Screenwriting : It's rare, but it happens - Studios do take chances on new writers from time to time on big properties by Regina Lee

Regina Lee

It's rare, but it happens - Studios do take chances on new writers from time to time on big properties

Am I saying that the odds are in your favor? Absolutely not. But it does happen. Albeit rarely. Here's one of those rare stories. Excerpt: Although Whitworth found representation at management outfit Circle of Confusion, none of his spec scripts seemed to take. Still, he continued to write. “If it didn’t work out, I’d move on to the next one,” he tells THR/Heat Vision of his 10-year journey: “I would just try to persevere. It’s something I really wanted to do, even when it got hard.” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/warner-bros-conjures-merlin...

Warner Bros. Conjures 'Merlin' Tentpole With Novice Screenwriting Wizard (Exclusive)
Warner Bros. Conjures 'Merlin' Tentpole With Novice Screenwriting Wizard (Exclusive)
The studio then set upon a quest for a scribe to tackle what it hopes will be a new spell-binding tentpole. Whitworth had studied at Oxford and worked as a journalist at the Times of London before hea…
Dan MaxXx

5 year old article... did project pass script stage?

Regina Lee

I don't think it did. But I bet Ed was pretty happy to have a nice 6-figure paycheck. I think the 6-figure paycheck would satisfy some aspiring writers on S32. Not everyone needs to see the movie get made. Some just want to be working writers.

Regina Lee

Not every single project is announced. So keep in mind there are other positive, affirming stories that haven't been given press releases.

Dan MaxXx

according to imdbpro, Philippa Boyens is writing. she wrote The Lord of Rings franchise

Regina Lee

Yes, Dan. The Phillipa is for Disney. The Ed W was for WB.

Dan MaxXx

kool. Oprah is like the hand of God. when she blesses you, u winning powerball

Regina Lee

Or G-d is like the hand of Oprah.

Regina Lee

If people have 3 minutes, read the article and see what Ed did. He never gave up. He kept writing.

Regina Lee

Excerpt: Although Whitworth found representation at management outfit Circle of Confusion, none of his spec scripts seemed to take. Still, he continued to write. “If it didn’t work out, I’d move on to the next one,” he tells THR/Heat Vision of his 10-year journey: “I would just try to persevere. It’s something I really wanted to do, even when it got hard.”

William Martell

10-year journey That doesn't seem like an unusual amount of time. And "moving on to the next" means he didn't spend those 10 years on the same script, but probably wrote a huge stack of scripts in those ten years - also normal.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks for sharing this, Regina. :) ...10 years, huh? Whew!—I've got a lot of work ahead me. Lol! :)

Dan Guardino

I know it is possible. I wrote a big budget adaptation that Warner Bros wanted to produce until he author got a literary agent and wanted to renegotiate his deal with the producer. I have another producer interested in another one of my big budget films so who knows. I just keep writing and I really don't worry about what sells and what doesn't sell anymore.

David Levy

Great read for the morning Regina! Thank you! “I would just try to persevere. It’s something I really wanted to do, even when it got hard.” I try to live by this everyday. Don;t stop moving forward!

Linda Hullinger

Enjoyed the article, Regina. Always fun to read encouraging stories. Thanks for posting. :-)

Regina Lee

Thanks. Please everyone, don't let any naysayers tell you that you can't/shouldn't pursue the dream. (That doesn't mean slacking on improving your craft, marketplace knowledge, and strategic planning.)

Dan Guardino

I agree with Regina. Naysayers are usually just people that couldn't break in themselves so they love to blame the business instead of themselves. When I started out my strategy was pretty simple. I knew breaking in would be hard so I committed to writing 12 screenplays and if I didn't sell one by then I was going to quit writing. To achieve that I would call at least 20 to 30 agents a week and probably a lot more than that when I was between writing screenplays. When I finished writing a screenplay I would contact everyone that previously read one of my screenplays and let them know I just finished another script they might be interested in. I also attached a couple of well-known directors to a few of my screenplays to make them more marketable. I also adapted a few novels which are a little easier to market. Anyway, FWIW, probably not much but that was the strategy that I came up with over time.

Stephen Barber

Regina, do you know Heather Washington @ Universal? I'm heading to listen to her talk tonight...

Craig D Griffiths

I have heard it said "You can throw great work out a car window and it will be found by the right people". This makes me happy that great work will find the right people and be rewarded. I may never reach that level. But it good to know it is possible.

Regina Lee

Hi Stephen B, sorry, I don't know Heather Washington.

William Martell

In this Film Courage clip I tell a story about throwing a script out a car window (well, kinda). Your script can make connections for you: https://youtu.be/_rWBA1aoc70

Stacey Stallone Stefano

So interesting .

Doug Nelson

Rare? You bet, but I can attest to the fact that it did happen (my first script went to MTM Productions back in the early 70’s.) Lots of scripts were picked up in the 70’s and 80’s that never went to production but not so much now days. It was a little cottage industry in those days – a relatively competent writer could sell two/three scripts for $2,500 to $10,000 per year (remember, we’re talking the 70’s). Unionization and the writer’s strike changed the industry dramatically (and you see what we get today).

Regina Lee

Hi Doug, I posted this article as a response to a few other posts I'd read in which Lounge members asserted that new writers are "never" considered for or hired on assignment on big studio-owned properties. I was trying to provide evidence to disprove their assertion.

Dan Guardino

Yes it happens but it would be like winning the lottery.

Doug Nelson

Yes Regina, it did happen - nearly half a century ago, but times have changed since then. Now days I advocate writing and producing shorts as calling cards and I don't think it's changed much over the decades, except that it's much cheaper/easier. In 1969, a 3 minute spool of processed 16 mm film cost over $15 – a lot of money for a starving collage kid then. Today you need a calling card but those in the inner circle will resist your entry - It's self-preservation. I certainly wouldn't use the word “never” but the Hollywood odds are stacked against an unknown writer today. Some in the Indie world are seeking new/original stories – but you got to be dam* good even there.

Dan MaxXx

Im with Doug make your own movies, short movies. (borrow$$ from parents, credit cards, sell blood), the real filmmakers take chances and invest in themselves. The current crop of young guns (Justin Lin, Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay...), they started their careers doing small movies. won Sundance awards. Attracted money people. Screenwriters gotta hip pocket with a director. Movies are about directors and Actors. nobody pays to see a newbie screenwriter. Get a reel. anything. go to USC or NYU Film School, hookup with a Director who will shoot your scripts. all due respect, Mr Whitworth(?) is a unicorn. fairy tale. Powerball. (not really powerball. He got a job inside Oprah's camp. thats not all Luck). Who's gonna tell Oprah, "No, we dont want Whitrworth to write?"

Doug Nelson

Hey Dan, I'm glad you're with me on this. When I retired, I set up an itsy-bitsy little production company for the express purpose of helping newbie/wannabe filmmakers (that's why I keep my network to under a 100 mile range – I want people on set.) I have the equipment, a studio, edit software, a handful of award winning short scripts and enough money to support production. I still have some contacts in Hollywood and I have modest cable channel – I offer all this for free. In the past five years, I've not yet come across one single person who was able or willing to pick it up and run with it. Yet I hear all the bemoaning about how hard it is for a newbie to get a foot in the door. We digress from the thread topic.

Dan MaxXx

doug darn shame. NYU and USC charges $50K a year tuition for what u are teaching/doing for free. the facts are the stats. greatness is rare, from writers, filmmakers to sports athletes. filmmakers Lin, Coogler, DuVernay weren't lucky or rich. they let it ride.

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