Screenwriting : Stop Ignoring the God Damn Rules by Erik Grossman

Erik Grossman

Stop Ignoring the God Damn Rules

Hey, You can thank your fellow non rule-following writers... despite us saying over and over and over to NOT reach out to the executives we bring in for sessions, one of you decided to do so anyway for the session we had with a very notable TV company. Now, since they've been bombarded with UNSOLICITED EMAILS they have decided to pull their session, and cease hearing pitches from writers on this website. So there's an opportunity gone. Rules are there for a reason - they aren't there for you to tout because you think you're special. Whoever reached out to them should feel ashamed... your screenplay probably sucks anyway. - Erik

Travis Sharp

People always looking for short cuts. Selfish bastards. They probably own 3 Trump hats.

Wayne Taylor

What's going on?

Erik Grossman

We were having an executive from a notable premium cable network come in to hear pitches from writers. Some enterprising writer used the information that was listed about her (her name, where she worked) to reach out on their own accord and offer her their script. This spooked the executive, and the session was cancelled - now no one gets to pitch her their material. This is why we can't have nice things.

Rosalind Winton

Oh my goodness, that's such a shame.

David E. Gates

Sounds like a weak excuse for them pulling out. They probably get bombarded with unsolicited emails all the time - have they not heard of rules in email, to filter them out? And if this is their reaction after just one person reaches out to them directly, and they can't handle it, it makes you wonder what they're doing in this business. Details of almost any individual can be found if you search hard enough.

David E. Gates

Also, why didn't they contact you about said individual, so you could take them to task directly instead of just cancelling the whole shebang? As I said, sounds weak.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

David has a good point here. Of course, we're all eager to throw stones at the rule-breaking noodle-head now. Where can I find a hunk of sod?

Rosalind Winton

I think they panicked into thinking everyone from Stage 32 will be bombarding them individually, they lost the confidence of Stage 32 and bowed out before it could happen again.

Evelien And Dorien Twins

That's so unfortunate. Very sorry to hear that.

Wayne Taylor

Hmmm. I'm going to have to agree with David E. Gates on this. I've been cold querying for years. As a matter of fact, I cold queried someone last year who replied with "We aren't looking for new material at this time". About a week later I saw the same person on your list of Managers to pitch. I haven't queried anyone in about 4 months because of I don't have anything new, but just because I'm a member here doesn't mean I'm going to stop. You guys don't hold the monopoly on querying. If it's such a big secret, maybe you should not divulge their names. Just the company, or better yet, just their job title and accomplishments. Just my opinion.

Shawn Speake

Sorry to hear that, too. I just pulled my agent's number off my bio!

Jody Ellis

I have to agree with the others here. One person contacting them is not what I would call "bombarding" and people cold query all the time. I'm guessing this person must have said they got the execs info from stage 32? I dunno, seems like overkill.

Stephen Barber

Just so I can be notified on this thread...

Louis Sihler

That is unfortunate.

Fiona Faith Ross

And actually, we need them more than they need us, so why should they suffer the grief? They have plenty of channels for finding new work. I'm so sorry, Erik, especially when you work hard to get them on board. I just did my first Skype pitch thru S32 to a company, and I meticulously obeyed the rules.

LaShawn Pagán

this is horrible

Roberto Dragonne

Terrible news.

Doug Nelson

Yes, “rules” exist for reasons. Many fail to understand the whys behind the rules. And if I play in your game, I play by your rules; if you play in my game – you play by my rules - or you don't play.

Bill Hartin

Uh oh...

Nelle Nelle

@Doug Nelson - Agreed! Follow the process. Trust the process. If it doesn't work out, improve your work. Don't rest on misguided beliefs and actions. There's a right way and a wrong way. For those who don't understand why the Exec would pull out, I suggest you start learning the business side to screenwriting as well as the craft. You need knowledge of both to survive and prosper. At the end of the day that's what the goal is, for you to succeed. Not to find every excuse why unacceptable action is acceptable.

Louis Sihler

Right, the litigious society we live in leaves executives vulnerable to lawsuits and can potentially damage reputations.

Marcus Leighton

Sorry to hear that. In the fire service, and other places as well I'm sure, we have a saying "We are our own worst enemy."

Richard Gustason

Good lord. This is why we can't have nice things.

Tony Cella

Both sides make good points. Unsolicited inquiries are common among newbies, but users of the website should respect the terms of service. They accepted the rules upon signing up for Stage32. The executive sounds like they weren't that committed to hearing the pitches to begin with. Hopefully refunds were issued and lessons learned.

Doug Nelson

Ya know, there's always at least three sides (often more) to every story - there's his side, her side, and the truth.

Dan MaxXx

Erik Is the Executive blaming themselves for advertising on Stage 32 or blaming unsolicited emails to unrepped Writers knowing the TV company is looking for material? Yes, it sucks for everyone who follows the guidelines but at the end of the day, writing for Entertainment is not Life or Death.

Craig D Griffiths

I have had several online businesses and got hammered by people trying to sell me SEO or lead generation. Unsolicited contact is a pain but part of doing business (spam filters are great for that). I can't speak for their motivation. But if I was getting great leads from a place and had to put up with some spam. Then I would put up with spam. Because after all for each 100 bits of spam, there is a pot of gold. What I am hearing is they found no gold or the gold we gave them they couldn't use. We are the raw resources that feed their machines. If I can make someone money they will come to me. Sad, maybe. But the truth is there are 1,000,000 spec scripts and only 100 greats. There is no short cuts. You may have to say "No" 999,900 after reading them or getting emails.

Owen Mowatt

It's damn near impossible to stop IMO. There are lurkers on this site who just read and don't sign up. It is possible that they did so just to contact this agent. Or it could be someone who just took a chance or even didn't know about the rule (I know I didn't). Either way, it is impossible to stop by just asking. Also, is this someone who is "cheating" everyone else out of an opportunity or just someone using their initiative? Hard call. (wasn't me by the way) Maybe in future conversations with these Execs, they are forewarned that one or two may get through, but if they are being told that this WON'T happen, then there's your problem right there.

Izzibella Beau

Well, to whoever did this...thanks for ruining someone else's opportunity.

Walid Zibar

Sorry to hear that.

Owen Mowatt

Supplicants? LOL! How long you been waiting to use that word, Hunter?

David Levy

One bad apple spoils a bunch, huh? Cutting corners and trying to save on the pitch fee will never get you noticed, it just makes you an ass. Act like a professional and you will be treated like a professional. Act like a putz and you will be treated like a putz!

Dan MaxXx

So does this mean a Stage 32 Un-repped Member CANNOT contact Executives for the rest of their Industry shelf-life?

Richard Gustason

Dan MaxXx does raise a good question. Because a lot of us Stage 32 members are not repped. So...does that mean un-repped members can't contact an exec for that span Dan ask?

Owen Mowatt

It is a good question, because the reaction to this has been a little OTT. We don't know what motivated them to contact the execs directly.

Travis Sharp

Seems like common sense, if you are sending work to an exec directly via 32, then don't pursue any unrequested contact during a reasonable time frame. If I email an exec, then he does, then she does, we'll all start doing it, It'll BE ANARCHY!

Wayne Taylor

I thought the rules were not to contact them if you were pitching to them via the Happy Writers Pitch thingy. That makes since. You are there to pitch a certain project, not bombard them with who knows what. Execs emails are flooded by solicitation everyday. I think they just used this as an excuse not to use your services. Aren't WGA signatories forbidden from charging writers to read their scripts?

Erik Grossman

It has to do with professionalism. Most companies have a "no unsolicited submissions" type of rule for a reason. Reaching out on your own accord means you either A) can't read B) don't care or C) think you're special. No one wants to work with someone who is any of those because they dont have to. This exec did want to hear pitches... she had done two sessions with us before and was excited for a third... until some crazy reached out about his dumb screenplay badgering her and her company. If you're unrepped, what are you to do... besides pitching, entering contests, shooting short films, entering festivals, going to screenwriting conferences, and networking? Gee, I don't know... but cold querying people who don't want to be cold queried won't win you any friends. I only hear how "successful" mass spamming queries is exclusively from non-working, non-paid writers who aren't successful. Stop doing it... there are other avenues available. Yes, they cost money (entry fees, passes, tickets, whatever), but if you're serious about making this a career you'll do it. I met working writers with major pics under their belt at AFF - them passes aint free, travel ain't free. They spend the money because getting ahead in this business requires investment. Trying to skirt that with shit like cold querying people who don't want to be cold queried makes you look like an amateur.

Erik Grossman

Also it's an insult to me. I work hard to cultivate relationships with executives. It ain't always easy to get them to trust that coming in and doing a pitch session is a net positive for them. They are well aware that writers are, by and large, crazy people... but I get them to trust that people pitching through us and using our site are professionals, and that they'll find good material. So whenever some whackjob proves me wrong, it is a lot of work down the drain, and poison like that spreads. So please, stop doing it.

Richard Gustason

Well Erik Grossman does make some good points here.

Travis Sharp

Full disclosure here, I was one that contacted an exec, but not about my script, I wanted to ask them if they had accepted Jesus Christ into their life and their thoughts on late term abortions.

Louis Sihler

Hey, Erik, us filmmakers are crazy too, don't take our fire...

Thivanka Perera

Sounds like a really weak excuse to pull out. These people get unsolicited queries all the time! It's not hard these days -- if you have an IMDB pro account etc. I know people who keep sending emails to CAA even though they don't get read. Just seems like the 'executive' wanted to pull out anyway...

Toby Tate

That bites the big one.

Doug Nelson

Eric- thank you for all the time, effort and hard work you put in to assist struggling screenwriters. Oh, an' thank RB for me too.

Stephen Foster

people are so desperate.

Danny Manus

or, ya know, just dont mention stage 32 when you contact/query them. you can contact anyone you want - but theres no reason to use S32 as a reference bc 1. Theyre not referring you and 2. it makes the exec not want to work with S32 again & ruins it for everyone. It doesnt mean you cant call them, just dont be a friggin idiot and say "hey i saw youre taking pitches for S32, can i just send you my script"...

Marcus Leighton

@danny That's kind of what I was thinking. Whoever contacted them must have mentioned they were with Stage 32 somehow. So maybe instead of just saying "hey I'm querying you," they said "hey I saw you listed on Stage 32."

Jody Ellis

Yes exactly Danny!

Wayne Taylor

Exactly what Danny said. I just took for granted people knew that.

Thivanka Perera

Actually, cold queries do work -- I have an IMDB pro account, and I use it all the time to track down agents and managers (not via stage 32, but by doing my homework) -- and I've got over ten read requests, of course they didn't rep me, but at least I got read ... and rejected.

Vera Brooks

Appreciate the frustration , but not the profanity.

Travis Sharp

I think we should all send Erik an e-hug and thank him for his hard work. To Erik!! (And his potty mouth)

Shawn Speake

Struggle with profanity? Check out: SWIMMING WITH SHARKS for lil insight on Hollywood :)

Travis Sharp

Great movie Shawn, OR check out IN THE LOOP (excellent movie) and learn that the British shame us in profanity.

Owen Mowatt

No, this is more of a Gattaca feel to me, where only the privileged are allowed, and the poor are reviled for having the temerity to follow their dream.

Wayne Taylor

67 comments is enough for me. I'm out of this discussion.

Owen Mowatt

Those family feeding, bill paying foreigners are the worst, aren't they.

Dan MaxXx

Have to side with CJ's comment. The Wire - "The game is the game. I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all the game though, right?”

Louis Sihler

That post above, CJ, is like War and Peace. Good job!

Doug Nelson

I'm with Wayne on this. Ya'll are spending way to much time just spinnin' your wheels going 'round & 'round in circles, displaying your frustrations over the actions of some wack-job scofflaw. You're supposed to be writers – get back to work. Over & out!

Bill Costantini

I mentioned RB and Stage32 at a posh nightclub here in Las Vegas last night......or maybe I said "I'm RB from Stage 32"....the details escape me....anyway.....I got a VIP table....TOTALLY COMPED.....and free bottle service....the good champagne, not the cheap stuff.......thanks, RB! GO CUBSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

Richard "RB" Botto

Some truly great comments in this thread. Nice discussion and debate. My takeaways: CJ - Great post. And I agree...Tone could have been a little better. But then again, I know that Erik works his everloving ass off not only booking these executives and creating opportunities for our writers, but spending his days hand holding as much as possible in an effort to give them the best chance at reaching the promised land. Danny - Bullseye...And the scenario he paints happens more often than you know. You would think common sense would prevail? It doesn't. I had a 52 year old doctor and aspiring screenwriter call 6 managers and agents in town that were hearing pitches for us and say that I told him to call them directly. Needless to say, that guy now has a very hard time getting reads in town. Not because of me putting him on blast, but because it's a small community and people in the industry communicate with one another. Doug for the win - Get back to writing! Bill - You owe me...Big time ;) Look...Bottom line here...You have to know your business...You have to know THE business...You have to know right from wrong...You have to handle yourself as a professional, even if you are still an amateur. You can't win the day when you're constantly losing moments. Cheers. RB

Toby Tate

Agreed, RB. I am not the most patient person in the world, but even I know the rules are there for good reason. Erik works hard and doesn't ask much in return. I often see him on here during the weekend. He and Matt have done a lot for me and I appreciate it.

Stephen Barber

Still excited about reading this thread... P.s. Have a safe Halloween with your family and friends. Barber, out.

Richard "RB" Botto

I can tell you first hand, Toby, no one works harder or cares more than Erik. Being a writer himself, he has enormous passion for his fellow scribes. He lives by the mindset that when one writer succeeds, we all succeed. Appreciate you taking the time to share some kind words about your experiences with him and Matt. Have a terrific weekend.

Dan Guardino

Since I have no interest in pitching anyone this is the first time I checked out the Happy Writers area. I can see why it is important to tell screenwriters not to contact those people willing to hear or read pitches. However, Stage 32 doesn’t say it is a “rule” they ask you to not contact them. Also, the statement is about halfway down the first column so unless someone actually reads the column they might not even know they shouldn’t be doing it. The only reason I am bringing this up is that this seems to be a very important issue and maybe Stage 32 should consider posting it as a “rule” in the header where everyone can see they are not to contact the execs.

Richard "RB" Botto

Not a bad idea, Dan. I appreciate the input!

Dan Guardino

RB. My pleasure.

Bill Costantini

How cool that must have been to think "And I can make Lloyd Bridges a comedic actor in this film. And Leslie Nielsen...and Robert Stack, too!" Jim Abrahams...David Zucker...and Jerry Zucker.....pure geniuses.

Maria Vinogradova

Not on the subject, but I am taking this with me... "You can't win the day if you're constantly losing moments." Thank you, RB!

Richard "RB" Botto

Most welcome, Maria! Happy Sunday.

Rachael Armstrong

That's just great! As if it's nt hard enough already to be discovered someone blows an opportunity for the rest of us!

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