Pursuing your screenplay dreams demands a lot of blood, sweat and tears. As an aspiring screenwriter with a dream, I’ve become all too aware that there are rarely short cuts to getting your foot in the door in Hollywood.
However, there are always exceptions.
Lana Turner is a prime example.
Miss Turner’s discovery at the Hollywood drug store is a show business legend. As a sixteen-year-old student at Hollywood High, Turner skipped a typing class and bought a Coke at the Top Hat Cafe located on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and MacCadden Place (not Schwab’s Pharmacy), where she was spotted by William R. Wilkerson, publisher of The Hollywood Reporter.
Wilkerson was attracted by her beauty and physique and referred her to the actor/comedian/talent agent Zeppo Marx. Marx’s agency immediately signed her on and introduced her to film director Mervy LeRoy, who cast her in her first film, “They Won’t Forget“. (Wikipedia)
For the rest of us, we must keep writing with the hope that someday someone will see our script, fall in love with it and see to it, that it gets made.
We must continually hone our skills by:
Reading the trades-
Reading reviews in magazines and newspapers –
- Rotton Tomatoes
- Rogert Ebert
- The Critical Critics
- NY Magazine – David Edelstein
- You don’t have to agree with a critic’s assessment of a movie.
- Go ahead and read them anyway. They may give you some useful insight.
Watching movies – (if you don’t love, love movies, you’re in the wrong business!)
Being an active observer of life-you will garner so much information about people’s characteristics, mannerisms and the situations they get themselves in to. You may be able to incorporate some of these observations into your script.
The best way to get the optimum all around movie experience is to go to the theater.
Here’s some pointers to make your movie experience more enjoyable-
- Get there early
- Make sure you’ve visited the bathroom beforehand.
- Buy your concessions before entering your selected theater.
- For me it’s a small buttered popcorn (have them layer-not lather the butter) with some Parmesan cheese added in for good measure and a soda. Sometimes, I will sneak in a bottle of water-can’t justify paying $5.00 for a bottle of water when they are already charging me over $4.00 for popped corn.
- Seat selection is crucial. I like to sit in the middle of the theater, two seats from the aisle (easy access if I need to get up during the movie).
- To discourage someone from sitting directly in front of me (I’m short). I stretch my legs over the seat. If it looks like the theater will filled to capacity, I’ll keep my feet on the ground and hope that someone much taller than me doesn’t take up that spot.
- If you’re there early enough and there are people you know are going to be loud and obnoxious, you still have plenty of time to relocate.
- Study the previews. We really are critics, most of us just don’t know it. How many times have you seen a preview and overheard someone blurt out, “Fat chance in hell, I’m going to spend my money on that” or “I can’t wait to see that movie!”
- If you encounter rude people talking loudly or any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, by all means, seek out an employee and let them handle the “offenders”. Don’t sit through a movie being pissed off and as a result ruining your chances of enjoying the film.
- As the lights go down and the movie starts, you will now be in the right frame of mind to fully concentrate on the movie.
- The movie has now started. Have you been able to spot the Save the Cat moment? I discussed this in my post: Have A Blake Snyder Save The Cat Screenplay of Your Dreams.
You can gain a lot of knowledge by staying in your seat after the movie is over and the credits begin to roll –
- First, you will overhear other people’s “reviews” as they are filtering out of the theater. (No, I’m not a stalker, just a gatherer of information).
- The more movies you see, the more you will recognize names of some very important people who work behind the scenes-directors, producers, casting directors, cinematographers, etc.
- If I’ve seen a movie I really like and recognize a name, of let’s say a casting director, I will go home and see what other movies that person has worked on by going to IMDB.
As a screenwriter, you definitely have your work cut out for you. Your chances aren’t great that your screenplay will ever be the one to open in 3,103 theaters on opening weekend. But if you have a story in your heart and soul and a message just aching to get out and be told, stop at nothing to achieve your dreams.
Does anyone want to share things they do to make their trip to the theater more enjoyable?Â Do you ever feel a movie could have been better written?
Toni left 8 Women Dream in November of 2010 to focus full-time on her screenplay and Club B.