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    #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcmartell View Post
    There used to be an annual book called Film Writers Guide that listed *unsold* specs by many pro writers, and it was amazing to see some Oscar nominated (or winning) writer who had written scripts *after they had been nominated* that no one bought. So even after that ten to fifteen years it takes you for your overnight success, there are still going to be rough patches and not all screenplays will work.


    Ages ago, I asked Paul Schrader about one of the scripts that had been mentioned in an interview, but never in the trades as a sale. He said they can't all be winners. That opened my mind to the difficulty of this job.


    Bill



    Would Paul Schrader sell *most* of his scripts?

    Or is it a case of even him having to rely on rewrite work?

    A guy of his stature, what's his bread and butter? Apart from residuals adding up nicely.
    Last edited by SarahMilro; 12-09-2013 at 06:58 PM.


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    #12
    Senior Member wcmartell's Avatar
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    For the most part a spec script is just a job application for an assignment of some sort. Most spec scripts do not sell. We are now at 110 sold scripts for the year: https://specscout.com/scogginsreport 0ut of over 40,000 that were followed (and maybe as many as a million that were floating through the system). 7 years ago only 59 sold. Okay, now how many films come out in a given year? 677 last year. A couple hundred from studios. Okay, multiply that by around ten, because for every film that makes it to the screen there are usually nine more screenplays that were developed by the studios or producers that never got made. Most of the writing a screenwriter does is assignments: they are hired by a producer to write something. Might be rewriting another screenplay (my first studio sale to Paramount had a dozen writers work on it after I did my contracted rewrites... one of them had an Oscar... and that film never got made), it might be adapting a board game or magazine article or book the producer owns the rights to (MONOPOLY THE MOTION PICTURE), or scripting a remake or film version of some old TV series (a friend of mine wrote full time for over a decade on dozens of old TV series various studios thought might make good movies... not a single one was made. He got paid). A screenwriter is mostly an employee. You can still write spec scripts on the side, but most of your income will be on some work for hire.

    Bill
    Last edited by wcmartell; 12-12-2013 at 08:47 PM.


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    #13
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcmartell View Post
    For the most part a spec script is just a job application for an assignment of some sort.
    This is really important to not only accept, but to embrace.

    I think many writers jump into screenwriting with an exuberant, pie-in-the-sky naiveté, and believe wholeheartedly that our story ideas will be enough to open doors. Over the years hangin' in the forums, I think we have all seen the guy (it's always a guy) who insists he has just finished the best screenplay ever - all 175 pages of it - and can't get why studios aren't pounding his door down, or A-listers shoving handfuls of gratitude down their throats. And just try and critique this 'best screenplay ever'. Many, whether humble or irrationally overconfident, lose that enthusiasm once they realize it's not going to be so easy to sell a spec, let alone see it produced and distributed. It will, in fact, be a hair shy of impossible.

    If a screenplay or two do open doors for assignment work, then I would most certainly consider that success in the field. And it will be like any other success. There will be exciting projects and there will be drudgery. There will be satisfaction when your work/ideas fit into the overall story, and there will be disappointment when your work/ideas are nixed. There will be accolades and head butting. And it may come to pass that the work will never see the light of the big screen.

    What does seem to be the lifeblood of film is the sheer volume of ideas and screenplays and drafts needed to extrapolate just one film. That 40,000 is needed to find that 100, or that 59 that have a remote possibility of becoming a film. And there is no guarantee it will be a good film once all the dust has settled. And it will likely be that of the 40,000, a few gems were missed. The wrong eyes saw it at the wrong time. Lost opportunity.

    No way to know, really. It's bit like panning for gold, and to find that one nugget, you need to sift a lot of stones and pebbles and dirt. A s*%t load. Do nuggets get missed? Of course. Do many of us believe our work is one of those nuggets? Of course - mine, anyways .

    Use your best specs as your calling card. It may get picked up by a big studio, or by a small indie, or you may even try and make it yourself. Course, producing is just half the battle. Now you actually have to get it distributed, and maybe, just maybe, make back the investment if not a few extra coins for all your efforts. Or, use that produced film as a calling card as well. It works. Even short films open doors. Some big, some ya gotta squeeze through.

    If you were born to write, then embracing assignment work to feed your habit is your best option. If you sell a spec, pat yourself on the back, and keep on taking the assignments.

    a
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 12-22-2013 at 08:06 AM.


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    #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahMilro View Post
    WTF

    You sound like Alec Baldwin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elrnAl6ygeM


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    #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    If a screenplay or two do open doors for assignment work, then I would most certainly consider that success in the field.
    Thing is, I don't know many writers who want to end up just being jobbing writers.


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    #16
    Senior Member wcmartell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahMilro View Post
    Thing is, I don't know many writers who want to end up just being jobbing writers.
    That's screenwriting. You are an employee. If you want to be the boss, write novels.

    Bill


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    #17
    Senior Member Martay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahMilro View Post
    Thing is, I don't know many writers who want to end up just being jobbing writers.
    Then like Bill says, they should consider being something other than screenwriters. Because "jobbing writers" are the only ones getting paid to do it.

    Of my produced credits, only 1 was a spec sale. Also, of my paid work, again, only 1 was a spec sale...and I've got dozens of Spec scripts that I have written over the years.

    Most of my paid assignments never got made. But they paid enough to allow me to produce my own features and get those released.

    Would I love to only write what I wanted to write? Yes.

    Would I have gotten anywhere if that's all I did? NO

    Bill and Alex say it all in their posts.

    -M
    Martin Kelley
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    #18
    Senior Member wcmartell's Avatar
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    You can write whatever you want... but the stuff you make money on is most likely to be assignments.

    Bill


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    #19
    ScriptFEST Mod Chris_Keaton's Avatar
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    Let's face it, to be a 'jobbing writer' you need to live where your boss lives. I've lost many a job because I don't live in LA (or there abouts). For those of us who don't live in LA the spec script is pretty much the only shot we got.

    or

    Assignments from indie guys. These don't realy pay, but hey you get your stuff shot.
    Chris Keaton - Writer | Website | Email | imdb |
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    #20
    Senior Member Martay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Keaton View Post
    Let's face it, to be a 'jobbing writer' you need to live where your boss lives. I've lost many a job because I don't live in LA (or there abouts). For those of us who don't live in LA the spec script is pretty much the only shot we got.

    or

    Assignments from indie guys. These don't realy pay, but hey you get your stuff shot.
    I know what you mean. Same for me in ATL, I'm sure gigs went another way because of my locale.

    But still, I do get assignments from L.A. based producers. No studio gigs yet, but hey, those are hard to get even if you live in L.A.

    -M
    Last edited by Martay; 04-03-2014 at 12:57 PM. Reason: addition
    Martin Kelley
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    Producer, STEP OFF formerly Battle official site On DVD Now from Lionsgate!
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