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LauriD
04-24-2013, 11:53 AM
On the April 23 Scriptnotes podcast, a listener asked what income a successful screenwriter could “expect” to make.

http://johnaugust.com/podcast

John and Craig said that it could be millions of dollars per year – but only for about 40 or so of the top screenwriters. They also said that lower-tier screenwriters could make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

I suspect that many listeners tuned out what they said about the odds and focused on those dollar signs. So in the interest of providing a reality check I suggest the following analysis:

1. The universe of people “interested” in screenwriting is at least the size of the Scriptnotes listenership: about 100,000.

2. The universe of people who are serious about being screenwriters is probably much smaller. The most prestigious (and I believe the largest) amateur screenwriting competition is the Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2012, the Nicholl received a record 7,197 scripts.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/

People can enter up to 3 scripts each, and the number of entrants in 2012 was about 5,500.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?p=865299#post865299 (post 105)

Thus, the universe of people who are serious about becoming professional screenwriters is at least 5,500 – but could be many times that number.

3. The number of people who broke in by selling a spec in 2012 was 19 (including several writing teams). (There were 132 total spec scales in 2012, but most were by pros.)

http://blog.blcklst.com/category/spec-script-sales/

19 out of 5,500 translates to odds of 3/1000 or 1/333.

4. Selling a spec script to a WGA signatory is one way to join the WGA:

“Approximately 1500 players drafted into Major League baseball every year; approximately 300 new members admitted to the WGAW every year.”

http://www.wga.org/Common/Templates/OneColLeftNav.aspx?pageid=4634

So only 6% get in by selling a feature spec. Most get in via TV, new media, writing assignments, etc.

5. Becoming a member of the WGA is a requirement for working for WGA signatories (including all the major studios).

However, becoming a member of the WGA, as hard as it is, does not guarantee that a writer can earn a living from screenwriting -- let alone get rich.

6. The WGA has at least 12,000 members. (Surprisingly, the reported numbers vary considerably from source to source…)

http://www.wgawregistry.org/webrss/

In 2011 only 4,338 of those members (36%) reported receiving ANY income from screenwriting.

http://www.wga.org/subpage_whoweare.aspx?id=230

7. “Most writers are middle class; 46% did not even work last year. Of those who do work, one quarter make less than $37,700 a year and 50% make less than $105,000 a year. Over a five year period of employment and unemployment, a writer’s average income is $62,000 per year.”

Writers Guild of America, West (2007)

(there are multiple references to this stat, which doesn’t seem to be live on the WGA site any more)

8. Put these stats together and the average aspiring professional screenwriting has a .3% chance of earning $62,000/year, which means that the expected return from an investment in screenwriting is $186 – less than the cost of FinalDraft 8 ($249).

(Of course, far more than 99 out of 100 will actually earn nothing.)

9. To me, this suggests that screenwriting should be regarded as a relatively inexpensive hobby that very rarely yields financial rewards.

IMO, it makes sense to write screenplays if you love to write screenplays, but it makes no sense to write screenplays with the expectation of getting rich in the process, or to make serious personal/financial sacrifices in the course of that pursuit.

(For example, borrowing $36,000+ per year to get an MFA in screenwriting is tantamount to financial suicide, since it doesn't improve the odds in any significant way.)

Comments?

SoCalScribe
04-24-2013, 12:16 PM
Comments?

I think what all of this really boils down to is the following:


Screenwriting is a very tough business to break into.
There's a vast difference between the reported earnings of top-tier screenwriters and your average screenwriter.

nativeson
04-24-2013, 12:18 PM
I've heard them quote 80K a year average for a working screenwriter in L.A. As for the 100,000 pool of scriptnotes listeners, allow me to paint a rosier picture. If you admit the glam factor (people who want to be 'in the biz', 'near the scene', 'live in L.A.', slightly more than their love of writing, etc.), the numbers are not all that overwhelming, say, in comparison to aspiring actors (And I lump talk shows, 'celebrities', you-tubers and their other streaming cousins into that mix). Furthermore, it takes more skilz proportionately to be a writer than an actor (good looks don't get you a free pass). Therefore, 100K listeners is really not much of a competition pool. Are we not constantly hearing about how 99% of the stuff out there is cr@p anyways? Apply yourself, subtract the delusional from the equation, and you're home free. Let the dogpiling commence!

EdFury
04-24-2013, 12:34 PM
Comments?

Yep. Not easy and the odds are extremely low for sustained success. That's why arguments about whether it's premise or writing ability muddle the real point. You have to write a great story and write it really well to get noticed. Craig Mazin said it well. You want a career, you do both. There are no shortcuts around this fact. No easier roads to take.

UpandComing
04-24-2013, 12:53 PM
Seems like if you're in this for the money, you're better off going into the "screenwriting services" industry - writing a screenwriting book, offering consulting/analysis services, starting a contest, starting a pitchfest, starting an online site like BL or VPF. The industry is a huge business, would be interesting to know how much it generates a year.

Chief
04-24-2013, 01:02 PM
Your only competition is you.

LauriD
04-24-2013, 01:03 PM
Seems like if you're in this for the money, you're better off going into the "screenwriting services" industry - writing a screenwriting book, offering consulting/analysis services, starting a contest, starting a pitchfest, starting an online site like BL or VPF. The industry is a huge business, would be interesting to know how much it generates a year.

I suspect it's more than all WGA members earn in a year.

Kinda like how more people got rich selling blue jeans to gold miners than actually mining gold... ;)

ATB
04-24-2013, 01:13 PM
On the April 23 Scriptnotes podcast, a listener asked what income a successful screenwriter could “expect” to make.

http://johnaugust.com/podcast

John and Craig said that it could be millions of dollars per year – but only for about 40 or so of the top screenwriters. They also said that lower-tier screenwriters could make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

I suspect that many listeners tuned out what they said about the odds and focused on those dollar signs. So in the interest of providing a reality check I suggest the following analysis:

1. The universe of people “interested” in screenwriting is at least the size of the Scriptnotes listenership: about 100,000.

2. The universe of people who are serious about being screenwriters is probably much smaller. The most prestigious (and I believe the largest) amateur screenwriting competition is the Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2012, the Nicholl received a record 7,197 scripts.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/

People can enter up to 3 scripts each, and the number of entrants in 2012 was about 5,500.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?p=865299#post865299 (post 105)

Thus, the universe of people who are serious about becoming professional screenwriters is at least 5,500 – but could be many times that number.

3. The number of people who broke in by selling a spec in 2012 was 19 (including several writing teams). (There were 132 total spec scales in 2012, but most were by pros.)

http://blog.blcklst.com/category/spec-script-sales/

19 out of 5,500 translates to odds of 3/1000 or 1/333.

4. Selling a spec script to a WGA signatory is one way to join the WGA:

“Approximately 1500 players drafted into Major League baseball every year; approximately 300 new members admitted to the WGAW every year.”

http://www.wga.org/Common/Templates/OneColLeftNav.aspx?pageid=4634

So only 6% get in by selling a feature spec. Most get in via TV, new media, writing assignments, etc.

5. Becoming a member of the WGA is a requirement for working for WGA signatories (including all the major studios).

However, becoming a member of the WGA, as hard as it is, does not guarantee that a writer can earn a living from screenwriting -- let alone get rich.

6. The WGA has at least 12,000 members. (Surprisingly, the reported numbers vary considerably from source to source…)

http://www.wgawregistry.org/webrss/

In 2011 only 4,338 of those members (36%) reported receiving ANY income from screenwriting.

http://www.wga.org/subpage_whoweare.aspx?id=230

7. “Most writers are middle class; 46% did not even work last year. Of those who do work, one quarter make less than $37,700 a year and 50% make less than $105,000 a year. Over a five year period of employment and unemployment, a writer’s average income is $62,000 per year.”

Writers Guild of America, West (2007)

(there are multiple references to this stat, which doesn’t seem to be live on the WGA site any more)

8. Put these stats together and the average aspiring professional screenwriting has a .3% chance of earning $62,000/year, which means that the expected return from an investment in screenwriting is $186 – less than the cost of FinalDraft 8 ($249).

(Of course, far more than 99 out of 100 will actually earn nothing.)

9. To me, this suggests that screenwriting should be regarded as a relatively inexpensive hobby that very rarely yields financial rewards.

IMO, it makes sense to write screenplays if you love to write screenplays, but it makes no sense to write screenplays with the expectation of getting rich in the process, or to make serious personal/financial sacrifices in the course of that pursuit.

(For example, borrowing $36,000+ per year to get an MFA in screenwriting is tantamount to financial suicide, since it doesn't improve the odds in any significant way.)

Comments?

Translation: People who are good at their jobs make more money.

slupo
04-24-2013, 01:25 PM
"Never tell me the odds."
– Han Solo

"So you're telling me there's a chance?"
– Lloyd Christmas

I don't really understand what odds and chance have to do with starting a career in any field. It's not like you drop your name in a hat and that's your chance to become a screenwriter.

Yeah, there's a lot of competition but also a lot of it sucks.

Also, sorry if you get an MFA from USC, UCLA or NYU, you are definitely increasing your odds. I don't have a cost benefit analysis of it, but you make a lot of contacts and relationships with people that way.

WaitForIt
04-24-2013, 01:30 PM
Your only competition is you.

Unless you want to get paid.

Margie Kaptanoglu
04-24-2013, 01:47 PM
Translation: People who are good at their jobs make more money.

I graduated from college with a degree in English, but I had taken a few computer programming classes. That was enough to get me hired as a programmer trainee. From there, I continued to learn on the job and advance in my engineering career until I was quite well paid. I broke into this field despite that I wasn’t particularly good at it when I started.

I think this is still a scenario that is played out in many fields. You get hired as an intern or trainee, you learn your craft on the job, your salary increases. You may not start out "good," but you become good. You are hired based on potential, not according to what you’ve already accomplished in the field.

With screenwriting, you’re expected to master your craft in a virtual vacuum before anyone will give you the time of day. This is part of why it is way more difficult to break into than other fields, even if you’re very good at it.

Madbandit
04-24-2013, 03:37 PM
Unless you want to get paid.

But doing it just for the money is such a short-sighted goal. Hell, doing for the fame and prestige is short-sighted.

When I see the aforedisplayed statistics here, what's that supposed to do? Scare the **** out of me, let alone other writers? Maybe. The thing is I've been writing fiction for a long time, since high school. Have I been published? Only one short story on the Internet. Have I been paid? No. I almost got the chance to co-write a pilot script this year, but the funding never came through. I'm sad, but I'm writing. I recently got two union waivers while working as a background extra. I'm almost in SAG-AFTRA, yet I'm writing. Maybe I have better odds than anyone of breaking in, but I'm still writing.

Like Chief posted, the only competition you have to worry about is you. Can you be a better writer than the one you were in the past? You damn well better be.

Why One
04-24-2013, 03:41 PM
Writing only for the love of writing Vs writing to get paid and make movies:

It's the difference between masturbation and sex.

Mintclub
04-24-2013, 04:47 PM
I find these types of posts odd. IMHO most pursuits of a creative career will no doubt have heavy odds stacked against the person wishing to succeed. From ballet dancers to sculptors to actors and so on and so on. Writing's no different.

Go and tell a musician with dreams of gold discs, platinum selling albums, #1 after #1 and world tours gallore about a writers odds. I'd be surprised if you got anything more than a shrug of the shoulders in return.

JoeBanks
04-24-2013, 05:51 PM
Comments?

Calculate less

Craig Mazin
04-24-2013, 07:17 PM
The problem with overall odds of success is that they don't apply to any individual. They just give a snapshot of an industry's selectivity.

If only .001% of aspiring screenwriters become professional screenwriters, that doesn't mean your odds are .001%.

Your odds are 0%.

Or 100%.

Nothing else.

WaitForIt
04-24-2013, 08:38 PM
But doing it just for the money is such a short-sighted goal. Hell, doing for the fame and prestige is short-sighted.


I wouldn't be writing if I didn't enjoy it, but if I didn't also have a goal of being paid someday, I would devote more time to other things and I would treat writing as a hobby. I would then also expect to get slow, hobbyist results in my personal improvement. I'm not setting out to be the train collector of writers. If I end up that way, fine, but that's not my end goal.

You can be completely realistic about the odds of ever getting paid. The fact remains that if you want to get paid, you have to be better than other people who want to get paid, not merely better than you were last week/month/year. ...Or you have to be lucky, but I doubt even LauriD can calculate the odds of someone who's not very good being able to make a living long-term.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 04:59 AM
Also, sorry if you get an MFA from USC, UCLA or NYU, you are definitely increasing your odds. I don't have a cost benefit analysis of it, but you make a lot of contacts and relationships with people that way.

You can also make a lot of contacts and relationships getting an assistant job or any other industry job -- without racking up $70K+ in student loan debt.

And since an MFA (unlike, for example, a JD for lawyers or an MD for doctors) is neither necessary nor sufficient to get paying work in the profession, that seems like an awfully big burden to take on for a few contacts.

If someone has stats that show an MFA does actually increase one's odds in any significant way (e.g., an improvement from .3% to .6% is not "significant" enough to merit $70K in debt, IMO), I'd love to see it.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 05:06 AM
I find these types of posts odd. IMHO most pursuits of a creative career will no doubt have heavy odds stacked against the person wishing to succeed. From ballet dancers to sculptors to actors and so on and so on. Writing's no different.

Go and tell a musician with dreams of gold discs, platinum selling albums, #1 after #1 and world tours gallore about a writers odds. I'd be surprised if you got anything more than a shrug of the shoulders in return.

One difference is, musicians have a lot more ways of earning a living than screenwriters do. You can play weddings and bat mitzvahs and bars, and sell your songs online, and teach, etc. It's not like only 3/1000 working musicians make ANY money at it.

So musicians can dream of the big time while still earning SOMETHING doing what they love. Not nearly as easy for screenwriters.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 05:10 AM
The problem with overall odds of success is that they don't apply to any individual. They just give a snapshot of an industry's selectivity.

If only .001% of aspiring screenwriters become professional screenwriters, that doesn't mean your odds are .001%.

Your odds are 0%.

Or 100%.

Nothing else.

OK, I get 0% -- if you don't try (or you suck?), you're not getting anywhere.

But where do you get 100%? And what does 100% mean? If you try really hard and/or you're really good and/or you stick it out you'll sell a script? Earn a living as a screenwriter? Be one of the top 40?

LauriD
04-25-2013, 05:23 AM
I don't really understand what odds and chance have to do with starting a career in any field. It's not like you drop your name in a hat and that's your chance to become a screenwriter.

.

With most other careers you have a defined path that will lead to your actually earning a living in that career.

You want to be a lawyer, you need to go to high school and college, then you need to take the LSATs, then you need to get into law school, then you need to graduate and pass the bar. You do all that and you get to work as a lawyer -- unless you went to a 3rd or 4th tier law school in which case you're a barrista with $100K in student loan debt....

What's the career path for a screenwriter? You don't need a degree, there are no tests, there are no certifying agencies. And only a minuscule number of people who set out on that path ever reach the destination. So can you really call it a "career path" versus a combination of skill, effort, and happy accident?

AnyOtherName
04-25-2013, 06:20 AM
You can also make a lot of contacts and relationships getting an assistant job or any other industry job -- without racking up $70K+ in student loan debt.

And since an MFA (unlike, for example, a JD for lawyers or an MD for doctors) is neither necessary nor sufficient to get paying work in the profession, that seems like an awfully big burden to take on for a few contacts.

If someone has stats that show an MFA does actually increase one's odds in any significant way (e.g., an improvement from .3% to .6% is not "significant" enough to merit $70K in debt, IMO), I'd love to see it.

I think it's rather sad to view education as being worthless if it's not a technical requirement to get licensed in a given field. I don't think anyone should go to film school for "the degree" or "a few contacts"; if they're going, they should be going in order to learn the art and craft (and, yes, the business) of screenwriting.

Is it possible to learn to write well without setting foot in a college? Clearly it is. It's possible to learn nearly *anything* via autodidacticism. But for many people, learning from good teachers with inspiring peers within in a structured program will teach them more (and more quickly) than they'd likely learn flying solo.

In terms of success rates, I can only give anecdotal numbers, but USC, say, takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 MFA screenwriters a year, and it seems that, on average, maybe 5-6 of them become professional writers. (The ratios in the BFA group seem similar.) That constitutes a low percentage (17-20%), to be sure, but certainly much higher than .001%, or whatever random number we're throwing around.

Of course, whether those 5-6 writers would have made the majors anyway is unknown. Perhaps one year, USC should simply not have an MFA class, but make admissions decisions anyway, using the would-have-been admitted group as a control, tracking their success or lack-thereof so we can at long last scientifically answer this pressing question.

Pasquali56
04-25-2013, 06:22 AM
I think the OP makes a very valid point regarding realistic expectations. I remember once during a panel at the Austin festival when a woman in the audience stood up to ask a question. She was probably in her mid 30's and said that she was part of a two income household (and had two kids), but that she had recently decided to quit her job to pursue her dream of doing screenwriting full time. She asked the panel members if they thought she should also move to LA (from somewhere in Texas). Of course, they were all professionals (and knew about the long odds of earning anything from screenwriting) and tried to tell this woman that she should really keep her day job and income -- and do screenwriting on the side. But she insisted that this is something she wanted to do. She said she knew it would be hard, but she had received encouragement from some in the business, and also placed in some contests. I was pretty floored by this and felt sorry for the woman and her family. Maybe she went on to earn big bucks from screenwriting, but I would bet that she's now divorced and back in her old field.

That may be an extreme case, but it just illustrates how you do have to be realistic about what you can actually earn, if anything, in screenwriting. I've always been an advertising copywriter (now freelance) and have also sold and optioned several screenplays on the side. Maybe my total income over the years from screenwriting has been in the low six figures. I consider it a nice hobby, but am very glad that I never quit my day job.

Hamboogul
04-25-2013, 07:32 AM
From my observation, folks who spent time working as interns and assistants at agencies, management firms, and production companies have had a far greater understanding of the screenwriting profession than those who spent 2-3 years to get an MFA from top schools. And from my social circles, I'd say the writers who broke in by working as the initial gatekeepers outnumber the MFAs by 3 to 1.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 07:42 AM
I think it's rather sad to view education as being worthless if it's not a technical requirement to get licensed in a given field. I don't think anyone should go to film school for "the degree" or "a few contacts"; if they're going, they should be going in order to learn the art and craft (and, yes, the business) of screenwriting.



I'm not saying worthless. Obviously many people rack up debt to learn things for the sheer joy of it, and that can apply to screenwriting as well.

But if you view an MFA (or any other degree) as an investment, then it's reasonable to consider the payoff. 16% is better than .3%, but is it worth $70K? I guess 30 people/year at USC (and thousands elsewhere) figure it is.... Or have rich mommies and daddies or used to work for Facebook

As Pasquali noted, it's also about opportunity costs. Do you give up a job and uproot a family to pursue a dream? Are you a fool to do so or a wimp if you don't? And if you're in the process of making that choice, don't you want to know the odds that it will be "worth" whatever you're giving up?

In "My Story Can Beat Up Your Story," the author discusses the WGA stats and says that anyone over 40 or with a family to support or other significant financial obligations should "embrace screenwriting with the fervor of a dedicated hobbyist" but not quit the job or sell the house to finance the dream.

If you're in your 20s or have no other obligations, he suggests, you should move to LA, live on canned tuna, and get an industry job or even an unpaid internship.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 08:07 AM
"

Yeah, there's a lot of competition but also a lot of it sucks.

.

Also a valid point. Problem is, many people don't realize they suck. :)

If you posit that 95% of the wannabe screenwriters out there suck, and you don't, then you're only competing with about 350 non-sucky writers and your odds of selling a spec go up to a whopping 5% -- about the same odds of "something" happening if you get an 8 or 9 on the BL.

Maybe rather than looking at "raw" odds it's more productive to think in terms of ladders or brackets?

For example, each team in the NCAA starts with a theoretical 1/68 chance of winning. Each time a team wins, its odds improve, and by the time it reaches the Final Four the odds are 1/4 (duh).

Advancing at each level has a lot to do with skill, but it also has to do with effort and chance.

Some of the "games" for screenwriters are winning contests, getting a rep, having the rep send the first script out, getting the first option or writing assignment, etc.

Question is, are you going to enjoy just playing the games, or will you only be happy if you win the championship?

SoCalScribe
04-25-2013, 08:24 AM
Also a valid point. Problem is, many people don't realize they suck. :)

If you posit that 95% of the wannabe screenwriters out there suck, and you don't, then you're only competing with about 350 non-sucky writers and your odds of selling a spec go up to a whopping 5% -- about the same odds of "something" happening if you get an 8 or 9 on the BL.

Maybe rather than looking at "raw" odds it's more productive to think in terms of ladders or brackets?

For example, each team in the NCAA starts with a theoretical 1/68 chance of winning. Each time a team wins, its odds improve, and by the time it reaches the Final Four the odds are 1/4 (duh).

Advancing at each level has a lot to do with skill, but it also has to do with effort and chance.

Some of the "games" for screenwriters are winning contests, getting a rep, having the rep send the first script out, getting the first option or writing assignment, etc.

Question is, are you going to enjoy just playing the games, or will you only be happy if you win the championship?

Another way to look at it is that if you really, truly want to want to be a screenwriter and can't imagine doing anything else with your life... it doesn't matter what the odds are; you're going to try and make a career of it anyway, whether your odds are 1/1, 1/1,000, 1/100,000, or 1/10,000,000. If you got into screenwriting because you're counting on the odds of success, that's worse than going into a casino with $100 and expecting to come home with a hundred grand.

If you want to have a job that has a more structured path and greater likelihood of success, be a CPA or a lawyer or a medical professional. Those jobs have a clear progression to them both in terms of how to get them and how to advance once you're working. But that's not how screenwriting works, and screenwriters will just drive themselves crazy if they try to analyze their field and apply the same structure or formula to success. It just doesn't work the same way... and if you truly want to have a career as a screenwriter, the fact that it doesn't is irrelevant.

Madbandit
04-25-2013, 08:31 AM
Unless you want to get paid.

I'm not saying worthless. Obviously many people rack up debt to learn things for the sheer joy of it, and that can apply to screenwriting as well.

But if you view an MFA (or any other degree) as an investment, then it's reasonable to consider the payoff. 16% is better than .3%, but is it worth $70K? I guess 30 people/year figure it is.... Or have rich mommies and daddies or used to work for Facebook

As Pasquali noted, it's also about opportunity costs. Do you give up a job and uproot a family to pursue a dream? Are you a fool to do so or a wimp if you don't? And if you're in the process of making that choice, don't you want to know the odds that it will be "worth" whatever you're giving up?

In "My Story Can Beat Up Your Story," the author discusses the WGA stats and says that anyone over 40 or with a family to support or other significant financial obligations should "embrace screenwriting with the fervor of a dedicated hobbyist" but not quit the job or sell the house to finance the dream.

If you're in your 20s or have no other obligations, he suggests, you should move to LA, live on canned tuna, and get an industry job or even an unpaid internship.

Great points, LauriD. Screenwriting isn't really for anyone who has responsibilities in their lives. If you have a family and a mortgage and a secure job, wanting to be the next Bill Goldman or Aaron Sorkin is basically a pipe dream.

Also, don't get me started with age. Three years ago, I was in the film section of Barnes & Noble in downtown Brooklyn, browsing in a screenwriting book. Another guy, who was probably fortysomething, and he noted that he was an aspiring scribe. I told my backstory to him, starting out writing when I was in high school. I even recommended this website to him.

I could be wrong, but I think I intimidated the guy.

The rule: If you want to write: START YOUNG. I say that because if you're still in school, you still know English grammar and has access to literature. You'll be okay. If not, you're going to be like those guys who go to "Rock N Roll Camp", trying to recapture their lost dreams.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 08:35 AM
Another way to look at it is that if you really, truly want to want to be a screenwriter and can't imagine doing anything else with your life... it doesn't matter what the odds are; you're going to try and make a career of it anyway,.

I can dig that, and that's kinda how I feel about it... While at the same time not giving up my day job.

But questions like "how much does a successful screenwriter earn" suggest that some people are focused on the (highly theoretical) financial rewards. It's those people who need the reality check -- and should all become actuaries.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324874204578439154095008558.html?m od=wsj_share_facebook

nativeson
04-25-2013, 08:39 AM
Also a valid point. Problem is, many people don't realize they suck. :)

If you posit that 95% of the wannabe screenwriters out there suck, and you don't, then you're only competing with about 350 non-sucky writers and your odds of selling a spec go up to a whopping 5% -- about the same odds of "something" happening if you get an 8 or 9 on the BL.

Maybe rather than looking at "raw" odds it's more productive to think in terms of ladders or brackets?

For example, each team in the NCAA starts with a theoretical 1/68 chance of winning. Each time a team wins, its odds improve, and by the time it reaches the Final Four the odds are 1/4 (duh).

Advancing at each level has a lot to do with skill, but it also has to do with effort and chance.

Some of the "games" for screenwriters are winning contests, getting a rep, having the rep send the first script out, getting the first option or writing assignment, etc.

Question is, are you going to enjoy just playing the games, or will you only be happy if you win the championship?

So the more games you play, the higher the odds :) I also noticed a big chunk of the most recent podcast was about 'taking notes.' Knowing how to take criticism and create allies, etc. These skills, in addition to having good 'ideas' (see thread on that) can pull you ahead of the pack and increase the odds. Without them, I'd wager the odds are much worse.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 08:42 AM
The rule: If you want to write: START YOUNG. I say that because if you're still in school, you still know English grammar and has access to literature. .

Actually, in my experience (teaching and hiring writers), people who aren't in their 20s tend to have far better grammar skills....

UpandComing
04-25-2013, 09:14 AM
I'm not saying worthless. Obviously many people rack up debt to learn things for the sheer joy of it, and that can apply to screenwriting as well.

But if you view an MFA (or any other degree) as an investment, then it's reasonable to consider the payoff. 16% is better than .3%, but is it worth $70K? I guess 30 people/year at USC (and thousands elsewhere) figure it is.... Or have rich mommies and daddies or used to work for Facebook

As Pasquali noted, it's also about opportunity costs. Do you give up a job and uproot a family to pursue a dream? Are you a fool to do so or a wimp if you don't? And if you're in the process of making that choice, don't you want to know the odds that it will be "worth" whatever you're giving up?

In "My Story Can Beat Up Your Story," the author discusses the WGA stats and says that anyone over 40 or with a family to support or other significant financial obligations should "embrace screenwriting with the fervor of a dedicated hobbyist" but not quit the job or sell the house to finance the dream.

If you're in your 20s or have no other obligations, he suggests, you should move to LA, live on canned tuna, and get an industry job or even an unpaid internship.

I agree that it's not necessary to get an MFA to get a good screenwriting education - and also, due to the cost, it's not realistic for many people. I think getting your hands on a couple of the best/most renowned SW books out there ("Screenwriter's Bible", "Save the Cat", "Writing Screenplays That Sell", "Your Screenplay Sucks") and reading a lot online can be more than enough to learn the necessary skills.

That said, I like the idea of a class environment, because it a) Enables you to exchange information and ideas with people with a similar interest, b) Allows you to have questions answered in real-time, and c) Imposes deadlines, forcing you to get your writing done. You don't have to get a full-blown MFA for this - you can just take a few screenwriting courses. For example, the New School in NYC offers about 5 SW classes covering everything you need to know, for around $730 each. So total cost is $3,650, much, much cheaper than an MFA.

Joe Unidos
04-25-2013, 09:17 AM
1. be a great writer
2. have commercial sensibilities
3. stick with it
4. lather, rinse and repeat

Madbandit
04-25-2013, 09:22 AM
Actually, in my experience (teaching and hiring writers), people who aren't in their 20s tend to have far better grammar skills....

I was just noting that if you learn the grammar rules while in grade school and have an itch to write, you'll be okay. Your experience's valid because it's your experience.

SoCalScribe
04-25-2013, 11:07 AM
I can dig that, and that's kinda how I feel about it... While at the same time not giving up my day job.

But questions like "how much does a successful screenwriter earn" suggest that some people are focused on the (highly theoretical) financial rewards. It's those people who need the reality check -- and should all become actuaries.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324874204578439154095008558.html?m od=wsj_share_facebook

I suppose the real difference is in how people live their lives while in anticipation of success. Whether you focus on the odds or not, whether you care more about the money or the fame or the artistic achievement or simply the love of writing... one of the biggest issues is what aspiring writers do prior to breaking in. If they work a day job or are otherwise able to support themselves or be supported while they write, great. If they're counting on a screenwriting paycheck to pay their bills or put food on their table next week, next month, in six months, etc. ... it might be time for a reality check. :)

LauriD
04-25-2013, 11:08 AM
I was just noting that if you learn the grammar rules while in grade school and have an inch to write, you'll be okay. Your experience's valid because it's your experience.

If you only have an inch you're gonna need a really small laptop.... ;)

sc111
04-25-2013, 11:29 AM
9. To me, this suggests that screenwriting should be regarded as a relatively inexpensive hobby that very rarely yields financial rewards.

IMO, it makes sense to write screenplays if you love to write screenplays, but it makes no sense to write screenplays with the expectation of getting rich in the process, or to make serious personal/financial sacrifices in the course of that pursuit.

..... Comments?

Ah -- I know how it feels to come to your #9 conclusion. For me it was roughly at the five-year mark. Because that's when the reality of how challenging it is to achieve any success -- even an option or a one-sale wonder -- finally hit home.

I agree one shouldn't quit the day job, relocate the spouse and kids, or put yourself at financial risk, but I don't think screenwriting has to be relegated to hobby status if at first you don't succeed.

There's another option after the old ego realizes it's not as great and talented as it assumed. For me it was much like the Zen process of breaking down the false self.

After which one is more able to dig deeper and tell such radically honest stories they're likely to resonate with anyone who reads them. Truth always resonates.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 11:38 AM
I agree one shouldn't quit the day job, relocate the spouse and kids, or put yourself at financial risk, but I don't think screenwriting has to be relegated to hobby status if at first you don't succeed.

.

Is there a better word than "hobby"? How about "avocation" ("a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one's vocation especially for enjoyment")?

People make sacrifices for their careers. Not so much for their avocations.

sc111
04-25-2013, 12:10 PM
Is there a better word than "hobby"? How about "avocation" ("a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one's vocation especially for enjoyment")?

People make sacrifices for their careers. Not so much for their avocations.

I'm not a numbers person although I admire your skills in that area. In my opinion, screenwriting isn't really a traditional career, so to speak, and that's why it resists a cost-risk analysis in terms of potential income, etc.. (Which is what I think Mazin was pointing out with his 0% /100% comment.)

Hobby, avocation, career -- screenwriting resists all of these categories in my grain-of-salt opinion.

Unlike the doctor or lawyer, even pros don't have a guaranteed X-number of years in the business. They're constantly having to prove themselves. You can be in for a couple years then fall out of favor for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with your talent. You can be a newbie who get a flurry of attention only to see it fade away when another newbie comes along and grabs attention.

After the reality of just how hard it is to break in, and stay in, finally crystalizes, I think it's unproductive to look at any numbers (i.e. your chances of getting a gig, potential income, etc.).

Once you (collective you) get the wake up call it could help to do some self-assessment. Can I write? Do I need to write? Do I have something of value to say in my writing?

The last question is hardest to grapple with, imo. Because, when you put your scripts out into the world, you're expecting a lot of people to dedicate a lot of their own money and a chunk of their own lives to bring it to the screen. If you're not saying anything new and of value, why should they make the investment? And this is why I think you can't look at it as a "career" in the traditional sense. If one wants to call it a hobby, that's fine but hobbyists rarely share their work with the world.

ETA: Each script you write is a "product" you expect someone to buy. As a screenwriter you're more entrepreneur than someone with a job title/career. Entrepreneurs thrive on risk.

Procrastinator
04-25-2013, 12:23 PM
But if you view an MFA (or any other degree) as an investment, then it's reasonable to consider the payoff. 16% is better than .3%, but is it worth $70K?


Another advantage of the MFA route is it allows you to write full-time for 2+ years.

The MFA isn't a golden ticket, but it can be useful if you know what you're getting it for.

LauriD
04-25-2013, 12:39 PM
Another advantage of the MFA route is it allows you to write full-time for 2+ years.

The MFA isn't a golden ticket, but it can be useful if you know what you're getting it for.

So you're also giving up 2 years of income, on top of tuition...

Procrastinator
04-25-2013, 12:46 PM
So you're also giving up 2 years of income, on top of tuition...


The trade-off is time. If you're working 40+ hours a week, that's 40+ hours that could be spent brainstorming, writing, rewriting, polishing.

I don't think there's a "right" path. Just do whatever you have to do to hone your craft, and create top-notch material.

mikejc
04-25-2013, 06:39 PM
Screenwriting is not different than any other field. The percentage of people making millions is very tiny compared to the number of people working, or attempting to work in that field.

It same as people looking at "'wow, Joe Doaks made millions inventing the polka blender."

I'm like those 40 top writers in what I do aside from writing (except I own equity that grows every year and doesn't fade with time in addition to income). The odds were zero when I started. You cannot think about or consider the odds.

I never thought about odds or anyone else.

And, if I knew how hard it would be when I started, I'd have quit. But, ignore the odds. Ignore the other people trying to do what you do. Concentrate on doing the best you can do and then, even better.

Love what you do, and the odds won't matter.

What Craig said about the odds being 0% or 100% for you personally meant, either you will make it, or you won't.

Which one is up to you.

olin1
04-25-2013, 09:08 PM
what everyone wants to hear is:

Best case scenario i'll make millions thus making it very worth it. Worst case scenario i won't die of hunger and poverty :D .Essentially making enough to sustain a normal life whilst doing what i absolutely love...writing.


Looking at the top 5% of screenwriters isn't a good business plan either.

Even to find a rep or manager based on a cold query is one in 10000.

Managers or agents need to be in the right set of mind when they receive the query. If they are not they pass. They need to get inspired by the logline. If aren't they pass. They need to like the genre. If not they pass...etc.

I think you need the stars to align a few times and then i think its 60% hard work 20% commitment and 20% luck.

How much money you make is probably up to you.

ATB
04-25-2013, 09:38 PM
How much money you make is probably up to you.

Wonderful! Then I choose all of it. I want to make all of the money...

olin1
04-25-2013, 11:06 PM
Wonderful! Then I choose all of it. I want to make all of the money...

Evil laugh?

Rantanplan
04-25-2013, 11:16 PM
Doesn't it also just come down to the fact that there's more money in movies?

Versus, um, poetry for instance?

I think the *average* first novel advance is like 5K still, whereas isn't the WGA minimum for a HW feature somewhere around 80K?

There are just different kinds of money involved in different professions, period. And let's face it, when aspiring writers are considering which avenue to pursue, it's probably not exactly a factor they neglect.

LauriD
04-26-2013, 02:22 AM
How much money you make is probably up to you.

Huh? How does that work, exactly? ;)

LauriD
04-26-2013, 02:27 AM
Doesn't it also just come down to the fact that there's more money in movies?

Versus, um, poetry for instance?

I think the *average* first novel advance is like 5K still, whereas isn't the WGA minimum for a HW feature somewhere around 80K?

There are just different kinds of money involved in different professions, period. And let's face it, when aspiring writers are considering which avenue to pursue, it's probably not exactly a factor they neglect.

One big difference is, these days novelists don't need to rely on that measly $5k advance. More people (even pros) are self-publishing and making a go of it that way.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/business/media/david-mamet-and-other-big-authors-choose-to-self-publish.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

A surprising (to me) number of people are making more than $1000/month from self-publishing novels:

http://www.salon.com/2013/04/04/hugh_howey_self_publishing_is_the_future_and_great _for_writers/

There is no "self publishing" option for screenplays, other than to make the movie yourself -- which requires considerably more skills/resources than self publishing a novel.

So with novels it seems like your odds of earning SOMETHING are relatively high -- certainly much higher than .3%.

And this post goes back to my OP -- some people are hearing $80k (more like $100K) vs. $5 k -- they aren't hearing .3% vs. whatever the odds are of making SOME money from a novel.

LauriD
04-26-2013, 02:33 AM
"Important" update to OP:

2. The universe of people who are serious about being screenwriters is probably much smaller. The most prestigious (and I believe the largest) amateur screenwriting competition is the Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2012, the Nicholl received a record 7,197 scripts.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/

People can enter up to 3 scripts each, and the number of entrants in 2012 was 5,781 (not 5,500). (Thanks to Greg Beal for the data.)

Thus, the universe is slightly bigger than believed. And the odds of a newbie selling a spec remain no better than .3%.

The Calculator
04-26-2013, 07:53 AM
"Important" update to OP:

2. The universe of people who are serious about being screenwriters is probably much smaller. The most prestigious (and I believe the largest) amateur screenwriting competition is the Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2012, the Nicholl received a record 7,197 scripts.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/

People can enter up to 3 scripts each, and the number of entrants in 2012 was 5,781 (not 5,500). (Thanks to Greg Beal for the data.)

Thus, the universe is slightly bigger than believed. And the odds of a newbie selling a spec remain no better than .3%.

I think, LauriD, your numbers are skewed b/c of faulty logic. If the BL had 3,000 scripts uploaded that contained the writing level of Sorkin, do you think the .3% would be the percentage? Of course not. It would be 100%.

Therefore, it's obvious that the majority of scripts being uploaded are not good. And for those that are well written, they're not marketable. Way too niche, etc.

When a well written, mass marketable script is uploaded, everyone will know about it. Quickly.

End of story. (Pun intended).

Calc

sc111
04-26-2013, 08:38 AM
Doesn't it also just come down to the fact that there's more money in movies?

Versus, um, poetry for instance?

I think the *average* first novel advance is like 5K still, whereas isn't the WGA minimum for a HW feature somewhere around 80K?

There are just different kinds of money involved in different professions, period. And let's face it, when aspiring writers are considering which avenue to pursue, it's probably not exactly a factor they neglect.

Maybe I'm an outlier but I neglected it. I still do. For me, there's been a compulsion to write -- poetry, short stories, novels -- since I was 10 years old. I wasn't thinking about compensation in grade school. And I don't think I'm alone.

Even when I first entered the field of copywriting I didn't calculate how much money I'd make. I just thought it was really cool to be paid for something I loved to do, anyway.

If you have a compulsion to write and love the medium of film, crunching the numbers and finding the odds are against you isn't going to dissuade you.

Madbandit
04-26-2013, 09:08 AM
If you only have an inch you're gonna need a really small laptop.... ;)

I meant "itch"

LauriD
04-26-2013, 09:59 AM
I think, LauriD, your numbers are skewed b/c of faulty logic. If the BL had 3,000 scripts uploaded that contained the writing level of Sorkin, do you think the .3% would be the percentage? Of course not. It would be 100%.

Therefore, it's obvious that the majority of scripts being uploaded are not good. And for those that are well written, they're not marketable. Way too niche, etc.

When a well written, mass marketable script is uploaded, everyone will know about it. Quickly.

End of story. (Pun intended).

Calc

I addressed that likelihood back in post #26:

"If you posit that 95% of the wannabe screenwriters out there suck, and you don't, then you're only competing with about 350 non-sucky writers and your odds of selling a spec go up to a whopping 5% -- about the same odds of "something" happening if you get an 8 or 9 on the BL."

But the larger "universe" is still valid for people asking about expected income without establishing whether they suck or not. If you establish that you don't suck (via whatever means), your odds go up.

emily blake
04-26-2013, 10:13 AM
If you guys keep focusing on the odds, you're just going to psych yourselves out.

Want to be a screenwriter? Write some screenplays. Make them as great as you can. Get them in front of people who can do something with them. Repeat as needed until you can't stomach it anymore. Either you'll be successful or you'll quit. The numbers of how many other people are doing the same thing really have nothing to do with you.

sc111
04-26-2013, 01:23 PM
I addressed that likelihood back in post #26:

"If you posit that 95% of the wannabe screenwriters out there suck, and you don't, then you're only competing with about 350 non-sucky writers and your odds of selling a spec go up to a whopping 5% -- about the same odds of "something" happening if you get an 8 or 9 on the BL."

But the larger "universe" is still valid for people asking about expected income without establishing whether they suck or not. If you establish that you don't suck (via whatever means), your odds go up.

I'm still wondering why you launched this thread. Are you analyzing whether or not you, personally, should continue to put the same amount of time and money into screenwriting as you have thus far? Or, to inform us we have a snowball's chance in hell to ever make a dime as screenwriters?
Because I think most of us are aware of the latter. I'm sincerely curious as to the intention of this discussion.

UpandComing
04-26-2013, 04:14 PM
I'm still wondering why you launched this thread. Are you analyzing whether or not you, personally, should continue to put the same amount of time and money into screenwriting as you have thus far? Or, to inform us we have a snowball's chance in hell to ever make a dime as screenwriters?
Because I think most of us are aware of the latter. I'm sincerely curious as to the intention of this discussion.

I think (and I may be wrong) that Lauri started this thread for the same reasons she's started other threads here:

a) To start a discussion going on a screenwriting topic, especially on the business of screenwriting, which she seems to enjoy (nothing wrong with that)

b) To present a statistical analysis she conducted of something screenwriting-related, which she also appears to enjoy doing (nothing wrong with that)

I admit, I like the fact that she is a frequent thread-starter/poster here, because it gives me something to read/a way to kill time when I'm taking a break from writing. I also appreciate the large amount of information she has graciously shared about her experience with "Whiplash".

The problem is that, it seems that with each thread, when people inevitably respond to Lauri with the answer that "getting into the screenwriting business is just hard, deal with it", she tends to do one or both of the following:

a) Complain about the fact that, despite getting a 9 and a significant number of downloads on the BL, she still hasn't been contacted yet. See here:

I've got a 9, 670 views, 33 downloads, and no emails after 4 months.

b) Complain that a significant percentage of people who've gotten high scores on the BL have not gotten representation and/or script sales/options yet (at least, not that we've heard of). See here:

Then apparently 95% of the people with eights and nines on the blacklist don't have material that others feel they can do something with. So does that mean all those writers made bad choices about what to write about?

I could repeat what others have said here, which is obvious - "getting into the screenwriting business is just hard, deal with it" - but I wanted to take a different tack.

Besides wanting to get their hands on a good screenplay, companies want to know that the writer of the screenplay is easy to work with - and part of that includes being patient and having a realistic attitude. Lauri, when you write post after post and start thread after thread here talking/complaining about a) your not having sold your script yet, b) your dissatisfaction with BL's success rate so far (which by the way, I think is unwarranted given its short life span), and c) the tough odds of the screenwriting business in general, it makes you come across as a bit, well...impatient, unrealistic, and bitter. Again, it's one thing if this were infrequently expressed, but I think everyone on here now knows you by name as "the one who complains a lot".

I think it's not good to develop this reputation because the industry folks who are on here (including prod. company reps) may be turned off, and start to develop a perception of you as someone they would not want to work with. And then warn their friends in the business that you are someone they may not want to work with. Not to mention, you risk annoying fellow writers on here who have yet to get a high score on the BL, much less obtain a manager as you have.

Please understand, I'm not saying any of this to be unpleasant - I'm just saying it to be brutally honest.

If I were you, I'd honestly:

a) Appreciate the fact that you have a manager, which many people on here would dream of having

b) Be grateful for the fact that the BL service even exists - in my opinion, it is a game-changer, drastically increasing access for aspiring writers in a short space of time, at a (relatively) inexpensive cost. 33 people have expressed an interest in your script (by downloading it) who hadn't known about it before; that ain't half bad

c) Suck it up about the lack of contact so far, stop worrying about the odds of making it in the business, and concentrate on writing your next masterpiece - one that is as commercial as possible to increase your odds of someone contacting you (so, maybe not a Western set in the 1860s with a female lead)

Just some food for thought. Oh, and forgive the lengthy post. I needed to kill some time :)

BillG
04-26-2013, 11:23 PM
I've been hesitant to say the same thing, since Lauri seems like a really nice person, but: well said, UpandComing, especially about how she may come across as difficult to work with

Lauri, please take note here, and please don't end your next post with a winky emoticon -- it makes me feel bad

Incognito
04-27-2013, 02:51 AM
Again, it's one thing if this were infrequently expressed, but I think everyone on here now knows you by name as "the one who complains a lot".

I think it's not good to develop this reputation because the industry folks who are on here (including prod. company reps) may be turned off, and start to develop a perception of you as someone they would not want to work with. And then warn their friends in the business that you are someone they may not want to work with. Not to mention, you risk annoying fellow writers on here who have yet to get a high score on the BL, much less obtain a manager as you have.

Please understand, I'm not saying any of this to be unpleasant - I'm just saying it to be brutally honest.

Jeez man, if she can't express her frustration with fellow writers on a writing board where can she do it? She got a 9, she thought that would lead somewhere better than it has so far. That's understandable.

Give her a break.

And to hell with ' the industry folks who are on here (including prod. company reps) may be turned off, and start to develop a perception of you as someone they would not want to work with.'

That hyper sensitivity is unhealthy on both sides of the table.

UpandComing
04-27-2013, 05:56 AM
Jeez man, if she can't express her frustration with fellow writers on a writing board where can she do it? She got a 9, she thought that would lead somewhere better than it has so far. That's understandable.

Give her a break.

And to hell with ' the industry folks who are on here (including prod. company reps) may be turned off, and start to develop a perception of you as someone they would not want to work with.'

That hyper sensitivity is unhealthy on both sides of the table.

I don't think pointing this out is being hypersensitive at all. I think it's being realistic.

Because the odds of getting in this biz are so small (as has been discussed numerous times in this thread), it's in your best interest not to do yourself any harm. Industry people can afford to be selective with who they choose to work with because the field is so competitive - so it's probably a good idea to avoid doing anything that might give them a clear reason to not want to work with you (such as complaining repeatedly about the business, the fact that you haven't sold a script yet, etc.).

It would be different if her posts were being made anonymously, but they are not. Again, didn't write my post to be a dick; just saying what I believe many of the posters on here (including BillG above) have been thinking.

LauriD
04-27-2013, 06:04 AM
I'm sorry if sharing experiences, data, and analysis comes across as "complaining." That wasn't my intent.

(And for the record, I'm quite easy to work with. I've been paid to write scripts and do rewrites and edits and give notes and I have a number of happy clients.)

I started the thread because I thought any discussion of the large salaries that successful screenwriters make should be balanced by a discussion of the odds against making those large salaries. John and Craig touched on this but didn't go into detail.

I went into detail, and invited discussion on whether my particular way of looking at it made sense to others.

I confess to a nerdy interest in the psychoeconomics of screenwriting. Why do 100,000 people listen to Scriptnotes, but "only" 5,700 enter the Nicholl? Why are there hundreds of screenwriting books in print and contests in operation? Why do thousands take classes and use services like the BL?

I assume that so many people invest time and money because most of them hope to make money -- even get rich.

So I guess it's not surprising that people get annoyed when someone points out that the odds are that no, they won't.

Can't we talk about that elephant in the room without getting pissy?

UpandComing
04-27-2013, 06:26 AM
I'm sorry if sharing experiences, data, and analysis comes across as "complaining." That wasn't my intent.

(And for the record, I'm quite easy to work with. I've been paid to write scripts and do rewrites and edits and give notes and I have a number of happy clients.)

I started the thread because I thought any discussion of the large salaries that successful screenwriters make should be balanced by a discussion of the odds against making those large salaries. John and Craig touched on this but didn't go into detail.

I went into detail, and invited discussion on whether my particular way of looking at it made sense to others.

I confess to a nerdy interest in the psychoeconomics of screenwriting. Why do 100,000 people listen to Scriptnotes, but "only" 5,700 enter the Nicholl? Why are there hundreds of screenwriting books in print and contests in operation? Why do thousands take classes and use services like the BL?

I assume that so many people invest time and money because most of them hope to make money -- even get rich.

So I guess it's not surprising that people get annoyed when someone points out that the odds are that no, they won't.

Can't we talk about that elephant in the room without getting pissy?


Again, I wasn't criticizing the original intent of this thread - I said there was nothing wrong with it at all. I was just pointing out the fact that your exchanges with others almost always seem to lead to a criticism of the BL's success rate. When something is criticized often enough, I think it can safely be defined as "complaining".

And I have no doubt that you are likely easy to work with - but was just pointing out that a pattern in responses can lead to a certain type of perception. And perception can be stronger than fact.

While I think most people who pursue screenwriting think they can get rich and don't understand the small odds, I have a strong feeling that those who frequent the DDP boards are smarter/more savvy than that. I doubt they see it as an "elephant in the room".

With all that said, I apologize if my posts came across as pissy. That definitely wasn't my intent. I'm actually a pretty nice guy :)

cvolante
04-27-2013, 06:56 AM
Also, wasn't the point of the original Black List to highlight scripts that are really good but aren't being made any time in the near future?

UpandComing
04-27-2013, 07:11 AM
Also, wasn't the point of the original Black List to highlight scripts that are really good but aren't being made any time in the near future?

Yep - per Franklin: "During the almost ten years that I’ve worked in the film industry, there have been long periods wherein I haven’t read a great screenplay. We’ve all had those periods.....The Black List began during one of those periods. I took a survey of my peers and asked them to send me a list of their favorite screenplays from the previous year that wouldn’t be in theaters by the end of it. I aggregated the information and sent the list back to those who submitted."

http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2012/10/the-what-how-and-why-of-the-black-list-the-long-answer-by-franklin-leonard.html

Incognito
04-27-2013, 08:41 AM
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=verdana, helvetica, sans-serif]I don't think pointing this out is being hypersensitive at all. I think it's being realistic.


Saying that her recent posts on a writers forum may jeopardise her chances in the industry because they come across as complaining is ridiculous.

SoCalScribe
04-27-2013, 11:25 AM
Why do 100,000 people listen to Scriptnotes, but "only" 5,700 enter the Nicholl? Why are there hundreds of screenwriting books in print and contests in operation? Why do thousands take classes and use services like the BL?

I assume that so many people invest time and money because most of them hope to make money -- even get rich.

I think that the reason there are so few Nicholl entries compared to Scriptnotes podcast listeners... and thousands of books and seminars and podcasts and advice columns... and hundreds of contests and script analysis services... is because while there is an extraordinarily small number of good scripts compared to bad scripts, there is also an extraordinarily small number of finished scripts to prospective scripts. And by that I mean to say that there may be 100 terrible never-going-to-sell scripts for every 1 that is at least good enough quality to sell, but I would be willing to bet that for every one of those terrible scripts, there are a hundred more people who think about writing a script, dream about writing a script, maybe even start writing a script... and just never finish. And those are the people who buy the books, attend the seminars, read the advice columns, listen to the podcasts, etc. and don't have anything to enter in a contest like Nicholl, or to register with a place like the WGA. People who dream of being a screenwriter but don't even have the drive to sit down and write a bad screenplay, let alone sit down and keep writing them until they improve their writing to a professional level.

I think it's true that people invest time and money because they hope one day screenwriting will make them money. But in much the same way that people dream of being professional athletes, the number of people who would like to be one (and might even spend a few bucks indulging in that fantasy) is significantly higher than the number of people who actually step onto the court or field and give it a shot. And there are significantly more of those people than the number of people who step onto that court or field day after day, week after week, so they can become something more than an amateur enthusiast.

I'm not surprised at all that 100,000 people listen to Scriptnotes and that the number of listeners (or the number of people who purchase screenwriting books) far exceeds the 30,000 some-odd scripts that are registered with the WGA every year. Nor am I surprised that the number of scripts registered with the WGA every year far exceeds the number of Nicholl entries, which far exceeds the number of scripts that are optioned or secure representation, which far exceeds the number of script that are actually produced.

Everybody wants to get rich. Some people might even invest a nominal amount of money leisurely pursuing or investigating the endeavor. But few people actually sit in the chair and crank out an entire script, and even fewer continue to sit in the chair and improve once they realize it's not a get-rich-quick business.

sc111
04-27-2013, 11:27 AM
I'm sorry if sharing experiences, data, and analysis comes across as "complaining." That wasn't my intent.

(And for the record, I'm quite easy to work with. I've been paid to write scripts and do rewrites and edits and give notes and I have a number of happy clients.)

I started the thread because I thought any discussion of the large salaries that successful screenwriters make should be balanced by a discussion of the odds against making those large salaries. John and Craig touched on this but didn't go into detail.

I went into detail, and invited discussion on whether my particular way of looking at it made sense to others.

I confess to a nerdy interest in the psychoeconomics of screenwriting. Why do 100,000 people listen to Scriptnotes, but "only" 5,700 enter the Nicholl? Why are there hundreds of screenwriting books in print and contests in operation? Why do thousands take classes and use services like the BL?

I assume that so many people invest time and money because most of them hope to make money -- even get rich.

So I guess it's not surprising that people get annoyed when someone points out that the odds are that no, they won't.

Can't we talk about that elephant in the room without getting pissy?

I think the issue is, as you say above, you assume it's the elephant in the room for the vast majority of aspiring screenwriters when it's not.

In my years on this site (too many, probably), I've seen MD's, lawyers, executives, professionals, and people with advanced degrees and well- paying careers elsewhere, talk about their desire to write, their love of film, their desire to see their stories on the screen. All of whom are totally aware less than 50% of working WGA writers actually work in a given calender year. All fully aware of the WGA minimum, a figure which, for these folks, would be a salary cut. Yet, still, they push on investing time and money in spite of the odds against them. Frankly, I don't even sense you, Lauri, push on in the pursuit of a big payday.

You push on because you love screenwriting. Yet, still - still - as the merry-go-round cycles again, you have yet to grasp the golden ring.

Frankly -- my take on this -- my take on the elephant in the room - is you're hitting that wall of frustration many of us have hit and your way to deal with it is to crunch numbers to distract from the emotional aspect of this frustration. You've had so much encouragement, so many kudos for your talent, so many contest wins, so many close calls, a Blacklist 9, yet still no one wants to lay down money for the feature films you love to write. It is frustrating. And sometimes it is wise to stop and reassess how much more time and energy you're willing to put toward it going forward.

I feel your pain. I was there. I'm still feeling bad about how much time I could have spent with my Mom in the last two, three years of her life when, instead, I was doing rewrite after rewrite to address a now ex-manager's notes. I can still hear her voice saying to me, "Writing, always writing." And it wasn't just writing -- hours spent researching, reading articles, reading the trades, reading produced scripts. Hours I could have spent with her, my kids, the man in my life. So I did stop to reassess. And I fully admit I've cut back on the time I spend on this pursuit. I made a decision that works for me.

I think it would be more productive if you would look at the possibility something else is brewing below your number crunching. Because, IMO, that's likely what people are sensing and why they're getting pissy.

UpandComing
04-27-2013, 11:40 AM
I feel your pain. I was there. I'm still feeling bad about how much time I could have spent with my Mom in the last two, three years of her life when, instead, I was doing rewrite after rewrite to address a now ex-manager's notes. I can still hear her voice saying to me, "Writing, always writing." And it wasn't just writing -- hours spent researching, reading articles, reading the trades, reading produced scripts. Hours I could have spent with her, my kids, the man in my life. So I did stop to reassess. And I fully admit I've cut back on the time I spend on this pursuit. I made a decision that works for me.


Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

cvolante
04-27-2013, 12:16 PM
I think with some of these hard-to-get-produced projects it reaches a point that the script becomes a writing sample or you produce it yourself or you adapt it into a novel. If you need closure, I'd do option 2 or 3 so you can move on and also feel good about what you've done.

BillG
04-27-2013, 01:17 PM
She doesn't have to move on with it -- hell, someone else might want to make it in five years or something. Writing samples sometimes become trunk scripts, and trunk scripts sometimes find new life years later -- just ask Jeff

mikejc
04-27-2013, 01:19 PM
I think the issue is, as you say above, you assume it's the elephant in the room for the vast majority of aspiring screenwriters when it's not.

In my years on this site (too many, probably), I've seen MD's, lawyers, executives, professionals, and people with advanced degrees and well- paying careers elsewhere, talk about their desire to write, their love of film, their desire to see their stories on the screen. All of whom are totally aware less than 50% of working WGA writers actually work in a given calender year. All fully aware of the WGA minimum, a figure which, for these folks, would be a salary cut. Yet, still, they push on investing time and money in spite of the odds against them. Frankly, I don't even sense you, Lauri, push on in the pursuit of a big payday.

You push on because you love screenwriting. Yet, still - still - as the merry-go-round cycles again, you have yet to grasp the golden ring.

Frankly -- my take on this -- my take on the elephant in the room - is you're hitting that wall of frustration many of us have hit and your way to deal with it is to crunch numbers to distract from the emotional aspect of this frustration. You've had so much encouragement, so many kudos for your talent, so many contest wins, so many close calls, a Blacklist 9, yet still no one wants to lay down money for the feature films you love to write. It is frustrating. And sometimes it is wise to stop and reassess how much more time and energy you're willing to put toward it going forward.

I feel your pain. I was there. I'm still feeling bad about how much time I could have spent with my Mom in the last two, three years of her life when, instead, I was doing rewrite after rewrite to address a now ex-manager's notes. I can still hear her voice saying to me, "Writing, always writing." And it wasn't just writing -- hours spent researching, reading articles, reading the trades, reading produced scripts. Hours I could have spent with her, my kids, the man in my life. So I did stop to reassess. And I fully admit I've cut back on the time I spend on this pursuit. I made a decision that works for me.

I think it would be more productive if you would look at the possibility something else is brewing below your number crunching. Because, IMO, that's likely what people are sensing and why they're getting pissy.

As someone in the situation you mention, I completely agree regarding motivation in my case.

I didn't need the money when I started writing. I still don't. But, I do it because I love doing it, and I love the feeling when first sitting down to begin that day that "anything can happen." You are creating a world which is totally up to you. How it looks, what happens in it, etc. (of course, not the case in an assignment or adaption).

The odds didn't matter. The idea of seeing your creation play does matter. (the person who originally got me writing and mentored me, one of those top 40 guys, says he could care less about that now--so I guess that wears off and becomes old hat after a while, near 40 years for him)

The only thing I regret is telling my mentor when he first mentioned I ought to write a screenplay a few years ago, "Listen, The last thing i want to do is become one of 10,000 people running around Los Angeles trying to peddle a script."

That turned out to be actually kind of fun too.

By the way, his comment on the competition aspect? "Mike, there are only a few truly good scripts going around LA at any one time, so the competition isn't really that much."

LauriD
04-28-2013, 12:43 AM
Saying that her recent posts on a writers forum may jeopardise her chances in the industry because they come across as complaining is ridiculous.

Yeah, I was kinda hoping that execs have better things to do than hang around on DD looking for screenwriters to blacklist....

Do they also hand out OWAs to people who say cheerful, positive things?

sc111
04-28-2013, 09:01 AM
As someone in the situation you mention, I completely agree regarding motivation in my case.

I didn't need the money when I started writing. I still don't. But, I do it because I love doing it, and I love the feeling when first sitting down to begin that day that "anything can happen." You are creating a world which is totally up to you. How it looks, what happens in it, etc. (of course, not the case in an assignment or adaption).

The odds didn't matter. The idea of seeing your creation play does matter. (the person who originally got me writing and mentored me, one of those top 40 guys, says he could care less about that now--so I guess that wears off and becomes old hat after a while, near 40 years for him)

The only thing I regret is telling my mentor when he first mentioned I ought to write a screenplay a few years ago, "Listen, The last thing i want to do is become one of 10,000 people running around Los Angeles trying to peddle a script."

That turned out to be actually kind of fun too.

By the way, his comment on the competition aspect? "Mike, there are only a few truly good scripts going around LA at any one time, so the competition isn't really that much."

Thanks for sharing. And so cool for you to have a mentor. Especially since writing is such a solitary thing.

gregbeal
04-28-2013, 10:53 AM
"Important" update to OP:

2. The universe of people who are serious about being screenwriters is probably much smaller. The most prestigious (and I believe the largest) amateur screenwriting competition is the Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2012, the Nicholl received a record 7,197 scripts.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/

People can enter up to 3 scripts each, and the number of entrants in 2012 was 5,781 (not 5,500). (Thanks to Greg Beal for the data.)

Thus, the universe is slightly bigger than believed. And the odds of a newbie selling a spec remain no better than .3%.

You're welcome - but I think there are two problems with including 5,781 in your calculations.

First, if you're counting "amateur" screenwriters who have a completed feature film screenplay, you would have to find lists for every screenwriting competition open to amateurs, compile them and then find the unique entrants. I suspect that number for a given year would be at least 20-30,000. It certainly could be higher. Compiling it with the WGAe and WGAw registrations for a given year, after first eliminating all the pros, and then finding again for the unique writers would take it up again. 30-40,000? Next, you'd have to find a way to estimate the number of amateur writers who completed a feature film screenplay this year but didn't register it and didn't enter any screenplay competitions.

Second, you'd have to decide what the measure of "serious" is. If one only needs to have a completed screenplay, then the count would be much higher than the prior count because it would include all the writers with "old" scripts that aren't included above. Or serious could mean registering with the WGA and entering a competition. And submitting to potential reps. And submitting to producers. Obviously, the more ands that are added, the smaller the group becomes.

In any case, measured only against 2012 Academy Nicholl entrants, the number has to be much higher. Measured by a stringent definition of serious, the number would be much lower.

mikejc
04-28-2013, 08:29 PM
SC111, thanks.

He was mentored by Paddy C. when he first started, so just paying it forward I guess.

Other than reading, notes and help with ideas, the best part was and is the perspective given. "Forget about the odds and competition, forget about, 'wouldn't it be nice to be on the set of a script of yours they're filming, forget about the bullsh#t'--just write."

Craig Mazin
04-29-2013, 12:50 AM
OK, I get 0% -- if you don't try (or you suck?), you're not getting anywhere.

But where do you get 100%? And what does 100% mean? If you try really hard and/or you're really good and/or you stick it out you'll sell a script? Earn a living as a screenwriter? Be one of the top 40?

It means that you either will or will not succeed. That's it. The odds don't apply to you.

Did the odds apply to me?

This isn't dice.

Nor is it a game of effort.

There are lots of factors required for an individual to become a professional screenwriter. Either you have them (be they in your control or not), or you don't.

Don't fret over the odds. The odds are irrelevant.

Armak
04-29-2013, 02:12 PM
Craig is a Calvinist. Believes in predestination.

Me, I'm a Hobbesian.

"And the life of man: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

CColoredClown
04-30-2013, 01:34 PM
This thread is now podcast famous.

odocoileus
04-30-2013, 02:57 PM
Originally Posted by Craig Mazin
Nor is it a game of effort.Like football, and porn, it's a game of inches. :bounce:

LauriD
05-01-2013, 02:32 AM
First, if you're counting "amateur" screenwriters who have a completed feature film screenplay, you would have to find lists for every screenwriting competition open to amateurs, compile them and then find the unique entrants. I suspect that number for a given year would be at least 20-30,000. It certainly could be higher. Compiling it with the WGAe and WGAw registrations for a given year, after first eliminating all the pros, and then finding again for the unique writers would take it up again. 30-40,000? Next, you'd have to find a way to estimate the number of amateur writers who completed a feature film screenplay this year but didn't register it and didn't enter any screenplay competitions.

Second, you'd have to decide what the measure of "serious" is. If one only needs to have a completed screenplay, then the count would be much higher than the prior count because it would include all the writers with "old" scripts that aren't included above. Or serious could mean registering with the WGA and entering a competition. And submitting to potential reps. And submitting to producers. Obviously, the more ands that are added, the smaller the group becomes.

.

I believe the WGA registers about 50,000 pieces of "material" every year, but that includes treatments, revisions, tv stuff, etc., and a lot of pro stuff so I don't think that's useful data for our purposes.

I use the Nicholl as the benchmark for contests because it gets the most entries (I believe) and I suspect that if writers are only going to enter one contest that one is often the Nicholl.

What "serious" means is, of course, highly debatable. But I don't think it means someone who wrote one script years ago and stuck it in a drawer. I think the term suggests that someone is both continuing to write and continuing to seek visibility for their writing. So counting submissions to the Nicholl and the Black List (which we can easily get data for) are ways to measure the number of people seeking visibility in at least a couple of ways.

LauriD
05-01-2013, 02:59 AM
This thread is now podcast famous.

A couple of points I found most interesting in the latest episode:

1. The number of people who have written "a script and a half" and obsessively revise the completed one rather than going on to write more....

Given that there were 7197 scripts entered in the Nicholl in 2012 and 5781 entrants, that means most people only entered one script.

(You're allowed to enter up to 3. Interestingly, the entries have gone up, not down, since that cap of 3 was introduced, suggesting that it didn't limit a lot of people.)

So 1406 Nicholl entrants have written 2 or more scripts. Maybe that's our pool of serious writers?

And if we assume that 10% (rather than 5%) of those 2-script writers don't suck, that means the competitive universe is only 140 (roughly the number of Nicholl semi-finalists) and the odds of selling a spec for one of those people go up to 14%.

2. Most good screenwriters are already accomplished writers in some other field -- journalism, etc. They already have the basic skills.

But many people think they can write movies even though they don't/can't really write anything else.... Because they want to be in the movie biz and this looks like the only way in...

figment
05-01-2013, 07:07 AM
A couple of points I found most interesting in the latest episode:

1. The number of people who have written "a script and a half" and obsessively revise the completed one rather than going on to write more....

Given that there were 7197 scripts entered in the Nicholl in 2012 and 5781 entrants, that means most people only entered one script.

(You're allowed to enter up to 3. Interestingly, the entries have gone up, not down, since that cap of 3 was introduced, suggesting that it didn't limit a lot of people.)

So 1406 Nicholl entrants have written 2 or more scripts. Maybe that's our pool of serious writers?

And if we assume that 10% (rather than 5%) of those 2-script writers don't suck, that means the competitive universe is only 140 (roughly the number of Nicholl semi-finalists) and the odds of selling a spec for one of those people go up to 14%.

2. Most good screenwriters are already accomplished writers in some other field -- journalism, etc. They already have the basic skills.

But many people think they can write movies even though they don't/can't really write anything else.... Because they want to be in the movie biz and this looks like the only way in...

You seriously did not listen to a thing Craig -- a professional screenwriter who makes a living at it -- said in this post:

It means that you either will or will not succeed. That's it. The odds don't apply to you.

Did the odds apply to me?

This isn't dice.

Nor is it a game of effort.

There are lots of factors required for an individual to become a professional screenwriter. Either you have them (be they in your control or not), or you don't.

Don't fret over the odds. The odds are irrelevant.

Honestly. I feel like we're being punked. How do you not know you're making a fool of yourself right now, by making another numbers-crunching post, as if NUMBERS are going to sell your -- or anyone's -- script? Go back and read UpandComing's posts -- they are calm and rational, non-accusing, and they make a ton of sense. We've all been where you are.

No one's against you. But at this point, you are literally choosing to "not understand" because YOU DON'T WANT TO.

TheConnorNoden
05-01-2013, 07:27 AM
Almost read the whole thread but got bored. When your life revolves around words you should focus less on numbers. It was mentioned a while back (can't remember who said it sorry) but focusing on the extreme odds will just get you down, why do that to yourself?

Aspiring musicians might be empty headed douches a lot of the time but at least they have self-belief and optimism. Writers for the most part live religiously within reality which is sensible but also a detriment. We all chose a ridiculous career path so trying to be logical about it seems a little silly.

Howie428
05-01-2013, 08:13 AM
So 1406 Nicholl entrants have written 2 or more scripts.

It’s probably as well that you’re a writer, because your math is letting you down.

Let’s all go back to high school… What we’ve been given is two equations with three variables. If x is the number of single entry entrants, y is the number of two entry entrants, and z is the number of three entry entrants, then we have the following formulae:

x + y + z = 5,781
x + 2y + 3z = 7,197

We also know that each number must be positive, so there are not infinite possible solutions. We cannot actually solve these equations, but we can deduce that:

x = 5,073 - y/2
z = 708 - y/2

This allows us to vary y and estimate a range of possible solutions:

No-one enters three scripts implies: x = 4,365 , y = 1,416 , z = 0
No-one enters two scripts implies: x = 5,073 , y = 0 , z = 708
Guessing a possible profile based on intuition: x = 4,673 , y = 800 , z = 308

This suggests that the number of entrants entering more than one script is likely to be in the area of 1,000-1,100. Please feel free to deduce spurious conclusions based on that number.

sc111
05-01-2013, 08:57 AM
A couple of points I found most interesting in the latest episode:

1. The number of people who have written "a script and a half" and obsessively revise the completed one rather than going on to write more....

Given that there were 7197 scripts entered in the Nicholl in 2012 and 5781 entrants, that means most people only entered one script.

(You're allowed to enter up to 3. Interestingly, the entries have gone up, not down, since that cap of 3 was introduced, suggesting that it didn't limit a lot of people.)

So 1406 Nicholl entrants have written 2 or more scripts. Maybe that's our pool of serious writers?

And if we assume that 10% (rather than 5%) of those 2-script writers don't suck, that means the competitive universe is only 140 (roughly the number of Nicholl semi-finalists) and the odds of selling a spec for one of those people go up to 14%.

2. Most good screenwriters are already accomplished writers in some other field -- journalism, etc. They already have the basic skills.

But many people think they can write movies even though they don't/can't really write anything else.... Because they want to be in the movie biz and this looks like the only way in...

I am fascinated by your number crunching but it seems to me all the computing is not only leaving out a vast amount of unknowns, which render the results incorrect, it's a figure no one can accurately compute.

Although I'm no math wizard, IMO, Craig 0%/100% is right.

The reason -- each script is rated as a single entity unto itself. For argument's sake, let's use Blacklist paid reads as an industry standard.

Let's say you get an overall rating of 7. Which, by BL standards, is not a script that can sell.

Even if all those scripts which earned 8s, 9s or 10s disappeared, it doesn't mean your script now rises in quality and has a better chance of being sold.

It's still a 7. An unsellable 7.

Producers are not compelled to purchase a 7-rated spec script simply because there aren't and 8s, 9s or 10s around. They can, and often do, get material from a myriad of non-spec sources.

As a result, the odds you've been coming up with are meaningless.

Sweeney Todd
05-01-2013, 11:13 AM
As a writer, the only numbers you should be concerned with are the number of hours you plant your ass in that chair and WRITE.

EdFury
05-01-2013, 12:09 PM
I am fascinated by your number crunching but it seems to me all the computing is not only leaving out a vast amount of unknowns, which render the results incorrect, it's a figure no one can accurately compute.

Although I'm no math wizard, IMO, Craig 0%/100% is right.

The reason -- each script is rated as a single entity unto itself. For argument's sake, let's use Blacklist paid reads as an industry standard.

Let's say you get an overall rating of 7. Which, by BL standards, is not a script that can sell.

Even if all those scripts which earned 8s, 9s or 10s disappeared, it doesn't mean your script now rises in quality and has a better chance of being sold.

It's still a 7. An unsellable 7.

Producers are not compelled to purchase a 7-rated spec script simply because there aren't and 8s, 9s or 10s around. They can, and often do, get material from a myriad of non-spec sources.

As a result, the odds you've been coming up with are meaningless.

Plain language. Great logic. Terrific Post.

wcmartell
05-01-2013, 01:25 PM
I think what all of this really boils down to is the following:


Screenwriting is a very tough business to break into.
There's a vast difference between the reported earnings of top-tier screenwriters and your average screenwriter.



This.

Once you know it's not going to be easy, next thing is to work your ass off. That's the part most folks avoid. They write one or two scripts and expect Spielberg to call. You need to keep writing. Figure out your weaknesses and work to improve. If one script doesn't get you noticed be already writing the next and planning the one after that.

- Bill

robertcc
05-01-2013, 02:08 PM
Lauri, I hate to judge, but it seems like all this number crunching has become some sort of coping mechanism to work through the depression you may be experiencing from the high score you received on the Black List which failed to equate to success in the industry.

Believe me, as a professional writer, I'm still pulling my hair out some days wondering why certain projects aren't advancing -- one project in particular that has a commitment for production funding, a distributor and producing partner, a respected casting agent, and A-level reps who are excited by the material and nudging their clients to read. The lack of progress gets me down some days, but the only thing you can do is tackle the next project.

Obsessing over one's chances of making it can't be good for your psyche. I'm reminded of PROJECT GRIZZLY, a documentary on Troy Hurtubise who had encountered a vicious bear while alone in the forest. The experience so traumatized him that he devoted the rest of his life inventing looney suits of armor to "study" bears up close. Ostensibly he seems serious about his research on bears, when in fact it is apparent he is attempting to relive his fateful experience without the shameful vulnerability and terror. The doc might be worth checking out to get a sense of what I and some others are seeing in all this number crunching.

JeffLowell
05-01-2013, 02:12 PM
Also, with all this number crunching...

Figuring out how many people enter contests doesn't give you an idea of your real competition, because as Koppelman said here:

There is a very low correlation between people who make a living at this for a long time and contest winners.

I agree. I find that most professional writers don't come up the contest route. They write a script and try to sell it or get work with it.

BillG
05-01-2013, 02:32 PM
Yup to what Jeff said -- remember, contest winners might just be the "best of the worst"

gregbeal
05-01-2013, 04:38 PM
There is a very low correlation between people who make a living at this for a long time and contest winners.


I agree. I find that most professional writers don't come up the contest route. They write a script and try to sell it or get work with it.

The only problem with this sentiment is that it could be stated about any path working writers took to reach professional status. For instance, most working screenwriters didn't:

Attend USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia or AFI (but many did);
Work as an assistant at an agency, managerial or production company or studio (but many did);
Work as a professional journalist, playwright or novelist (but many did);
Make shorts or indy features (but many did).

Here are a few people who won or placed in a contest (and I'll ignore Nicholl) prior to becoming professional screenwriters/filmmakers:

Dan Taradash
Francis Ford Coppola
Eric Roth
Bob Zemeckis
John Lasseter
Ken Kwapis
Spike Lee
Todd Holland
Brian Helgeland

I'll stop now, but the list of working writers who received recognition through early awards and competitions is a long one.

JeffLowell
05-01-2013, 04:46 PM
Greg, I'm a huge fan of your contest. My point is that using the entry numbers for it or BL or any contest to draw larger truths about breaking in is a waste of time, because the vast majority of working writers don't come through that path.

stainjm
05-01-2013, 04:47 PM
BOOM!

It is one more way to get discovered. Why are people worrying about it? And some of the contests offer feedback, or if you win the smaller ones you get other cool things (like intensive notes, query services, etc.). Why would people NOT try everything?

To respond to the topic of this thread - A successful screenwriter can expect to earn: The satisfaction of knowing their movies are made.

Rhodi
05-01-2013, 05:24 PM
The problem with overall odds of success is that they don't apply to any individual. They just give a snapshot of an industry's selectivity.

If only .001% of aspiring screenwriters become professional screenwriters, that doesn't mean your odds are .001%.

Your odds are 0%.

Or 100%.

Nothing else.

QFT

gregbeal
05-01-2013, 05:34 PM
Greg, I'm a huge fan of your contest. My point is that using the entry numbers for it or BL or any contest to draw larger truths about breaking in is a waste of time, because the vast majority of working writers don't come through that path.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I think there are problems with Lauri's methodology, but I also think others are making statements without having anything beyond anecdotal evidence to support them.

For instance, if you counted current working television writers and screenwriters who ever entered a film or TV competition, I suspect the count would be far beyond the slim numbers you posit. I would be willing to bet that WGA members who ever placed in a competition number in the four-figures.

Rhodi
05-01-2013, 06:11 PM
I'd be very surprised if there is a single screenwriter that's broken into the industry recently without having entered a competition at least once (whether they won, placed or lost).

Regardless, the point stands: either you'll make it or you won't.

ATB
05-01-2013, 08:21 PM
^^ Agreed. I think contests are much more prevalent now than they were, even, 10 years ago.

I would venture a guess that most of the working/established writers broke in before contests were considered a legit way of getting noticed.

I mean, who would beat the pavement these days when you can upload a script to BL3 and have the site beat the proverbial pavement for you?

BillG
05-01-2013, 08:44 PM
^^Agreed. Know what's weird? Going to places like moviebytes and seeing decade-old posts from pre-fame writers like Jon Spaihts commenting on contests he entered

mikejc
05-01-2013, 10:26 PM
Ok, here is the real bottom line point:

Odds only apply to random events. Scripts are not random events of equal chance--such as each number of a dice has equal chance of coming up.

So, the numbers and odds, aside from the philosophical "forget the odds" argument, don't apply at all.

The relative talent levels of the people writing the scripts determines the odds, not the numbers. The more talented the person the better chance of them getting work.

There is no other formula.

500,000 Monkeys banging on a computer have 0% chance of getting work.

gregbeal
05-01-2013, 10:32 PM
I'd be very surprised if there is a single screenwriter that's broken into the industry recently without having entered a competition at least once (whether they won, placed or lost).

And you'd be as wrong as those on the other side of this issue. The world is not as black and white as some would have it.

Rhodi
05-02-2013, 12:13 AM
I'm not saying it isn't possible, only that I would be surprised to hear that.

ATB
05-02-2013, 12:31 AM
I would assume that David Guggenheim didn't fvck around with contests, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear of successes that never touched a contest.

But I do think it's exponentially more common now than it was 10-15-20 years ago.

BurningWorld
05-02-2013, 12:41 AM
I know tons of repped writers who have never entered any contest. It's called querying.

JeffLowell
05-02-2013, 04:36 AM
For instance, if you counted current working television writers and screenwriters who ever entered a film or TV competition, I suspect the count would be far beyond the slim numbers you posit. I would be willing to bet that WGA members who ever placed in a competition number in the four-figures.

I will concede that bet.

But your betting that at least a thousand out of twenty three thousand writers came up the contest route isn't really disagreeing with me, I think.

JoJo
05-02-2013, 08:41 AM
UpandComing is right: you make the most of whatever opportunity comes your way whether it's getting a 9 on the BL or making the SFs in Nicholl.

Publicly complaining about anything about this business not working out like you'd hoped is counter-productive and a waste of time and energy.

gregbeal
05-02-2013, 10:50 AM
I would assume that David Guggenheim didn't fvck around with contests, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear of successes that never touched a contest.

Not an accurate example.

gregbeal
05-02-2013, 10:58 AM
I will concede that bet.

But your betting that at least a thousand out of twenty three thousand writers came up the contest route isn't really disagreeing with me, I think.

Actually, I don't believe that I stated that 1,000 writers came up through contests, only that they placed in contests. Considerable difference. The number of WGA members who ever entered contests would be much higher.

It goes back to my point about USC, playwrights, working in the industry, etc. It's a matter of how one states a point.

I always think about 12,000 being the WGA number but I guess that's west only. How many of the 23,000 are journalists, tv news writers, doc writers, etc.? Not sure they should factor in.

JeffLowell
05-02-2013, 12:59 PM
I think the west is up close to 20k. Don't know the breakdown by field, although I'm sure it's in some report somewhere if you really care.

Lauri was trying to figure out the pool of "serious writers" by looking at Nicholl entrants. My point is that that cuts out a large number of writers who are "serious."

You and I were in the same writing workshop - I think you'd have to admit I was pretty serious about trying to break in. I wrote a dozen screenplays, sent out thousands of queries, and never entered Nicholl. When I'd finish a new script, I'd try to get it read - not figure out which contest had the best shot of getting it read.

Again, none of this is to demean Nicholl (or BL, which seems like a rolling Nicholl to me). I just think that trying to draw broad points about the talent pool, amateur writers, odds, etc, are doomed. Especially since most of the scripts being sent to any contest or service are already exposed - people take a shot with them on the market, when they don't get traction, they try alternate routes.

Sure, overlooked gems are discovered. But a certain amount of cream has to be skimmed off the top before scripts are sent into contests - if a script has a killer concept and backs it up with great writing, it often doesn't need the second chance those services provide.

ATB
05-02-2013, 06:24 PM
Not an accurate example.

Not an example. An assumption. And I'm agreeing with you. I believe many working writers have gone the contest route at some point in their early years.

But I wouldn't be surprised to hear of success stories that didn't. That's all.

Craig Mazin
05-02-2013, 11:50 PM
I never entered any contests.

This isn't relevant, but I figured I'd offer myself up as a useless data point.

eireu2
05-04-2013, 10:36 AM
500,000 Monkeys banging on a computer have 0% chance of getting work.

Is that a quantifiable stat?

I swear I've seen a few works of film, TV and new media even just recently that there is no other explanation for...

mrjonesprods
05-04-2013, 11:36 AM
I didn't go the contest route either. I followed Jeff's approach. Write script - try to get repped.

mikejc
05-04-2013, 08:19 PM
Is that a quantifiable stat?

I swear I've seen a few works of film, TV and new media even just recently that there is no other explanation for...


No, it is a comment on the uselessness of "odds" when dealing with scripts and writers.

Scripts are not random chance events. There are no odds.

The odds of 5 billion monkeys banging on a keyboard to randomly come up with a good script are zero.

Unless they're writing The Hangover IV, which they'd likely write themselves into.

60WordsPerHour
05-04-2013, 11:55 PM
I'm pretty sure the reason why contests are a more prominent thing these days is because 1) the internet makes them easier to set up and publicise and 2) the internet makes them easier to enter.

What that proliferation means and will mean to the way careers are launched is not entirely clear yet, but I reckon the following things hold true:

1) Winners of the top-flight contests (i.e. Nicholl) will get attention.
2) I can't see why pros would ignore reading high-scoring BL 3.0 scripts.
3) ... but contests and script-hosting services aren't and won't be a mandatory route for all who wish to enter the field. In fact, I doubt they'll end up being the dominant route -- I reckon that it will continue to be the traditional direct-contact method.

Usual disclaimers: FWIW and WWIK?.

wcmartell
05-05-2013, 07:13 PM
Not an accurate example.

Which would lead me to believe that he *did* enter the Nicholl.

I also didn't enter any contests - because I don't think there were any. But it would seem like today that is the most likely way in, so my experience no longer applies. What worked yesterday may not work today.

But photos of a studio exec with a barnyard animal will *always* work.

- Bill

wcmartell
05-05-2013, 07:29 PM
PS: $500 a week...

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_05/today_in_whats_wrong_with_the044565.php

- Bill

Terrance Mulloy
05-05-2013, 08:37 PM
Coffee is for closers only.

Rantanplan
05-05-2013, 09:50 PM
I think the only real measure of success in this whole business is: are you making your living as a writer?

The rest is just noise.

mikejc
05-05-2013, 09:57 PM
PS: $500 a week...

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_05/today_in_whats_wrong_with_the044565.php

- Bill

The thing I find amazing from the article is that it takes a team of writers 40 hours a week each to write a Joan Rivers reality show.

lostfootage
05-05-2013, 11:08 PM
The thing I find amazing from the article is that it takes a team of writers 40 hours a week each to write a Joan Rivers reality show.

Have you watched the show? It's like the best stand up ever. I'm not really their audience and now I find myself watching it every week because the level of joke writing is so high. They've reeled me in and I'm a Tomboy who knows nothing about fashion. I believe it takes that much writing power. I totally support their strike - they deserve to be paid real wages.

mikejc
05-06-2013, 09:25 AM
I think they were just following the OP on the "5 points to a successful career" thread. Point 1, work for free.

EdFury
05-06-2013, 10:42 AM
I think they were just following the OP on the "5 points to a successful career" thread. Point 1, work for free.

Funny. Thank you.

There's nothing that sticks in my craw more than "you have to work for free." No.... you don't. I have been asked and have always politely said no. I don't do that. I tell them, "If you want the talents you think I seem to have then you need to pay me for them." Only once, early in our relationship, did my manager suggest I take a free writing job and I told him that as long as the producer called my mortgage company and the electric company and American Express and got my bills delayed indefinitely without penalty I'd be happy to. He's never asked again and I'm still making him money. Even when I was new and struggling I didn't work for free for people who intended to make money off my efforts.

The question of this thread is "What can a screenwriter expect to earn"? Well.... Nothing... if you work for free. I do not begrudge screenwriters for doing it and understand if they see it as a way in, but when you set your worth at zero you have a long climb to get where you need to go.

I'm not talking about some short film where you're getting your name on a credit or a short film where you're helping a friend. Helping a friend is different. I'm talking about a producer who intends to make money off your free work and would never work for free if you asked them to do so.

Just my opinion and thanks for letting me vent.

mikejc
05-06-2013, 04:12 PM
Well, your name IS Ed Fury.

eireu2
05-07-2013, 03:01 AM
I think the only real measure of success in this whole business is: are you making your living as a writer?

The rest is just noise.

I'm repeating this because I think it's the most valid point in the money-making discussion, but not necessarily the whole point of the discussion.

If you're making your living writing, well, congrats- you are a writer by definition. You put that on your taxes and (if needed later) unemployment forms.

But success is a bit more slippery, I think. Is writing your vocation? Have you devoted thousands of hours to it and made hard sacrifices to accommodate its place in your life? Can you be proud of all of that and keep writing regardless of the challenges? I think that's a success money can't qualify.

I'm kind of amazed at how much talk is devoted to the numbers here. I mean, movies are ultimately a numbers business, sure, but isn't our most basic job as screenwriters to be the architects of the dreams at the root of those numbers? To give them shape and subtlety and meaning? Not to sound too hippy-dippy about it... But doesn't it make sense to focus on the most important part of your job for the largest percent of your workday? (Sorry, more numbers...)

And, while on the subject of numbers and success, here's something that's been bugging me- the obsessing over numbers and ratings- especially regarding the BL ratings.

(I'm really roughly outlining this- feel free to jump in with details/corrections.)

I recall reading somewhere (though I can't find it now) that when Justin Kremer's script for McCarthy got picked up, it had averaged a 7-something rating on the BL. Well, tons of people read it. But, for it- or any script- to average anything less than a 10 must mean that some people liked it a lot more than others did. Does it mean the rating didn't matter? Not at all. But I think it means the rating wasn't the only thing that mattered. There are so many other factors- trends, subject matter, current successes, connectivity- that might have mattered too.

So, sure, somewhere in there is a really fancy numbers game. But it's all pretty much roulette, isn't it? There are so many factors at play, but the constant is that the ball is going to stop somewhere.

NYNEX
05-19-2013, 09:24 PM
On the April 23 Scriptnotes podcast, a listener asked what income a successful screenwriter could “expect” to make.

(For example, borrowing $36,000+ per year to get an MFA in screenwriting is tantamount to financial suicide, since it doesn't improve the odds in any significant way.)

Comments?

Those statistics are utterly useless. For starts go back to your statement that the Nichols is the most prestigious screenwriting contest. That's not necessarily true. There's screenwriting labs, and if you produce your own script, there's film festivals such as Tribeca, Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, among others.

There are other things I've seen over the past few that totally change your access to the industry.

Move to either Los Angeles or New York and get a job in the industry? That helps a lot. Have access to money somehow and shoot your film independently and again acclaim within the film festival circle? You've gone along way.

Network at film industry events and keep in touch with people? That helps big time as wel. There are reasons why those who succeeded succeeded.

Oh, and as with any profession in life to make money, you have to invest money.

And with anything you serious in life, whether its your education, whether its a career in film, banking, etc you do not worry about how many other people are applying or competing. You submit the best application/proposal/whatever that you can, and you take things from there.

I've made friends recently who have placed at major festivals and who have launched careers ,but they didn't do it by worrying about how many other screenplays were out there.

To tell you the truth, since joining film organizations and applying for screenwriting labs and festivals cost money, the fees alone screen out a lot of competition. You'd be surprised at how many people are too cheap to spend the fee to apply. But this applies to many things in life, including going to universities.

You'd have to find ways to staying in either LA or NYC, and that in and of itself gets rid of a lot of competition.

Instead of worrying about the failures, why not ask the successes why they are successes. There are reasons.....

And I do know people who make their living as screenwriters or in the film industry in general. Its certainly possible and doable. Again, you might ask them why. Some of those I spoke to started out as mailroom clerks at a film studio, distributor, tv network, or agency in either LA or NYC.

olin1
05-22-2013, 10:08 PM
Good read...a bit depressing but probably close to the truth? (it's justin marks btw)

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/my-life-as-a-screenwriter-520979#comments

LauriD
05-23-2013, 02:15 AM
Good read...a bit depressing but probably close to the truth? (it's justin marks btw)

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/my-life-as-a-screenwriter-520979#comments

I didn't think it was depressing. The guy's being paid to do what he wants to do. Most of the few people lucky enough to earn a living at screenwriting probably have a life like that.

So is it "depressing" to "only" earn a living but not be Larry David or Aaron Sorkin?

Is screenwriting a lottery fantasy (I want to get rich) or a lifestyle fantasy (I want to write every day and get movies made)? Because the lottery doesn't necessarily go with the lifestyle...

NYNEX
05-27-2013, 09:49 AM
I didn't think it was depressing. The guy's being paid to do what he wants to do. Most of the few people lucky enough to earn a living at screenwriting probably have a life like that.

So is it "depressing" to "only" earn a living but not be Larry David or Aaron Sorkin?

Is screenwriting a lottery fantasy (I want to get rich) or a lifestyle fantasy (I want to write every day and get movies made)? Because the lottery doesn't necessarily go with the lifestyle...

If this guy has been around town for that long, he could had directed or produced some of this projects, where he would have had more control over whether they got made.

It sounds like some of you are pulling out down and out stories to comfort yourself for failing.

if you're serious about succeeding as a screenwriter, why not ask SUCCESSFUL screenwriters what they did to make it? Why would you even care about the failures (there are legions of them in every field or business)?

LauriD
05-27-2013, 10:14 AM
It sounds like some of you are pulling out down and out stories to comfort yourself for failing.

if you're serious about succeeding as a screenwriter, why not ask SUCCESSFUL screenwriters what they did to make it? Why would you even care about the failures (there are legions of them in every field or business)?

The guy is a WORKING SCREENWRITER with a comfortable life. He's hardly down and out or a failure in my book.

Obviously some people are more successful than others. But that doesn't make the bottom 99% of working screenwriters "failures."

If this guy isn't successful, how do YOU define "success"?

(And if the guy is a "failure," then why would contemplating this be "comforting" to anyone?)

sc111
05-27-2013, 11:37 AM
I think it's useless to discuss what "you can expect to make" as a screenwriter. Screenwriters are independent contractors, sole proprietors of their own "small business." The product/service they sell is their writing.

As any small business owner, they deal with the ups and downs, pros and cons, ebbs and flows of their industry, the economy, and competition (both current competition and new competition), all at the same time.

Not only do they have to be at the top of their writing game, ready and able to deliver solid writing on demand, they must have the mindset of an independent business owner which requires nerves of steel as it relates to money.

As someone who not only freelances for small business owners, and has one client who "fixes" small businesses in trouble, I have to say, if you don't have the right mindset the financial insecurity may drive you crazy.

Add to this, what I know in general about challenges for independent contractors/small businesses, and as challenging as it is for these people, IMO screenwriters have it way, way, way harder.

Because they're not selling widgets or cleaning carpets or fixing vacuum cleaners. Their success rises and falls on the quality of their writing and whether or not someone is willing to pay them to write.

If sales get sluggish for the small carpet cleaning business, they can lay off their nephew, or look for cheaper rug shampoo, or use any number of tried-and-true methods to lower their overhead and increase their cash flow. They can even sell their business to a competitor and walk away with the proceeds.

What can the screenwriter do when sales are sluggish? Think about it. When you ask, "What can a screenwriter expect to make?" I'd say as much as their personal talent and business savvy enables them to make and even then there's simply no guarantee.

EdFury
05-27-2013, 12:07 PM
What can the screenwriter do when sales are sluggish? Think about it. When you ask, "What can a screenwriter expect to make?" I'd say as much as their personal talent and business savvy enables them to make and even then there's simply no guarantee.

Bingo!

mrjonesprods
05-27-2013, 12:38 PM
If this guy has been around town for that long, he could had directed or produced some of this projects, where he would have had more control over whether they got made.

You are incredibly misinformed. When you are working in the studio system, it's extremely hard to get a movie made and even more difficult to get the chance to direct. They don't just hand those jobs out. And I bet you would kill to be in his position - you know a working writer pulling in 6 figures per job. What's funny is he is exactly the kinda guy you suggest talking to.

It sounds like some of you are pulling out down and out stories to comfort yourself for failing.

It's better than suing all the agencies for discrimination!

NYNEX
05-27-2013, 04:30 PM
You are incredibly misinformed. When you are working in the studio system, it's extremely hard to get a movie made and even more difficult to get the chance to direct. They don't just hand those jobs out. And I bet you would kill to be in his position - you know a working writer pulling in 6 figures per job. What's funny is he is exactly the kinda guy you suggest talking to.



It's better than suing all the agencies for discrimination!

I'm not incredibly misinformed. There's nothing stopping this man from going the independent route on the side, even if he wanted to still get studio writing jobs.

Nothing at all. Totally nothing is stopping this man from taking whatever money he made from projects that were never completed, and filming his OWN project on the side. NOTHING.

And it amazing that you bring up something from two years ago. Jealous of the attention I received? LOL

BurOak
05-27-2013, 06:07 PM
I think it's useless to discuss what "you can expect to make" as a screenwriter. Screenwriters are independent contractors, sole proprietors of their own "small business." The product/service they sell is their writing.

As any small business owner, they deal with the ups and downs, pros and cons, ebbs and flows of their industry, the economy, and competition (both current competition and new competition), all at the same time.

Not only do they have to be at the top of their writing game, ready and able to deliver solid writing on demand, they must have the mindset of an independent business owner which requires nerves of steel as it relates to money.

As someone who not only freelances for small business owners, and has one client who "fixes" small businesses in trouble, I have to say, if you don't have the right mindset the financial insecurity may drive you crazy.

Add to this, what I know in general about challenges for independent contractors/small businesses, and as challenging as it is for these people, IMO screenwriters have it way, way, way harder.

Because they're not selling widgets or cleaning carpets or fixing vacuum cleaners. Their success rises and falls on the quality of their writing and whether or not someone is willing to pay them to write.

If sales get sluggish for the small carpet cleaning business, they can lay off their nephew, or look for cheaper rug shampoo, or use any number of tried-and-true methods to lower their overhead and increase their cash flow. They can even sell their business to a competitor and walk away with the proceeds.

What can the screenwriter do when sales are sluggish? Think about it. When you ask, "What can a screenwriter expect to make?" I'd say as much as their personal talent and business savvy enables them to make and even then there's simply no guarantee.

Well put.

mrjonesprods
05-27-2013, 08:19 PM
And it amazing that you bring up something from two years ago. Jealous of the attention I received? LOL

No. I get attention when I sell a project. Plus, I'm represented by the people you sued. I made it in this business by being good on the page. All your lawsuit did was publicize that you weren't good enough. But congrats on getting attention for that!

artisone
05-27-2013, 08:21 PM
I'm not incredibly misinformed. There's nothing stopping this man from going the independent route on the side, even if he wanted to still get studio writing jobs.

Nothing at all. Totally nothing is stopping this man from taking whatever money he made from projects that were never completed, and filming his OWN project on the side. NOTHING.

And it amazing that you bring up something from two years ago. Jealous of the attention I received? LOL

Do you know the projects he writes? They tend to be huge movies. Voltron, Green Arrow Supermax and a lot of cool geeky/sci-fi type stuff. Not really the type of material that lends itself to going the independent rout. He does big studio fare.

It seems to me, that you equate being produced to being successful. Which I guess is fine. But I think for a lot of us, it means getting paid for our writing and actually earning a living from it.

NYNEX
05-28-2013, 01:36 AM
No. I get attention when I sell a project. Plus, I'm represented by the people you sued. I made it in this business by being good on the page. All your lawsuit did was publicize that you weren't good enough. But congrats on getting attention for that!

I still made money writing in 2012, I still get all sorts of jobs, etc. I'd truthfully say nobody cares about that except for you who can't seem to move on. But whatever obsess away over what I did in the past, though it doesn't concern you at all.

NYNEX
05-28-2013, 01:45 AM
Do you know the projects he writes? They tend to be huge movies. Voltron, Green Arrow Supermax and a lot of cool geeky/sci-fi type stuff. Not really the type of material that lends itself to going the independent rout. He does big studio fare.

It seems to me, that you equate being produced to being successful. Which I guess is fine. But I think for a lot of us, it means getting paid for our writing and actually earning a living from it.

There is still nothing to stop him from going independent stuff on the side (in different genres), and it does not have to be sci fi. If he choses not to, that's fine. That's his choice.

NYNEX
05-28-2013, 01:46 AM
The guy is a WORKING SCREENWRITER with a comfortable life. He's hardly down and out or a failure in my book.

Obviously some people are more successful than others. But that doesn't make the bottom 99% of working screenwriters "failures."

If this guy isn't successful, how do YOU define "success"?

(And if the guy is a "failure," then why would contemplating this be "comforting" to anyone?)

At the same time, you seem to pick him because he confirms what you want to believe.

You aren't posting articles or asking those who successfully wrote a string of movies who made it out to the public.

LauriD
05-28-2013, 01:52 AM
There is still nothing to stop him from going independent stuff on the side (in different genres), and it does not have to be sci fi. If he choses not to, that's fine. That's his choice.

So is the argument that any writer who doesn't produce is by definition not "successful"? Or even a "failure"?

Not sure where you get that idea...

Anyway, not sure what the point of all this is. This guy is MY idea of a success. If he's not your idea, then feel free to populate your castle in the air with a different role model.

LauriD
05-28-2013, 01:55 AM
At the same time, you seem to pick him because he confirms what you want to believe.

You aren't posting articles or asking those who successfully wrote a string of movies who made it out to the public.

Um... what exactly do I want to believe? Please -- let me know.

And I post all kinds of articles on all kinds of stuff. If you think other articles are more interesting/useful, post 'em.

NYNEX
05-28-2013, 01:59 AM
Um... what exactly do I want to believe? Please -- let me know.

And I post all kinds of articles on all kinds of stuff. If you think other articles are more interesting/useful, post 'em.

Not really into posting anything fron any angle, at this point. But just pointing out any one post is not the full story by far in any industry, and doesn't establish much.

LauriD
05-28-2013, 02:29 AM
Not really into posting anything fron any angle, at this point. But just pointing out any one post is not the full story by far in any industry, and doesn't establish much.

Um.... who exactly was arguing that one post was the "whole story" about anything?

olin1
05-28-2013, 09:12 PM
I didn't think it was depressing. The guy's being paid to do what he wants to do. Most of the few people lucky enough to earn a living at screenwriting probably have a life like that.

So is it "depressing" to "only" earn a living but not be Larry David or Aaron Sorkin?

Is screenwriting a lottery fantasy (I want to get rich) or a lifestyle fantasy (I want to write every day and get movies made)? Because the lottery doesn't necessarily go with the lifestyle...

I just thought the tone of the article was depressing...hence the comment. The article could've gone a million different ways and i felt it was a bit morose somehow...

It had nothing to do with the pure money aspect...