Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A book recommendation

Breaking in is hard to do. Especially if you want to be a screenwriter. You can’t go into any Starbucks in LA without seeing at least three intense sleep-deprived people hunched over their laptops. Not that it’s ever been easy to hoist yourself over those palace walls but now it seems harder. More people are trying and agents are taking on fewer new clients.

So how do you break through?

The best way is to distinguish yourself somehow. (“Oh, that’s easy. Why didn’t I think of that?”)

One way is to enter screenplay competitions and hopefully win or place high enough that you’re recognized. (“Sure. Win screenwriting competitions. Piece of cake.”)

Yes, it’s a tall order. And with as many as several thousand entering certain competitions the odds are staggering.

But now at least there’s help.

A new book called “Screenplay Competitions” by Ann Marie Williams has just been released and finally there is a lifeline for the wannabe screenwriters out there. There are tips on how to submit, who to submit to, what judges are looking for, how you can improve your chances, etc. Look, there are many hidden traps and the competition is fierce. This book offers an invaluable guide into the world of screenplay competitions. And more than that – it shows you ways how these competitions, even if you don’t win, can help you improve your writing.

How do I know it’s good advice? For the last few years I’ve been entering play in stage play competitions. The process (and competition) is almost the same. Things I learned myself all appear to be covered in this book.

Case in point: rejections. First, prepare yourself: you’re going to get rejections. The book points out, and it’s true, that the judging process is soooo subjective and each competition has a specific agenda so a script that wins one major competition will likely be rejected by fifty others. Same script. How do you deal with that? This book helps.

I should point out that I don’t know this author, publisher, nor am I getting any remuneration for recommending this book. I just think it will be a useful tool and maybe give you a little leg up. And in today’s world, any advantage, even a small one, is HUGE.

Best of luck. Like I always say – someone has to break in. Why not YOU?


RyderDA said...

That you don't know the author is interesting to me. I have naively been thinking that the screenwriting writing community isn't that big, and for someone to write a book about how to break in would imply they would be at least slightly well known. You would be 2 or 3 degrees of separation at most. Am I wrong? How many WGA members are there, and how many could write a credible book (especially one that impresses you with its accuracy) that you would not know?

Mike Bloodworth said...

Call me paranoid, but my greatest fear is that someone is going to steal my idea. When you send away your work to people you don't know, how can one be sure that it's safe? Regardless if it's a screenplay, play or TV script. Granted, different people can and do have similar ideas and plotlines, yet if you see a movie that's almost exactly the same as what you submited one can't help but wonder if he or she got ripped off. So...here's an early FRIDAY QUESTION: What's the best way to protect yourself against someone plagiarizing your submissions?
Is the old cliche of mailing yourself a copy of any value? I'm not in any of the writers' unions. Are there different rules and/or methods for aspiring amateurs?
P.S. Is this subject covered in the book?

JazMac Gilroy said...

Just curious, does it delineate between legit competitions and money making scams?

Todd Everett said...

I was seeing a lot of community theater for about ten years. It didn't take long to realize that one could make a pretty good living (as some have) by ignoring any Broadway aspirations and writing specifically for people to get together and (so to speak) put on in a barn.

Seems there's a formula, but for starts I can't figure whether you should write for a large cast (after all, they aren't getting paid, and every actor can goad his or her friends and relatives into buying a ticket), or a small cast (easier to work with, and you don't have to worry as much about not getting enough people to audition.

One thing: more women than men tend to show up for these things, on both sides of the footlights.

Peter said...

I'd like to know how Seth Rogen broke in. He's written the same script over and over and performed the same character in every movie. Fat schlub gets stoned, quotes pop culture, bangs hot chick.

A few years ago he was trying to get the rights to remake The Last Starfighter, a classic for anyone who grew up in the 80s. I'm glad he couldn't get the rights because it's so painfully obvious what his remake would have been like. Instead of the charm of the original film about a likeable teenager recruited to fight evil space aliens, his version would have been about....a fat schlub who gets stoned and reluctantly recruited to fight evil space aliens and spends most of the movie making references to Star Trek and talking about wanting to bang a hot alien chick, then bangs her, gets her pregnant, and uses a laser gun to abort the humanoid fetus.

Hey, I just wrote an entire Seth Rogen script in one paragraph! Money now!

Dixon Steele said...

And here's a Youtube video you may find interesting...


Loosehead said...

(Plants tongue firmly in cheek) Hmmm...Strange how writers and agents aren't getting along at the moment. If only there was some explanation...