Screenwriting : Paying your dues? by GiVan Johnson

GiVan Johnson

Paying your dues?

what constitutes "paying your dues in screenwriting?

CJ Walley

Hard to say without hindsight I guess. I would say it constitutes pouring a ton of effort into improving our craft, working with little or no immediate financial reward, and networking the hard way by reaching out to people and showing our passion.

Cherie Grant

pretty much ditto.

Elisabeth Meier

Always also write other texts like blog posts, articles, instructions, reviews. In addition, I photograph and am typing screenplays (and only screenplays or theatre plays) for those who don't have FinalDraft or can't type blind and fast. I try to keep all jobs related to films which keeps me in the flow.

Liz Warner

Laura summed that right up, IMO.

Kristopher Rickards

I thought this was more to do with the other end - when you have made a career from screenwriting. It's a steep learning curve and there a lot of people who altruistically help you along the way. People who are your close friends, posters on forums, people who are writing blogs on the craft, successful screenwriters (EG. Scott Myers - Into the Story), the Stage 32 team. Etc. And if you are ever fortunate enough to become successful you shouldn't forget these people or how lucky you are. On top of those that helped you, your dues should be paid forward to the new kids, the ones learning the craft - these guys (and Gals) are in the same situation you once found yourself in & I think, if you had any decency towards others and the future of entertainment, you should definitely give more than you got given.

CJ Walley

I agree that you should absolutely send the elevator back down if you succeed.

Kristopher Rickards

Like the old VHSs from the video shop - please be kind and rewind.

William Martell

Sending me a crisp $100 bill every month. My address for anyone interested is...

William Martell

(What Dan and CJ said. Expect to write about 9 to 10 scripts before anything begins to happen (that's the average) and keep learning and improving your craft even after something happens. Also: learn about the business side. When I began I paid a fortune to subscribe to Hollywood Reporter and Variety. now they are online for free... along with a bunch of other great tools.)

Pierre Langenegger

Online for free? I thought you could only view the first par of the Variety articles and had to pay to view the rest?

William Martell

That may be true (they go from free and back to pay to drum up business), But there's more ways to find free info than when I was starting out. BoxOfficeMojo can tell you how much movie a film made, and I love their "showdowns" where they take five similar movies and show you how they usually all made about the same amount of money regardless of cost. PS: Though I don't have a paper version to compare to, I just went to Variety and the articles seems to be full length without a "pay to read more" notice. I read them every morning, and even if there is more in the paper version, you get enough info in the online version.

Pierre Langenegger

Good to see, Bill. It's been a while since I viewed it because it used to want money. I'll try using it again

Elisabeth Meier

I would like to know how GiVan meant his question and what he thinks.

Shawn Speake

Mastering craft - the art of screenwriting and the art of story telling.

William Martell

I'm hoping he meant in the way that gets me $100 a month.

Shawn Speake

If all it takes is 100 a month to hang out with you, William - I'm there! Where do I sign up?!

Elisabeth Meier

LOL. I hope he meant it more like Sylvester Stallone's experience when he made it with 'Rocky'. The script sold cheaper than it was worth, but dealing out until he got the lead role plus 2% of all earnings in addition (if I remember it right). Then make the film (keep in mind it was his first script ever) with a budget of estimated $ 1 million, make it a huge success with a gross of about $ 225 millions worldwide (numbers found on imdb). Just to mention it again: his contract brought him 2% of all earnings in addition to his script which is how much? 2% of $ 225.000.000 are $ 4.500.000. For the first script plus the credits as an actor. =))

CJ Walley

I'd be wary believing anything related to Stallone. Let's just say the last place the guy's name belongs is a paying your dues thread.

Elisabeth Meier

CJ, don't know what you mean by this. You probably know more about him than I do.

Elisabeth Meier

Plus, I think it is true he wrote the script, sold it, got the leading role and made a lot of money by this.

CJ Walley

Elisabeth, it's hard to know the full truth behind Stallone and Rocky but here's some reading; http://www.hollywoodtoday.net/2006/12/20/rocky-story-revealed-a-studio-m...

Elisabeth Meier

Dan, we just discussed if this legend about his script for Rocky is true because I mentioned this as an example what is possible even for beginners.

Niksa Maric

There are two expressions that could be attached to PAYING OUR DUES. 1. Selling your soul to the Devil (usually comes to mind when someone mentions Paying your dues) but here's another way. GIVING YOUR SOUL AWAY TO THE DEVIL.

William Martell

Well if it's the Devil one way or the other, maybe this isn't a business you want to get into?

William Martell

PS: There is a union and they will want you to pay your dues.

Niksa Maric

William my friend. It's just an expression not an opinion, mine or in general. I'm not sure did it come out right.

Niksa Maric

You mean, Writers Guild? How does that work? I can't sell something if I'm not a member and I can't become a member until I sell something? CATCH " 22.

Niksa Maric

I understand what you mean but it doesn't mean the script will be bought for a few bucks if you are not a WGA member (in whatever country such guild exist) But you lost me with boffo, what is that word for.

William Martell

There is no catch 22. You can sell a script to a WGA signatory company (happens all the time), but then you must join. How else would WGA get new members?

Niksa Maric

Did you mean no-signatory company and MUST join. Why must I or anyone join?

William Martell

No. Exactly what I said. ANYONE can sell a screenplay to a WGA signatory company. That door is wide open. Once you sell a script to a WGA signatory company, in order to continue to work for signatory companies (including that one) you will have to join the WGA. You can not join WGA, but that probably makes no sense because you are closing the door to signatory jobs (which pay substantially more). Plus, the company that just bought your screenplay will have to hire someone else to do the rewrites on your screenplay, which you probably don't want. Also, I believe it's possible for the producer to deny you credit on the film (something protected under a WGA contract). Sorry this doesn't fit your conspiracy theory.

Niksa Maric

Hold on. My conspiracy theory? What's that suppose to mean, what theory. Deny me credit for something I wrote. I'd love to see him/her try, by all means do try to deny me credits. They wanna re-write it, (one way or the other) sure, it's possible but imagine the price they would have to pay for that. You can by the script with credits or without credits and then burn it if you want but everything has its price, everything. Remember that.

William Martell

Everything has it's price. Refusing to join WGA has its price... and that may include a producer denying you credit... and getting paid less than WGA members. That would be your choice. The WGA is a labor union, an organization of screenwriters for the purpose of collective bargaining. You alone may not be able to make the best deal with a company, but as a union member you are backed up by all of the other members. Strength in numbers. As a labor union the WGA itself makes money two ways: initiation fees from new members and dues from members: both things require the WGA to welcome new members. So their doors are open. They are not trying to keep you out or keep you from working or anything else. If you are not a member, you are also free to work for non signatory companies (which usually pay less and you are only one against the company, so you have much less power). But there is nothing to stop you from selling to a WGA signatory company if they want your screenplay. Nothing.

Niksa Maric

Okay, so this is how things are. I, you, he, she, need to come up with something and turn it into a screenplay. FINE. We would have to follow the Industry Rules and Standards, formating, proper forms, spacing, use present tense... again FINE. We'll do it that way. Let's say, it would take between 3-6 months to finish 90-120 pages. Copyrights + WGA registration (about $55.00) FINE. As a first time writer I would probably have to make some producer happy and give the script away for free, for no money at all. MAYBE FINE. Then, if I want to be credited for this MOVIE, I would have to pay $ 2.500 a year to WGA. NOT FINE since I made no money. If I don't pay, I won't be credited, NOT AT ALL FINE. And the entire cycle will keep spinning on and on. So, how does all this works in reality? Is this it?

Niksa Maric

I did and what is that? A company in Houston, to keep what secured, I have EHD bigger then their server. Tell me you didn't signed up.

Niksa Maric

Oh, this is good "Electronic files are admissable in a court of law as evidence, IF the file is archived to a remote third-party website where neither the plaintiff or defendant has access to the file. Remember the long post from last month, how grammatical errors work in their favor. ADMISSABLE.

Leontien Parlevliet

A lot of vainly attempts and false promises.

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