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Old 08-13-2019, 09:58 AM   #1
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Default Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

From a summary of an interview with Jake Wagner of Good Fear on reddit:

The more scripts you have, the worse it is. "When someone is like I have 10 scripts and they all placed in contests, I'm thinking to myself: Then why haven't you been signed yet? Like, there is a catch here. You can't be that good if you have 10 scripts that have placed all over the place. You would have been discovered by now. To me that is a red flag."

Do others agree that reps feel like that?

To me, something like that could be an interesting problem-solving challenge for the manager -- and that's what a manager is for.

But someone responded:

"Most veteran managers aren't like that. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. Extended Time + Large Portfolio = Excess Baggage."

So basically anyone who's been at this for a while is "damaged goods"... no matter how good they are and no matter how many contests they've won?

That's depressing as hell... And eye-opening...

It suggests that plugging away at contests (even if you keep advancing) is futile as a career strategy.

So what's the solution?

Take the contests off your resume? Change your name? Hire a front?
"People who work in Hollywood are the ones who didn't quit." -- Lawrence Kasdan

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Old 08-13-2019, 10:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

Well, you're focusing on contest results as a liability, and even # of scripts as a liability, in the minds of these people. But this is precisely why by and large I've ignored reps for the last several years, and focus directly on those who make the movies.

So, with my 50+ scripts, I have to be the most exaggerated example of what you're talking about, yet I continue to find and create new openings and ways of doing things. Yes, my scripts should speak for themselves, but to break in (whatever that means to each of us, because it doesn't mean one thing and nor should it) you should, or have to, think outside the box. We wouldn't have Google or Microsoft or FB or any of your favorite "things" if their creators didn't do precisely that.

As for contests, there was a "great" () post here a short time ago which has thankfully, finally, freed me from ever considering them again. Way way too many possible hi-jinks going on behind-the-scenes. The story in this post is merely one that I hadn't thought of, but I've always had my paranoia cap close at-hand with regard to these 'reader' issues anyway:
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?


Idk, I feel I'm getting my own red flags from that guys attitude on discovering talent.

I do somewhat agree that a writer doesn't need a huge backlog of scripts to be a sellable commodity. But in a business as wildly subjective as this one I don't think it's fair for a rep to say "Well, this writer wrote a bunch of scripts and they sure, were all well received ... but none of them sold so the writer must suck".
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

Keep in mind, JW's a bit of a d!ck.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

Originally Posted by docgonzo View Post
Keep in mind, JW's a bit of a d!ck.
That made me laugh. I wonder if he feels the same way about reps?

You know, the more clients a rep has, the worse he must be. "When a rep is like, I have ten writers and they're all writing, I'm thinking to myself: Then why haven't you sold all their work yet? In multi-bid auctions? For millions of dollars? Like, there is a catch here. How can a rep be that good if they have ten clients and all their clients haven't won Oscars yet? And don't drive Beemers? Or own vacation houses? To me that is a red flag. Or you know, that rep is just a d!ck."

I don't think reps realize how hard it is to even get reads. People enter contests for leverage of any kind, in order to get reads. From reps like him.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

also highly contest-dependent (imo). placing or winning in Nicholl/Austin should lead to interest from reps -- but even that is no sure thing, depending on where the winner might happen to be living or whether the script itself is marketable or calling-card level

but multiple QF and SF in a bunch of no-name film festival or scammy-type contests feels amateurish to me. not going to move the needle with a rep and just more evidence that the writer isn't ready yet anyway
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

i've listened to several podcasts for managers over at Scripts & Scribes, check em out, they're very enlightening.

what managers are looking for is something exceptional. not just good writing, good characters and an emotional story. you need to have a piece of work that is a stand out piece-- something that's great and risky and unique and commercial.

if you're writing the same kind of movies that have already been made, then you're not unique. you are doing what everyone else has done. and they probably have a client that already can do what you (i'm speaking generally here not directed at anyone personally) do and they have a commitment already to a client that can do the very same thing.

a smart manager is the manager that has writers that are "different" from each other.

and i don't think that the number of scripts you have is a negative, unless they're all the same thing, well, then yeah, that can be a problem, because you've already shown you can do THAT thing-- why repeat it?

i think it was Richard Freeman at Code that said, write that unproduceable pilot, you can get a lot of work off it if it's amazing.

look at the annual Black List, the ones that aren't biopics, some of them are pretty unique: Blur, The Beast, Harry's All Night Hamburgers, Cobweb, The Worst Guy of All Time (And the Girl Who Came to Kill Him. i mean, these are unique. something that makes me say, i wanna read THAT.

and also, now, i think a feature writer should also consider writing a pilot as well. just one opinion. standing out from the pack seems to be the message.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

- Charging a fee to read is a red flag
- Having too many clients is a red flag
- Also being a producer is a red flag
- Not being associated with/having too few films in the “filmography” tab on your imdb page is a red flag
- Imdb is the great equalizer, the rest is all hot air
- And contest placements don’t necessarily mean anything, because so many readers don’t even know what they’re looking at, or get hung up on crap like artistic formatting choices.

So, whatever...
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

Ha! Funny responses...

But, yeah, I definitely think reps see us this way. The fact that I've been with CAA, Resolution, Gotham, new place. The fact that I've developed with huge people and never had anything made. It all HURTS ME.

...That's not a good look to them because they're like "with all that **** you still haven't gotten something made? WTF!? You must suck!"

CLOSE + TIME = HURTS YOU in this town.

Hence, yup they gotta see you as NEW. I'll pretend all my other scripts don't exist. Whatever. The sh!t that sold/developed and didn't get made doesn't help me, it hurts me. So I ain't gonna mention it.

In truth... I think saying I used to be at CAA hurts me ("WHAT??? Even THEY couldn't get you a job!!!???"). I would never mention that in person.


"I'm brand new... this is my first script. I know nothing about Hollywood."
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Doing well in too many contests is a red flag for reps?

Even the biggest contests? A lot of screenwriters gradually move up the ranks, placing higher and higher on these contests. Even one of his biggest clients fits the description of this - having a bunch of contest placing scripts before they hit with that one piece of material that seemed to light the town on fire. I am just trying to follow in their footsteps, placing at the exact same placement in the exact same contests. I am hearing conflicting views on this. I heard someone who used to judge for one of these tell me that it's great if you have several high placing scripts because it shows you can write at a high level consistently (not just a fluke).
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