Thursday, September 18, 2008


I was watching the documentary Dreams on Spec (which you can watch here if you are in the United States) which traces the lives of three spec screenwriters here in Los Angeles.

I haven't watched the whole thing but after ten minutes it appears pretty bleak for our three "heroes." It's painful to watch because you realize what sort of crap shoot the writing games is in Hollywood...

That is, how it used to be played.

All the time people ask me how I came to wrote the Scarecrow movies. I tell them that I only co-wrote them and I was in the right place at the right time with a good sample of my work. I knew enough to streamline a lot of the narrative (which amazingly got inserted back into the film anyway) and had enough production experience to make some script changes that enabled the film to be shot on its initial 10 day schedule.

If I hadn't already been close to the production or wasn't prepared with a script that people thought was a good read - I wouldn't be writing this post. And because there is so much chaff surrounding the good wholesome wheat of scripts here in Hollywood - I would be speccing with the rest.

Fortunately, I was invited (ordered, commanded?) to come up with more characters and stories my employers to exploit. I did so gleefully, accepting my checks for my creativity on top of my regular salary. I was hired by other production companies to rewrite scripts and concepts they had in development. I then wrote several short stories which were published...and so on.


The crap shoot could just as easily gone the other way. They could have laughed at me and said,"Hell No," and I could have been stamped, "Denied."

And where the hell would I be?

Exactly. Same place two of the guys in the documentary are - unproduced (A word which has this stench of failure stuck to its shoes that gets all over the carpet).

My advice? Treat your writing and filmmaking career like any other bit of employment. You have to build it. You have to build your work experience and your field of contacts. You have to get good by doing it every day. You have to kiss that Better Idea right on the mouth, and take her advice when she tells you to take out the trash in your story.

And thankfuly the web is right here to help you do that.

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