Screenwriting : Would You Put Up Your Own Money or House to Make Your Screenplay into a Film? by Bill Costantini

Would You Put Up Your Own Money or House to Make Your Screenplay into a Film?

Many dream about it, few actually do it. Would you? Most epicly, Francis Ford Coppola did it for One From the Heart. Even though it was a wonderful film, it failed miserably at the box office, unfortunately, and bankrupted Mr. Coppola. Most recently, writers do it frequently. The recent AFI Fest 2015 highlights several who did. So let's say you crafted the perfect script for a $250,000 budget. You know the odds of selling a script or getting an option or shopping agreement offer. If your house was worth $300k, and it was paid for, would you borrow the $250K against your house? Or from savings? Or from your 401K? Are you that confident in your script to take such a risk? Many people tell me how great their scripts are, but when it's time to put up....would you put up...or not?

Raymond J. Negron

I’m in the throes of a great screenwriting mentorship! I believe we all need a coach! There is no time like the present. Write your script like you were going to die in 6 months. What would you do? Who would you call? Would you wake up 3 hrs before work to actually write? Would you stay up after you put your kids to bed to write until 1am? If not, it’s a dream! a Dream! As Les Brown says “The richest place on earth is the graveywar, because that’s where all areas die.” More or less! Look up the quote! Do The Work! Love your creation and Get ANGRY when you edit! It works for me! Be ruthless, relentless and GSD. Write down all the people you know on a foolscap paper. Hopefully, you’ve created a genuine relationship (people can sniff crap) with them, give them a ring and tell them of your dreams, desires and see if they could help you reach out to the uncles, cousins brothers, mother who is the head at Fox. There is always a way. As a screenwriter you have to live it like an Entrepreneur. If you don’t have the skills, then go work on them. A lot of 2 year screenwriting programs. This place is a gem. Master your craft! Much Love!

Larry DeGala

Master your craft. Then win Best Thriller. https://amsterdamfilmfestival.com/van-gogh-awards/2015-winners

Bill Costantini

Way to go, Larry D. I'm gonna watch it in the next few days. Great words of real, Ray. Much love and light to you both. Recommendation to you both (and everyone): for some relaxation, if you haven't already seen it, watch What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire mockumentary from New Zealand that came out a couple months ago. It's absolutely hysterical.

Larry DeGala

What a coincidence, Bill! I did a mockumentary on real-life zombie hunters converging on a sleepy Amish town in rural Pennsylvania, birthplace of the zombie genre (thanks to master horror guru George Romero). "Contagion: The Macabre World of the Zombie Hunter." 2011 Official Finalist Award for Documentary, Las Vegas International Film Festival. Will check out your "What We Do in the Shadows" mockumentary then. Cheers!!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Would you?

Bill Costantini

Larry, it's not my vampire mockumentary, although I certainly wish it was. It's brilliant. I'm going to watch yours soon, and will definitely watch Killers at Play over the weekend. Steven, I've spent my life savings three times on different creative projects, and will have no qualms of doing it again, and probably before June. It's called Hope Saves Schenectady, and is about a group of neighbors who battle to save their block from being turned into condos. Heh-heh....just kidding about the movie logline, Steven...I know that's yours, and I know it's Hope Saves Manhattan. But I do have no qualms about doing it again soon, and probably before the summer, the universe willing. And good luck with Hope!

Bill Costantini

$700 million as a lump sum payment and minus federal taxes is about $375 million - that's enough money to make one Disney film; Paranormal Activity 8 - 83; or 375 Jim Jarmusch films. Good luck on the lotto, Jim. Unfortunately, we don't have lotteries in Nevada - our state legislators don't want such immoral activities tainting the sterling reputation of the Silver State, you know.

Don Thomas

I have been living off the money I have made through my writing and editing for years now, whether it be on the novels and other prose work or my comic book work or the various editing gigs I have taken over the years. I usually edit at least four novels each year. And if you want a comic or graphic novel done right quality wise. I'm your guy. Screenplay-wise, so far I have helped several over the years achieve their dream of selling their first script. And along the way I have taken my own scripts and polished them until they shined to where you could see your own reflection. Opportunity knocks, make no mistake, I will bring it as hard and fast as I possibly can. You need a certain genre or story type, I am ready. But at the same time, I have been playing the long game. I have a low budget horror/thriller that is economical but rich in characterization and depth of story. Much more than what one would expect in a low budget script. There are true elements of horror that Hitchcock would have wished he could have filmed back in the day, all with a very modern twist. This year I should be able to put together $10,000 seed money of my own. Also along the way I have run several successful crowd-funding attempts with graphic novels. Gotten pretty good at it. Good enough I know I could raise an additional $20,000. $30,000 total and I could get the project made. Might have to cut up the eventual profits and own some at the end of completion. But I have enough friends if I carried it that far, they would be willing to cover the rest. This would all happen without a single producer putting a dime into the project. It will happen. I will make it happen. The further I take it, the easier getting some means of distribution will be. Either way, I will have a completed film to show what I am capable of doing screenwriting wise. Heck, I already have the entire horror/thriller storyboarded. Long game remember? I got it one piece at a time, and it didn't cost me a dime. In the meantime, I am also working on a screenplay that centers on fragments of a diary my grandfather kept while he was a POW during World War 2, man was captured on his very first day in action which if you can believe was the very first morning of the Battle of the Bulge. I also have a five-page interview my grandmother gave to a local newspaper about her own experiences during that same time. You see her and her sister were part of a semi-famous singing quartet and traveled all over six counties raising money for the war effort. His father was as cruel as being a poor farmer living through the Great Depression could be. Never once had a tender moment with his son. Yet when they found out he was coming home, the father waited day end and day out at the bus station for two weeks straight. Waiting and hoping he would be able to meet his son and welcome him home. It is a tale far greater than anything I could come up with on my own and I love that I have spent all those years honing my writing ability to where I could do it a proper justice.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Good one!! Cholent Boy. But someone should save Schenectady also. And by the way now that you mention my copyrighted title and my logline did you ever ready the final 115 page version of "HSM"?

Joseph Chastain

Steven--A title cannot be copyrighted.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Joseph-- Okay.

Joseph Chastain

Loglines can't be copyrighted either. You literally cannot protect an idea. Only execution can be copyrighted. If someone took the exact same logline and wrote something with it you wouldn't be able to do anything about it. That's why you don't see people accepting unsolicited material. They are afraid they'll have the headache of going to court if they have the same idea. Loglines and ideas are a dime a dozen. How many "Superhero groups team up to save the world" are there. Sorry guy but there's no such thing as a copyrighted logline or title. Both can be taken from you legally.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Joseph-Okay.

Terri Viani

I put up some of my own money up to shoot my pilot (as did my producing parter, we also had a fully-funded crowdfunding campaign and private donations). So, yeah, I have and would. How far I would go with that though remains to be seen - I doubt I'd risk my house but who knows?

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Cholent Boy- How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb? Careful it's a trick question. So don't play the Vegas odds just a nice quip will get my morning going. Thank you.

Bill Costantini

JJ - Nice. You're what I call an "Epic Risk-Taker". Make a few small ones...then bigger....then biggest! Bingo! The execs at Buena Vista and Paramount are ready for their meeting with you, Mr. Jackson - and in your office, and not theirs! Don - those are quite some heartwarming stories about your family, and your own work habits show that you're a great planner and thinking the way you should be. Congrats on your past endeavors and good luck on your future ones. Steven - my rates for reading scripts went up at the beginning of the year - they are now one Woody Allen and one Reuben from the Carnegie Deli at the Mirage here in Las Vegas for every 50 Pages of Scriptus Productum. So for your 115-page script, that's....hmmm...pulling out the Hollywood calculator...that's...let's see...50....times the polynomial symbol...divided by the root of negative 3...add the cherry symbol...subtract the monkey face....let's just call it six of each. Call them and tell them it's for Bill....they know who I am. And here's the answer to your screenwriter joke - and many more, compliments of Terri - and which I had bumped up last week in advance for your query that I sensed was coming soon. Sometimes it's good to be clairvoyant...sometimes not so good...but that's another story which I can't tell per the court order. And thanks again for the funnies, Terri! https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/How-Many-Writers-Does-it-Ta... Joseph - thanks for the information. Now Steven can breathe easier, and hopefully his lawyers, the New York Post and TMZ will stop calling me. CJ - I think you're worth more than what you estimated. For bookkeeping purposes, add a zero to it, just in case you forgot about the time you've spent thinking and dreaming about writing. In my case, I incorporated myself a couple years ago and owe myself so much money my first film will probably never show a profit. And being part-Sicilian, I'm so angry about the debt to me that I might put a hit on myself, just out of spite, and because my cousin Vinny Three-Fingers has nothing to do this weekend. Terri - Way to go, Terri. You're quite the risk-taker. I especially admire risk-takers. No jokes on this one. You have some serious courage that most people in the world don't have. Give me ten Terri's and I could probably corner the market on global cinema. And don't forget Steven - that was...uh....let me look at the numbers again....that was 18 Woody Allen's and 14 Reubens. And if you throw in a couple Chopped Liver sandwiches, I'll have it read by Monday. (And congrats for finishing it, Steven. Mazltof!) Thanks again, all!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Cholent Boy-- Thanks for the link on Terri's page for the joke. Joseph jumped in to our little vis a vis and told me I can't copyright the title or log line. I already know just the content of the script. I did get HSM copyrighted with DC for $35. I still have to bring it down to WGA east and get it registered with them for $25. I just figured He wanted to help. And back to the world of Foodies. Why would you want to eat a Woody Allen? I prefer watching and learning from the man. I do remember the "Broadway Danny Rose" sandwich It was a bagel with cream cheese with marinara sauce. Anyway, I did not know you did script coverage. I am going to give the $199 to Joey when I have it. Anyway when you do get to New York you can pick any (2) sandwiches you want at the "REAL, ORIGINAL" Carnegie Deli plus one side(I love their onion rings) and a Cel-Ray or Cream soda but only Dr. Browns. Boy this response is making me hungry. Did I ever mention that my Dad Max I. Anzelowitz(ASCAP) retired to Henderson? And I am sure I told you my Uncle Hy Anzell(IMDB) was in over a dozen of Woody Allen's films. I still miss him dearly.(Not Woody I see him all the time in the neighborhood and of course occasionally Monday at Cafe Carlye ) I miss my Dad and my Uncle they are the reason I am in the business. Always a pleasure.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Bill has tossed out a very compelling subject. The Coppola example is a good reason why industry people agonize over funding films. Take a movie like "Adult World" directed by Scott Cofey and starring John Cusack and Emma Roberts. I picked this movie because I have some inside information about it. The million dollar price tag was funded by private investors and the movie made about $25,000 worldwide. This was in spite of having a debut at Tribeca Film Festival and picking up distribution from IFC Films. Even with name talent, the movie had a limited release and went straight to DVD. A few years back, I put together a film business plan for one of my colleagues. I found a great template for the plan, which provides investors with good explanations about how films are made, the film festival market, distribution channels and a pretty nice business plan section. It includes this boiler plate section: "RISK FACTORS: The business of producing and exploiting low-cost theatrical release films is highly speculative, with many risks uncommon to other businesses. No assurances can be given of the economic success of any motion picture. The revenues derived from the production and distribution of a motion picture depends primarily upon its acceptance by the public, which cannot be predicted. In addition, the competitive nature of the film industry, the possible box office failure of a motion picture being distributed, and the potential inability of a distributor to distribute the motion picture properly, collect distribution revenues, or remit funds properly to BRAND X FILMS, LLC. Productions, make the successful distribution of a any motion picture subject to substantial risk. The commercial success of a motion picture also depends on general economic factors and other tangible and intangible factors, all of which can change our forecasts and cannot be predicted with certainty. The entertainment industry in general and the motion picture industry in particular, are continuing to undergo significant changes, primarily due to technological developments. Although these developments have resulted in the availability of alternative and competing forms of leisure time entertainment, such technological developments have also resulted in the creation of additional revenue sources through licensing of rights to such new media, and potentially could lead to future reductions in the costs of producing and distributing motion pictures. In addition, the theatrical success of a motion picture remains a crucial factor in generating revenues in other media such as DVD and cable. Because of the rapid growth of technology, shifting consumer tastes, and the popularity and availability of other forms of entertainment, it is impossible to predict the overall effect these factors will have on the potential revenue from and profitability of feature-length motion pictures." About six months ago, I met a really nice filmmaker at a festival in Austin. He's put himself significantly in debt traveling around the country promoting his work at small film festivals. He claims he is having the time of his life and advised me that I should do the same thing. I wish I had that kind of commitment but I don't. My house is paid for and I aim to keep it that way. So, I guess that makes me a hypocrite for continuing to look for someone who will float the money to film one of my screenplays. To quote the great Groucho Marx, "I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member."

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Phillip- Great advice, great insight. reading that has given me a lot to think about. On a positive note we are all here because of the new technology of the Internet and Film making. Media channels are expanding and new tech in hardware and software are lowering the costs of producing a film. RB has said this over and over again. However, Even with a great story, and great characters it is still one of the riskiest businesses on the Planet. But what else am I going to do be a telemarketer? I love to write. I also love to breathe and to eat that is how important writing is to me every day.

Bill Costantini

Steven, It's pretty amazing what can be done with an iPhone 6 (or 5) and the MoviePro app. You might particularly enjoy Tristan Pope's Romance in NYC. You can find many of the films on the iPhoneFF website. Cameras? We don't need no stinking cameras!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Cholent Boy-- Leave it to you to bring a "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" line into this discussion. And by the way What is in a Woody Allen sandwich? You really can eat 6 ?

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Dear Steven Thank you for your kind words. You are always a gentleman and that's very much appreciated. I forgot to mention that in my business plan, I offered the potential investor examples of comparable films and how much money they made and then did a weighted average. Were the statistics skewed in favor of the project I was attempting to sell? You betcha!. Trying to make a movie is not like the song "Home on the Range", where seldom is heard, a discouraging word. It's the opposite. With careers often on the line, most industry people are nervous about making a decision and it's much easier to look for reasons not buy your script. As a writer that wants to make a movie, it's my job to remove objections or find an alternative way to get my work out there. My previous post was strictly to answer theoretical question on whether I'd pony up my own dough to make a movie. That doesn't mean I'm not doing everything I can to get one of my scripts produced. This includes having my LA colleague Steve pitching my wares to some major players. But this also includes working with other contacts including my friend Zane. He sent our sci-fi script to a horror director in New Zealand, who makes pretty decent movies for under $100,000. The guy liked the screenplay but politely said there's no way he can afford to get it made. In the interim, I watched a couple of his previous films to see if I wanted to work with him. After further discussion, I sent him my low budget horror script to show him what I could do with limited resources. He really liked the twists and turns in that script and we're moving forward on project combining elements of the sci-fi script with some new parameters. Though I probably won't make a dime doing the work, my goal is to try to help create a nice piece of entertaining art on a shoestring budget.

Bill Costantini

Steven, Oy vey - the Carnegie Deli has been closed for so long in NYC (since April 2015) that you've forgotten what the Woody Allen is? It's about a pound-and-a-half of melt-in-your-mouth pastrami and corned beef goodness. And no - I can't eat six of them, but I can eat an entire sandwich in one sitting, and the leftover half from my companion if I don't have the knish. "That's a lot of beef" as Clare Peller would say. I think the chances of the Carnegie Deli in New York re-opening by March are similiar to the chances of Mexican authorities recapturing El Chapo before 2017, but one can only hope. BREAKING NEWS: El Chapo was just recaptured. Carnegie Deli lovers in NYC can now breathe a sigh of relief. Hope Saves the Carnegie Deli! Let's just hope it was the real El Chapo, and not his cousin, El Gordo de Beardo.

Linda Perkins

Bill -- you pose a very thought-provoking question, one I haven't considered. Probably because I (presently) only want to write. But as I grow (up), I may have a change of heart. I may have to kill my husband to do so, but...

Landis Stokes

Haven't put up the house but did use money that would have gone to a new car and made a short film. I had some help from crowdfunding as well (mainly through friends) but we didn't make our goal. We're still in competition and the awards and little attention we've won have been worth the time and effort. Would I do that again for a feature? Right now I would say, "No, PROBABLY not." For my next project, I would try to bring more (any) investors and sponsors on board and made sure they'd have a valid interest in my film. Before I'd do that I would try to find a really good producer. There's so much more to deal with beyond getting the film in the can and editing it.

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Dat Woodrow Allen sounds like one badass sandwich! I may order one online.

Bill Costantini

Linda - Thanks for the compliment. For some reason, beautiful and captivating artistic women around the world have always said to me "you're so thought-provoking." Or was it "get out now, you cad!" Hmmm....I can't quite remember now. Ah, semantics. But I did read your synopsis for SILENCE. Now THAT is really thought-provoking. You have a really great potential story there. I've never read anything quite like that. Seriously. And I've been reading almost since Bernice was bobbing her hair. And don't think about killing your husband - we need you here. My cousin, Vinny Three Fingers, though...may be someone you'd like to meet. Heh-heh. Just joking, Linda, and Probation Officer Nelson - I've been a good screw since that unforgettable incident that I can't remember! Landis - You're an admirable risk-taker. I greatly admire what you did. For that, I'm going to put on my "psychic hat" for you. Bam...bam....hodad....Cubs win 2016 World Series....Paramount announces sequel to Ishtar....bingo...here it comes..."That car that Landis was going to buy had a faulty sensor...starting it....KABLOOEY." Whew....I'm so glad you did what you did, Landis. We need you here, too, and your work on earth is not finished. Phillip - You can't order online from the closed NYC deli, even though they're still delivering the cheescake. The Vegas deli is a mere hop,skip and a jump (or two) from Texas. And that Woody Allen pastrami-corned beef creation of perfection is so good that it will make, as Raymond Chandler might say, a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window. Bam, bam, hodad!

Brian Shell

Robert Rodriguez's excellent book Rebel without a Crew details his El Mariachi humble beginnings.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Really? Closed? Well there's always Katz's

Terri Viani

Thanks for the kind words Bill - I'm actually naturally risk-averse but that aspect of my character irritates me so freaking much I take risks just to stick it to myself. It's virtually the only reason I've ever been on a roller coaster. I stand there next to the "you must be this tall to ride" sign quivering and bullying myself into it: "Stop whining and get on the ride, maggot." heh. Shooting the pilot was absolutely terrifying, we shot entirely on location which meant carrying 16 cast and crew from NY to VA for the ten day shoot. But what fun we had!! Your Sicilian thing cracked me up.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Phillip- Another informative post. I guess I am fortunate in one regard. My scripts are urban romantic comedies in the Woody Allen/Mel Brooks/Neil Simon mold. So not a lot of CGI, special effects, casts of thousands or over the top production values. Just a good funny story with characters you can hopefully relate too. I just want to tell stories of the 63 years I have lived in my home town and all the wonderful experiences I have had since growing up as a boy in Canarsie and later a young man trying to make it big in Manhattan.

Dan Guardino

No. That is why there are investors.

Terri Viani

@Dan, would love to hear more about your experience with investors - have you done any posts on this previously? We may be moving into getting investors and I'm a little uncertain about it. Thx.

Robert Leslie Fisher

The question Bill Costantini asks is really unfair and insulting. I passionately believe in the quality of my work (I have not written any screenplays but have done plays and novels). But I have a responsibility to my wife not to leave her destitute. And I think that it is possible to raise the money through other means such as borrowing from friends, relatives etc. and crowd sourcing while also putting up the largest individual share. If that sounds wimpy, I plead guilty but few rational business people play this silly game that Bill C. proposes.

William Martell

Always a good question to answer: Would you put your money where your mouth is? I've talked with screenwriters who wouldn't buy a ticket to their own screenplay if someone else had written it. This confuses me. Most people's first films are self-financed. They make sacrifices in order to see their dream on screen. Rodriguez was a medical guinea pig, Smith sold just about everything he owned, Burns saved from his day job, Lynch got rid of his apartment and lived on his set so that he could use that money to make the movie (he was technically homeless) - like those people at AFI Fest, they did whatever it takes to get their film made. These days, you can shoot a feature for less than a new car costs, so we're getting a lot more self financed movies. As writers it's always a good idea to ask yourself how much you believe in your script and your work - what sacrifices would you make?

Bill Costantini

Robert - I don't know why you would find the spirit of that question "unfair and insulting", or a "silly game". The majority of the business owners that I have known throughout the years - from art forms to agriculture to real estate to food to internet and computer applications - started those businesses with their own monies and risks. The question wasn't meant to identify those who responded one way or the other with a negative or positive outcome. It simply was meant to see if people would self-finance their own scripts if they had the opportunity. I'm presuming you took offense with the phrase "weinie away". In hindsight, that was a poor phrase choice by me, and I apologize if you or anyone took that as a slight to those who wouldn't risk their savings for something like financing a movie that they wrote. They're not weinies, and neither are you. I am a risk-taker and my subsequent comments to fellow risk-takers clearly convey that. However, I don't look down upon, mock or castigate those who aren't. I should have used a phrase like the poster after you did - "would you put your money where your mouth is?" I will modify the original question as a result. Thanks for your reply, and I wish you continued success with your writings and with your career as a sociologist. William - Nice insights as usual. I didn't know those facts about Rodriguez, Smith, Burns and Lynch. Thanks for the share.

Dan Guardino

Terri. I am not sure why you say you are uncertain about getting investors.

Robert Leslie Fisher

Hi Bill, First thank you for your apology and other explanatory comments. (2) Yes, I do risk money--lots of it (I have access to enough money to make an indie movie). But a smart investor, and I consider myself a smart investor, weighs the risks and the rewards. Look at the Stage32 platform. Over 200 people out of 500,000 members (their own figures) have had success by their standards. Do the math. Is it even one percent of the total members? Hell, no. Is it even half of one percent? Hell, no. It is a minute fraction of one percent. Would you risk your house on odds like that? I certainly would not. Would you bet $90.00 to pitch two executives? I would (and did). And guess what? I have not heard anything yet. In six weeks, I did not get even an automatic pass (although I am assuming no reply is an automatic pass for now). Oh well. I wish you and all the Stage32 members great success in your writing. But I think a story about risking your house on your killer script makes a great Hollywood movie--but a very poor strategy for marketing your wonderful work.

Bill Costantini

Robert - thank you, too, for your reply. I don't think we disagree too much on the concept of investment. I've done the same numbers-crunching as you have on the success rate of screenplays that sell; have written about it here in the past; and have come to the same mathematical conclusion regarding success rates as you have. I've authored business plans and PPM's that have helped raise between $2 million - $50 million for businesses. As a marketing consultant and as a salesman, I always address risks, and have never over-selled or over-hyped a concept with rose-colored or dirt-stained glasses, like some of my counter-parts have. I always tell it like it is, or at least how I think it is, and I have always put the maximum amount of effort into arriving at my final analyses. I think the main difference between us is this. As a musician, I've invested my life-savings in a project that financially failed. As a writer/director/producer, I've invested my life-savings in a project that financially failed. As a painter, I financially succeeded. I weighed the risk--rewards for each of those projects before proceeding, and always knew that I would lose a lot more than just money if those projects failed. I also lost time; careers; the love (at least temporarily) from friends, family and girlfriends; my car; my apartment; material goods;respect....you name it, and I lost it, and more than once. In my final analyses for my artistic endeavors, though, it was never "about the money". It was about...that inner drive....or determination...or ambition...or passion...that made me do those things to attempt to make my art. Potential loss of money was not the ultimate determining factor. It was those other factors...maybe it's just in my DNA, and is what makes me - and others like me - who we are. Will I do it again? You bet I will. Even at this advanced age (over 50), I am who I am. Like you said, all smart investors weigh the risks and the rewards. But sometimes, it's more than about the money. And luckily, people who invest in films - at least some of the people - feel that way, too. They know (or should know) that there are much safer ways to get a 10% ROI. But luckily, they like to invest in films and take the risk nonetheless, and probably for the same reasons that I do: to make art. I know that sounds crazy to some. It sure sounds crazy to my family, business peers, and friends who don't make art. But to some artists who do take the financial risks for the same reasons that I do, and to patrons of art who do take the financial risks that I do...they know what I'm talking about. They live like I live, feel like I feel, and do like I do. And I say that with no slight or with no disrespect to those that don't. It's just the way it is, and is just the way we are. We just like to make art, and take those risks to make our art.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Bill- You are a mensch. A little musugah but a mensch. Best description of the true soul of why we do our art I have read in a long time..

Don Thomas

I wrote 37 animated short for the first season of cartoon to be aired in India. Also wrote two animated feature films for them to produce and distribute all over Asia. The pay wasn't great. Wasn't what most here would consider the accomplishing of any monetary success dreams. But I had also shown them a Fantasy script of mine I had Disneyfied. Right now I am in negotiation with them to make the two-hour animated film based on my script. They can do what they want with it for the Asian and India markets but I get writing and Associate Producer credit. And the budget to hire English voice actors to produce and English version of the animated movie for me to promote and distribute in the States. Not exactly a live action film. But it is all my own original idea.

Lisa Clemens

Just read the thread and found my fave joke is still making the rounds! ("How many screenwriters does it take to change a lightbulb? Who cares, the Director will change it anyway!") Thanks Terri! Love the others too! Oh and if I had the $$$ to make it the way I envision it, and experts who know who to hire...yeah I'd do it.

Don Thomas
Don Thomas

Talked to a new investor for my comic book company who is already investing $20,000 in the production of each comic to produce five solid issues plus planning on paying for print runs of 10,000 copies which isn't cheap. And we have a lot of comic projects. Plus we can reprint Mike Baron's entire Badger series with brand new covers. I think this investor is going to try to secure across the board Diamond print comic distribution. Which would be huge, it would mean within a year's time we are in the top six comic book companies in North America. Which means my money problem issues are soon to be forgotten. In the conversation he also mentions he is adding a Trello card for the two dozen animation five minute short scripts I worked up that the deal feel through because the animation company that suffered a horrendous glitz that lost all their animation files and projects they were working on. Especially since my business partner with the comics told them to go feel themselves up until they were thoroughly sexually satisfied because an entire year went by with no payment. But I kept my cool, he's an artist comic creator, and me well I am a writer who creates comics. Us writers are typically of the breed of animal that can regularly wait two or three years before we see a single dime for something we wrote and never complain once. But artists, you know how it is. They tend to have 37 children and their children whine about not having shoes. While a writer's child knows that the three Walmart plastic bags and strategically applied duct tape is the very essence of the same magic slippers the genie gave Alladin. Anyway, when he told me he would never work with the animation company no matter how much cash they tossed his way, I said if they tossed money my way I would work with them. He responded with great but I would do it on my own. Except he was taking all the stuff for the animation because he worked up four crude drawings of the main character and I had just written or had a hand in scripting out and polishing most of the scripts. But what did I care, we are equal partners with our company. But anyway, when I saw the big time investor making a Trello card for the animation shorts, I asked for clarification about what to upload as far as project Trello cards. I had already worked up 14 comic project Trello cards for 9 of my comic projects and 5 of my partner's projects. So, I asked him about including my screenplays info. And the investor said only if the screenplay were all registered with the WGA, which all my screenplay are. So, I told him that when I make up these screenplays Trello cards if any of them had a Proof of Concept short 5-15 minute short produced my agent would be able to pitch said to a lot of folks that have the sort of capability to make the films a reality. To which he responded after a healthy 30 minutes pause that yes, I should work up Trello cards for all my screenplays. Well, I guess the next couple of years really are going to be interesting. Onward towards the future! I got it one piece at a time And it wouldn't cost me a dime You'll know it's me when I come through your town I'm gonna ride around in style I'm gonna drive everybody wild 'Cause I'll have the only one there is around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GhnV-6lqH8

Mike Romoth

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Sage advice for dreamers...including myself.

Anna Maria Elisa Manalo

Nah. I love my house too much. BUT, when I retire early (which I am), I'll gamble the interest income from my Roth IRA!

Terri Viani

@Dan, thanks for replying! I'm uneasy about investors because the (admittedly limited) experience I've had with them has not been great, in both cases they sought me out - the project I was working on was pretty specific to something they were involved with, which is how they got wind of it - and expressed interest in investing money to get the project done. I met with both of them for casual meets and greets and in both cases they came in with an "step aside, I'm here to tell you how to actually do this project" attitude. This is before either had even read the script. So, just a little uneasy about it. Naturally anyone putting up money is going to want to have a say but geez could you at least read the script and hear from me first? Clearly it's an area I'm not particularly knowledgeable about, so I'd like to learn more about finding the right investors, boundaries, and the like.

Robert Leslie Fisher

Terri, I'm impressed that you were sought out. My advice, based on something Marvin Acuna told me, is that you should take careful notes, seem pleasant, and promise to think about their ideas. I would not immediately communicate my irritation that they had no knowledge of or especial interest in the script you wrote. This is admittedly difficult but it is an acting job that I think is part of the Hollywood game that screenwriters have to deal with. One benefit of the advice Marvin offered is that you are forced to think "Suppose everything they say is correct what do I do with the script?. After you mull that and work through all the implications, you ask what parts of their point of view can I use if I can't make all the changes they want? You might find that you have a profitable gig by "bending with the wind" rather than being a stout tree and you can still peddle your script, perhaps with changes suggested during the admittedly bruising experience with the investors.

Phil Richards

There's been a rule in live theater for years - "Never put your own money into a play". It's the the same for movies. If it's worth it to you to see your scripts produced, and you can afford to lose the money, then go ahead, but realize that you probably won't make your money back on an indie movie.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Phil-- I agree with your premise. I disagree with the possibility. Granted a long shot to make a buck. But sometimes you have to take a chance and say what the heck. I write because It is as much part of me as is eating and breathing. in my 63 years of growing up in New York City and being the 3rd generation of a show business family I have always been told there are always possibilities. It takes faith, conviction and persistence to follow your dreams. I will leave you with just one quote-- "Challenges make life difficult, overcoming them make life worthwhile."

Dan Guardino

@ Terri, I agree with what Robert said. You always want to keep your investors happy but in the end it is the producer's call. It sounds like the situation you were in was different than the standard if there is such a thing in this business. Unfortunately unless a producer is making smaller films they almost have to rely on investors. I really never came across an investor that didn't take the time to read the script or at least have someone in their office read it.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Bill, no, I never put my own $$ into my stage plays nor my films. My 2nd documentary -- now in production - is 100% funded by other people (and, no, NOT via begging for chump change on Kickstarter). I'm in the creative business, not in the going-broke business. (smile)

Bill Costantini

Thank you all for your comments. RIP, David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016).

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Bill, I'm adding a David Bowie (obituary) link - - - https://www.yahoo.com/music/legendary-artist-david-bowie-dies-69-0642521...

Dan Guardino

Yes, RIP David Bowie.

Bill Costantini

Thanks, Linda. I was listening to one of Mr. Bowie's greatest hits CD's last night when I read the news. He sure was one of the most prolific great artists of his - and any - generation.

Terri Viani

Thanks Dan and Robert for your replies! Robert, yes, most definitely on demeanor. I was perfectly calm and friendly and we had a pleasant time regardless of the "oh hell no" in my head, lol. Good advice though about taking notes and mulling over their ideas. This is a collaborative business, and I'm not one of those "my way or the highway" people at any rate, so always willing to consider a good idea regardless of where it comes from. This entire thread has been really interesting to me. At the end of the day I think each one of us just does what works for us, and no harm done. Certainly there are going to be rewards and setbacks no matter what funding road you decide to take. Some can't fathom putting their own money up, and hey, that's grand, I'll cheer you on regardless. For me it worked to fund my own pilot. I certainly didn't go broke from it, we ran a successful, what was it, two month crowd-funding campaign that was a lot of fun and certainly energizing when we realized we were going to make our goal (and then some), and shot the thing the way we wanted to. Great experience all around.

Dan Guardino

Congrats Terri on your success.

Sue Lange

To answer the original question of this post: sure.

Bill Costantini

Yes, Terri. Congratulations, indeed! It's been somewhat a difficult day for me today...mourning the loss of one of my all-time heroes is never an easy day. For those who haven't seen David Bowie's new video, Lazurus, you should check it out. Released three days before his death, I can't remember when an artist was ever so direct about his upcoming death. Not many artists have created as bravely and as honestly as he did. RIP, David Bowie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH1M4Ya8

Phillip "The Scribe Who Cares'" Hardy

Bill: I watched the amazing Ziggy Stardust documentary while working out. And listened to glass spider tour while writing a new script. Finally, cooking while listening to Austin's KUTX with our own Charlie Sexton sitting in with the DJ and playing one great song after the next. It's been a day of enjoying the brilliance of the late David Bowie. Having the urge to form a tribute band.

Bill Costantini

Phillip - Palladia TV has pre-empted their regular programming to play non-stop David Bowie concerts today. MTV and VH1 have not. Between songs in the concert I'm currently watching, David Bowie talked about how, in the early days, he used to go picking through the garbage cans of department stores to put together his wardrobe. He also mentioned how, when he was an unknown singer, he "utterly butchered" a song that was given to him by his manager, who then gave the song to another singer. The song was "My Way", and the singer was Paul Anka. Gotta go...he's singing "China Girl".

Chanel Ashley

Nice premise, but the odds of financial success are too great, so much has to go right - I would rather make a short of this said movie and use it to generate interest and funding - if memory serves, that's exactly what they did with the movie Whiplash - sure, you still need to put your hand in your pocket, but you get to keep your house, lol.

Bill Costantini

Chanel - I've really become enamored with the technologies that enable people to shoot some pretty good films with nothing more than an iPhone6 and the MoviePro App. I'm not just talking about giggly-giggly-bad vanity projects - there are some really good films out there being shot with nothing more than a phone, a pc, and an app. Of course, you need the right kind of script to pull that off, but man...what great technology exists today to allow that to be realized.

Sue Lange

For instance, Tangerine.

Annie Mac

Yes, BILL the secret is in the script! Thanks for a great link, most instructive. To answer the question, NO. Like TERRI, I would go for crowd-funding. I have made all my short films on zero budget, relying on the enthusiasm, good will, and generosity of my film students, friends, family, and even strangers. I've had an investor/ producer who bargained for the rights to my latest screenplay: BLIND FAITH. Thank goodness, I wasn't blind to his ploys. But now, it's water under the bridge...

Robert Leslie Fisher

I'm intrigued by the observations of Chanel, Sue, and Annie about low cost movie making using some easily obtained technology . After a disastrous pitch arranged through Stage 32 in which I pitched a novel at their urging and received zero feedback, I am thinking maybe I should try to hook up with a screenwriter etc. by acting as my own producer. My novel got great critical reviews and I am confident an excellent movie (artistically but I am not certain of its commercial appeal) could be made from it. The logline is: When his native girlfridend is found dead in the apartment they shared, the authorities try to frame Richard Furman, a Peace Corps Volunteer finishing up his tour in Sembeke, for her murder.

Tony Cella

I spent some cash to make a short script I wrote, but only because I could get the location for free.

Bill Costantini

Sue - Tangerine is a perfect example. And the two lead actresses weren't even trained or experienced in acting. Simply stunning. Sean Baker may be the best young filmmaker in America today. If you haven't seen it, check out Starlet, his prior indie...it won a ton of important awards, and is a wonderful film of deep substance. I greatly admire Sean Baker's work, and his fierce, determined nature. Keep it up, Sean! Annie - Hey! Don't go telling the secret! She was just kidding, everyone....the secret is....good weather; appliances that don't make loud humming sounds; and people who show up on time! Your accomplishments thus far are awesome, Annie. Keep it up! Robert - Things get lost in the shuffle at times. Keep on them...I'm sure you'll get your results. Tony - way to go, Tony, and good luck with your endeavors! Getting something for free in this world isn't so easy. "Free" is one of my favorite words, and in more ways than one. Thanks for your comments!

Sue Lange

Thanks for the rec, Bill. Loved Tangerine.

Robert Leslie Fisher

Thanks Bill for your encouragement. I've been collecting advice from my network friends and other interested people in the STAGE32 community. But I'm convinced that the companies I pitched to were looking for something like a Hunger Games blockbuster and my novel only wowed some critics. I think more critics read my novel than readers. Hollywood I think only goes with surefire winners and I accept that I am a risky proposition for commercially oriented studios.

Bill Costantini

Sue - No problemo. Enjoy! Robert - The critically-acclaimed indie film The Diary of a Teenage Girl was based on the book by the same name. That book didn't make it to the New York Times Bestseller List, unlike so many books that are made into films usually do. It did garner some critical acclaim as a book, though, like your book did. All it takes is one producer to like your book and want to make it into a film. Sending good vibes your way, and hope you find that one producer, or that one producer finds you. RIP Monte Irvin (February 25, 1919 - January 11, 2016)

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Cholent Boy-- I realize you are very busy. But you would honor me greatly if you could read my script and tell me what you think. And Yes I promise . When you come to New York for a visit I will find you a great sandwich Pastrami, Corned Beef Chopped liver whatever you want. I just have come to value your opinion after reading so many insightful comments you have made on a wide variety of film topics here in the Lounge. Let me know.

Sue Lange

I agree with this: "All it takes is one producer to like your book and want to make it into a film. " There's a lot more filmmaking going on than what's happening in Hollywood. Do your research to find out which producers are working with your kind of novel. Pitch to them.

Robert Leslie Fisher

Bill and Sue, you have fired my enthusiasm for making a movie of my novel. I will take to heart your advice. If I could trouble you for one favor, where would you start looking for producers who do work on political thrillers novels and sci-fi novels--I have a novel in mind that is a sci-fi idea. Manyh thanks and best wishes on your writing careers!

Sue Lange

Start by watching political thrillers and checking out the credits. The problem with sci-fi movies (I write sci-fi myself) is that they are really expensive to make. You sort of need a big name producer or director to get the money. Which leads back to Hollywood. If your novel doesn't need special effects of the Christopher Nolan type (yes there have been some excellent low-budget sci-fi flicks) then you could consider that as well. At any rate, start a list of potential producers and find a way to contact them: imdb pro, google their name and figure out which festivals they're going to be at. Attend the festival. Buy them a drink. Get your movie made. It's as simple as that. (Yes, I write satire. Spec fic satire. The least understood genre in the galaxy.)

Robert Leslie Fisher

Yes, Victor, you are correct. Sometimes you need to put up your own money. And that is a real problem for many who are living paycheck to paycheck. But people with money obey what I call the "one in ten rule." They would sooner pass up ten really brilliant (if somewhat risky) ideas for a movie etc. than ante up for one that won't gush money in return for their investment. But some of the ideas that I have gleaned from this discussion certainly give me hope that money can be found if you work smart and diligently!

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