Being the dreamer who dreams of having a screenplay produced by Hollywood, people ask me a lot of questions about screen writing.
Most moviegoers are unaware of how truly hard it really is to get a script sold in Hollywood.
We buy the tickets, load up on popcorn, candy and soda, grab a seat and wait for the lights to go down and the coming attractions to appear on the big screen.
We are oblivious to the odds that are stacked up against screenwriters whose goal it is to get their scripts green lighted.
I didn’t know the full gravity of this until my sister suggested I watch the documentary Tales From The Script. This film interviews screenwriters who have successfully scaled the seemingly impenetrable walls of Hollywood and had their screenplays sold.
As an unsold screenwriter, I wanted to focus on these two parts of the film: the misnomer that anybody can write a script and that nobody wants your work because if they do, they are taking a huge risk thereby putting their own job in jeopardy.
Those of you thinking of selling your screenplay should know:
- It will test your mettle
- Plan on leaving your ego at the door
- This is not for the faint of heart
ANYBODY CAN WRITE A SCRIPT
Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) tells of the time he met with studio executives in the commissary (studio lunch room) to discuss his script. As the meeting was coming to a conclusion, one of the executives told him that “Ghost” was the best script they had ever read.
A few months later, he was in the commissary and overhead those same studio executives tell another screenwriter that his script was the best they had ever read!
Adam Rifkin (Underdog) states,
“If you’re a purist and you don’t want your words touched, you should be either a playwright or an author because if you’re going to be a screenplay writer and expect your words to be treated like gold, that’s just not reality.”
Are you feeling discouraged yet?
“…part of the surrealistic experience in Hollywood is the originator of the material from the moment everyone claims to love it is the subject of an attempt to remove them from the material as much as possible.”
NOBODY WANTS YOUR STUFF
“The long drought until you get to be a real screenwriter…people keep asking me what else do you do? How do you pay your bills? That’s the reality of it!”
Frank Darabont (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) told the viewers that he had been writing professionally for nine years before selling his first script. During that time, he continued to develop and hone his skills.
“Don’t expect your first script will sell for a million dollars. I got news for you, it ain’t!”
Getting ready to throw the towel in?
Marc Fergus’ (Iron Man) opinion is that a screenwriter whose waiting for the right opportunity, like it’s going to be a bulls-eye, sends out his/her script. Great people reject it. Smart people reject it. One guy stumbles on it and says this is just what I’ve been looking for.
“If you want to write movies, you can’t stop after you get pissed on and rejected because you will get pissed on and rejected, because no one wants your stuff. Once you basically become someone they will read your work. No one wants to give someone their first shot.”
Dennis Palumbo sums it up best when he talks about those who hold the power, i.e. studio heads, producers, directors, agents, etc. . . :
“They’re not in trouble if they say no. Nothing bad can happen. The moment they say yes, the trouble begins. If you’re an agent, you now have to find work for your client, studio execs have to sell all this to their compatriots and producers need to go and get some studio interested to actually make the movie. If you say no, you can just go to lunch.”
“Screenwriters are truly an abused entity. They get so little participation in the work they create.”
The most important message I took away from this film was despite the obstacles and mountains they needed to climb, these screenwriters faced these challenges head on and successfully sold their screenplays.
One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams.
If you don’t, regret will be your reward.
What will you do if faced with these obstacles?
Is your dream important enough to fight for?
Tell me, is it?