The State Of The Query 2021

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  • #31

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    • #32
      During a recent show, they finally admitted to that fact in some context. And Craig says I am just giving "general advice" so we all have to take it like that.

      Same way people give me "your rep works for you advice" and maybe it's just me but this have been proven wrong many many many times for me with different reps. The advice should be if you make a lot of money, your manager will work for you and respond to your calls/emails a lot... if you don't, you are mostly bothering them at all times.

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      • #33
        So the consensus is that Mazin and August broke into the industry back when it was easier to break in?

        Does that mean it has more to do with luck and timing than skill?

        Like, was there a time in the past when it was easier to get signed by the NBA? When players didn't need to jump as high or sink as many baskets to get signed? Of course not.

        IIRC both writers first got jobs at studios, Craig in marketing and John as a studio reader. This has always been the top way to break in: work in the industry and make connections.

        An industry job may help you get a toe in the door, but to walk through the door you need to reach a skill level where the industry believes you can make money for them. That's never changed and never will.

        We're talking about two writers who have maintained decades-long careers. To think that it was just luck and timing back in some magical time when everything was easier is simply wrong.

        There's no way around it: top notch talent and skill is a must. Mediocre concepts, mediocre execution will not get you there.


        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Vango View Post
          The main goal is to get your movie made, not to sell your script. Getting your film made will give you a career if it's a great movie.
          I disagree a little - the main goal of a spec is to get you a career. Not a lot of films get made from specs - getting a great movie made from a spec as a strategy for starting a career is a high hurdle. Many careers were launched with specs that didn't get made (and sometimes didn't sell), but it got the writer assignments on other projects.

          I say don't be precious with specs. Once they're ready, get them out there. You never know what read will lead to an opportunity - even a producer who'd never make your movie might want you to rewrite something else, and you're off and running.

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          • #35
            I forgot to say -- I disagree 100% with the goal being to get movies made from unsold writer sitting at home's POV.

            The goal right now is to get people to read your spec. Full stop. The next goal is to make money off the spec in some way -- by selling it or getting work from it.

            The DREAM of course is to get your work produced and made so people can see it. But that's a hard goal to set as you have such little control over that... baby steps is easier...

            Now if you try to make your own INDIE MOVIE than that's a different thing, but I'm talking spec land...

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            • #36
              Originally posted by sc111 View Post
              So the consensus is that Mazin and August broke into the industry back when it was easier to break in?

              Does that mean it has more to do with luck and timing than skill?

              Like, was there a time in the past when it was easier to get signed by the NBA? When players didn't need to jump as high or sink as many baskets to get signed? Of course not.

              IIRC both writers first got jobs at studios, Craig in marketing and John as a studio reader. This has always been the top way to break in: work in the industry and make connections.

              An industry job may help you get a toe in the door, but to walk through the door you need to reach a skill level where the industry believes you can make money for them. That's never changed and never will.

              We're talking about two writers who have maintained decades-long careers. To think that it was just luck and timing back in some magical time when everything was easier is simply wrong.

              There's no way around it: top notch talent and skill is a must. Mediocre concepts, mediocre execution will not get you there.

              Comment


              • #37
                That may be far more accurate than claiming it's harder to break in, now.

                The fact is, in spite of all the odds against us in the current reality of the industry, some writers still get traction with a cold query to a manager. The number of them may be very small but they do get requests for reads. And some of those who get reads proceed to get their foot in the door because the quality of their skill and talent is super high.

                The couple of "real" Black List scripts I read -- across genres -- had one thing in common: the quality of writing was extremely top notch. I mean near flawless. The concept may have not been my cup or tea, or even a genre I prefer, but I can absolutely say these scripts were firing in all pistons. These scripts were pro level.

                This is what we're up against. The good news is -- the quality of our writing is the only thing in our control.

                Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                • #38
                  There are black lists scripts that are by no means that good. Just saying -- many of us have written specs on the same level. I've read them from writers on this board -- good ones that can easily compete with black list specs. So don't sell yourself (or us) short in that regard. Of course many of them are awesome. But not all. Just facts.

                  As for breaking in -- yes there are more people trying now for sure. But also more outlets to break in like managers. So it may be even in the end. So now we have more information than ever before, which is good and bad.

                  I didn't know what a screenplay was or a screenwriter was until I saw CLERKS and PULP FICTION and then I found a book at BN with a screenplay actual in them. First one I recall buying was the CLERKS/CHASING AMY book, but I must have seen others before then as I knew what a screenplay was before then... maybe in 1994 it was just the first time I became very aware movies are written. And a few years later, I got what a screenplay actually was... probably more that... hard to remember now...

                  But growing up, I loved movies. My parents would say "you will be the next Spielberg" type of encouragement... in my mind the director -- the only names I knew -- did the whole thing. Logic made sense to an 8 year old.

                  I think my point is -- besides going down memory lane -- is that how many people even knew what the hell a screenwriter was when Craig and John broke in to the industry? That is was even a job to try and get. Now WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE know it's a thing to try for... I guess the Shane Black's of the world changed the secret with big sales and that killed this secret world for the few people who loved it so much they found their way to Hollywood...

                  The way some people did podcasts 10 years ago and now I think I have a podcast and I don't even have a podcast, but I'm pretty sure somehow I do have one because everyone has one now...

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Bono View Post
                    There are black lists scripts that are by no means that good. Just saying -- many of us have written specs on the same level. I've read them from writers on this board -- good ones that can easily compete with black list specs. So don't sell yourself (or us) short in that regard. Of course many of them are awesome. But not all. Just facts.

                    As for breaking in -- yes there are more people trying now for sure. But also more outlets to break in like managers. So it may be even in the end. So now we have more information than ever before, which is good and bad.

                    I didn't know what a screenplay was or a screenwriter was until I saw CLERKS and PULP FICTION and then I found a book at BN with a screenplay actual in them. First one I recall buying was the CLERKS/CHASING AMY book, but I must have seen others before then as I knew what a screenplay was before then... maybe in 1994 it was just the first time I became very aware movies are written. And a few years later, I got what a screenplay actually was... probably more that... hard to remember now...

                    But growing up, I loved movies. My parents would say "you will be the next Spielberg" type of encouragement... in my mind the director -- the only names I knew -- did the whole thing. Logic made sense to an 8 year old.

                    I think my point is -- besides going down memory lane -- is that how many people even knew what the hell a screenwriter was when Craig and John broke in to the industry? That is was even a job to try and get. Now WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE know it's a thing to try for... I guess the Shane Black's of the world changed the secret with big sales and that killed this secret world for the few people who loved it so much they found their way to Hollywood...

                    The way some people did podcasts 10 years ago and now I think I have a podcast and I don't even have a podcast, but I'm pretty sure somehow I do have one because everyone has one now...
                    For the last few of decades, colleges and universities have offer degrees in writing including a concentration in screenwriting. Didn't yours? I know mine did and I'm 111 years old.
                    Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                    • #40
                      I went to film school. Now people can learn more than I did in 10 min reading done deal pro.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

                        I disagree a little - the main goal of a spec is to get you a career. Not a lot of films get made from specs - getting a great movie made from a spec as a strategy for starting a career is a high hurdle. Many careers were launched with specs that didn't get made (and sometimes didn't sell), but it got the writer assignments on other projects.

                        I say don't be precious with specs. Once they're ready, get them out there. You never know what read will lead to an opportunity - even a producer who'd never make your movie might want you to rewrite something else, and you're off and running.
                        A spec script can be a great sample for you. I agree with this.

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                        • #42
                          About this:

                          Originally posted by Bono View Post

                          There are black lists scripts that are by no means that good. Just saying -- many of us have written specs on the same level. I've read them from writers on this board -- good ones that can easily compete with black list specs. So don't sell yourself (or us) short in that regard. Of course many of them are awesome. But not all. Just facts.
                          Can you direct me to a Back List script that's not as good as I described? I'd love to read it. To clarify -- I'm talking about the original industry Black List where industry people submit their fave scripts. Not the monetized Black List website.

                          Also -- I'm not selling anyone short in terms of skill. I'm saying, you (collective you) need a viable commercial concept to get a read. Something that's not already floating around the industry. And the script you send to fulfill the read request has to be firing on all pistons, execution-wise: plot, structure, character, dialogue plus voice and heart. IMO, newbie scripts tend to lack the latter two. (And by "voice" I don't mean writing clever asides in action lines.)

                          That's a tall order. So, instead of ruminating on reasons other than concept and skill that fail to attract reads, I choose to focus on what I can control: the writing.

                          BTW: I have a couple of back-burnered scripts I'm passionate about that I wouldn't even bother to cold query. I know the concepts don't scream: commercial!
                          Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Bono View Post
                            I forgot to say -- I disagree 100% with the goal being to get movies made from unsold writer sitting at home's POV.

                            The goal right now is to get people to read your spec. Full stop. The next goal is to make money off the spec in some way -- by selling it or getting work from it.

                            The DREAM of course is to get your work produced and made so people can see it. But that's a hard goal to set as you have such little control over that... baby steps is easier...

                            Now if you try to make your own INDIE MOVIE than that's a different thing, but I'm talking spec land...
                            I really think that's the main goal, just my opinion though. Getting a great film made, that movie wins awards, that movie does well at the box office or on netflix or whatever, is superior in my opinion to selling 5 scripts that never get made. Having a great film, which of course is a huge team effort with things out of your control like you say, will ultimately be your calling card. Whether that film is your spec that you're sending, or if it's an assignment (which is going to get made) in where you're going to get screenplay credit, I don't think it matters.

                            There's a life goal that many people share, in whatever field they work -- to build a legacy. Especially for artists, to leave something of importance behind. In my humble opinion, I would not be pursuing screenwriting if the goal was just to make a living.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                              About this:



                              Can you direct me to a Back List script that's not as good as I described? I'd love to read it. To clarify -- I'm talking about the original industry Black List where industry people submit their fave scripts. Not the monetized Black List website.

                              Also -- I'm not selling anyone short in terms of skill. I'm saying, you (collective you) need a viable commercial concept to get a read. Something that's not already floating around the industry. And the script you send to fulfill the read request has to be firing on all pistons, execution-wise: plot, structure, character, dialogue plus voice and heart. IMO, newbie scripts tend to lack the latter two. (And by "voice" I don't mean writing clever asides in action lines.)

                              That's a tall order. So, instead of ruminating on reasons other than concept and skill that fail to attract reads, I choose to focus on what I can control: the writing.

                              BTW: I have a couple of back-burnered scripts I'm passionate about that I wouldn't even bother to cold query. I know the concepts don't scream: commercial!
                              I feel like I'm trying to inspire and you are looking for scientific proof. I could send you black list specs I didn't love, but I also like many of them. I have not read as many as others... but I read specs that sell for the past 10 years and objectively 50% I tell myself -- Bono you have the same talent as this person. I am talking mostly comedy specs BTW. The other half of specs I cry because they are so good and I wish I wrote it. Those are the best. I prefer to talk about those than things I did not care for.

                              My point was simply I would not blanket statement all specs on black list are great. All specs that sold are great. But obviously they are not bad... just not as good as maybe the spec sitting on your hard drive.

                              I would encourage you to submit those specs you are passionate about. What is the worst that happens? Nothing? Nothing was happening with them before... so same result. Give it a shot.

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                              • #45
                                You also really need to fight to get a movie made when you're not a big high level writer. Maybe it's easier for John or Mazin or Jeff. But maybe this goes for everyone regardless. You really have to be aggressive and convince people why this movie needs to be made now when the appropriate meetings are set up. It's not easy, it's a high hurdle like Jeff says. All we can do is put our best forward, give it everything we have, and we can live with the results.

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