Is there anyone out there that is an actual expert on writing, and selling screenplays? I have read so many posts from people who have nothing but book knowledge. or for the love of God, refer me to a link I can research.
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Hmm... seems to me this is mostly a platform of people helping people. Some have more experience, some less. But mostly peers sharing their own knowledge and experience. I wouldn't be quick to dismiss the value of that. Experts? Perhaps that would depend on your metrics. Personally, I'm more interested to hear from people who actively engage in the craft than from any number of so-called 'gurus'.
The problem with forums such as these, is that they allow people to act as experts, yet are experts at a distance, and quite often under the veil of anonymity. Yes, Maty, the so-called "gurus" are usually just that, "so-called." Personally, I take everything they say and preach on their websites with a grain of salt. But in all fairness, I do as well with amateurs. There is an expression, "People often preach what they need to learn the most." So, quite often, someone new to screenwriting will quote "The Rules" as handed down from some book on screenwriting (ie. Truby, Snyder, etc etc) in an attempt to either excert some level of expertise so they don't have to be the uniformed one, or they are struggling to understand the concept themselves. It's a vicious circle, really. I used to be on one of those messageboards for screenwriters and found that people threw down these rules with gusto, but when asked how many screenplays they, themselves, have actually written, usually the answer was one or none. So, why is anyone who has yet to finish a screenplay or has finished all of one telling people how to do it? When you hire a plumber to fix your sink, do you hire the guy who has yet to fix one, but has read books on the subject? What it all comes down to is this: Proof is in the pudding. I thought I was awesome after finishing my first script, but now that I have written 13 features, an entire TV series season and have optioned two scripts, I can say that my first one sucked the big one. No ones first script is good. So why would someone new want advice from someone who is new? Blind leading the blind, anyone? Want to learn to screenwrite. Read a book or two on the subject and then, read screenplays... tons and tons of screenplays. read screenplays of movies you love and adore. Learn to decipher what works and what doesn't. Figure what it was about that screenplay that got producers to pay money for it. And then, most importantly, write. Keep writing. Write a sreenplay. Write another one. Write 5, 10, 20 of them. A plumber can read books on plumbing, but he will not learn it until he applies the craft, over and over again, until he just totally gets it.
That's very well said, David. I completely agree. I won't count the number of times I'd been led astray on forums when first trying to figure things out (formatting, anyone?). But I think maybe what it comes down to is how people carry/present themselves. Should we be 'telling' anyone what to do or not to do? Perhaps a better approach is to make suggestions based on how we may have dealt with a similar problem/situation. I'm always interested in learning about other people's processes and resourcefulness. I won't necessarily heed everything they say, but see it as my own responsibility to separate the fruit from the chaff. It's true that newcomers to the craft are most vulnerable to bad advice, but perhaps here is where each of us ought to be honest with themselves. I only join a discussion when I feel I have something meaningful to contribute, and expect others to do likewise. I hope that instances like the ones you mentioned, where people chipper in only for the sake of being heard, are the exception rather than the rule.
Patrick.... What is it you want to know? Do you have specific questions that you need answered? Screenwriting is the hardest of all the writing disciplines to break into successfully because there just aren't that many films made versus the staggering amount of scripts out there and available. Only 300 films a year or so make it to theaters with another 2 to 3 hundred made for TV or released successfully (meaning they get real distribution) on DVD. 600 films... a lot of those films are based on novels, sequels, comic books, remakes, or based on ideas from producers that writers are hired to write, leaving a small percentage to original spec scripts. Most of those sold original specs then come from known writers with representation who can get their work to producers and studios via their agents and managers. Writers with track records. That leaves about 3 to 5 percent of those 600 films to new writers with original spec scripts and about half a million original specs trying to get seen. Granted, 99% of those scripts are crap, but they clog up the pipeline. There ARE a few things that can set you apart. You do have to format your script correctly, that's why you invest in your future by getting MovieMagic or Final Draft. Yes, there are other programs, but one of those two are the ones that producers expect your script in if they buy it. I own them both and have used them both depending on the job I got and the producer's preference. I used Final Draft to write three Hallmark Channel movies (two for this year, one last year) because that is their standard. I have an original theatrical script that is shooting later this year and was asked to send the latest draft in MovieMagic because that's the format they schedule the shoot in. (I prefer MovieMagic and write all my scripts in it and convert to Final Draft when that's what they want.) Make an effort to spell correctly and use correct grammar in your action sequences. Some people get mad when they hear this, but the reason you want your spelling and grammar correct is not because there's some rule (there isn't), but because bad spelling and grammar TAKE THE READER OUT OF THE STORY and that's the last thing you want. But know, in the end there is only one thing that will set you apart. You have to write an amazing script. No matter what anyone tells you (including the gurus, who I have always ignored), the secret is WRITE A DAMN GOOD STORY that people want to see. Always ask yourself BEFORE you write a script, "Who would pay $11.50 to see this? Who is my audience?" And be truthful. If your script is about car repair or mural painting or a police procedural that anyone can see for free at any hour of the day on TV or any of a million niche uninteresting things to most of the public, rethink what you're doing and think of a new idea. And make that new idea relatively low budget. Yes, people get upset at that too, but there are many many more producers who can buy a low budget script. There are only about 5 who can buy a 100 million dollar film and most of those are sequels and remakes or based on famous novels. FILM IS A BUSINESS and business is about supply and demand and right now the demand is for low budget films and scripts. That doesn't mean a boring film, it means you write a film with a GREAT STORY that doesn't need to be made for millions and millions of dollars. You do that and you will get noticed. I've been at this close to 20 years. Networking my ass off and writing writing writing. It wasn't until I wrote that one script that most people in LA thought was very very very good that doors started to open and I got a manager who used that ONE script (of the many I had written) to get me into rooms with producers and directors and production company execs that allowed me to sell myself and get writing assignments (which pay WAY better than you can believe). And truthfully, even with that great script that everyone loves, it has taken 10 YEARS to get it made. (for a budget of between 5 and 10 million) 10 YEARS. And 20 Years of never giving up to get to a point where I'm now starting to be recognized as a legitimate writer in Hollywood. So ask your specific questions and I will answer them honestly. And if I don't know the answer, I'm not afraid to say, "I don't know."
I'd just like to say that if I what I said came off as crass, than I am sorry. The biggest question I have is about the personal marketing of completed work. I want to advertise material to producers, literary agents and entertainment attorneys, but have been confused by those who haven't had any success. I have material posted on Ink Tip and have found it a great resource but, I want to take the next step.
There are many books, on writing screenplays, I would work on your stories , shorts and produce a couple things that you have written, into short films, with like minded people, enter the screenplays into contests, after, you met lots of people in meet ups, conferences and etc, then work on, reading others work, here in austin, we are lucky, cause we have such a huge support system, for filmmakers, (it is dependent on where you live) you really have to live in a city where things as in low budget is going, on, then start by doing all the grunt work that it is going to take in order for you to make your dream of being a screen writer because you can't live in a vacuum , I would say, start by writing, screenplays in the genre you enjoy action, thriller romcom comedy, then get into writer groups, meet ups, if you don't have one start one, people will join you for coffee at barns n noble and Starbucks, etc, then Volunteer, for a screen writing conference as a "Reader" you will earn a badge, then go to hear what the real writers write for, again, we here Austin, have the Austin film fest that is writer centric, then start query letter campaign AFTER you have had your group of local filmmaker /writer/director friends read you scripts and give you notes on them, then re written them, after you have gone to a couple of film conferences and had some of your shorts produced, then i would say start send them out to agents here it gets tricky cause it really is who you know!, and if you are not writing, watching, and eating drinking film every day, then your not a filmmaker this is the toughest biz in the world cause it include all the ARTS and Sciences, then there is LUCK, cause if you make an award winning script and sent it in with log lines pitches and treatment, you will be asked to do other people work, that is the key, you won't be asked to do other people work, until they see that you have done some exceptional work on your own, so keep writing,keep producing, and keep watching what ever that is out there, remember i have many friends on the sidelines that hate watching movie and watching tv, but they never produce anything that is in the market place, and you have to know what producers are buying in order know what is selling and usually what is on tv or in multiplex is usually 6months to year old, so you have to keep trying to be on the cutting edge to know what is out here and be inventive, cause i will tell you now that everyone has a iPad and iphoine to make short movies on they are making there own movies, everyday, so to get to the bigger plain look up on web like screen writer university, (no i don't work for them) but I did have some interesting talks with them and they seem to know what they are talking bout http://screenwritingu.com/,, there are so many tons of web sites which talk bout film you should find an nitch where yo can hang out, and make your scripts happen, GOOD luck,!!!
Kirk, I agree that one should write, write and write, but I am serious when I say DO NOT ENTER ANY CONTESTS! Short of Nichol's, they're all BS. They take money and do nothing. They have no weight in the film world. Agents and producers could care less if your script placed in an contest. Hell, even if it won, they could care less. Save you entry money, and script consultant/analyst/coverage money and spend it on a plane ticket. Move to LA. Hang out with people who are in this biz. Get a job at Starbucks while you pursue your goal.
I am a produced and published writer with two features currently in release - check out my website at http://www.wheresthedrama.com
David is correct about contests.... only the Nichol is maybe worth it, and even then it's a crap shoot. All the rest are only there to make money for the people running them.
okay YOUR ALL RIGHT< don't enter contest?, But Ive only entered them here in austin, and it IS! more close for someone to meet the people who really JUDGE your script, the conference here in austin much more cooler cause you really can drink and party with the major writers and talk with real producers from hollywood, I do have to say, that entering contest and you not in the center of earth of LA<, that might be the only choice for feedback, and i have plenty of fellow filmmakers for feedback, and the contest are a way of organizing and formatting your script of future pitching and collecting your thoughts for a better re writes, I never enter contests or script review with out some sort of feedback, you got to pay for that and it is way of learning the biz if you have nothing in the beginning, I agree with David too, you should spend all your money and time in LALA land and giver try for at least 10 years to see if you like the struggle cause you really have to pitch your stories fresh in LA if you want to do that, Iam most happy here making my own little movies and putting them on dvd and youtube and having little screenings, it is not living but it sure is fun being a poor little fish in Texas than working toward on shot in LA.
Hi Patrick. Try Stephanie Palmer. http://www.stage32.com/profile/75113/stephanie-palmer-pitch-consultant http://goodinaroom.com/consulting/
Just because someone has not sold a screenplay does not mean they don't have valuable information to share. After all thats what Stage 32 is all about. There is also nothing wrong with book knowledge - any so called "expert" as you say, will have plenty of it.
Maybe this may help you: To write you must find your own voice and take it from there. You can take a class to learn techniques and you can buy something like Final Draft to get your script look professional. But the story telling comes from inside, some are better than others. There is a lot of myth out there and you have to do your own due diligence. Here's a link to some one who is a REAL expert: http://www.tomlazarus.com/
Some wonderful comments, leads and advice in this thread. This is what stage32 is good at. Congrats to all participating. Cheers from Australia.
There's a free podcast on iTunes run by Jeff Goldsmith. He used to run it for Creative Screenwriting Magazine til that went under and now he does it for his own digital magazine Back Story. He runs a screening series in LA and interviews the writers afterwards. I've found these podcasts (and live when I can attend) enormously useful and inspiring. In particular, JC Chandor from Margin Call and Christopher McQuarrie for Valkyrie are two definite musts. They are probably under the old Screenwriting Magazine podcasts. In his interviews he always asks how they got into the business and each story is always different. As for contests, I met an Oscar nominated screenwriter who was a short story writer, won a contest, and got repped by CAA. Of course, CAA never got her any work and she kept her day job for many years. Then, circumstance and luck gave her the opportunity to take a meeting, she wrote a script pretty much on spec, and it was made. And she got an Oscar nod for her first produced screenplay. But she never would have gotten anywhere except she won a contest (not Nichols). And she had representation although that didn't pay her bills as a writer until she got her chance. So take that for what it's worth.
Thomas, with all due respect, you are wrong. Book knowledge is meaningless. In screenwriting, you truly learn through trial and error, by writing words on the page. Reading a set of rules by someone (who is usually an unsold, or minimaly sold writer) doesn't teach you how to write. Instead it boggles you down with someone else's "rules." Then you end up on sites like these requoting these rules... It's a vicious circle, and as I said earlier becomes the blind leading the blind. These screenwriting books, for the most part, are a joke. Walk into a Barnes and Noble and browse the screenwriting section. Every one of them knows everything about what it takes to make a sure-fire hit. Your screenplay will sell, according to them, if you follow their rules. Anything from "Save The Cat" to "Your Screenplay Sucks" to "Story" and everything in between. What makes Blake Snyder "rules" more correct than say Syd Fields or Robert McKees? Which set of rules should I follow? Because McKee says one thing and Truby says something entirely different, yet they each believe their "rules" are the right one... which makes the others' wrong. You get my point here? These books are a load. Read them, if you must, but know they should be taken with a grain of salt. If you can find something in them, THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO YOUR WRITING, then mazeltov. Congrats. That is fantastic. But do not tell me that I should follow those rules. So, let me ask you. If I read Story by Robert McKee, and in his book he says I should do "Rule A" (whatever that may be) and then I read a screenplay by, say, Lawrence Kasdan (If you don't know who he is, quit screenwriting now) and Kasdan does the exact opposite of McKee's "Rule A", then who am I supposed to believe? The guy who wrote a book on screenwriting or the guy who wrote award winning and produced screenplays? Thomas, I am not saying this to stifle you, but to give you some perspective. When you hire a carpenter to build a new patio table, who would you hire? The guy who read a bunch of books on carpentering, or the guy who made a bunch of patio tables?
Hello Patrick, I really recommend a book called Gardner's Guide to Screenplay, the Rewrite by Jule Selbo who is successful TV writer. It is very helpful for rewriting one's feature or teleplay into a commercial product.
I heartily agree with David - they offer recipes. Which is why I strongly urge you to have a look at my website - it does not present an Aristotelian recipe for cooking up something stale - it is about relationships - not formulas - and about reminding you of what you instinctively already know from living your life and being a storyteller by nature - not all of the characters necessary for finding the story are "inside" the screenplay - to be is to be part of a tribe and the stories one has to tell are stories of one's tribe and / or tribes - and more. have a look - a good look - some writers have been known to wander onto the site and disappear for weeks at a time, only to reemerge naked and illuminated... if you dare http://www.wheresthedrama.com
@ Mr. Patrick White . people only offer book knowledge because that's what they think is help full to to you , to me you sounded too rude , when you say " i have read many posts with nothing but ....." it sounds as if no book writer has nevered merged into screen writer or other way round , besides if some one does not have expereience to you expectation , then i doubt if its their fault niether yours . i thought stage 32 was made for all of us , and sharing is one of best comitement line that bridges north to south , east to west , at the end of the day we shall be a solid community of film makers on this planet via Stage . 32 .
I agree with Dan. There is nothing more positive for a screenwriter than having a crew of fellow screenwriters to have readings with, and discuss your work. I've worked in development for a studio and we were always exchanging scripts and trying to have as much input as we could so we could actually find the major points that were working in that script and be able to fix the rest. Just one person's opinion wouldn't have been as good and constructive as having a great team. Find a good workshop group or start your own. You would see great results soon! And, of course, there's not a better learning process than reading as many good scripts as you can, and watch movies and analyze them afterwards! ;)
And if you want to sell your work...you need an agent (that's how this works)
try to contact Elisabetta Errani Emaldi, here on stage 32
I'm not an expert, and I'm not fond of the word "guru," but I've been writing for many years, have self-produced ten shorts scripts and four feature scripts, I've optioned scripts, I've developed show concepts for network television (have pitched four times in past 6 months) and just recently i secured my first "foreign" script option. My blog is http://worldswithwords.wordpress.com - and basically I share my experiences, learnings and epiphanies about the worlds of screenwriting and filmmaking, as they happen. You're all welcome to visit :)
Patrick, you can contact Will Akers at www.willakers.com. He wrote the book Your Screenplay Sucks! and is a good friend of mine.
as a reader for several production companies, I get to see many scripts that have been sold and that will never get produced. why some do get bought/produced is a question that I still don't have the answer to. The best you can do is write your best effort and hope for the best
Hello Patrick... 2 answers to your question. www.TheScriptMentor.com Geno Scala will review your first 10 pages for free and advise changes, etc... www.InkTip.com a good posting site if you want to sell your script. Charges $10 per month to post there, but it has to be completed and registered. Good luck and I hope this help.s
You see, this is precisely the problem I am speaking of. People like "The Script Mentor" as Louella pointed out, and all the other "consultants" mentioned by other members on this thread are nothing but charlatans. They want your hard earned money. They promise big things. They are experts at screenwriting... until you look them up. This guy Geno Scala has sold all of NO/ZERO screenplays. He has produced all of NO/ZERO movies. Why in the F would I want his advice?!!!!! He's a conartist. Do what Dan Cooper is saying. Find some screenwriting friends and form a small group and exchange your stuff amongst each other. Charge each other nothing. Give each other honest feedback. And remember, script consultant, script doctor, script coverage are all synonyms for conartists.
Tom Lazarus is the real thing.
I'm the real deal too. I've been working in development for nearly 20 years - as a DoD, script reader and story analyst. I don't make any promises about getting your script sold or produced. All I can do is give you my opinion on how to improve one's writing and script. I can do this because I've read literally thousands of scripts - more than your screenwriting friends. I can't answer why I'm good at this but can tell you that the writers who have used my services all agree that my insight is invaluable. While I agree with David's assessment of Geno, I disagree vehemently when he calls all consultants con artists and charlatans and to make such a blanket statement about any profession is just idiotic and bitter.
and Leonard Benedetto is also the real deal.
Thanks Mike - hope to get the chance to prove it for you.
@Louella. My low opinion of Geno is without equal. The idea that anyone can give you any kind of critique based on 10 pages is ridiculous and only serves as bait to pay more.
Okay, so let me clarify. I had a friend. She wanted to be a screenwriter. She wrote a screenplay. Good for her! She then (naively) decided to get script coverage for her screenplay from an “expert.” This “expert” ripped her script to shreds. Told her everything that was wrong with it, but he was willing to help her, for the low low fee of $200... each time he reviewed it. She spent upwards of $1500 to get coverage from this “expert.” This was a poor waitress in LA. $1500 was a lot of money. Hell, $100 is a lot of money. A year after this ordeal, I met her, through a friend. We chatted. I did some research on the guy who did her coverage. He had a nice website, where he claimed to be an expert. He knew what makes a script great and what made it fail. What Hollywood is looking for and what is hot right now... but after about thirty minutes on Google, I discovered he was a failed screenwriter. He had no credits under his belt as either a writer or a producer. He was a scam artist. Since this was a friend of a friend, I agreed to read her script and give her notes, all for the ginormous fee of $0.00. I then read his notes after I wrote mine. I wanted to compare the two. I found his notes to be sophomoric. He used every cliché from the screenwriting books. I am convinced to this day, that he has never written a screenplay, but rather, only read books on the subject. So, am I idiotic in calling all script coverage providers “conartists?” Maybe, but probably not. Yes, there are diamonds in the rough. A few who have actual experience and value. Most are just failed screenwriters. If they knew what makes a great sellable screenplay, they would be writing and selling them, or at the very least working in development for a studio, where their expertise is put to good use. I have come to find that wherever there is someone who is desperate enough to really want something, there is someone cruel enough to steal their money. Us screenwriters are so desperate for validation, that we are willing to throw away our money at these conartists. Robert McKee has a class/seminar he holds all the time, based on his book “Story.” Fledgling screenwriters go in droves to his seminar to A) Learn about the McKee method and B) Hope that he will give them the secret to success. How many working screenwriters would you guess say they owe it all to him... or to be fair, how many say they owe anything to what they learned from him? I’d say zero, zilch. Nada. Robert McKee is a failed screenwriter. His biggest success was writing a shitty TV movie in the early 90s and a couple of episodes of bad 80s television. He is a vulture. My advice to new screenwriters, is to go to places such as this site and make friends with other new screenwriters. Go get lunch. Go get a drink. Then freely exchange your scripts for peer review. Be honest with each other. Be critical. Be fair. AND ALL THIS COSTS YOU $0.00. Believe me, you new screenwriters have more experience as screenwriters than most of those who do coverage. You’ve at least finished a screenplay.
actually Leonard you helped make a movie with Eric Roberts that hired a lot of my friends. That's all the proof I need.
I'm not a screenwriter and never pretended to be. Back in college, I studied theater arts and wanted to be a stage director. So that's where I started reading plays and scripts and develope a critical eye. Just like a director doesn't need to be a writer, an analyst doesn't have to be a writer. I come to a script with a unique and different point of view than a writer - so I can see things they can not. I have never read a book on screenwriting and never will. And not all writers can be constructive or even knowledgable about helping other writers. and thanks Mike, that was a fun production and one film I'm proud to have been part of.
Leonardo, do me a favor. Google "script coverage." You will get a laundry list of "experts." Just randomly review a site or two. Most are hacks and never-has-beens. Most are just there to take a buck off a poor sap. This means, Leonardo, you must be the diamond in the rough I spoke about. The exception to the rule. My comments weren't an attack on you, personally, but rather, that part of the industry you are in. Not all Wall St. executives are money stealing, economy destroying, awful versions of capitalists, but most are.
It's an idiom to mean a long list of subjects. Why?
Thanks David - I'd like to think I'm the exception. I have searched and am amazed at the prices some charge. What gets me are the ones who are 'produced screenwriters' who charge hundreds and even thousands as if they think they have some special insight because they sold a script. Or those thinking that if they pay someone who actually sold a script can help them more than another. It's the same as someone buying a 'label' as a status symbol.
I hope nobody takes my post personally, in that my first love of writing is journalism, I tend to stir up a good debate. That being said, the advice I have received from this post alone is invaluable and I thank everyone who has commented. I think with all the wisdom contained in the words above, anyone can be a formidable writer. ~Cheers!
First, yes script coverage services in various forms and consultants can be expensive. When someone says that they speak in cliches, consider that the film business has a lot of cliches. Cliches are cliches for a reason. Just because someone is a failed screenwriter does not make them a failed script consultant. They are different skills. The craft of editing can be a very different skill than writing. Some of the most famous people in various fields are not the best technicians. Steve Jobs for example was the visionary and Wozniak was the technician and there were other technicians and business people involved along the way with Apple. With Pixar he was not a software designer. Writing consultants and educators can be great if you can afford them. The best business consultants are not always the best entrepreneurs in a field. Sometimes their failures have led them to study structure. If you read the screenwriting of the various networking sites for screenwriters, it is easy to see that a lot of the newbies need strong education in core structure. Screenwriting can be like putting together a puzzle. It doesn't have to be in order. The pieces just all have to come together. Some talk about writing in more linear ways and others in less linear ways. A waitress wanting to write is probably best not to look for a consultant for her first script unless she has some family money. A writers group can be great, but ideally that group would include people who are up to date on the books. The educators are often people who studios hire and pay lots of money to work on their scripts. So I would figure they know a thing or two. To compare writing a screenplay to fixing a sink is ignorance. It is more like building a house and one person may know plumbing well and another may know architecture well, another lighting, etc.. etc... You can learn a lot from someone who has read a lot about character development, and a lot from someone else who understands story structure well. You can learn a lot about genre conventions from reading about them. Sure, you can read lots of screenplays and watch lots of films and figure them out yourself, but why? If you want to write for tv, there are conventions and you have to be able to write things in ways others write things for a particular show. There is a lot to learn from podcasts, books, and experts. I have read a few books not even cover to cover and can see clearly where things are falling short in so many screenplays. Just like with food, the most expensive doesn't always taste the best. Sure screenwriting buddies are great, but if they know as little as you, then it can be like the blind leading the blind. Maybe collectively you will stumble into things, but why not learn from those who have really studied patterns and structure? Why not learn from people who have relationships with studios and execs and understand what is bought and sold so you can write with some awareness of why things are what they are? Books are a great way to get some basic understanding in a less personalized way. A lot of people find their niche in a profession by failing in on area and moving on to another. Part of the reason script consultants are used by Hollywood is because often the people with the best ideas don't have the best understanding of structure and the people with the best understanding of structure don't have the best ideas. They are different talents. I think as writers, people need to understand when they are ready to hire a consultant and do a lot of the work themselves if they don't have a huge budget. And yes, be careful of the ignorance floating around on the screenwriting sites. But usually with some basic education you can filter a lot of that out. Screenwriting is part art and part craft. If you want to deal with the business end of things seriously and make a career, like any career, there are conventions and structures that are fairly established. Yes, there are various rules that are broken. Not all rules are hard and fast. Some things can change depending on the medium. Reading one book is just that - one book. You need more exposure than one book or one website. ANY field has different opinions on different things. Architecture has a variety of approaches and industry standards for example. Some architects believe some standards are junk while others believe they are fundamental. Getting educated on the field is to understand such things. Plenty of first time writers have no understanding of theme, character development, inner and outer journeys, etc... It helps to know the terms involved and be able to speak to others intelligently about it as well - just like any field. Books are a very affordable way to learn and can come from a library. Many of the core issues in films are in the basics. For example I read a script - well written first part, but suddenly changed genres. It was shocking and didn't work. The writer didn't understand genre conventions it seemed. It really was too scripts. Another had no understanding of plot. Reading McKee and others will at least get people thinking more thoroughly and in a comparative way. That said, I think some learn more instinctively from reading a lot of scripts. Others from talking in a writing group. Others from watching a lot of films and then understanding and learning about script structure. Some from being around on film sets, etc... Much like the Karate Kid, there can be a lot of value to not just jumping in the ring, but learning the elements around the skills being worked with and learning the inner arts as well as the outer arts. Books can be key in preparing people to deal with the industry challenges - like expecting your script to be rewritten, understanding your script may be sold, but never produced, etc... as well as just hanging out around boards, having friends who are writers, etc... Then when you break rules, you have an understanding of which ones and why. Everyone needs money to survive in modern society pretty much. People work to use their skills and charge what they need to survive, live well, etc... A good script consultant like anyone else is worth their rate. But like any consultant, it is good to know their skill set and respect your budget and invest accordingly. I don't think there is any need to resent them, just know that they are not all equal and know if/when they are right for you.
Bravo David - you said it. as for rates - I think the norm for coverage is between 60 and 90 for notes - between 100 - 200. If someone is charging more, you'll either paying for a 'name' to give you notes, or you'll being overcharged.
and I've said it before and I'll say it again. NEVER used a service that has a 'staff' of readers because you're paying for a middleman, who is taking a percentage for doing nothing except making a nice website, while the one actually doing the work is getting less, so go for an individual and get full value for your buck. And ask for references - who have they read for - and you can even ask for a sample
most script editors are little more than snake-oil salesman - the problem is: how does one discriminate between the snake-oil salesman and the genuine story/script consultant? In my experience there is only one criteria : a good script editor will ILLUMINATE the story and the characters in ways that speak to the writer's vision, and even say exactly what it is that the story is aiming to convey, but he/she will say it in a way that the writer would've never thought of saying it. It's all about making the story PRESENT... must stop. mosquitos are eating me alive - summer down under - well, the end of it
Hey Patrick, ever come across Script Shadow? I am a huge fan. So much insight, brilliant breakdown of scripts, suggestions etc. http://scriptshadow.net/
I have had enough appreciation for my editing on scripts that I have considered doing it professionally, but frankly I don't like reading scripts THAT much. I would rather work at writing them. If/when I do reach a point with projects where I feel like I am ready to really refine and polish something then I may seek out someone. In my case, I have other industry friends who can offer perspectives and support, so I am not sure I will need to pay for it. I know that a lot of times scripts that really shine in some ways get bought even when they are not perfect because people can understand and 'feel' the creativity. I also know a lot of great scripts don't get sold. The film business like other businesses happens a lot through networking and getting the material in front of the right people. I personally don't resent companies with a 'staff' of readers, anymore than I resent publishers with a staff of editors. Many people would charge the same fee if they were doing it on their own, the middle man is just their agent. Having done freelance work solo vs. with agencies, sometimes the agencies have taken what I would charge on my own, but they have done the extra work I would do on my own. So that way I can focus just on what I want, and not look for the work myself or deal with the professional relationships other than with the work. I think that can be a smart way of working in any field.
There's a big difference between a publisher with a staff of editors and a script consulting service with a staff of readers. The editors get a salary while the readers are paid per assignment. And one site that wanted me were charging 150 for script analysis, of which I was going to get 80.
Most writers who hire me want notes (analysis). Some want coverage to see how their scripts will be received by a production company or agency. and of course, the production companies I work for want coverage, but I've also done comparison where I look at various drafts (sometimes different writers) of a project they have in development
Dan, I do teleplays, but usually pilots rather than spec scripts. The companies/agencies I work for never dealt with spec scripts, so don't have much experience with them. The same for sitcoms - never had much exposure to them
Thanks T for that unsolicitied reference.......and I think there's a dozen roses outside your front door but I don't know how they got there.