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Old 01-20-2008, 03:03 PM   #1
jenvon's Avatar
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Default Is this the norm?

I have sort of an odd question-- In this industry, how common is it for people that are "established" to help out new writers? When I say "help out" I mean spending several hours of their time, over a period of several months working on the script.

In the past year, two seperate people (not related) have spent several hours of their time working/mentoring me on my script. One, is a guy who runs a large scriptwriting website and the other, is an established screenwriter that has optioned several scripts and has one in production-- I never asked either of them to help me out, but of course jumped on their offer. Feeling guilty for all their time (and emails) I even offered to pay them in which they both declined. Most of their input has been towards format/descriptions, etc. and not much with the story. The guy who runs the website says he has a friend (director) who wants to read it when it's I guess he's told people about it.

My husband thinks this must just be normal for this industry (ie; screenwriters are a charitable bunch) but I'm thinking they saw promise in my story and knew it wouldn't go anywhere unless it was written up to industry standard. I've been tempted to ask both of them, 'why are you helping me?!?!" but didn't have the guts, I'm askin' y' this normal?
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:12 PM   #2
Gillyflower Cooms
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

Maybe they wanna get down your pants.
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

The same reason people in any other industry would do it. They are just generous people who feel satisfaction in helping others. The other is you may remind them of when they were starting out or may really want to help you avoid mistakes they made.

The one thing that is most certain is people give beyond the norm when the recipient is grateful. You must have shown a great amount of appreciation and actually used their input. Otherwise, it would be a worthless cause for them.
Never mistake motion for action. ~Ernest Hemingway
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:30 PM   #4
Jake Schuster
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

It's called mentoring. In the novel-writing business we do it all the time with writers who show promise. It's a way of passing down the generosity of those who took their time with us. I've mentored two or three along the line.

Of course, it's also good for one's karma.
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

There are two possible reasons - both already alluded to. . .

The first is that you're amazingly hot and they want to get down your pants . Lucky for you, I don't think this is the reason. (Not that you're not hot - just that there are more effective ways to get down hot people's pants than helping them with their screenplays.)

The more likely reason is that you have a great premise. If your premise and general storytelling are at a certain level that perks people's attention, then this is the behavior you can expect.

I.e., people will actually put their money where their mouths are. You'll show them the script, or pitch them the movie, and they'll say, "Wow, cool. I'd love to check it out." And then they'll actually read it, and help you with any newbie mistakes that are in it. And that's a good thing!

On the other hand, many new writers have tired, generic premises and writing that is so "un-helpable" (for lack of a better term), that established folks won't even bother. But it's hard to tell a new writer that s/he sucks balls, so most people say things like: "Oh, sorry. I've been so busy, I didn't get a chance to read it." - or - "Oh, yeah I read it. It was good. It's just not the kind of thing we do."

Bottom line: If people are helping you - I mean really helping (like giving up their Saturday afternoons, or hooking you up with directors they know, or offering to introduce you to their managers or agents), then they ultimately see promise in you, or your concept, or both.

Or you're really hot.
"I've got vision up the butt, so just go with it!" - Dewey Finn, School of Rock
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Old 01-20-2008, 03:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

I'm not hot. And I'm a guy.

But I've had a TON of help from folks. There just are some very nice folks out there, and if you prove you want to learn, and will listen, they will answer your questions.

Hopefully some day you and I will both be in a position to do the same for others.

Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2008, 07:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is this the norm?

It sounds like it's a bit of both, they're both nice, helpful guys that see some promise. Between all their input in the past several months, I feel like I've had personal script tutors..have learned sooo much!

Thanks for all the input!
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