion dollar company that released TED and BOY NEXT DOOR.

I would also argue that anyone who has pitched companies or studios will know that very rarely does a writer meet with the head of the company or upper-level executives as a first go-around. Generally, writers meet first with the Creative Executives, Directors of Development and Vice Presidents who then decide what moves up and what does not. Showing respect to these individuals is always advised because they are the ones who will champion your projects in the future.

Since it seems you are not aware of our successes, I also wanted to let you know of just a few successes that resulted from past Stage 32 pitch sessions:

- The feature film What Lies Ahead, starring Rumer Willis and Emma Dumont, began with screenwriter William Viglione working with one of our executives and developed into a collaboration between more than a dozen Stage 32 members. The film was released in theaters and on VOD in March 2019.

- Craig Waladenziak co-wrote Desolation, directed by David Moscow and produced by David Harris and Todd Remis, and was released in 2018. Craig met David Harris through during a pitch feedback session on Stage 32. Stage 32 also got Craig a feature in Robert McKee’s STORY Magazine.

- Justin Calen Chen is now repped by CAA and Imagine Lab after getting pitch feedback in a Stage 32 pitch session.

- Teng Ky-Gan - a Stage 32 member from Malaysia, received pitch feedback from Tiffany Boyle which led to them to developing his project, Swept Away, which Tiffany just got optioned and attached a director.

- Juhani Nurmi a writer from Europe just had his project put into development with Jason Piette who has produced over 50 film and television series, including The Merchant of Venice and Berlin I Love You. They met through a Stage 32 pitch session.

And our script contests have created massive amounts of success for our writers. I am personally happy to be a part of two of these success stories.

- Julie Ann Wight won the Stage 32 & National Lampoon Search for Comedy Gold Screenwriting contest with her script, My Clone is an A-Hole, and signed a $5,000 option agreement with National Lampoon

- Jonathan Jordan, the winner of our 4th Annual Feature Contest, signed with Verve Talent & Literary and manager Byron Austen Ashley at Settebello Entertainment. He just beat out two Nicholl finalists for a writing assignment to pen a sports drama feature for an international producer and is going in for a 2nd pitch to one of the largest studios in the industry.

- Christina Pamies - the winner of the 4th Annual Search for New Blood Contest - was signed by Good Fear Management off her script A Good Deed after being sent on over a half dozen industry meetings by Stage 32.

- Christine Torres - the winner of our 4th Annual Television Contest - just signed with Brooklyn Weaver the producer & manager at Energy Entertainment after Stage 32 set her up on a meeting.

- Julie Ann Cross won the Stage 32 + Gidden Media Romantic Comedy Screenplay Contest with her project Vagic and received an option agreement and $7,500 from Gidden Media.

- Rachel Kempf received a $7,500 paid option to develop her script Dirty Words with Gidden Media.

As always I am happy to discuss further at any point. Feel free to reach out to me at!

Kay Luke

You're dead wrong about pitching. You can't sell a script if you can't pitch. And you're ignoring the fact that Professional Screenwriters largely write some Producer's story.

And I got work because I pitched myself as a writer. They didn't come looking for me.

Pitch sessions are indeed a waste of money-- if you already know how to pitch. And going to grammar school is a waste of time if you already know how to read, write, and 'rithmetic. Which begs the question--

Do you?

John David Higham

Enjoyed your post. I, personally, am not into the agent route. Others are and I’m cool with that. I very much enjoy pitching and consider every dime I’ve ever spent doing so a fantastic investment. Just my opinion.

Stephen Thor

Interesting comments. While the posts did not "break the internet" (I mean I really hate that terminology), it is always interesting to listen to other perspectives, especially if the poster has had success. Maybe somebody has learned some things. Me, I have a better time yelling at the kids in the street while in my bathrobe from my porch on a Sunday morning. Thanks to all who responded.

That being said, my intent is to produce my own short low budget indie movie shot in another country. We will see. This is assuming, of course, that I am still alive and I don't lose a lot of money in the meantime. It's no fun being 64, I'm here to tell ya! That being said, this is one way to avoid to just being an unknown picture on a wall in your great great grandson's home in 100 years. Let people know your life had meaning! Don't end up merely being a picture on a wall!

Dan MaxXx

Cheer up, Stephen. Here is a spec script deal by a first-time scribe. She lives in Texas and Hollywood came to her.

The scribe has been offered numerous writing assignments, and is closing to write one for Miramax for Eli Roth, and another for New Line and producer James Wan.

Julia Petrisor

I believe in craft and talent, absolutely, and I would far rather sink into that than all the surrounding riffraff. That said, I find it hard to believe that my efforts at craft and working really hard and turning out high quality work will magically pay off if I don't have the connections. Still, I'm taking the "write really good stuff" route in hopes that I'll manage to meet whomever I'm supposed to meet along the way ...

Dan Guardino

Julia. Most people like myself don't start off having any connections. One of the main reasons people write spec screenplays is so they can make connections.

Stuart Wright

You’ve got to write on the regular basis and finish scripts

Stephen Thor

Again, thanks to all who have made comments. Please do not confuse my warped sense of humour with the seriousness of this business. I DO believe MOST CERTAINLY that dialog, right or wrong, mean or well-meaning, CAN BE helpful. I hope that some eyes have been opened... mine certainly have opened up just a little (and in some cases a LOT more) by constructive comments.

I have got something like 50 additional network requests since opening this thread. Some have been very amusing, some not so. I think one of the strangest bios I have read seemed like much more of a medical infomercial. I',m not so sure this person got this website mixed up with another one. Here is her bio to me (BTW, she titled herself not as a screenwriter, producer, actor, etc. but as "medical). ??? Her "bio" was basically about the uses of, or the benefits of, or other information regarding Xanex! who knows? Maybe I could use it... I'm just about game to try about anything at least one time. She also squeezed in her bio that she was a 3D animator.

That struck a nerve with me in a positive way. About 5 minutes of about a 50 minute movie involves special effects and I have always loved 3d. As most of you already know, 3d started out by members of the audience wearing those goofy but somewhat effective throwaway green and red glasses. Then I invested in a $10,000 3d tv that had only about 1/4" thick screen tv, but paid only a very small fraction of that because the screen had a defect (lines running on the screen which I quickly became used to) and used passive 3d glasses, they looked just like regular sunglasses. They were somewhat effective. The best glasses used batteries, were normal looking, had an on and off switch, etc. and the effect was truly astounding!

However, few movies nowadays are made in 3d, meant to be on the big screen or on a tv such as mine. Sht, the tv even had radar built into it... just pass your hand over the bottom and the controls would magically slide out.

Excuse me a minute, there are some kids I got to yell at for a moment.

Ok, I am back. While I appreciate any and all requests, I think that some may think that I have more power or money that I actually have. I have neither in abundance. Anyways, I am accepting her because of her 3d experience. This I could use... people experienced in 3d, special effects, etc. One thread I started ended up being moved to the filmmaking lounge because of this interest.

Plus I want to know more about Xanex. I had a g.f. who used to swallow it like it was candy, but I got tired of sleeping with one eye open all night. One night, at 0300 in the a.m., she was not in bed, but in the kitchen frying up some bacon, for crying out loud. I think her intent was to pour the grease on my face while I slept. But I foiled her plans, if indeed this was her plan, by getting up, eating up the bacon and personally pouring out the bubbling grease. Gawd, I do not think I ever loved a woman tho as much as I did her. She was very neurotic of course and died in her 30's from an o.d. of prescription drugs and alcohol. I get along very well with neurotic women, usually better than "normal" women. I have no idea of why I am writing this part at all, so back on topic...

Let's just focus on this... let us at least try NOT to be that unknown person on that picture on the wall. Let us help each other making an indie movie, a short, a budget, or all at once all of that. This is my personal goal. Whether my movie is great or lousy, at least my future relatives will know who I WAS.

Think about it... how many times have you watched a movie, usually made in the 70's, and thought to yourself "heck, I could make a movie better than THAT one". Who knows, maybe people will think that of my picture, but, you will live on forever and never truly or completely die. YOUR LIFE HAD MEANING! YOU DID SOMETHING!

There is an actual, very old Buddha Goddess who is absolutely beautiful that "stars" in my movie. $5,000. Traveled to Las Vegas in a VERY nice rented suv to pick her up. Gawd she is heavy, altho she has a completely unrealistic in the real world waist that I can literally put my hands around and touch my finger ends. 5 feet tall. I am currently making a new stand for her. It is considered disrespectful for standing (sometimes referred to as a "walking" Buddha). The old stand was beneath her (get it... beneath her)? This am I tripped on her metal mounting studs, fell out of the door and got a few nasty gouges in my skin. It could have been worse. Nothing that a little peroxide won't cure, maybe a shot to prevent the blood from becoming infected, really no big thing at all. Karma? Ok GOD, I am not worshipping her, I am using her as a prop in a movie, ok? Don't send me to a place when I die where I get stuck with red-hot pitchforks for eternity, I am not worshipping her nor think of her as a real God, ok?

Now, where is that Xanex at? I have never been committed to the luny bin, voluntarily or otherwise, but I don't hold or think of anybody who has as bad or abnormal or anything negative, in fact, they have been the most interesting people in my life.

Ok, enough of this drivel. What is the point? To encourage some dialog, mostly, maybe somebody who knows better would step up to the plate and correct me on several points, which some certainly did, and I want to thank them and the others who commented.

So let this thread close and die now, while there is still a thought of dignity or worth to it. I remember how the classic tv series "Lost In Space" and "Star Trek" died in their last season. It seems that their writers ran out of ideas and they got progressively worse in a silly sense. I did have the hots for Kirk's blonde, tall yeoman but then again, that is why she was there. It seems to keep the m.ale interest up in just any movie or tv series, there is that is both drop-dead beautiful unobtainable by you or mr female in it.

I am not writing about a realistic situation... after all, why do you think that "they" call them movies. Movies are an escape from reality, even if only for a short time. Is that not what it is all about when it comes down to it?. And guess who started it? YOU, the screenwriter. It was YOUR idea. YOUR story.

Die thread, earth scum! (once again, thanks to all and the best of luck. Don't give up. You might make it, you may not, you may eat nothing but cheap noodles but if and when you make your indie movie, whether it "makes" it or not... it is yours. You made it happen. You DID build that. Obviously, unless you are already "of means", you will have to use a lot, if not all of your money, so the logical place to start would be in the film making section on how to raise the money (or just more of it).

And, if you missed it the first time, watch the classic "The Producers" movie, I think it was made in the 70's.

Write it and make it yourself! You already got the finest people on the planet right here to help you... they are staring at you in your face, right now, ready, able and willing to help. Ok, some just want to glom onto you, hoping YOU are the ticket to their own success, and I really don't have a problem with that, but, remember, nothing worthwhile is easy. (for the most part, anyways).

Thanks to one and all and best of luck. You are going to need it. But let the people here help you, listen to those who have been there, done that. You will benefit from their lessons in making mistakes. Personally, I, like most, simply do not learn a whole lot unless I have made a mistake. Now how is THAT for some general, useless advice? Don't be the one who fails or gives up either. What the heck else would you do with your life anyways? Man, do I write some crp or what?

Stephen Thor

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