The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, August 26 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

On November 11th the 115 million dollar epic "Immortals" opens in theaters nationwide.

The screenplay was written by good friends of The BOSI, million dollar screenwriters Vlas and Charley Parlapanides.

And while "Immortals" is a HUGE accomplishment, it's maybe even MORE astonishing to note that Vlas and Charley also have "Death Note" for Warner Brothers, "Live Bet" with 50 Cent, "The Destroyer," and "Hell to Pay" already in production!

Plus they've got all sorts of other projects set up at different studios and production companies around town.

In short, they are PROLIFIC.

The insane part?

They accomplished all of this within 3 short years!

So how did these two Greek guys from New Jersey crack the "Hollywood Code" and accomplish more in 3 years than most screenwriters do in their entire careers?

And more importantly, how can YOU do the same?

Fortunately, we interviewed Vlas and Charley a little while ago and caught the entire thing on video.

And let me tell you, if you've ever wanted to discover the little-known productivity secrets, the jealously-guarded writing strategies, and the contrarian mindset of 2 million dollar writers, then you've got to check it out!

Now, normally, we charge a pretty penny for this interview, but in the spirit of helping you finish 2011 with a bang, I'm offering it to you for FREE!

Just click on the link below for instant access to this killer video interview.

Click HERE for the Vlas and Charley Parlapanides Video!

All I ask in return is that you to post a comment or your most pressing question about super-productivity or how screenwriters can be more effective managers of their time.

And on that note here's what we've got for you in this week's action-packed Screenwriter's Success Newsletter!

The Business of Show Institute Recommends: is the weekly screenwriting product or service that our staff has personally reviewed and feel you would benefit from. This week? Free video reveals the #1 secret to getting your screenplay read by top Hollywood professionals... even if you don't live in Los Angeles!

Check it out here:

Always Be Networking!: is this week's article by yours truly. This piece is about the need for you to network... ESPECIALLY when you don't need to! The same way a wise man digs a well before he gets thirsty, a wise screenwriter doesn't finish 12 scripts and then plead with executives to read his work. There's a much better way to go about this, and here it is...

The Box Office Report: gives you the latest feature film releases as well as the opening weekend projections, so you can be on top of this critical information.

The New World: is this week's article by mc foley. mc is an active writer and regular contributor to this newsletter. The title of her column is "Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey".

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters: is our column by entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark. To ask your legal questions, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.

What This Weekend's Box Office Means to You: is this week's article from Script Consultant and Producer Daniel Manus. The title of his column is "No B.S. for Screenwriters - The Executive Perspective."

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters: is dedicated to asking a top executive or successful screenwriter the absolute best advice they could give a screenwriter looking for success. This week's contributor? Emmy award winning television writer, producer, and author of "Screenwriting Tricks of the Trade" – William Froug!

The Scoggins Report: is our bi-weekly/monthly spec market analysis. Use this information to see what's selling, who's buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This information is pure gold...

Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty: is our column dedicated to tracking the promotions and movements of Hollywood's Executives. Use this market intelligence wisely...

Characters: Why Everybody Loves Them (when they're great!): is this week's article from screenwriting contest judge and author of "39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make" – Sean Hinchey. The title of his column is "Insights and Screenwriting Wisdom from a Veteran Screenwriting Contest Judge".

It's a Manny-versary, Charlie Brown! (part 1): is this week's article by Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson's behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

That's it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.

If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna

The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

Free Video Reveals The #1 Secret To Getting Your Screenplay Read By Top Hollywood Professionals...
Even If You Don't Live In Los Angeles!

Click HERE!

Share |
Back to top^

Always Be Networking!

by Marvin V. Acuna

Gerard J. Arpey, president and CEO of American Airlines said the best business advice he ever got was, "Borrow money when you can, not when you need to." This is sound advice that can be translated and applied to networking.

A little while ago I met with the executive director of a writing school in NYC. Their only focus is to breed great writers. I was surprised to learn how little value they place on networking. The perspective was that until they had material to present, and by that they meant great material, there was no value in bridging those relationships. No need to waste people's time... they are not ready.

Additionally, they proclaimed that the business of writing could be a distraction from the craft of writing. It's more important that they hone their craft. There will be plenty of time for networking once they have those well crafted projects under their arm.

WTF! In my humble opinion... that's crazy talk. You should Always Be Networking. Always!!

I don't disagree that you should be working on honing your craft. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, OUTLIERS, points to numerous examples of people who vested the time necessary to hone their craft in their chosen field. But, you should always be networking.

Networking ONLY when you need to is foolish and sets the wrong tone. Relationships take time, building rapport requires patience, and people in the business are naturally cautious - if not fearful - of those that are simply taking, rather than giving.

Listen carefully: It's pretty easy to spot those that are just joining the network purely to take - not to give. Therefore, be part of a network before you need anything from anyone.

To start with, you must understand all your strengths and weaknesses. Then always seek opportunities where your abilities contribute enormous value to others. The result: others will want to be a part of your network if they know that you will add value. And more importantly, your existing relationships will be strengthened if you can consistently add value to those in your network.

Your mission: to be the first person everyone remembers and suggests when others ask, "Do you know anyone who..."

Start now, and become a trusted node and connector, not a fragmented meteor that is visible as it enters the atmosphere.

Share |
Back to top^

The Box Office Report

Wed, Aug. 24DailyTotal
The Help$2,636,642$79,656,936
Rise of the Planet of the Apes$1,390,106$138,418,343
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World$901,065$14,979,390
The Smurfs$779,492$120,298,402
Conan the Barbarian (2011)$727,137 $12,807,564
30 Minutes or Less$719,711$28,420,189
Fright Night (2011)$669,645$10,552,512
Final Destination 5$662,487$34,728,717
Crazy, Stupid, Love$551,482$66,053,001
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II$508,281$367,711,640
One Day$493,021$6,785,954
Captain America: The First Avenger$400,440$166,086,731
Cowboys & Aliens$387,275$90,759,490
The Change-Up$310,270$32,991,030
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie$244,327$11,230,264

Share |
Back to top^

Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

The New World

by mc foley

It's a long way up.

Have I experienced this?


But I know people who have. Or rather – I don't know if the 16th hour of bad underwear gave them wedgies, but I do know that their lives consisted of: wake up, shower, dress, stuff breakfast in face on the way to work. Work. Work to save the show from being cancelled. Work from 10am to 2am. Drive home. Look at crotch. Look at phone. Consider texting that guy/girl – and making a pit stop. The guy/girl you haven't seen for three weeks because your entire life has been "wake-up, work, go home, sleep, wake-up-work..." Look at clock. Put phone away. Look at crotch. Sigh. Weakly. Realize you were too exhausted anyways. Go inside. Pass out. For four hours.

Do it all over again. For 30 days straight—

—which is where the socks and underwear come in. Who's got time to do laundry when you can't even sleep?

Am I talking about TV writers? Yes. Am I talking about every TV writer's schedule? No. Am I riffing off anecdotes told to me by friends? Yes.

And truly, as someone struggling up the first, long leg of the mountain, looking for that shiny, writing-career ledge that will not only pay me enough to keep the lights on, but also, enough to live a dignified life with dental cleanings and a laundry machine – it's the anecdotes that are important.

It's the —
knowing people who can tell me stories like this. People in the business. People who can share information. People who, when the time is right, can open doors.

But also, before the time is right, it's the —
not asking them for anything. em>Not handing them my "genius" spec script with the concept that no one's ever thought of before." Not forcing them to listen to my pitch because I cornered them at a conference and they can't escape from my evil clutches.

Just knowing them. Talking to them. Drinking vodka with them. Drinking Guinness with them. Drinking any booze they'll pay for since they earn five times my gimp salary. And all for the mere sake of broadening my understanding of this business I've chosen to pursue. Because it's not a bohemian gathering of peaceful spirits producing tales of spiritual redemption. It's a business.

And the answer to the title question isn't "underwear."

It's — time.

If I can buy myself time - time with a working writer - time with a true industry professional - and most importantly, time to work on my craft - then I've made a valuable investment.

Almost as valuable as a 2am pit stop.

About mc foley:
Melinda Corazon Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and currently resides in West Hollywood, CA. In 2005, MC Foley was named East West Players' James Irvine Foundation Mentee affording her the privilege to craft a new original stage play, the result: "Down and Out." It debuted at the Union Center for the Arts. Foley was then awarded the Asian American Writers Workshop Scholarship, which she utilized to re-imagine the aforementioned play into a web based series incorporating verse, motion graphics and comic book illustrations. Recently Ms. Foley completed work on a debut YA novel, The Ice Hotel. The novel is a fantasy adventure written especially for readers experiencing the profound pain of loss. In the book, a family, reeling from their eldest son's death, escapes to the Ice Hotel, where an age-old, arctic magic connects this world to the next. The Ice Hotel is now available at Amazon. Order your copy here.

Share |
Back to top^

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

"I want to write a script inspired by several real-life events in my life, but I'm wondering if I need permission from everyone involved or I can just change the events enough to make it new. If the latter, how much do I have to change so that people don't feel like it's their story, too?"

If the events in question are from your real life, you're free to tell the story, provided you do so truthfully. To the extent you embellish, dramatize, or fictionalize the story, you'll need clearance from all other persons who are recognizably depicted in your script, before it can be produced. Since, as a practical matter, almost all "true story" films and tv shows do some amount of dramatization/fictionalization, this means that you'll need that permission before long.

Note that I said permission will be needed from folks who are "recognizably depicted". What this means is that if YOU are identified as yourself, then anybody connected to you in a significant way can also be identified. So, if you feature a scene with your 12th grade math teacher, and cast that teacher in an embarassing, misleading or false light, your ACTUAL 12th grade math teacher may have claims against you even if you've changed the names, places, etc.

So, there's no fixed amount of change which will automatically protect you.

What some writers do is make the non-integral characters sort of "composites" of several people, or 'types' of people, so that no one individual can be identified as the source.

For more integral people, much will depend on how and how much they're depicted in the script.

The good news is that ultimately, the studio, production company, or distributor will make the final decisions on whose permissions are required and whose aren't. Still, it's best if you go into production with all your legal ducks in a row.

The help of an experienced entertainment lawyer will ensure that you have a marketable, produce-able script. The investment you make in getting good legal advice at the outset will be far less than the expense incurred later, when you're trying to close a sale, or release the film.

Have a legal question? Email them to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The foregoing is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Firemark. This information is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. Neither Mr. Firemark nor The Business of Show Institute will be responsible for readers' detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this column.

About Gordon P. Firemark:
Gordon Firemark is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television,and music. He is also the publisher of Entertainment Law Update, a newsletter for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media and business/corporate matters for clients in the entertainment industry.

Mr. Firemark serves on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater), and The Academy for New Musical Theatre. In the past he has served on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, where he served as liason to the Association's Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).

Mr. Firemark holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. Before opening The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark, Mr. Firemark was a partner with the Business Affairs Group, a boutique entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. He has also worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group, and started his legal career as an associate at Neville L. Johnson & Associates, a West L.A. firm specializing in entertainment litigation.

For more about Mr. Firemark, visit

Share |
Back to top^

What This Weekend's Box Office Means to You

by Daniel Manus

I've never done much box office analysis in my column, but this weekend was one of the most interesting weekends Hollywood has seen all year. As the summer gears down, THREE new releases hit theaters this weekend – and every single one of them bombed horribly, allowing "The Help" to take first place.

Here are the B.O. numbers this weekend –

  1. The Help - $20.5M (Cume $71.8M)
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $16.3M (Cume $133.7M)
  3. Spy Kids 4D - $12M
  4. Conan the Barbarian 3D - $10.5M
  5. Fright Night 3D - $8.3M

So, how did this happen? Well, after so many BIG movies this summer, audiences do go through blockbuster fatigue towards the end of August/beginning of September. And because there are so few movies made to appeal to an older crowd, when one is released, and it's good, it can succeed.

"The Help" has turned into one of those movies that come along once a year that takes people by surprise and does WAY better than anyone imagined it would. Did I think this was going to do well? Yes. Did I think this was going to be a number 1 movie at the box office? Not a chance! A period piece racial drama that skews to an older crowd? This doesn't happen every day.

Now, I know what you're thinking – "See Danny, period piece racial dramas written and directed by a first timer CAN sell. Now Dreamworks will buy mine!"

Yeah....No they won't. First, this film was based on a hugely successful book by Kathryn Stockett. Second, they cast it perfectly with recognizable – but not HUGE names – so the budget was pretty low. Third, much like with "Julie and Julia," they released it at the right time as counter-programming to the normal summer fare. But this happens ONCE a year. And fourth, while this is writer/director Tate Taylor's first studio film, he did write and direct one other film before, though granted it made less than $10,000.

Tate Taylor's connection to the piece is actually a perfect example of how creating real relationships can make your career, as he was childhood friends with author Kathryn Stockett. Plus, he brought his own experiences being raised by Black maids to the story – but he didn't make the story all about HIM. Good lesson for you "write what you know" writers out there.

On the other B.O. success story, let me admit this – I thought "Planet of the Apes" was going to bomb. I really did. James Franco in a third reboot of a movie? I was all set to write this one off as a flop, but it turns out – despite Franco, they made a good movie and the visual FX are amazing (as is Andy Serkis).

But let's get to the new releases. All three were remakes, re-imaginings, sequels, or 3-D. The two biggest surprise bombs were "Conan" and "Fright Night", which both had big ad budgets and media pushes and Conan's budget was nearly $90M! But audiences over the last year or so have started to push back against this unoriginal drivel. And when it's not aimed at truly broad audiences (four-quadrant movies that bring in kids like "Transformers" and Super Hero flicks), they fail.

Studios like producing remakes and re-imaginings because they think the brand name of the original product or the intellectual property they are based on are enough to sell the movie to audiences without having to pay big bucks to big stars. Well, Conan proved that theory wrong in a big way. Low level B-Movie talent in high budget IP movies doesn't work. And good for audiences for finally realizing they are being pandered to as suckers.

If they had cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or someone with more name cache as the new Conan, or cast a BIG A-List actress next to Jason Mamoa to make up for his lack of fame, this movie probably would have made three times what it did. Jason Mamoa isn't a star. I watched him on "Game of Thrones." He had 10 lines of dialogue the whole season – maybe because he sounds like a dim-witted valley girl with muscles. And he didn't do promotions on any of the big TV outlets or talk shows. When Rose McGowan is your most notable name, your movie is in trouble.

Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger is massively hated right now, and when you think of Conan – you think of Arnold. I think the bad blood between the general audience and Arnold negatively affected this brand name. It will be interesting to see the fallout for this bomb at Lionsgate and Millennium Films. If this project doesn't make $75M internationally, heads must roll.

Now "Fright Night" is actually supposed to be pretty good (I haven't seen it yet), but there was NO reason for this to be done in 3D. Plus, while it was a remake, the young audiences that would go see a vampire horror-comedy probably never heard of the 1985 original because they weren't BORN yet. And I think Colin Farrell, who has never really reached the level people thought he would, isn't a draw anymore to the young audiences who should have seen this film. He's a good actor, but I'm not sure he's "scary" enough to pull this off. Anton Yelchin isn't a big enough name yet despite the fact that he deserves to be, Toni Collette and David Tennant weren't featured nearly enough in promos, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse doing promotion for the project made it seem more like a comedy, while the commercials up-sold its scary horror aspects. Again, it's about genre marketing and targeting a demographic.

And unfortunately, there have just been too many vampire projects out there and I think this one should finally put a stake through the heart of anyone thinking of writing a vampire movie right now. "Fright Night" was made for only $30M, but that number more than doubles when including P&A, and it likely won't travel as well overseas.

"Spy Kids 4D" – with aroma-scope – was a dumb idea by the Weinsteins to begin with. This should have been a Str8-to-DVD release made for $4M instead of a theatrical 3-D film done for 3 times as much. Parents are tired of paying for cheesy 3-D family films that are not necessary to see in 3-D. Plus, Joel McHale and Jessica Alba aren't exactly draws for parents. Oh, and it sucked. Even Robert Rodriguez said it sucked.

So for all of you following the trends (and I know all of you do!), this weekend should tell you five things: Films adapted from popular books made at a reasonable budget can pay off huge dividends; period pieces aren't "dead," they just take long naps much like the people who pay to see them; films that are remakes and re-imaginings can't just rely on their brand name or IP to succeed; 3-D should be saved for movies that truly improve from the 3-D experience and not just profit from them because it will usually backfire; and never ever doubt a monkey.

***I will be back teaching some must-attend seminars at the 2011 Screenwriting Expo September 15-18 in LA and I will be moderating 2 great panels, including one with A-List Comedy writers Tim Dowling and Joe Nussbaum. To purchase tickets, click here.

About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.

Share |
Back to top^

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

William Froug – Emmy award winning television writer, producer, and author of "Screenwriting Tricks of the Trade" - on his best business advice for screenwriters:

"Ask yourself a most important question before you begin: What's it about? I do not mean the plot, the arrangement of events, or even the characters. I don't mean who it's about, but what's it about.

What are you saying in this story? What is your point of view? What is there about this story that engaged your heart and mind? What do you feel this story? Where is your source of energy coming from as opposed to the story's source of energy?

When you have answers to those questions, you have your theme....The major theme is the heart and soul of your screenplay. Without a theme, your script will be hollow, empty. Study the themes of each movie you see, the minor themes as well as major theme."

Share |
Back to top^

The Scoggins Report

2011 Spec Market Scorecard as of August 19

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

The expected summer slowdown has finally arrived in the spec market. July ended strong, as we reported in the last Scoggins Report, and August's numbers already match 2010's, but the crickets have been chirpping since the beginning of the month. We expect this pace to continue through Labor Day.

Since the Fall selling season will kick off in less than two weeks, though, we took a look at the last two year's Fall numbers for clues to what to expect through the end of the year. Here are the highlights:

  • Studio Buyers: Last year the studios bought 15 specs between September 1 and December 31. Since Warner Bros. grabbed 7 of those and they've already bought 9 scripts this year, it's probably unlikely we'll hit that mark this year. 2009's numbers are achievable: The studios bought 11 specs during the period that year, led by Paramount with 3. Lionsgate has yet to get into the game this year, and Relativity is going to need material to feed its new Chinese production/distribution partnership.

  • Other Buyers: Non-studio buyers bought 10 specs in 2010 and 8 specs in 2009. There isn't much of a pattern in those purchases, so it's anyone's guess where we'll end up this year. There are still a significant number of buyers from 2009 who haven't bought yet in 2011, though, so we think we'll hit the over/under.

  • Agencies: The top four agencies sold 17 specs during the Fall of 2010 (led by CAA and WME, with 5 each) and 16 during the period in 2009 (led by ICM with 5 and WME with 3). Agencies' sales are governed by buyers' appetities, obviously, but chances are good that the top agency (whichever it is) will be in the range of 2010's winner (CAA, with 12 spec sales) and 2009's (CAA again, with 14).

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and have a fantastic Labor Day weekend.

2011 Overall Spec Numbers (through July 22)1,2 :

All Specs Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Specs 16 37 33 39 31 39 20 10         225
Sales 2 10 15 6 6 9 6 1         55
Percent 13 27 46 15 19 23 30 10         24

1 This grid tallies sales of scripts in the month they originally went out. All other grids in this report are straight tallies of each month's sales.
2 Feb, Apr and Aug numbers do not include the sale of a script that went out prior to 2011. March numbers do not include two sold scripts that went out prior to 2011.

Spec Sales By Genre (sold/totla):

Genre (sales) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total % of
Action/Adventure 0/2 1/3 1/5 2/9 1/5 2/8 0/0 0/1         7/33 12%
Comedy 0/5 2/12 6/9 1/11 2/12 4/13 1/7 0/1         16/70 27%
Drama 0/0 0/3 0/1 2/6 1/2 0/2 1/2 0/0         4/16 7%
Fantasy 0/0 0/0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0         0/4 0%
Horror 0/1 3/4 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/2 2/2 0/0         6/10 10%
Western 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1 2%
Sci-Fi 0/2 0/3 2/4 1/2 1/3 3/3 1/2 0/1         8/20 14%
Thriller 1/5 3/10 8/16 1/12 2/9 2/8 1/5 2/7         20/72 34%

Spec Sales By Buyer - Studios:

Buyers (Studios) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
CBS Films         1   1           2 0 2
Columbia   1 4     2             7 1 5
Dimension       1                 1 0 1
Disney   1                     1 2 2
DreamWorks   1 1                   2 1 4
Fox     2 1 1               4 2 3
Fox Searchlight             1           1 1 1
New Line       1                 1 0 0
Paramount         1 2 1           4 4 5
Relativity       1 1               2 6 3
Summit     1                   1 3 2
Universal     2 1                 3 2 6
Warner Bros.   2   1 1 2 3           9 9 6

Spec Sales By Buyer - Other Buyers:

Buyers (Other) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
1984 Films       1                 1 0 0
Animation Picture Co.   1                     1 0 0
Bold Films 1                       1 1 0
Caliber Media     1                   1 1 0
Crime Scene Pictures         1               1 0 0
Dark Castle   1           1         2 1 0
Gracie Films     1                   1 0 0
IM Global     1                   1 0 0
Inferno               1         1 0 0
Mandate     1     1             2 2 1
Montecito     1                   1 0 0
MPCA           1             1 0 0
Nasser Ent.     1                   1 1 0
Radar           1             1 2 0
RCR   1                     1 0 0
Route One   1                     1 1 0
Sidney Kimmel           1             1 0 1
Skydance         1               1 0 0
Stone Village Pictures       1                 1 0 0
Ten Thirty-One     1                   1 0 0
Valhalla     1                   1 0 0
Wendy Finerman Prods       1                 1 0 0

Each of the following production companies has been attached to at least one spec sale so far this year. Companies in bold have been added since the last scorecard.

21 Laps
Anonymous Content
Aversano Films
After Dark
Appian Way
Alliance Films
Automatik Entertainment
Big Kid Pictures
Berlanti Productions
Chernin Entertainment
Davis Entertainment
Disruption Entertainment (2)
Escape Artists
Furst Films
Genre Films
Hollywood Gang (2)
Josephson Entertainment
Katsmith Productions
Langley Park (2)
Leverage Management
Linson Entertainment
Marc Platt Productions
Mandeville Films
Matt Tolmach Productions
Michael De Luca Productions
Montecito (2)
Original Film
Panay Films
Pearl Street
Platinum Dunes
Radar Pictures
Silver Pictures
Stuber Pictures
Temple Hill
Top Cow
Wigram Productions
LBI Entertainment (fka The Unnamed Yorn Company)

Spec Sales by Seller - Agencies (sold/total):

Sellers - Agents Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
APA 1/4 0/4 0/1 1/3 0/1 0/0 1/3 0/0         3/16  19%
CAA 0/1 3/61 2/11 1/3 1/4 3/61 2/3 0/0         9/24  38%
Gersh 0/0 3/5 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/3 0/0 0/1         4/10  40%
ICM 0/2 0/1 3/5 1/4 0/3 1/4 1/1 1/0         6/20  30%
Innovative 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
Paradigm 0/2 1/2 1/2 2/3 0/0 1/1 1/2 0/1         6/13  46%
The Agency 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
UTA 0/0 0/2 5/6 1/31 2/3 2/4 0/3 0/0         9/21  43%
Verve 0/2 0/0 0/0 0/1 1/1 1/3 0/0 0/0         2/7  29%
WME 0/0 2/4 2/5 2/21 3/4 1/4 1/4 0/0         10/23  44%

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.

Spec Sales by Seller - Management Companies (sold/total):

Sellers - Managers Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
Baumgarten 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
Benderspink 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/1 1/2 3/3 0/1 0/0         5/8  63%
Brillstein 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/11 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0         0/2  0%
Caliber 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
Circle of Confusion 0/0 2/41 0/1 0/1 1/5 0/3 0/2 0/0         2/15  13%
Energy 0/0 0/0 0/0 2/31 0/0 0/0 0/1 0/0         1/3  33%
Evolution 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
FilmEngine 1/1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
Generate 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
Gotham 0/1 0/0 0/0 1/01 0/2 1/1 0/0 0/0         1/4  25%
H2F 0/0 0/0 2/4 0/1 0/1 1/1 0/0 0/1         3/8  38%
Industry 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 2/2 0/0 0/0 0/1         3/5  60%
Kaplan/Perrone 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/1 0/1 0/2 0/1 0/0         1/6  17%
Kevin Donahue 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0         1/1  100%
Mad Hatter 0/0 1/1 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         2/2  100%
Manage-ment 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/01         0/1  0%
MXN 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
New Wave 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/2 1/2 0/0         2/4  50%
Principato/Young 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/1 1/1 1/1 0/0         2/3  67%
Realm 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
R.E.D. 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
ROAR 0/0 1/2 2/11 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         2/3  67%
Silent R 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
Smart Ent. 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/2  50%
Underground 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%
Wirehouse 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0         1/1  100%

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.

About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business (in particular, spec script and open writing assignment activity) based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics and should not be relied upon as such. Past editions of The Scoggins Report can be found in the archives of The Business of Show Institute and now have a beautiful new home on

Details on each person, project and company in the Reports can also be found at, a proud division of The Wrap News, Inc. IOTG is a "for us, by us" film industry database, the only place mere mortals can find listings of Hollywood's active open writing and directing assignments... not to mention comprehensive spec market data, active film development information and relevant credits for released movies going back to 1988.

The IOTG Blog has a new home on the site, by the way: . It includes daily highlights of recent database updates and individual posts on every spec that hits the market. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the blog's feed right where you'd expect them, and you can follow the site's Twitter feed here:

About Scoggins:
Jason Scoggins recently launched Eureka Canyon Enterprises, a literary management, production and consulting company that represents feature film and TV writers, directors and producers. He also founded and runs, the aforementioned database of feature film development information. Jason got his start in the entertainment industry in 1995 as an agent trainee at ICM, which led to stints as a TV Lit Agent at Gersh and Writers & Artists. He left the business (and California) for several years in 2000, returning in 2007 as a partner at Protocol, a literary management and production company. Follow him here:

Share |
Back to top^

Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

What do you do when a friend gets promoted or moves to a new position? You congratulate them right?

What else might you do? You might send them a card telling them how excited you are for their new position. Later, you might follow up with that person to see how they're settling in. Then, you might send them an interesting article once in a while.

Why would you do this? Because that's how relationships are nurtured and developed. (They're not developed by asking for favors before the relationship has matured)

So we'd like you to help us in congratulating the following executives who have just been promoted or moved positions.

The Business of Show Institute Congratulates the Following Executives in Their New Positions:

Adrienne Gary
Senior Vice President, Organizational Strategy & Administration, Miramax

John Batter
CEO, MediaNavi

David Reckziegel
President, eOne Films North America

Bryan Gliserman
President, eOne Canada

Dylan Wiley
VP of Theatrical Marketing and Distribution, US Theatrical Distribution Division, eOne

Jeb Brody
President of Production, Focus Features

Shaleen Desai
Senior Vice President, Comedy Development, FishBowl Worldwide Media

Steven Fisher
Talent Agent, UTA

John Sacks
Talent Agent, CAA

Rob Spodek
SVP and CFO, NBCU’s Syfy and Chiller

Beth Minehart
SVP, Global Digital, Miramax

Michael Hazan
Head of Development/West Coast and Co-Executive Producer, Juma Entertainment

Zach Carlisle
Agent, Verve

Eliot Goldberg
Senior Vice President of Development and Programming, CMT West Coast

Brent Zacky
Senior Vice President of Original Programming and Development, Logo

Roy Matalon
President of International Sales & Distribution, Nu Image, Inc.

Share |
Back to top^

Characters: Why Everybody Loves Them (when they're great!)

by Sean Hinchey

You've got your idea for the next great screenplay, you've finished your outline and the first several scenes are on paper, but you just can't find the voice of your characters. How do you begin to flesh them out? Why does it always have to be so hard?

Remember this: Actors love to play well written characters and audiences love to see them. Think about your favorite movie. Chances are, you liked it more for the characters than you did the actual story. Star Wars is one of the most popular movies of all times. Everybody loved it because Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains ever to hit the screen, Luke encapsulated everyone's dream of being a hero, and Han Solo was beyond cool.

During my years of reading for script contests, I've lost count of how many scripts I've tossed into the recycling bin because of poorly developed characters. Every single one of them had an opportunity to be the Grand Prize Winner in that particular contest, but ended up in the screenplay graveyard. It doesn't matter how good the plot is — without an interesting protagonist to follow, the story becomes a hollow venture.

Before you write your next script, get inside the heads of your characters. Answer these Four Questions for each character and you'll be well on your way to writing a script that will remain in the short pile of finalists when I read it for the next contest.

What do they stand for?

What are their quirks?

What is it they want?

What do they fear?

After you've answered these question for the main and supporting characters, ask this final question.

Who do you want to play them?

When I'm writing my own screenplays, I've always generated a list of actors while I'm developing my outline — even before I begin the screenplay. This is for two specific reasons.

First, when I have a specific face for a character, it helps me visualize who they are while I write. I can imagine their mannerisms or how they react to conflicts in the story. I can see the movie unfolding in my head.

Second, it helps me when I'm pitching my script. Remember, winning the script is just one stepping stone in your writing career. Your goal is to sell your product. Many production companies don't have the time to read all the scripts submitted to them. Some of them hire script readers, so they are only reading a coverage report. If they do read your script, they may only skim it. The important element to focus on is that when you get the meeting with them, you have their attention. Make sure you keep it.

There's no doubt that the story is important. The concept, location and genre are what grabs a production company's attention. However, it's the characters in the story that bring your words on a page, to life.

I pitched a comedy of mine to several production companies. One of the first questions they asked me was, "Who do you see in the main role?"

Here are two possible answers I could've given them.

A. "I dunno!"

B. "You know, when I was writing it, I always thought John Goodman would be perfect for the role. But I also think Kevin James and James Belushi have the right look and the comedy chops to bring this role to life."

The correct answer was "B." By coming up with three solid names immediately after they producer popped the question, I knew I had maintained their focus on my project. Shortly after that, I was able to option the screenplay.

Let's say your script wins a screenwriting contest and you land a meeting with a top Hollywood producer. From that producer's point of view, they want viable actors to be able to slip into the main roles. This helps them package the material so they can attach other actors and secure a director for the project. The key to closing the deal is making it easy for the producer to see your vision. They may have their own opinions, but you have to help them fill in the blanks.

Let's not forget why actors like great characters. Mel Gibson was offered the main role in Gladiator but turned it down because he liked the family angle of The Patriot. Daniel Day Lewis is incredibly selective about his roles. The characters he plays are very complex, which is why you won't see him in a summer tent-pole movie. Tom Cruise chose the lead role in The Last Samurai because he liked the character's stance on honor and integrity in the face of adversity. For the A-Listers, it's not about the paycheck; it's about finding that role of a lifetime.

Write the great character that speaks to you, is marketable for the production company and is meaningful to the actors. Dazzle me with a solid character, and your script will get sent along to the contest organizers with my seal of approval. From there, your career possibilities are endless.

Coming up Next:

When people aren't returning your phone calls, nobody is reading your scripts and you've gotten one rejection letter after another from every script contest you've entered, what is your next move? Read The Three C's to learn how to turn around all of this perceived negativity. Turning a "no" into a "yes" isn't as hard as you may think.

About Sean Hinchey:
Sean Hinchey has been a script consultant for International Creative Management (ICM), Miracle Entertainment, Nash Entertainment, and Viviano Entertainment. He's also read the preliminary drafts of Michael Crichton's best-selling novels, State of Fear and Next and has performed extensive research for the stage plays and screenplays of writer/director Floyd Mutrux (American Hot Wax, Million Dollar Quartet).

Sean's expertise has made him a highly sought after judge for such prestigious screenwriting contests such as: The Big Break Contest, The Miramax Open Door Contest, Artists and Writer's Contest, Energy Contest, Smart Contest and The Chills and Thrills Contest. Throughout his career, Sean has read over two thousand scripts, giving him an insight into what it takes to become the winner of a screenwriting contest.

Three of Sean's screenplays have been optioned and one was a finalist in the Film in Arizona Screenwriting Competition. He won an award for his first non-fiction book, Backpacking Through Divorce.

Drawing from these experiences, he's written a book, 39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make, set for publication this year.

Share |
Back to top^

It's a Manny-versary, Charlie Brown! Part 1

by Manny Fonseca

Next week is the big anniversary. One year. I know, compared to some of the other columnists in the BOSI newsletter, I'm the relative noob, but hey...I lasted a year. I'm proud of that.

Let's see, if this was TV and I was going into the 3rd year, this would be about the time that I would introduce some distant cousin to keep the show fresh and new.

Or Tony finally gets to bang Angela. (Who fucking drops a "Who's the Boss?" reference anymore?

Ross finally gets Rachel... (Spoiler alert: it doesn't last but they get back together, only to go on a break where Ross fucks the copy girl and then they get back together only to break up again when Rachel finds out about the copy girl but then they hook up one night and have a kid only to live together platonically but in the end they end up together... it's really quite exhausting.)

But alas, it's not my third year, so no answer to the "will they or won't they" question for you. Sorry.

After a year you get...


A motha-fuckin' clip show!

AND a two-part clip show at that!

I mean come on, can you really ask for anything more?

So here are some of the greatest moments from the past year...

On pitchfests (from article #5)...

Pitchfest's are a waste of time and money.

Shit. Did I just say that out loud?

I take it back. Completely. The lawyer holding the gun standing next to me wants me to read the following statement:

"Pitchfest's are actually NOT a waste of time and money, but a place where young screenwriter's can interact with industry professionals...ha ha ha ha ha ha..."

Shit. I almost made it through that without laughing.

On being pitched Christmas movies (from article #14)...

...Do you know what I DON'T want to read?

Christmas movies. Funny thing is? I get pitched and sent Christmas movies ALL the time.

You do know that I work for the man who put Gwenyth Paltrow's head in a box, right? The guy who won an Oscar for producing a movie that depicted American soldiers killing innocent women and children in Vietnam?

No, you're right...what am I thinking. Totally, send me your Christmas movie. It's right up our alley.

On being asked if you should use a computer program to shrink your script down (from article #15)...

No, John! What is this guy, a fucktard? Actually, don't answer that. I know the answer and that answer is yes. Here's what you need to do...go over to his house, rip his unnamed computer software out of his hands, get him on his knees like the dog that he is and rub it in his face then, in a condescending tone say: "No, that's a bad boy. Bad! No shitting on the script." After that hit him with it. Hard. Preferably hard enough to give him amnesia so he forgets such an ignorant idea.

Look people, in case you haven't figured this out yet, life is fucking hard. There is NEVER an easy way out. You have to work for everything you want. Roll up your sleeves and do the work.

On my first fight with a reader, Erik (from article #17)...

As a previous Sheriff's Deputy, Military Officer and corporate jet pilot and instructor, I know these words quite well.

Sooooo...the problem is?

I am just selective on when, where and how I use them.

Right! Got it. So others should follow your philosophy as well. You're stuck in the 40's and others should be as stuck there too, right? You know who else thought they were right and stuck in the 40's?


Hey everyone! Erik wants us all to be Nazi's! You get the shiny black boots, I'll get the gas. Party at my house!

There are few of us readers out here that are what younger folks might consider "Over the Hill"...

I promise to turn down the ZZ Top pops.

Your readers are looking for answers and you are in a position to do so but it can and should be done without arrogance and unprofessionalism.

The Sinatra song isn't called "Your Way," Erik.

On scolding the fellas for not wanting to see Black Swan (from article #20)...

Guys, you don't want to see Black Swan because it's about a bunch of "chicks and ballet"?

Okay...ladies, I need to talk to just the guys for a second...excuse us...

*grabs the guys and gets into a huddle...whispers*

Okay...I know the flick sounds lame, but there's this scene where Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman totally do it and it's wicked hot, trust me on this. You have to see cool!

*looks up...sees the ladies coming back and breaks the huddle up.*


Don't worry ladies. Totally handled it. Set them straight.

On using movie lines in your everyday life (from article #25)...

Beyond all of that, the BEST line of the year came from The Town... I was hooked on it because it was in the trailer but even more so after I saw the flick. The glorious line I speak of?

"I'm putting this whole fucking town in my rearview!"

"In your rearview." Has become my advice for anything in life.

Kids gotcha down? "Gotta put 'dem kids in ya rearview."

On the East coast, stuck in a blizzard and coming home to L.A.? "Betcha can't wait to put that town in ya rearview!" (*ironically, the person I said this to was flying out of Boston... so it was extra fun to say.)

Bad day at work? "Fuck I'm so puttin' this place in my rearview at five!"

And you're not allowed to say it without using your best Boston accent imitation. Just makes it more fun.

On kids today and interns (from article #27)...

What the fuck is up with kids today?!

No, seriously. I mean it.

Is there some fucktard machine somewhere just pumping out kids with the sole purpose of driving me up a fucking wall?

So what has caused this tirade on America's youth?

Interns. Fucking interns.

On being an assistant (from article #29)...

It's getting yelled at...YELLED AT...because you failed on securing an item that has never, or will never exist. The item in question? Red post-its. Gee, I can't imagine why Post-it hasn't thought to make RED FUCKING POST-ITS? Hmmm...oh right, cause you can't fucking read anything you write on a red Post-it! It was so bad that the assistant in question, literally, called two separate divisions of the 3M Corporation to find out if they have ever made red Post-its. They don't. Never have. Never will. The color he meant?


On writers who are "getting a lot of attention" (from article 31)...

To refresh your memory, I'm getting a lot of interest in this script.

LOVE this sentence. First, I'm going to remind you how many people want this script. Remind me? Really. You're a dick.

Second, if you're getting SO much interest in this script, then why are you grasping at straws by sending it to someone who you clearly feel won't read it?

Yup. I believe you buddy.

On you, the readers, who live it when I pick apart a fucktard (from article #33)...

SIDENOTE: you all are a bunch of sick motherfuckers. Any time I ever do one of these email break downs you fucking LOVE it! Like fucking Gladiator, bitches. "Are you not entertained!"

On "promising" to read a screenplay (also from article #33)... It's been a couple of months... you promised you'd read my screenplay...

Awww. I promised? You're going to play the "I-have-a-divorced-dad-who-promised-to-take-me-to-the-zoo-but-cancelled-cause-he-took-his-hot-new-23-year-old-big-titted-girlfriend-to-Vegas" card?

Okay. Let's see if that gets you anywhere.

On getting into the industry (from article #35)...

It's a fucking crapshoot people. It's a little luck. It's a little who you know. It's a little not acting like a prick to people. It's a lotta patience and it's a little of you grabbing the bull by the fucking horns.

I hate people who look for secrets and inside information. There's no fucking easy way in. I see it ALL the time. People who pay hundreds of dollars to go to some panel and listen to some guy tell them the "ultimate super-secret way to getting your screenplay read!"

Why are you looking for the easy way in?

Here's the fastest way to getting your shit read:

Move out here. Get an internship at a production company. Meet some people. Like REALLY meet them. Don't throw the fact that you have a script.

On placing in an awards competition (from article #39)...

Another thing you have to stop doing...stop bragging about your "placement" in these competitions. You do know that second place is still losing, right? Or worse, the people that tell me they placed in the top ten. Who cares? Still didn't win.

The worst is the people that throw out percentages. "I finished in the top 10% of the Nicholl's!"

Wow. Good for you. Let me lay a little science on your dumb ass. According to the Nicholl Fellowship website, in 2010 they received 6,304 entries. Hmmmm. So if you placed in the top 10%, you're telling me that you came in 630th. Don't ad spin me fucktard, $19.99 is NOT under $20.00. I know the numbers so don't make it seem like you're making yourself out to be better than you are. You just come across looking stupid.

Everyone loved Cheryl's perspective on presenting yourself (from article #40)...

In fairness, I do remember liking the script from the 1930's Wal-mart you see someone like that in a Hollywood producer's office, I'm not taking her in. I can't sell her, no matter how good her script is.

This is very harsh, but, companies are looking for the whole package. Do you speak confidently, with enough excitement but not too much? Are you dressed in business casual…not shorty shorts and flip flops (gentlemen, you know who you are)?

Remember, you are pitching yourself as well as your work. I know it's hard, I completely agree. How do you get the perfect mix of excitement, right look, and connection?

On moving to L.A. (from article #45)...

You have to be available to execs day and night. You have to be around when they need you. Scripts can take YEARS to develop and they need people they can rely on.

Studio execs are crack heads and you're their dealer. And crack heads don't like it when their dealer is out of town and they need a fix. Trust me when I say...they will just get their crack from another dealer. Someone more reliable. Someone who's HERE and STABLE. Someone who takes their crack dealing SERIOUSLY because you never know when they're going to need a fix. Professional crack dealers don't leave town and don't come in for visits. They stay put. Ready to sell crack.

Ever try selling crack through the mail? Try it. I'll wait.


Didn't work, did it?

Not only that, you're probably going to have the feds knocking on your door soon, so I'd probably stop reading my bullshit and run. Maybe hide out somewhere. Hey! Look at the bright side, now you gotta reason to come out here! Problem solved!

Audrey Kelly's comments on Pitchfests raised quite the eyebrow (from article #46)...

What's hurt the pitchfest scene, as you call it, are the events that have popped up over the years that are more interested in making money than providing a quality event for both attendees and VIPs; that don't care whether a company is legit/qualified/WGA Signatory to hear pitches. At all costs, the attendees must be respected and protected. We hear from movers and shakers all the time who've had a bad experience and won't go to any pitch festival. We hear from aspirants that have gone to other pitchfests where they weren't sure if the assistant sitting across from them was there for a payout or actually interested in their story. These pitchfests [which aren't really pitchfests by the way, because they typically only have 4-6 hours of meetings and 2 days of classes] are giving what we do a bad name and it's unfortunate.

On Pretty Woman (from article #49)...

Speaking of corners...the award, for ALL-TIME WORST CHICK SHIT FLICK OF ALL TIME goes to:

Pretty Woman. FUCK THAT MOVIE.

"But Manny, it's a modern day fairy tale!"

Yeah, which says this: Be a hooker. Fuck for cash and one day a rich guy will come to your rescue, sweep you away from your hooker life and give you the life of luxury. Hey ladies, guess what? You're still a fucking whore! All you did was negotiate your price better than the average street walker.

And really? How long do you give that relationship past the movie? He's a white collar exec and she's... a HOOKER! Not even a Charlie Sheen high priced escort, but a true Hollywood prostitute. At what point do you think Richard Gere snaps at the dinner table?

Julia Roberts: "can you pass the cucumbers darling?"

Richard Gere: "For what? So you can suck them for CASH!"

Come on ladies. Set the bar a little higher. Please.


So there it is peeps, you're big fucking clip show. Do you feel robbed? Yeah, I always did when the Simpsons did it and they've been doing it for 22 seasons! Next time we'll continue with you, the reader. That's right...viewer mail people. A lot of fucktards are going to get their 15 minutes of fame. Want to be one of them? Email me!

Till next week...

About Manny Fonseca:
Manny Fonseca hails from Dearborn, Michigan and now lives in the glamorous Hollywood. Always knowing that he wanted something more than a menial job in retail or the auto industry, he attended Ohio University where he received his M.F.A. in screenwriting.

He quickly navigated the industry, landing a job at Kopelson Entertainment where he plays mild-mannered exec by day, constantly looking for the next big script and turns into Screenwriter by night. You can often find his foul, yet honest, opinion at pitchfests around Los Angeles. You can also retain him for script consulting/developing services as well as pitch consulting services.

For info, have a question or just want to tell him you love him, drop an email to or find him on Facebook at

Share |

Back to top^