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Old 03-05-2019, 03:06 PM   #1
paul6001
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Default Story Into Screenplay

Prepare yourself for a breathtaking example of overreach from a person utterly ignorant of all things screenplay-related.

I have written a short story. in general terms, it's about the state of post-divorce living among Gen Xers and the trauma that one particular family undergoes. (Sort of Kramer vs. Kramer meets Spiderman. Just kidding. But I'm getting the lingo down, right?)

This story is long (about 7,000 words) and consists almost exclusively of dialogue. It resembles nothing so much as a screenplay.

I'd like to turn the story into a blockbuster, money-gushing script. In order to do that, I need to get the attention of agents/ directors/ producers. The problem is this: It will be months before the New Yorker accepts it for publication, and months after that before the story runs. No one will see it for a year and I need a little income before then. (I briefly considered the possibility that the New Yorker might not publish, then dismissed the thought as ludicrous.)

I need to get someone interested in this story in its present form, then pay me to turn it into a script. People option novels all the time, right? And didn't someone make a movie out of Joyce's The Dead? So it could happen. But I have no idea how to do it.

I welcome any and all comments/ criticism/ advice. I don't have a clue about the first move to make, so besides telling me where to go, please give me a hint about how to approach the movie world. Many thanks. When I become a big-time Hollywood player, I won't forget who helped me in my dark days.

Two notes:

—I'm a longtime magazine writer and editor. I have some idea what good writing looks like. Other editors have read it as well. The consensus is that it ain't bad.

—I'm a photographer and have some experience with forums on that subject. That crowd does not like it when you ask the same question of more than one forum. (Woe to thee that needs help reformatting a card on a Fuji X-Pro2.) I'm not sure how much overlap there is between groups and sites in the screenwriting world, so I'm going to post this in a few different places. I apologize in advance if I'm breaking forum etiquette.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

Quote:
I'm not sure how much overlap there is between groups and sites in the screenwriting world, so I'm going to post this in a few different places. I apologize in advance if I'm breaking forum etiquette.
Paul,

It's the same here and on most forums out there. Please pick the (best) forum that most reflects the topic you are presenting or asking about. And make only one post about it anywhere on the forums.

Thanks.
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Last edited by Done Deal Pro : 03-05-2019 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 03-07-2019, 07:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul6001 View Post
I'd like to turn the story into a blockbuster, money-gushing script. In order to do that, I need to get the attention of agents/ directors/ producers.
Write a logline, a synopsis, and a treatment. This will help you become intimately familiar with your screen story as opposed to the short story you’ve already written.
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

Since no one has jumped in yet (or least not while I was writing this) and I have a moment, I’ll throw out some thoughts for you…

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul6001 View Post
I'd like to turn the story into a blockbuster, money-gushing script. In order to do that, I need to get the attention of agents/ directors/ producers. The problem is this: It will be months before the New Yorker accepts it for publication, and months after that before the story runs. No one will see it for a year and I need a little income before then. (I briefly considered the possibility that the New Yorker might not publish, then dismissed the thought as ludicrous.)
I realize and recognize you are probably being a bit tongue-in-cheek about all this, but still this is not the way to think or talk about anything you write. You are using words to describe what you have and want to do that rarely, if ever, go together:

Post-divorce living & trauma and blockbuster & money-gushing

If you want “a blockbuster” and “money,” write an AVENGERS or STAR WARS script. Post-divorce generally equals indie film and lower budgets that come with that level of production.

The other issue is… it’s not published. Not published for a while. Also, thinking the New Yorker not publishing your story is “ludicrous” is not the way to go either. Again, I’m sure or at least I hope it’s all tongue-in-cheek; but it’s one thing to joke about this in person with family & friends. Not the thing to ever say publicly to anyone else -- particularly if they can’t see that you are joking and being a funny about it.

IF and when it is published in the New Yorker and IF it’s well liked by readers, etc., then Hollywood will very possibly come calling and/or give you a chance to submit it to them. Though this surely doesn’t cover every deal ever made with stories published by the New Yorker, we’ve listed, in our main site database, 43 deals for material from the New Yorker in the last 21 plus years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul6001 View Post
I need to get someone interested in this story in its present form, then pay me to turn it into a script. People option novels all the time, right? And didn't someone make a movie out of Joyce's The Dead? So it could happen. But I have no idea how to do it.
Most likely, no one will ever look at it in its present form, unless it’s published. There is no validation for this story yet. Right? You’ve written stuff, you noted, but what has been published before which was written by you? And where? A NY Times bestseller? A Pulitzer Prize winning story in the Post? Hollywood will option or buy yet-to-be-published work from known writers with success/heat on them & their work. The industry wants third party and/or previous validation of what you or almost anyone wrote in terms of books sold, prizes won, and so on.

Did someone make a film of Joyce’s “The Dead”? Yes. It was famous director John Huston directing famous author James Joyce’s material which was adapted by Huston’s son. Oh, and it starred his daughter, the famous Anjelica Huston. If your name and work are as famous as theirs, you should be pretty good to go. If not, it’s going to be a bit tougher, to say the least.

Now, I’m not noting all the above to be discouraging or even say, your story isn’t good enough. But until there is some good recognition of your work and in particular this story, don’t hold your breath thinking anyone is going to pick it up. Published = validation & third-party approval. It’s out there much like a bestselling book or a popular podcast, which then brings a built-in-audience to the table.

From what you note, you’ve never written a script or anything that resembles one. Right? Why would anyone pay you money to write a script? I’ve read books and short stories before, but it doesn’t make me an author who can write a story like you have which might get published in the New Yorker. And even if someone hired you to adapt your story into a script, it surely wouldn’t be for much and you wouldn’t see money for quite a while. Deals take forever to close. Checks take even longer than forever to be sent. Writing scripts is not a get “rich” quick job, of course.

And maybe you’re being a bit humble here, which is always refreshing, but “ain't bad” is not what Hollywood is looking for either. They want great. Riveting. Unique. An emotional journey or thrill ride. Terrific concepts. Etc.

Yes, there are exceptions to pretty much all I’ve noted, but most likely your story is suited for a smaller, indie type fare which does not bring in lots of money. (I don’t mean a movie that costs $150K. Maybe more like a few million or so. But a bit tough to say without having read it.)

My advice without knowing more would be to spend what spare time you can focusing on reading scripts, a few books on screenwriting, all you can online about writing scripts and then more scripts. If you need money, find a job or create one for yourself. In almost every case, if you want to get hired or paid to write something you are going to need at least one script writing sample. Also, write more articles or stories and hopefully get paid for those. You’re a longtime editor and writer, then keep at it until you see a check from Hollywood that actually clears. Even then be careful.

Also, if you truly have a great story, then you can always reach out on your own to query a few production companies to see if there might be any interest in your story for the New Yorker. Be sure you can do that, of course, and that NY'r doesn't have any rights or will get pissed off by you sharing it early. Though, I'm sure you must be aware of how all that works legally speaking and in terms of etiquette.

There are a number of steps to all of the whole process and it definitely takes a time.

And as TF noted, start working on a treatment for your script, at least. Try fleshing the story out to something that will last two hours. Find the time to get to work on it. If you are confident in the material/story, then you won't be wasting your time.
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Old 03-07-2019, 11:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

OP, have to agree with Will. I know you're probably attempting humor, but your tone comes across a bit overconfident. It's never good to hype a project so much because it's that much harder to live up to the expectation.

I don't know if you necessarily have to wait for the New Yorker to publish your work. Hollywood producers are now looking beyond traditional sources to find great short stories to turn into screenplays -- they know the next cool idea can come out of anywhere (kinda like how "The Martian" was originally discovered as an ebook on Andy Weir's website). The buzz right now is around Reddit. In the past few months there have been two high-profile examples of short stories being optioned with the intention of turning them into films:

--In December 2018, Twentieth Century Fox teamed up with New Regency to buy "The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine"; Ryan Reynolds is attached to produce:

https://variety.com/2018/film/news/r...ne-1203081987/

--In January 2019, Amblin Partners bought the rights to "The Spire in the Woods," with Vertigo Entertainment set to produce:

https://variety.com/2019/film/news/s...YenwFI5wyiwjGA

Both of these short stories were originally posted on Reddit's "No Sleep" subreddit, which focuses on horror. They were discovered a few years after being posted (2015 for "Patient," 2013 for "Spire"), but I imagine discovery times are getting faster given excitement about this new content source.

Even if you luck out and get optioned, don't expect to automatically be hired to adapt it into a script. Writing a screenplay is very different from writing a short story/novella/novel. You won't get chosen for that task unless producers are certain you have enough skill to pull it off. That said, it helps that your day job is a a magazine writer -- I'm sure that's the kind of background that gave the producers of "Gone Girl" the confidence to hire Gillian Flynn to adapt her book (she was a former writer for "Entertainment Weekly") and she ultimately ended up with a WGA nomination (though not a deserved Oscar nom).
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Old 03-07-2019, 11:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

I recommend mood stabilizers.
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Old 03-08-2019, 09:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

Kindness is the usual response on these forums. As someone who has done nothing of mention in screenwriting, I appreciate that much. But I have trouble taking many of the new posters at face value. I realize that matters little, as I am not one to give advice.
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

Super answer from DDP.

In the past I've played around with adapting stories into screenplays for fun (haven't we all?). I reckon a 7k short story might give you 25-30 screenplay pages if you reeeaaally drag it out.

I needed at least a novella length story, say 30k words, to be able to squeeze out a full length screenplay without major rewriting/restructuring.

Only the lead character and the premise of one short story made it into the screenplay, 99% was new.

Not saying you can't do it. Just that it might not be so simple with something so short. Good luck!
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Old 03-09-2019, 02:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

You are getting some outstanding true answers here, so I will only add... If you are looking for fast money and/or fairly instant gratification in turning this short story of yours into a film, you've got the wrong business.

Everything, and I mean... Everything.... takes a ton of time and no one gets paid up front. The average time from an option of a script to production (the actual time you get paid), if it gets produced and that's a big if because 95% of optioned scripts/stories don't ever get produced, is a few years... can be as few as 3, the average is 6 to 8. Nothing happens fast. Nothing. So if you were looking for this to solve money problems, I'd rethink that.

I wish you luck in your quest, but you'll need to wait a lot longer than it'll take the New Yorker to decide to run it to get what you're looking for.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: Story Into Screenplay

"You can always reach out on your own to query a few production companies to see if there might be any interest in your story."

How would I find one of these?
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