You Want to Write for Films and Get the Big Boys’ Attention?
An app may be opening doors to the high-powered film execs who can reveal talent where it would have languished.
I don’t care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you’re also writing your Oscar acceptance speech. — Nora Ephron
Writing a screenplay and you want to get noticed, get a meeting with someone who really matters in this industry? Your prayers may have been answered to some extent, and it’s not how you think.
Anyone who writes, even the most famous writers who went on to incredible fame, has a trunk full of scripts that may never see the light of day. Why? Because the daunting task of trying to get someone, anyone, to read your stuff is a task only comparable to committing suicide with a dull blade.
No one wants to be bothered reading your work and therein lies the problems — all those little people who claim they can get you a meeting but don’t and can’t.
Have you paid them for this entree to the inner sanctum of screenwriting? I’ll bet you have, and you’ve taken a course or two with them either in person or online. Nothing worked even if you followed their “can’t fail” formula.
The Sly Stallone Story
How many revisions did the struggling actor, Slyvester Stallone, write before anyone would give it a peek?
Stallone wrote incessantly every day with little success because he was missing, he later conceded, the main focal point of any film — conflict. Where did he find that breakthrough writing moment? At a Mohammad Ali fight where the underdog overcame his obstacles and succeeded. He relates his story and how it unfolded in a telling video.
Once “Rocky” was discovered, filmed, and won accolades, Sly’s path was clear, and he went on to write sequels that followed the up-and-downs of a fighter’s life — all to the financial success of an actor who turned to screenwriting.
Is he still going to continue with his “Rocky” stories? Listen to what he has to say about that.
Quentin Tarantino’s Story
Tarantino, who had no love of school, got a job in a video rental store where he began obsessively watching film, and that was his film school, watching videos by himself without a professor or a mentor.
During his time at Video Archives, Tarantino worked on several screenplays, including True Romance and Natural Born Killers. He also landed a guest spot on the popular sitcom The Golden Girls, playing an Elvis Presley impersonator. In 1990, Tarantino left Video Archives to work for Cinetel, a production company. Through one of the producers there, he was able to get his script for True Romance in the hands of director Tony Scott. Scott liked Tarantino’s script, and bought the rights to it.
He made his connection through a producer with whom he worked. Simple? No, not always because there are more “producers” in this business than coffee cups on desks. Everyone is a producer in their own mind.
One comment he has made about film is interesting. “I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.”
Oliver Stone Had an “In”
True, Stone did go to NYU (my alma mater, too), but he also had a relative in the film business, Marshall Stone, who made various videos for business. I worked with Marshall for a brief time when he joined a major public relations firm that intended to start making PSA (public service announcements), they never did, and he left.
After serving in the Vietnam War, Stone went to NYU and graduated with a BFA in film. He made a short film based on his time in Vietnam but worked as a taxi driver, production assistant, messenger and salesman before he made screenwriting gold with 1978’s Academy Award-winning Midnight Express.
Now, in 2020 a New Approach
Two of the most successful filmmakers today, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, have an app for that nemesis of getting your script read. It’s called Creative Network, and it helps film executives find talented writers. The app is Impact.
The idea is to become a LinkedIn-meets-Slack for the entertainment industry, said Impact Chief Executive Tyler Mitchell, 43.
Using the app, studio and production company bosses can locate writers, downloadwriting samples and contact them. If a producer wants to find a Black female horror writer they can do so with the app.
Will you be discovered and make it in the world of filmmaking? No guarantees there, but it’s an interesting new niche for aspiring screenwriters. What do you have to lose? Don’t you have a trunkful of scripts that might be worth re-examining?