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Screenwriting : No conncections success stories by Ingrid Abrams

Ingrid Abrams

No conncections success stories

Would love to hear the stories of people who had absolutely NO connections, none, NADA, within the industry who broke through to success. Seems like a majority of the success stories on Amazon, screenwriting forums, etc- come from people who passed their script through a friend at the studio they worked for, through a friend, or accquantance they knew or were already were well established in the industry in some shape or form, then decided to start writing scripts, etc etc etc. I know a lot of people get their pitches accepted for "script requests"- but as we all know, a script request does not always equal a deal in the long run. So, whose out there and what's your "Lone Ranger" story? Any more "Rocky- Sylvester Stallone stories? Rocky stories are good for the soul. LOL if your script/pitch request did not cement into a deal or a further writing job, or anything- it doesn't qualify. Just for fun guys/girls...Inquiring minds want to know....

Ingrid Abrams

That's terrific Manda! See, these kinds of stories are encouraging to people. I hope more of them surface. People that decided to go the directing their own films (shorts or whatever) have great stories also. People like Katherine Brooks, the guy who wrote "Buried" (was planning to do the film himself originally.) DuVernay is another. The guy who wrote Buried ' Chris Sparling,' had an interesting take on all this, he said: There are two routes, 1) just trying to be a writer forever on jobs- which I feel is just another 9-5. 2) direct my own stuff and enter the industry already with the designation of Director/Writer. Which was his intention with Buried, and has gone on to bigger and better things. Interesting thoughts...

Kerry Douglas Dye

I've sold two scripts: My first was sold by an agent who I met at the Austin Screenplay Conference. I chatted her up before I realized she was an agent (which was good, because if I knew the stakes I'd have flubbed it). She requested a read of my script, and managed to sell it. My second was sold through InkTIp. Neither sale involved existing connections. Of course, that's only two in a decade, so I'm not exactly a fireball success story.

William Martell

My first "Hollywood sale" was to a company on the Paramount lot. How that happened: I gave a script to an actress in my home town and said there was a part in it that was perfect for her. This had nothing to do with screenwriting and everything to do with, um, my interest in the actress. She turned down my advances and moved to Los Angeles, where she was hired in a low budget horror movie where she took off her top and was killed by the maniac. She gave my script to a crew member and he read it and thought it was better than the POS they were making, and handing it to his best contact to further his career. That script was passed all over LA for 3 years until I was getting ready to go to my day job and got a call from someone claiming to be on the lot at Paramount. Yeah, right. Well, they got my script somehow, wanted to know if they could fly me to LA and put me up in a hotel and talk about buying it. Um, sure. So, was the local actress a "connection"?

Kerry Douglas Dye

Interesting that both our stories involve trying to pick up a girl. So there's the secret: flirt shamelessly, particularly with people in the industry. You may not get lucky, but you might get lucky.

Chas Franko Fisher

I am completely with William and Alle here. I am an "emerging screenwriter" from Australia. Starting out, I had no contacts. But I have flown myself to LA twice, gone to pitchfests, writing workshops, created my screenwriting groups, started a podcast, been active on Twitter and now I have contacts who will read my material when it's ready. I have not written that break out script yet. But when I do, I will have the way to get it out there. While it may help to look for those inspiring break out stories, the reason why they are so rare is because the majority of writers have broken out by slogging it out - both at the keyboard and by networking. Also, going to LA showed me how many crazy and untalented people are clogging up the pipeline. Anyone is more likely to read a script recommended by a friend because it is 1000 times more likely to not be a complete waste of their time. So start making friends :) Alle and Kerry and William seem like a good place to start.

Ingrid Abrams

Wow guys, those are all great stories and I'm sure you all have just given that writer out there, the boost, and the faith they need to keep believing. People, myself included, love to see this stuff. Thanks again, for your input.

Chas Franko Fisher

Hey Alle: not entirely sure why you addressed your last post to me? Of course it pays to network with people more experienced than you but I am a firm believer in horizontal networking. You support people in your position, they support you in return. It only takes one of them to "make" it to pull the whole group up. I am not talking hundreds of people here but a handful of people as talented and as committed as you.

Ingrid Abrams

This is way off topic, but I studied acting (for my writing) with one if the best - The Berg Studios in LA. Studied the Stanislovski method- a teacher from the Yale school of drama, where 80% (roughly) of AA winners train.

Ingrid Abrams

The iphone cut off, but anyway: i believe a writer should study acting, it really helps with writing. I also believe that horizontal networking is a necessity also, as the prior poster noted. But, regarding my career- I take the advice of people who are ALREADY where I want to be. Not dropping names here, but I was encouraged by a certain A Lister, Icon singer/Actress/Director/Producer female megaton star- who spoke intently with me, and believes In me, and has given me stellar advice. That is who I listen to, so nobody's gonna rain on my parade. :)

Kerry Douglas Dye

Roughly 80% of Oscar-winning actors study at Yale?? Joke? Or, your source?

Ingrid Abrams

Kerry, not a joke, look it up for yourself. When you research who has won AA, you will find that most of them trained or were associated with teachers who teach the same method the Yale school of Drama teaches: Stanislovski. Which is a very old method. Even Juliard teaches it.

Ingrid Abrams

Here is a starting list for you: so whose joking now? http://news.yale.edu/2010/03/01/yale-alumni-go-oscars

Ingrid Abrams

The Yale school of drama is no joke for someone serious about learning real acting, not hinger games type acting where you just run from obstacles like a video game. If you've never heard about it, I can't help that.

Ingrid Abrams

*hunger

Kerry Douglas Dye

Ingrid, I know Yale has a great drama school. It's the 80% figure that blew my mind. That's "4 out of 5 dentists recommend." Four out of five Academy Award winners did not train at Yale, and that article -- which lists several -- doesn't say anything like that. But now you're rephrasing, it sounds like? You meant 4 out of 5 Oscar winners have studied the Stanislavski method..? Well that is certainly possible. It's hard to imagine training as an actor without encountering Stanislavski at some point. I guess it was the structure of your sentence that led to the confusion. Typing on an iPhone can certainly defeat even the best sentence crafter occasionally. But you can understand my confusion. You wrote: "... the Yale school of drama, where 80% (roughly) of AA winners train." And that's why I thought you were joking. Because that statistic is kind of funny. :)

Dave McCrea

Yeah her stats were off but Yale School of Drama is probably the #1 acting school in the U.S. so you're both right :)

Kyle Thornton

My first feature script was a Nicholls Fellowship semi-finalist, which landed me my first agent. I had no connections, but had two well written writing samples. I was living in Seattle at the time. When I finally moved to LA, I had an option with a successful producer. All from that contest.

Ingrid Abrams

I said "roughly," and you when you include the other categories that have won-- it is roughly 4 out of 5. But okay, I will go down to 65-70% if that makes one feel better. LOL Here's the thing... Yes, a lot of us may be "newbie" writers, but sometimes people speak down to us. We may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night. Like for instance, I read one posting where a guy was looking for actors for a project he was doing-- people replied. Another guy chimed in blasting people because he said that he couldn't find any Imdb credits for a lot of those actors, and basically, how dare they apply, and that there should be another forum for "veterans." Ok, you never ever know once's life experiences. A lot of people in here are not kids, they've been around the block for a minute. Maybe a person was doing theater in Europe at the Divadlo (one of the best experimental theaters in Eastern Europe,) for 15-20 years, and trying to break into film here? Just because they don't have any credits here does not mean that they are not a "seasoned" actor. I just think people need to think twice before they judge someone's ability. That is all. LOL :D

Ingrid Abrams

@Kyle: That is a great story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It's encouraging. What year were you a Nicholl's finalist?

Kerry Douglas Dye

Closer to 2 out of 3, Ingrid? I'd still love to see that sourced. It's a fascinating assertion.

Ingrid Abrams

Are you talking 2 out of 3 for one year or over a few year time period? Are you interested in acting? If so, I highly recommend the YSD. Call this number: (323) 666-3382. Ask for Berg- he has all the data you're looking for.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Ingrid, we're clearly talking different languages. I still hear you saying that 65-70% of Academy Award-winning actors have attended Yale Drama School. Rather than calling some guy, I checked IMDb. These are the last eight acting winners (2014 and 2013): Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway Looking at their IMDb bios, there's no evidence any of them attended Yale Drama. Can you clarify: do I misunderstand your assertion? Or do I have the assertion right, and you're saying "call this guy at Yale to confirm"? I hate to seem like a bulldog about this but (in case it isn't obvious) I have an allergy to B.S. statistics. If yours were true, it would be a fascinating fact. Is the idea that Yale is secretly training Hollywood actors without publicizing it? What am I missing here, if anything?

Chas Franko Fisher

Kerry Douglas Dye: Crusader for the truth! ;)

William Martell

Is Yale America's RADA?

Danny Manus

The reason "pros" give "newbies" a hard time about many of the things they say, is because they pull many of the things they say out of their ass. Or from some obscure article they read in a screenwriting/entertainment blog once which was probably incorrect to begin with or they are misquoting a different pro who posted on twitter or something. And that leads to miscommunication and confusion and a propagating of more incorrect information. It's not that newbies were born yesterday, it's that they are so eager to learn that they take in everything they hear as fact and then swear by them when many facts are wrong.

Joshua Lookout Smithers

Alle , NIDA has offered short courses almost since it started. You have no graduating papers from that institution in any award course. I don't even have to look that up. I won't ever have to either. Stop pissing everyone off and bullshitting about everything and anything on here. If you're so fucking brilliant and the finest example of an authority on all things film, go and big note yourself on set and tell youtube they should give you a promoted channel for free. Dogshit effort mate. Consider yourself reported.

William Martell

To get back on track: Those folks who pass a script to their friend at the studio were (usually) not born with those friends... they made those friends. They found a job somewhere in the business that put them in contact with others in the business. Or they made friends through their writing: when you have scripts continue to go out wide which results in a bunch of meetings, you get to know the people you are meeting with after a while. So even the "pass a script to a friend at a studio" stories have all kinds of hard work writing screenplays behind them.

Dave McCrea

it's more about what can you bring to the table than who you know. And if you can't bring money or a look or talent or a script to the table... People MIGHT do you a favor just because you had beers with them a few times, but if they think getting you in their film would boost its profile, or you could write a script they want to produce, they'll be all over you.

Ingrid Abrams

Alle, I didn't say that you had to study acting to write. I said that I think it is an incredible help. Acting is being "private in public" and if a writer can help transfer that to the page by putting himself/herself into the actor's shoes- it helps. In the MFA program I was in, I had to take a few semesters of AVID editing, plus other film type jobs so that we get an idea of what other people's jobs are in the industry. I just think it can't hurt, that's all. @Danny, some newbies in one area are definitely knowledgeable in other areas- don't count them out. :)

Dave McCrea

I met Jim Sheridan recently and he said if you want to write, take an acting class

Beth Fox Heisinger

I had the serendipitous chance meeting with a former VP of Development at United Artists. She developed films such as "Thelma and Louise" and "Braveheart." She's retired now, but consults and often is a judge for the PAGE. Anyway, she has become my mentor and is incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and supportive. And, no, she cannot "help me out" with contests. That would be unethical. However, when I do well she beams like a proud mother -- it's great. She rolls her eyes at me, "See. I told you you were good!" This is an invaluable relationship. I am so fortunate to have her in my life. And, yes, she does have great (amazing!) connections, but I would never ever ask that of her unless we both feel pretty solid about something. She does allow me to use her name as a testament for my work and I know she will always vouch for me. :) This business is built on relationships, is it not?!

Benson Descartes

That is very cool indeed, Beth.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yeah, it is Benson. It's so funny to hear her tell stories... stuff about "Thelma and Louise." She also worked with Madonna. She says things like, "Ron Howard, such a lovely man." It's just great. What a life she's lead! She helps me not be stupidly "starry eyed" about anyone in Hollywood, or whatever. They're just people. :)

CJ Walley

Hmmm, Thelma & Louise, a brilliant generically appealing movie with two iconic female leads and the involvement of a female development executive. It's almost like there's a connection in there somewhere...

Dave McCrea

That's cool Beth. She has a great pedigree, Thelma and Louise and Braveheart are two of the best films of the late 20th century for sure.

Beth Fox Heisinger

You figured me out, yet again CJ. :) LOL Yeah, Dave, she is something else. Really kind. When I first met with her, as my consultant, I was literally shaking when I handed her my very first script. Shaking! I was so terrified knowing her background. After she read it she blew my mind by telling me my script was one of the best first scripts she'd ever read -- one of, not the best, mind you. :) She keeps me humble and will tell me something's crap if it's crap. One thing that put me in her good graces was my thick skin -- my ability to really listen and take all notes seriously and make appropriate changes. No ego. It's all about the script. She said that alone made me better than most professionals. So, take heed my friends!

Beth Fox Heisinger

CJ, you're like my brother from a different mother. :) LOL Congrats again. Kick ass at the PAGE this year!

Lisa Clemens

Beth you have a GREAT mentor! That's priceless! My partner/mentor may not be as big a name but I know exactly what you mean by keeping you humble! When I came off the set of Case #13 puffed up about how so many people complimented my script, he was there to remind me that "I love your work" is pretty much the same as, "Hi, how are you?" in the industry, haha! While I love writing for other people, Andy is the only one who really pushes me to do better.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Lisa, it sounds like you have a great mentor as well. :)

Kerry Douglas Dye

:( I want a mentor. I had a really supportive bartender in L.A. one time, but it's just not the same.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Awww, Kerry, don't fret. We all mentor each other, right? Stage 32, we got ya bro. :D

Beulah Jones

Ingrid, Did you get any replies?

Ingrid Abrams

Beaulah, replies from what? Or who?

Ingrid Abrams

Beulah, I had a short that was requested by Benderspink. It won an award six months later. It was the first thing I had written in school when I was there year and half ago. But it was a short. I want to develop it further one day into a TV series or it might be something that could be a play. I have a friend who mostly writes plays, and have been thinking about asking him about that. Mostly now working on full lengths. Have 3 features, the one that's a qtr- finalist in PAGE, and the current one I'm working on. I have a mentor also. We meet once a week. He has sold stuff to the major studios, and have had them produced. So, he looks at my stuff. Haven't really done too much as far as marketing. Trying to concentrate mostly on craft at this point.

Beulah Jones

Ingrid I see them l posted.

Ingrid Abrams

I meant it in the context John Totten mentioned. Being able to quit your day job and make a living at it. Just was wondering because recently read something about in the range of 600 million? People are trying to be screenwriters for about 150-200 studio movies a year, plus about 50,000 Indie films a year. It's like a lot of fishing poles in the same small lake, so how many of those fishermen actually got through without already having a connection of some sort.

Ingrid Abrams

Not to mention all the schools cranking out graduates every year. From a practical standpoint, I think those who have had lucrative other careers before staring such as medical, law etc, probably did it the right way. They can work part time, make enought to live, and write 50% of the time while perfecting their craft, then if this doesn't pan out, they have a great pension to boot. (this excludes people who go to film school, etc and crank out great stuff right away.) But I totally believe in the dream, and think it is possible. It happens.

Kerry Douglas Dye

600 million wannabe screenwriters? That's over 8% of the Earth's population! #statistics!

William Martell

Yeah, I think that may be a slightly inflated number... slightly.

Ingrid Abrams

Maybe that 600 million is globally

Dave McCrea

lmao.... you guys are killing me. Dan, that number is probably closer to 5,000 and global screenwriters? 6 million sounds high, never mind 600 million.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Yeah, Ingrid, I think it's time to recycle your copy of Bizarre Statistics about the Entertainment Industry. :)

Amanda Toney

Ingrid, Don't forget to look through the Stage 32 success stories. Most of them are from people with no connections who met people through Stage 32 and got something into production or got signed. There are some amazing stories there you should definitely check it out :)

Danny Manus

I think "success" needs to be better defined. Is getting a script request from some company you pitch a success story? Is being a winner or finalist in a contest sucess? Is getting a free 1 year option on your script success? Is getting signed to a manager who works outside of Los Angeles success? Is selling your script for 50K but it never getting made success? There are so many barometers writers use as being a success story depending on how experienced they are AND how far from LA they live. So, I'm sure there are TONS of success stories out there from people who didn't know anyone and didn't live in LA or NY. BUT, if your definition of SUCCESS is selling a script for real money, getting rep'd by a major agency or management company, seeing your script get produced, and it being a hit film - then the number of those success stories without connections is close to nil.

Ingrid Abrams

I did think that 600 million was a very depressing statistic. Lol can't remember where I saw that, wish I could. When I come across this stuff, I'm gonna post it so you guys can see. Lol @Danny, to me, the success definition I am thinking about is seeing your script on the theater screen. Not movies no one has ever heard of. Getting paid for writing gigs is nice, puts food on the table etc, possibly your foot in the door. But I already make a very decent living, I want to write 'Schindler's List", "Erin Brokovich" type stuff. (i mean, who doesn't right? Lol). That's success to me. I know I have a loooooonnng way to go, but that's my stupid goal. But, I realize success differs with each individual.

William Martell

Success is having a Kardashian pay to be seen with me.

Stacey Stefano

Talent is one thing , good. Story another thing , then connrctions !

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