The Business of Show Institute Recommends: is the weekly screenwriting product or service that our staff has personally reviewed and feels you would benefit from. This week? Get on the VIP Interest List for the newly updated “Screenwriting Success Now 2.0” program! The program will be re-released on Tuesday, December 10th!
How to Market Your Script so it Doesn't Scream 'NOVICE!': is this week's audio dispatch by yours truly. In this audio I answer a great question from Alec, who asks "...are there any ways to market my work that doesn't scream 'NOVICE!' to the professionals?" My answer may surprise you...
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 Cure – Part Four: 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
. If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.
Directors on Directors: Judd Apatow, Ben Affleck and More Critique This Year’s Oscar Contenders: Helmers from film and television discuss what made their colleagues’ work shine. The staff of Variety has the full story.
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? Director of “Pretty Woman,” “Valentine’s Day,” and “New Year’s Eve” – Garry Marshall!
The Scoggins Report: is our weekly spec market analysis and/or pitch report. Use this column to see what's selling, who's buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This real-time Hollywood market intelligence 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...
Three Things That Can Keep You From Winning: 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".
That's it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.
The illness, the one that almost killed me, or almost killed my soul, was also the thing that brought me here. A new home in my city of angels. Heads on stakes. Enemies impaled. All of this revenge surrounding what used to elude me - Power. Until now. One visit to the bird streets and everything changed. They say absolute power corrupts. Absolutely. Yes, it does.
Sometimes innocence is not as useful as effectively feigning innocence is. Especially when you feel like you have blood on your hands. I admit it to myself. This is how I feel. This is how I feel when I see the email to staff describing Wendy's tragic accident. This is how I feel when I see the request for any donations to send her flowers and gifts and a bunch of other things she can buy for her own damn self. This is me pushing that guilt away the moment I read that goddamn insult. This is my hands responding to the email, writing a message I will never send that says "Ask Wendy if she gave a fuck when she fired Max right after his wife miscarried."
The mail cart rolls by, on the dot, at 11:30. He doesn't say anything to me this time. He hasn't even looked at me since our last exchange. Pity. I just lost my hookup to send free packages. Oh well. I was sick of him screwing me with his eyes every time I walked past. Sick of feeling his virtual dick on my ass every time he got behind me in the hall.
"Still giving you trouble?"
Carl, the new IT consultant, the one who looks like he should be strapped in underwear, doused in oil and spread across the wall of an Abercrombie & Fitch instead of toiling away in some windowless tech room, leans against the wall of my cubicle. Here he is again. Doing it again. Teasing me. He's just close enough that I can smell the hint of some pheromone-sparking cologne. Strange. I rarely meet guys with so many tattoos who wear that kind of cologne. It's more of a high-powered business man's scent.
"Yeah," I say. "The stupid thing keeps freezing."
"I think you have too many windows open," he says. "Let me see."
He leans over, brushes my shoulder with his and something ripples across my skin. Oh no. This is not good. This is me feeling a tingle in my crotch almost immediately. This is me glancing at his arm as he moves the mouse around on my desk. Look at the girth on that bicep... The arms are the first hint to the rest of the body... and that hint says he is sliced up and solid and capable of lifting another person's body up and holding it against the wall while he penetrates—
—NO Evan!, I try to tell myself. Don't shit where you work... Don't shit where you work... DON'T shit where you WORK. I know. I know. I... know.
"Actually," he says, "it's something else. I'll have to go deeper into your files."
"Go deeper?," I say. "Please do."
He doesn't turn, doesn't look straight at me, but he smiles. I see it, along with the low-eyed, sideways glance he gives me.
"So what do you do when you're not chained to your desk?," he says, lowering his voice to a husky growl. "Like after six?"
"I'm usually out and about," I say. "There's crazy good bars and lounges in this area."
"Oh yeah? What's your spot?"
I'm about to say The Hawthorne – but I stop. Not Jimmy's spot. Don't be that stupid. Pick another one.
"Love that place," he says. "Love all the red lanterns. We should grab a drink there sometime."
He's still staring at the computer screen and moving the mouse around as if he's trying to solve the problem. I'm still aiming my face towards the screen, keeping his arms in my peripheral vision and playing the mind-video on loop of him fucking me against my apartment wall.
"Sounds good. Let me know."
"Tomorrow," he says.
He lets go of the mouse, faces me straight on and slides his hand along my back, down to my waist, his fingers coasting just above my ass before he walks away.
"I'll have to work on this remotely to figure out the problem," he's speaking at normal volume now. "I'll let you know what I find when I get back from lunch."
"Thanks," I say, closing my eyes and inhaling the last whiff of that cologne as the imaginary naked-bodies-slamming-up-against-the-wall scenario keeps looping in my mind. This is crazy... What am I – in heat?
A message with no subject pops up on my screen. "Still can't believe how weird that was," Kerry's email says. Of course I know what she's talking about. Wendy. Wendy the poor, wounded whiner who got what she deserved. "Imagine if that happened every time you wished for something."
All the pedophiles in prison would get an aggressive skin-eating disease on their cocks, I think. And half of the fifteenth floor medieval rulers would get colorectal cancer. Oh wait... if this all happened... because I wished it... then why weren't Wendy and Tom impaled? Didn't I wish that too?
Ah – the realization hits me – but... I didn't say the impaling thing out loud.
"Yeah...," I reply to Kerry. "What a trip." I don't want to expand. Don't want to give her the slightest hint that I suspect it was really me. Not that she would ever jump to that conclusion. Why would she? This is all too crazy. It doesn't make any sense. Jimmy's messing with me. Isn't he?
Last night's session of Jimmy's-bed-beside-the-mirror-under-a-layer-of-body-oil-and-screaming slides into my thoughts the same way he slid into me three back-to-back times before the clock struck 2 am. This time was different. This time was not that same sloppy-shit-we-made-a-mistake. This time was something so primal, his hands shoving me against the refrigerator over and over until the bottles barreled into and burst the cream off their heads on each other inside. He was not the mediocre mess of never-giving-me-enjoyable-sex that he'd been on our few mistakes before. He was something raging inside. Something hungry and straining as he threw me on the bed and split my legs apart in a flat line like I was a hardback book with two covers curved around to almost touch each other, holding me down by both arms and pushing it, all of that length that seemed so much longer and thicker now, pushing it, pounding it, promising screaming from me that he'd never heard, that I'd never screamed before. Shit. God. Fuck. Me. Oh. My. God. Shit. Jimmy. Jimmy. Jimmy.
I play those visuals on repeat for a few hours. It's taking everything I have not to rub one out and I'm not getting any work done. Who cares. Screw them. They screw us all day every day. I'm wet again and burning up. Now it's Jimmy I can't get out of my mind. Can't stop obsessing about the sex. What's happening to me? I feel like an animal.
I need to walk away. Get outside. Get some air. I take the elevator down, walk out of the building and go. I just go. Go anywhere. Go to keep myself moving. I still don't know if I believe this... maybe I need to do a test...
Yes, that's it. A test. I need to make another wish.
But a wish for what? Do I get everything I wish for?
"I wish there were one million more dollars in my bank account," I say to the air.
"I wish Mark was still alive."
"I wish my friends and family and I would never get old and never die."
I wait. I walk. I take in the summer sunshine. I watch the cars riding up on each others' asses. Watch the drivers holding their cell phones low to hide them as they text. Watch a group of high school kids shout and chase each other on skateboards down the street.
An hour passes. I pull up my bank account on my iPhone. There's no million dollars. Of course there isn't, you idiot... I walk further. A little slower. Every detail around me popping out in sharp detail. I can smell things I've never smelled before. Can hear people talking in buildings seven floors above the ground. I pass a telephone pole with a flier stapled to it. I've seen these badly-sketched fliers on every street for months. Seen them do nothing. How could they? The drawing is so generic it looks like a cartoon.
"WARNING:," it shouts in bold, black letters. "A man fitting this sketch and description has sexually assaulted six women in this neighborhood. The suspect follows women into stairwells and assaults them at gunpoint. If you have any information please call this number."
"I wish that sonofabitch would get arrested, gang-raped in prison by the murderers with the biggest dicks then hang himself till he's dead," I say out loud.
Take it away that dark mist thought breathes softly through my skull.
That's exactly what happened last time. My god...
I turn on my heels and rush back towards the office. The sun beats on me a little as I speed up, sending a film of sweat across my face. It takes me forty minutes to get back. I rush inside, digging my nails into my palms as I squeeze tight fists waiting for the damn elevator to get me to my floor. The doors slide apart and I fly through them, barely missing a collision with one of the medieval rulers and making my way to my desk. I pull up Google news and scroll through every news story. Nothing. I do an internet search. Still nothing. Time creaks by. Emails pop into my box. Requesting things. Asking for work. Kerry sends another one. "Coffee break?," she says. "Can't," I reply. I'm not going to leave my desk. I'm going to stand here and keep checking until it's time for me to leave. How long did it take last time? Was it two hours? Three?
Three. It was three. I remember this when three hours pass and I see it. See the breaking news that the bastard – the one the news anchors hyped with that catchy club-name, ‘Stairwell Rapist' – chased the wrong woman into the wrong stairwell and found himself face down and bound instead of ejaculating his dick. That undercover cop and her hidden crew took him out faster than he'd finished any of his own attacks.
Video coverage starts popping up all over my screen.
"Carl Young, 36, a Sherman Oaks resident with a history of arrests for voyeurism, public nudity and sexual assault, worked as an IT consultant at various companies in the Hollywood, Burbank and Culver City areas of Los Angeles County. Authorities have not confirmed the planned-out nature of his attacks; however, considering Young's daily work schedule and location, it appears that he assaulted women on his lunch breaks. One of his alleged victims, a 19-year-old Santa Monica College student, was paralyzed from the neck down after being sexually assaulted and thrown down parking garage stairs at Universal Studios. More on this as the story develops."
What? NO! My god... Oh... My... God. It was CARL. Carl?! YES. IT consultant Carl. Looping-naked-in-my-brain-brushing-my-skin-with-his-fingers-like-he-wanted-to-brush-those-fingers-between-my-legs-and-sink-them-deep-inside-me-wet-and-warm-to-get-me-ready, Carl. Tattooed all over his body and let's-get-a-fucking-drink-TOMORROW, Carl.
He's going to get back-to-back ass raped in prison... I think... They're going to tear him open from his rectum to his spleen and then he's going to hang himself.
Because he is. Because I know. Because this... this thing... this whatever-it-is that Jimmy sent me up to the bird streets to get... infected with...
About mc foley:
MC Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and resides in West Hollywood, CA. After winning a poetry slam competition in Oakland, CA, Foley toured as a performance poet, doing shows across the U.S. and overseas. Foley then wrote/acted lead in "The Coconut Masquerade," a play written in verse and produced by Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco's SOMA district. Segments of "Coconut," were featured in theaters around the country including the national Hip Hop Theater Festival and LA's Greenway Court Theater. Now in LA, MC Foley is an active novelist, screenwriter and weekly e-columnist. 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.
"Is something you wrote/published on Internet, a valid evidence in a copy-right process, if you can prove it's yours?"
The only 'valid' evidence of a copyright is the copyright registration certificate. Sure, if there's other stuff out there that helps establish the timeline of when a work was created, it's useful, but Internet sources are viewed with some skepticism, since dates and times can sometimes be 'spoofed'. The bottom line is this: If you create a work of original authorship, spend $35 to register the copyright. Do this as early as possible, so you have access to attorneys-fees and statutory damage awards if you ever need to sue someone for infringement.
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.
Directors on Directors: Judd Apatow, Ben Affleck and More Critique This Year’s Oscar Contenders
by Variety staff
J.J. Abrams on Peter Berg, Director of "Lone Survivor"
“Lone Survivor,” Peter Berg's latest and most accomplished film, begins with the bond: a montage of men — physical specimens all, determined, superhumanly tireless — enduring brutal Navy SEAL training. They pledge not just to country, but to each other. It is this bond that is agonizingly tested over the course of this tense and harrowing film.
Directing from his own screenplay (based on the book), Berg unflinchingly depicts a mission in the Afghanistan mountains that goes horribly sideways. Berg is in full command, utilizing myriad techniques to put the viewer in warriors' boots. The performances are raw and affecting, the battle scenes terrifying, and all the more painful because its true.
Berg makes us all witness to the hell of war, and by doing so, he creates another type of bond, between the viewer and the hearts and souls of those who make the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” helmer Abrams is already at work on 2015's “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
Garry Marshall – Director of “Pretty Woman,” “Valentine’s Day,” and “New Year’s Eve” - on his best advice for screenwriters:
"The biggest lesson a screenwriter can learn is how to master a rewrite of his own script, or someone else's, and make the change a studio wants without destroying the story. It's like a football game: If you think of writing an original screenplay as ‘offensive' creativity, then rewriting is all about ‘defensive' creativity.
There are some screenwriters who are great on offense while others excel only at defense. The greatest screenwriters–and the ones who are in demand—are those who can handle both kinds of creativity. The problem I've found is that young writers usually change too much in a rewrite and old writers often don't change enough. What writers should remember is to read a first draft or a rewrite twice, not once but twice, before handing it in. First read it for pacing and plot, and then read it a second time to see if there are good parts for the stars, because that's exactly how the stars are going to read it."
As we hoped, November’s spec market maintained October’s heady pace, notching the second month in a row of 2011/2012-style numbers as you can see from the month-over-month grid below. As we noted last week, last month’s numbers are the highest for a November since 2007, and the combined October/November number rivals 2011’s crazy high total from the same period (28).
Here are our favorite highlights:
Three non-studio buyers got on the board for the first time this year, while 2013 stalwart studio Fox bought its 5th of the year and 2013 laggards Columbia and Warner Bros. bought their 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
UTA's 3 sales in November extended its 1st place lead over 2nd place WME to nine and over 3rd place CAA to twelve. APA had a great month, too, posting its own hat trick.
Big ups to Scott Carr, one of our favorite managers, who sold his first spec under his new management company banner, Management SGC.
November’s raw numbers are below, followed by the usual weekly breakdowns and the details of each sale. Enjoy.
1 Total sales in November
2 Sales percentage of scripts that came out and sold in November
The above percentages reflect just those that came out and sold in November.
Weekly Activity Breakdown
Week of November 4:
8 new specs hit the boards (one on Friday the 1st), none of which have sold
4 additional spec sales were announced:
Blood Ties (11/4)
Bus 757 (11/6)
Line of Duty (11/7)
The Civilian (11/5 - went out 10/23)
Week of November 11:
8 new specs hit the tracking boards, one of which has sold
The Politician (11/14 - went out 11/11)
4 additional spec sales were announced:
From Here To Albion (11/13)
The Unseen (11/11)
Week of November 18:
8 new specs hit the tracking boards, none of which have sold yet
1 additional spec sale was announced:
It’s On (11/21)
Week of November 25 (Thanksgiving):
No specs hit the boards (surprise)
No spec sales were announced (see above)
Spec Sales (alphabetical by title)
Project titles in the report are now linked to the corresponding Spec Scout page, so you can click to see which of the below we’ve covered and scored there.
BLOOD TIES Writer:Steve Hanulik Reps:Unrepped Buyer:Nasser Entertainment Genre: Heist thriller
Attachments: Dennis Lee (“Jesus Henry Christ”) is attached to direct. Brothers Jack and Joseph Nasser (“Recoil”) will produce.
Logline: A disgraced hostage negotiator is called in to resolve a crisis at a bank, only to discover that the hostage-taker is his estranged father.
BUS 757 Writer:Stephen Sepher Reps:Unrepped Buyer:Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films Genre: Action thriller
Attachments: Sepher will produce with Randall Emmett, George Furla and Alexander Tabrizi. Untitled’s Beth Holden-Garland will executive produce with Dan Grodnik and Emmett/Furla’s Brandon Grimes. Tim Sullivan will co-produce.
Logline: A Las Vegas card dealer puts a crew together to rob a bank and hijack a city bus as collateral.
FROM HERE TO ALBION Writers:Rory Haines & Sohrab Noshivani Reps:UTA and Oasis Media Group (Benjamin Rowe)
Buyer:Participant Media Genre: Thriller
Notes:Jonathan King and Erik Andreasen will oversee for Participant. This is the first sale for the neophyte scribes.
Logline: A tragic accident sets a chain of violence in motion in a coastal English town, leading a malevolent stranger to seek revenge on the perpetrators and the detective who covered it up.
IT'S ON Writer:Scott Rothman (“Draft Day”)
Reps:CAA (Bill Zotti, Chris Till) and Kaplan/Perrone (Aaron Kaplan)
Buyer:Gulfstream Pictures Genre: Comedy
Attachments: Gulfstream’s Mike Karz and Bill Bindley will produce.
Notes:Josie Rosen will oversee for Gulfstream.
Logline: Kept under wraps.
LINE OF DUTY Writer:Cory Miller Reps:APA (Adam Perry, Chris Ridenhour) and Luber Roklin (Bryan Brucks)
Buyer:Lotus Entertainment Genre: Thriller
Attachments: Brucks and Matt Luber will produce.
Logline: A police-thriller version of Macbeth: The tragic rise and fall of a heroic NYPD narcotics detective who is pushed to the dark side of police corruption.
NEMESIS Writer:Chris Wheeler Reps:UTA Buyer:Warner Bros. Genre: Action thriller
Attachments:Akiva Goldsman will produce through his Weed Road Pictures with Safehouse Pictures’ Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell and Animal Logic’s Zareh Nalbandian and Jason Lust.
Notes:Craig Rosenberg (“The Quiet Ones,” “Jurassic Park III”) is already rewriting.
Logline: Kept under wraps.
STOLEN Writer:Joe Burke & Kevin Oestenstad Reps:APA (Sheryl Petersen) and Principato Young (Peter Principato)
Buyer:1984 Private Defense Contractors Genre: Horror
Attachments: 1984’s Adi Shankar and Spencer Silna will produce.
Logline: A young city couple’s short trip turns into a rural nightmare when one of them steps out of a quiet local movie theater to answer her phone and never returns.
THE CIVILIAN Writer:Brian Pittman & Rachel Long Reps:UTA (Ramses IsHak) and Management SGC (Scott Carr)
Buyer:Millennium Genre: Action thriller
Attachments: Millennium’s Mark Gill will produce with the customary long list of Millennium executive producers: Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Christine Crow.
Notes: Reportedly sold for mid-six figures.
Logline: When an American doctor has his identity stolen, the only way he can clear his name is to assume the dangerous mission of the spy who stole it.
THE POLITICIAN Writers:Matt Bass & Theodore Bressman Reps:WME (Solco Schuit) and PYE (Bressman: Peter Principato) and Circle of Confusion (Bass: Julian Rosenberg)
Buyer:Columbia Genre: Comedy
Attachments:Mark Gordon will produce through his eponymous production company with Grey Point Pictures’ Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver.
Notes: Reportedly sold for mid- against high six figures. Writers are proteges of Rogen and Goldberg. Hannah Minghella and Andrea Giannetti will oversee for the studio.
Logline: “Bad Santa” meets “Midnight Run.” A disgraced Governor and his accomplice go on the run from the FBI and US Marshal Service. Along the way, the governor gets kidnapped by a crazy, disgruntled constituent.
THE UNSEEN Writer:John Travis Reps:APA (Steve Fisher, Chris Ridenhour) and Industry (Ava Jamshidi)
Buyer:Fox Genre: Horror
Attachments:Hutch Parker will produce through his eponymous production company.
Notes: Adapted from John Connolly’s short story “Mr. Pettinger’s Daemon.”
Logline: Kept under wraps, but said to have the tone of “The Others.”
THE STRATEGIST Writer:Inon Shampanier Reps:Original Artists (Chris Sablan, Jordan Bayer)
Buyer:Millennium Genre: Thriller
Attachments: Shampanier will also direct. Millenium’s Mark Gill will produce with Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson and John Thompson.
Logline: A chess master CIA recruit is brought in to mastermind the takedown of a dangerous dictator. The adversary is himself a brilliant man with impenetrable security who must be outmaneuvered at every turn.
THE UNSACRED Writer:Amanda Gusack Reps:Paradigm (David Boxerbaum) and Zero Gravity (Eric Williams)
Buyer:Screen Gems Genre: Horror thriller
Attachments: Father/son team Peter and Alan Riche will produce their Riche Productions.
Notes:Scott Strauss is overseeing for Screen Gems.
Logline: Kept under wraps.
UNLEASH THE MULES Writer:Chris Parker (“Heaven is for Real”)
Reps:Gersh (Bayard Maybank, Devra Lieb) and Circle of Confusion (Noah Rosen)
Buyer:Columbia Genre: Drama
Attachments:Joe Roth will produce through his eponymous production company with son Zack Roth and Dennis Stratton.
Notes: Devon Franklin will oversee for the studio.
Logline: A skeptical coach helps a blind high school student win the state wrestling championship.
UNTITLED CANTWELL/ROGERS/KOSINSKI PROJECT Writer:Christopher Cantwell & Christopher Rogers (“The Knoll,” “Halt & Catch Fire”)
Reps:Verve (Aaron Hart, Bill Weinstein) and Management 360 (Darin Friedman, Chris Huvane)
Buyer:MRC Genre: Action thriller
Attachments:Joe Kosinski (“Oblivion”) hatched the idea and is attached to direct. Dylan Clark will produce.
Logline: Kept under wraps.
WHITE RUSH Writer:John Schramm Reps:CAA (Matt Martin) and Energy Entertainment (Brooklyn Weaver)
Buyer:Thunder Road Genre: Action thriller
Attachments: Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk will produce.
Logline: Contained action thriller in the vein of “Point Break.”
About The Scoggins Report: The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics. Caveat emptor.
Jason Scoggins is a serial entrepreneur and senior entertainment industry executive whose 15+ year career includes stints as a TV literary agent and feature literary manager. His most recent venture, SpecScout.com, which soft launched at the beginning of December 2012, is his second web-based entertainment industry start-up. Previously, he'd founded the film development database company ItsontheGrid.com. In addition to guiding Spec Scout, he continues to provide consulting and management services to his clients.
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:
Michael De Luca
President of Production, Columbia Pictures
Have you really read through your script to make sure it's ready to be sent out? Before you submit it to your next contest, there are a probably a few things you neglected to check first. However, if you pay attention to the Three Things That Can Keep You From Winning, you just might give your script the polish it needs to win.
The first item that you need to examine regarding your screenplay is spelling. It's amazing how many scripts that judges come across with basic spelling errors. Every word processing software out there comes with a spell checker. Even if you only make a handful of changes in your script as a last minute rewrite, run the checker again. Why? Because you may have spelled "the" as "teh", for example. It's an honest mistake, but one that is easily fixed.
The other aspect you need to check regarding spelling, are words that a spell checker won't pick up. For example; their, they're and there. Make sure you use these words correctly. It's easy to write a sentence along the lines of "There car broke down on a desolate road." "There" is spelled correctly, but what you mean to use is "Their".
Read through your script at least once looking for these errors. I often times use the search feature to seek out specific words so I can read the sentence to make sure I used the correct word. Do a document search as well for "your" and "you're".
The second element that needs to be examined are blank pages or pages that only have writing on half of them. Perhaps you wanted to end a page on a certain scene so you've inserted a hard page break. However, when you performed your rewrite, the script gets reformatted but the page break remains. Scroll the pages to make sure the writing goes from top to bottom.
As a judge, when I see these mistakes, it suggest to me that what you've submitted is a first draft. Even if the version you've sent out to the contest is your tenth of twentieth run through of the script, that is the perception that your screenplay is giving out. If you haven't taken the time to give your script a final once over, should you really expect to win the contest?
Third, make sure you actually submit your script when you enter a contest. Many contests are accepting electronic versions of screenplays instead of paper copies. The accepted formats are those generated by the Final Draft software and .PDF files. There have been a great deal of scripts that I have received that only have a cover page and nothing else.
Had those writers actually checked the file to make sure the conversion was done properly, they might've had their cell phone's voice mail filled with opportunities from production companies or specific actors interested in developing that script.
These suggestions may cause eye rolls or shoulder shrugs because they seem like such amateurish errors that they are hardly worth considering. All it takes is a wrong key to be pressed or an incorrect menu choice to be clicked on after a weary day of writing to throw your entire script into the weeds.
Now that you are aware of these potential pitfalls, you know what to look for. Such mistakes don't diminish your creative skills as a writer. But, remember that it's not a mistake if you catch it first. Keep your eyes tuned to these bloopers and you're script will be sure to catch the attention of the contest judge in a positive way.
While you may have sweated out a rewrite on your recent script, there's one blank page that you may not have thought about. Have you managed to capture the essence of what your script is about? If not, you may need to Rethink Your Title.
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.