Screenwriting : Open Writing Assignments by Anthony Murphy

Anthony Murphy

Open Writing Assignments

What is the average number of submissions for a Stage 32 OWA?

Dan MaxXx

Anthony Murphy what is Stage 32's definition of "OWA"? Are writers here submitting spec scripts to solicitors and that is called "OWA?"

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Good question, Anthony. I'm curious to see the data, metrics on this, how many scripts are submitted, how many rejected, how many make it, and then what happens after that (pass, option, purchase, and the platinum: got made)?

Anthony Murphy

Dan MaxXx It's different than a studio's definition of an OWA, where "in house" writers are used. In the Stage 32 version, production companies contact S32 for a certain type of screenplay, i.e. sports dramas or westerns or horror; S32 then posts their version of an OWA in The Writers' Room, where members can submit for free their scripts for evaluation by S32 readers. Chosen screenplays are moved forward for consideration to the requesting production company.

Anthony Murphy

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth I'm curious to learn the stats too.

Michael Elliott

I'm 1/13 in OWAs. Also curious about the percentage of pitches that lead to a script request. We all know our chances hover between "slim and none". I'd just like to know how slim, slim really is.

Dan Guardino

I am sure I won't get any likes for saying this but I will anyway. That is an interesting question. I hear about meetings and requests but it seems a sale or job offer would be rare. I wonder how many of those people are really looking for a screenplay and if they are they probably looking elsewhere as well. I wish everyone luck but it has to be considered a longshot so they should be doing other things in addition to doing this.

Anthony Murphy

Dan Guardino What would you recommend, Dan, because I've about had it with pitching?

Anthony Murphy

Mark Deuce Mark, I realize that its one submission per person per OWA, but my question is how many submissions on average are made to each OWA. In other words, how many members submit a script on average to OWAs? With over a million S32 members, is it hundreds or thousands of submissions per OWA. Of course, not all S32 members belong to The Writers' Room, so is it in the tens on average to OWAs?

Geoff Hall

Anthony Murphy Hi, we’ll there may be a million of us, but not everyone in this community is a screenwriter and not every screenwriter is part of The Writer’s Room.

Anthony Murphy

Geoff Hall Hi, Geoff. I agree, and that's what I said three comments above, but what is it on average? 25? 100? 500? 1000?

Bill Brock

I have 7 feature scripts, which I've submitted a total of 35 times (Some titles have won national competitions, so I'm aware of their merit.). Once all titles were submitted to various OWAs, I contacted S32 with the following question: "Since I've exhausted all my titles to OWA, isn't it pointless to continue to submit?" The Answer: "No, you should continue to submit. If not selected, it simply means that your script wasn't a perfect fit for what was desired." Then riddle me this, Batman?-- If the S32 readers come across a title they've already rejected, wouldn't they simply toss it to the side with the notion of "I read this already. We didn't pass it along to producers." ? Thus the process continues to repeat itself.... for all eternity.

Sincerely,

Clueless in Seattle

Dan MaxXx

Any members of Stage 32 writers room actually received money from an OWA solicitation?

Bill Brock

Dan MaxXx Can't say that I have.

Robin Gregory

Bill Brock Don't writers choose the producer they submit to?

Dan Guardino

Anthony Murphy I recommend writing lower-budget screenplays and contacting producers that make them directly. You can probably find some on the IMDb Pro. Also, you can try to attach a director who has several credits to one or more of your screenplays and use their credits and contacts to help market your screenplay.

Robin Gregory

Great question Anthony Murphy. But aren't there new execs and producers coming to S32 all the time? And if they aren't looking for new material, why else would they come here? To make $35/submission?

Dan Guardino

Dan MaxXx We both know it is probably pretty darn rare if it ever happens. I don’t submit to that but I have paid to pitch twice to see what it was like. A director passed on it. His credits were old so he was probably just trying to make some lunch money. The other one loved the screenplay but said she was going to pass on it because I didn’t have any credits on the IMDb which is not true. Also, my co-writer on that screenplay is Judy Norton. https://pro.imdb.com/name/nm0003354/?ref_=instant_nm_1&q=Judy%20Norton.

Laurie Ashbourne

I'll chime in with my experience and observations. I was the first to get an option from one of these OWAs way back when they first started. It was a no-pay option, not ideal but I made it short because of that (9 months). I had several meetings with the producers and they had just been in the trades for a similar deal. They had guaranteed financing for up to $5MM per project and they wanted to explore some name talent for my project, which would have taken it up to about $7MM. I was busy so I let them do their thing. The project they were on went through some serious snafus that took all of their focus, and long story shorter - even with all of its buzz, that project ended up quietly going to Shudder. So, when the nine months were up, I let the option go. And have had ZERO progress with countless other submissions -- there have been a lot.

My views on the OWAs is that they are free to WR members so they can't hurt, but as others have pointed out, they really are not OWAs in the true meaning. They are more like mini-contests and therefore the material is evaluated with the quality of a contest evaluation -- not necessarily fitting a mandate. I stopped putting my name on the covers because I was sure every time someone saw my name they just set it aside.

That said, the mandates are so extremely vague there's no telling what the true ask is.

Dan MaxXx

Derek Reid sadly, the recent labor strikes revealed how low the salaries are for majority of writers & actors, and I cant believe Execs in similar career paths make much either. So I dont hate a salary show biz person soliciting just to stay afloat.

Anthony Murphy

So, my guess, 50-100 per OWA?

Bill Brock

Laurie Ashbourne An excellent assessment, Laurie. Thank you, kindly, for shining some light. : )

Robin Gregory

Yeah, I appreciate your candor and assessment, Laurie Ashbourne. Thank you!

Bill Brock

Robin Gregory Yes, Robin. This is true and I read each assignment description closely before submitting. Once a writer submits, a S32 reader reads it, then if worthy enough, will submit it to said producer. After having seven screenplays cover 35 submissions, I find it pointless to continue submitting. They've obviously seen all my work. Time to stop spinning wheels.

Alister Brooks

Wow... reading through this and based on my own experience with 'buying" a chance to pitch, and/or submitting to a few OWRs, seems the best way to go is to just use the computer to write the script. After that, focus on finding a way to know people on a personal level rather than an insipid computer monitor. I'm done with the faceless pitch. There's gotta be a more creative, more affordable way guys.

Martin Reese

Thanks for your insight as usual Laurie Ashbourne. I would love to be so busy that I could let folks who gave me an option "do their thing.". The lesson? Always be working on something else. The OWA shouldn't be an end-all-be-all, but just part of the journey.

Laurie Ashbourne

Bill Brock I feel your pain - I think my numbers are even larger - I've lost count TBH.

There definitely is a need for more transparency and I think that would alleviate much of the frustration and black hole feel of it all.

Laurie Ashbourne

Martin Reese That's the reality of it. There are so many points along the way where a project can derail. Getting an option is nice, but depending on the players it doesn't always amount to much, (which is why you typically want option money). For the OWAs in the WR, writers really should go in with the expectations of a contest; in other words not all wins result in a film. If it advances, kudos, if it "wins" even more kudos. But the real celebration comes when the thing is on the screen.

Martin Reese

I get it Laurie Ashbourne. That's why I'm in a class on film financing. Explore all options (legal of course. LOL!). Leave no stone unturned. It's a cliche and it's true. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Robin Gregory

I hear what you are saying, Bill Brock, and I understand why you are stepping back from the platform. Now I'm wondering what advantage there is in being a WR member.

Anthony Murphy

Dan Guardino Thank you, Dan.

Martin Reese

One thing that would be nice to know is if you didn't get selected, why not? For example there was an OWA I felt strongly I would be considered for. It didn't make it. The one I thought was a long-shot the same script got selected for. It's certainly interesting, but I still have gotten a lot more traction being part of this platform than just on my own.

Laurie Ashbourne

Robin Gregory there is value in the room without the OWAs, it existed for years before they started. It's a much more closely knit group than the screenwriting lounge in general; I know many who have gone on to partner on projects, so the network is valuable (never discount that). Then of course there are the discounts and engagements with the guests that have in the past led to relationships and projects being requested.

Laurie Ashbourne

Martin Reese Unfortunately that would be a can of worms, much like asking a contest why a reader didn't advance you. There is never going to be a world where it is that clear, BUT some more detail in the OWA descriptions and transparency in the process would alleviate a lot of writer anguish.

Martin Reese

Oh yes Robin Gregory the Writers' Room has a lot of value. I agree Laurie Ashbourne that a little more detail in the OWA would go a long way. For example I submitted to an OWA that I saw as wanting horror with a female protagonist. I didn't get selected. Now looking at the comparables again maybe they were looking for something more grounded. In the future I will do a little more research before submitting to make sure I'm on the right track.

Richard Buzzell

@Anthony Murphy - How many submissions per OWA? I count 113 unique names as OWA selections going back to start of September. Using Michael Eliot's success ratio of one out of thirteen, that would suggest there are about 1500 WR members. So for a broad request, 1000 submissions seems possible.

Robin Gregory

Thank you Laurie Ashbourne Martin Reese Richard Buzzell for walking me across the curiouser and curiouser rabbit hole.

Anthony Murphy

Richard Buzzell Thank you, Richard.

Martin Reese

So Richard Buzzell how do you that is divided up? There are 6 OWAs per session. Every script doesn't meet an OWA mandate. They certainly have put out OWAs in a session that I wouldn't submit too. That number is going to really vary per OWA.

Laurie Ashbourne

Yes ^ I would be surprised if it averaged 500 per listing; I'm betting it's 200-300 average.

Richard Buzzell

Going back to the end of June of this year there have been 144 writers for 226 OWA selections. That's the raw data. So what's the analysis of it?

Laurie Ashbourne

Richard Buzzell I admire the tally work, but the OWAs have been around since early 2022. I doubt there is a set percentage that we can learn from (if there is it is a true contest with parameters such as 10 percent of entries advance to next round, which many contests do).

Someone from Stage 32 will have to weigh in, and I'm pretty sure it changes based on what they see works and doesn't. I'm certain it is not the same as it was when first implemented. But given the fact that each "request" is for something different and it's extremely unlikely that every writers room member enters each time, AND the number of members fluctuates on a monthly basis. There are thousands of members, we just don't see them all interacting.

The only way we would ever be able to figure it out is if the stats for each one were published and i really doubt that will happen (nor do I think it should be expected). There is also the likelihood that the person with the request varies in how many they want to see come through the filtering process.

I do think there could be more transparency in the reading process, and detail in the mandate/request (which I'm sure would also be a relief to the filtering process) but I've been saying that since the beginning.

Richard Buzzell

I'm waiting for Bill Brock to weigh in on these numbers.

Bill Brock

Richard Buzzell Brock decides to weigh in via an original screenplay scene.

INT. STAGE 32 OWA CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

A long stretch of mahogany business table play host to its occupants. Brock, seated on one side, faces a platoon of ten OWA readers on the other. His fashion armor consists of a black vintage 1983 Members Only jacket, his personal FU to the Beverly Hills Establishment.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA

Good morning, Mr. Brock. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. Collectively, my team and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your script. You possess an uncanny ability that pushed my team to turn several pages.

Brock shifts in his chair, offers a heavy sigh, possesses an uncanny ability to have heard it all before.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA (CONT'D)

Before we send your script off to the assigned producers, I'd like to ask you one question.

She points to his chair with the aid of her emerald-flavored, thousand dollar manicured index.

HEAD READER-IN -CHARGE CLARISSA (CONT'D)

What do you think sets you apart from the many content creatives who have occupied that very seat?

Brock's steely blue eyes drift down the table, note the ragtag team of skirts and suits. His powerful gaze, fortified by his patented stoicism, returns to HRIC Clarissa.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA (CONT'D)

Did you..... Did you hear the question?

Brock digs into his jacket pocket, retrieves a Taco Bell soft taco, a favored mainstay of the company's value menu. All eyes are glued to the fast food product as its rancid odor fills the air, indicating its three-day-old production time.

BROCK

This has been in my pocket for a few days... It's still good... You know?... Chemicals.

He takes a bite, chews with his mouth open. Team members exchange confused glances. HRIC Clarissa escapes Brock's disgusting, zero-star dining experience with a determined stare out the office window. Her long gaze, coupled with a soundtrack provided by Brock's saliva-drenched incisors.

She turns back to him, only to be met by a stream of molten cheddar cheese flowing down his chin. He puts out the fire by wiping it away with his jacket's exclusive band collar.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA

Do you plan on answering the question... sometime within the decade?

Brock drops the last bite of taco, scoops it up from the carpet, tosses it in his mouth, swallows. A chorus of moans and groans erupt from the team.

TEAM MEMBER DOBBS

That guy doesn't need a hit screenplay. He needs a freaking psychiatrist!

HRIC Clarrisa leans into Dobbs.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA

Dobbs, call security. Get him the hell out of here.

Dobbs rises, bolts to the door, opens it. With Dobbs' "luck of the Irish," a security guard stands a few paces away. He and the guard enter.

HEAD READER-IN-CHARGE CLARISSA (CONT'D)

(to the guard)

Here he is, Lew. He's all yours.

The guard approaches Brock.

SECURITY GUARD

Okay, pal. On your feet. Show's over.

A defiant Brock clings to his chair. The guard remedies the situation with the help of Mr. Night-Stick. He targets Brock's knuckles, shatters them with repeated blows. Brock screams like a screenwriter wannabe with no concrete credits to his name.

The guard lifts him from his chair, forces Brock's nose to kiss the table, cuffs him.

SECURITY GUARD (CONT'D)

(to Brock)

Let's make a deal. You be nice to me and I won't force feed your face to the pavement when we get outside.

The guard hauls Brock to the door.

BROCK

NO DEAL, PIG!!

The guard stops in his tracks, smirks at Brock.

SECURITY GUARD

Just what I wanted to hear. Enjoy your visit to the dentist.

Brock's witty response is to steal from Pacino's 1975 Epic, DOG DAY AFTERNOON.

BROCK

ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA!

ATTICA! ATTICA! ATTICA! REMEMBER ATTICA???!!!!

The guard shoves the cuffed Brock out the door, resulting in an unintended head butt to the far wall, rendering Brock unconscious and seeing stars....

But not the ones posing for selfies and signing autographs.

THE END.

A Brock's Monkey Production

Robin Gregory

"Brock screams like a screenwriter wannabe with no concrete credits to his name." Hilarious! Brooock-brock-brock-brock-brock... That's the sound of a cage full of thoroughly entertained hens.

Dustin Quinteros

I've seen OWA's where maybe 1 or 2 go through. I've seen others where 5 or 6 get through. It varies and you have to consider that at least a small percentage don't fit the minimum posted criteria. That being said, Stage32 "Moder" is very quick to post those scripts that make it to that next round, including the OWA #.

Richard Buzzell

"You possess an uncanny ability that pushed my team to turn several pages." Am I mistaken or is this line some kind of satirical commentary?

Bill Brock

Robin Gregory Hahahahahhaah! Thanks, Robin. Yeah, man. Just having some fun here! : )

Bill Brock

Richard Buzzell Hey Rich? It's all 100% satirical. It's my brand of humor at DefCon 5!! Kinda shocked that you had to ask. I mean, come on? I'm beaten to a pulp by a Rent-a-Cop security guard. Plan on formatting it correctly through Final Draft, then making it an official post... for the greater good.... or for the fairly okay.... or for.... just me.

Maurice Vaughan

Haha Bill Brock. Wasn't expecting that.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory $35 x 10 is a pretty good pay for a 2 1/2 hour workday, even after S32 takes its cut. And the strike revealed how low industry salaries can be, so $35 to listen to an eight minute pitch probably sounds pretty good to many of them. I'd like to hang a shingle and do it.

Robin Gregory

I hear you, Anthony Murphy. Even if they're not really shopping for projects, they can give useful feedback, and keep the lights on.

Bill Brock

Maurice Vaughan Neither was I, Maurice. Just intended to jot down a few fun lines and the damn thing took on a life of its own. Wish the Stage 32 system could have formatted it better, but you can't have everything. I must admit that I had a total blast writing it. : )

Bill Brock

Anthony Murphy $3500 for 2.5 hours of listening to clapping seals with keyboards push their toilet paper scripts?!! Screw writing. From this day forward, I'm a tone-deaf executive who plans to multitask "CALL OF DUTY" on mute, while enduring scribes chewing my ear off during eight minute increments.

Dan MaxXx

Whats disappointing is zero replies by Stage 32 management, zero comments ever by pay to pitch solicitors. There's like 10+ daily Moderators; not sure why this site needs so many.

Maurice Vaughan

Hey, Dan MaxXx. There are a lot of Moderators because there are so many people on Stage 32. And some of the Moderators have expertise about certain things, so if one Moderator doesn't know something (say about filmmaking), another Moderator might know.

Emily J

Hey everyone! Lots here to be covered and unfortunately, the person who oversees OWAs is out of the office this week, so I don't have most of these numbers. I'll share what I can and what I do know as I prefer to be as transparent and upfront with our members as I can --

I don't have a number for the rate of meetings/options/etc. for OWAs, pitches, or any of our other services. But as always, you can see the success stories that people are comfortable sharing here (there are a number that have happened since I've been here that have asked to not be highlighted for privacy) -- https://www.stage32.com/scriptservices/success-stories

The number of submissions for OWAs varies wildly, and I unfortunately don't have a range I can give you. But for the person who guessed we have 1500 members for the Writers' Room, we have a MUCH larger number of members than that.

In terms of why you're not getting feedback on why a script wasn't chosen for an OWA -- Laurie's description of the OWAs on Stage 32 is fair. One big difference between an OWA and a screenwriting contest on Stage 32 is that a contest is open to any script in that genre/category and you're being judged against the other scripts submitted. With an OWA, you're first and foremost being judged on how well your script fits the specific kind of script that the company behind the OWA is looking for. Some comps/tones/specific genres are harder to nail than others. After that, it's a matter of who is best within the pool we have.

I know I didn't answer all of the points brought up, but I hope this at least helps. As always, you can email me at success@stage32.com and myself and the team will try to respond as best as we can as soon as we can. :)

Richard Buzzell

I'm waiting for Bill Brock to weigh in on these new numbers revealed by Emily indicating way more than 1500 WR members. Would a high member count lend itself to a low repeat winner count? There are at least a dozen members who have been selected four or more times during the last five months.

Bill Brock

Richard Buzzell I can't "weigh in" until my original short script, OPEN WRITING ASSIGNMENTS, is sold and they request a sequel. Meh, it's the nature of the business. No Big Whoop.

Niki H

Hey all, I want to add a bit to what Emily said. For those that stopped applying to OWAs or those that are wondering if you should continue to submit. You should absolutely continue to submit to everything that you have a good polished script for that mandate. The requesters of our OWAs are always different and looking for different things, even when a mandate may sound similar. And the person who reads your script for one OWA may not be the same for another. And frankly - even if someone has read your script for one OWA they might not remember it, or they may see it in a new light when reading with a different lens. Also, if you're inclined to not include a title sheet like Laurie, that's totally fine. I just want to encourage everyone to keep doing everything you can. If you're putting limits on yourself for even submitting your work - that's on you. Set yourself up for the biggest chances of serendipity. Someone reads your script a dozen times in a row - who cares? Maybe it isn't right for exactly what the person is looking for. But if the 13th try is a great fit, it allows someone to think "Oh right! This script! I never thought of it like this. This totally fits!"

Is this a guarantee? No. Is it still hard? Yes. But at least take advantage of all the opportunities available. Because I guarantee you, others are. Work to give yourself the best chances for success!

Dan Guardino

This is like throwing spaghetti against the wall and you just hope some sticks. That is how most things you try in this screenwriting business work.

Mark Giacomin

I eat my spaghetti.

Laurie Ashbourne

Really. Such a waste of good spaghetti -- not to mention the clean up.

Dan MaxXx

the process would be streamline quicker (and with pay) if Executives just hire writers from the Writer's room based on their specs as writing samples? The execs know what they want - so do a baker's dozen meeting of Stage 32 writers and hire/pay someone to write what they want.

Laurie Ashbourne

Dan MaxXx that is the way OWAs work in the industry- typically the meeting is prefaced (or filtered) by the writers presenting their take, and then a decision is made. So, yes, makes perfect sense.

DT Houston

S32 OWAs are not really OWAs. That's part of the issue here. It's a misnomer. A OWA is when a producer or studio has a project that they own. It's in development. And they need a writer. They're looking to hire a writer for the project which they already own. And there's indeed a real assignment -- a paying job -- that goes to the writer -- or writing team -- that they select for the job.

It does not seem like S32 OWAs have producers with existing, owned projects, with actual assignments to offer. Rather, it seems like the producers are simply looking for material. Well, EVERY PRODUCER is looking for material. There's nothing special or extraordinary about a producer hoping to find a good script or two. There's no inherent anything to a producer "just looking."

"OWA" connotes that there's a job. An "assignment" attached, down the line, to all the submissions being requested/considered.

RB is clearly super great at what he does. There's indeed a "draw" to the OWA, which leads to the Writers' Room. Like Field of Dreams, RB built it and they've all come. Proof of concept!

But the OWA moniker is not reflective of what the submissions truly stand for. Or what ends up happening, as far as I can tell. I wish S32 called the opportunity something else besides "OWA."

DT Houston

And that's not to say it's not an opportunity. It is indeed an opportunity. It's just a different opportunity than an OWA.

Martin Reese

Interesting point DT Houston. I think the discussion overall is what makes this platform great and I am sure the concerns will be taken into account. Like you said it's an opportunity. Will it pan out? Who knows really? This business is a rollercoaster ride. I have friends who have had deals ready to sign and the deal falls through for some reason. The key is always how many irons do you have in the fire? We can look at how many submitted and how many were selected, but in the end does it matter? If you submitted and didn't get selected nothing precludes you from submitting somewhere else. If you submitted and were selected nothing precludes you from submitting somewhere else. It ain't over until a deal is signed. Keep pushing. In my opinion you only fail if you quit.

Dan Guardino

The term OWAs is not used the same here as it is within the industry. I don't know if it is worth the effort or not but in this business, nobody knows what will pay off or when it might happen. I would say the odds here aren't that good but if you are already in the writers' room all it costs you is a few minutes of your time. Plus I would imagine some people read their scripts over to make sure they are written as well as humanly possible before submitting. That alone might make it worth doing.

Richard Buzzell

Here's an end of year update on the OWA selection numbers over the last six months. With a last minute surge the lumpen inched ahead of the regulars taking 130 of the last 259 selections. Make of that what you will.

Dan MaxXx

Richard Buzzell do you know how many stage 32 writers room members actually got paid-$$- money from OWA submissions/hired to write.

Matthew Kelcourse

@ Dan MaxXx I'm glad to say $$ is at the bottom of my creative bucket list. Easy to say when unrepped and unsold - keeps the mind clear and happy to keep writing on! :-)

Dan Guardino

Dan MaxXx I have no idea but I bet not many got paid money or hired to write because the odds don’t change which are about one in 5,000.

Richard Buzzell

To my knowledge no-one has cashed in on an OWA submission to this point.

Stephen Folker

I think it's more so for the practice of it, than getting picked. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Richard Buzzell

Here's an update on the OWA selection numbers dating back to the end of last June. The regulars have fallen behind taking 150 of the last 314 selections. So a total of 203 different writers in that time frame. Looks like the Bill Brock thesis is still supported by the data but not quite as strongly as it was last year.

Robin Gregory

Anthony Murphy Richard Buzzell Very good average, if you ask me! Thank you.

Bill Brock

Richard Buzzell Thanks, Rich, for the recent "shout-out." I've decided to steal your phrase, "The Bill Brock Thesis," and use it as the title of my next screenplay or the name of my new 80s tribute Punk band.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory I'm not sure what your comment means.

Robin Gregory

Anthony Murphy I apologize for being obtuse. I was replying to your comment about producers making on the average "$35 x 10 is a pretty good pay for a 2 1/2 hour workday, even after S32 takes its cut." A pretty good average for them, right?

And to Richard's comment: since June, a total of 314 writers have been selected out of 1500 entries. That seems like a pretty good average for being selected.

But then there are bad averages that I didn't address.

Writers, such as you, Niki, Brock and others, have submitted a number of times and not been selected. Ah, but being selected doesn't mean getting your film gets made anyway. For none has gone that far. These averages seem to contradict and disprove the basic tenant that the more persistent you are (and willing to revise) the better your chances of being selected.

I suppose new opportunities for partnership may develop as a result of networking in WR, but averages tell us that we shouldn't expect our submissions to be purchased or optioned straight out of the OWA pen.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory Oh, I got you. I thought you were referring to my OP. I didn't mention in above posts that my work has been selected, but to clarify and for fairness sake to S32 and especially the Writer's Room, my screenplay, THE OLD MASTER, has so far been selected in three OWAs, so has moved forward to three production companies. Haven't heard anything yet, but we have our fingers crossed. We'll see. BTW I think I've submitted to a total of 7 or 8 OWAs, including two that I'm waiting to hear from.

Robin Gregory

Anthony Murphy Congratulations! I really feel that with every opportunity for exposure, we increase the chances of selling a script. It would be cool if 2 companies got into a bidding war over THE OLD MASTER. Ha! I wish you all the best.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory Thank you so much. And that's what I dig about the Writer's Room--it is a chance. I spent three days doing cold queries, and only had one company, Zero Gravity, request my script, so OWAs seem a good opportunity.in comparison. I might need a time machine to travel back to the 90s for a bidding war, but it sure would be nice if it happened.

Robin Gregory

You're very welcome, Anthony Murphy . Zero Gravity, that's incredible! I appreciate this super informative thread.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory Zero Gravity, which both reps and produces, is one of the few companies that still welcomes cold queries, so if you haven't tried them, they are writer friendly. FYI, Zero gravity, when requesting a script, warns that they get so many, because of their open query policy, that it will take months to hear back from them, if the writer ever does.

Leonardo Ramirez

This has been a great thread Anthony Murphy. Glad you started it.

Anthony Murphy

Leonardo Ramirez Thank you. I learned a lot from the comments.

Robin Gregory

That's great to know, Anthony Murphy . I'll keep that in mind. They're doing some super films. You must be excited.

Anthony Murphy

Robin Gregory I didn't mean to suggest that ZG had done anything but request my script after a cold query.

Leonardo Ramirez

That's still a big deal, Anthony Murphy. In a cool beans way...

Richard Buzzell

Here's an update on the OWA selection data from the end of last June. There have been 377 selections shared among a total of 253 writers.

Dan MaxXx

Whats the stat of writers receiving $ ? Richard Buzzell

Richard Buzzell

Dan - Good question. I was wondering if anyone has been able to get a meeting as a result of an OWA. If anyone out there has obtained a meeting as a result of an OWA it would've great to hear about it.

Laurie Ashbourne

Other than my option (and subsequent meetings) noted in my initial reply above, I am not aware of any other "results" -- at least none that have been announced.

Bill Brock

Richard Buzzell Hey Rich! Awesome detective work. I've been selected OWA twice, which means my script had been forwarded to producers. My supernatural thriller, THE DRESS, was first requested in December 2023 under the "Producer seeks Addiction Features" banner and the second request was presented in February 2024 under "Producer seeks Murder Mystery Feature with Unique Structure." There has yet to be any follow-up or notes from either producer.

Dan Guardino

Dan MaxXx I doubt they will answer that question. I am sure it is about the same as hitting a hole in one or getting struck by lightning. And I a also pretty sure they won't agree or like me even saying that. lol

Dan MaxXx

Dan Guardino someone must be paid, otherwise pitch services will not continue to make $; Customers will just move on to the next script service, to next group of pay-to-read execs soliciting.

Dan Guardino

Dan MaxXx I know but the odds are slim. I have never heard anyone say they sold a screenplay that way but I don't read every post here.

Scarlett Fox

I agree! I haven't optioned a script yet, and I have been on here a month! let's go back to Inktip.

Laurie Ashbourne

Scarlett Fox This post is in reference to the free contests that call for scripts within the writers' room (the call them OWAs but they are mini contests only available to Writers' Room members). It takes a few months for them to even determine which scripts they choose to send for consideration, and then it is up to whomever they send them to, so it would never be decided within a month. NOTHING IN THIS INDUSTRY IS. Have you secured paid options on InkTip?

Richard Buzzell

I'm still waiting to hear about some meetings that came out of the OWA process. Anyone out there have one to report?

Richard Buzzell

In the Stage32 Success Stories lounge Jim Cushinery is reporting a couple of meetings from OWA's. Anyone else have a meeting to report?

Bill Brock

Still waiting to hear word of my two OWA selections. It's been a month for one and 2 months for the other. Not holding my breath. Moving on....

Anthony Murphy

Bill Brock Me either.

Anthony Murphy

Dan Guardino How do you attach a director?

Jenean McBrearty

Anthony Murphy: After reading all the comments here, I think maybe we ought to rethink what Stage 32 is for. With over a million members, world-wide, there is no way one site can be all things to all people.

Here's what I notice ... Members can present their material and get feedback (rate a log-ling, etc.) from each other, and that's a good thing, sort of like the workshop ratings from other students. But, we're supposed to pay for "expert in the industry" feedback (which may or may not be helpful). Then there are classes and workshops on character arcs, 'how-to' create suspense, etc. with fees attached, of course. And people offering services to assist new writers. Mostly people try to get their scripts better polished, through re-writes and re-thinking story points. Then there are the pitches: what to say, how to say it, advice and practice session, with fee attached. The OWAs go a step further, but, realistically, believing that people with goo-gobs of money to make and invest in movies probably don't pay much attention to site where writers introduce themselves as beginners, or "I have a terrific script, now what do I do...."

Think about it. If you're a producers, star, director, investor, are you REALLY going to read 1500 scripts to find a diamond-script, when you can call your niece who has a friend who's an agent and pitches ideas to her 1500 a week? People can go blind reading that many scripts all the way through. And, what's the best way to "break into" the business? Schmooze...all business relationships are personal relationships. We've heard a thousand times, but how many people get to Hollywood and have the $$$ to schmooze famous people?

So, maybe, we'd be better off thinking of Stage 32 as a piecemeal graduate school as opposed to a film studies program, say, at UCLA. Here's the web-site for UCLA: https://registrar.ucla.edu/archives/fees-archive/annual-fees/film-and-te.... If you're over 30, and/or poor, you can't attend. What CAN you do? Get an agent. If you can't attract the attention of a bona fide agent, you probably can't get the attention of a producer through a reader. Or ... start your own production company. Do you have a few million dollars to spare?

What I think we should do is get like-level writers together via ZOOM and have frank discussions about the industry, our scripts, making our stories more commercial, etc. The best thing Stage 32 can do is get Spielberg, or Scorsese, or Stallone, or some other star who is actively looking for material to agree to review a list of log-lines/synopses and read two a month. THAT would make it more than a club for the remote, poor, and talented among us.

Michael David

Don't despair if you don't get selected for an OWA! As is the case with Blacklist, Red List, International Screenwriting Competitions, Nicolls, Austin, etc. etc., the fact is 99% of working and produced screenwriters have never won or placed in any of these things. Find your own way and be fearless. Your success does not depend on "winning" anything or "placing" anywhere! I've been optioned three times, two of my screenplays are in active production and I have been hired (for pay) to write screenplays and pilots quite a few times. I HAVE NEVER PLACED OR WON ANYTHING IN MY LIFE! It can happen to you too...

Dan MaxXx

You dont need millions to start a production company; all you need is a cellphone & physical labor. Get off the couch and learn how to tell stories with a camera. Thousands of storytellers on YT, TicTok, Twitch. They didnt wait for permission.

Nick Phillips

I would definitely say that you are in a much better place here in the WR than you would be sending out cold query letters on your own and/or with another service. You're certainly much farther down the road in terms of a potential career path than you would be under different circumstances. You're among people who genuinely give a shit, just know that, and that includes your fellow WR members and the Stage 32 team. We want to see results for you just as passionately as you do. And you're in a place where your work can be and is being seen by industry professionals, and positively received in many instances! In my time at Stage 32 so far, one of the data points that has stood out to me the most is the frequency with which scripts are requested in the OWA process, it is such a great thing to see and keeps me inspired and hopeful for all of the writers here. Obviously, one area in which there is frustration is the absolutely interminable length of time it takes for producers to get back to you, and i know this all to well myself, and since i know how much it sucks to wait I make it my mission to give feedback as quickly as possible. We endeavor to cut down that lag time in whatever way is in our power to do so. I've been there, this business moves at a tortuous crawl so much of the time, but then it can suddenly open up. It's hard to know when, but when it does you have to be ready and armed with a positive constructive attitude. I've been a producer and filmmaker for nearly 30 years. There are times where the highs are very high and the lows are pretty damn low. I've dealt with the sometimes glacial pace of this business, only to be disappointed some of those times. It makes you want to beat your head against the wall. In short, I've been knocked down, alot. Just keep in mind that a piece of good news is one email or phone call away, it can come at any time. And at S32 we want to see that good news come for as many writers as possible, it's literally what we wake up in the morning wanting to accomplish. Bottom line for me is that I'm still here, making my way in this business and, more importantly, so are you. And any way in which we can make this process more effective for our members, we are looking at. I know it sounds trite to say just keep on climbing, but it's the truth. I say it to myself every morning!

Anthony Murphy

Nick Phillips Thanks for the encouragement to us, Nick. It means a lot coming from someone with such vast experience. Sometimes it does feel like you're beating your head against a brick wall just to get someone to look at your work; and maybe worse, I often feel like I'm writing for twenty something year old film school graduates that hate to read. Anyway, you just got to keep punching.

Anthony Murphy

Jenean McBrearty Hi Jenean, and thank you for inviting me to your network. That's a great idea. I would love to participate in such a group.

Niki H

Hi everyone! It seems this conversation gets kicked back up every so often and I get why. OWAs are a fantastic benefit to being a WR member. I won't rehash what I've already said about this in the past necessarily but I encourage you to scroll up and read because I think it's important. I understand the desire to draw a straight short line between an OWA entry and a project getting made or bought. We all know that 99% of the time it doesn't work like that. If you didn't know that, now you do! Statuses get checked, meetings are requested, dozens of emails and conversations are had, other partners come on board, etc. That takes time, patience and perseverance. I can tell you that each one of us working here has your back and we have the perseverance.

The industry is picking up and requests of all kinds are coming in.I can tell you that in the last 2 weeks, I know of at least 3 specific inquiries about OWA submissions from execs just about rights or script status.

The last thing I want to address is the mistaken belief that Stage 32 and/or the Writers' Room is all beginners. This is not true. One look at the people in this thread alone shows that. I consistently get executives calling me and telling me how thankful they are to work with Stage 32 specifically because we have the best writers. We do. Our community is made of people at all levels and career statuses. Our Writers' Room is filled with successful working writers - union and non-union.

Anthony Murphy

Scarlett Fox Did you ever have any success at Inktip? All I ever saw was very low budget producers and film school grads. The S32 Writers Room is about the same cost, and I think a much better opportunity.

Richard Buzzell

In the Writers' Room lounge Travis Seppala has reported that one OWA has resulted in talks with his agent.

Laurie Ashbourne

"It could be the logline, the budget, number of scenes, shooting locations, amount of cast, and the list goes on" This is a direct quote from the rejection from letter (that is so poorly framed it is insulting). If these are parameters that the "readers" have why are they not provided with the OWA listing? It would save the months of evaluation process (among other things) that's for sure. That is my biggest complaint about the OWAs that no one seems willing to address. The listings are so vague it's a complete crap shoot.

Jerry Robbins

Laurie Ashbourne excellent point. Other sites that host producers looking for scripts have guidelines for submissions - cast requirements (6 o 8), locations (1 or 2) etc. I have a few of the rejections, which are fine, but if I knew they wanted minimal locations or cast, I wouldn't have submitted in the first place, and you're right, save the readers a lot of time. Might be something they consider in OWA.

Richard Buzzell

Laurie and Jerry's point are good ones but the main problem with the OWA's seems to be that everyone is competing for a participation ribbon. You get selected and then the ride is over. Enjoy your ribbon. That's all you get.

Niki H

Hi all, I'm more than happy to address that complaint Laurie Ashbourne ! The point of sharing many reasons why your script could have been passed on is to remind everyone that there are a million reasons why someone doesn't connect with or become interested in a script. We are as specific in the OWAs as the person who asks us. If we added several other parameters and a script was passed on, would you still ask for more parameters? Or is it that people just want feedback or the specific reason why their script wasn't chosen? And let's say an OWA lists a budget, location and maximum number of characters, but you (as a whole, not you specifically) have a script that is "perfect" for it except it has a few more characters. Would you really not submit? At least 50% of people would. We do not, nor does the requesting executive/company, have the capacity to tell every single person who submits to an OWA why they were not selected. It's just not feasible.

I'll be very frank as well because I know everyone here in the Writers' Room can take it - this is part of learning about the industry. There just isn't enough time. People reading material do not have the time to give reasons. Especially if the reasons are "I didn't connect with it". As it is in all aspects of the creative world we are all going to her thousands of no's. And the majority of the time we never know why. Additionally, most of the time we never even hear back.

To address separately, the months long process for OWAs is no longer going to be months. The strikes drastically affected what we were able to do and we had a ton of material to get to executives as well as those executives had even more material to catch up on. The process moving forward will be much shorter.

To talk about the "participation ribbon" I want to say I disagree. But everyone may have different opinions on this. If you believe that getting your script in front of people who are currently producing work and looking for projects to develop is not worthwhile, that's fine. You don't need to submit. This is a long game. You getting your script in front of someone now may lead to something down the road. I know it's hard when there is no instant gratification, or even disappointment, but that's how networking and "knowing the right people" works.

As an aside, I don't know if this works for you or not, but actors are taught to forget an audition the second they walk out of the room. If there is interest, they'll be notified otherwise you have to keep moving forward and making progress. Once you put a script in someone else's hands to read, it's out of your control. The amount times an actor auditions for a specific casting director before they get a role can be dozens if not a hundred. It's just the same with writers. How many stories have you heard about a project being made start with someone reading a project that they weren't interested in at the time. In fact, John Graham talked about this several times on Wednesday's Webcast - go check it out if you missed it. https://www.stage32.com/webinars/The-Executive-Hour-with-John-Graham-Ben...

I do want everyone to also know we do hear you and hear your feedback in general. I'll look at that email you mention Laurie and see how I can improve it. We've recently done an overhaul on our communication processes as well as how we share the successes of all of you, and I know you'll see the fruits of that labor soon.

Feel free to disagree with me, agree, or continue to converse, I always love having a dialogue and I appreciate the conversations in here with you all. I obviously feel very strongly about this topic, as do all of you. And I care very strongly about the Writers' Room and all of you here in the community. I am always on your side.

Robin Gregory

Hi Niki H I understand the frustration, especially Laurie Ashbourne's. I think most writers want and need specific parameters for rejection. That way, we can hone in on areas for revision. To list all possibilities for any screenplay's rejection is not coverage. It's more like an article, book, or class.

Laurie Ashbourne

Thanks for the reply, Niki. But it really DOESN'T address the vagaries. Quite simply because we are given the "mandate" of a genre and 3 comps as well as the need for the script to be up to industry standards and be WR members. Those are the filters we are told the "readers" use. By those measurements there would be no doubt far more scripts going to the requestor than they want, so there is clearly another filtering process -- one that is more akin to contests (which lets be honest, that's what these are), but the point is, we are not privy to that additional level of filtering.

And I use "readers" in quotes intentionally -- Who are these people? What are their qualifications? How much do they read of the script? If it is like most of the first round contest readers then it is minimal on all those fronts and even more of a waste of time.

If this is going to be a genuine process where a DECISION MAKER can do something with a script that fits a mandate, why on earth would that process not be as transparent as possible?

This is not about "it's not for me," we are all grown up enough to understand that. The majority of the scripts that fit the vague parameters given never get passed on to the decision maker that set the parameter, and instead a secret cove of readers are making the decision for them. Or if as eluded to; it is in the logline only, that should be shared with us, so that the loglines are given the TLC they need. Or better yet, just have a request for loglines.

It's a lovely part of being in the WR, but if it is not transparent and genuine (it's already not an OWA, by industry standards), then it does far more harm than good. I hope it gets adjusted somehow.

Laurie Ashbourne

To Robin Gregory 's post and to clarify in as few words as possible, it's not that there should be specific feedback on rejections, it's that there should be SPECIFIC PARAMETERS ON SUBMISSION.

A true OWA is when there is a specific script/story that a production company wants to hear the writers' take on it before making a hiring decision. The writer prepares specifically for that mandate. If we're submitting to OWAs there needs to be specificity and transparency.

Dan Guardino

Laurie Ashbourne You are right it is not an OWA. It is not even close to one. People have a better chance of calling producers somewhere else and it doesn’t cost any money. I know the OWA is free for people in the WR but not for people that aren’t in the WR. Even if it was free I wouldn’t waste my time submitting to any of the producers there.

Niki H

Ok, so to strip it down as much as possible, I'm seeing 2 main issues -

1. You don't feel the OWA process itself is transparent enough

2. The parameters are too vague

Let me know if that's correct. How do you propose we address the parameters issue? How many parameters do there need to be - what should be included? If one isn't specific enough should we not pass it along? You'd rather have fewer opportunities but they're more specific?

Niki H

Also just want to add - that having more parameters on submission is not the same thing as knowing what parameters your script didn't meet. In case that is also an issue.

Richard Buzzell

Here's a sample mandate from the ISA site. "US producer with access to studio space seeking genre features, preferably action or action centered. Budget range $3-8mm.

Star vehicles are preferable. Male or female leads. A strong hook is a MUST. They intend to sell in overseas territories as well as the domestic market. They are looking to build a small slate over the next few years."

Niki H

Ok great! So that mandate compared to "Producer looking for action or action centered feature. Comps- Upgrade, Snatch, Redstate" What do the differences mean to you?

Laurie Ashbourne

"Producer looking for action or action centered feature. Comps- Upgrade, Snatch, Redstate" is essentially a call for an action contest, so to submit to that (presuming your script is to industry standards and you are a member of the WR) there is no reason your script shouldn't be passed on to the requesting company for them to decide whether it aligns with what they are looking for.

- this is where the transparency issue comes in.

For instance, by drilling down to an example similar to what Richard posted, narrows that considerably. So there would be far fewer submissions, or at the very least more certain reasons why a script didn't fit the parameter. Much clearer and easier for everyone on both sides of the bar.

If some submitted an action film that was clearly a $50 million dollar film or one that was for a male lead on an entirely American premise it would be an easy filter to take it out of contention. By being this specific, there would more often than not, be fewer scripts to weed through, which would/should be a more targeted and better experience for everyone throughout the process.

Right now, there's no telling why the hundreds of action or action centered features with Comps- Upgrade, Snatch, Redstate did not advance -- was it because the requestor asked to be given the top 10% of submissions? Or only 5 submissions? Were they given a list of loglines to choose a handful from? No one knows. Moreover no one knows who is doing the filtering and their experience level (could they determine a budget range or market if that was a parameter?). If there is less to filter because of specificity -- there is less guesswork.

Asmaa Jamil

The OWA process is broken. It need to be reviewed and feedback from members needs to be incorporated. The founders and leaders of Stage 32 should take in what everyone has said. I have no idea if even get feedback on some of my submissions because they come months later and I get the same feedback no matter what I submit. Imagine what would have happened to companies like Costco or Amazon if they had not listened to their members.

Richard Buzzell

Niki - Does the originator of an OWA have to pay to have Stage32 screen the submissions for them?

Niki H

Thank you for the specifics Laurie that is helpful. It seems like most of everything really comes down to the actual process of OWAs and transparency and how the scripts get into the hands of the requester. I do understand the feedback about parameters though I don’t believe it would actually stop people from feeling like their script should have gotten through. I could be wrong. I am talking internally with the team about all of this and your feedback, that’s why I’m here talking to everyone. I hope some are not seeing this as pushback, as I am genuinely trying to get specific thoughts so I know what discussions to have internally to make changes.

Richard, no absolutely not there is no payment involved. People come to us because they trust Stage 32 and the breadth and talent of our writers. You.

Laurie Ashbourne

Niki H I think you'll be surprised at the deliberation and due diligence serious writers put into submissions (for anything -- pitches, contests, consults etc.). I for one, put enormous amounts of due diligence into every single person I speak or submit my material to. if it is not a fit for any reason I don't do it, this can be anything from initials of the person instead of names to credits that are verifiable, to online complaints. I dig deep and every writer that consults with me or knows me reaches out to ask if a person or service is legit. Will you still get people who submit a drama for a family genre request? -- absolutely (but it will be far fewer) -- we can't cure the world, but we can stop the infection.

Richard Buzzell

Niki - I have concerns about the lack of any success stories coming out of the OWA process. It makes me question how interested these companies are in sourcing material. It seems that they have very little skin in the game. On the ISA, companies have to screen submissions themselves. Here companies don't have to make much of any effort at all. I'm concerned that they might be in on the process only because it's a freebie.

DT Houston

I've been saying since I came to Stage 32 back in November that "OWA" should NOT be the title of these submissions. And I said it again when I gave Feedback to Stage 32 recently. Amanda and everybody else at Stage 32 know exactly what an OWA is. Yet the decision is made to put these out there as OWAs. I really don't get it. It's just dumb. And the parameters are lousy. Non-transparent. Fuzzy. Whatever you want to call it. I mean DEFINE IT DOWN and give more writers a BETTER OPPORTUNITY to submit EXACTLY what these anonymous producers/managers are looking for. It's not rocket science.

Although I've had some very solid success with multiple producers during my short time at Stage 32, I'll be honest, I'm about to say bye-bye to this Writers Room. OWAs are not worth the time. And they're not free. We pay $400+ a year to have access to those submissions. I can enter a lot of top tier competitions with that $400+ at places like Vail, Atlanta, Austin, ScreenCraft, etc, all places where my entries have netted high finishes and producer interest. Plus, for that $400 I'm spending in the Writers Room, I can put that toward 10 Ten Page Reads with Executives, and I'm quite confident a percentage of those reads will net me meetings. My batting average on 10 Page Reads is keeping me on the field, and well worth every $40 bucks spent.

OWAs...? There is no batting average. At all. And I say, no thanks.

I'm happy to talk with anyone at Stage 32 about this issue, or any other issue. And there are plenty of other issues, too. But I'll just bring up one.

WHO exactly is vetting the "producers" and "managers" who hear pitches and do reads on Stage 32...?

Are there SPECIFIC requirements for entry to be hearing pitches and giving notes to writers on Stage 32?

Here's why I ask: I took a flyer on a new face. A new "exec." He has ZERO credits. He has NOT been working in Film/TV, but I sort of liked his background/bio, and I had a particular project I thought might be a fit for his apparent "tastes" and his non-film/tv background. So I gave him a 10 Page Read. He read the whole script, and he requested a meeting. He's a cool guy. I liked him. A lot! He is, unfortunately, in my opinion, also completely unqualified to be listed as an "executive" or as a "producer" because he does not know what the "f" he is doing! Part of that evaluation comes from what his "notes" and "thoughts" were when it came to my script, but the bigger, glaring red flag came later, when...

He asked me to read a spec script of his that he had just finished. A First Draft, he called it. Based on his very limited and wonky notes on my script, I was curious to see what his "on the page" was going to look like.

Well, ladies and gentleman of the Writers' Room, to say I was shocked at what I saw would be a grave understatement. It was bad. I mean like Michael Jackson "Bad", with some leg kicks and Moonwalk all on it. And none of it any good/bad like MJ. It was BAD/BAD/BAD.

That was the end of my taking a flyer on any Executive/Producer/Manager that I don't know personally, or know of through the business. This experience instantly made me wonder about just how many other "executives/producers/managers" are wholly unqualified, making money doing reads and hearing pitches, and giving "notes and advice" to writers on this platform.

Final thing, by and large, on all the reads I've purchased via Stage 32 -- and I've done a fair amount -- the true pros, the former studio execs and the very established names, have always come through on time with flying colors, and it's been a total pleasure to have those meetings. Everyone else, it's kind of been bullshit. A crapshoot of lengthy delays and/or me cancelling or switching the reads to someone else. And, yes, I always extend extra time because I know the Stage 32 company line will be "these are very busy, busy people, and we have to understand that and be patient." And to that I say: and we pay good money, and nobody is forcing them to be on Stage 32. It's their choice to make themselves available for pitches, reads and consults. And Stage 32, you should do a much better job for YOUR WRITERS, and ensure that all of these "execs" will perform on time. And if they can't, if they're too busy with their day job, then maybe they shouldn't be here.

Sad to say it, but it's true, I'm over Stage 32 and looking to focus my time and efforts elsewhere.

Asmaa Jamil

It’s too bad stage 32 loses someone like DT.

DT Houston

Kind of you to say, Asmaa Jamil. Appreciate that.

You know, someone at Stage 32 told me that the company operates "very, very lean." As in, number of full-time employees is not large at all. Well, there's a LOT of components to an org like this. I'm not going to put 87 octane fuel in my car that requires 91 octane fuel. It won't run well.

GJ Harvey

I submiited to an OWA on Inktip (no pre-approval required - the "O" in OWA) and got a reply ONE YEAR later. Haven't done one since. Would be keen to hear of anyone who's been optioned, signed, or sold from an OWA.

DT Houston

I also have to agree with Richard Buzzell comment about the process of Stage 32 essentially doing the development groundwork for each and every production company/producer/manager who decides, "Hey, this is easy! Wait, so, I just say I'm looking for XYZ movie and Stage 32 will do all the work? I get 5-7 scripts sent to me. That's it. Awesome. I don't even need to hire that cute USC intern now."

I mean what producer wouldn't want to sit back and collect 5-7 scripts for doing nothing whatsoever? The days of Studio Production Deals are over, but for the big fish. Every independent producer I know, hey, they're searching for that next buck, that next job. It's not an easy time to be an indie producer, with nobody giving you a paycheck. (One hit me up for $ not long ago!) Writers, you are not the only ones trying to figure out how to pay for shit. Trust me on this.

Hey, wait a second, I'm a producer now, too. I'm partnered-up on feature projects with two former studio executives, and I'm also managing 2 writers, and I plan on producing their scripts, as well. I qualify! Where do I sign up for this free Stage 32 development services for my production and management company, BulletProof Train, LLC? I am ready.

Stage 32, you make it easy as pie for all of these producers to be UNSERIOUS. Richard Buzzell is absolutely correct: when there is no skin in the game, no blood, no sweat, and no tears, put towards the effort of finding material, reading through material, is it really any surprise there's basically been just one OWA which has resulted in a semi-deal with Laurie Ashbourne ? And that was like over 2 years ago, if I'm not mistaken. No, it's not surprising in the least.

It's a piece of cake to reject 5-7 scripts that someone else just handed off to you. You relied on someone else to decide for you. Where's the incentive factor? It's a total freebie. It's House F'ing Money. Maybe you really are looking for material. Maybe you're not. Maybe you have money to spend. Maybe you don't have a nickel. But if Stage 32 is going to let me collect 5-7 scripts and do all the work for me, fuck yeah, (I can cuss, RB does it all the fucking time) sure, I'll fucking say I'm looking for an Action Thriller or a Grounded Horror, or a Rom Com with a Happy Damn Ending.

Sign... me... up. Costs me nothing. And I have zero actual commitment. I'm dating a hot girl, and I'm not looking to get married. Just having a lotta fun. And she's a cheap -- check that -- free date. So, Amanda, Emily J, you've got my email, let's do it. I'm ready.

C'mon, let's get serious Stage 32. This has got to be the longest damn thread on the entire platform. There's a reason for that. It's because the entire OWA effort is broken, ineffective, and needs an overhaul like nobody's business.

1 OWA verifiable deal in 2-3 years is not a "success story." It's a distress call, is what it is.

RB, you're "one of us." You say it all the time. Well, as one of us, my guy, I think you need to be front and center in the process of fixing something that clearly needs fixing.

And by the way, I'm not just bitching to bitch. I'd also be quite happy to pitch in and lend my voice and ideas in an effort to actually help make this process better, and create REAL opportunities for all the writers here who work so hard at what they do, with their very real hopes and dreams of attaining success.

Nick Phillips, if you're poking around these parts, I will see you Sunday on the Zoom call.

(Yes, I'm really busting my hump trying to develop and produce feature films. And when I'm looking for material, I'm not window shopping -- I'm REALLY looking for material. With my own sweat equity.). -- DT

Anthony Murphy

Niki H A lot of what is being said here is very disturbing. My questions are simple. Has a writer ever sold a script through a Stage 32 OWA? And if so, how many deals through Stage 32 OWAs have been made? Thank you.

Laurie Ashbourne

There’s definitely opportunity to offer a premium service that decision-makers pay for. It’s been discussed by other services as well. I know the guys at the gauntlet/Script hop have said that their ultimate goal is to make it a service that the industry people pay for and not the writer. Which let’s face it that’s what it should be because Writers are getting raped for money constantly and that’s where all of this, sort of frustration comes from.

It’s not exclusive to Stage 32. It’s every service out there when they charge money, whether it be for a contest or consultation or whatever, there’s always the possibility that they’re only in it for the money or as in the reference here, there’s no skin in the game.

There are plenty of industry, databases and services that they are accustomed to paying for — they pay for premium listings through Variety, tracking boards etc. that comes with the territory and there is no reason there shouldn’t be one for Writers or any creative above the line for that matter, but that’s not why we’re here. For the reference to the gauntlet and how they will be able to justify it, is they are providing the feedback/scores and breakdowns that their vetted working readers (readers who hold jobs getting paid to read for studios) provide so it fits more naturally into their business model, but there is definitely a massive need to elevate the transparency of whether people, requesting scripts reviewing scripts, reading, scripts, consulting on scripts are doing it to educate the writers versus looking for material. That's my huge frustration. I am a working writer and producer, I don't need an out of work 20 year old's opinion.

Every time I speak with someone through a premium service, they immediately assume they’re here to educate the writers and have no intention or ability to do anything with the material— I’ve even had people on the executive roster hit me up for work in the past, so when I see them offering services, it doesn’t sit quite right.

To have a mass announcement that hundreds of OWAs advanced magically in one week for requests that span, God knows how long, raises enormous eyebrows, because who the hell read those who suddenly open those floodgates I know for a fact, it wasn’t the roster of readers that do the contest reads or the industry coverage that is not executive specific. In two days time I got more than 30 emails about OWAs. The first round that came all at once was "our readers are hard at work and will update you soon." The very next day was "Thank you for your submission! We really enjoyed it... Unfortunately blah blah!. And yes, there are that many exclamation marks in the form reply.

I am in a unique position where because of the work I do, I literally have a script that fits every mandate. That, and because the mandates are so 'effin vague it's not hard to do. To have the floodgates of emails that clean out a backlog screams AI.

It’s like here’s our quarterfinalist for six months worth of OWAs — and we all know that that is how contests operate and that’s what we have here anonymous contests, anonymous processes and frankly nothing comes of it. Just like contests. Most contest scripts that are winners don’t get made or sold, and frankly shouldn’t— It’s a different read for a different process - huge distinction.

DT Houston

"To have a mass announcement that hundreds of OWAs advanced magically in one week for requests that span, God knows how long, raises enormous eyebrows, because who the hell read those who suddenly open those floodgates I know for a fact, it wasn’t the roster of readers that do the contest reads or the industry coverage that is not executive specific. In two days time I got more than 30 emails about OWAs." -- Laurie Ashbourne, my thoughts exactly. If the desired effect of all this was to wave a big, feel-good flag at how great this all was, it also simultaneously shined a LAPD Helicopter's NightSun Light down upon the problems. And I would say exactly what I've said here and above whether I was winning, losing, or drawing.

Dan Guardino

The OWA here is just a contest. Screenplays get made because the screenwriter or their Agent knows someone. I like being here because I like communicating with other screenwriters but I hate them trying to sell me the services they offer so their emails go directly into my spam folder.

DT Houston

Consider a "WR Members Advisory Group." There's plenty of folks with some experience and POVs which could he helpful in offering suggestions for change. For the better. In a constructive way. I don't know everybody here, but I know enough people to know that getting a member think tank together would likely not be too difficult. Writers that come to my mind...

Laurie Ashbourne (A multi-hyphenate force. Look her up.)

CJ Walley (A Brit who puts shit into action, whether it's his own gritty projects, or creating SCRIPT REVOLUTION.)

Francisco Castro (Has been staffed, and has smart/interesting ideas re: diversity. And he just nailed like his first 4 OWAs yesterday. What the hell took so long, FC?)

Michael Elliot ("Seasoned" and, yes, often snarky(!), but one helluva talented dude who I'd love to see get his well-deserved flowers... with a great Vietnam script that's been abused and loved in unfair measures.)

Stanton Rabin (a former WMA & New Line story reader and ace analyst, who also happens to pen books and Win prestigious contests with multiple specs. Has probably read more scripts than just about anybody on Stage 32. Also loves baseball and horse racing. I'll bet she cooks a mean lasanga, too. I am hungry.)

Anthony Murphy (you started this epic thread, you're in.)

Maurice Vaughn (the "MVP" -- "Most Visible Person" on all of Stage 32. Mo, you're the biggest Pom-Pom thrusting cheerleader and ray of positivity on the entire damn platform. And I hear you write some tight Horror action, to boot. I'd be remiss not to toss your name into the collective hat.)

DT Houston (No one will ever outwork me. And I don't suck at what I do. My three-point jumper and still fairly-wicked crossover dribble might not help fix the OWA sitch, but, hey, ya never know. They've served me well.)

Go ILLINOIS -- slay that UCON giant...

Scott Sawitz

I'd say that a big issue is transparency... you get an email saying "congrats, it's in the mix" and then a vague statement saying no. Who's rejecting it?

If it's the gatekeeper on S32, wouldn't it be helpful to know why? If it's a wrong fit, whatever, but knowing that can help you focus your submissions better.

if it's the Prod Co, then it's a shit happens moment.

Laurie Ashbourne

Let’s say I am an independent producer (which I am BTW - so the following is based in reality), who suddenly has the ability to get a buddy road trip film into production — quickly —whether that be financial reasons, or star reasons, or location reasons; whatever. So I come to Stage 32 Writers’ room and say, “put a call out for a road trip, buddy comedy in the vein of Plains, Trains and Automobiles, Due Date, Identity, Theft.” Somewhat vague, but still far more specific than what most of what we see in the listings due to the premise. Here's why it's not specific enough and why the process isn't working:

I don’t specify what the road trip entails, i.e. is it a specific type of vehicle? Is it a specific type of star? is it a specific budget? Does it have specific thematic value?

The way the process works now, that request seems to go on a long list of requests that will then be listed during a two week cycle sometime in the future, 200 people submit through the Writers room portal to my request that I made a month or so ago - some random room of whatever qualification people, look at the two hundred submissions and it takes them a month, then they come to me and say I’ve got 195 out of 200 submissions that fit your request. How can we narrow this down for you? Depending on what my reason for the request is, meaning is it a cast situation? Is it a financial situation? Is it a premise situation? I give them more specifics -- they go back through the 195, because let’s face it, if you can read a mandate you know if your script fits it or not, and quite frankly I am sure far more fit the mandate then the requester is being told.

So I, as the independent producer requesting this buddy comedy say, “OK give me one that has a male and a female for talent, and the vehicle they are traveling in needs to be an electric vehicle, super specific — but it’s gonna take the readers another month to go through those 195 out of 200 and I am putting all creative selection control in the hands of this anonymous evaluation process, but in good faith I say give me the top 3 that you think I will like — by the time they send me three that fit my mandate, I read them and meet with the writers to see if they are people that I can make a deal with... the money or whatever resources that I had to make the movie four, five, six months ago, isn’t there anymore because the material didn’t come in during the window that I had and it went to another project. This is the framework we are dealing with.

A true OWA would cut to the chase, put the call out immediately and take pitches for the specific mandate or maybe even short treatments.

So it’s no wonder that nothing comes of these.

GJ Harvey

Laurie Ashbourne "Every time I speak with someone through a premium service, they immediately assume they’re here to educate the writers and have no intention or ability to do anything with the material."

Agree, S32 needs to stop saying this Exec is "looking for or seeking" which implies they're after projects to develop, and should say "can offer coverage on" or similar. Like us, many are also hustling and some are trying to sell their writing and projects just like we are.

[EDIT To clarify, this comment was in reference to Script Services.]

Dan Guardino

I don't believe Stage 32 OWA is offering coverage. I think it is just a place where people in the Writers' Room can submit screenplays. The screenwriter doesn't know who the Reader is or who the Producer is. It's a shot in the dark at best but screenwriting is a tournament career anyway so maybe it is worth submitting but I doubt it.

Laurie Ashbourne

There's definitely no coverage on the OWAs -- nor should there be. I don't think anyone wants that. And absolutely it is a long game -- anyone who thinks there is a short cut is in for a rude awakening. Even if a script gets optioned, or somehow greenlit, there are many things that can stop a film from getting made from it.

The entire point is, the process of the OWAs is far more frustrating than its worth. It could be an effective premium service but it would need a complete overhaul.

Anthony Murphy

I have five open OWAs, the first of which was 0139, way back before the strike, but not moved forward until after the strike. About a week and a half ago, S32 sent emails to all writers that have open OWAs with producers, and said that the pros were backed up in their reading because of the strike, but that S32 would keep following up with them. My last two OWAs were just announced this past week, 0252 and 0261. On the 0139 OWA, S32 informed me that the producer was Go Productions, but revealed none of the other four producers. I would like to know who has my screenplay and check out their IMDBs, because if they all pass, then who passed, the production companies that were never identified to me? You got to admit, that doesn't sound right. I also did two pitches last week, and both producers requested the script. The pitches feel more real because I met the people via Skype and checked out their IMDB, so S32 put a face on these OWA producers. Ultimately, both the pitches and the OWAs come down to producers reading the script and wanting to meet or not; but you know, I tell myself, at least my script is getting read, and that's more of a chance than cold queries, which usually don't even get answered. Like I stated somewhere above, I spent three days doing cold queries and got one request from Zero Gravity, but have heard nothing since, because ZG is so inundated with submissions, they probably haven't read it yet. Living on the east coast, I don't know a better way than S32 pitches and OWAs, no matter how long the odds, but the odds are long for those living in LA as well, even if proximity allows an advantage, for it all comes down to whether the producer loves what is read or not. I appreciate the opportunity S32 affords me, but I hope that RB and the S32 Staff listen and implement some of the very good suggestions on improving OWAs in this thread, especially those made by Richard Buzzell, Laurie Ashborne, and DT Houston. Happy Easter to everyone.

DT Houston

And when there's a thread like this one, where's there's a hearty back and forth about why something on the platform is NOT working, it's quite apparent that the Stage 32 cheerleading brigade, and/or involvement squad, essentially drops off to be crickets. IMO, that's also not a good look. No disrespect to you Niki H , but when you're the lone S32 quasi-voice in the room, with an occasional post by @Emily J, yeah, that's just not really sufficient.

You can't just "Way to go, Creative Army!" all day every day and champion each and every minor -- and more often than not -- insignificant Shopping Agreement, and then fail to participate in a meaningful dialogue when it's not rah-rah-rah time. That's not leadership. That's selective association.

To me, it feels like a "Do Not Engage" policy, which, if correct, is just a shame because everybody here simply wants something that works. And I think we all deserve something that works.

Unless Stage 32 can incorporate a better system, I won't be coming back. And, yes, I realize I'm just one person, but if you get enough "one persons" who feel similarly, this Writers' Room will become depleted. Writers have many choices these days. There's no shortage of choices.

Maurice Vaughan

Hey, DT Houston. Engaging in meaningful dialogue is important, but keep in mind it's the weekend and there's a holiday tomorrow, and the Stage 32 Team is handling a lot of things with the platform, so you might not hear back from them right away. From Niki's comments, it sounds like Stage 32 is taking this topic seriously. Thanks for the mention.

DT Houston

This is a very loooooong standing thread Maurice Vaughan. A well-documented issue. And my comments are most certainly not directed at a weekend fix. Or at an immediate response per this thread. I think that's pretty clear. But it is nice to see you on this thread. :>)

Maurice Vaughan

Cool, DT Houston. I can tell you and others who commented want to see Stage 32 continue to get better. And go UConn! Just kidding. :D MVP. "Most Visible Person." I like that.

Dan Guardino

DT Houston I appreciate the fact that you want to see some changes and I hope they take your suggestions seriously. I tried it for free for one month. I concluded it was mainly for aspiring screenwriters who are trying to break into the business or people who want to tell people how successful they are so I didn’t see any reason for me to pay to be in the Writers’ Room. Like you, I’m just one person but believe me, there are enough wannabe screenwriters who will keep using these kinds of services. Personally, the only money I ever spent on screenwriting was to purchase a how-to book and a cheap software program to write my screenplays. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your comments and again I hope they consider your suggestions.

DT Houston

Hey Dan Guardino. Appreciate that. There's a wide range of writers in this room -- and also on the platform itself. From brand new aspiring writers, to working writers with lots of experience, to most points in-between. And what I try to remember as a member of this collective, is that everybody here has the potential to become successful, irrespective of where they currently are on their journey. Without question, Stage 32 has value. I want to emphasize that I'm not anti-Stage 32 at all. This place has actually been quite beneficial for me, personally. I believe it's a place that can help us all unlock certain potentials, improve our craft, and also provide critical pathways of access. And like you, Dan, I hope that any and all good suggestions towards improvement will ultimately spur better days and ways ahead for The Room.

Niki H

Writing to let you know I haven't disappeared. There's a lot still for me to read and digest after my last bit and I haven't had time yet. I also want to let you know that we have been discussing the OWAs and all aspects of them internally. Promise I'll be back to engage again and I hope you know I am taking all of your thoughts seriously!

Asmaa Jamil

Thank you Niki.

Anthony Murphy

Niki H Thank you.