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View Full Version : Assignments -- Can NEW writers without a sale really land them?


Bono
01-05-2010, 06:26 PM
I know a spec sale changes everything.

My question, is if new writers, without sales, can actually get assignments. I know people have said, they make a living without ever selling a script -- but does that happen today?

I hear some good stories about working with producers -- but that's on spec. I've had those opportunities.

But do writers ever get paid to write scripts without having first sold one?

My manager makes it sound like that's the only way we're getting anything going. Nothing is going to happen without a spec sale.

BattleDolphinZero
01-05-2010, 07:13 PM
One of the Robotard members is close. It's the guy I wrote As*hole Ninja with. He actually got in on two gigs and blew the pitch so I kinda think, yes. Awesome spec script does the job.

Bono
01-05-2010, 07:30 PM
One of the Robotard members is close. It's the guy I wrote As*hole Ninja with. He actually got in on two gigs and blew the pitch so I kinda think, yes. Awesome spec script does the job.

How many "tards" are there? I thought there were just two. I haven't been following your saga that much as I've been busy writing/masturbating.

I want to read As&hole Ninja right now.

Jake Schuster
01-05-2010, 07:51 PM
I'm working now on one assignment, I'm up for another (both major production companies), and am in discussions with two more well-known companies for other assignment projects. But I haven't sold a spec. A combination of a good sample and a proactive and supportive manager has set these up for me.

Raff
01-05-2010, 08:31 PM
I'm working now on one assignment, I'm up for another (both major production companies), and am in discussions with two more well-known companies for other assignment projects. But I haven't sold a spec. A combination of a good sample and a proactive and supportive manager has set these up for me.

How many samples did you provide to a company to read? Did they read one of your screenplays and then ask to read another to make sure exactly what your voice is?

joe9alt
01-05-2010, 08:34 PM
If by "assignment" you mean paid work that gets you into the WGA, I'll say it's very hard right now but it certainly can be done.

XL did it I'm pretty sure.

I'm getting closer on a few things but I still got a ways to go to land one.

My agent keeps putting me up for them, though, while also advising me to "keep focused on your spec."

A successful agent at a major agency wouldn't be putting a writer up for things if there was absolutely no chance he could land the gig.

There's a chance, man.

Lot of hoops to jump through, though, that's for sure.

Jack, be nimble,
Jack, be quick,
Jack, jump over
The candlestick.

Jack jumped high
Jack jumped low
Jack jumped over
and burned his toe.

All that said, if you have a quality rep putting you up for legit, paid work then you should be of the mindset that you're the one that's gonna beat the odds.

Now put some aloe on that **** and get back to jumpin'!

Bono
01-05-2010, 08:35 PM
I'm taking about PAID writing assignments -- sorry if that was unclear.

thatcomedian
01-05-2010, 10:28 PM
XL did it I'm pretty sure.


Wasn't he a Nicholl finalist?

BattleDolphinZero
01-05-2010, 10:45 PM
I don't think Nicoll matters that much. I bet the below guy did it by having good samples.

It's not uncommon at all.
I'm working now on one assignment, I'm up for another (both major production companies), and am in discussions with two more well-known companies for other assignment projects. But I haven't sold a spec. A combination of a good sample and a proactive and supportive manager has set these up for me.

BattleDolphinZero
01-05-2010, 10:47 PM
I want to read As&hole Ninja right now.
You can download it on the site: http://www.therobotard8000.com/blog/

Just go to the third post titled "foray into television" and click on the As$hole Ninja button.

Hope you like it.

mtoomey
01-05-2010, 10:47 PM
does responding to a craigslist posting offering free lunch and youtube fame count as "paid?"

MT

thatcomedian
01-05-2010, 10:56 PM
does responding to a craigslist posting offering free lunch and youtube fame count as "paid?"

MT
Depends, did you have to order from the value menu?

Jake Schuster
01-06-2010, 06:24 AM
I don't think Nicoll matters that much. I bet the below guy did it by having good samples.

It's not uncommon at all.

I had two scripts: one by a team that I'd done a page-one rewrite on, and another--the one my manager continues to circulate, and a Nicholl quarterfinalist--which had gone wide with other representation five years ago. One of the projects I'm up for is a big-budget adaptation of a graphic novel. And yes, if I get it I'll get paid, of course.

The sample itself is under consideration by one production company, and we're in talks with the people there that if they don't go with the script there's a very good possibility I may be in on another project. Likewise with another prodco. The other project, a script I'm developing based on an idea brought to me by two producers at a well-known company, is very much in play (I had another meeting with the producer yesterday). My manager and I have made a decision regarding the pay issue which, if all goes well, will go much more in our favor if and when the script is sold to a studio.

And please, people, don't start piling up on me all over again about not writing for money. I've been a novelist writing on spec for thirty years, and this is nothing new to me, nor does it hamper my ability to do the job. I know exactly what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and what the odds are once I'm done.

adieu
01-06-2010, 06:47 AM
No piling on. Good luck, man

-XL-
01-06-2010, 07:44 AM
XL did it I'm pretty sure.


Yep. The Nicholl win certainly won't have hurt but I doubt it helped all that much either. A combination of a sample they really responded to and having an Oscar-winning writer pushing me to the studio were undoubtedly the key factors.

Great reps help the process an awful lot too, and as Joe said, they shouldn't be (and most likely wouldn't be) putting you up for jobs you stand no chance of landing. You just gotta keep banging down that door. It doesn't get any easier once you get inside, just more doors to try, that's all.

mrjonesprods
01-06-2010, 07:56 AM
And please, people, don't start piling up on me all over again about not writing for money.

I think it's more that people are confused by the way you use the word "assignment." In Hollywood terms, when someone "lands an assignment" - it's a paid job with steps. The studio sends you a check at commencement, delivery - there's a reading period, repeat.

If you do work for a producer where there is no money up front, most people define that as a spec with a producer attached.

Hope you don't see this as piling on. Just trying to help clarify why some people might be confused. Cheers. :)

And to the original question - yes, it's possible to land a paid writing assignment without having sold a spec. (I did.)

Jake Schuster
01-06-2010, 08:08 AM
Great reps help the process an awful lot too, and as Joe said, they shouldn't be (and most likely wouldn't be) putting you up for jobs you stand no chance of landing. You just gotta keep banging down that door. It doesn't get any easier once you get inside, just more doors to try, that's all.

This is the key. I know my rep will meet with the execs before she submits, so it's not an altogether blind submission. Each meeting she's had re my work has landed me at least with a meeting and nine times out of ten potential work. It's much more focussed than if she were to go wide with it. And my sense is that going wide may not be the smartest strategy in the current market.

Book agents have been doing this for years, especially since multiple submissions became the norm. They try to match the work with the editor and the house and hope for the best.

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 08:20 AM
I think it's more that people are confused by the way you use the word "assignment." In Hollywood terms, when someone "lands an assignment" - it's a paid job with steps. The studio sends you a check at commencement, delivery - there's a reading period, repeat.

If you do work for a producer where there is no money up front, most people define that as a spec with a producer attached.

Hope you don't see this as piling on. Just trying to help clarify why some people might be confused. Cheers. :)

Ditto.

One of the functions of this site is to teach.

Newer writers are following and trying to learn from your career trajectory, Jake.

When you say, "I landed multiple assignments" when in reality you're developing a project with a production company on spec (nothing wrong with that...I'm doing it, too), you confuse people who are trying to learn from you.

It's as simple as that.

You're not the only one on this site guilty of describing spec work as a "gig" or an "assignment," though.

Drives me nuts.

All I can say is whenever anybody hears me say "I landed an assignment" or "I got a gig" you can be damn sure I will be getting paid.

We're people who WANT you to get paid, Jake. We're not piling on. Just a little confused.

BattleDolphinZero
01-06-2010, 08:27 AM
Yeah, I was confused.

To reiterate, I know a young dude who has never sold anything and never won a contest. This young dude has been up for two gigs at Warners and he's pitching on a couple more.

If he lands one, which I think is likely, he will have gotten studio work off of a script that didn't sell.

I don't think it's uncommon at all.

Telly
01-06-2010, 08:28 AM
I was offered my first paid assignment last month based on writing samples. It happens :)

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 08:30 AM
Glad to see the smiley face is still in full effect, Telly.

And glad it's happening :)

BattleDolphinZero
01-06-2010, 08:32 AM
Yeah, I was confused.

To reiterate, I know a young dude who has never sold anything and never won a contest. This young dude has been up for two gigs at Warners and he's pitching on a couple more.

If he lands one, which I think is likely, he will have gotten studio work off of a script that didn't sell.

I don't think it's uncommon at all.

And since I read a lot about doing free work for producers...

The above mentioned guy did a TON of free work for various producers. All of them were major prod/cos with huge credits. 99% of the free work went no where, but it endeared him to the execs at the prod/cos.

He now has three major production companies trying to get him his first gig.

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 09:18 AM
When you say, "I landed multiple assignments" when in reality you're developing a project with a production company on spec (nothing wrong with that...I'm doing it, too), you confuse people who are trying to learn from you.

Exactly. Also, conflating writing a spec with writing someone's else's idea for free is inaccurate - they're very different beasts.

The above mentioned guy did a TON of free work for various producers. All of them were major prod/cos with huge credits. 99% of the free work went no where, but it endeared him to the execs at the prod/cos.

What kind of free work are you talking about? Do you mean coming up with pitches, or writing free scripts?

WritersBlock2010
01-06-2010, 09:20 AM
I did a paid assignment for a no-budget production company many years ago. Like a decade ago. The process was very similar to what others have stated.

I was unrepped at the time, had not sold anything, and simply sent them 10 pages from one of my specs + 10 original pages based on the synopsis they had written for how they wanted their movie (horror) to open.

After weeding through countless submissions, they finally decided on me.

The irony is the company folded shortly after I delivered the final script. I was the only one who got paid. Usually, the writer is the last to get paid. If at all ;)

Bono
01-06-2010, 09:40 AM
It's nice to see people have had success -- and yes a few people emailed me to remind me of what they had going on w/o selling stuff.

I guess it was my manager's lack of faith that it would happen that lead me to think about it. Doesn't sound like he thinks it could be done without us selling a spec first, which means to me, he wouldn't even try. Just wondering if that should upset me or realize, it's just reality.

I get it. Why would X Studio want me over an established writer if everyone is hungry to work right now?

muckraker
01-06-2010, 09:45 AM
You're not alone, Bono. My manager has told me the same thing. Methinks I need a new manager.

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 09:50 AM
Bono:

For one reason, because you're a bargain. There are a lot of companies that just won't pay over X for a rewrite, so most established writers can't work for them unless they want to kill their own quotes. (Since it's gone, I don't feel bad outing them: I was told Fox Atomic had a 250k limit. That cuts out a lot of writers.)

Another instance where you'd have the edge: a studio is making a ten million dollar genre pic, a teen comedy or a horror. Are they going to go pay someone a million dollars for a script? Are they going to hire multiple writers with huge quotes? Not a chance. Doesn't make sense. They'd break their own budgets.

Or there are those borderline projects - not high priority, not officially dead. Again, doesn't make sense to hire Brandt & Haas to do a draft of something you don't know you're going to make, so why not roll the dice with someone who's cheap?

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 09:51 AM
I guess it was my manager's lack of faith that it would happen that lead me to think about it. Doesn't sound like he thinks it could be done without us selling a spec first, which means to me, he wouldn't even try. Just wondering if that should upset me or realize, it's just reality.

I get it. Why would X Studio want me over an established writer if everyone is hungry to work right now?

Because you are WAY, WAY cheaper than that established writer and maybe you're just as good???

Geoff Alexander
01-06-2010, 09:53 AM
It's nice to see people have had success -- and yes a few people emailed me to remind me of what they had going on w/o selling stuff.

I guess it was my manager's lack of faith that it would happen that lead me to think about it. Doesn't sound like he thinks it could be done without us selling a spec first, which means to me, he wouldn't even try. Just wondering if that should upset me or realize, it's just reality.

I get it. Why would X Studio want me over an established writer if everyone is hungry to work right now?

Because you're talented and cheap and the other guys are just talented.

AnotherCaucasianGary
01-06-2010, 09:57 AM
You're not alone, Bono. My manager has told me the same thing. Methinks I need a new manager.My first manager had a similar attitude. I did leave - not only because of that attitude, but largely because of it.

I'm glad Bono started this thread because at the time I was just working on instinct. I feel better about it, now.

Knaight
01-06-2010, 09:58 AM
Because you are WAY, WAY cheaper than that established writer and maybe you're just as good???

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't studios and production companies pretty much forcing writers to go way below their quotes these days? I believe I read about this several times in the past year.

umo
01-06-2010, 10:22 AM
Bono:

For one reason, because you're a bargain. There are a lot of companies that just won't pay over X for a rewrite, so most established writers can't work for them unless they want to kill their own quotes. (Since it's gone, I don't feel bad outing them: I was told Fox Atomic had a 250k limit. That cuts out a lot of writers.)

Another instance where you'd have the edge: a studio is making a ten million dollar genre pic, a teen comedy or a horror. Are they going to go pay someone a million dollars for a script? Are they going to hire multiple writers with huge quotes? Not a chance. Doesn't make sense. They'd break their own budgets.

Or there are those borderline projects - not high priority, not officially dead. Again, doesn't make sense to hire Brandt & Haas to do a draft of something you don't know you're going to make, so why not roll the dice with someone who's cheap?

This is great news for the newbie writer. No shame in playing the role of cheap laborer--Home Depot parking lots can be very comfortable if you bring your own lawn chair. :D

1% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 10:28 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't studios and production companies pretty much forcing writers to go way below their quotes these days? I believe I read about this several times in the past year.

Nobody can force anybody to do anything.

Let’s say Big Writer X has a normal quote of 500 K per project.

Well if Big Writer X agrees to take 300 K for a job his quote then becomes 300 K going forward.

I’d imagine different writers are making different decisions. One guy may decide it’s worth it to accept less and lower his quote while another may be turning down lower paying work in order to preserve his quote?

But my quote right now is WGA minimum so I’d imagine somebody like Jeff would be more qualified to answer this one.

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 10:33 AM
There's certainly downward pressure on quotes right now. But Joe's 500k writer who takes a job for 300k is still way more expensive than someone getting his first gig.

One of the new things I'm seeing is that many jobs now come with pricetags: Studio X is looking for a writer on this, but they're not going to pay more than Y. If you'll work for that, you can pitch on it.

It used to be they'd find the writer they wanted and then haggle over price.

Knaight
01-06-2010, 10:35 AM
Nobody can force anybody to do anything.

Letís say Big Writer X has a normal quote of 500 K per project.

Well if Big Writer X agrees to take 300 K for a job his quote then becomes 300 K going forward.

Iíd imagine different writers are making different decisions. One guy may decide itís worth it to accept less and lower his quote while another may be turning down lower paying work in order to preserve his quote?

But my quote right now is WGA minimum so Iíd imagine somebody like Jeff would be more qualified to answer this one.

Right, that's exactly what I was referring to. Apparently work has been scarce enough that in some cases very successful writers have been forced to reduce their quotes in order to continue working. If the writer's quote were 300k or 400k, I could see the company being more interested in someone new to town, but if those quotes are reduced to 150 or 200k, it makes it easier to eat the extra money in favor of a proven writer. This seems like bad news for newbies.

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 10:41 AM
Right, that's exactly what I was referring to. Apparently work has been scarce enough that in some cases very successful writers have been forced to reduce their quotes in order to continue working. If the writer's quote were 300k or 400k, I could see the company being more interested in someone new to town, but if those quotes are reduced to 150 or 200k, it makes it easier to eat the extra money in favor of a proven writer. This seems like bad news for newbies.

Nah, I don’t think it’s bad news for newbies….I think it’s the opposite.

I pitched for a rewrite awhile back and I nailed the pitch. Everybody signed off on hiring me…the VP of development first…the director…the president of production at the production company…the owner of the production company. I got a call from my agent saying, “we’re on the 1 yard line getting ready to punch it in. Good work. You’re gonna get hired. They’re gonna pay you WGA scale plus 10%.”

The next day the VP of Development and the President of Production abruptly left the company and the project immediately died. It was their baby and they were gone.

I caught up with the VP, now at a new company, and we met. We talked about that rewrite and he said, “you know why I liked you for it? Because you’re good, cheap, and I know you’d work hard.”

He was right, too.

Who do you think is gonna work harder? The 300 K writer who reluctantly just dropped his quote to WGA minimum or the emerging scribe who just happily landed his first WGA gig?

Knaight
01-06-2010, 10:43 AM
Who do you think is gonna work harder? The 300 K writer who reluctantly just dropped his quote to WGA minimum or the emerging scribe who just happily landed his first WGA gig?

Thanks for putting an extremely logical, positive spin on it. Makes me feel a hell of a lot better.

Not that I'll be up for an assignment any time soon, but still.

Bono
01-06-2010, 10:53 AM
Because you're talented and cheap and the other guys are just talented.


Because you are WAY, WAY cheaper than that established writer and maybe you're just as good???

For one reason, because you're a bargain. There are a lot of companies that just won't pay over X for a rewrite, so most established writers can't work for them unless they want to kill their own quotes. (Since it's gone, I don't feel bad outing them: I was told Fox Atomic had a 250k limit. That cuts out a lot of writers.)

Another instance where you'd have the edge: a studio is making a ten million dollar genre pic, a teen comedy or a horror. Are they going to go pay someone a million dollars for a script? Are they going to hire multiple writers with huge quotes? Not a chance. Doesn't make sense. They'd break their own budgets.

Or there are those borderline projects - not high priority, not officially dead. Again, doesn't make sense to hire Brandt & Haas to do a draft of something you don't know you're going to make, so why not roll the dice with someone who's cheap?

I agree -- I asked it hoping to get those responses. But if only the writer feels this way and not the rep -- that's the issue then? Or is it the agents job to get assignments, not managers?

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 10:54 AM
Who do you think is gonna work harder? The 300 K writer who reluctantly just dropped his quote to WGA minimum or the emerging scribe who just happily landed his first WGA gig?

You had to go and ruin our beautiful agreement we had going on, didn't you? ;)

Are there advantages to being (relatively) cheap? Sure. But let's not say experience and track record aren't worth anything.

TV's going through this in a lot more severe way than features. There are many fewer jobs and most development deals are dead, flooding the market with good writers. Quotes there have been murdered. Someone who was making 2 million a year developing shows or 50 thousand an episode on Friends five years ago is often lucky to get a gig for 15k a week.

Let's say I'm running a show and I have a choice of two writers for the same price: a guy up for his first gig or a guy who has a couple of Emmys and ten years experience on great shows. The last thing I'd do is say "well, the new guy will work harder." I'd snap up the guy with experience and thank the gods that I could afford him.

We're not there in features yet. But if we do get there, I think it takes away one of the big advantages that new guys have.

(One other advantage to hiring new people won't disappear: they're new and fresh and exciting. They're all potential. They haven't made enemies and bombed out on assignments, which happens to all writers if they work long enough.)

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 10:56 AM
I agree -- I asked it hoping to get those responses. But if only the writer feels this way and not the rep -- that's the issue then? Or is it the agents job to get assignments, not managers?

I don't know all the details of your situation, but if my manager told me the only way he'd put me up for assignments is if I sold a spec... I wouldn't be happy.

BattleDolphinZero
01-06-2010, 10:57 AM
What kind of free work are you talking about? Do you mean coming up with pitches, or writing free scripts?
Multiple treatments and takes. And a damn-near page one on his script that ended up "not working" or something like that.

Mandalay asked him to write a script on spec for them but he drew the line there. That's retarded. Spec'ing for someone is koo koo, imo.

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 11:00 AM
You had to go and ruin our beautiful agreement we had going on, didn't you? ;)

Are there advantages to being (relatively) cheap? Sure. But let's not say experience and track record aren't worth anything.

No we still agree, buddy, but that's not a tune I'm willing to sing while I'm still scratching and clawing to get my first assignment. I'll be singing it once I get a few under my belt, though. I'm sure that's a similar debate execs at production companies have, too, when deciding who to go with on a project.

Knaight
01-06-2010, 11:01 AM
No we still agree, buddy, but that's not a tune I'm willing to sing while I'm still scratching and clawing to get my first assignment. I'll be singing it once I get a few under my belt, though. I'm sure that's a similar debate execs at production companies have, too, when deciding who to go with on a project.

At least there's still debate and it's not just an easy decision.

writerman
01-06-2010, 11:01 AM
But my quote right now is WGA minimum...

Then my quote is 1 dollar under WGA minimum.



I'll be by the phone waiting for the calls to roll in.


:bounce:

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 11:11 AM
They won't be rollin' in from WGA signatories. :cool:

WritersBlock2010
01-06-2010, 11:26 AM
Mandalay asked him to write a script on spec for them but he drew the line there. That's retarded. Spec'ing for someone is koo koo, imo.

I agree. If you are going to spec... Spec for yourself.

I was in a similar situation.

I was fortunate to have two A-List writers... They are a pair; they were very hot at the time... Who wanted me to write a script on spec for an idea they had. They said, they were going to take it out and if all went well, pay me a percentage of their take (a percentage of a percentage!?), give me "story by" credit and all this other B.S.

Suffice to say, I turned down their offer.

Sure, I might have had the clout & connections of these two writers on my side... For a while... But I looked ahead at what the overall END RESULT was for ME. Which was nothing. Especially if it didn't sell. Not only is that a good chunk of time wasted developing the script with them, but it's mostly me doing all the work. Not to mention, it's their idea. They own it, even if I write it.

Looking back, I think they liked my writing, but they just got lazy and or greedy (due to over scheduling their own work) and wanted someone to do the heavy lifting for them, but also wanted reap all the rewards, too.

This is the darker side of the business you don't hear much about, IMO.

There is doing "free work" that really isn't work, like BDZ describes, and then there is being taken advantage of. Problem is a lot of new writers can't tell the difference starting out...

Geoff Alexander
01-06-2010, 12:28 PM
I agree. If you are going to spec... Spec for yourself.

I was in a similar situation.

I was fortunate to have two A-List writers... They are a pair; they were very hot at the time... Who wanted me to write a script on spec for an idea they had. They said, they were going to take it out and if all went well, pay me a percentage of their take (a percentage of a percentage!?), give me "story by" credit and all this other B.S.

Suffice to say, I turned down their offer.

Sure, I might have had the clout & connections of these two writers on my side... For a while... But I looked ahead at what the overall END RESULT was for ME. Which was nothing. Especially if it didn't sell. Not only is that a good chunk of time wasted developing the script with them, but it's mostly me doing all the work. Not to mention, it's their idea. They own it, even if I write it.

Looking back, I think they liked my writing, but they just got lazy and or greedy (due to over scheduling their own work) and wanted someone to do the heavy lifting for them, but also wanted reap all the rewards, too.

This is the darker side of the business you don't hear much about, IMO.

There is doing "free work" that really isn't work, like BDZ describes, and then there is being taken advantage of. Problem is a lot of new writers can't tell the difference starting out...

Woah, you're saying they wanted you to write the script and then they would get the written by credit and you would get the story by? What douchebags. Why not just produce the thing? That's way out there.

EJ Pennypacker
01-06-2010, 02:19 PM
Interesting thread. Thanks to the folks for adding to this.

I have a question for Jeff or SBScripts, etc.

So from a writers POV, if your reps give you the old "assignments aren't for you" line, how does one parlay this into something that can happen? I understand heat followed from something going wide is the norm, actually, this is THE only way, no? lol

EJ

corduroy
01-06-2010, 03:20 PM
My agent and manager have sent me to pitch on pretty much anything that's open to someone at my level: there are things you get to pitch on, as a baby writer, because you're eager and cheap and the company invites 50 people just like you to pitch on a deadish project... and there are things you don't get to pitch on, because the company is actually planning on making a movie. That can be kind of humbling once you figure this out, that most brand-new writers basically only get to pitch on projects where the executive is generating pitches on the off-chance that one will go. You don't really get to pitch on projects that are a sure thing if they can just find the right writer: those projects go to working writers with quotes, a list you have yet to get yourself on.

So. The kind of stuff you get to go pitch on is: a remake of something you've never heard of, an obscure graphic novel with no heat behind it, a novel with some heat behind it but which isn't really very good. A book the producer wants to completely change. A producer's original idea. None of these are sure things (the studio is not on the phone every day all "Hey, did you find a writer yet? Because we have this check sitting here.") - instead, if you "get the job" what you actually get is usually the chance to go around pitching it to money people, like the studio.

(Not always true: I have also pitched at companies that have their own money. But there are not that many companies with an internal development fund anymore.)

Anyway, with all that in mind, I'm not sure that new writers routinely land assignments without first having sold something. Does it happen? Of course, yes. Does it happen frequently? I don't think so, no. Like someone said upthread, it never gets easier, you just have to jump through different hoops.

I have occasionally turned down the opportunity to pitch on something. But most of the time I've girded my loins and gone in and pitched my best story. Nobody has hired me. That may be because I am The Worst, of course. But frankly, I think it's because most of the projects you and fifty other noob writers are pitching on are no-go to begin with, and it's not that big of an investment on the executive's part to run it up the flagpole and see who salutes, you never know, one of those writers may strike gold.

Re: pitching - or writing at all, really - I don't think your success is inevitable if you are talented and just keep plugging away, I think that there are very few slots open at all. Frankly, once you've "made it" to the level of something with an agent at a three-letter agency, etc, you realize that maybe your chances have gotten better... but the odds are now 1000-to-1 rather than 100000-to-1. Definitely better, but faaaaar from a sure thing.

seh
01-06-2010, 03:21 PM
Interesting thread. Thanks to the folks for adding to this.

I have a question for Jeff or SBScripts, etc.

So from a writers POV, if your reps give you the old "assignments aren't for you" line, how does one parlay this into something that can happen?
EJ

Cutting and pasting this thread, and emailing it to your manager.
I'll do it depending on how it goes for you, buddy. lol.

WritersBlock2010
01-06-2010, 03:30 PM
Woah, you're saying they wanted you to write the script and then they would get the written by credit and you would get the story by? What douchebags. Why not just produce the thing? That's way out there.

Pretty far out ;)

I can't say 100%, but I have a feeling they over booked their own gigs, just got greedy and were trying to do too much at once. Hence, why they tried to get me to do some of their work for them.

I had the instincts to walk away, luckily... But an inexperienced & hungry writer might have taken the offer just because they don't know they can do a lot better.

This was why I commented on BDZ's post.

It's one thing to work in good faith with people you are trying to impress. It's another to be taken advantage of by said people like in my near-experience.

Rantanplan
01-06-2010, 03:54 PM
Re: pitching - or writing at all, really - I don't think your success is inevitable if you are talented and just keep plugging away, I think that there are very few slots open at all. Frankly, once you've "made it" to the level of something with an agent at a three-letter agency, etc, you realize that maybe your chances have gotten better... but the odds are now 1000-to-1 rather than 100000-to-1. Definitely better, but faaaaar from a sure thing.

Sobering poste, Corduroy... even more sobering when you're not even buzzed to begin with... thanks for the tough love :)

joe9alt
01-06-2010, 04:15 PM
So. The kind of stuff you get to go pitch on is: a remake of something you've never heard of, an obscure graphic novel with no heat behind it, a novel with some heat behind it but which isn't really very good. A book the producer wants to completely change. A producer's original idea.

What about the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script written on assignment by a big name writer and/or the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script that just sold on spec for high six? You'll need to completely reinvent the story and concept mind you...but you'll get paid WGA scale (plus 10% if your agent is good) for a rewrite....like 40 grand before taxes and rep dips.

JeffLowell
01-06-2010, 05:50 PM
So from a writers POV, if your reps give you the old "assignments aren't for you" line, how does one parlay this into something that can happen? I understand heat followed from something going wide is the norm, actually, this is THE only way, no? lol

EJ

That's a toughie. If your rep is telling you he's not going to submit you for assignments, I'm not sure there's any magical combination of words that will convince him he's wrong. In that case, I think you need to be more active and try to generate leads for yourself... while you consider looking for a new rep.

Sometimes those meetings come from going wide, other times it's from reps sending scripts to people as a sample.

Bono
01-06-2010, 10:40 PM
I asked my manager -- told me he does put us up for assignments that are looking for young writers. So is it good that I didn't know he was doing that/never got a bite?

BattleDolphinZero
01-06-2010, 11:20 PM
What about the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script written on assignment by a big name writer and/or the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script that just sold on spec for high six? You'll need to completely reinvent the story and concept mind you...but you'll get paid WGA scale (plus 10% if your agent is good) for a rewrite....like 40 grand before taxes and rep dips.

But remember, there's multiple steps. I've done plenty of scale +10 rewrites. You get three of those step, you've cleared 100 grand and usually there are two polish steps in place too. Those are 15 grand apiece. If you're doing good work it's not uncommon to get all those steps.

There's really no bad money in the studio system.

BattleDolphinZero
01-06-2010, 11:23 PM
So is it good that I didn't know he was doing that/never got a bite?
You have no idea how many jobs he's put you up for. They're all pathological liars. (Leave me alone, Jeff. This is MY experience)

They put u up for one gig, that means "i put you up for gigs." Gotta keep speccing. Don't sit up and wait for it to happen. At some point you'll write a spec that gets you in the room.

Phase two is beating out 5 other "yous" going after the gig you're in the room for.

Geoff Alexander
01-07-2010, 09:50 AM
I asked my manager -- told me he does put us up for assignments that are looking for young writers. So is it good that I didn't know he was doing that/never got a bite?

Not good that you didn't know he was doing it...if in fact he was. I know people who have been with agents that claimed they were pushing their material, even naming specific places, and then later found out they were lying. Of course this was a crappy agent at a marginal little shop--William Morris.

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 09:58 AM
But remember, there's multiple steps. I've done plenty of scale +10 rewrites. You get three of those step, you've cleared 100 grand and usually there are two polish steps in place too. Those are 15 grand apiece. If you're doing good work it's not uncommon to get all those steps.

There's really no bad money in the studio system.

Hey, don't get me wrong...I'd pretty much cut a pinky off for one of these gigs. I was just joinin' the pity party for a beat is all.

sc111
01-07-2010, 09:59 AM
Of course this was a crappy agent at a marginal little shop--William Morris.

:)

This has been a very informative thread guys - really, thanks. Now I don't feel bad about parting with the rep awhile back. I knew something was off. Gut feeling.

JeffLowell
01-07-2010, 11:20 AM
And most importantly, don't fire a rep until you have a new one in place.

Bono
01-07-2010, 12:50 PM
And most importantly, don't fire a rep until you have a new one in place.

About that -- makes sense in theory. But I've heard the opposite as well. As in, it's such a small town and most reps are friends, so good chance someone will tip them off that you're leaving.

If you are done with them, isn't it maybe better to say goodbye and look for a new rep cleanly?

Does it really matter to a rep if you are currently with Manager X or you were with them 2 days ago?

Of course, you want to never be without a rep. But the opinion on how to leave a rep seems to be split on whether to stay or leave before finding a new one.

Bono
01-07-2010, 12:54 PM
Not good that you didn't know he was doing it...if in fact he was. I know people who have been with agents that claimed they were pushing their material, even naming specific places, and then later found out they were lying. Of course this was a crappy agent at a marginal little shop--William Morris.

So should your rep tell you -- I put you up for "American Pie 10" today?

That is what the skeptic in me thinks as well. If he did it, it was one time.

And I assume a lot of this is about HOW a rep does it. I don't know how one gets put up for assignment, but I assume a good rep calls the place, talks you up, sends off your sample, follows up. So my guy might have done something, but to what degree?

Geoff Alexander
01-07-2010, 01:05 PM
So should your rep tell you -- I put you up for "American Pie 10" today?

That is what the skeptic in me thinks as well. If he did it, it was one time.

And I assume a lot of this is about HOW a rep does it. I don't know how one gets put up for assignment, but I assume a good rep calls the place, talks you up, sends off your sample, follows up. So my guy might have done something, but to what degree?

Ask him. Tell him it's important for you to know where your work is being exposed. Ask him for a list of submissions for OWAs that he has made on your behalf.

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 01:22 PM
The only time I find out about what I’ve been put up for is when the production company responds to my sample and wants to hear my “take.”

At the same time, my agent is open to me making suggestions, too...I can say, "hey, I read so and so is looking for a writer on this project. I'd love to take a shot at it." Sometimes he'll put me up for it and sometimes he'll explain why it wouldn't be wise or whatever.

My agent BY FAR puts me up for more work than my manager.

Your manager SHOULD at least be consistently sending you out on meet and greets, though.

I have to say most of the stuff I am shooting for now…I’m developing a pitch with a big time prod co to take to a major studio…and I’m up for an adaptation of a graphic novel with an indie production company with a development fund to pay me….have been as a result of contacts made and relationships formed as a result of general meetings.

Rantanplan
01-07-2010, 01:27 PM
The only time I find out about what Iíve been put up for is when the production company responds to my sample and wants to hear my ďtake.Ē

Do you get a heads-up from your rep?? Or do you just answer the phone one day and it's a producer who wants your take on some story you've never heard of...

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 01:33 PM
No, you get a heads up...my agency will send me the article or the script or the graphic novel or whatever...I don't come into contact with the exec until I'm ready to pitch them my take and have that first conversation about the job.

But with execs I know from meet and greets...people I stay in touch with...I just deal with them directly and I'll call my agent in when I get close to the finish line.

Jake Schuster
01-07-2010, 01:39 PM
No, you get a heads up...my agency will send me the article or the script or the graphic novel or whatever...I don't come into contact with the exec until I'm ready to pitch them my take and have that first conversation about the job.

But with execs I know from meet and greets...people I stay in touch with...I just deal with them directly and I'll call my agent in when I get close to the finish line.

Interesting... I meet with the execs first, talk about the project, then I'm sent the material for my take on it. In this way I develop a relationship with the execs beforehand, and it's already led to some very interesting possibilities (I'm also up for a graphic novel adaptation, Joe).

But I'm very happy with my manager. She's been getting the work out there and setting up meetings for me pretty regularly.

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 01:56 PM
Interesting... I meet with the execs first, talk about the project, then I'm sent the material for my take on it. In this way I develop a relationship with the execs beforehand, and it's already led to some very interesting possibilities.

Hey that's the ideal if you're based in LA or regularly there. I'm not so I can't play it like that....but when I am there that's how it sort of goes down during my meet and greets...an exec I'm meeting will say, "hey we have this book you'd be perfect for...read it and tell me what you think."

JeffLowell
01-07-2010, 01:57 PM
About that -- makes sense in theory. But I've heard the opposite as well. As in, it's such a small town and most reps are friends, so good chance someone will tip them off that you're leaving.

If you are done with them, isn't it maybe better to say goodbye and look for a new rep cleanly?

Does it really matter to a rep if you are currently with Manager X or you were with them 2 days ago?

Of course, you want to never be without a rep. But the opinion on how to leave a rep seems to be split on whether to stay or leave before finding a new one.

Well, what are the odds that you get a new rep in 2 days? It's a process, and before long, you're an unrepresented writer looking for a manager. Saying "I used to have a manager" in a query letter won't do much, I think.

What I wouldn't do is put the name of my manager in my query letters. I'd say "I'm currently represented but looking to change managers." If they're interested and want to read you, then you can tell them who you're with. Saying you're represented is a form of pre-screening - you're good enough for someone else to represent.

I think it also lends some credibility if you're querying on your own and say that you can have Joe Smith at Acme Talent send a script over if they're interested. And who knows - if you generate enough leads on your own, maybe you'll get your manager off his ass.

And obviously don't trash your manager, ever. Just say some polite version of "creative differences."

And worst case scenario? Your current manager finds out that you're looking. One of two things can happen: he fires you, or he steps up to keep you happy. If he fires you, you're exactly where you were if you fired him before the search. He's not going to give you a glowing recommendation either way.

Of course, if your manager is actively harming your career, then sure, fire away. But that's not usually the case. It's usually just benign neglect.

(All of this advice is theoretical and comes with no guarantees. I don't know anyone's situation but mine. As for me, I went through three agents before I landed with my current one, and I started the search while I was still repped each time. I did part ways with a manager before I went and found a new one, but that was recently and I was fairly certain that I could find someone. And I had an agent.)

Jake Schuster
01-07-2010, 01:58 PM
I'm on the east coast, Joe. So unless I'm out there my meetings are usually by phone. By talking to the execs first at least I can sense what they like about the material and what they're looking for. Then I can go and write it the way I like it. :)

Jake Schuster
01-07-2010, 02:00 PM
Well, what are the odds that you get a new rep in 2 days? It's a process, and before long, you're an unrepresented writer looking for a manager. Saying "I used to have a manager" in a query letter won't do much, I think.

What I wouldn't do is put the name of my manager in my query letters. I'd say "I'm currently represented but looking to change managers." If they're interested and want to read you, then you can tell them who you're with. Saying you're represented is a form of pre-screening - you're good enough for someone else to represent.

I think it also lends some credibility if you're querying on your own and say that you can have Joe Smith at Acme Talent send a script over if they're interested. And who knows - if you generate enough leads on your own, maybe you'll get your manager off his ass.

And obviously don't trash your manager, ever. Just say some polite version of "creative differences."

And worst case scenario? Your current manager finds out that you're looking. One of two things can happen: he fires you, or he steps up to keep you happy. If he fires you, you're exactly where you were if you fired him before the search. He's not going to give you a glowing recommendation either way.

Of course, if your manager is actively harming your career, then sure, fire away. But that's not usually the case. It's usually just benign neglect.

(All of this advice is theoretical and comes with no guarantees. I don't know anyone's situation but mine. As for me, I went through three agents before I landed with my current one, and I started the search while I was still repped each time. I did part ways with a manager before I went and found a new one, but that was recently and I was fairly certain that I could find someone. And I had an agent.)

This is exactly the procedure when a novelist (or other writer of books) wants to sack his agent. As with Hollywood, the publishing world is a hotbed of incest; everyone has something stuck in someone else, and much of the time these people have known each other, had affairs in the past, or were married, so word gets around pretty quickly. Jeff's advice is very sound, and it leaves you looking and acting like a mensch and no one's feelings are hurt, at least not much.

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 02:07 PM
I'm on the east coast, Joe. So unless I'm out there my meetings are usually by phone. By talking to the execs first at least I can sense what they like about the material and what they're looking for. Then I can go and write it the way I like it. :)

I've never been given that option of a sort of "prep" call to give a take on an assignment...must be nice!

I've set that sort of thing up with execs I already knew but when my agent has sent my sample to an exec looking to hire a writer for a job, the exec usually responds to my agent directly regarding whether or not they responded to the sample and want to hear my take. Then my agent tells me to get a take ready and sets a phone call up with the exec. The call is usually the exec saying "how ya doin...let's jump right in....GO!""

And I go.

Agree with Jeff on the rep thing by the way. The only time I've fired a manager without having another one ready to go is when I had an agent (who intro'd me to my current manager).

When I only had a manager, I didn't fire him until I had another one lined up and I queried EVERYBODY under the sun. I know it's supposed to be a no-no or whatever for a manager to poach from another manager's list (unlike the agency world) but I only ran into one guy who out and out refused to read me because I already had a manager...and he later told he came to regret that decision.

JeffLowell
01-07-2010, 02:12 PM
I know it's supposed to be a no-no or whatever for a manager to poach from another manager's list (unlike the agency world) but I only ran into one guy who out and out refused to read me because I already had a manager...and he later told he came to regret that decision.

Even some agents don't poach - but when the client is looking for a new rep, that's not poaching. Poaching is when a rep calls you and tries to talk you into leaving.

joe9alt
01-07-2010, 02:18 PM
True and that's what a lot of managers said when I contacted them..."well I usually don't consider the client of another manager but since you came to me..."

I think ultimately with most of them it comes down to whether or not the logline your pitching intrigues them. The rest of the stuff is just kinda window dressing.

sc111
01-07-2010, 02:53 PM
And most importantly, don't fire a rep until you have a new one in place.

This is likely excellent advice. But in my case the parting with the rep came when I was questioning a lot of things. Questioning the genre I chose. Questioning if I had landed a rep far too early in my learning curve and the spec hustle game was putting me in a position where my scripts were "good enough" but still not at a level I wanted to be. Having another rep waiting in the wings would have distracted me from sorting all of that out.

I think each of us has to make choices that work for us individually.

BattleDolphinZero
01-07-2010, 06:57 PM
Not that anyone is resisting Lowell's advice, but it's more right than ever in this current market: do NOT fire a rep until you've absolutely secured a new one.

I made this mistake. And I went two years without an agent. If you're not a big earner, agencies at the big 5 will often pass on you even if you're working.

You might THINK you can get another rep but you'd be surprised how hard it is. Especially with agents.

Ulysses
01-08-2010, 09:02 PM
My agent and manager have sent me to pitch on pretty much anything that's open to someone at my level: there are things you get to pitch on, as a baby writer, because you're eager and cheap and the company invites 50 people just like you to pitch on a deadish project... and there are things you don't get to pitch on, because the company is actually planning on making a movie. That can be kind of humbling once you figure this out, that most brand-new writers basically only get to pitch on projects where the executive is generating pitches on the off-chance that one will go. You don't really get to pitch on projects that are a sure thing if they can just find the right writer: those projects go to working writers with quotes, a list you have yet to get yourself on.

So. The kind of stuff you get to go pitch on is: a remake of something you've never heard of, an obscure graphic novel with no heat behind it, a novel with some heat behind it but which isn't really very good. A book the producer wants to completely change. A producer's original idea. None of these are sure things (the studio is not on the phone every day all "Hey, did you find a writer yet? Because we have this check sitting here.") - instead, if you "get the job" what you actually get is usually the chance to go around pitching it to money people, like the studio.

(Not always true: I have also pitched at companies that have their own money. But there are not that many companies with an internal development fund anymore.)

Anyway, with all that in mind, I'm not sure that new writers routinely land assignments without first having sold something. Does it happen? Of course, yes. Does it happen frequently? I don't think so, no. Like someone said upthread, it never gets easier, you just have to jump through different hoops.

I have occasionally turned down the opportunity to pitch on something. But most of the time I've girded my loins and gone in and pitched my best story. Nobody has hired me. That may be because I am The Worst, of course. But frankly, I think it's because most of the projects you and fifty other noob writers are pitching on are no-go to begin with, and it's not that big of an investment on the executive's part to run it up the flagpole and see who salutes, you never know, one of those writers may strike gold.

Re: pitching - or writing at all, really - I don't think your success is inevitable if you are talented and just keep plugging away, I think that there are very few slots open at all. Frankly, once you've "made it" to the level of something with an agent at a three-letter agency, etc, you realize that maybe your chances have gotten better... but the odds are now 1000-to-1 rather than 100000-to-1. Definitely better, but faaaaar from a sure thing.

This sounds very pessimistic and borderline depressive.

It happens to all of us.

I recommend Terry Rossio's blog for a cure.

Just because there are great numbers doesn't mean it's a numbers game.

jddobkin
01-11-2010, 12:05 AM
I've been watching this post and I think the #1 issue at hand is the writers relationship with his/her manager and how much trust & disclosure there is between them.

My personal preference is a relationship, albeit a business one, where I can trust that what I'm hearing from my rep is actually what is being done... if I'm hearing anything at all.

And if I were taking a consensus of writers opinions on their reps... it wouldn't be a favorable one.

carcar
01-11-2010, 06:41 AM
What about the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script written on assignment by a big name writer and/or the page one rewrite of the woefully bad script that just sold on spec for high six? You'll need to completely reinvent the story and concept mind you...but you'll get paid WGA scale (plus 10% if your agent is good) for a rewrite....like 40 grand before taxes and rep dips.

I'd love to get something like this. Seriously.

(Just discovered this excellent thread populated by some of the people I look to for level-headed thinking and sound professional advice around here. One of the best learning threads in recent weeks.)

But if I were repped, at present, just coming into the professional world, I think I'd leap at the assignment, if I thought I had a good take on it. It seems like a great job to cut your teeth on, and if it were page one, I think you'd probably stand a good chance of getting the credit in an arbitration. As long as my name was on it, and I got paid enough to think about leaving my day job... (I'm not saying actually leaving that job.)

But I think I'd also want a strong adviser to tell me if there were something about the deal I was missing in my enthusiasm for work.

I'm also glad I've been in the acting field for a fairish amount of time, because from that, I learned that dissatisfaction with your representation is a chronic affliction of the industry, and sometimes it's grass is greener syndrome. But not always; I just think it's important to be very clear about with yourself about that before you leap.

joe9alt
01-11-2010, 02:22 PM
I'd love to get something like this. Seriously.

Join the club....we all would.

You'd also get to join the much more exclusive WGA "club", too...not a bad perk! :)

But if I were repped, at present, just coming into the professional world, I think I'd leap at the assignment, if I thought I had a good take on it. It seems like a great job to cut your teeth on, and if it were page one, I think you'd probably stand a good chance of getting the credit in an arbitration. As long as my name was on it, and I got paid enough to think about leaving my day job... (I'm not saying actually leaving that job.)

You'd have a shot at getting a shared credit possibly but that wouldn't by any means be guaranteed as the original writer typically gets preference in the process. Regardless, I'd never take one of these jobs expecting to get credit. I'd try for it but that would never be the reason I'd take one of these gigs because odds are you're not gonna get credit.

Unless you're single and have a rich uncle or something, you'd probably NOT gonna be able to quit your day job from one these but you'll be on your way. They say the first job is always the hardest and once somebody takes that first chance on you it could lead to a second and a third and maybe then you can wave goodbye to your cubicle???

That's the thing and that's where I somewhat relate to corduroy's frustration. Getting repped is only HALF the battle...then there's getting PAID to do this stuff...and that takes work...it's jumping through hoops...it's doing a lot of free leg work to develop takes to get turned down for jobs that they were probably never gonna hire anybody on anyways, or at least somebody "new" like you.

The thing where I somewhat disagree with cord on is that one of these days you're gonna turn over another rock and it's gonna pay off.

That's the plan, anyways. ;)

Until then just gotta suck it up and drive on.

carcar
01-11-2010, 03:37 PM
Join the club....we all would.

You'd have a shot at getting a shared credit possibly but that wouldn't by any means be guaranteed as the original writer typically gets preference in the process. Regardless, I'd never take one of these jobs expecting to get credit. I'd try for it but that would never be the reason I'd take one of these gigs because odds are you're not gonna get credit.

Unless you're single and have a rich uncle or something, you'd probably NOT gonna be able to quit your day job from one these but you'll be on your way. They say the first job is always the hardest and once somebody takes that first chance on you it could lead to a second and a third and maybe then you can wave goodbye to your cubicle???



That's why I said think about it... :p I like thinking about it, most days.

My particular cubicle isn't too bad, as far as film-industry friendly day jobs go. And at this point, I wouldn't care too much about the credit, although it would be nice if insiders knew I did a rewrite. But money, credit... both good carrots for this little donkey, and a little would go a long way.

yammo
01-12-2010, 12:49 PM
My writing partner and I landed our first assignment this past year and we never sold a spec. We had a couple specs go out that got us some buzz, but no sale. So yes, it is possible. The assignment got me into the WGA and a new agent. Good luck everyone!

ihavebiglips
01-12-2010, 01:10 PM
My writing partner and I landed our first assignment this past year and we never sold a spec. We had a couple specs go out that got us some buzz, but no sale. So yes, it is possible. The assignment got me into the WGA and a new agent. Good luck everyone!


Awesome! Huge congrats.

Any more insight into the process that led to securing the assignment?

corduroy
01-12-2010, 02:50 PM
This sounds very pessimistic and borderline depressive.


THAT sounds depressive and pessimistic to you? Have you actually hung out with any writers? Dude. I'm one of the sunniest people you'd take a meeting with!

But I'm not a moron: I don't buy the lines about how if you just never give up you will def. get there, and it does mildly annoy me when people flat-out lie - by omission or otherwise - to aspiring screenwriters about how few of these jobs there actually are. There are some things (primarily financial, like "find a higher-paying day job" and "look into this 401(k) business") I would have done differently if I had realized before my signing meeting that being pretty good+having an agent does not necessarily equal rolling around in my money.

(I mean, I guess I could, but pennies are so hard!)

kidcharlemagne
01-16-2010, 10:49 AM
I've been writing assignments for some time now, well, at least if you go by the definition of assignment as 'paid work for hire' but if the definition includes full WGA rates then no they're not but then again they're not specs based on producer's ideas either. Maybe we should talk about WGA and non-WGA assignments?

Going by today's exchange rates I get 13K dollars per script with a nice fat pay day if the films gets made (% of budget with floors and ceilings).

It's not the full brass ring but it certainly has pushed up my confidence as a writer to the next level and given me experience in adaptation work (incorporating historical research and interviews). The money's been useful in funding my producing activity: going to Cannes, New York etc paying lawyers, funding a short etc. I was also offered another paid assignment recently (another Cannes meeting) but that has been stalled due to a cash flow on the producer's side so we'll see if that happens. I make my own contacts as a 'writer/producer' and then handle the contracts with my entertainment lawyer. I met another producer from NY (again, in Cannes) who was looking for a European writer to adapt a book. I ordered it from Amazon. Gave my 'take' which he liked and then I never heard from him again. C'est La Vie. :)

joe9alt
01-16-2010, 10:58 AM
I don't buy the lines about how if you just never give up you will def. get there

I don't say that word for word but I do say if you never give up you'll either succeed or die trying.

Either way you're not gonna ever feel like you failed.

I'll take that.

SuperScribe
01-16-2010, 11:10 AM
Same here, Joe.

Same here.

Biohazard
01-16-2010, 06:09 PM
I don't say that word for word but I do say if you never give up you'll either succeed or die trying.

Either way you're not gonna ever feel like you failed.

I'll take that.

Indeed.

If you don't give up, you have a chance of succeeding...but along the way, you still have to LEARN. That's the most important thing. If you can spot mistakes before you make them, your chance of success doubles. People need to be able to understand the strength of a concept at the logline stage, write a logline that promises a solid story full of conflict (helps if your idea is somewhat unique), and then deliver on that concept through structure, character, etc. People need to be able to read a screenplay and be able to see what works in it, what doesn't and why. People need to establish industry connections, grow to understand as much about the business as possible, and use every resource, every avenue possible. People need to develop a thick skin, be able to take thoughtful criticism and see it as an opportunity to come away with a better product instead of viewing the comments as an insult to one's ability.

Never give up LEARNING.

nuvuefilms
01-16-2010, 07:02 PM
Speaking as a writer who landed an assignment last year that got me into the WGA, the stress of writing with a boss and a deadline is something to consider while developing your skills.

When writing my spec, I should have given myself deadlines and make sure I hit them. A lot of people say it is fine to take as long as you want to write a spec, a year, 8 months, etc. I'd consider self-imposed deadlines. There is something magical that happens when you are writing with a time crunch.

If you already like to work under pressure, it may not be an issue.

I think that if you write a quality spec that gets into enough hands, the odds of getting a paid assignment are pretty decent, as long as you nurture the relationships you make along the way.

A producer that like my spec pitched me a concept he had for a feature. It came down to me and three other writers. In the end, he said he chose me because he thought I would be the most fun to be around during the process.

I love being in the room, I'm super passionate, and passion is contagious.

Rantanplan
01-16-2010, 07:31 PM
I love being in the room, I'm super passionate, and passion is contagious.

I really like that, and I believe that's true.

I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life a few months ago. I was interviewing DP's for a short I wanted to make, and there was this guy I had worked with before. He was a gaffer on my other short, and he did a great job. When he read the script for my new short, a silent, super super stylized, B&W piece, he said he totally got it, loved the idea, and there were a few email exchanges between us where I could see that he was totally motivated. We exchanged notes on films we liked, ideas for production design, costumes, etc. He seemed on board and toally passionate.

Then we met. He was almost non verbal, and he didn't follow up with the meeting, never sent an email saying "I totally love the concept, I know I can give you the look you want within budget, here is the crew I can come up with, here are the numbers" etc. And I lost TOTAL confidence in him. His job was to make ME confident in him and he blew it. Couple that with the fact that I had given him a DVD of the short he gaffed on, which incidentally turned out great, and asked him for his feedback, and he never responded. BAD IDEA.

The thing is, I am someone who is on the one hand completely passionate, but on the other hand I have this sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor and well, there is a time for everything, whether on a date or a job interview.

You have to portray confidence and be socially adept when interviewing for an assignment, it is your job to convince the producer / director that you are the right person for the job. I used to think that self-deprecating humor would win people over, but hell no, that is NOT what they want to hear!

Anyway, the guy in question wasn't self-deprecating, he was just kind of non-verbal, whereas in his emails he seemed totally on board and was a great communicator. And the result was that I lost all confidence in him.

A few weeks later I found out I was getting laid off, so it's a good thing I didn't sink several thousands of dollars into making that short. The idea is a blast and I absolutely intend to make it one day, but more importantly, what that experience taught me is one of the most important lessons of my life. The impression you give and the CONFIDENCE you inspire in others is absolutely essential. Never assume for a second they have known you all their lives and are charmed by your little quirks. Always be yourself, but your self is composed of many facets --the facet to display when you are up for a job is confidence, positivity and passion.

Seriously, hands down, one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.