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Hamboogul
06-01-2004, 03:16 AM
So there are catchphrases and beliefs that seem to exist almost exclusively on DD or screenwriting sites in general. And I thought it'd be fun to list the DD reality and compare to our observations and experiences.

Out in the real world (and I'll admit that my "real world" is fairly limited to my own LA experiences in two years), I've never...

1) Had any discussion with agents, managers, creative executives, screenwriting professors about "We see."

2) Had any of my scripts broken down in a 3-act (in the Syd Field sense), 8 sequences, 9 acts or whatever. What I've often found is that half the working writers aren't even familiar with any of these.

3) Met anyone who was a contest winner other than the Sundance, Chesterfield, Disney, Austin, or Nicholl. It may be that they might have won the smaller contests but they realize how insignificant these contests are that they never mention them.

4) Met anyone who is dedicated to the screenwriting craft (constantly working on their projects, rewriting, in writers' groups, etc) and towards making it not be connected in some way. I find that people in the industry genuinely want to help those who are hard-working and talented. And they don't care a lick about those who are dilettante about the craft.

5) Been offered anything but bottled water at in-house meetings. So if you like soda, BYOS.

v i o l e n t c a s e s
06-01-2004, 05:08 AM
i think number 5 is clearly endemic of the south beach/atkins/hamptons diet that has hit los angeles like an epidemic, making soda a complete no-no. they probably thought if they offered you soda they'd offend you and you'd tell them to piss off.

bottled water is the new black.

creativexec
06-01-2004, 08:38 AM
My observations on YOUR FIVE.


#1) AGREE. This is way too obvious.


#2) DISAGREE. Discussing THREE ACTS is very
much the norm. "We need to move that scene
to the third act." "The mid-point is too weak."
"The second act flounders." The three act
structure is the universal language of Hollywood.
Better learn to speak it. It's a map that every-
one in the room can follow. I've never been to
a story conference (and I've been to a million)
where it wasn't referenced.

#3) DISAGREE. I've met PLENTY. There are
a zillion contests, and the winners come out of
the woodwork, hoping to exploit their contest
wins as a way to gain entree.


#4) AGREE. New writers who are serious will
do everything they can to connect.


#5) DISAGREE. You must be assertive here.
It doesn't matter what they offer, if you want
something else, you ask for it. "Would you like
some water, Ham?" "Thank you, no. I'd prefer
a Coke." If they have it, they'll get it. ICM
has free soda GALORE.


:D

crab43
06-01-2004, 08:41 AM
I've been offered diet coke in meetings in a few meetings. Its not a good idea. It makes you burp.

freebaser14
06-01-2004, 08:53 AM
From my own small experience, its all about the three act structure. I heard about it from producers, CE's and managers.

As for water, got offered plenty, but I drank everything from diet pepsi to coffee. It's just like being on a plane. :D

TonyRob
06-01-2004, 09:12 AM
You must be assertive here.
It doesn't matter what they offer, if you want
something else, you ask for it. "Would you like
some water, Ham?" "Thank you, no. I'd prefer
a Coke." If they have it, they'll get it.

I'd prefer a Coke with some Jack Daniel's in it. Would they get that for me? And hold the Coke? :D

PipeWriter
06-01-2004, 09:32 AM
I think it's funny that a person can agree or disagree on another person's personal observations and experiences.

Why don't you try, "No Ham, I definitely offered you a coke and a smile."

April Hamilton
06-01-2004, 09:34 AM
1. agree - have never had it happen.

2. disagree - happens with every script I turn in

3. agree, but I don't get out and "mix" much so I'm probably pretty ignorant with regard to this one.

4. not sure I understand; once people start to get some positive attention, they become de-facto "connected" because of having gained so many fans. But I've personally never met a screenwriter who made it from obscurity to success for any reason other than talent and drive.

5. disagree; I've always been asked what I'd like, and I always request Diet Coke. The only time I didn't get it was at Spyglass, where they were out of Diet Coke. They did have Diet Vernors, however.

creativexec
06-01-2004, 09:43 AM
We're not suggesting Ham's observations are
WRONG.

We are offering up our experiences on the
situations he presented and stating whether
or not our experiences coincide with Ham's.

Wasn't that the point of the thread?

Don't take the "agree" and "disagree"
literally.

:D

PipeWriter
06-01-2004, 09:44 AM
Fair enough.

But did you offer him a coke and a smile?

creativexec
06-01-2004, 09:47 AM
If Ham wants a Coke, he better ask for it.

:D

NikeeGoddess
06-01-2004, 10:26 AM
TANGENT ALERT!
in that flicker A Million to Juan with Paul Rodriguez - he was offered bottled water or coffee and he asked for a sex on the beach ;)

OkeyDokey
06-01-2004, 10:48 AM
There's a running joke in "The Player" about offering bottled water, so this ain't nothing new...

Wait a minute - this IS a tangent!

sc111
06-01-2004, 11:07 AM
Ham:

Could be they discuss 3-act structure when you go to the bathroom after all that fluid intake.

No, wait. That's my nightmare. And update on nightmares about missing high school classes.

:D

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
06-01-2004, 11:34 AM
In two meetings in one week, on both occasions there was a table full of sodas and juices, and when the exec asked what I'd like, and I asked for water, he left the room and returned with a glass of water.

Very weird.

dclary
06-01-2004, 11:34 AM
ICM has free soda galore

I now know which agency will rep me, when I'm ready to let them.

Hamboogul
06-01-2004, 11:53 AM
Woo hoo, next time I'll ask for diet pepsi. This has been all very helpful.

freebaser14
06-01-2004, 12:21 PM
Come back to me, Freeboogul. Come back to me.

Mike Samonek
06-01-2004, 12:41 PM
2) Had any of my scripts broken down in a 3-act (in the Syd Field sense), 8 sequences, 9 acts or whatever. What I've often found is that half the working writers aren't even familiar with any of these.



Well, if that's your experience, I guess we aren't supposed to argue, but this gets talked about a lot in my life.

And I always demand coffee.

Hamboogul
06-01-2004, 01:16 PM
I admit now that I didn't intend point 2 to come out the way I did. I think everyone is familiar with the very panoramic 3 act structure but most don't dissect or discuss in the Syd Field method of 3 acts. (X, Y, Z need to happen by End of Act I. Blah Blah Blah needs to happen by midpoint, etc).

Also, the 8 sequence method was often preached at my film school to the point that the classes were structured so you can bring one sequence in at a time. And half the writers in this business aren't familiar with the 8 sequences. Nor have I had any conversation with anyone who broke down scripts this way outside of DD or film school.

So April, CE, Mike S, you guys are right.

But I still have yet to be offered anything but water and cookies.

Mike Samonek
06-01-2004, 01:20 PM
Also, the 8 sequence method was often preached at my film school to the point that the classes were structured so you can bring one sequence in at a time. And half the writers in this business aren't familiar with the 8 sequences. Nor have I had any conversation with anyone who broke down scripts this way outside of DD or film school.



I've never heard of this. I think the most technical term that ever comes up is probably "first act break."

captain bligh
06-01-2004, 01:24 PM
i have never heard of the 8 sequence method. but it seems pretty self explanatory.

Hamboogul
06-01-2004, 01:26 PM
That's more of what I meant. And I'm glad you never heard of it because it's more proof that I wasted $60K at film school.


Just to let you know what the 8 sequence might be.

First sequence - Intro, set up world. Inciting Event
Second sequence - Stuff happens. Conflicts are locked. End of Act I.
Third sequence - Hero in denial. Trying to revert to old world.
Fourth sequence - Struggles in return to old world. Decides to take matters into own hands. MIDPOINT
Fifth sequence - I don't remember. I usually doze off in class at this point. But if there's a love story... this is where it usually escalates.
Sixth sequence - Bad stuff starts to happen. Hero is at the lowest point. END OF ACT II
Seventh sequence - Hero accomplishes mission that leads to... false ending.
Eighth sequence - Final twist and real ending.


Yeah... it's pretty stupid.

PurpleCurtain
06-01-2004, 01:29 PM
ICM has free soda GALORE.I'm pretty sure they've only ever offered me water. Maybe I'll get the jazzy stuff when I start bringing in six-figure commissions...

freebaser14
06-01-2004, 02:19 PM
"But I still have yet to be offered anything but water and cookies."

Dude, you got cookies??? Who gave you cookies??? What kind of cookies??? I never got cookies!!!! :(

I didn't know you could get food at these things. Hmmm...

April Hamilton
06-01-2004, 02:26 PM
Hamboo's getting cookies?! I need to start taking better meetings.

And by "better", I mean with snacks.

TonyRob
06-01-2004, 02:26 PM
I think the 8 sequence stuff must be a grad screenwriting program thing, because we never discussed screenwriting that way. (Yes, we did study 3 acts and the importance of hitting all of the major beats and plot points, but really only during our first year.)

ThunderChikin
06-01-2004, 02:44 PM
Cookies? No one told me there'd be cookies. This writer thing is so cool.

zz9
06-01-2004, 02:49 PM
Second sequence - Stuff happens.
Well, I got that bit down pat. What were all the other things?

And if I asked for a Coke and they bought me Pepsi I'd walk out! "Screw you Speilberg!" I'd scream, "I'm not dealing with amatuers!"

Manilow in Blue
06-01-2004, 04:32 PM
What about punch and pie? I was told there would be punch and pie!

refriedwhiskey
06-01-2004, 05:08 PM
schmoke anna pancake?

Mike Samonek
06-01-2004, 05:32 PM
bong and a blintz?

Dreamworks has basically a craft services table in their atrium - right next to a fully stocked fridge full of sodas - and a "help yourself" policy.

Mmmmmm. Dreamworks.... (drooling sound)

refriedwhiskey
06-01-2004, 05:36 PM
http://smiley.onegreatguy.net/drool.gif

Hamboogul
06-01-2004, 06:08 PM
Major breakthrough.

Today, I was given a lollipop, soda, potato chips.

Also, the obligatory water. But it was a good lollipop.

Minibrain
06-01-2004, 06:25 PM
I am confused. There are studios and production companies that offer only water?

I've never been offered only water. It's always, "Would you like something to drink?" And then I say what it is I'd like. And I generally get it. I often ask for coffee.

The three-act structure comes up all the time. Unless it's a TV meeting, in which case the four-act structure comes up.

I have never had anyone bring up the use of, "We see." And after reading a ton of TV scripts over the past couple months, I can tell you that many of the top TV writers use this phrase all the time.

The vast majority of writers I know did not break in through contests. Most broke in through talent, hard work and connections.

I do know a few lacking in talent who managed to break in through connections. It's tough to keep working when that's the basic qualification. Still, it's rather amazing what some people get away with.

PurpleCurtain
06-01-2004, 06:53 PM
The vast majority of writers I know did not break in through contests. Most broke in through talent, hard work and connections.I'm hopeful you didn't mean this quite the way it sounded, but for what it's worth, the writers I know who broke in through contests are both hard-working and talented. And the contest (I'm speaking here specifically of the Nicholl, which is the one I've got experience with) provided some connections. Of the 10 finalists in my Nicholl year, I believe there may have been three of us who hadn't gone to film school; most had MFAs in screenwriting.

For the sake of full disclosure, in the summer that my script was advancing in the Nicholl, I had made one crucial connection, a director. He had a meeting with a major production company a week or two before the Nicholl announcement. The buzz I got from that announcement got the producers to bite and helped me get a very good agent. But the script was good, too. It wasn't a lottery, after all; people read and rated the script several times.

The Academy provided us with very nice food and beverages, by the way, to get this thread back on topic. ;)

Bess McNeil
06-01-2004, 07:29 PM
1. Never.

2. Yes, conversations about 3 act structure are common when I talk to folks about features films, and now with the tv show I'm constantly focussing on how to break those four acts.

3. I won at Austin and that helped me find work. I've never met anyone else who broke in this way, but I know such people exist. Don't know about the smaller contests.

4. Not sure I understand this one...I've met people who are very dedicated to their writing, and who want very much to break in, but who don't have any industry connections yet.

5. Coffee, soda, water, whatever...

Jami
06-01-2004, 08:34 PM
I believe DD message boards and the real world are more closely aligned for people who live in L.A. than who don't.

Living outside of Washington, D.C, I'd have to agree with Ham's list... other than one item that did not appear: Explaining to someone what is, and isn't, a commercial concept. At a Memorial Day party, a friend of mine was telling me how I had to write a screenplay about this woman she met, an African-American who had played baseball. I tried to defer, saying that the woman had probably already sold her life rights, but she persisted, telling me, "Don't you want a commercial story?" So then we talked about box office...

Jami

jimjimgrande
06-01-2004, 08:47 PM
applying Ham's principles to the bedroom

1) Never had the "wee see" discussion whether the lights are on or off

2) 2 acts is the best I can usually do and the idea of eight sequences might require viagra

3) Never had a contest winner

4) I work on my craft and share it with others and don't want to get onto the subject of licking dilettantes

5) Always bring my own vitamin water

Minibrain
06-01-2004, 08:59 PM
No, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that contest winners don't use talent, hard work and connections to break in.

Many people who broke in through contests used those attributes, plus winning a contest, to break in.

Contests are often a way of getting connections, fast. You need talent and hard work to win a reputable contest, though.

Mike Samonek
06-01-2004, 09:16 PM
I believe DD message boards and the real world are more closely aligned for people who live in L.A. than who don't.



no way

Vigorish9
06-01-2004, 11:13 PM
have you had any discussions about vig, ham?

vig

taurbabe
06-02-2004, 01:37 AM
Its not a good idea. It makes you burp. :rollin

v i o l e n t c a s e s
06-02-2004, 06:11 AM
i think the contest is a great way for the out-of-town writer to break into the scene. if you place very well in the big ones (and it's my firm belief that only the big ones matter--the smaller ones are simply business endeavours for the organizers), you might feel encouraged to move out here and you'll have a peer group of other people who placed. if you win, the prize money is very helpful in getting set up in los angeles with living expenses and you gain representation/industry notice.

sundance, chesterfield, austin, nicholl, disney. do it. hell, disney's even free to enter, someone correct me if i'm wrong.

i remember a long time ago when i first started to write screenplays. and i was trying to frame a visual in a scene but it was dicey and i showed it to a friend/mentor, a feature writer/director, and he said pretty much something like this: "you're making it really difficult and awkward--why don't you simply say, 'we see ___________'?" and it was like a light came on. ah. 'we see' can be your friend. only here on these forums is it a bastard. everywhere else, it's legitimate.

misc:

i've seen industry people use "romcom" in email or notes, but when speaking, they've always said "romantic comedy".

i've been offered a deli sandwich during a meeting that stretched past noon--so i had pastrami on rye and it was good. i think i had a 7-up to wash it down. the producer sent his assistant down the street.

if you can do better than query, i.e., get to know some people, build relationships and so forth, you will find that getting a meeting, or a script read, or even an agent (if you have demonstrated talent) is not as difficult as it might sound here. this, i think, is one of the most important distinctions between being outside the velvet ropes of los angeles and being on the inside. you can write anywhere you want, and in fact, many prefer you do write outside of los angeles (they want fresh, unsung voices, not typical la fare), but you won't run into "someone who knows someone" in phoenix, erie, long island, etc.. in los angeles, your odds are pretty good. it doesn't mean being in los angeles guarantees you a foot in the door--but at least you're in the lobby.

i have never heard of anything other than the 3 act structure being discussed. wait, that's a lie--some people have actually mentioned the dramatica theory. but along with it come gnashing of teeth, shaking of heads, laughter and derisive snorts. robert mckee is well-regarded by many. as is syd field. it is not known if all of these people have read, understood or even like those two guys--but they're just very generally well-regarded. i try to recommend whenever i can, the underdog, "on writing" by stephen king. and who would ever think of stephen king as being an underdog when it came to writing, but try explaining to a bunch of film types how a book that's seemingly about novel-writing can make them better screenwriters. but when they do read it, they really get it. it's the book i recommend the most to anyone who wants to make a career out of writing.

zemiller
06-02-2004, 08:02 AM
In two meetings in one week, on both occasions there was a table full of sodas and juices, and when the exec asked what I'd like, and I asked for water, he left the room and returned with a glass of water.

Very weird. - Jake S.

I'm dying to know, was it yellow water?

Benita Zee
06-02-2004, 08:21 AM
"Would you like some water, Ham?"

They're offering Ham, too, now?

This Atkins thing is going way too far!

:o)

PurpleCurtain
06-02-2004, 12:00 PM
No, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that contest winners don't use talent, hard work and connections to break in.Cool, Mini; thanks for clarifying. :)

filmcarver
06-02-2004, 05:46 PM
Eight sequences seems to be more discussed from USC grads....that's who I learned it from, and continue to use it as a platform. It comes from the days of reel changes and contract writers.

I would say as many completely understand it as those who do not. It's an excellent way to structure the throughline and keeps the action moving IMO.

As long as it is three acts, whatever floats...

PurpleCurtain
06-02-2004, 09:22 PM
Okay, my bad. I was at ICM today and was offered:

1) Water
2) Soda
3) French vanilla coffee
4) Regular coffee

And maybe even decaf; I started to swoon from the list.

And even though I had access to the jazzy stuff, I still took the water. So perhaps I misremembered the beverage menu or the last time I was there the assistant was a temp. ;)

April Hamilton
06-02-2004, 09:50 PM
Yeah Purple, sure. But didja getta cookie?

PurpleCurtain
06-02-2004, 09:54 PM
Yeah Purple, sure. But didja getta cookie? Hmmm, no. Maybe the cookies come after the first greenlight. :p

tulippink
06-02-2004, 10:39 PM
Hmmm,
1. One of my books has said "we see" is good only in the opening. I liked that...since there are no characters established it is less awkward to use the "we see," but I've never had it brought up in any discussion.

2. Yep, have had several projects broken into the three act structure. It's just a strong good structure, like the frame of a car. All cars have a frame. Within those three acts, I like to think anything is possible.

3. Yep, I've know contest winners. Seemed to get them a ways but I'm not sure that the contests aren't a little like forcing a bloom before its time.

4. One of the best things about people in this industry is they can hold a conversation and they are absolutely great about being open to you. The hard part is the erratic nature of your project finding its way to that little red bulls eye on the dark board.
Only New York cabbies compare (for conversation), but I talk to everybody. Oh, wait, I had a cabbie in Seattle not long ago who had immigrated from USSR. He was great. I'm pretty funny in real life, so I use a lot of humor in meetings. How do they get those jobs (writing) on the comedy shows? I just haven't had enough of them (meetings)!!

5. I've had coffee, soda and never been given a cookie. But I think that if they turn a project down, they should slip one of those little airline bottles of Jack Daniels in your pocket as your leaving.

cognomen
06-03-2004, 01:02 AM
Try to drink socially. If not...you'll be like Forrest Gump meeting Kennedy.

SebsWrtrDad
06-03-2004, 05:45 PM
I have never been offered cookies BUT all sorts of drinks, depending on the place.

Now where I work, we offer Coke, Diet Coke, Water and coffee -- but the studio has cut the budget down, so now we can't order soda -- and are holding onto whatevere we can get like it's gold.

But no cookies unless it's a really big pitch for a network or something... then the assistants get the leftovers -- BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!:lol