View Full Version : A new Hollywood
05-08-2004, 08:43 PM
Before I get started on my rant, I want to say that I am not seeking anyone's credit card number or pension money. Every so often something pops in your mind during a moment of clarity, I had just a moment. It has a lot to do with a concept like pgl, but on steroids. Here it comes:
Writers and writers only who have a completed screenplay enter a contest. Only in this contest it's more like a partnership. Each contestant pays either 1,000 or 500 dollars to enter depending on the number of entries. Before everyone gets the rail to to ride me around on, hear me out. All of the money collected in the contest. I repeat ALL of the money collected in the contest goes toward the making of a movie using the winning screenplay. All profit from the movie goes back to the people who entered the contest in equal shares. The contestants would have a peer to peer review system to determine the top 100, then professional readers would be used to determine the top 10. Then the contestants would have an opportunity to read each of the top ten screenplays. Finally, there would be a vote by each of the contestants to determine which script gets produced. The movie is made and who knows what can happen.
If you have any feedback, I'd like to hear it.
05-08-2004, 08:57 PM
There may be some people who would go into a pool like that, but I'm not that big a gambler, and/or $500 is too much money to me. A lot of indies don't find distribution and don't make any money.
05-08-2004, 09:36 PM
That sounds like a good idea in theory, I might even be willing to enter a contest like that but I would need some reassurances that things would go down as they should. I would risk the $500
05-08-2004, 09:46 PM
I actually think it's not a bad idea, in concept. I wouldn't be too quick to say it's not workable. But here's just some of the things, good or bad, that come to my mind.
1. The MATH. If you figure 5,000 entries in the Nicholl, then you have a benchmark for the upper limit. Say 90 percent of that number won't participate because of the expense. So, if you get 500 participants (that's a very optimistic number, IMO. probably more like 200) at $500 each, you have a pool of $250,000 to produce the film. A decent amount by regular-Joe's-personal-bank-account standards, but still only one-quarter the budget of PGL. And we see in neon how they squawk over the insufficiency of that ($1 million) amount on the show.
2. The LOGISTICS. How do we get all 500 participants together to judge the material and oversee the process to our satisfaction (because we're definitely not going to f*ck around when we've got $500 riding on it).
It does offer the potential advantage that we could all make money off the project aside from whether our own script is the one seleceted and produced. So, in a way, we could all be winners. And it would, for that reason, be somewhat self-correcting in that we have a more "vested" interest in actually selecting the best script rather than our own (if we can be so objective to see they may not be one and the same).
There is enormous potential for squabbling and in-fighting, of course, and that in itself is probably what would destroy the viability of the process, even if in theory it could work.
The ownership share issue would also require the services of an attorney, etc.
Also, though I could be willing to toss $500 into the ring (if it were excruciatingly-well organized and operated) in such an endeavor, I tend to doubt you'll find many other takers. Obviously, without a bottom threshhold of at least 200 or more participants, it's a definite no go. The odds are far better than the lottery, but they're still probably hell, I'll just throw out: 100 to 1 against it ever making money.
I do like your entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking, though.
05-08-2004, 11:34 PM
The problems all of you have mentioned are very workable, and do not differ from the same problems one would face when starting a corporation. With the Internet you could have a password protected site for the members to see who else has joined. It would also allow a forum for meetings, obviously you would need people to oversee the forum to maintain order, but it would still be a great place to exchange and present ideas. The key to making it trustworthy is for no one person to hold the money. The participants could set up an escrow account at a well known bank until all of the money and shareholders are sufficient. In the event the project does not go forward due to lack of people, the money would be refunded. After the money is raised, the next thing would be an election to decide a group of lets say three to keep cost at a minimal to OBSERVE pre-production. Candidates for director will be interviewed then voted on. The director will then be observed by representatives of the participants and the movie will be made according to a schedule and budget. Both of which must be approved by the participants. The bottom line would be no one person would control the money and a strict record would be kept to deter any funny business. Little things like no active involvement by any participant or their associates during production will reduce the likely hood of the dreaded kickback. It's not a perfect system, but it's the system that has made the United States the riches country in the world a few times over. As far as odds go; Most screenwriters spent 35 bucks with pgl at the chance of getting 25000 and notoriety. 1 out of 4000 chance at being successful. 3999 other people will continue to dream. The odds are you won't sell a screenplay in your natural life. So why do you keep writing? The odds are, even if you sell a screenplay it won't actually be filmed. So why do you keep writing? The odds are if this movie gets made it would find itself like many other movies, the focus of laughter and ridicule. People would look and laugh and say, hey look those writers made a stinking Turkey. Your mom would laugh at you and say, you wasted your money and they didn't even give you the wishbone. Most successful writers don't worry about the odds. The only thing this would guarantee, is that a movie would defiantly get made, you would be involved as much as anyone, and you would definitely be a shareholder and all the money raised would go toward the making of a film. For every million it made you would get 1000 dollars. If it stinks and even your grandma says she thought it stunk. You can say, it may have been a turkey, but it was my @#%$ turkey.
Excuse the French at the end, I got caught up in the moment.
05-08-2004, 11:43 PM
I like your spirit, Derrick. The idea has merit. And you're right, if I were playing the odds, I'd say f*ck screenwriting. But I don't. I love the creative process and I love having this outlet for ideas and this notion, however deluded, that I'm part of something bigger in an industry that rocks.
If you can find at least 499 others like me, count me in. I'll pluck down $500 for the adventure.
05-08-2004, 11:57 PM
I'm like you Salazkin, WE only need 498 more people then we can make a movie... It might take years... then again... it might not.
05-09-2004, 07:40 AM
This is a very interesting idea, almost "socialist" in approach, but I have huge doubts about this kind of concept...
The biggest problem, as I see it, is that screen writers are very competitive, you've only to read the posts on this board to verify that contention. There's a lot of good folks, with good intentions but there are others so determined to have the last word and the final say, they assassinate their target with rapier like skill.
(It truly astounds me that creative people can be so insensitive and ruthless. In order for one to be creative in the first place, you'd assume that a certain amount of intellect is required. People skills should be part of their decorum. Some folks on these boards contend that ripping a writer up one side and down the other is healthy and it's how they'll be treated in the real world... In all the years I've been writing screenplays, I've NEVER received a rejection letter or phone call telling me I sucked. If anything, the studios and production companies are extremely polite and always willing to take a look at additional work... Those execs. who have taken the time to offer me a critique have done so with the utmost respect and consideration.)
I've participated in Zoetrope and PGL and both experiences were so bad for me, in terms of the mean spiritedness and cliquishness that dominated both competitions, I've never gone back.
So, in my opinion, this kind of thing would be very difficult to do, especially as a "peer to peer review". Based on my experience, it doesn't work well. Everyone is out for themselves to such a degree, I don't think a "collective" approach could work effectively.
I'd rather take my chances with a Nichol's Fellowship or a Sundance competition than invest $500.00 with a group of people that all want to be #1 so badly and win at any cost that they'd sell their souls for the chance.
It's not my intention to be a downer, I'm speaking from my own personal experience. It's an interesting idea but the potential headaches and hurdles are enormous.
05-09-2004, 08:09 AM
Great idea, count me in, tho' instead of $500 I'll contribute the completed screenplay, just give me a couple of weeks' advance warning, thanks.
Hey, I said it first. Everyone else to the back of the queue.
05-09-2004, 08:34 AM
Who would be judging?
05-09-2004, 11:08 AM
A big group of screenwriters are going to invest that much money in a process that ultimately pays out only for one of them, and the contest organizers?
I think not.
Screenwriters win contests all the time. When you submit a screenplay to a producer or studio, and they decide to purchase it, you've won! When you're called with a writing assignment, you've won! When an agent has signed you, you've won!
Most contests are wastes of time and money, unless it's something that is industry connected like Sundance of the Nichols.
It's like the old saying, a fool and his money are soon departed.
05-09-2004, 11:55 AM
The initial judges and final judge would be the participants. I agree with you the selfish nature of people in general is a problem, but I would point out that selfishness is not a trait held only by screenwriters. I strongly disagree that a contest or venture of this nature would only benefit one screenwriter or it's promoter. First off there would be no promoter. The whole goal for all of the participants would be to find the best possible script out of the pool of say 500 to 1000.
The incentive to get the best screenplay even if it isn't yours is great and uses the best form of motivation, self gain. The reason I feel pgl has not really made a hit yet, is they have not found the few diamonds in the rough. Let's say out of the 4000 people who entered the contest, a total of ten screenplays would actually be box office hits, if made. The reason why I would not enter a contest like this, is even if you wrote one of those ten screenplays, chances are you definitely would not win. Why? Because your competition is judging you, and they gain nothing by advancing you, in fact they potentially hurt themselves by helping a screenplay that is better than theirs.
So now you think; what's the difference between that and this. The difference is, you've invested at least 500 bucks into a contest so the incentive is high to make sure you send on the best script. A contest like this isn't designed to advance one writer, I would even like the idea of the writer whose script were chosen still receive only the one share that each writer will receive. This would shift the goal from just wanting to win, to just finding the best possible screenplay out of a pool of 500 screenwriters who really believe in their work.
Let me throw a further twist in this. This would not be a contest for only amateur screenwriters, it would be open to anyone who has a screenplay. So in the end you would have people not caring as much about their individual script, but wanting to make the best possible script into a movie to achieve that magical concept, self gain. Granted 500 bucks is a lot of money to most people, but let's talk about some other cost in screenwriting. The cost of living and moving out to L.A. The cost of good screenwriting software. The cost of the many contest people enter. The cost for coping screenplays.
Finally let's talk about the business side of making movies. Who controls Hollywood? Owners and some actors. Why? Because they make movies. How many movies have been made without the writer? None. You would think that this would empower the writer, the reason why it doesn't is because the writers are too busy trying to win the rat race against other writers and they do not own. This type of venture would get writers working together and more importantly the writers would become one of the two people who get movies made, owners.
05-10-2004, 01:25 AM
The most important thing to make this kind of contest work is to have a producer on board, who has the repuatation for the utmost integrity.
05-10-2004, 09:04 AM
I'm in. It'll be a hard sell to the wife, but then she just spent $700 on patio furniture, and we live in Maine. I'm due.
A lot of producers/managers troll these boards. Any comment from any of them? Any of us have a relationship with one that would get involved in something like this?
writer for life
05-10-2004, 11:19 AM
I'd do it if I had 500 bucks, but I barely have enough to feed myself. For the time being.
I like the idea. My only problem with it would be selecting the winning screenplay. Everyone will have a different opinion on what the best script is EVEN IF they've invested 500 bucks... they have all that money riding on it, and they'll be adamant that nobody ****s it up, possibly blinding them to what a great screenplay is. It's the whole "too many cooks" syndrome... though in this case, it's not being made by Harvard MBAs (studio execs), so maybe I'm wrong.
But I love the idea. The writers control everything (except what happens AFTER the director is chosen).
05-10-2004, 11:52 AM
I agree, you would need someone already established in the movie industry to help oversee it and to give people the security of knowing that all the money collected would go toward the making of the movie. I would think a famous pro would be happy to lend a hand to something like this, after all most of them remember their own humble beginnings.
Selecting the screenplay would be a well defined predetermined process. As with any venture with a large number of people with vested interest, their will be squabbling and agendas. However, I think the screenplay that is ultimately selected would be a very good screenplay. I don't think you can say that for most of the movies made today.
A message board could also be set up for the top ten scripts to receive feedback and suggestions from the others in the group. They could take the advice or leave it, but once the script is chosen, that would be it. No changes from producers, directors, actors or somebody's mother. The script is shot as is and strictly transfered from the script to the film. You know why, because the writers would say so and have the power to back it up.
If anyone wants to comment are speak in private, email me at
If any well known producer would like to help, chime in.
05-10-2004, 12:20 PM
Maybe CE will do it?
I'm from Maine too. Patio furniture has a short season there. I intend to go back this summer for a visit.
05-10-2004, 04:13 PM
But I love the idea. The writers control everything (except what happens AFTER the director is chosen).I totally agree. The notion of empowering writers for a change is immensely gratifying. I really have very little knowledge (so far) about how the industry works (many if not most on this board probably knows more about it than me, so they should correct me if I mis-speak), but it would seem there really are no other players in the industry possessing anywhere near the same potential for self-realization as the writer. Doesn't everyone else basically depend, either directly or indirectly, on possession of a script (or "possession" of a writer who can produce a script) or on possession of some afterproduct which itself requires a script, BEFORE THESE OTHER PLAYERS CAN PRODUCE THEIR PRODUCT OR SERVICE? Seems the writer is the only one in that unique position. It's unfortunate we don't make use of (exploit, if you will) our unique position. We may not each and every one of us necessarily deserve it, but as a profession I think we do.
My two cents.
05-11-2004, 10:20 AM
If I came up as number 500, I'd have no bad feelings.
08-19-2004, 12:13 PM
So, anybody still interested? This thread suddenly stopped, maybe I missed a meeting. Or maybe Derrick has run off and set it up already?
Don't call it a contest though, call it a Writer's Filmaking Collective or something. We'd want to incorporate as a production company perhaps.
I still think this is a good idea, the only real barrier is the number of participants, which limits the budget. All the other considerations are surmountable, in my opinion. A lot of us have scripts that don't depend on tons of money. Maybe we can get Will involved, and tie it into DD somehow?
Any more discussion?
08-19-2004, 01:15 PM
Nice: It's a contest AND an investment. Even if you lose the contest, you can still win on the investment side.
Agree with donaldgregory that getting a reputable producer on board is key to create legitimacy. But what would be their angle? Producers make movies for money, not charity.
08-19-2004, 03:19 PM
What if each entrant was guaranteed a credit on the film? Not as a writer, but as a "consultant", or, heck, an associate producer. Wouldn't that provide an added incentive?
500 names rolling by might look silly, but everyone would know that his/her $500 buys him/her at least that.
To get 500 people would require a marketing campaign well outside the bounds of DD. The tricky part is to find the right balance between marketing cost (i.e., gain in participation) vs. corresponding reduction in the film's budget.
08-20-2004, 12:30 AM
It's a lofty thought, and probably the fifth time I've heard the same idea (sorry).
It is so wrought with potential for abuse, political sidewinding, lawsuits, it would be ultimately be a disaster.
Not to be a naysayer, go for it, but remember the above when it's said and done.
08-22-2004, 01:33 AM
interesting idea, but how on earth would you make sure that the money is paid back...
and I can only imagine 500 writers feeling like we have a say in something -- that would be 500 directors etc. each feeling like, "hey, I contributed 5 Cs, I want my say."
As they say, it's all in the execution of the idea...
Writing In The Margins
08-22-2004, 02:52 AM
Writerly pointed out what could be the biggest problem with this idea. If everyone contributes an equal amount finanically, then everyone would expect to have an equal amount of say in the decision-making, from the script selection to the marketing of the film.
Have you ever tried to get 4-5 people to agree on which movie to rent? What restaurant to eat at? What to do on a Friday night?
There are millions of decisions to be made during the filmmaking process. I can't imagine anything getting done with that many "directors" and "producers".
08-22-2004, 11:22 AM
For my $500 is would like to reserve the right to produce and distribute the reality show that follows the process.
I would also like to suggest that the screenplay selection process take place on an island.
I will call the show Screenwriter Survivor.
08-22-2004, 10:02 PM
Capital idea, Jim. :smokin
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