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BPS 025: Writing Screenplays that Actually Sell with Lucy V. Hay

Today on the show we have Lucy V. Hay from Bang2Write. Lucy is an author and script editor, living in Devon with her husband, three children, and six cats. Lucy is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012)and Assassin (2015) both starring Danny Dyer.

In addition to script reading and writing her own novels, Lucy also blogs about the writing process, screenwriting, genre, careers and motivation and much more at her blog Bang2write, one of the most-hit writing sites in the UK.

Enjoy my conversation with Lucy V. Hay.

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Alex Ferrari 1:27
I like to welcome to the show, Lucy. Hey, thank you so much for jumping on.

Lucy V. Hay 2:34
Well, thanks for having me. So nice to be here.

Alex Ferrari 2:37
I know it's taken us a minute to get to this point.

Lucy V. Hay 2:41
Yes, we had, I think it was six months, I think we align our schedules.

Alex Ferrari 2:47
I know our schedules are a bit hectic, but I'm so glad we finally be able to make it work. I've been wanting to get you on the show to pick your brain a little bit about about the business. But before we jump in, how did you even get started in the the film business? All right.

Lucy V. Hay 3:02
It's a it's a really kind of long and involved story.

Alex Ferrari 3:06
A short version then.

Lucy V. Hay 3:08
Okay, the short version is I did I did a degree in screenwriting for film and television. Back in the day, I was here in the UK during that course in 2000. I graduated 2003 I was a single mother back in those days, and I didn't have any child care. And I really, really wanted to be involved in screenwriting in some way. I wasn't really sure how I just knew that I wanted to be part of the industry and, and I really love the development of stories and, and just really kind of being involved in whichever way I could basically. And during the time that I was on the degree, I had to do some work experience to pass the course. And during that time, I managed to get a some work experience reading screenplays for a literary agent, and various other places as well. schemes and a lottery funding initiative and various things like that. So as it when I came out of university, I thought well, you know, maybe there is room for someone who can actually read people screenplays, and actually consult on screenplays to actually help people get better and have better opportunities and better ways of kind of breaking in because when I was reading in the spec pile for agents and for producers and for various schemes and competitions, one thing I noticed was that there were a lot of first drafts or really obvious mistakes and people weren't really doing peer review so much then it was all before social media. It was all before blogs and things like that. So I thought well, you know, maybe there's a room for somebody like me who could be some sort of a visor. And then I can be involved in, in screenwriting, and with screen writers. And the it was just it took off really quickly. And I thought I would be dealing predominantly with new writers, writers who were wanting to break in. And whilst that was true, I very quickly started getting clients who are much higher up the ladder. And I was reading for people who were working in television is working in movies. And before I knew I was even even had some clients who were, you know, pretty famous. I was like, wow. So I figured I must be doing something. All right. And I think one of the the key elements for that for kind of making the splash that I did was probably the blog. I was one of the first people to kind of get into screenwriting. As a blogger, although there were lots of screenwriting blogs, from screenwriters point of view, there weren't so many about the actual craft of screenwriting. In those days, especially in the UK, there was things like John August's blog, and around the same time go into the story started. And various other website or wordplay, ones like that, but they were all very, very American. And I saw that there was this, this kind of gap in the market, if you like for UK, screenwriting advice, specifically as like a teaching blog. So yeah, I dived in with both feet and, and so like 1015 years later, here we go.

Alex Ferrari 6:36
Awesome. Now, what are some of the biggest mistakes you see in first time filmmaker or first time screenwriters?

Lucy V. Hay 6:44
Oh, God, I think probably the first thing would be that they don't they have an idea or they see a trailer in their head, or they see some like imagery in their head, or maybe just a character or something like that. And they don't really know what the story is, they don't know what it's about. They don't know how plotting works. They're thinking probably really deeply thematically, but they're not necessarily thinking about the actual blow by blows of the plots. And so they get themselves all tied up in knots as to what the story is really about versus what's literally happening. And so they end up writing these crazy, crazy drafts where you can read your whole, like 100 and page 120 Page screenplay and you still have no clue what what's happened. It's just like an explosion. It's like a stream of consciousness all over. And that's probably what everyone does. I think at some point, I know I did that literally everyone, when they start out, whether they're writing a screenplay, or a short story, or a novel or whatever, they can't really get their thoughts in order. They know that there's bits and pieces that they want to want to say. And maybe they've got a really interesting voice or a really interesting idea or an interesting character, but they just can't make it all gel together. So I think that's probably the first kind of most obvious thing that happens. Another thing that happens is people's concepts and loglines, just really half baked, you know, they either don't make sense, or they're really derivative, or they're just boring. And you kind of go what, what the hell is that? I don't know what that is. And that usually happens after they've come to the realization that Oh, actually, I can't just write the stream of consciousness, I've got to try and kind of organize it but then they might over organize it organize it in such a way that it's still not recognizable, or as come out of the left field, or is to say me, too, what's gone before. Other things that are really obvious is dialogue, there's far too much dialogue in the average spec screenplay. Even if it's good, they probably still don't need a third or even half as much as what the got. So they forget that it's a visual medium, you know, they've fallen, a lot of writers fall in love with dialogue. And some of them are really good at dialogue, but they forget the visuals. Alternatively, maybe they go too far the other way. And it's really nice and visual. But again, it's not coherent. You just you don't know what's really happening. And so you actually need more dialogue. But that doesn't happen very often. It's nearly always too much dialogue, I find which I think's really interesting.

Others other things, structure is a big issue. People just don't know how structure works, because they haven't done enough research into what structure means to them. Lots of people say, Oh, well, you only need a beginning, middle and end and not necessarily in that order, which is what bank to write believes as well. But you also do need to know how other people have structured things before you and that doesn't mean you have to use pictograms and worksheets and all that kind of stuff. But it does mean that if you're movie is like Blade Runner is like alien or is like, whatever. You do need to know how those stories were structured and why they were so interesting to you, and why you want to do something in that kind of vein. Because if you don't know how they crafted their stuff, then how are you going to know how to craft your own stuff. So it doesn't really matter how you structure, it doesn't matter if you use save the cat doesn't matter if you use three, three acts, or the mini movie method or the 22 steps, use whatever you like, no one cares. But it needs some sort of structure. And very often things go wrong in structure, like a very classic one would be starting too early. So you end up with a really lumpy kind of first act in particular. Or it starts really well but then it has a massive dick in the middle and, or you end up running on the spot or something like that, or resolutions, you know, the endings can be too rushed, and it's like, oh, it's all over what the hell just happened? That kind of thing. So those are the kind of classic structural issues. And then finally, I would say the kind of the next obvious one would be characterization. People don't know what good characterization is. And what what is good characterization. Well, I mean, how long is a piece of string, but the two things that you need for good characterization is a role function, what they're doing in the story, and then also their motivation, which is why they're doing things you know, why? What do they want in the story? Very often writers will understand motivation, but they won't necessarily understand role function. Role function of things like protagonist and antagonist they usually get those Okay? protagonist, usually, these days antagonist can be a little bit more up in the air but usually most of them can get those two main ones it's usually the secondary characters where things go wrong, the mentors the jobs words, the love interests, you know, all those kinds of secondary supporting kind of characters will go wrong, they'll be boring or they'll or they will have over thought them some somehow I mean, very often people get really angry about love interest so as being female for instance, but rather than actually changing the love interest to a male and making it a gay love story, for example, which might make it a bit more fresh. They will turn it into like I read a lot of rom coms that have no romancing. Like

why is there no romance in his rom com which sounds insane and that's because it is because we need romance in a rom com and if you don't like the fact that certain characters or love interests for instance, for instance, then don't write rom com you know, something else, but people try to reinvent the wheel a lot and things get out of control very quickly. I mean, even an auntie rom com is still got romancin You know, it's just that the you know, an xe rom com is like a sad rom com You know, it's funny, but it's tragic because it don't end up together you know, something like 500 days of summer that was a great Auntie rom com something like Crazy Stupid Love was an auntie rom com, you know, it's all about the relationships where things go wrong, and maybe you won't recover from them. But you learned something and so it's still hopeful and it's still useful in it's not a tragedy tragedy, where everything is ruined. So but they don't know the difference between a rom com with no romance and an auntie rom com and, and I think what I'm really talking to you about now is the fact that writers don't do enough research, they don't do enough research into the craft, and they don't do enough research into their art. You know, if you want to write a rom com, you should be watching as many rom coms as possible. If you want to write a horror, you should be reading, reading and watching as much horror as you can. You should be reading novels in that genre, you should be immersing yourself in your craft, and also in the in the styles that you want to do. It's it's it sounds obvious, and that's because it is but unfortunately, a lot of writers don't really get that they say I haven't got enough time. I haven't got enough time. I haven't got enough time to write. So I want to write every night and it's like, well, you'd actually get your writing done a lot quicker. If you immerse yourself in in the situation. That's what pro writers do. They immerse themselves in a story. And in that story world.

Alex Ferrari 14:33
What so what you're telling me is that my idea of to bring back dinosaurs and have them in a park is probably not going to fly nowadays.

Lucy V. Hay 14:42
Well, I mean, you could give it a try. I think someone might have got there before you. I mean, certainly. I mean, everybody everybody loves dinosaurs. You know, literally every

Alex Ferrari 14:52
I'm joking. I'm joking.

Lucy V. Hay 14:55
If you actually could find some sort of twist on that dinosaur story, then By all means, you know, I mean, we were talking there about genre busting, you know, if you can bring us something that we've seen before, that's pre sold like dinosaurs, like vampires like werewolves like whatever. Zombies, yeah, if you can actually bring us something that we've never seen before, and make somebody like me, a script reader or a script editor go, Oh, God, why haven't I seen this before? Then they're going to pass it up the chain to their boss and say, you know, I've, you'll never guess what I've seen, you know, a new take on the vampire myth. And they'll be like, You're joking. It's like, no, I really have here you go. And that's what gets everybody excited is this notion of genre busting, and bringing something that we've never seen before. I mean, we're talking about the same but different, and most writers do get that after a while, but they probably concentrate too much on the same Enos and not enough on the difference.

Alex Ferrari 15:52
Now what to say is you've read so many scripts, what do script writers look for, in a screenplay, specifically, like these the little the little giveaways and like, Oh, this is this is I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna pass this and, and take it up. Take it up the ladder.

Lucy V. Hay 16:07
Aha, so a script reader, what does this? Yeah. We're looking for something that looks like a script in the first instance, you know, you wouldn't believe some of the

Alex Ferrari 16:20
stuff written in word not so much.

Lucy V. Hay 16:22
Oh, no, thank you, tech. nerd, I think so something that looks like a script, in the first instance, is always a plus. We have this thing now. I mean, everybody knows about the first 10 pages and how it's got to, you know, do what it's, you know, set it set up the story and introduce the characters and, and make us understand what, where it's going in the first 10 pages, even if that's a lie. But in real terms, because there's so many submissions, now, you need to really start on page one with a bang, you really, really need to grab someone massively on page one, now you need a great visual, you know, if you've got dialogue on page one, then it needs to be a really cool line. You know, it can't be something really boring. And the average first page of the screenplay is really dull. It's somebody literally walking into the frame and talking about something. And doing Oh, this is a big introduction scene of some kind. And it's like, that's not interesting. You know, when we want to start with something really intriguing, or shocking, or devastating, or interesting, something that makes me go, I mean, I read screenplays all day for God's sakes. And yet, I hardly ever sit up and go, ooh, on page one, because I'm used to things being, you know, not necessarily grabbing me. But that very first image, that opening image has got to really grab me. I mean, I read one yesterday that I was blown away by it was awesome. It was the first thing, you know, the first thing I did, after reading it was call up my all my friends and say, you'll never guess what I read a brilliant page one. And they'd be like, No way. Because script readers don't read brilliant page ones very often. So that's, that's part of part of it. Another thing that we're looking for is confidence. You won't believe how kind of apologetic a lot of writers write, you know, you've got to really own the page, I suppose. That's what people mean, when they talk about voice, this notion of confidence, and actually opening the page and actually saying, you know, this is my script, you know, we don't want all these vanilla screenplays that are really just really bland, we want something that's going to grab us. Again, we're talking about this notion of being really hooked. So not just imagery, but the way you write it as well, you know, a sense of confidence, a sense of voice. Another thing that we want as well is an intriguing character of some kind, something that we haven't seen before. Because although sometimes storylines can feel a bit like they're, you know, like we've seen them before. I'm so bored of seeing the same characters over and over again, and there'll be the same characters in different genres and different styles you know, people are going to think a bit more outside the box. And I'm pleased to say that we're actually seeing a lot more diversity now. You know, there was a point where it was all male leads they're all white all the time. And of course there are some great films and TV shows with with white male leads. It would be absurd to say that there there aren't there are some really, really good ones. But does it have to be that guy every time every time you know what more can you bring to this character there's a situation by making it a woman by making it a person with a disability by making it somebody who's gay or straight or transgender. And just, you know, just mixing it up a bit. And, and just a great sense of structure. It's so rare to find a well structured screenplay. It's so rare. So every time that happens, and it makes, it makes it so easy to read, and when something's an easy read, you read it fast, and you pass it on fast. If you have to read it, and it takes a long time, your your interest is going to wane, you're going to forget, you're going to put it to one side, you're going to forget to call your boss or your or your collaborator or whatever. Whereas if you read it and go, Wow, amazing. You're going to be picking up the phone, you're going to be writing an email, you're going to be writing a tweet going, oh my god, I just read something amazing, you know, and all that kind of stuff. And that creates buzz, and that makes you far more likely as a writer to get into someone onto someone's radar.

Alex Ferrari 20:46
Very good. That's an excellent answer, by the way. Excellent answer. Now, what are some tips on selling dramas in today's marketplace, which they are just so difficult, but I'd love to hear some ideas of yours?

Lucy V. Hay 21:02
Well, of course, I wrote a whole book on this called Writing and selling drama screenplays. But basically the potted version of rights of saying you know how to sell a drama, because you're absolutely right. Drama is a dirty word in the current marketplace. You know, there's a lot of a lot of producers out there selling their dramas and thrillers, for example, when they're not really thrillers at all, although some of them do a very good job. I mean, I saw one of my case studies, and the book is called hours. And it's by the writer of a rival Eric Kaiser. And it was his directorial debut. And was a fantastic drama. It wasn't about fatherhood, it was about responsibility. It was it was just beautiful. It was really, really good. And it was the last job that's the late Paul Walker from Fast and Furious did

Alex Ferrari 21:58
the movie Yes. Yeah, it

Lucy V. Hay 22:01
was a great it was a great film, I loved it. But they did sell it as a thriller, the distributor, they had him on the on the front cover looking all rugged and stressed was going, you know, like it was and they had him on the back. And he had any carrying a gun and all that kind of stuff. It does look like a thriller. So some some distributors, and some producers as well will sell dramas as thrillers, especially if it's got a very compelling kind of survival elements in it like ours, because it was set in the New Orleans hurricanes. So if you've got some sort of hook like survival situation, then maybe you could do that as a thriller. But that is a bit of a cheat, really. But but it can work. Having said that, you can tell it is really good. I'll sell it as a comedy, as well, because there was a movie about cancer called step mom said starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, beautiful story about an ex wife who has to leave the care of her children, with her with the new wife's husband. She's dying of cancer, the ex wife and she has to leave her young children with Julia Roberts, the new wife and their father, and it's all about the two women getting to know one another. And actually getting over resentment, and, and, and the unfairness of the situation because of course, she doesn't want to die and all this kind of stuff. And it was it was heartbreaking and beautiful, really, really well done. But they sold it as a comedy. And although there were bits that were funny, because it was very much from the tragic element of you know, if you don't laugh, you cry. It wasn't a comedy. It was a drama. But the distributor sold it as a comedy. I remember the trailer and see. Yeah, and I don't think they even mentioned cancer in the trailer.

Alex Ferrari 23:53
They do. Of course, who's gonna watch that movie? It was

Lucy V. Hay 23:57
exactly so but it was a beautiful film I saw on Yeah, sores on television by accident, and I was weeping buckets. It was so good, brilliant performances. So yeah, so thriller or comedy, you know, trying to give it that kind of sense. That can work again with this notion of issues as well things like cancer, things like teenage pregnancy with Juno, you know, you can you can give that as a hook, you know, using issues as a hook to sell them can work. That said, when it comes to drama, generally, you're not going to sell a drama in the classic sense, like you would sell a genre piece not in not in the in the current marketplace. So basically, what happens is you're not selling stuff in terms of in terms of actually, you know, getting a check and going in and you know, saying jaws in space and getting them to do a blank check to you and all that kind of stuff like you know, like everybody wants but basically what you're doing is you're writing The Best Drama that you can think of the best devastating one both best whimsical one, best survivalist one, whatever that is, and your recruiter, and it's kind of like a recruitment drive, you're kind of getting people on board with you, you kind of essentially call yourself the writer producer, if you like or, and you're recruiting everybody onto your journey and making them kind of get on board with you and help you make this film. I mean, I was reading about or forgotten his name. The guy who did he was the producer of Dallas Buyers Club. And we're gonna be talking about Yes, and it's just completely gone out of my head, which is, which is really annoying.

Alex Ferrari 25:46
That's a straight drama, that is a straight drama. Exactly, exactly.

Lucy V. Hay 25:49
But of course, it's about issues. And it's it's a it was a very kind of preside prescient kind of issue because of course, it introduced to the mainstream, the notion of transgender characters. And it was it was something that was quite dark, and also had some some moments of of light and shade, and made a massive cultural impact in the same way that probably something like Philadelphia did with Tom Hanks about 20 years before. And interestingly, around the same time that Philadelphia was made and was getting all its Oscars with Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, Dallas Buyers Club was doing the rounds, it was literally in development for about 20 to 23 years. Originally, apparently, Woody Harrelson was going to play Matthew McConaughey is part which you can see can't use. And it just it just stayed in development hell for a long, long, long, long, long time, because nobody wanted to make that film. And anyway, the producer Kassian yields that his name Catherine your last finance multiple times to to make Dallas Buyers Club. Because basically, it was his pet project. It was his passion project. He really, really wants to make this movie, because he thought it was important. And he was absolutely right. And eventually, when he lost it for the third time, he just got out his Rolodex or his filofax, or however he does it and just call people up begging them for money. And he eventually found someone who said who he said, Look, mate, I gave you your start in filmmaking. So now give me the money to make this film. And the guy said, Oh, no, no, no, no, I don't, I don't think I don't want to make that film about about AIDS and stuff, it's too much of a downer. I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. And he goes, Look, it's really important. We're going to win all the awards, it's going to make a massive cultural impact. I guarantee it, you know, Cassie newels had that much belief. And the guy said, You know what, I'm going to give you the money. But when you go to the Oscar ceremony, you've got to take me with you. The rest is history they want all those Oscars and casinos took took his mate to the Oscars within, you know, and it's, it's like, wow, you know, you've got to have that kind of belief, when you're making a drama, you have to understand that, unless you're willing to get behind it 100% like that, then it's probably not worth writing a drama, you probably want to be doing something else, you know, you probably want to write a horror or something that you can sell a lot easier. Because if you think that writing a drama and selling it just because it's lower budget than average is going to make it easier. It's not, it's still like 30 million times harder to make a drama than a genre piece. So that's always really worth thinking about. Whenever my writers come to me and say, I really want to do a drummer, I say, Well, how are you going to do this? And if they look at me blankly, I go, Oh, dear. Because you don't know the half of it, you know, but it you know, sometimes they'll come to me and say, right, I'm gonna make this amazing drummer because this subject matter is really important to me. And I've got this strategy, I'm going to go I'm going to get the money from from this scheme I'm going to get the money from from these kinds of product placements and various investors and all that kind of stuff. I'm gonna take it to all the various film festivals, I'm going to win loads of awards, I'm going to make sure it gets into the Oscars. I'm going to go all out to go you know, to the nth degree with that, and I and every time somebody comes to me with that, I go fantastic. I will help you because they know what they're talking about.

Alex Ferrari 29:42
Yeah, then dramas are dramas are such a unique genre in film because they're the one that kind of like you can easily tweak it to make it a comedy or you could tweak it to make it a thriller, or at least have those elements in it. For some for selling points of view where You know, sometimes there are those stray dramas like Dallas Buyers Club, you know, I don't even remember if there was any humor, I think there had to been a joke or two in there. But you can't sell that movie, obviously, as a comedy. And the other, the other genre that gets really abused is thriller. Now, what is the definition in your opinion of a thriller? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Lucy V. Hay 30:32
Well, Thriller thrills, so you know, that's that's kind of, you know, everybody knows that because it's in the name. But, you know, what does thrilling actually mean? And and I think there's two kind of key things that are in a thriller, again, something I mean, both thriller and drama are two things I feel really passionately about which I had to because I've written a written a book on each of these terms, in terms of thrillers, in terms of the what I would call a definition of thrillers is a thriller usually has some kind of element of mystery to it, there's usually they usually have to find out some sort of answer to a question of some kind, who was behind it all, if you like. And then it could be a straight mystery as well, you know, the notion of the whodunit as well. But even if it doesn't have a mystery elements, because not every thriller has a mystery element. Because at the end of the day, a thriller just has the thrill, it can just be exciting. That's the point. So I think what is predominantly the point of thrillers is that it's about the chase of some kind, whether they're looking for like a mysterious answer to a question, or whether they're literally chasing someone. It's about the chase, literally or metaphorically.

Alex Ferrari 31:49
Now is there is there cuz in a horror films, a lot of times can either be tweaked to be thrillers as well, because, arguably, you know, I just watched it the other day, and it is thrilled, it definitely thrilled, you know, but it also scared. So, how do you play around with that definition? Or are we really just getting into the weeds?

Lucy V. Hay 32:14
Now, I think there's I think there's a considerable difference between thriller and horror, a lot of people kind of mix them up and say that, you know, that they're the same. And certainly there is some mixing within the genre, you know, thrillers can be horrifying. And horrors can be thrilling, you know? Whereas, but if you've take it right down to the foundation levels, a thriller is for the chase, and a horror report the scares, you know, horror is supposed to scare you. And so, you know, sometimes you find being scared, thrilling, and that's great. But is there a sense of mystery there? Is there a sense of Chase, they're probably not necessary. I mean, something like it, for example, is a classic horror, because yes, there are thrilling elements in it. I loved it, when he jumped out of the fridge and out of the room, and all that kind of stuff. I loved all of that, because it is thrilling to me because I enjoy being scared. But ultimately, it And arguably, most of Stephen King's work, in general is about vanquishing the beast, there is this bad thing, and you have got to stop it. That's the point of horror. And so it's about being scared. And it's about vanquishing the beast and who, who could be more both Beasley than Pennywise.

Alex Ferrari 33:31
He's horrible. Oh my God. What a beautiful. What a beautiful rendition of that novel. It did. They did such a beautiful job, and always good. I can't wait for the sequel. I can't wait for chapter two.

Lucy V. Hay 33:44
Yeah, no, I can't. I mean, I, I've enjoyed the first TV series version of it. Very awesome. But a lot of the plotting was quite wack. Really. It was just it was it was just a bit lumpy and strange. And it really kind of it was very 90s. And a lot of really weird stuff going on. It was it

Alex Ferrari 34:07
was also to the movie. So it wasn't, it wasn't an actual, you know, full blown feature films might have not taken as much time that, you know, the caliber of the writers might have been different. It could have been a whole whole sorts of reasonings. But yes, I did not see the Tim Curry version. Or if I did, I don't remember it, as well. I do remember him. But this, right, but this version, but this version, he was just eerie and scary. It was just it was beautifully done. Beautiful. And I love that that was in the 80s. That yes, because now we tap into that wonderful, the wonderful thing that's just running rampid right now over Hollywood and over movies in general is nostalgia. Can you talk a little bit about nostalgia and what is it right now because we've had nostalgia for a while. I mean, you can you can go back to examples like American Graffiti. That wasn't For the 50s, and it's always a couple of decades back, I noticed it's like two or three decades away. And then we can go back and be nostalgic about it. But the 80s has something very special about it, there is something unique about that, that that 80s And now 90s, to both, which

Lucy V. Hay 35:20
I think it's unique. I think it's just the fact that we're old now. People, people who are 35 Plus are looking back on times of the 80s in the 90s, with such fondness because everything seems simpler, then, you know, there was no social media, there was no people in your face with, you know, you could go away for the weekend. Nobody could hassle you, you know, now you've got bloody mobiles all the time.

Alex Ferrari 35:44
We weren't at war, the economy was good for the most part.

Lucy V. Hay 35:47
Not necessarily. I mean, there was a lot of stuff going on. And certainly in the UK in the 80s. There's the miners strikes, there was a massive recession, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:57
before, before us in the US. I mean, yeah, we had the Cold War, but the Cold War in the 1980s, late 80s and 90s, were pretty much an economic boom for us. Yeah, you know, there was there were, you know, and we weren't at a war until the 90s with the Desert Storm, but it wasn't like an ongoing war constantly. And it's just a much more complex time now, without question.

Lucy V. Hay 36:21
I'm not sure it is actually, I think I think there's always been crazier, you know, crazy things going on in the world. I think we just hear about them more now. kinds of stuff going on in the 90s that we never heard about at the time, you know, the Taliban taking, you know, the stronghold and stopping all the women going to work and you know, the the Chechnya and rebels and the destruction of the USSR and Yugoslavia was gone. And

Alex Ferrari 36:49
I think we were ignorant back then. And that just we didn't get the information as much. It's just now we're overloaded with it.

Lucy V. Hay 36:56
Yeah, I think so. I mean, you know, the the genocides that are happening in places like Rwanda, for example. It just every bit as bad as the things that ISIS are doing, and Yeah, apparently, this is this is these are the worst times that we've ever lived in. Actually, I think we've always lived in terrible times. And I think we've always lived in wonderful times. I think it depends where you are. And and I think we're looking back with nostalgia for the 80s and 90s. Because we're looking through rose tinted spectacles. Now, I loved my, you know, being a child or being a teenager, and all those kinds of things. But I'm not, I'm not denying the fact that I had problems and the world had problems at the time. And I think I think that's something that a lot of people forget. And the Victorians believe that nostalgia was actually a disease, you would actually become sick, you would actually become sick for the past. And I think that's what a lot of us do now. And of course, it's easier than ever to be sick for the past, because of course, you can look on the internet and see all these great things that you used to have or used to believe you had. And, and now you think that now the present is is rubbish. And I think that's a real shame in lots of ways. Because you know, you've only got now there is no, now

Alex Ferrari 38:05
there is no you don't have tomorrow, you don't have the past, it's all Now,

Lucy V. Hay 38:10
none of us know how much time we have. And unfortunately, a lot of us wasted by worrying about things that have already gone, worrying about things that might not happen, and saying that everything about now is terrible. And, you know, everybody worries, everybody gets annoyed about stuff, you know, they got a crap boss or their teams, let them down or anything like that. But at the end of the day, you have to kind of try and keep gratitude in your heart for the fact that you're not dead.

Alex Ferrari 38:45
Very, that's a very good point. At the end of the day, like you know, what you should be grateful to you're not dead, I mean, you're here might as well enjoy it while you're here and enjoy the present moment. And that's the only thing you really have control over. And I think that's a great way to write a character. You know, because also characters a lot of times have the same neurosis that we have as human beings

Lucy V. Hay 39:11
which was going to ask you like ology, I've had I've suffered from depression before? So it can be done.

Alex Ferrari 39:20
Without question can be

Lucy V. Hay 39:22
Yeah, it's it's something you know, a lot of people get really annoyed and say, oh, you know, when you say that, you you're you're sticking the boot into people who have mental health issues. And it's like, no, I've got every sympathy for people with mental health issues. You know, life is hard. And sometimes, you know, the chemicals in your brain really screw with you. I know that just as much as anyone. But you know, we have to reframe things, the bad things, and we have to kind of hope for the best because what else is there? There is literally nothing else.

Alex Ferrari 39:53
Pretty much pretty much. Now, you also wrote another book about writing diverse characters. Can you give any Vyas in a small tips on how to write a diverse character and what is your definition of a diverse character?

Lucy V. Hay 40:06
Well, I mean, diverse character, you know, the notion of the word diversity, it just means variety. You know, for a lot of people, as soon as you say diversity, they think that you mean race, or they think that you mean, LGBT or female leads as well, we'll come under that because of course, female leads are so much less prevalent than the male leads. So those are the three that people immediately think of. And then I would also say, well, disabled characters are as well. And it's actually shocking how little diversity there is, in showing the disabled experience on screen. It's really, really surprising if you actually break it down how many disabled characters you see. Nearly always wheelchair users nearly always male, nearly always white, they nearly always want to kill themselves. It's, it's pretty sad.

Alex Ferrari 41:05
It's actually pretty sad. It is really sad. I mean, the my left foots of the world are rare. Yeah,

Lucy V. Hay 41:11
yeah. I mean, it's, it's, it's unfortunate, because, you know, one in five people in the UK and the US have a disability of some kind. And there's many, many in what they call invisible disabilities as well that people can't necessarily understand. Because they physically can't see them. But they creates, you know, massive challenges in people's lives. We also tend to see disabled people only in drama, because drama is about struggle. And we initially we you know, able bodied people immediately think oh, well, if you're disabled, then your life is bad, which of course is nonsense is absolute builds. And so it's really great to see more and more disabled characters in genre pieces. So, for example, Furiosa would be the obvious choice, that was great. She was so good. And she you know, she didn't just have a disability, she had essentially an upgrade, because Because had she not had the robot arm, then Max would have fallen from the rig and gone on to the wheels of the of the truck. And of course, she saves him. And she would never been able to grab him like that with her normal arm, she could only grab him with her robot arm. And we've seen robot arms a lot in Hollywood, which I always find really intriguing. You know, Bucky from Marvel has got a robot arm now got a vibranium arm over Canada gave to him. There's detective Spooner, played by Will Smith in the iRobot. In 2005, he had a robot arm as well. And we've seen other robot arms in general. And of course, the Mad Max universe has always placed disability at its heart, right in the very first movie across the franchise. And so I would like to see more characters, you know, in disabled story worlds, where people, you know, have issues to do with their disability, but maybe, but not necessarily the whole their whole story. I would love to see that. I would love to see more working class characters, especially from UK writers, you know, we have we have a bit of a hang up on lords and ladies and all that kind of stuff over here.

Alex Ferrari 43:22
Is there is there I heard there's a wedding going on.

Lucy V. Hay 43:27
I've no idea. Seriously. I was on a train on last week. And one of the things came over the tannoy saying, Oh, that there's going to be major disruption on the line next week next weekend. And I thought What the hell's happening next weekend? And I had to Google to find out it was the royal wedding. I was like that's how disinterested the average person is in the in the royal wedding.

Alex Ferrari 43:48
I know. They're obsessed about it here. I mean up cess it's yeah, my

Lucy V. Hay 43:53
sister lives in Australia and they're obsessed with it over there as well. And you know all my Australian friends and American friends keep saying Oh, you're ready for the for the royal wedding is like how can I be ready for the royal wedding? I'm not going everybody you know people assume that everybody in Britain is going to this wedding.

Alex Ferrari 44:11
I guess it's the because we don't have you know, kings and queens here. So I guess I guess that's the thing I guess like I don't know. I don't know why why Americans are so enthralled with it for so much. I'm not I just every time I turn the television on. I see these guys. I'm like, I know way too much my way. I know way too much about the wedding already. And I'm not even following it.

Lucy V. Hay 44:34
Yeah, I've managed I've managed to mute and unfollow pretty much everyone who likes the wedding now. So I've managed to be in blissful ignorance. So that's great.

Alex Ferrari 44:46
Now so again, one one last question want to ask you? How do you construct a proper pitch because I know that's such a difficult thing for for writers and for filmmakers in general to pitch their ideas in your in your opinion. How do you think proper pitch?

Lucy V. Hay 45:02
Well, I would say the first thing you need is to think about your logline and how you actually communicate your story and the logline. I often talk on bank to write about what I call the three C's of a good logline. So we're talking about clarity, which is obvious, it's got to be clear, but you won't believe how many log lines just aren't clear. And so you don't really know what's happening. And it's a really good thing to do is to check for clarity always and post them in places like well, the bank to rights Facebook group will have a, you know, you can write it on the wall and all the banker writers will chime in and give their feedback on the on the log lines. And that really works especially on clarity issues. Because then you've got like, very often 10 or even 15 people will chime in with their feedback. And if they're not getting it, then you know that you got a problem. There's another great website called log line it. So it's log line.it. And you can actually put your log lines up there and ask for feedback. Another one that you can do is Reddit has a great group called just called screenwriting and you can put your logline up there you do have to be fairly strong stomachs to Oh,

Alex Ferrari 46:17
yes. Anytime you go on to read it, you have to have a strong stomach.

Lucy V. Hay 46:22
Yeah, you do. So if you get upset easily to don't go on Reddit is my is my brutal advice.

Alex Ferrari 46:30
Brutal, like they're the worst?

Lucy V. Hay 46:32
Oh, absolutely. Brutal. I mean, there was this guy on Reddit the other week. I mean, he was going on and on and on at me, I had to mute him. In the end he was going on about how I didn't have done the thing in my career and how I was really sad, blah, blah, blah. I was like, Whoa, you're unleashing so much vitriol on me. I mean, for God's sake. But you know, whatever. Exam it's very sad place, no doubt. But yeah, so Reddit can be brutal. But in the banter writers Facebook group, we're always very, you know, the whole point of it is moral support. And, and peer review. So you know, by all means, put your loglines there so clarity will be the first see of the three C's character is another one. So, you know, who was in this? What do you know? What's, what is their motivation? What is what is the point of them being in, in this thing. And very often, we have the same kind of characters, even in loglines. One thing I've noticed over the years is what I call the negative adjective female. And there's always, you know, the guilt stricken young woman or the bereaved mother or something really negative, and then she has to overcome something, you know, even in a genre piece, and it's like, Oh, my God, why can't we just have a kick ass females? Five ones? Why do they all have to be guilt ridden? Why do they all have to be traumatized? Oh, my God, you know, so. So, again, flag up some really interesting things. And then the last one would be conflicts, you know, what is the situation this character finds themselves in? So we're talking, clarity, character, conflict, that's the three C's and the keys of a good logline. From there, I would say in terms of pitching especially if you're pitching in real life like a pitch fest, or or on you know, one of those, you know, Skype meetings that you can book with, with various producers and stuff. Now, the first thing I would say is, introduce yourself, you know who you are, whether you have any credits, and actually say what you're going to be pitching whether going to be pitching a feature or a short film or

Alex Ferrari 48:48
TV. Just don't just just don't just jump into it.

Lucy V. Hay 48:52
No, no, don't know don't just read out your your logline. So I've had a lot of very bad pitches over the years where they basically just kind of sit down and go and just bark a logline at you. And you're like, Whoa, what's going on? We're

Alex Ferrari 49:04
human beings remember that? Exactly. You

Lucy V. Hay 49:06
know, and it's really, really good. If you can make some sort of connection, all the best pitches I've ever heard someone sat down and said something like, Oh, hi. Oh, you know, I've read your blog. I really liked your article about blah. You know, I know you like female leads, I know you like thrillers. So I'm going to be pitching a thriller feature for you today. And I'm immediately thinking, Oh, this person's done their homework, they know what they're talking about. They know me they know of me. And it just gives you a good kind of connection at the beginning of the pitch. You don't have to say you like things if you don't. But if you have happened to have watched something that someone's made or read their articles or or something, you know, you have some sort of like prior knowledge or you've met them before maybe you know, I've had had a good pitch only the other week when a lady came in and said Oh, hi we met women in film and TV. which is a union for women who work in film and television here in the UK. So we met there before. And we had a little chat quickly about that person. Then she told me a logline. And you know, we had that kind of sense of connection and rapport. And of course, I remembered her afterwards. And that's always helped. So yeah, introduce yourself, say what you're pitching, say your logline, try and deliver it conversationally, if you can, don't just read it out, and then be available for questions about it. And before you go to the pitch, try and think of the questions that they might ask. I mean, that doesn't mean that you're necessarily going to cover all of them. But to actually have an idea of what they might say will give you confidence and confidence is what always powers a good pitch.

Alex Ferrari 50:45
Very cool. Now, can you tell me a little bit about bank to write in the good work you're doing over there?

Lucy V. Hay 50:51
Banks, right is a well, it started off as a screen writing blog only. And then over the years, it started to kind of change. And I started to talk about characterization. Generally, I started moving more into script editing, as well as script reading. So I started to I got commissioned to write those two books on writing, which in turn, got me more jobs on working on dramas and thrillers in particular. So I started to kind of really talk about genre really talk about drama, especially because I found myself talking about thriller and horror a lot. So I talk a lot on the blog about drama, a lot about thriller a lot about horror, started talking more and more about diverse characters as well, which that led into the into the third book. But also, one thing that I noticed over the years was that people, you know, writers really wanted to connect with me. And so I created the Facebook group, which is really lively, and really connected and really encouraged now. And so I've kind of bringing that back and forth between the main sites, and the social media kind of pages, and also the main bank right groups. So whatever they're talking about in the group, I will make sure that I write about on the main site, because I know that it will, you know, power the site and power the chat in the thing and increase the sense of community and just make it more cohesive. And one thing that I noticed that the bank writers really liked was things like quotes and success quotes and inspirational quotes. So I put a lot of quotes on the on the blog, and what we can learn from them as writers, I did one recently about Rocky and how he used the Patriot to say to writers, because I really think that I think it's great, because he's so motivational, and he's so spiritual. And so you've got to go out there and do it, which is something that I truly believe as well. And also in terms of other things they like, they like productivity articles, so you know how to get writing done. You know, there's a lot of writers out there who have, you know, very diminished windows in which to write I know, I do, I mean, I'm a professional writer, as well, I write novels, and blog copy. And, you know, I'm just writing stuff all the time constantly. But I still have less time than I want to write my own speculative work as well, you know, I've got, I've just been planning a project recently that, you know, I haven't even shown to my agent yet. It's just a story that I have, I feel a burning desire to, to tell. But I know that I've got a million other things to do first, so I'm going to have to do it on you know, keep it on the back burner and keep writing, you know, 1000 words here. 1000 words, they're just like the banker writers who may still have day jobs in completely unrelated things. So I write a lot about productivity, I write a lot about self belief and motivation as well, especially when the bank writers have have been through, you know, really bad rejections. Because one of the great things about banker writers on Facebook is that when somebody is rejected, they might post in their resume or be rejected. Everyone's like, ah, chin up, it'll be alright, you know, keep going, all that kind of stuff. Because only other writers really know what it's like to be rejected. You know, I can say, I mean, I got rejected, yes. And my husband came home, and I told him, I've been rejected. And he was like, Oh, no. And he went out and got me a bottle of wine, which is very nice of him. But I know, he doesn't, he's not a writer, he doesn't know what it's really like to be rejected. So the first thing I did was get on the phone to some of my writer friends, and so be rejected immediately, like, ah, Nightmare, you know, and I'll do the same for them as well. We do the same in the Facebook group as well. And so yeah, we talk about and that, you know, loads of different things to talk about novel writing more and more as well. Because of course, I'm getting really into that I love writing my novels. And it's just because it's nice to have a change as well, because I spend so long right reading screenplays, and, you know, writers stuff. It's sometimes nice just to write in a completely different medium. Although I actually think of screenplays and novels as being the same. I certainly outline them in the same way you know, with reacts and character motivations and role functions and all that kind of stuff. I do them exactly the same way. It's just novels are three times longer, and a bit more psychological as well.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
You also write nonfiction books as well. Yeah,

Lucy V. Hay 55:15
yeah. So yeah, I will write it. Yeah, I've even write those really with three acts, to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 55:24
What are the three books that you that I know off the top of my head is the one the writing drama, running? That's

Lucy V. Hay 55:30
right writing and selling drama screenplays, writing and selling thriller screenplays. And then it's writing diverse characters for fiction TV and film. So that third one actually incorporates novels as well, because of course, we're talking predominantly about characters. And of course, character, right? Whether you've got a character in a screenplay or a character in a novel is, you know, the same thing. They're just maybe presented differently. But other than that, they have the same kind of genetic makeup, very makeup.

Alex Ferrari 56:01
Now I'm going to ask you, some council a few questions. I asked all of my guests, it's going to be kind of like speed round. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Lucy V. Hay 56:13
I would say get a website and do online networking as much as possible. Learn about what it is to do good online networking via social media and via your blog, and actually how to bring people to you. So in other words, create a platform. I think that's really really important. Looking back, I did that kind of instinctively. And and it's really led me it held me in good stead.

Alex Ferrari 56:39
Very cool. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Lucy V. Hay 56:46
Oh, blimey, there's been so many. I mean, I read it, I read about 100 books a year. So it's difficult to say really? Is it fiction or nonfiction button?

Alex Ferrari 56:55
Either one, and just something that comes to your head?

Lucy V. Hay 56:59
I think for me, weirdly, the one that kind of really sticks out for me when I probably and I'd probably recommend the most to people would probably be we've world by Clive Barker, because it made such a massive impression on me as like a 13 year old school girl. I mean, it was it was filthy in so many ways. And but it wasn't Yeah, exactly. highly imaginative. And so visual, it was so massively visual I went on to read all his other ones like image occur and, and the midnight meet train and all his comic books and all this freaky weird stuff, Cabal and, and all that kind of stuff. And it and it made a massive, massive impression on me, even though I don't write fantasy, just the visuals of it. They never left me and I can even when I think of those words, I can see them in my head. So yeah, I wanted I wanted to be like him. And, and really, you know, hopefully one day I will be as good as him.

Alex Ferrari 57:59
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Lucy V. Hay 58:04
um, don't take things personally, I think especially when

Alex Ferrari 58:08
you're on Reddit.

Lucy V. Hay 58:12
I mean, sometimes people kind of get under my skin, but nine times out of 10 Now they just bounce off me, it just doesn't bother me, especially online. And certainly, because I've started to notice that when you have a massive online platform, you start to notice the the trolls and the and the negative people say exactly the same things exactly the same way. And so the more you're exposed to it, the more you become immune to it, it's kind of like a mad online kind of vaccination if you like. So it's quite rare that things really bother me online. Unfortunately, in real life, when things happen, I they really still can get me down even Now, having said that, I recover a lot quicker than I used to. It used to be that you know, something happened with my family, or something happened in my marriage or something like that. It would take me You know, I wasn't resilient. It took me ages to kind of recover from it emotionally. But now, because I've been doing lots of work on myself about that. I think I think I'm much better than I used to be definitely so yeah, don't take things too personally specially not in the industry. Because people say things for

when they just work on the basis that they don't mean it and and if they do mean it, just tell them to go you know, F themselves.

Alex Ferrari 59:35
Okay, and three of your favorite films of all time.

Lucy V. Hay 59:40
First one has to be alien left a huge, huge elbow mark. I watched it when I was about 11 That will do it. That'll do it. Yeah. And and I was really shocked and and it just totally overwhelmed me and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. And then I rewrote alien in my in my Various notebooks for about five years afterwards, just right in the same thing about a girl going into space and getting attacked by monsters. And some of them were Alright, so I've got a couple of mine notebooks and thinking, well, maybe I should do something with some of those someday. So yeah, if you ever see if you ever see a space story from me about a girl being attacked by monsters, you know why? Another one that really kind of made a massive impact on me would be Blue Valentine, the drama starring Ryan, great. Another Cassie Newell's one actually, that he produced. And it was so good. It was so true about you know, the nature of divorce and love and that, you know, the the relationship between men and women. It was it was, it was so brutal. And so true and so beautiful, and tragic. And just awful. And oh, God, it was just it was so good. I really, really loved it. So yeah, Blue Valentine would be another one. And I think the other one would be Toy Story. Because I had, I was about 14 when that movie came out. And I remember, you know, I'd never really seen 3d 3d Animation before that. I mean, I know it was around but I don't remember ever seeing it. Certainly never seen a movie with it. And I remember going to the cinema and and I remember being dragged to see it because I was gonna go to see kids movie, I'm a grown up. And, and I was like, wow, I could not believe I could not believe my eyes. I mean, actually, when you look at the first Toy Story, now it looks quite dated in glory three. But at that time, that was the best they could do. And it was I was amazed by it. And I was also amazed by the fact that it was a family movie rather than just the kids. And I just loved all the you know, like, Hey, I'm Picasso and his sight paid based on sideways, you know, the potato. And I was just I remember get I remember getting it and laughing. And I was the only one that laughed in the cinema. But it was because it was because I live in Devon in the UK, which is tiny. And there was only about 20 people in the cinnabar. But I remember thinking Why don't the grownups get it? And that's when I started to think, oh, you know, there's such a thing as a literary illusion. And there's such a thing as subtext. And there's such a thing as, as these things that are put in, you know, these in jokes for grownups and for cultured people in things that are comedy and stuff. I started to notice different different things and how you could be 14 and get a cultural reference like that. But a grown up sitting next to me didn't get it. I was like, Oh, that's interesting, different responses to different to different things. Not everybody's the same. And so, you know, all of these movies really kind of, you know, set off things in my in my head as it were, I mean, because of Blue Valentine. That's when I wanted to write the drama screenplays book, so when my publisher said to me, you know, do you want to write another writing book the first thing I thought of was Blue Valentine but I want to write something about that somehow I want to I want to kind of do you know, look into what drama is and what the minutiae of of that thing is because drama can be anything can literally be anything so how do you get down you know, at least with thriller, you know that thriller thrills and it's got to be thrilling in some way and it's got to be about Chase It's got to be about the mystery or in it so that Chase is figurative or or literal. But you know what is drama? What is it and what is it that makes me interested in it when something is so devastating as say Blue Valentine versus something like Little Miss Sunshine which is not devastating at all, but it still has pathos in it so what what is the difference? And so yeah, that that set that off and made me think yeah, what is what is this thing about emotional truth and drama?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:51
Now working people find you in your work

Lucy V. Hay 1:03:55
well, you can find me all over the all over the internet. I'm like germs I get everywhere. So if you Google my name Lucy V hay ha why you'll find me if you Google Lucy hay or find the Countess of Carlisle in Scotland. I can't win against her unfortunately, cuz she's a historical figure from the 16th century. If you Google Lucy V Hey, or find me if you Google bang to write you'll find me BA and g number two w r i t e, that's one word. And I'm going to write.com I'm Lucy V Hey author.com as well and I'm basically on all of the platforms I've already I'm on Facebook, I'm on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, you know, you tripping you're tripping over me I'm I'm literally everywhere.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:43
Well, I'll make sure to put those links and also links to your books in the show notes. Lucia it's been wonderful talking to you for this last hour. Thank you so much for dropping some nice knowledge bombs on on the tribe. Thank you so much.

Lucy V. Hay 1:04:56
Oh, you're welcome.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:58
Thank you, Lucy for dropping Some knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you want to get more information about Lucy and her work at Bank to write, just head over to the show notes at Indie film hustle.com, forward slash BPS zero to five, where I'll put links to everything we spoke about in this episode. And, guys, if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com And leave a good review on iTunes. It is so so helpful to the show. And it helps the rankings of the show and I really want to get all this information out to as many screenwriters and filmmakers as humanly possible. So that's screenwriting podcast.com. And that does it for another episode of The Bulletproof screenplay podcast. Thank you so much for your support. I hope this episode was of service to you on your journey as a writer, as a creator and as an artist. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the bulletproof screenplay podcast at bulletproof screenplay calm that's b u ll e t e r o f s CR e n PLA y.com


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BPS 024: Screenwriting Confidential – Inside the Dark World of the Script Reader with Deepthroat

Have you ever really wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at Hollywood’s major production companies and studios? How do new screenplays get read, approved and pass on by the script reader? What are the politics behind the scenes that make it almost impossible for a screenplay to make it through the Hollywood System?

Today on the show we have a former development executive, current script coverage reader and professional screenwriter. In order for him to be completely honest, he asked to remain anonymous so I just refer to him as Deepthroat. Yes, I know that’s a bit on the nose but we both thought the Cloak and Dagger angle would be funny.  He is a screenwriter that has worked in both television and features, a sought-after script doctor (he’s worked on some MAJOR studio films), and is a script coverage specialist.

Deepthroat spills the beans on the inner workings of some of the biggest studios in Hollywood. He discusses how an idea he presented his boss years ago was once stolen from him within the system and was turned into a successful property and shares tips on how to impress those studio readers that are the gatekeepers to getting your screenplay sold and produced.

He is one of the amazing script coverage specialists I have working with at Bulletproof Script Coverage. Deepthroat agreed to do this interview in order to help screenwriters trying to break into the business. He’s tired of seeing so many talented writers get eaten up by the system.

The information in this interview is raw, real and will give you a much clearer idea of what happens behind the scenes in Hollywood. If you enjoy this episode, please share it with as many screenwriters and filmmakers as you can. We need to get this information out there.

Enjoy my revealing conversation with DEEPTHROAT.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:01
I'd like to welcome you to a very special episode of The Bulletproof screenplay podcast today because today we have an unknown script write a script reader by the name of Deep Throat, I wanted to bring in Deep Throat to give him complete an unlimited, to say whatever he is that I say that we're talking about, something like that, something like that. So English, my second language. So I wanted to have someone to come on and be free to talk about everything that goes on behind the scenes in regards to script coverage, script, reading, working with the studios development, all that kind of stuff. And deep throat is definitely that guy. So welcome to the show Deepthroat.

Deepthroat 4:10
Thank you. It's awesome to be here. The freedom that I have right now is dangerous and exciting. I love it. Yes, it is. I I am very excited to give you all the dirt on anything that you'd like.

Alex Ferrari 4:25
Oh, thank you, sir. I appreciate that. So are first of all, how did you and again all these questions yet we'll have to watch ourselves. But how did you get started in the business? As much as you can say so people can find out a little bit about your background.

Deepthroat 4:39
Okay, cool. So I back in the day, once upon a time,

Alex Ferrari 4:45
the 90s

Deepthroat 4:47
Right. I went to college for creative writing loved it. While I was there. I wrote a script that ended up winning. Actually, I wrote two scripts that place first and second and a writing competition I ended up selling those two scripts to a no name, producer, husband, wife, couple in Florida didn't have a manager didn't have an agent didn't understand what weta minimum basics were at all. So they basically wrote me a check and say goodbye and said, thank you very much. Instead of going to law school, I packed my car full of my crap, but my dog in the front seat and drove to Los Angeles, where I used that money to get an apartment and eat for like four months, because it wasn't a whole lot of money. And LA is expensive. And I managed then to intern at as many places as I could using my free time. talent agencies, production companies, you name it, that was before they you had to like claim school credits, like people were looking for free work wherever they could take it. So I got my foot in the door at a lot of these places, mostly mom and pop shops, but also like big agencies as well. So I was on the front lines of like, and they all knew that I was creative writing now. Like, I'd read a script, and I give them feedback on it, whether it was for an actor or for a producer or for Director, whatever, whatever. I was able to give them notes. And they were like, this kid actually knows what he's talking about. So let's give him more work. And eventually, that led to me going into development. And eventually that led to me producing, getting my own work out there in some capacity. And then, you know, reading for production companies and studios, giving them notes on their scripts, doing rewrites, etc. So that's kind of where we're at now. And I also got involved with a couple covered services. Can I say those names?

Alex Ferrari 6:38
I would say no, let's hold those off. Let's keep the names off. But you are working with other coverage you working with? You worked with covered services.

Deepthroat 6:44
Yes. And the goal there is to discover talent, you know what I mean? Like I have some pretty solid relationships in town now. And when I see these writers coming in, who don't who you know, living, for example, from Anchorage, Alaska, and they've got no idea what the film business is like, but they've got some writing talent, we hone that a little bit. You know, I've got one client I've worked with for a year and a half. And she's, you know, last year, she was a semifinalist in the Nichols competition, you know, what I made, and she didn't have any writing experience, her first draft looked like a transcript of a, of a show, you know, what I mean? Our training, you know, how you can download those training. Like, that's what she was going off of, and that's what she thought it was supposed to look like. And then, you know, a year and a half later, she's now you know, in the process of being wrapped, and she's, she's talking to producers about her script. And it's, it's wonderful to see. So and you also work the

Alex Ferrari 7:39
development of it? Yes, yes, I did. What's that process? Like?

Deepthroat 7:45
So I worked in? So that's a great question. So I worked at several different levels, right? Intern, Assistant, Development Coordinator, etc. And I actually, at one point, started my own production company with a couple buddies, and we were I was active CEO of that company, so and we acquired a couple scripts, and it was good. And then we all had creative differences, as as you know, can be expected in

Alex Ferrari 8:09
no way. It's very difficult to hear that everyone works. So well together here in Hollywood.

Deepthroat 8:14
Everybody does. Everybody wants to be so friendly. And just we just want to get stuff made, you know, nothing to do with ego, nothing. Yeah, and, and money has nothing to do with anything.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
Exactly. So,

Deepthroat 8:25
yeah, so the so the process was when I was an intern, it was like, here's some scripts from writers that we already represent, or movies that we've already purchased, like, here's, let me give you, why don't you write up some coverage on me in this latest draft? And we'll see where that goes. So that would be basically what it was, right? So I'd write coverages for scripts that they had already acquired, that they were currently developing, meaning like, they were taking it, they they wanted to make this movie, they had either a pitch that went well, or they had an internal idea that they then went and hired a writer for and this writer is now writing the script, and it's like, their various stages, you know, you get x amount of drafts, and then the ideal thing is you make the movie, right. Alright, so. So from an intern standpoint, it was like, Okay, I don't know what the purpose of this is. But sure, I'll read it. I'll give me notes. And then eventually, I found out the purpose was like, they were testing me, right, like, do your notes match up with my notes? Do we think alike? You know, do you have an understanding of what structure and character development and pacing and dialogue? Do you understand the concepts of what actual screenwriting is and what actual development work entails? And finally, when I had written enough coverages, they hired me as a development assistant, in which case, I was paired with a specific producer who found my notes especially useful and then that went from here's a project that we've already acquired two projects that we potentially could acquire, or here's a book that we're thinking of, but that's going to be released in two months. Like, read the book. Is there a movie there? If so, what kind of movie what do you think you pitch it so that then we can pitch it to a writer as an open assignment? Right? So that happened a couple times, and then when We, when I started working as a development coordinator, it's like, Okay, now we have a list of, of projects in development. And it's like this one's for this along. So now we're acquiring talent, or we're looking for a director, the scripts out for investment opportunity, blah, blah, blah. So there's, when you get to the coordinator, it's sort of more of like project management status, right? You're, you're giving notes on projects, sure. But it's more of like, let's keep things on track for where they're supposed to be at X amount of time, right? Because as we know, time is money. And every time we do a draft, that cost money, we got to take time to wrap the project, etc. So then when you get to the sea level, it's now it's about what do we want to be as a company? Do we want to specialize in sub 1.2? million? Do we want to go the low budget route? Do we want to go medium budget route where we co produce, you know, which would look you know, two to 12 million, depending on who he CO produced it with? And then past that, it's like, do we want to be somebody who gets a first look, deal with the studio or making studio quality movies, whether that be in the or, you know, the Suicide Squads of the world? You know,

Alex Ferrari 11:04
yes, good. Good example.

Deepthroat 11:07
So that's, that's sort of the spectrum of the development ladder. And I'm sure that there are people out there with different experiences I've did that's just speaking from my own. And if there's one thing that I want to tell other people who are aspiring to be developers, or readers or whatever, they're, it's done several different ways at several different companies. That's why there are different companies, you know what I mean? That's why there are different companies that make better movies than others, or there's why some people specialize in making B hot horror movies, as opposed to the Black Panthers of the world. You know, I mean, that's two different styles of readers. That's two different styles of writing. And that's two different styles of development. So each one, I will say to that, though, that I've sat down at multiple companies as an intern, like I said, when I first got out there, I did everything I possibly could, right. There were a number of of, and I'm not promoting this book by any means. But there are a number of companies that basically slapped down the book, save the cat, and they were like, go read this, and then we can talk and it's like, okay. Don't need to read it again. But like, that's why I feel like a lot of these movies nowadays are so formulaic, right, but it's paint by numbers, almost, you know, that doesn't mean that it's easy, and that people do it well, but there is, I mean, you can watch pretty much any movie and the inciting incidents gonna have between 10 and 15 minutes, and the first actor is going to happen between 25 and 30 minutes of the movie, it's just, that's how movies are made. Audiences have been conditioned to do like that. So you kind of have to write and develop a movie that speaks to that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 12:37
at that, but at those huge studio levels, absolutely. Course. Yes. Even when you're in the indie world, even though it's even some of the most successful indies follow it in one way shape, or form

Deepthroat 12:47
into like, the indie market, like, that's where the art is made. I mean, like, let's not kid ourselves, like, like, yes, we see a lot of these huge budget budget movies that are that are really well done and really great movies and they gross a lot of money. But a lot of it has to do with spectacle and a lot of it in a you know, story off in an art often become secondary to revenue and profit. And, and, you know, other things that, you know, that tentpole movies are sort of built on, you know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 13:19
So when you so when you were doing the, when you were in development, can you tell me a story that you were just like, I can't believe I'm witnessing this. As as much as you can give away without actually giving everything away, you can make a little bit

Deepthroat 13:36
brought about a really good cautionary tale, because I'm still sore about it. And I could tell I could hear it in your voice. So this is this is gonna be funny. And I have another one too. So go for it. So I'll start with the one that's not about me. How about that? So I read this book, right? I read this book, I was a development assistant. I was like, I was in the office every day like 730, my Boston show until 1030. And I was sitting there reading when he got there. Even calling it he didn't like reveal me. Sure. Anyway, so I read this book. And he always told me he was like, if you see something that we could acquire, like, make sure you tell me about it. Like make sure you bring it to my attention. I'm like, Okay, sweet, like for sure. So I'm about 30 pages into this 900 page book. I want I run into his office and I'm like, Dude, we've there's, there's so much here.

Alex Ferrari 14:26
It's Harry Potter, isn't it? Just tell me. Tara Potter's Harry Potter.

Deepthroat 14:29
I just covered Harry Potter. So we, we he was like, Oh, great. Like I finish it and write up the coverage. I'm like, now you should probably start reading this now. He's like, Oh, yeah, cool. And I was like, Dude, you told me if there's something online not to wait. And he was like, okay, you know, all right. Well, I'll see what you got. So I spent hours and hours I read this book. I didn't sleep for three days getting through this book. I wrote up 11 pages of coverage, which obviously young, obnoxious, too long did not read type of shit, right? So, uh huh. So I said handed to him and I'm like, boom. It was like two days later, three days later, maybe. And I'm like, Alright, I sent it to you like, and he's like, okay, good. Cool. I'll read it over the weekend. So a week goes by, I don't hear a damn thing. Another week goes by what happens that fall? Going Friday, the book was optioned for $1.7 million by Warner Brothers. And it will currently be be adapted by a writer who had just come off and asked her when, and I'm like, I told you, I was like, I told him all the dude wrote me back was good instincts, period. That's it. That's all the acknowledgement I got. Oh, good. And I was like, You got to be kidding me, like, so all these guy, all these production companies are out there looking for like the next great piece of material. But it's also worth understanding to from a writer standpoint, like, they're just inundated. You know, I mean, like, he had scripts that were towering, you know, seven, eight stacks that were taller than I was that he had yet to read, you know, and it's just like, good projects slip through the cracks. Taste is often an issue. Art is subjective. So, like, if you get 1500 knows, all you need is one yes. You know what I mean? Like, you could be that diamond in the rough. It's just a matter of somebody seeing, you know what I mean? It was just disappointing that that could have been like, Hey, this guy found this great project. And, you know, we're gonna make a whole bunch of money off of it. And good for him. Now, let's promote him. Now. Let's give him producer credit, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. that ever happened. I'm curious to know what my past would have been like, had he been like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna read that tomorrow reads it and is like, Oh, dang. Like, this kid? He's right. You know what I mean? Like, let's go buy this, let's go. And they didn't have a $1.7 million. But hey, if they've gotten and presumably had, you know, it's not like that deal happened overnight. You know what I mean? In hindsight, it's like, that deal was probably being negotiated Well, before I was even given the book. So you have to take that into account too. But it's just a matter of like, things. It's like, sit around and wait, and then sprint, and then sit around a wait, and then sprint. And that's kind of like the business, you know, I mean, and it's very much a hurry up and wait, kind of kind of deal. So, you know, I would say a lot of these young writers, like, be patient, you know what I mean? Because when it happens, it's gonna happen really freakin fast.

Alex Ferrari 17:15
You know? And what's the second story?

Deepthroat 17:16
So the second story is different company, different company, bigger company. It was a manager slash production company, right? So I was they wrapped writers, they wrapped actors, they did a lot of packaging house, they got a lot of movies made, and they wrecked some pretty awesome people. So I felt blessed to work there, right. And they had this really cool thing where they would bring us all in and we get to talk to the executives for lunch. And like, they really made it so that like we met people, you know what I mean? So we got to know the people that we were working with and working for, which is really cool. One of them happened to be a manager that I really liked. And we bonded over fantasy football. I actually, obviously. And my script that I wrote, it was a it was a pilot. It was I was like, hey, this it's a sports related drama. He likes sports. So I was like, Hey, let me would you be interested in reading this? And he was like, hell yeah, I'll read it, blah, blah, blah. And he actually did, which was awesome. You know what I mean? After he read it, he came back the next week. And he was like, Hey, man, I'm gonna need you to sign the submission, like our submission agreement, because it's technically unsolicited material and you know, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, alright, yeah, cool. What's the worst they can do? I mean, I work here, right, blah, whatever. So then I sign it, and I don't think anything of it. And then I can see where this is going. Yeah, it's a heartbreaker dude. And let's just say my script ended up being the companies that they then shifted, so that there wasn't any legal issues to a different sport and a different, it was a one hour drama, and they put it into not a one hour drama. And let's just say it's, it's a it's it made it.

Alex Ferrari 18:56
Oh, and it was your story. It was my story. So So okay, so there's that there's a lot of look, there's a lot of people out there that always are concerned, especially young writers about they're going to steal my idea. They're going to steal my story. And then I've always heard that, like, look, professionals don't worry about these kinds of things, because you'll get sued. But you that's a perfect example of them, taking it, twisting it a bit. And all of a sudden, they've got it. So showing your opinion is thievery a major issue.

Deepthroat 19:26
And no, I think it was one guy who I trusted when I maybe shouldn't have I'll say this too. He no longer works there. Shocker. I'm sure that's not the first sleazy thing that he's done. So it's a person by person basis, right. Are you a good judge of tat? Are you a good judge of character? Those are the two things that really come up in this business. You know what I mean? So, because there's a lot of sleazy people out there, yes. But I would say that it's a one in 1000 chance that someone's gonna steal your project. So I would say in the big scheme of things, register it. If you want to spend the extra money Get the copyright from the Library of Congress. bucks. Yeah. But but you know what? Don't worry about it as much as, like, I'm the exception, not the rule. You know what I mean? So while I do have some horror stories, right, it also gave me the fact that like, it was a learning it was, you know, it was, my script wouldn't have gotten made, you know what I mean? Like, I'll say that right now, they turned it into what it needed to be, I just wish they would have done it with me, as opposed, which is, which is, again, if I had written the script, largely on company computers with company resources, it was theirs. You know what I mean? Because of those laws. And it's just like, having an understanding of what intellectual property law is, is different than writing a spec script in your basement and sending it out to people. Like, it's completely different. You know, what I mean? Like, don't worry about submitting your script to contest that somebody's going to rip you off. It's not going to happen. You know what I mean? And if so, you have, you have your receipt, you have the person, probably who read it, if it becomes that, at least the company does. I would just say that it's, it's again, I'm the exception, not the rule. And while that is a terrible story, it's it's rare, if ever happens, you know, and it's just my luck that happened to me. So. And that's where I would end it, you know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 21:14
But I also heard the mythical story of how when Tim Burton was working at Disney, he drew Jack's skeleton and a bunch of the characters from Nightmare Before Christmas, and threw them away in the trash can, someone picked it up and said, these are great. And these are great. And he put them away. And from that point on, it was owned by Disney, because he signed the contract that said, anything they creates, while they're on company, time is theirs.

Deepthroat 21:39
And the same thing works. So where I work now, it's the same situation, right? So it I don't know, should I even say what I do now? Yeah, okay, that's fine. So. So the, it's the same way, right? So if I develop something on, like, I'm even scared because of that process, to like, bring my personal computer in and use the Wi Fi. You know what I mean? Because they could, even though I'm doing it on my computer, I may not even be working at that time. But I'm still using technically their resources, because they're the ones paying for the life, you know what I mean? So it's like, I don't even it gets crazy. You know what I mean? So it's like, if you're going to be working at a company, like a production company, and you're going to be one of these low level employees with thoughts of like, I'm going to get my work out there. Just be cautious. Just understand the game. You know what I mean? Don't do it on your company computer, which, at this point, sounds like common sense, right? It didn't five, seven years ago, you know, right. So I wasn't even thinking that that would be a thing. But it was a learning process. And I've since sold other things. And I'm not, you know, it's not like I'm my dreams were shattered. My, my swan song that I was getting out there. It's like,

Alex Ferrari 22:50
well, one thing I find fascinating about your story in general, is that your your script, you also do, obviously script writing or script reading and script coverage, which we're going to get into but you're also a, a successful screenwriter, you actually sold material you've developed material, you're not just a script, a script reader, or a script, or script, someone who does script coverage, which I think is an assumption that a lot of people, especially screenwriters, young screenwriters think that the script coverage guys are all, you know, 18. Yeah. You know, and there is some truth to that there is there is.

Deepthroat 23:26
So, again, I'm the exception to the rule. All right. So I've actually, I've actually been in talks with, you know, actually, we'll talk about that, when we'll talk about that when you and I sure. But you know, so there are sites out there, you know what I mean, that do have working writers. But to be perfectly honest with you, you don't want to get the coverage notes that you're going to get from a working writer necessarily all the time, because those aren't the people that are going to be reading your material at the production companies. You know what I mean? The first line of defense at any production company is the internet is the development assistance. So if you're writing for the people who are actual writers, you're going to get a vastly different perspective on what the material should be, versus what the 18 to 24 year old fresh out of college doesn't have a effing clue about what good writing is. And it's just hoping to maybe become a producer or a low level employee at this company that they're working for. Those are the people that are reading scripts.

Alex Ferrari 24:26
So let's go so let's go real quick. Let's back up for a second let's go through the process of getting coverage like can you explain to the audience what the process is completely from soup to nuts, so they can get a better idea?

Deepthroat 24:38
Yeah, so are we talking from like a coverage site? Or are we talking coverage from a development company

Alex Ferrari 24:45
I'm gonna go development company because I mean, when you go to a coverage site, like like, you know, my coverage site, or something like that, you're you're working with readers, and they're just you're getting notes from your you know, and trying to help the writer move forward with their process in one way, shape or form? Is that accurate? Yeah. Okay. But now when you're sending it to a development company production company, I would rather get that workflow involved because I think that's a little bit more behind the curtains.

Deepthroat 25:14
Yeah, yeah, it's Yeah, I agree with you. So the big hurdle that you have to get over it, right is getting it there in the first place, you know, because a lot of these companies, it's not like, you can call them up and be like, Hey, I have this script. Do you want to read it? Because they're not even gonna answer your call, you know, get get past the gatekeeper. If you send them to like the info at production company.com email address, it's gonna go straight to the trash, you're gonna get a note that says, hey, we don't accept unsolicited material. By the way, please sign this, your script is not going to be read your blah, blah, blah, you ended up in the trash. So get it. So how do you the question should be first, how do you get there? Right? And you get there by having a friend who possibly works there. You know what I mean? Which means, you know, there's a lot of runners out there, like, oh, I don't have to live in LA. If you're an aspiring writer, chances are you do have to go out there at some point, you don't I mean, you have to you have to do your time. You have to Yeah, everybody has to, you know what I mean? Go Live, go get coffee, go grind it out. That's why I interned you know what I mean, because I got to know these people, who could then get my script into places without me needing representation. Now, the other side of that is if you have a manager, or you have an agent that can say, pick up the phone and be like, hey, Steven Spielberg, do you want to read the script? Oh, yeah. Thanks, John ROM, and then, right. So there's that side of the coin, too. For people who are looking to get, you know, to break into the industry? That one's more rare than the other side of the coin. Right. So my was to pull the curtain back a little bit. You have to understand the level of fear that these developments teachers and assistants have?

Alex Ferrari 26:46
Well, generally, the business in general is

Deepthroat 26:48
fearful. Yeah. Oh, and yes, absolutely. And I think the higher you get up, the higher the stakes are, but those people are already making, presumably a decent amount of money. You know what I mean? It's the people who are making $450 a week who are there from seven o'clock till 10 o'clock at night reading scripts, who are wanting to put their neck out there because they want to get noticed and appreciated and, and promoted, etc. They want to get to that next level. But it's like you get just to like, you get one chance to submit your script and impress a producer. It's the same with being an intern or an assistant. If you bring them garbage, they're going to think of you as a person who enjoys garbage, you know what I mean? So the level of fear at these places and this is why you get 1500 nose is because you have to have you have to find the person who's got the stones, or you know, the the guts.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
Oh, nice Kahunas right to to be like,

Deepthroat 27:43
Hey, boss person, I think I found a really good script. And I think you should read it, you know what I mean? Like,

Alex Ferrari 27:50
okay, because they got one shot. So as much as the writer has the one shot, the script reader has the one shot

Deepthroat 27:55
exactly. And as I think as writers, we forget that, you know what I mean, especially aspiring writers, because it's not just your career that's in jeopardy here. It's it, you start at the entry level, you your entry level script, goes to the entry level person. Now, do you think Jonathan Nolan scripts go to the entry level person, you got to be out your damn mind? All he has to do is pick up the phone and say, hey, it's Jonathan Nolan. You want to read my script? And it's like, oh, we'll buy it. You know, like the page one title. Okay, great. It's got a title page, this is probably going to die. You know, I mean, right. And let's like, so that's a completely different scenario. But the people who aren't on the people who aren't Jonathan, the ones of the world, and the people who maybe are like, second and third tier, Jonathan Nolan's even, they go straight to the development assistance first, you know, and I think that that is something to understand his level of fear and hesitation there. So they're always looking to find what's wrong with your script. They're looking, I worked for a boss once who told me to read a script till it's third mistake, and then throw it in the trash. So that that could have been grammar that could have been spelling, they could have been formatting, which is a big one. Because if you don't know how to format a script, you don't know you don't understand what a script is, you know what I mean? So it was like, we read the script to the third mistake. And if it's in the first 10 pages, throw it away, you know what I mean? If you get past 30, and then you get it, and it's like, you already invested in the story. At that point, you might as well just finish it, you know. But if they make three mistakes in the first three pages of the first 10 pages, like people always say like, it's your first 10 pages that sell you know what I mean? If nobody's gonna watch if you're not hooked in the first 10 pages of a book, or have a have a play, or have a film or have a script, like it's dying, you know what I mean? The same goes for us aspiring screenwriters. So it's like, you have to be sure that that at least the your first 30 pages are absolutely flawless. You know what I mean? And I'm not just talking story, I'm talking formatting spelling.

Alex Ferrari 29:49
Yeah, talk a little bit about that, because that is something that is unknown to me, because I've read so many scripts that I'm like to spell check man, right? Like just for me, it's final draft. You format, this is not difficult anymore, guys. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Deepthroat 30:15
You know what it is? Honestly, it's a pride in one's work. And if, if you're asking somebody to take an hour to three hours out of their day to read your script, you better give them something that's looks like you put a lot of effort into it. You know what I mean? Because if you're trying to get somebody to buy your stuff, but you have, you can't spell the name of your main character, right? Four or five times? Why should we? You obviously didn't care? Why should we? You know what I mean? And I think that's another thing that goes missed on people. So it's like, as as when you pull back the curtain, those are the things that first stand out, right? The first thing that anybody's gonna do when they read your script, as a development assistant is flip to the back page and see how long it is. Yep. They're gonna say, this is going to take me. So if you're submitting 130 page script, they're going to put that on the bottom of the pile and go to the 90 page script, because the in their eyes, it's like, oh, I can go tell my boss that I read four scripts today. So I'm going to do the short ones first and save the long one for the weekend. You know what I mean? So again, something to acknowledge right

Alex Ferrari 31:14
now. But also, I also heard that sometimes you can lie and change the the number count inside. So if you're like at 101, you could put you could just omit numbers in the middle of the script to make it look like it's a 90 pig script when it's actually really, I've never heard of that. You've never heard I've seen that.

Deepthroat 31:34
That's hilarious. I've probably read scripts where I was just flying through it so fast that I didn't realize that there was that for page four.

Alex Ferrari 31:43
They just skip a page and you just forget about it. And but that's it. I'm not suggesting anyone does that. But I've heard of it. So I didn't know if you've ever apparently worked because you've never seen one.

Deepthroat 31:54
Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly. Which is, which is an interesting thing. But also it's like I it's pretty easy to tell when you've got a 90 page script sitting next to 130 page script. Well, then if there's

Alex Ferrari 32:03
yeah, there's only a handful of pages you could cut off with that technique. Yeah. Yeah. Five, six pages, Shane, like

Deepthroat 32:10
101 to 1909 is gonna break. If you're really hiding pages at that point, like, yeah, like, I think you've got bigger problems.

Alex Ferrari 32:18
You know, you're absolutely right, if you're exactly if you can't shave eight pages off, or 10 pages off, you're going to close,

Deepthroat 32:25
you know, and that's, so my manager, and my agents are very good about allowing me, especially my early drafts, to write what I want to write. But then, you know, when we're about to go to market, they're very good about being like, listen, you're at 117 right now, which is fine. But like, go through the script, again, take a couple days off, get drunk, you know, maybe smoke a joint, like, do do whatever it is that you need to do to get out of the writer mind frame and get into the reader mind frame. And think to yourself like, this is your final draft short, but what absolutely doesn't have to be there. And undoubtedly, I end up cutting four or five scenes, which brings it from a 117 to a 108 or a 104. You know what I mean? Because it's so it ends up being like, no, yes, I love this sandwich. It was Ernest Hemingway that says, like, go back through, delete all your good lines. See if the story still works, or something like that. Yeah, something like that. It's like, it's so true. You know what I mean? Because we as writers, we like get attached to certain things that as writers we love, but it's like readers, it's like, okay, this is just more for them to get through to get to the next point. You know what I mean? And I hate to say that, because that's where a lot of the art comes in. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 33:42
Well, no, it was Hemingway or Mamet that said, writing is easy. All you have to do is sit at the typewriter and bleed.

Deepthroat 33:48
That's a Yeah, that was a Hemingway. Yeah, yeah, that's Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's so true. You know what I mean? And it's even believed even more, because he's also saying writing and after all, is rewriting, you know, I mean, so he's, he's a big proponent of like, Sure, bleed, but then go back and cut yourself open a few more times. And when you don't die, that's, that's the script of the story.

Alex Ferrari 34:11
It is, it is it's quite brutal sometimes.

Deepthroat 34:15
To be really diligent, because those are the types of things that is development assistance. If you go through and they, they see that you've got like, eight scenes that don't necessarily, like if you've got a savvy reader, you know, you're lucky, but you're also in a spot where it's like, you better be on out. Yeah, you your script better be on because this guy is gonna be or this girl is gonna be, you know what I mean? So it's like, she's got a great perspective of what a good script is. So you're better you better fit the mold, you know what I mean? And realize too, that like when you pull back the curtain i, this is I think I speak for every development or reader person, regardless of you're in, you know, a major studio or a small production company, you're looking for reasons to say no, you know what I mean? Like from, from the title page, the end of the script, you're looking for reasons to say no. And protect your little area of comfortability that you've built it your internship or your development assistant jobs. Yeah. You know what I mean? So it's like, you're looking for reasons to say no, because no doesn't put you risk, you know? Uh, yes. Is immediately when you like, roll the dice at the craps table, you know what I mean? So, I think from and, Dude, I gotta tell you, I read some fantastic scripts, as well, that like, didn't fit in line with what our production companies mandate was at that time. You know what I mean? So even though we had, we've maybe had won an Oscar for a drama movie, we were focusing on low budget comedy. So while I've got this great script that I would love to recommend, because yeah, when you look at our, our, our IMDB page of scripts that we've done, it's like, yeah, that would definitely fit into the mold, but not our current mandate. You know what I mean? So like, understanding what a production company's current mandate is, and understanding that that's fluid and changing. Whereas like, you know, most production companies, if your horror, your horror, you know what I mean? Like your blue house, your blue house, you could sort of have a mandate. It's like, we're looking for female led horrors, or we're looking for, you know, paranormal type of stuff or, you know, purge just did really great. Can we find our own purge? You know, what I mean, it's like, they think like that, you know, what I mean? Like, trend followers, writers like to think of themselves as trendsetters, where do you find the balance of fitting into what these production companies are trying to do moving forward in the future? And the truth is, is that a lot of them don't have a clue what they want? What

Alex Ferrari 36:37
do you agree right now, how many production companies around town are looking for the next Crazy Rich agent agents?

Deepthroat 36:44
Oh, I think I think every everyone, right,

Alex Ferrari 36:47
everyone right now is looking for that script.

Deepthroat 36:50
But three years ago, whenever when that was going out to market, nobody would have Crickets. Crickets, you know, I mean, it's the same way the Stranger Things I don't know. And our story, you're wrong. I I've only heard it secondhand, but they got like, reject everybody, every network. Every right. Yep. Look, they're like, We don't understand the tone. We don't understand the tone. Like why are these kids like swearing and stuff like that, like, we just don't is as an adult adult show his kid show it's fantasy. It's

Alex Ferrari 37:16
reality could not deal with it. They just couldn't deal with it. They couldn't wrap

Deepthroat 37:20
their heads around it. And now guess what they're doing? Everybody wants their own Stranger Things? You know, of course. So like, if you think if these companies like if you live in LA, and you meet a producer at a bar, and you're getting drunk next to the pool or something like that, he's like, oh, yeah, you know, we're looking for female led crime thrillers that are four quadrant. And you're like, yes. Okay, I've got one of those. You know what I mean? Like, say, Yes, obviously, you know what I mean, right? Even if it doesn't fit all those bills, because they're not, they don't know what they want, they know what they think they want. And you have to convince them that what they think they want is actually what you have, you know what I mean? But isn't it just, there's just so many hurdles that you have to get through, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:06
but there are those few those are those few producers and companies who are ahead of the curve. And I think 99% of the rest of the town is chasing the

Deepthroat 38:16
chasing. Yeah, I agree. I agree. 100%? Because those

Alex Ferrari 38:20
because the ones the first ones through the wall are always bloodied.

Deepthroat 38:23
Yeah, exactly. And and, and I think to that, like, it's a great observation to make, because those are also the companies who may not be around in five years, you know what I mean? Correct? Because, because they were willing to take chances. And I think it goes back to what we were talking about before, which is like, why do we, why are we risking our comfortable ball here to potentially be out of business in five years, because we went and bought three scripts that we're not going to be able to get cast or financed or packaged, or in front of screen, you know, in front of viewers, you know what I mean? So it's like, I, everybody wants to call themselves a producer. You know what I

Alex Ferrari 39:01
mean? Oh, everyone's a producer. And everyone. Yeah, and

Deepthroat 39:05
it's just like I, you know, it comes back to what my first story, which is, are you a good judge of character? Are you good judge of talent, pair yourself up with the people that you trust that you work with that, you know, and before you start slinging your script around to like, everybody in their mother trying to get in front of as many people, it's not about getting it. It's not about a numbers game. It's about the right people. Because if you get in front of the right people, like I've got a buddy that works. He's a very successful agent, and he works in a very successful company. He he came out a couple years after I did, I knew him through a friend we've since become great friends. Even though he read some of my he actually read that that script that I was talking about, he was one of the guys that read it and he was like, Dude, this is a fucking great script. Like, I want you to change this, that and the other and then all that shit went down and it was like dude, don't worry about it. Work on Next one. And he was very good about like keeping, he wasn't even my agent. And he was really good about like keeping me more like, focused, you know? He says, And he was like, Dude, it's not going to be the only good thing you ever write. You know, it's just the first thing, first good thing you ever wrote. So, keep writing and just know that this door's always open. And even if I say no, even if it's not for me, I'm not closing the door on you. And that's the type of people that slider should look for. You know what I mean? Because you build the bond first, I didn't meet this guy, knowing that he was going to become this great agent, I met this guy, because, again, ironically, we bonded over football, he went to a big football school, I went to a big football school, my buddy, who I knew from high school, went to that school, we were rivals, we were at a we were at shit with Barney's Beanery, watching college football, I get I get introduced this guy who's a low level intern at the point at that point, and I'm like, Dude, I like you. Let's hang out, let's get beers. And we became friends. And as he climbed the ladder, so did I. And even to this day, if I wanted to fire my current agent, I'd know that I had an open door at his because I know that I could send him stuff. And that's the type of people that you need to be looking for. It's not the it's not the numbers, it's the quality is quality, not quantity. So make the relationships with people. Keep those relationships up. I think if you come out here, looking for money, and looking to network and meet as many people as you possibly can to help you, you're going in with the wrong mentality, you go in knowing that like, you want to make this place a home, you want to make this business a home, you want to make these people, your friends. And that's so rare to find in LA. And that's why so many people turn tail and run after five, six years, because they can't afford it. And they know that their yoga job isn't gonna make them enough money to survive and raise kids, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:45
who do Uber job, every time I get into an Uber, I always go, how's the script gone? I've actually done that a few times. And they go, how do you know, you know? Are you a producer? I'm like, No, I'm

Deepthroat 41:57
not. Sorry, but I guarantee you, they said, if you said that you were they'd be like, Oh, well, do you mind if I get your email address? It's like, that's not a relationship built on trust and integrity is really built on wants and needs and unrealistic expectations.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
That's a great, great, that's a great way to put it. It really is. Because I always tell people like if you if you met someone at a party, you wouldn't just jam your script in their face. Yeah, you would meet them, you introduce yourself, if you're if you're a human, if you introduce yourself and go, Hey, how are you? And I always tell people, you always ask them what you can, what can I do for you? How can I be of service to you, then that's a great way to start a relationship and start building

Deepthroat 42:39
truly is and you know, and even like so, even outside of that, you know what I mean? Where it's like, it's like, Hey, you we have something on common ground to bond over? You know what I mean? Maybe they're excited about going to see Crazy Rich Asians. And so are you. It's like, dude, let's go together. Right? You know what I mean? Let's go together. Let's go talk. You know what I mean? Like, build a relationship up from the ground, just like you would if you were moving to, you know, Podunk Ville, wherever. Yeah. And I mean, it's like, how are you going to meet people, you know, what I mean, you're going to get involved in the community, you're going to do things that the community likes to do, you're gonna find common ground. And maybe I have a different perspective, because I moved around a lot as a kid. So whenever I go, it's like, when I was going to a new place, it was like sports, it was clubs. It was it was, you know, community, you know, meetings, whether it be churches or whatever, you know what I mean? Like, that's how our family integrated in the community and you have to go out with the mentality of like, I'm going to integrate into the community first. And you're going to find that like, if you go out there with genuine intentions to like, meet people, instead of meet people that are going to help you. The perspective is it may not seem like it, but the perspective is drastically different. And so are the results.

Alex Ferrari 43:55
Amen, preach, sir, preach

Unknown Speaker 43:59
my candles.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
Now, as going back to being a script reader, what is the biggest mistake you see screenwriters make?

Deepthroat 44:09
So every I've met a woman, changed my life, changed my perspective, really, on what it meant to be a writer. And granted at this point, I'd already sold two scripts, blah, blah, blah. You know, got my, my creative writing degree. I got my MFA in screenwriting, I got all this stuff, right. And I went to the WNBA. And this woman, I'm not gonna say her name. She was giving a talk. They're super successful. And she was like, you know, everybody around town has kind of come up with that next great idea when they should be coming up with the next great character. And that really spoke volumes.

Alex Ferrari 44:47
Let's see. That's deep, but yet simple.

Deepthroat 44:50
It's so simple, right? And it's like, I'm sitting there in the audience and all of a sudden, it's like, light bulb going off and like I'm getting tingling feelings in my feet and my toes. wasn't I'm like, oh my god like she's so right i mean you think about it like like madmen great great great show but is a great character Breaking Bad Breaking Bad sopranos Walter White sopranos like all of these great shows all the even movies like like looking at Little Miss Sunshine all it is a great character you know I mean that's filled with great characters William Wallace in Braveheart Braveheart wouldn't be Braveheart without that character. You know, I

Alex Ferrari 45:31
mean, and I think yeah, Jones, of course, Indiana Jones,

Deepthroat 45:34
Indiana Jones like it, it complete. And that's the, that's the biggest thing that I feel like writers don't understand is that they're trying to write for the spectacle and not for the character, you know what I mean? And he can, he can, I mean, I was about to say structure, because they don't understand structure. And, and, and I think that's one of the most important things to learn, right. But really, when you come down to it, when you approach the premise, or the idea that your structure comes later, right, from simply from an idea standpoint, like, if I don't care about your character, or I don't know what they want, or what they're after, you could have the most structured story in the world, it's not gonna make sense, because I need to know exactly who this character is motivations, right? what their goals are, why they're working towards it, and subconsciously, why do I give a shit? You know what I mean? And that, that, I think, is a lot of what, you know, a lot of these scripts that I cover, don't seem to understand, because I've given the note. I mean, I could probably give this note on every single script that I see coming in from a first time writer, which is decent story, it functions, but like, why do I care? You know, and I'm gonna care when I care about the character when you when you've created a good enough well rounded character. And I mean, that character could exist in a tentpole movie, it can exist in a micro budget $100,000 film, I don't care. That note applies to every single budget and genre that there is if you don't care about the characters if they're not making. So I call it the Cha Cha Cha has of storytelling, right? It's it's a character that is approached with challenges. And then in the end, they change, you know what I mean? It's like those three simple things, the Cha Cha Cha, character challenges changes, if their script isn't built on those three simple things. It's, it's just not I'm not gonna care, you know. And I think crafting a really solid character with clear motivations and a clear flaw that we can both sympathize with and root for that that's when magic starts to happen. structure it any way you want at that point, because at this point, I care about the character, I'll spend 20 pages in their normal world because I'm interested. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 47:47
I mean, look, I mean, I watched I watched the last Indiana Jones film purely because of Indiana Jones. Right? The script was

Deepthroat 47:54
right, and you make these good characters, and it does it creates its own franchise. I mean, like it they call it, what is it the Spielbergian way of crafting a character or introducing a character like he does it so wonderfully? You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. And Paul Thomas Anderson, what am I mean? I want to clarify, it's not that you have to like the main character, no, no, activated by the main character. So like, There will be blood as a great example of that first seven minutes of that movie. Both I mean, the script is a little less, right. And if you look at the final draft of the script, like it's a little it's different than what you see in the movie, but the premise of it is the same, right? This this guy, who is relentless, and unbelievably motivated to get rich, you know what I mean, to the point where he drags himself, leg broken, and all to go turn in the little chunk of silver that he has to start his takeover

Alex Ferrari 48:46
of the world? Basically, yeah.

Deepthroat 48:49
And I didn't like I knew from like, the instant that this guy was on screen, I was like, This guy is a maniac. But I can't take my eyes off of him. You know what I mean? And David Lewis did a great job. But even on the screen, when you are even in the script, when you read it on the page, it's like, this is a such a well crafted character. You know what I mean? And know the summation. I don't want to spoil it or anything to know what that person goes through. You have the script. It's like, you don't have to like him to care about the movie. You know what I mean, and to care about what happens.

Alex Ferrari 49:17
So right, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. I mean, he's a psychopath. But whether you're like, you cannot take your eyes off of him, or Jack Nicholson and the departed, you just can't take your eyes off.

Deepthroat 49:31
Yep. I mean, and that, and that, to me is like when I enter into a script, like, I get really excited when I read a shitty script with a fantastic character because like, they're miles and miles ahead of somebody who's got a a good script with a bad character. You know what I mean? Yes, yes. Like that. I mean, you can sell, you can sell a bad script with a great character. You can't sell a decent script, a functional script with a bad character. It's just not gonna happen.

Alex Ferrari 49:59
Right now. I just actually just started watching the Americans for the fun if you guys seen that show, have you seen the show?

Deepthroat 50:04
Graham Yost is probably my favorite writer ever him and I really love Taylor shared I'm really into Taylor Sheridan right now but like,

Alex Ferrari 50:11
but this I mean, I just we're literally in season one my wife and I, this is the summer we you know, our shows haven't started yet. And I'm like, This is so well, the characters are are so well crafted you hate you love. They go back and they go for them. Like we're six, seven episodes in. I'm like, There's six seasons of this. I can't wait. Yeah, it's so well done when you put it but it begins with character. It always began with character, at least with this show. And with most of the shows that are great. It's always character. And you're right, you can you if you have a good character with a bad script, you could turn a bad script into a good script with some other work with it. I can work but to create a good character is much, much more difficult.

Deepthroat 50:55
Like, so we just watched justified. Yeah, my wife and I, I'd seen it before she had again, great character, right. Like it's, it's say what you want about the show? I mean, I think it's a great show. But like, if you read Elmore Leonard's short story that it's based off of that is all about character. You know what I mean? That that translated well into the actual show, and obviously, character is more. What do you say? Like it's put on a higher pedestal when you're watching a TV show? Because it's built on characters, right? Like the stories, whatever. It's not supposed to end his stories and television are all about keeping it going. Right? Whereas a film, like let's end it properly, right, right, right. So the reason we keep coming back, especially to like procedural shows, like NCIS, for example, it's like, we keep coming back because we love these Knossos, these Eva's these, you know, like be that we just love these people. And it's like, it's, it's, it's pretty outstanding. And

Alex Ferrari 51:51
yeah, I get you. And no, no, absolutely. Without me character and structure. I think both of those two, those are the two things characteristic first, and then you got to get that structure. You have to you have to have a good, good clothes to put on the character, if you will.

Deepthroat 52:07
Yeah, yeah. And I actually made a mistake earlier, the Americans is not by Graham Yost. But

Alex Ferrari 52:12
no, it is. It is enough for guys to Judge Joe Wiseman. Yes, yes,

Deepthroat 52:15
yes. But but they're very similar. You know what I mean, especially in the way that they currently portray their characters. And I I feel bad that I messed that up.

Alex Ferrari 52:23
But it's, it's all good. It's no one knows who you are. So it's fine.

Deepthroat 52:29
Sorry, Graham. Sorry. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
So in general, well, first of all, can you give us any tips? On what get that? What would catch the attention of a script reader? For that low level? I think we kind of touched on it. But is there any specific thing besides having a great character?

Deepthroat 52:47
So I feel like a lot of is just to make the readers job? Easy. You know what I mean? So it's like in in when you're reading a novel, like, you can spend six pages describing the color of the lamp? Yeah, yes, in a script, you just say the lamp is yellow. And if that doesn't matter to the scene that the lamp is yellow, then get it the eff out of there. I mean, it's like, so one of the first things that I'll see on page one, which is like, if it doesn't have to be there, it shouldn't be. And I can tell right away, whether or not the reader or the writer is going to be showing us is going to be showing us the thing, the information rather than telling us you know, and leaving enough room, and acknowledging the fact that this is a collaborative endeavor, you know, what I mean? Like you shouldn't direct the scene you shouldn't have, you know, close up here. Really good scripts, describe those moments in a way that they don't have to sit there and tell you that you're reading a script, a dolly shot in, yeah, like, take that out, you know what I mean? Like, if you can tell right away, so that would be one thing that I would say is like, don't direct the script, don't director writers understand formatting, grammar, spelling, take pride in your work, and then do a good job of making us care about your character in the first three pages, you know what I mean, or at least make it interesting enough, or fascinating enough to where we can't take our eyes off the script. And there's a trick that my manager actually taught me, which is, uh, you know, it's not just about hooking them into the first couple pages, right, if you can hook them to the point where you leave something at the bottom of page nine, that makes them turn to the page, top of page 10, and then leaving something at paid the bottom of page 10, that forces them to turn the page. It's super hard, right? But once you start getting into the final drafts of your script, like it should flow like that, you know what I mean to where it's like, they can't stop turning the page, you know? But it's super, it's, it's very, very difficult to get on that microscopic level. But if you're submitting a script to a production company, you should have thought about those microscopic things. It's very easy to tell when a writer has or hasn't simply, you know, grammar, spelling, formatting, you know what I mean? So make sure that those are the those are the things But right off the bat and if you've got 130 page script like, I hope it comes with a two page treatment or something like that, because they're gonna get too long did not read. Well,

Alex Ferrari 55:10
let's Tarantino's names on it. Sorry, well, unless Tarantino's name is on it.

Deepthroat 55:15
Yeah, exactly. I mean, Jonathan, Nolan's Dark Knight was like, what, like 152 pages or something like that.

Alex Ferrari 55:21
But it's Jonathan Nolan and Chris Allen. And it's okay. And I

Deepthroat 55:25
get that a lot with new writers. And they're like, oh, but so and so did it this way. It's like, Yeah, but so and so made a shitload of money in the last. And so it's like, you're not, you're not so and so

Alex Ferrari 55:37
you're given? Is it fair to say that you're given a lot of leeway in this business? Once you start making a lot of money?

Deepthroat 55:43
Well, 100%, you could do. And that's why I tell I'll tell young writers too. It's like go read scripts, right? And it's like, but I'm going to tell you right now, don't describe characters like they do. Don't format like they do. Don't do that kind of stuff. Because they've earned the right to misspell their character's name. They've earned the right to have formatting errors. You know what I mean? They've earned that right? So you haven't. So you have to play by those rules before you either a are too lazy to break them or to care, or you are established enough to where you can break them and break them. Well, you know, so. Yeah, I mean, that's, that's another thing. It's like. Don't compare yourself to successful writers just yet. Oh, God, I know, I get that all the time. Like, I don't like okay, good lord. I also hate when people use the word we in scripts. I know a lot of people do it, especially professional writers, and especially writer, director types. It's just like, it just reminds you that you're reading a script, you don't say we see this or we see that? Yeah. And at the very basic level, what you're trying to do is you're trying to absorb the reader, especially a reader who doesn't really have a clue about screenwriting, or storytelling. Like you're supposed to absorb them into the story as much as possible. So your imprint on the script should be as minuscule and invisible as possible. And when you start bringing in we, we know you're a real person, we know this is written by somebody. It's not just a story that we're, you know, swimming around. And it's, it's a, it's a script, and I think if you can make like, Brian Delfield does a really good job of making you forget that you're reading a script. Have you have you read any of his

Alex Ferrari 57:18
I have not read any script? Can you tell the audience who he is and what he's done? Yeah,

Deepthroat 57:22
he just had a movie coming out called the babysitter.

Alex Ferrari 57:25
Oh, oh, yeah. The one by MC G. Yeah,

Deepthroat 57:29
yeah, he has a so Brian Duffield. I think somebody told me this. I don't quote me on it. Don't. Don't tell me if it's right or wrong. I don't even really want to know. But I like telling the story that he sold more spec scripts or had more time. He's one of the more successful spec writers over the last like five or 10 years.

Alex Ferrari 57:47
I think so. I think Astra house has that.

Deepthroat 57:50
Yeah. But it's like it's like a you read their script. It's a I you can find it online. Good. I'm in fact, I'm going to do it right now. The babysitter, it's like it's, it's okay, there it is. It's 93 pages. The first line is interior nurse's office day call is 12 years old and losing his mind. That's the first line.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
That's a good symbol.

Deepthroat 58:17
You know what I mean? Yeah. And it's like, you don't have to overthink it. You don't have to over describe it. And I love Brian Duffield writing because he lets the he lets you make the picture in your own head just as if, like, you're I had a I had a writer once told me that what you're writing is actor bait. You know what I mean? And it's so true, right. But it's also director bait. You know what I mean? So if you're over describing your scenes that just takes away from the creative side that a director, the creative imprint that a director can put on to the, to the script, right? So it's like, the less you can tell the more leeway you can give to those other creative elements that are brought on to make to bring your script to life. Like do it. You know what I mean? So like, I think less is always, always, always, always more and it's so difficult to like, get that to come across people because they're like, what does that mean? And it's like, if it doesn't absolutely have to be there. Don't let it be there. And Duffield is so good at it. And he's, he's always properly formatting stuff. And even though he's an established writer, you can tell like, he doesn't shortchange the other like, two pages down. There's another wonderful description. Cole is waiting for the school bus besides Melanie, another 12 year old also his neighbor also definitely not a potential love interest for coal. So whoever told you that is an idiot and a liar and loser and it interrupts the conversation with her dialogue. So it's like, it's like you've seen it happen. You know what I mean? You has a voice? You know what I mean? Like, I don't know, like, I go read Brian Duffield scripts that he's a fantastic writer as well. The guy deserves a lot more credit.

Alex Ferrari 59:51
Now than we asked you also, can we please just put out there in the universe to people stop using 75 cent words in script in screenplays. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Is that Is that a big is that a big? No, no, they want to prove to you that they have to have a complete grasp of the English language and want to prove to you how smart they are by using words that no one has ever used in conversation.

Deepthroat 1:00:26
You again, it comes back. Yes, short answer your question? Absolutely. It again comes down to knowing who's reading your script, right? If you have to send a 19 year old out to go get a dictionary. You know what I mean? So it's like, Have you ever read the alien script? Yeah, well, I

Alex Ferrari 1:00:44
love that script. Walter. Walter helps amazing interior engine

Deepthroat 1:00:47
room, empty, cavernous. That's it. Like straight up. That's, that's it, like jammed with instruments, all of them idle console chairs for to empty. It's like, Yes, that's what you need to be doing. Like, paint the picture, build it up, there's a

Alex Ferrari 1:01:02
patina of the walls can be smelled and like, you know, do know that that's a book. That's a book.

Deepthroat 1:01:10
Exactly. That's no your medium. You know what I mean? And then like, a lot of writers I see too, especially young writers. And I see a lot of this with writers who, and this always gets me where it right where it's like on the title page, it'll say written by, you know, John Stevens, based on a book by John Stevens. Like, oh, God, this is gonna be rough, because it's Jon, snow literary background, you know, what I mean, a prose writing background? How is that going to translate? And sometimes I've been surprised there have been a couple writers who have surprised me. But for the vast majority, it's like, yikes, you know what I mean? Like, you're basically copying and pasting certain elements of description from your book into the script format. And dialogue editor, like there was one writer who I could tell was copying pasting dialogue directly from like his Microsoft Word document into the final draft document, because a lot of the dialogue like he forgot to delete the quotation marks like parts. So I was like, Oh, this is great. Or it would be like said eagerly.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
At the end of the dialogue,

Deepthroat 1:02:12
oh, man alive. Okay. So note that I'll say about that is like, if you can't see it on the screen, it shouldn't be in the script. And there are exceptions to that, especially when like, describing a character for instance, like, I feel like you can do a little bit of editorializing in those moments, to give a bigger shape to like who that person is, you know, or like Shane Black had a really good one where it was like, he's always really good at describing things, right. But he also has a voice and at this point, he was Shane Black. So he wrote something. I can't remember what it was. It was like, it was like, a huge penthouse, the type I'm gonna own with this fucking movie. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:47
yeah, yes, that is so shameful. Introduce yourself.

Deepthroat 1:02:51
Like if you can, if you can inject yourself into the script in that way. That's different than what we were talking about earlier, which is like, Do you know what I mean? Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
mean, yeah, there's I have heard of God. I've heard of screenwriters, I've read screenplays that have that kind of stuff. Like they'll put a little note like, and this is for the script reader, and blah, blah, blah, like those. But they're at an established point. They're an established point, and they can play with a medium a little bit, but Shane Black is a perfect example. You read lethal weapon you we kiss me? I was gone. Kiss me. Long Kiss. Goodnight. Yeah. Any of those? I'm dying to see predator, the predator. I can't wait to see that. But he's amazing in the way he writes. You're like, okay, I get it. But he is that kind of writer. You're absolutely right. It's like, the penthouse. Like after I saw the script.

Deepthroat 1:03:40
Yeah, he's got a voice. You know what I mean? He's got a voice that doesn't interfere with the story. In fact, it does the opposite, where it's like, I want to see what else this guy's got to say shit. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
Because if you have the balls, if you have the balls to do that, and again, I wouldn't suggest have no

Deepthroat 1:03:54
time to go out right like Shane, battle black for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:58
It's been done. It's been tried many times before and it's fail. It's like when people try to look after Pulp Fiction came out. Forget everybody was trying to write chapters. Everybody's writing chapters. Everybody was writing chapters. Everybody was trying to be Yeah, that was that was that movie that came out of how to die in Denver. What to do in Denver when you're dead. And there was like a bunch of rip off pulp fiction movies. Right afterwards, Pulp Fiction course.

Deepthroat 1:04:20
There's gonna be a whole bunch of crazy rich Asian movies that are but you can't

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
write like Tarantino, I always tell people like you can't direct like Fincher, you can direct like Nolan or Kubrick, you could be inspired. Absolutely. But at the end of the day, they're going to do them much better than you could ever do it.

Deepthroat 1:04:37
One of my one of my best friends is a very, very talented writer. And he doesn't write he does write scripts, but he mostly writes prose. published the works, you know what I mean? And he was like, when I first started out writing, he was like, I was trying to I would read a book by somebody that would really impress me. And then I would go and try to write like them and he was like, it took me years to get something published because I was Isn't writing for who I am, or what I want to say I was writing what I thought people wanted to read. And I think that that you know what I mean? It goes back to like, don't don't think that you are submitting, writing that somebody else absolutely wants to read. Like, don't go, don't approach it like that approach. If you're starting from that place, you're already making mistakes, you know what I mean? It's gonna take you a long, long time to figure out that you're making mistakes. And hopefully, like, you have a really stable job at Starbucks, because you're going to need it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:31
No, and that advice goes exactly for directors as well. Because I mean, I've made those mistakes. I have my Robert Rodriguez Quentin Tarantino film, that I tried to make that look just like theirs and tried to show everybody Oh, hey, look how cool I am. And it didn't work out. Because I wasn't using my own voice. And well, I didn't find I didn't. I didn't know who I was. Yes, yet. And I know that sounds pretentious as fuck. But it's true.

Deepthroat 1:05:55
It doesn't though. It doesn't because it makes so much sense. For those for those of us out there who actually did that, you know, who who tried to write like the people that inspired us only to find out like, like, okay, maybe certain elements of them work for me, but I'm not going to be successful until I find my own. And it Hey, writers out there. It's gonna take you years to figure that out. Do it is to keep writing. And for you directors, the only way to do it is to keep directing the garbage so that you can figure out what you like to do you know what I mean? You can figure out your inner Spielberg, without having Spielberg attached to it. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:06:32
I mean, JJ, JJ Abrams, who is is probably close to Spielberg as your path today, but JJ movie is a JJ movie. Yep. No question. I mean, you could smell that you can, even when he did Super Eight,

Deepthroat 1:06:46
was gonna say Super Eight was like, Oh my gosh, it was literally

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
like if Spielberg was reincarnated. Yeah, but it still had his flavor. Absolutely. It was not a rip off. It was not a rip off at all. So that's why those movies are successful. Now before before we finish because I mean, we could talk for hours, I can say I don't know. Right. And I appreciate your time. I appreciate your time, Deep Throat. Um

Deepthroat 1:07:13
give me some nuggets. You know, you've

Alex Ferrari 1:07:15
dropped a lot of stuff. Honestly, this this podcast, I'm going to recommend anytime I made a screenwriter, I'm like, you're going to need to listen to dethrone screenwriting about the bottom. Yes. No, no, no, it's because you're showing you have given. I mean, a lot of the stuff I knew from being in the business, but you don't talk about it. But I definitely don't have your perspective. Because you're you've walked, you walked in places I haven't walked. So it's fascinating to see the inside story about other things that I didn't have access, I didn't know about. And it's the truth and you are completely liberated to say whatever the hell you want to

Deepthroat 1:07:48
say. I know when you when you told me, we're just gonna do it anonymous, I was like, that completely changes my brochure, I was just so sweet. Because it's like, now I get to actually talk about the stuff that matters. You know what I mean? Like, I get to tell these young writers or even established writers who are kind of hitting like a LOL, you know what I mean? Cuz that happens to happens to me. I think it's super important to just understand and be reminded of what you're up against, you know what I mean? And, and, and knowing that it's a fluid process, you know, what I mean? Like the end. Another thing to keep in mind, too, is like, the turnover at these places is insane. God is insane. So like, you could submit a draft to an assistant who doesn't put it up, but then that assistant could go on to work at another company who then it does work, or the newest system was hired and you can resubmit to that person inside knowledge of like, okay, the turnovers happening, like or, or, you know, what was it like? Legendary, legendary, like, revamp their entire executives, you know what I mean, I had a script in there that they had passed on. And I didn't even get an acknowledgement of the first around. They had the turnover my agents, resubmitted it, and they were like, oh, let's get a meeting. You know what I mean? Like, like, the new regime is willing to meet me but the old regime things on garbage.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:08
It's a lot. It's a lot of so much politicking. And it is and it's just it's a it's a game of, of humor. It's a human game of personalities and psychological psychology. It's, it's so more complex than what people think it is like, Oh, you submitted to a company and oh, it doesn't get in. You don't get in? No, this is a game. It's chess,

Deepthroat 1:09:30
basically. Yep. Yep. And I think there are certain ways and we talked about this already, there are certain ways to go about it that make you seem more genuine. And I think that if you can find if you're more genuine, you're gonna be you're gonna find people that are more genuine, and then you don't have to worry about anything else. You know what I mean? Those doors are gonna be open for you. You can write a script that isn't that great, but like, the genuine nature of that relationship is going to leave that door open. You know what I mean? And that's what I feel like a lot of writers are gonna be surprised I think to hear because Because I think even when I was coming up, I was told by people that it's like you have one shot with these people. And while there's a lot of truth to that, there's also the truth. It's like, yes, with the people that you don't know, you know what I mean. But a lot of what you need to do when you come out here, and you should come out here is, like, just go out and meet people and be genuine. Like, be yourself. Don't be Oh, I'm the aspiring writer and, like, tell myself that, like, I'm the writer, that's gonna be the next big thing. It's like, No, dude, go talk to somebody about your fantasy football team. That's what's gonna get you in the door.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:32
You know what the funny thing is, though, when you say that, you have to remember that it is so difficult to be yourself at every stage of growth in your life. That's true. And only because you know, both you and I are in similar vintages. As far as age is concerned. We take it for granted now because I don't I am who I am. And if you don't like it, go off yourself. I just don't care. Yeah. But it took 20 years to get to this place in my life.

Deepthroat 1:11:04
And a lot of it was the last What 1015.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:09
I want to say the last go through all

Deepthroat 1:11:10
of that to figure out that, okay, this is how it's done, you know, and then business I am.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:15
And then the second I decided to finally just be myself. All the doors swung open. Yep, everything's clicking, everything starts clicking the second you are yourself, and you're comfortable within your own skin, which is has less to do with the craft of screenwriting, and more about your own personal development, but it is part of the equation.

Deepthroat 1:11:33
Yep. Yeah. And it's funny that you say that because one of my best friends successful writer, really, I mean, dude, this kid got talent out the ass, right? Like he's such a talented writer has, has like a stack of scripts that I think anybody would love to buy. Right? But he can't sell them for the life of him because he is not personable. Oh, yeah. Like, he's great at making these characters personal. But you put him into a pitch room and done, the guy just shuts down. Like, he's like, the most dry person to like, I mean, if you could, if you could, like, split a bottle of whiskey over a pitch meeting, like he would be good to go, you know what I mean? But like, I feel so bad for him. Because like, honestly, he's brought me into his pitch meetings being like, Dude, I will put your name on the script, if you helped me pitch it. I mean, it's just like, a lot of it has to do with like, putting yourself out there and confidence level. And like, those are all things that like are ancillary. You know what I mean? Writing, it's all you're all safe and sound when you're in your dark room, and you're typing in the glow of your computer and everything. Like that's all great, right? But the true reality is, is that this is a human business. It's and you have to make human connections with people and and you can't be a robot trying to sell your script. And and realize, too, that when you go out and meet these people at the bars, they're used to people being like, oh, this person only wants to talk to me, because they know I can help them get something. Right, right. Now,

Alex Ferrari 1:13:08
we could talk for hours about this for hours.

Deepthroat 1:13:11
No. Question.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:15
No, I do have I have one more question because we were talking about this before we started recording. And I said, don't stop, stop. I want I want to put this in. You have done rewrites on some major studio tentpole things that and I want you just to give a little bit of a glimpse behind the scenes of those studio movies, those writers that first draft that final draft conversation?

Deepthroat 1:13:39
Sure, sure. So a lot. And you'll see this a lot when you work in development, right? Where it's like, we'll have acquired the script. It's from a talented writer, you get the first draft of it. It's absolute trash. You know what I mean? And I think

Alex Ferrari 1:13:54
they buy it, but why do they buy it? Is it because of the concept? Yeah, they,

Deepthroat 1:13:57
I mean, sometimes it's open assignment, right? So it's like the production company itself will be like, we want a movie that is about a guy that finds a girl in the trunk of his rental car. And that's the premise of the movie. That's all we've got come and pitch us on your take on that, right? And then it'll bring in like four or five writers and one of them will be hired to write the script because they came in and they did a good pitch, you know what I mean? Like, that's, that's one way. And then they go out and they rush through the draft because they have a deadline of like three weeks. And I guarantee you they didn't start it until four days before because that's what we do, you know? And then it's like, then the then who reads the first draft? It's like, first, it's the development assistant. Let's get your take on it. How's the story function? We've trained you to do this, we understand that you have good notes like you read a first while I read it. And if you have a really cool boss, like we'll compare, you know what I mean? The other the other side of the coin is like, Okay, we've hired this writer or we bought the script, hoping that this guy would like or this girl will be able to rewrite it. You know, we paid them for a rewrite, you know, but realize that the WJ They standards have certain fees for rewriting and in a contract, you're guaranteed certain aspects. And the reality is if like, if you don't deliver in that amount of time, they own the property so they can go out and they are they have an option to the property so they can go out hire their own writers to rewrite your stuff for the WJ standard, if that writer then changes more than 50% of the script or something like that. And I don't know the rules, I'm sure there's probably somebody out there. That's like, that's not entirely true,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:26
yes. But the concept was

Deepthroat 1:15:29
significant changes to the actual piece of property that was optioned or acquired, then your name gets put on is like, uh, you know, whatever. And most of my rewrites have been about like, you know, restructuring story or punching up jokes, or something like that, right? Where it's like, I'll do a past that purely Comedy Based where it's like, okay, we've got the story now. But we're struggling to find the areas of comedy, like, we need to bring in somebody who's not as close to us to see where those opportunities lie, you know, so that's when they bring in sort of an outside resource, like myself, or like many, many other people out there who make a living off of rewriting as opposed to selling their own stuff, sometimes in the lols. Right. So it's like you go in, and you'll punch up like a good bit of the jokes, or maybe like, change the perspective of one character's voice, and it ends up working out. And then it goes to script and you get to know your girlfriend or your wife and be like, hey, that one was mine. Look, everybody's laughing at it. And you know, and it's super fun. And you get to, you know, you get to buy, you get to, you know, make your car payments for a little while and buy a nice steak dinner. And that's about it. I mean, it's like, if you're Aaron Sorkin, you're brought on to do a dialogue punch up and you make half a million dollars. I'm not Aaron Sorkin, so I don't get that kind of, right. But at the same time, it's like, you see a wide variety of quality, a wide quality of scripts, right. So like, if you're brought in to rewrite a second draft, that the writer, you know, was hired to write their idea didn't pan out, they've got two cracks at it. And now this is this is you're bringing on somebody else? You know, I mean, like, sometimes those scripts are, are painful to read. A lot of it, I think, is because and I and I think I speak for a lot of writers that get to the level of where they're being called into these meetings, it's like, or pitching for open assignments. It's like, a lot of writers actually hate the physical act of writing. You know what I mean? Like, oh, it's a burden to tell stories, they love to craft characters, but like to sit down and actually do the work is like excruciating. Sometimes, you know what I mean? Especially when it's somebody else's idea and not your own, you have to sometimes find the passion. And it happens a lot on TV shows a lot on TV shows, because you're all hired drag, something that somebody else created. And especially if it's an early season, it's like you're trying to figure out what the show is, in, people bring in stuff that, you know, they're given a week, right? Like, you go off the script, and you come back, and it's like, one week later, and it's like, now we have to spend the next month punching the script up as a group, you know what I mean? Like, that's kind of how it works. And to the level of quality that you see from like, these professional writers with big names, submit these drafts. And when you're brought in as a rewriter, do it, the quality is variable, sometimes it's a really great script. And you're like, God, I can't believe that they weren't, that they weren't on board with this, like this is a great take. But again, you got to think about their mandate, where they're going, where they want to go, what they expect to see who maybe they have somebody attached, who doesn't like it, you know what I mean? There are a lot of auxilary issues that could be there. Whereas if you're just brought on to the scripting phase, with no attachments, and this is just an open assignment that they wanted, and you come in, and it's like, you can tell that this writer put together a pitch like 48 hours before they got the meaning. And it's like, okay, this, you can tell that in the script, because they didn't really have, they may have had the hour long pitch thought out, but they didn't have the, the actual story fleshed out and given like, you know, two or three months, or six months, or 40 days, whatever it was, to write the script, you can tell that it's suffered, you know what I mean? Because it's even hard for us professional writers to go in and be like, Okay, I completely understand what this is, like, it's a process for us to, you know, and I think that, again, a lot of these young writers probably don't understand that that's the case. They're like, Oh, I'm gonna sell my script to this production company, and it's gonna go straight to principal photography, and it's gonna go straight to theaters, it's gonna have my name on it, it's gonna be exactly how I did it. And you have to be out of your mind, if you think that's going to be exactly how it works. Like you're going to sell the script you make, if you're lucky, get a crack at the rewrite. If not, they're gonna bring in somebody who isn't Aaron Sorkin or is an XYZ, you know, that they can afford and that fits with the genre or whatever. They're gonna do the punch ups. If they rewrite more than you, they're gonna be the ones that get the credit, you may be lucky enough to get a producer credit or a story by if it's in your contract. If you had a good manager, agent, whatever, right? And then at the end of the day, you may go to the theater to watch the movie that you set out to write and it'd be completely different than Your pitch that actually got you the job in the first place. That's how it works. It's like, it's like when you make a product for it's like Apple updates, like you get a new Apple update every three days. You know what I mean? Like their Apple updating scripts every three days, you know what I mean? Right. And I think that as rewriters, as writers in general, like, understanding that that's the name of the game is critical. I've seen, I've seen some

I've seen, let's say that I've seen some scripts that will never ever see the light of day because they were good. And I've seen really bad scripts get made because of those auxilary factors. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:38
a man actually gets actual wants to do it. That's yeah,

Deepthroat 1:20:40
yep. Yep. Whether or not the original writer who pitched it is good. You know, and a lot of it's done in house, if you get hired by a management slash production company. They have a team of writers and a team of directors and a team of actors, like they have all of that stuff in house, so they can go in and package it and then sell it. You know what I mean? Right, as a package, which is a lot of how movies get sold these days, you know, at the big

Alex Ferrari 1:21:02
book studio stuff. Yeah, without question. Yeah. And

Deepthroat 1:21:05
it's like, if you if you have a shitty draft, that Matt Damon is like, Yeah, I'll do that movie. That sounds like a cool movie. I'll do it. Like when we read the script, and you get like an attachment letter. And there's a big PR release. And like, it's a variety and all this stuff. Matt Damon signs on to blah, blah, blah. That movie could never get made. Sure. But it's going to end up in the trades because they want to generate buzz and they want to keep the momentum flowing. But honestly, it all it all comes back to is the script going to function? Is the script going to be good? Is this going to be ready? You can have all the elements attached in the world. And even then, Guillermo del Toro will tell you, it's not doesn't mean it's going to hurt Terry Gilliam, I mean, is going to be like, Okay, I've had what does it Donquixote now, in terms for 25 years, you know what I mean? Yeah. And, you know, it just,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:53
it's exactly what happens. Alright, man, you've been so frickin amazing. Deep Throat. That is deep throat that you've dropped some major bombs on knowledge bombs on on the on the Dr. Mensa. Thank you so much. I have a few questions. I asked all of my guests. So that's kind of rapid fire. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today? Cross your fingers. It's very uplifting. Extremely uplifting, sir. Thank you. Um, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career? Harry Potter. Okay. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Deepthroat 1:22:44
Mmm, that's a great question. I would say being genuine and and owning who I am as opposed to what I think other people want me to be.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:56
That's a great lesson to learn.

Deepthroat 1:22:58
It's applies to both business and life, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:01
Absolutely. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Deepthroat 1:23:05
Three of my favorite films of all time. Okay, off the top of my head, I would say Braveheart. Okay, excellent film. A movie network.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:16
Another amazing both very well written. Uh huh. You know,

Deepthroat 1:23:19
and, and a Lord of War. I love Lord of War. Really? You like what do I know if I wanted to throw you a curveball? Something that like maybe wasn't, you know, really, Lord. But I love that movie. I mean, say what you want about the story and the writing and my wife hates the ending. Like, I love that movie so much. I love how it starts. I love how finishes I love the character I like can't take my eyes off of him. I love the midpoint reversal and best

Alex Ferrari 1:23:47
part of that movie. That stuff. For me the best part of that movie was the opening title sequence.

Deepthroat 1:23:52
I mean, that's an opening title sequence. It's so good. And it's like, I for those I'm not gonna ruin anything for those who haven't seen the spoiler alerts here, right? Because go out and watch it I think is awesome. And say what you want about the writing and say what you want about the characters like that movie kept me entertained. I cared about whether or not and I love like movies where it's like there's an antihero. You know what I mean? Like I grew I'm rooting for the guy who's the bad guy. You know what I mean? I love that. And that was like one of the first times where and I could have set the matrix I could have set Jurassic Park and I mean the last in my real life in my in my life. first movie I ever saw was Land Before Time. Genius film. My mom took me it was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. And I was like, blown away. I was like, oh my god, movies are great. I've been obsessed ever since. And yeah, Harry Potter was what convinced me that I wanted to write matrix changed my entire perspective of the world and of filmmaking and but my favorite movies are Braveheart network and board of war because I wanted to put something in that you probably haven't heard before.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:54
That's never been on the show on any of my pockets. Ever been on the show. So you,

Deepthroat 1:24:59
like at this point? They're probably like, I wasted an hour and a half listen to this dude and his favorite movies Lord of War.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:05
This guy knows nothing. But then again, because we don't know who you are, it doesn't matter. So you can be free. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you did you don't know.

Deepthroat 1:25:16
But I definitely, it was Andrew nickel, I think

Alex Ferrari 1:25:18
yes, it was it was now the, the this is the part of the show where I generally ask where we can find you. But you will now go back into the into the darkness of the parking, the parking,

Deepthroat 1:25:30
maybe, maybe in a future episode, you can drop my name as being like, Oh, if you guys are looking for somebody who can help you develop your script, you know, check this guy out, and we just never know who it was.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:41
Maybe we could do something like that if you like. But now you're gonna go back into the shadows of the parking garage, sir.

Unknown Speaker 1:25:48
Thank you. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:49
Thank you, man so much for being so candid. And and really, I think I think we helped hopefully helped a lot of people listening because there was some great, great practical industry advice in this without question. And you didn't expose yourself too much, sir.

Deepthroat 1:26:04
No, I mean, we only had to, we had to edit out one part. So just one

Alex Ferrari 1:26:07
part. That's it. Thanks again, man. Little seed

Deepthroat 1:26:11
there for the people listening to be like, Oh, I wonder what that was.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:15
Exactly. Thank you. Thank you for your time.

Deepthroat 1:26:18
I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:21
As promised Deep Throat brought the mega knowledge bombs this episode. And I want to thank Deep Throat for coming on and just being so candid, and sharing so much about his experience his behind the scenes point of view of being a script reader being a development executive, and all the juicy, juicy details and morsels that he gave us in this episode. I really hope you guys got something out of it. I know I did. I there's a ton of stuff that I had no idea about. And I'm really, really grateful that he was able to come on and share his knowledge with you guys. So this is a point of the episode where I say if you want to go to the show notes and get links to everything we talked about, just head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash BPS zero 24. But there will be no links to him. Because obviously, his deep throat he is now back living in a parking garage somewhere in the shadows, reading a script or writing one I'm sure now if you want to get deep throat to actually read one of your scripts, you can submit your screenplays to the bulletproof script coverage service at cover my screenplay.com Thank you for listening guys. And truly if you found this episode informative, and it helped you in any way, please share this episode with as many friends screenwriters, filmmakers, as you know, I want this information out there to help as many people as possible so please, share, share, share. And if you haven't subscribed to the podcast already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com Thank you for listening. And as always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you next time. Thanks for listening to the bulletproof screenplay podcast at bulletproof screenplay calm that's b u ll e t e r o s CR e n PLA y.com


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BPS 018: How to Pitch Your Screenplay Like a Pro with Stephanie Palmer

Ever wanted to learn the dark craft of being able to pitch your story idea successfully? Stephanie Palmer has made it her life’s mission to help people do just that. Stephanie Palmer is a former MGM Pictures executive and best-selling author of the book “Good in a Room: How To Sell Yourself (And Your Ideas) And Win Over Any Audience

Stephanie Palmer was the Director of Creative Affairs for MGM where she supervised the acquisition, development, and production of feature films. During my time at MGM, she was named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the “Top 35 Executives Under 35.” Prior to MGM, she worked at Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

She has heard thousands of pitches. She knows how to and how not to pitch your screenplay or story idea. She worked on films like Legally BlondeArmageddonCon Air and was even on an intern on Titanic, there’s a very inserting story there.

Learn how to pitch your screenplay like a pro with Stephanie Palmer.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
Stephanie, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got in the business? Sure.

Stephanie Palmer 3:47
I started as an unpaid intern on the movie Titanic when I was a senior in college. And then I moved from that job to being an assistant at Jerry Bruckheimer films. And I worked on movies like Armageddon and enemy of the state and Conair. And I worked. I was assistant to the president. So we were involved in all aspects of development and production. And then I moved to MGM as an assistant, and then got promoted to the story editor where I was in charge of supervising the staff of readers, and making sure that all the scripts that came into the studio were properly handled. And then after that, I got promoted to being the director of creative affairs, where my job was basically to help determine which projects we wanted to purchase, develop and produce. So I read lots and lots of screenplays and heard lots and lots of pitches.

Alex Ferrari 4:39
Okay, now, with no, you just drop that little bit like you were an intern on Titanic, so I'm not going to let that go. Please tell me a little bit about that experience.

Stephanie Palmer 4:53
Well, I can tell you that my first job on that was to drive I've boxes that I was not open over the Mexican border. Because I look like a nice, innocent girl from Iowa, which I am. And I think the production staff thought, well, she's not going to get stopped by border patrol. In retrospect, I never should have done that. And I would not do that again. But as I was a college student and desperate like, wow, I don't know anything. I'm going to be on this giant movie, how exciting. I'll do whatever they asked me. That was my first job.

Alex Ferrari 5:29
Wow. So you were a meal? Basically?

Stephanie Palmer 5:33
Pretty much. Yeah, I don't I truly don't know what was in the boxes. But it was very clear. I wasn't know.

Alex Ferrari 5:39
If is there, you don't know what, I have no

Stephanie Palmer 5:41
idea. Yeah, no.

Alex Ferrari 5:45
And I had a few friends of mine who worked on on Titanic too. And I, you know, I've heard the legendary stories of Mr. Cameron. And, and you know how he was back then? I'm assuming you can concur.

Stephanie Palmer 5:58
Yes. I mean, the funny thing was, is I, one of my jobs was also to be in the production office and just be basically like a runner or anything that they needed. And so I did my best to just disappear when I'd be there unless there was something that was needed. And it was pretty amazing to get to sponge in that information and see how decisions were made. See who opinion was listened to and who was ignored. Just to be sort of in that pressure cooker of so many decisions happening? I mean, there was so much at stake. At that time. No one thought they were making a huge, financially successful movie, everyone thought that it was going to be the most expensive movie ever made. You know, the bombs.

Alex Ferrari 6:41
Right. Right, right. Yeah, I've heard I've heard. I mean, we've all studied and know that story quite well. But yeah, it's so interesting to hear. It's so interesting to hear from from somebody who was actually inside the belly of the beast. And so I so young, like you just starting off, not like you were a seasoned pro in the belly of the beast, you are a innocent little lamb.

Stephanie Palmer 7:01
Yes, I was totally innocent. Don't misunderstand me that anyone was consulting my opinion on certain things? I mean, maybe what kind of cups we should have, you know, in the coffee machine or something? Was I physically there? And did I get to witness, you know, get to be on the giant set, where on the water where one side looks like the Titanic. And the other side is a giant construction site with the big, you know, industrial cranes and elevators, and all of the extra speaking Spanish and they're beautiful, you know, Titanic gear, playing cards and drinking soda and whatever is very exciting.

Alex Ferrari 7:42
So I mean, so you go right from Titanic, then I guess you go to another small company like Jerry Bruckheimer, which is, you become an assistant there. Can you tell me what you learned while being at that company, which is obviously in its in its heyday. And he's still very big, obviously, today. But there was a moment in time for about 20 years or more, that Jerry was making some of the biggest movies going out in Hollywood. So how was it? How was it? What did you learn from that experience?

Stephanie Palmer 8:13
It was fascinating. The best part of my job was that I got to listen in on phone calls. And it was my first experience, realizing that it's a common Hollywood practice where executives would have an assistant and the assistant is listening in, you know, on both sides, so there'd be two people having a conversation, but there's actually four people listening in that that's standard practice. But it was fascinating to me that I got to really listen into all the negotiations and all the pitches and any, you know, rolling calls and placing calls for my boss, and just really getting to see how deals happen at that really high level. Because obviously, I mean, at that time, but still is definitely the case. People want to be in business with Jerry because he gets movies and TV shows made at a very high level at a very high level. People want to work with them.

Alex Ferrari 9:06
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I remember the first time I was on a call with an executive. And that happened to me, like the assistant just like usual. Hey, Tom, did you get that and just what, what the hell just happened was the entire time

Stephanie Palmer 9:20
in the charade. It's so silly. That's a charade that people pretend that the person isn't listening in but they both know that they are and it's so silly, but yes, it is.

Alex Ferrari 9:31
No now while you were at a Jerry Bruckheimer company, did you hear any pitches that actually that we that turned into a movie that we might know or a TV show that might know?

Stephanie Palmer 9:41
I'm sure. Remember the Titans was pitched while I was there. Coyote Ugly was pitched while I was there. Oh, is it called down and under? I'm thinking there was a Scott Rosenberg kangaroo project. i Oh, yeah. From my head, whatever that one was,

Alex Ferrari 9:59
that was picture We're gonna get Jerry McDonald was in that right? Yeah, that one.

Stephanie Palmer 10:03
A lot of TV division was basically just starting at that time. So I mean, they just kind of exploded out of the gates. So a lot of TV shows were pitched during that time, and they just have a huge development slate. So there was, there were all was multiple projects that, you know, from deep development, development, pre production, in production and post production, basically all happening at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 10:32
So you, I mean, you see exactly what's gonna say, at an early part in your career, you had access to basically the upper echelon of Hollywood, essentially, whether you being an intern or an assistant, you were you were playing with the boys not maybe at their level yet, but at least you would there you were a fly on the wall, and that must have been

Stephanie Palmer 10:51
entirely. So it was, it was an incredible experience.

Alex Ferrari 10:56
Now, I'm the match a question, you heard 1000s of pitches, I'm sure 1000s and 1000s of pitches over the years. Why do some pitches connect and others don't? Is there a secret sauce or some sort?

Stephanie Palmer 11:09
I think that there are some things that people do well, when pitching that anyone can implement. And it doesn't matter the kind of project that you have, I mean, some pitches, some projects are naturally more easily pitched. You know, a lot of comedies are generally easier to pitch, or movies that are simpler in plot than character driven pieces, or multiple storylines that are, you know, interwoven project like it a lot harder to give a verbal pitch for. But for any project, one of my simple the simplest piece of advice, but that so many people neglect to do is to lead with genre. So if you're going to give a verbal pitch, it's that genre that gives context to the listener. And without that crucial piece of information, it's easy for the person who's hearing the pitch to make incorrect assumptions about their story and get confused. So for example, writer tells me that he's got a story that involves the CIA, I could assume it's a thriller, like Three Days of the Condor, when it's really a drama, like the good shepherd or a comedy like to meet the parents. So simply saying, My project is a romantic comedy, or my project is an action thriller, is the first ever my first tip, it's so simple, it's so it's something that anyone can do. But it's shocking how rare that is.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
Really, people just aren't going into their story. And that tell you the context of their story, because you can forget it. So thriller, and spy

Stephanie Palmer 12:49
is a spy, there's a spy, they start talking all about the spy and then the spy cert. So you either think it's a drama, or a thriller or a comedy, but then whatever you think the character starts acting in a really ridiculous way. You're like, what are they talking about? Why are these people dying? I thought it was a comedy, or vice versa. And so just simply describing the genre at the beginning is key.

Alex Ferrari 13:13
Okay, now, are there beats in a pitch? Like, is there a pace that you should follow? Is there some sort of code like, you know, obviously, there's a structure for screenplays? Is there a structure to a

Stephanie Palmer 13:23
pitch? There can be? It's, it's not one size fits all? Because obviously, projects are so different. I'm looking for a pitch to be memorable and repeatable. Because it's extremely rare that the first time you pitch a project, someone says, Yes, I want to buy it. The way that projects are purchased is that you pitch it to one person, maybe you pitch it to a producer, and the producer says, Oh, I'm really interested. Okay, now, let me take it to a financier. Let me take it to a studio and they re pitch it. And then the studio executive, you know, Junior studio executive says, Okay, let me pitch it to my boss, who's the president of the studio. It's like, you need to have something that's repeatable, and memorable so that if someone's hearing it for the first time, they can say, Okay, I got it. I'm going to go re pitch this to someone else on my team or someone up the chain.

Alex Ferrari 14:10
What you just explained, sounds just torturous. All the bureaucracy that goes on to like, I gotta go this guy than this guy. This guy. This. You might have to be pitched this thing 1015 times before?

Stephanie Palmer 14:23
If you're 110 50. I mean, 100. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:27
Yeah, you're right, because you're constantly pitching to the actors you're taking pitching to different. Yeah, I guess you're right.

Stephanie Palmer 14:32
Any actor, you know, you should be in it. Here's why other executives, financiers, that's a huge process, the marketing department. I mean, all the way and at the end, a lot of times, if it's a really good pitch, it's that same pitch that's frequently used in the trailer to pitch the movie to a potential audience.

Alex Ferrari 14:52
So pitching is basically a skill set that most people don't have, and it's probably one of the most crucial In filmmaking in general,

Stephanie Palmer 15:02
I think it's the second most crucial, I think, one you have to be able to write if you're a writer, you have to be able to write without that. There's nothing. But if you have that skill, and that talent, the next most important, as far as having a successful career, is being able to pitch effectively. know people who are good in a room, like if there's two people who have an equal equally, beautifully written script, the person who pitches it more effectively, their movie is going to get made, they're going to get hired.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
It's all about marketing. And this is just another form of marketing, marketing, the idea of it's your you're basically marketing the idea. Exactly. That's what a pitch is. So, how long how long do you have as a general statement, to grab someone with a pitch? Do you have 30 seconds? Do you have a minute? Or before they just start tuning out? Like how long do you really have to grab somebody? Or is it just varies per person, I guess.

Stephanie Palmer 15:58
Um, I know that I don't have a specific number. I feel like it's under 90 seconds. I mean, it's amazing how long 90 seconds can be like, for example, I'm going to be leading the pitch conference at the American Film Market this Saturday, and just this week have been reviewing, so anyone who wants to pitch from the stage submits a video. And to me, and then I review them with this other panel, and we decide who's going to pitch from the stage and the those pitches are limited to two minutes. But it is amazing how long two minutes is. I mean, it is hard to pay attention for a two minute pitch.

Alex Ferrari 16:40
Yeah, I can. Yeah, I can. Absolutely. That's sad in many, many of many film festival watching the short film sometimes and you just features and use like, Oh, my God, just stop. Yes, exactly. We this is the longest 20 minutes, longest five minutes of my life,

Stephanie Palmer 16:57
right? And you you want it? Yes, you want it to be great. But two minutes can be very, very long. So the goal for an effective pitch is really to pitch it as simply and as short as you can make it that still conveys the idea clearly.

Alex Ferrari 17:16
Now, what's the what most turns you off about a pitch?

Stephanie Palmer 17:23
I mean, if there's nothing that makes you care about any of the characters or want to find out what's going to happen. I mean, I think the surprising thing about a lot of pitches is just how when you that that people are so close to their project, they love it, they know it so well, that they have lost perspective on what someone who's hearing it for the first time needs to know to be able to understand. I mean, a lot of pitches are totally incomprehensible. They're all over the place. You really can't say I have no someone will finish pitching to me like I have no idea what you're talking about who is the main character? What is the setting? What happens in the story? What happens in the beginning, middle and an end? There are a lot of no idea

Alex Ferrari 18:08
is because because writers they just they just know the story so well that they assume certain things that they're pitching, and forget those little details. Totally understandable.

Stephanie Palmer 18:19
Yeah, completely. It's totally understandable. Because you're so close to the characters, you're so close into all the details. But you forget, you know the characters so well. But the audience or the person listening is hearing that for the very first time.

Alex Ferrari 18:33
Right, exactly. Now, this is something I know a lot of people don't do. And I'd love for to get some insight from you what they should do. What kind of research should a writer or filmmaker do on a company or an executive before they pitched the story?

Stephanie Palmer 18:50
Great question. This is so key. So key to having a successful pitch. It is figuring out basically, any individual company studio production company is looking to replicate their past success. So if they have had a movie or TV show that has done really well, the more that your project can be, if it's in a similar genre, that's great. If it has a similar main character or Millea, or budget range, even anything that's similar to what they have done in the past that has done well. It's just going to increase the odds that your project will sell. It doesn't mean that they're looking to make the identical movie again, although, frankly, sometimes people are it's more like it's more like it's more like, hey, they really figured out how to market this indie thriller Are they really figured out how to market this mainstream high school comedy and so they know what that audience is looking for. They know the channels To get this out there, they know what it takes. And so they already are looking for okay, we figured it out with this one now, where some Where's another project that we can, you know, release next year at the same time for the same audience that's going to deliver the same experience that this previous success did.

Alex Ferrari 20:19
will be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So, a lot of times people just go ahead. No, there's a lot of times a lot of people will, you know, some people I'm imagining would have, at some point in time had pitched horror movies to Disney.

Stephanie Palmer 20:42
Oh, absolutely. Definitely. Definitely.

Alex Ferrari 20:46
And that's just lack of research.

Stephanie Palmer 20:48
Yeah. And so it's figuring out, what has, what has this company done in the past? What do they currently have in development? Anything that you can find out about the specific people that you're meeting, one of the questions that I like to ask in a meeting, is, what's something that you're excited about this year, or something, you know, a sort of open ended question that gives the executive or the producer that you're meeting, a chance to brag about something that they're working on, you know, like, oh, we just made this big deal with this project, I'm really excited about it. But it also gives you insight into what's working well, for that person. So if there's a way for your project to have similar themes, or similar budget, or similar timeframe, or any of the aspects, you know, you can tell what's important to the person by asking them to brag about themselves, basically,

Alex Ferrari 21:42
that is a beautiful tip. It is really, really beautiful tip, because that is anytime you can have somebody that you're trying to pitch, feel good about themselves and talk about,

Stephanie Palmer 21:55
they're just gonna like you, you know, you're like you because you're making them feel good about themselves.

Alex Ferrari 22:02
It's communication one on one, but it's something that a lot of people don't do. So, can you talk a little bit about the business side of being a writer? Sure, a lot of writers just like I just want to write, I just want to this, you know, I just want to tell my story. I don't want to get into the Hollywood business side of stuff. I'm like, well, then you're never ever going to make it as a writer or as a filmmaker. So can you talk a little bit from your perspective of writers? Because I know you work a lot with writers, what they should do, how to they structure their career, what how should they come out to the town? What kind of projects should it things like that? Sure. But

Stephanie Palmer 22:39
I'm happy to talk anything business, I'm having any talk money, any anything you want to talk about. I'm happy to talk about it. For me, for writers, the biggest mistake that I see many writers who want to break in do is that they have a number, they know that they need to have more than one project, or a lot of people know that. So which is the case, you definitely need to have, at minimum two to three really polished projects before you start marketing yourself and really try to break in. It's it's not a business where you're one, it's going to be a one hit wonder, like people always say to me, Oh, I'm willing to be a one hit wonder, I want to be a one hit wonder. But that that really isn't possible. It's too competitive, it's too competitive. And people need to know, agents are only interested in working with people who are going to have enough longevity and enough projects to be able to sell multiple projects. Because the first projects rarely sell for very much, the agent makes very little money at the beginning. So they want to know, oh, I'm going to be this with this person and representing them over a period of years and the number of deals to make it financially worth me investing in this person. So there really isn't the way to do it as a one hit wonder, in general. But as I was saying before, the the biggest mistake that I see a lot of people make is that they write a bunch of different projects in different genres. And also different mediums like they might have a TV show, they might have a reality show. They also have a indie thriller, and they have a studio comedy, and they believe or they think, Okay, this is really going to show that I have a lot of range and I can write a bunch of different things. But unfortunately, how that is perceived is more like the jack of all trades, master of none. And that executive the decision makers who are hiring writers want to hire specialists, like they want to hire the person who knows everything that there is to know about comic book movies for their comic book movie, or they want to hire the person who has watched every horror movie knows the ins and outs of everything that's coming out in the future has been done in the past, what are the classics and make sure that their horror movie really delivers for that? You know, the horror fanatic audience they don't want someone who they're not looking to hire someone to write a bunch of different projects, it's really the way to break through is to be a specialist in one area. So I recommend that people develop multiple projects in a similar genre, they don't have to all be identical, but at least closely related so that they can show that they have a specialty. Then when they break in, and they've, they've shown that they have the facility and expertise in one area. At that point, it is so much easier to branch out and do something else. But you can't try and break in with a wide variety of genres and mediums. Like it's different than the goal. It's a different business. It's a different career path to become a TV writer than it is to become a film screenwriter.

Alex Ferrari 25:48
Oh, absolutely. It's come to different worlds what TV writers are, guess I would imagine what TV you work a lot more like, Do you have a steady paycheck? If you're if you're on a show, as opposed to a screenwriter, maybe one year you get paid maybe the other year?

Stephanie Palmer 26:05
From model, yeah, it's a different model. But also the TV writing is generally done in the office like it is an office job where you go to the office and you work with a team of people, whereas screenwriters generally work by themselves at home or, you know, maybe they have an office space, but they're working solely on their own, and on a project that has a long timeframe, whereas TV is tight deadlines, working on a team in an office extremely intensely.

Alex Ferrari 26:33
Right, exactly, exactly. That's a good point. Because I think a lot of filmmakers and writers in general make that mistake, like I'm gonna, as a filmmaker, you're like, I'm gonna make a comedy and I'm gonna make a horror movie, then I'm gonna make an action movie and you send it out. And people are like, well, what are you like you? You can't do that just yet.

Stephanie Palmer 26:51
In Yeah, and that agents don't know how to sell people who have a bunch of different projects. So it makes them less interested. And something that a lot of people say to me also is like, well, but I don't want to be pigeonholed. And I don't want that. But I say, why wouldn't you want to be pigeonholed? That means that you are known for doing something really, really well. And likely you are paid extremely well, like the people who are known for doing something very specific, like whether it's the Michael Bay, or it's David Mamet or any Guillermo del Toro Anyone, anyone who you can who has an identifiable niche or brands you're like, Yeah, but people keep coming back to that person. They keep offering the movies, they keep offering them more and more money to do movies in that genre. It doesn't mean that you always have to say yes to those things. But wouldn't you still much rather be in that position where you're turning down work because you have this great reputation in a particular area? Then having no one want to work with you and not having any jobs? Because you're worried about being pigeonholed?

Alex Ferrari 27:59
Right I'm so looking forward to the Quentin Tarantino comedy slabs coming.

Stephanie Palmer 28:07
I will be doing that as well.

Alex Ferrari 28:10
I think I think people could argue that a lot of his movies are a little bit.

Stephanie Palmer 28:15
Comedy. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 28:17
He's a he's a he's a wonderful comedic writer. But I want like a Naked Gun naked go quintard Geno's, Naked Gun that I would, I would you know, turn to his airplane, you know, that's what I'm looking for.

Stephanie Palmer 28:33
Someone will make a short of that and put it on YouTube. I'm sure.

Alex Ferrari 28:37
I'm sure I may be a perfect example. You said Michael Bay, like, I mean, Michael Bay is Michael Bay. And he is he's, he's great. At what he does, he makes amazing pretty pictures. If you like him as a filmmaker, you don't like him as a filmmaker. At least he is known for doing that. You can't argue that his images are just stunning. Like, what? They are on the screen. They're stunning. And there's nobody and honestly there is nobody else in the business who does what he does. Like they call it Bay ham. It's an actual term for it. You know, it's like and you know, when anytime you get like a Tarantino ism, you know, when you get to that level of specialty, and you know, Woody Allen that it really was the Allen ask Robert Oh, yes,

Unknown Speaker 29:21
yes.

Alex Ferrari 29:21
You know, then you have arrived at a certain level in your career where like, that's a niche. That's that's the specific thing they do. And now, you know, I mean, look at Spielberg for God's sakes to start off, and a horror movie basically, that's a horror thriller with JAWS. And that blew him up. He did a couple before that, but but duel was similar and then that he kind of branched off into other things, but it took him time to get out of that. And then we will talk about 1941 because he doesn't want to talk about 1940. So let me ask you, what inspired you to create good in a room and give back to writers and filmmakers?

Stephanie Palmer 29:58
Well, I had been an executive for a number of years. And I felt I had gotten to work on all these different projects. And I really liked the production process. And I love the development process. But the life of being a studio executive is very stressful. And there really aren't breaks. I mean, it's, it's a job where you have to be on call 24 hours a day, and I just sort of saw my future and thinking, How much longer do I want this to be my day to day existence, and I knew that the end was coming. It wasn't something where I said, Okay, now I want to move up and be, you know, worked my way up to being a studio president or CEO, something like that. That was it just came to a point where that wasn't the lifestyle that I wanted to have. And so I was thinking, well, how can I take this experience that I've had, and take the best part of my job, which is working with writers? That's the part that I love? And would do all the time, anytime? How can I make that what I do on a day to day basis. And so I thought about it for a while and took some business classes and decided that I would start a consulting firm. So when I left MGM I started getting the room has now been almost 10 years, which is hard to believe. And I started working in 21, aren't you? Yes, I am. Absolutely. I I'm aging backwards. I so I started working one on one, just coaching writers who were pitching projects. And out of that I was interviewed on some TV shows and got a book deal. And so I wrote my book, also called good in the room. And that was published by Random House and then continued to expand my consulting business and now have created some online courses. Just because I wanted I knew that we'll want to consult with everybody that wants to just because I'm one person and you know, it's not a scalable business to work one on one you can only I can only meet with so many people in a day. And then that I also wanted to make the information that I share in consults and helping people pitch more effectively and sell their scripts that I wanted that to be available to people wherever they were in the US, especially if they didn't live in Los Angeles, since for a lot of people. I know living in Los Angeles is impossible, but they still want to get their work considered. And so I've created an online course that is called How to be a professional writer. And it is a series of videos and ebooks that people can work through to really see how projects are sold, what they need to do to get their work considered.

Alex Ferrari 32:38
Very cool. Very cool. Matt, can you tell me a little bit about because I saw, I saw online a video of yours that you were talking about your experience pitching good in a room to the publishers and talk a little bit about that experience, which is ironic, but yet very entertaining.

Stephanie Palmer 32:56
Well, so I was interviewed on NPR as a business, which is awesome show that's still going on. It's still on the air. We're on the radio. And after I was on the business, I got a phone call from an agent, actually one of the biggest book agents in the world, even though I didn't know him. And he said, You know, I think that what you have is worthy of being a book, I think you should write it, why don't you write a book proposal and then come to New York, and I think I can help you sell it. I was like, this never happens. But amazing. Great. Okay, I'll do it. And so I ran out and got every book about how to write a book proposal and put together my proposal and went to New York, was all excited and got into the first meeting with publisher and they were asking me, you know, like, sat down on the couch in the meeting. And there's the executives, and they're like, you know, so tell me about your book. And I just totally froze, because I had not ever been in the position of being the writer actually pitching. I was always the person on the other side of the desk asking the questions of the writer. And so even though I obviously my book is called good in a room in that first meeting, I absolutely wasn't, it was mortifying. And then I went back to my hotel room and got my act together and was like, Oh, my gosh, that's horrible. And thankfully, I had other meetings that week where I, you know, focused on, I got my materials together, and I then was able to deliver a good meeting. But it was kind of a shocking role reversal that you would think I would have known ahead of time but it all happened so fast that I just, I was caught off guard.

Alex Ferrari 34:35
You were caught off guard and then thank God your books around now to help people like you.

Stephanie Palmer 34:43
I can't go back and read my own book The next time to make sure that I prepared. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 34:51
So, um, and then when you were at MGM, you were basically the gatekeeper, right, the first level of getting movies made right, yeah. So are there can you Tell me any funny stories of a pitch that you were just like, What is this?

Stephanie Palmer 35:08
Well, there were certainly people who would come in costume. There was one gentleman who came wearing only a diaper and holding a large samurai sword. That standard out.

Alex Ferrari 35:21
I love that movie. I love that movie, by the way, that's for samurai sword movie.

Stephanie Palmer 35:29
There also was a couple brothers sister writing team who were pitching a romantic comedy and they were acting out the main characters until the point that they were leaning in for a kiss. Oh, they didn't kiss but it was extremely uncomfortable. There also was someone this poor gentleman who was so nervous, and I think he'd been drinking. But he left he was so nervous and sweaty that he left a writer shaped sweat stain on my couch. Brilliant.

Alex Ferrari 36:11
Room the second edition.

Stephanie Palmer 36:14
It would be called bad in a room. Yeah, bad in a room. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 36:18
It's a sequel bad in a room. Wow. So I'm assuming that people that come in and costume, that's not a good fun, or is that have you? have you guys gotten the dude,

Stephanie Palmer 36:28
I mean, it's funny. I generally don't like gimmicks like that. I mean, I think because really, you're especially at the studio level, you're going to if you hire this person, it's going to be for, you know, a minimum of about $100,000, you're going to be working with them over a year, it's not like you just buy their project and then say sayonara and never talk to them. Again, you're going to be developing the project with this person. And so you want them to be a professional. So in general, I'm not a fan of gimmicks. But there are times and there certainly are stories of people who have brought in some sort of prop or video reel or something that really tells the story in a unique way. So it's not that I'm so I can't say no visual aids ever. But in general, things that are gimmicky don't really, in my opinion, don't really help the story you want. You want to be able to tell the story in a really compelling way that the executive can see the movie and then say yes, this is a movie I want to see.

Alex Ferrari 37:30
Now, you brought a good point up when you said video reel. Are there times where people come in and use video as a pitch tool. Like they literally just play a DVD of a story either. How would we say proof of concept? Is it done talking? Is it animatics? What

Stephanie Palmer 37:48
all of the above it's visual aids, if they have any sort of animation, or there's some sort of creature or they want to show visual, a sense of, especially if they want to direct certainly that's even more common. But but but people are doing more and more demos to prove the concept that they're pitching. This is also kind of a slippery slope. Because especially at the studio level, people have such high expectations for production value that even though it may be amazing, and it is amazing the things that filmmakers can do you know, from their home computer, it may not live up to what a studio can do, because their budget is just so obscenely high for creating you know, a trailer or proof of concept reel or something. But there definitely have been people who, who can create something that's really compelling and they they need to show it in video for a movie to get made. And that does happen with some frequency certainly.

Alex Ferrari 38:49
So I come I don't know if you knew this, but I come from a post production background. And I've been a VFX supervisor and post supervisor and all sorts everything in post I've done at one point or another. And in any filmmakers many times will you were saying the high level of production value. They a lot of independent films that try to do visual effects, they'll do them and they'll try to be so ambitious with it and I keep telling them like you know, sometimes I get this conversation of like, alright, so I have this shot. Did you see that shot and Avengers? I'm like, You need to stop right there. You can't afford craft services or the coffee budget Avengers. Okay, right, just let it go. You need to do something that's within the realm of doing what you can't do very, very well as a uniform trying to be so ambitious. You know, I would rather be able to hit a nail on a hammer really, really well and try to build a house by myself beautifully

Stephanie Palmer 39:45
said that totally support that. Yes, second.

Alex Ferrari 39:50
So, are there any final advice you would give on delivering an amazing pitch?

Stephanie Palmer 39:59
Let's A I will say that Well, one thing that is super common, that is also easy for people not to do is don't give a positive opinion of your own work. So for example, this is a great story and you're gonna love it. I mean, how many times have you heard that right? Or this is gonna be amazing, right? So just like every parent, including me thinks their child is brilliant. And every dog owner thinks that their pet is adorable. It's expected that you are a fan of your own work. But some other things to say, besides not to say, Besides, you're going to love this or like, don't say this will be number one at the box office. This is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This has great international appeal. It's really really funny. It's commercial, any of that sort of stuff. Instead, let the listener form their own opinion.

Alex Ferrari 40:55
That's excellent. Excellent advice. Now, when you when you're talking you brought you brought a question to mind. I've always heard that. A lot of times when you pitching, you should you should try to be like, it's Pulp Fiction meets kangaroo Jack.

Stephanie Palmer 41:12
Kangaroo Jack. Movie, you thought of it? Yeah, I know.

Alex Ferrari 41:19
So like people combined, it's like The Matrix meets, you know, you know, you know, unnecessary roughness? I don't know. Yeah, those people do that good. Is that that is that good or bad?

Stephanie Palmer 41:31
I'm anti, this meets that phenomenon. A lot of people promote it. But those are not the people who are buying projects, it is important for you to have an answer. When someone asks you what project is yours most like? Because that is a very common question. So you do want to have an answer for that. And a lot of times what people are asking is really about tone. Like How broad is the comedy? Or how severe is the violence? Or the you know, how serious is the sex? Is it just light handed? Or are you really seeing, you know, penetration, or whatever it is. They're really asking about tone then. But people often misconstrue this to think that it's about plot or about characters. And so if people lead with this meets that, what often happens is that the person who's listening is going to be going along sort of ticking in their mind. How is this most like Pulp Fiction? How is this like kangaroo Jack, where's the kangaroo? Where's the whatever, instead of thinking instead of listening to the story as an original idea, they're just like listening to it as a, a hack of these two things. And I don't think that's the best way to present a project. And so often the way that people choose this means that I mean, they're totally bizarre and totally off so that you're sitting there listening, you're like, this is a thing like kangaroo Jack, or whatever it is. And so that's, that's not so do have an answer for what your practice is most like particularly regarding the tone but don't lead with this meets that

Alex Ferrari 43:09
and if you do have that title or that movie in your in your back pocket, try not to choose a movie that the bombed.

Stephanie Palmer 43:17
Definitely. Oh, really.

Alex Ferrari 43:21
It's really like I was

Stephanie Palmer 43:23
I mean, in my first studio meeting when I was an executive, and I had found a project that was really like election you remember the Reese Witherspoon? I mean, elections a great movie. So I was like, This is gonna be the next election. My boss looked across the table at me. He was like, never say that movie again. Like, okay, because they might have I was it was a box office bomb. Yeah, it bombed. Right. Even though it's a terrific movie, I think. So yeah. Only keep your references to things that have been financially successful. If you're, if you're talking to anyone who's a potential buyer, investor financier. That's the best. They're looking for.

Alex Ferrari 44:03
That simple tip I can say, because I've had people pitch me things. And they're like, it's kind of like Howard the Duck. I'm like, stop. Why are you why? Why would I want to do that? Right? Yeah. How were the duck is a genius movie. It's very underappreciated. I'm just saying. Okay, so. So my last two questions are the most hard hitting and toss to prepare yourself. I'm what are your top what are your top three favorite films of all time? And what is the most one of the most underrated films that you've seen?

Stephanie Palmer 44:37
Oh my gosh, these are hard hitting for me because I really care about this kind of question because it's constantly changing. And every time another actor I hang up and I'm like, Oh, I didn't get the right answer. I will say EP one of my favorites Ichi at the moment father of the bride i know it's no you know, wow. Ever made, but it's just it's just a classic that's playing around in my house at this moment. And God, I really am totally drawing a blank. I mean, I'll watch Pulp Fiction any day. I mean, there's never enough time to watch that a zillion times and under appreciated. Let's think I'm trying to think of their election. Sure. I mean, I think that's totally under appreciated. I love that movie. And I would watch it again, right now. It's been years since I've seen it. So actually, I wonder if it still holds up. But I bet at this

Alex Ferrari 45:43
right. I've read. And I think we could both agree that Pulp Fiction would have been better with a kangaroo. Obviously.

I'm just saying I've just say Jerry, Jerry miss out. I'm just saying.

Stephanie Palmer 45:58
Yeah, really.

Alex Ferrari 46:02
So where, where can people find you?

Stephanie Palmer 46:05
I am easily findable on the web. My website is good in a room.com. And I have lots of free resources available for filmmakers, lots of screenplays, people can read and also articles for people to help who are going to be pitching a project to give them advice about what they shouldn't shouldn't do. So good in the room COMM And I'm also on Twitter at good in a room and have a Facebook page, also called good in the room.

Alex Ferrari 46:30
Great brandy.

Stephanie Palmer 46:31
Thank you. It's consistent, if nothing else,

Alex Ferrari 46:37
exactly. 70. Thank you so much for for being on the show. I really do appreciate it.

Stephanie Palmer 46:42
It is my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 46:45
I don't know about you guys. But I'm going to be working on my pitches going for it after reading her book, Stephanie's book, good in a room, I really realized a lot of the things I was doing wrong in doing my pitches. And pitching is such an important part of filmmaking. As a director, as a screenwriter, as a costume designer, you're always pitching your ideas, you're always selling your ideas in one way, shape, or form. So being as it's basically you're marketing yourself, you're selling yourself, but you're selling your ideas, and how to be able to do that with very short amount of time. And in very tight quarters, sometimes like an elevator to be able to express your ideas will give you definitely a leg up on the competition, if you will, moving forward and getting projects made getting screenplays sold, getting movie gigs, and so on. And I think it's definitely a skill that everybody in the world can use in one way, shape or form. You're always selling your ideas you're always pitching. Even if it's to your wife on where you want to go to dinner that night or what movie you want to watch. It's a pitch. It's a sales pitch of one shape or form. So I really Thanks, Stephanie for being on the show. She was awesome. And definitely check her book out good in a room. I'll leave all of her links, and a link to her book in the show notes which you can get at Indie film hustle.com forward slash BPS 018. And guys, thanks again, for all the support on the show. It's been doing very, very well. I'm getting 1000s of downloads on this on this podcast. So I'm so excited that it's helping as many screenwriters out as possible. So thank you. And if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com And leave us a five star review on iTunes. It really really helps us out a lot with the rankings and helping get this information out to as many screenwriters as humanly possible. Thanks again. And as always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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BPS 016: How to Sell Your Idea to Television with TV Agent Matthew Doyle

Today’s guest cracked open a door to a part of the industry I had no idea about, television. Matthew Doyle is a television lit agent at the Verve Talent and Literary Agency. 

He’s an up and comer in the industry and definitely a hustler. My co-host Sebastian Twardos and I wanted to get an “in the trenches” perceptive on the television market and Matthew delivered. He tells a great story on how he got promoted to an agent with a prank by the partners at Verve. Here’s a bit on Matthew Doyle:

Doyle joined in January as Verve’s first off-desk TV lit coordinator. He implemented a new system for information flow and tracking, redesigned current grids, and helped lead Verve to its most successful staffing season ever, with 80% of clients staffed on broadcast and cable shows. He has been an aggressive recruiter, interviewing and training new employees.

Worked with up-and-coming clients such as Arkasha Stevenson and Kirk Sullivan on the television side, and has played an important role in signing clients staffed on upcoming series such as “Pitch” and “Riverdale.” Challenges of the job? “Recognizing that everyone is the protagonist of their own story, and treating them accordingly,” Doyle says. – From Variety – 10 Assistants to Watch. Enjoy our conversation with Matthew Doyle.

All of these Sundance Series episodes are co-produced by Sebastian Twardosz.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
Hi, I'm Alex Ferrari.

Sebastian Twardosz 3:28
And I'm Sebastian Torres. And we are here with Matthew doe, who is an agent at VIRB. Thank you, Matthew For for doing this.

Matthew Doyle 3:35
It's my pleasure to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
Now I heard through the trades that you just had a really great promotion. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Matthew Doyle 3:41
Yeah. So the way it works, that verb and pretty much any agency is they don't tell you when you're gonna get promoted. Right, which is torture. It's torture us

Alex Ferrari 3:51
because it's like being on death row. Like you don't know if you're going to but in a positive way.

Matthew Doyle 3:55
Yeah, it's, it's brutal. And and you're stewing and myself, I felt in my mind that I deserved to get promoted, which has nothing to do with whether you will get promoted. Like life in the film business. Yeah. So yeah, there's no it's not fair at all. And but I was hoping to, and we had the holiday party for the company. And if there was one last chance to get promoted, it would have been at the holiday party. And I knew this. They had this video that they showed of all the agents, parents, sort of talking about how when they knew their child was going to be an agent. They did

Sebastian Twardosz 4:36
know you're going to be an agent. That's awesome. We knew Matthew would be an agent as soon

Matthew Doyle 4:41
as agents, parents, and they're really old and it's great. Yeah. Then the video ends and then it starts up again and my parents are on the screen. And

Sebastian Twardosz 4:53
you're at the end like tortured you all the way to like

Matthew Doyle 4:57
after I was I actually was it by that point.

Sebastian Twardosz 5:00
I was happy I wouldn't other people got promoted before you were the last

Matthew Doyle 5:03
No, no, I was, I was the only one promoted to agent. So the thing was happening, and I was watching it, and it was poignant, whatever. And then my parents come up, and they start talking about my childhood. And it's really kind of weird and awkward, awkward. I thought, and it was emotional. And then they said that, Matt, you're an agent. So it's something that the partners had spoken to them about weeks beforehand and kept they kept it quiet for me and kept it quiet. Wow. And the agent, and then the agent and my parents because my parents did a video. And then they call them back. And they're like, this is great. We love it. Perfect. We need to do is maybe like, a little bit shorter. Right? That's great notes. So they gave really good, no, so my parents were like, wow, they're the nicest individuals. It's like, you're you were your age? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 5:58
It's kind of So explain what age being aging is. Again, it's just basically notes and like, the whole getting

Matthew Doyle 6:03
someone to do something without making without them realizing that they're being convinced to do it or offending them. And that's an art. Yeah, it's being but yeah, yes. It doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Sebastian Twardosz 6:17
Okay. Very cool. Okay, so what kind of agent Are you now?

Matthew Doyle 6:20
I'm a literary agent for television. I represent writers and directors in the television business.

Alex Ferrari 6:27
That's now when I mean, we talk a lot about indie filmmakers. And I know there's a lot of indie filmmakers now that are trying to go into television trying to do series. And do you think it's smart to do a kind of spec, you know, spec episode of a show, like as a proof of concept or something like that? Or is it better to just create a Bible? Or what would be the process? What would you suggest?

Matthew Doyle 6:48
Well, yeah, actually, if you have the finances to create a spec episode of the show, I think that is really smart. Okay. And I There are several examples of that, that that have worked out and example. The first example would be a show that aired on TBS search party. The way that happened is now the talent involved was more substantial than probably where most people are starting out. Sure. By the way that happened is they made that for on spec, a short pilot for like, maybe $10,000. And they use that as a proof of concept for a series, okay. And then it was off of that they were able to take the TPS and say, This is how it's supposed to look, this is the style of it. And that gave the executives a better understanding of

Sebastian Twardosz 7:36
oil drawdown is this people who have already succeeded in the business.

Matthew Doyle 7:40
They I don't know. I'm not sure I'm trying to remember the writer director or the creator was there are people who were already established enough but the point is, and if they hadn't done that, it would never would have been bought. It was only when they made it that they were able to get people interested. Is it

Alex Ferrari 7:59
Sunny? It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That's another example he did that to his right yeah,

Matthew Doyle 8:03
that's another example right?

Alex Ferrari 8:05
I remember that. I remember that story hitting because it was done very low budge, who was Did they have the stars there yet? Or no,

Matthew Doyle 8:09
but yeah, it was all I mean, they weren't stars then rob Macklin veto wasn't with them at that point. No, even like the second or the third season. Okay. The network wanted to add some star power to it. That originally was just Charlie de Rob MacClenny Kaitlin Olson

Alex Ferrari 8:25
so they weren't they weren't stars yet. No, not at all. They

Matthew Doyle 8:27
made it You cheap to concept was really, really lucky because they brought it to a net to FX right at a time when they were open and willing to engage in something like that. It's rare. It's, it would be surprising if a place like HBO, for example, were to purchase something like that, but TBS when it purchased the search party, and I had nothing to do with that. This is just through what you hear through the grapevine stories. You're a member but they are in the process of trying to rebrand themselves. So when TBS the fact that TBS is trying to rebrand themselves, makes it perfect for them to take a risk on something like search party, like okay, we see you're trying to do something different. We want something different. So we'll put them

Sebastian Twardosz 9:13
here's the real question. Are you actually watching produced spec? Pilots?

Matthew Doyle 9:19
I would 100% Watch pretty spec pilot, I would probably watch a produce spec pilot. If we read them. Before I read. I would be more excited to watch it. Yeah. Because that they're putting their money where their mouth is. And the role of the duck. Yeah, it's it's indicating their ability to execute their vision. And if they can't do it, then it'll be apparent from but that

Sebastian Twardosz 9:42
that's the question that I worry about, like sometimes you might be better on the page than if you actually produced it if you didn't have the resources that somebody like you might be used to seeing.

Matthew Doyle 9:53
Yeah, you're right. They depends on who's doing what if you're a writer, director, and you have that ability And then that means the fact is, if you want to be a talent, you should be self aware enough to know how to realize it, whether you need to bring in a director, or whether you need to bring in talent and not accident yourself. So if you can execute it on your own, then that's that's just a learning experience.

Alex Ferrari 10:19
Now as a package, let's say I go out and shoot a spec spa, a spec. Yeah, let what else should they have a Bible should have a series The first season written, what else should they bring?

Matthew Doyle 10:28
That is a general rule having the most you possibly can? Well, it used the way it used to be is, in broadcast television is a pitch driven business, you would go in and you would talk about an idea and it would be 30 to 40 minutes, even our like blood line for which sold to Netflix was like a two hour pitch. When that sold, and it was epic, and it was detailed. Recently, television has become as in like the fat five past five, six years, television has become a spectrum in business as in people actually write the show. And then they take it to the network's right. But as a spec script pile, exactly. Now, the reason it didn't used to be that way is because if an artist executes the scripts, and you take to the network, and they buy it, what else is there for them to do? The value of the network executives is in shaping the script and giving notes. So usually networks, executives are not willing to engage in that. And right now the spec market is flooded for television. Everyone has a spec pilot and wants to take it out, especially from Baby writers. It's not as unique and interesting as it was, but like True Detective, and like 2011, whenever that sold, that was a spec pilot, and they had a pilot, they had a series. And they had the stars attach Of course. So like that was essential packaging.

Alex Ferrari 11:51
So but so so so gluttony right now of spec scripts right now. So if you had a actual spec pilot shot, it pulls you above,

Matthew Doyle 11:59
yeah, it separates you is that grabs you, in the same way that probably having a spec four or five years ago separated you from the crowd? It was it was something different,

Alex Ferrari 12:08
right? Because it was pitch before. Yeah. And then it was if you had a spec and now we've taken it. Yeah, exactly. Now how I mean, obviously, the streaming networks and Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, how has that affected your job your business, because obviously there's so many more options and opportunities for your clients. But how has that affected the market in general, that that you've seen in your experience? Well,

Matthew Doyle 12:29
an important thing to say is, from my perspective, I'm just starting out in my career. So I have my own thoughts on like the industry, but it's important to keep in mind that my position of someone who's in the trenches

Alex Ferrari 12:45
that that I want, I want your point of view, and I want you to be from the trenches, from the

Matthew Doyle 12:49
from the trenches, what it's a place like Netflix, you sell a show to Netflix. And the first thing I think about as a representative is the fact that there, there are so many shows on there. And the marketing push, it seems the marketing push by each behind each one is significantly less. So you can sell a show to Netflix and it gets lost in the crowd. It's a crowded ecosystem. And as a representative, that's scary because all you want for the artist is to add value to the network and an undeniable way which gives you which gives them leverage and you leverage for them to use in the marketplace and get them the best possible deal. Whereas with Netflix, and with Amazon, when you make a deal with them, they are very generous in their series orders but they buy out all the territories and they own it till the end of time. So the amount of money you can make is capped at the very top front. Exactly. So you're not going to make the amount of money you would have made had you sold it to a traditional broadcast network or even like a traditional cable network. For example,

Sebastian Twardosz 14:03
how do you find clients

Matthew Doyle 14:08
regarding being in the trenches as being in it, as much as I can, the which means what it means you work

Sebastian Twardosz 14:21
you work like like mad. So where do you find people that you want to represent?

Matthew Doyle 14:29
Okay, here's an example. I'll all I can do is go through the examples of the people who were actually much nicer. Yeah, so I represent a writing team Tanner been Katie Mathewson. They're staff writers on pitch, right, which aired on Fox. So I used to work at web which is a larger agency web represents Dan Fogelman. It was a big name showrunner guy. He had reached out to me and made them aware of his assistant, young Tanner lighting. This guy's great You should check him out, I'd saw and then the email was forwarded to the parliament. And I made it I, my goal is to read everything, as just read as much as I can. So I read it, and no one else did. And I know no one else did, because no one else reached out to him, or this thing. I was like, This is really good. And I met with him, I just reached out to him cold. And I liked his personality. He had great relationships, he understood the business. He had a writing partner. And that's how I got involved with him.

Sebastian Twardosz 15:31
So you think it helps to work in the business a little bit before? Before

Matthew Doyle 15:35
that question. Without question there, there, you do need to sort of it helps to understand how it all works. That that was, that was one example. You know, another example is, there's a client, Hoover represents named archaea, Stevenson, who has a film at the festival. And she made a fit, she was a graduate of AFI. And as an agency, we became aware of her through screenings of that. And if you're as a as a representative, you want to have your finger on the pulse of everything. And the way to do that is to go out as much as you can, to industry events, to screenings, to watch anything and everything there is an establishing so

Sebastian Twardosz 16:26
does that mean you're going to like, you know, like USC first look, or to NYU screen? Yes.

Matthew Doyle 16:30
Yeah. 100%

Sebastian Twardosz 16:31
does exactly doesn't mean you go to a lot of film festivals, not just Sundance, because this is the obvious one. We're at Sundance, by the way. Yeah. Yeah. Right. We never actually said that. When it does that mean, you go the other film festivals to smaller ones? I mean, are you actually

Matthew Doyle 16:43
doing that with the yeah, that's, that's the ideal, but yeah, and also being intelligent about it. And you can't do everything, but you try and do as much as you can. And eventually, just, if you're a pinball machine, you're bouncing around, you're going to hit things. And analogizing. It's not that good.

Alex Ferrari 17:02
It's a really good, it's a good analogy.

Matthew Doyle 17:04
If you're, if you're engaging, then you're going to establish relationships with people, and you're going to understand what their ambitions are. And as an agent, all I care about is what people want to achieve in their own lives. And that's just not for artists, that's for executives, as well. And so my conversation with people always come to that. And then when you find that out, you think of ways of how you can help them.

Sebastian Twardosz 17:28
So you let me let me just, I just want to get this right, because I'm very cautious about people actually producing a spec pilot, because I'm against, I'm not against it, per se. I'm cautious because it's a lot of money to do that. It can be is is it still mostly that you are readings like,

Matthew Doyle 17:46
are you mostly me? Oh, yeah, sample scene spec pilots, I hardly hard because there's not. No, it's a rare thing, right? It's a rare thing yet where I'm assuming that you happen to have the money to make it and

Alex Ferrari 17:57
the talent and the infrastructure and the gear and the people and the talent.

Sebastian Twardosz 18:01
And then I'm also worried that you know, you're, you're, I'm worried about expectations, because when it comes to the page, I mean, it people are just writing or typing. That's it. It's cheap. It's really cheap to do. So it's it's more democratic in the sense. I mean, but producing a spec pilot either takes a lot of money, or you have to fill it with people that are names. And so my question is, are your expectations?

Matthew Doyle 18:24
It depends on PI, it depends on your goal of Who of you who you want to be. There's some writers who all they want to do is, is just write and that's fine. And then for that purpose, it makes sense to just put it on the page, and have it be undeniable. There's some people want to be writers and directors. And if that's the case, that having a spec pilot is excellent,

Alex Ferrari 18:45
right? That doesn't hurt. And I mean, I mean, personal experience, I worked on a spec pilot, where I did a lot of post on it, and they spent 50 60,000 had some names in it.

Matthew Doyle 18:55
That's insane. It is, but it's

Alex Ferrari 18:57
not. That's what happened, then. That's why because they did it at a very high level of time. They had, they had some faces in it, but nothing, no major stars, some TV faces, and it went nowhere. And I was just like, wow, and it wasn't that bad. But I was like it just

Sebastian Twardosz 19:11
because my question is ultimately my question is it has to work on the page. So why even go to the process of producing it? If it doesn't, there's,

Alex Ferrari 19:19
from my point of view, I'm on both sides on both

Sebastian Twardosz 19:23
sides by when he's the agent. What do you think of that?

Matthew Doyle 19:26
It depends on what you're watching.

Sebastian Twardosz 19:29
If you if you if you nail it on the page, Shouldn't that be enough?

Alex Ferrari 19:33
But if you produce it on the film on film, it just takes that edge up to the next level. So

Sebastian Twardosz 19:38
do you believe that if you're well or should it just work on the page?

Alex Ferrari 19:43
You're not there's no wrong answer.

Matthew Doyle 19:45
It'll work. Right, exactly. The only needs to work if it doesn't work on the page. It's not gonna work as a produce pilot. But if it works on the page and you produce the pilot, it will probably get more attention Sure, than if it's just a script.

Alex Ferrari 20:00
This is a very unique scenario. Yeah, it that's the thing, which I think that's what's the best is trying to say an

Matthew Doyle 20:05
everyday see $1,000 produce pilot that

Sebastian Twardosz 20:07
no, you know, you're what I'm trying to say. There's something different. I believe that should work. I'm worried because a lot of our audience sure are newer to the business. Yeah. So. So you have to be really careful about what you're like telling them to do or not do. And I sort of believe that some people, though, they'll write a script, and for whatever reason, the scripts not getting traction. So then they think, Oh, I'll make it and then it'll get traction. And that's not necessarily the case. No, you're right. And so the so it's all it's about getting good advice. The right people. If you go to the point of making the script, I think I think you should

Matthew Doyle 20:48
have scripts. Yeah, it'll get traction.

Alex Ferrari 20:51
Let me just ask you one last question about this. And then we'll move on. How many spec pilots have you seen that have gone to show to network? When sold? It's not that many, I

Matthew Doyle 21:01
don't think has any spec. You're talking about something that was written,

Alex Ferrari 21:05
written and produced? Oh, that you know, of, besides the tubes? I

Matthew Doyle 21:12
know, I know, there are more examples of this. There have

Sebastian Twardosz 21:15
to be right. But there aren't a lot, I don't think, okay.

Matthew Doyle 21:17
Well think of it this way, like, and I maintenance, those on Vimeo, those made by a writing and directing team. Vimeo, no one went to Vimeo for watching original content. And then they did for high maintenance. And then they went to HBO. Now, if you're talking about that, as a spec pilot, which I would consider, I mean, there's a spec like series, that's an example of that search party as well, from my understanding, it's always sunny. And that's where my knowledge of it ends.

Sebastian Twardosz 21:49
Because I don't think there will be more in the future. I think there will be more, I think it's not something that happens often. Yeah, I don't know. Do you? Have you ever?

Matthew Doyle 21:57
It's, of course not. It's not the norm now. But if your goal is to stand out, that it will make you stand out by doing that.

Alex Ferrari 22:05
That's all have you heard of any feature films that were later turned into a TV series off of like an indie film like, Hey, this is a great concept. We love the indie film, let's turn it into a series if the if the creators decided to go down that route.

Matthew Doyle 22:19
I know they're examples of this under the lights, and we're gonna blink on a like truly great examples. But you would look at that. Let me get Okay, so we're not considering Friday Night Lights in any film, right? I'm sorry, you're not considering Friday Night Lights in any film? It's well, it's just not so we can No, no, no, no, that's because that's

Sebastian Twardosz 22:37
me. I think I think the bigger question is not to I, I don't like putting on the spot for specific examples. But the question is, would you be open to watching indie films that you would do settling

Matthew Doyle 22:49
with that question? Sure. Like I mentioned earlier, a client are cautious Stephenson, yes, a verb. She's a filmmaker through and through. Yeah, she has a voice. And as a graduate of AFI she, her goal is to make feature films, what she's made are short films, those short films, we've gotten her attraction in television, we sold an original idea that she had simply because we're able to send the short film saying, This is who she is, this is her voice. And people want to meet with her because of that. So if there's a voice there, then on the television side, I can figure it out. I know I can. And I'm from my position. I'm a street urchin. So but I can, I know, I know. I can figure it out. If it's undeniable voice and I don't care whether it's a drawing or a play, or a short film, or feature length film, I don't care.

Sebastian Twardosz 23:40
Can I ask a little bit about like actually selling a script? Like what kind of money is involved in that as it usually scale? Or is it more I mean, like for

Matthew Doyle 23:49
depends on the leverage you have, it depends on the leverage leverage you have. And

Alex Ferrari 23:54
just the leverage the means represent your if you if you just

Matthew Doyle 23:57
take it to one buyer, and they're a young writer, and no other place wants to buy it, then you're in no position to demand high level fees, right. So you're only you're going to be getting scale, something, something of that nature, but each situation is fluid, and it's different. And right now, we're at a time where there's so many different buyers, right? What each is offering is, is really is really different. Like the fact that maybe writers can sell a series to Netflix. And it's ordered to series off of that. That's crazy, but it's happening.

Alex Ferrari 24:40
And they've got the pockets to do it. And Apple might jump in to the game now. So

Matthew Doyle 24:44
they had they are in the game. Oh, really? They are in the game. They have they have upcoming series. Yeah. Jesus saying, that'll be great. Now there's a series with Dr. Dre Verba.

Alex Ferrari 24:54
He did. Yeah.

Matthew Doyle 24:56
We're all over it. But yep, apples is in the game. And that's

Alex Ferrari 24:59
gonna be that's gonna A heck of a shock in the in the marketplace.

Sebastian Twardosz 25:02
I have no idea. And I have a question of all these series that are getting made like we're over 400. Now, I guess 1416 How many of those

Matthew Doyle 25:10
a year? Year Currently there are 416? Four and 26 years? Yes. Graph the mayor of television. That's what he said. Yeah,

Sebastian Twardosz 25:18
exactly. Okay. John Landgraf is the president of FX. Yeah. Okay. And he actually a few, actually, I would recommend googling John Landgraf. Absolutely. He talks a lot about like the, like, having too many, too many series, actually. Now that might be tapering off. But here's my question. Yeah. Of all these series, so 400 Plus series, how many of those are by baby writers, new writers? How many of those are really by people who already have established themselves on TV? Do you know just in jazz majority

Matthew Doyle 25:51
are from people who have already established themselves in television. And then the fact is, if you're a young writer, and you write a series is not the case that you're going to be the sole person and control the series, because when you sell it to a network, any network, you have to add other elements to it, you need to add producers show position, you need someone in control, who knows what they're doing. They're examples, like, Mr. Robot, but Sam Esmail, so he was a feature guy, he wrote a script that got on the blacklist, and maybe like 2009, an incredibly talented writer, he wouldn't you he's not it's not appropriate to call him baby, but he's someone who is not thoroughly broken in television. But when he wrote Mr. Robot, it was just an undeniable script. The first season, you know, he was effectively I don't I don't actually know what he was the show on. Exactly. I would bet I would bet he is. Just because his voice is so clear. But he was surrounded by several things the director of it was I think it was Niels Arden Oplev but someone who is extraordinarily accomplished in anonymous content, probably the best television and feature production company there is out there. Behind him. He was surrounded by people who could help him execute his vision in the second season. He I think this is the case. He wrote directed he directed every episode. Oh, did he? Yeah. Okay. It's all towards television. Same now. And if you look at the girlfriend experience on snores, same example, now that's so large Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz. They, that was all shepherded by Steven Soderbergh. If they were just by themselves, it probably would not have happened as it did, but because they had Steven Soderbergh as the father figure, and he had done the neck, and he's a genius. And he gives no fucks. So he, from what I understand, he sold it to he brought it to Chris Albrecht, and said, This is a series want to do. These guys are really talented. We're going to deliver you all these episodes here, all the scripts, and they're like, Okay,

Sebastian Twardosz 28:02
here's what I know. Okay, so most of them are established writers, which is what I thought it was, yeah. How do you then establish a writer? Let's say somebody out of film school, or somebody who's just come across your desk, their new writer? How do you establish them? What's the process of eventually normally getting them through to the point where they can sell and run a show? But what's that like?

Matthew Doyle 28:23
To be able to run a show?

Sebastian Twardosz 28:25
Yeah, but don't go too far. I mean, like, Okay. How do you break a writer?

Matthew Doyle 28:31
Sending the material and talking about them to anyone and everyone? That's why you need an agent?

Sebastian Twardosz 28:35
How much how much material do they need for you to send? It can just be one. But yeah, usually a spec pilot, original spec pilot, something that shows your voice? Could it be a screenplay? Yeah, but that question, could it be a play? Yeah. Um, so could be any original writing? Yeah. That has your voice. Yeah. So your job is to do what them?

Matthew Doyle 28:56
My job is to call people meet people. Tell them about this artist, why they're incredible and why they should be in business with

Sebastian Twardosz 29:05
that. And then half the job is the writing is half the job. Also, the personality of the writer. Yeah, the being in the room. Is that literally half or so? Yeah, if not more so. So just in there, there being good in the room.

Alex Ferrari 29:17
So that was my next question. What do you look for in a new client?

Matthew Doyle 29:22
I want I want to, I want leaders. Does that mean? Well, here's an example. There is someone who is an exceptionally talented writer director, who I was really interested in and I went to a screening of her work and it was, it was a panel of women is what it was, and they were all talking about their ambitions. After the show the short film at the panel itself, she, in my opinion, dominated she was just the unquestionable leader of it and she had the most division. She was the most aggressive she was is the funniest and she was the smartest. And she needs to clear impression that even from all the way in the back that theater, I could tell like this person is going places, she was just a force

Sebastian Twardosz 30:11
personality. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 30:14
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Matthew Doyle 30:25
The so the personality is a huge aspect of it. And if you're talking about representing showrunners, and representing directors, you want to represent field marshals of their crafts. And that's so that's the that's what I look for primarily. And of course, the talent. Okay,

Sebastian Twardosz 30:43
so then you're sending them out there, you're sending the scripts out for people to read the go to the meetings? Yeah, what happens? How do you get it get the money to get them working?

Matthew Doyle 30:53
As an agent, your job is to frame it right? Set the table. It's they start with generals, they meet with each other, they talk about their shared path. Pass the The hope is that when you set a general meeting, and in talking about an when the agent and the manager prep them appropriately, they can go in knowing what the potential opportunities are at that network. So you set them up with a studio or production company, and they can touch on what they are personally interested in about the production company of the studio or the network. If the production if, if you can bring it up to them saying showing you've done your research, then that's going to be a more engaging conversation. And hopefully, what comes out of it is they're keeping you in mind for the opportunities that whether it's a staffing opportunity, whether it's a directing opportunity, they leave the meeting, thinking that you would be someone that they would want to work with. So that's really why you need to have the personality.

Alex Ferrari 31:59
Now, what advice do you give someone who's just trying to work in trying to get just trying to break into trying to break in trying to get an agent? What what's what do you suggest? What's your advice?

Matthew Doyle 32:08
It's all this is all I mean, really tried? Andrew? Let me try. I'm trying to work hard to say Be yourself.

Alex Ferrari 32:16
Have your original voice. Yeah, having

Matthew Doyle 32:19
an original voice. But that don't people can think they have original voice and they go, Oh, that doesn't really, that really doesn't really do much. It's just so trite, I'm sorry, be work just work crazy hard. If you're obsessed, then that I mean that that's the most important thing. But then then again, people can think they're obsessed, and they're not. They can think they're working on it and they're not. So you just you have to have a realistic perspective on where you stand and how you compare and have such an appetite, in a way be so insecure about your position. And if you are it's because you realize about where you stand and the potential that you have and how far that gap is. And that's what gives you the drive to put in the work and put in the time. And reach that potential. Also, can we can we actually be self aware in a word being self aware?

Sebastian Twardosz 33:24
Sure. Can we go the origin story? Yeah, sure. I want to get your origin story. Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 33:30
interview started backward. Why?

Sebastian Twardosz 33:32
We did it on purpose, actually. Yeah. Well, we're kind of playing around a little bit to see to see what works. Sometimes. People like origin story first. Sometimes they like something like that pops. First. Have a question. You just play around?

Matthew Doyle 33:44
Aren't you having Elijah Wood in this program?

Sebastian Twardosz 33:46
Yes.

Matthew Doyle 33:47
Are you gonna do an origin story for Elijah Wood?

Alex Ferrari 33:49
No, no. Because everybody knows. It's

Sebastian Twardosz 33:51
no, I mean, you have to tailor a little bit to I mean, I thought the coolest thing for you was that I mean, you just got promoted. I mean, it's yeah, that's what we started with. 2016 like, you know, Merry Christmas.

Matthew Doyle 34:02
My promotion I promise you my promotion story is not that cool. There are way I respect for for what they did and rah rah. But there are way cooler promotion stories at WV Hugh Jackman. Came up on the screen and promoted Patrick Weitzel assistant to agents Nice. Yeah, it stuff like that. Like that is cool. Mike and Elizabeth Doyle stumbling through lines. That's not after notes. Yeah. After after. Revealing

Sebastian Twardosz 34:31
but you also got into variety you got into what's it called? And that was the next gen or what was it?

Matthew Doyle 34:36
Yeah, it was variety. New Leaders new leaders. Yeah,

Sebastian Twardosz 34:39
there's that word again. Leader leaders. So I tease you a little bit when you got in. But wait, we gotta get his origin. Where are you from literally wearing from where'd you go to school? What did you know you want to do this?

Matthew Doyle 34:51
Okay. Virginia, Virginia in Arlington, Virginia. Five Minutes from DC. The probably the most important thing about my back Is that the most defining thing about it was the fact that I was a twin. I really wanted to be different than him. So from a young age, I gravitated towards a career. Because if I knew I knew if I could be really specific about that, then no one would have it on me. Entertainment was what I focused on initially. And it from a pretty young age was being an agent. I didn't know what it meant. Really.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
So you were when you were young, you were like, I want to be an agent. Yeah.

Sebastian Twardosz 35:33
But you don't ask how old were you when you knew that and why

Alex Ferrari 35:36
14 gre gold on on your wall?

Sebastian Twardosz 35:40
See that made you want to be an agent that's going to

Matthew Doyle 35:42
it was an article about Richard love it Brian, Lord Kevin Vane, David O'Connor, CA J, there's an LA Times article. And after they assumed the mantle of CA, and that article, and it's sort of profiled them all like they were Backstreet Boys. And then there was an article of Richard love it and reading about his personality. I happen at just the right time, where I was trying to find I was, my problems were nothing in the scheme of things, but at the time, emotionally, I was like, Who am I as a person that just happens when you're getting older? And how can I be special? And how am I different and I really respond to reading about his personality and the ethos he seems to embody and so it's like okay, I think I think I can do that.

Sebastian Twardosz 36:36
So for those people out there read power house, which is the whole ca story and read the agency which is also really good if you're interested in this

Matthew Doyle 36:45
world. There are a lot of there a lot of great books read the mailroom the mayor on reread this is not about read keys to the kingdom by Qin masters him

Sebastian Twardosz 36:56
masters Yeah. I love keys to the kingdom.

Matthew Doyle 36:59
Yeah it's great it's not it's not talked about as much

Sebastian Twardosz 37:02
yeah I mean that's that's if you want to talk about like Mike Eisner and Mike ovitz

Matthew Doyle 37:07
that's a book it it's goes into the details about three personalities Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mike Eisner, Michael Ovitz and how their relationships intertwined and are locked and how they affect each other. And it's fascinating and also

Sebastian Twardosz 37:23
why the business is the way it is because there was a specific incident. What happened since we're here at something in the wintertime. Frankie Wells, who was a very important person in the business he was like the number two really at Disney died when he he was like a, like a ultimate skier like he would jump out of helicopters. And there's a helicopter accidents. They died. But when he died that set off a chain of events that like really changed the whole structure to business, which has led to the founding of Dreamworks, led to the founding of Dreamworks led to the change of seeing the 2.0. But anyway, yeah, we've digressed. There's one that's a good story.

Alex Ferrari 38:02
The other one book I was when I was in Florida, and had no interactions with Hollywood. I read over this. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And that was just like, my mind was blown. I was like, you know, all the whole story of how he did it and what he did.

Matthew Doyle 38:14
I wouldn't call that journalism though. No, it's just a book. That is that was propaganda that was carefully manufactured

Alex Ferrari 38:21
propaganda. Yeah. But it was fascinating read for someone who had never been at that point. That's true. Well, anyway,

Sebastian Twardosz 38:27
let's so you, like you like the these The Young Turks? I didn't see a I do hold them and still do. Okay. Yeah. And so then what was your what? How'd you go about? So

Matthew Doyle 38:38
I, I went to college in Virginia. My parents told me to go and state. I graduated, after Virginia has no connection to entertainment. And actually, maybe I it was it was on me for not doing my research and trying to figure it out. They probably don't know they have like some connections like Tina Fey, Winston. So the I graduated after my third year, and I moved out here. Now the summer after my second year of college, I interned in Los Angeles, spent a very little lonely summer, interning at two production companies. That's where I met you at your USC class, and try to get a sense of, of at&t stuff. And I tried to brand myself as the guy wants to be an agent, and I sat down with large stereo

Sebastian Twardosz 39:34
Lars and I see him Yeah.

Matthew Doyle 39:37
40 minutes late for the meeting. Oh, no, no, there was a there was a I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot.

Alex Ferrari 39:43
So but it worked out. Apparently.

Matthew Doyle 39:45
We got to get Lars on this show. Who knows what I've had could have been but so I sat down with it. Yeah. So I sat down with agents and I was so unpolished, even more so than I am now and I was just like, I want to be an agent. This is the person I was To be in, it was kind of ridiculous. And then I came back after I was an unpaid intern. When after I graduated from school at the Bonaventure pictures,

Sebastian Twardosz 40:09
Lorenzo de Bona Ventura who produced the Transformers Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 40:13
what else legendary producer.

Sebastian Twardosz 40:15
So is a legendary producer, former president of Warner Brothers,

Matthew Doyle 40:18
but so I was an unpaid intern at his production company. And were no one made eye contact with me.

Alex Ferrari 40:29
No, it's It's sad, but I completely Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 40:32
I think I made people uncomfortable. Because

Sebastian Twardosz 40:35
what were you like snooping through their cars?

Matthew Doyle 40:38
No, I as a guy, and I think I was just sloppy. And I was super aggressive. And I was just all Yeah, no finesse. No. And for further, I wasn't getting paid. So they probably felt sorry, for me.

Alex Ferrari 40:52
It was a combination of

Sebastian Twardosz 40:54
taking advantage of you technically, they shouldn't have been doing they can't legally Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 40:58
actually. Comment.

Sebastian Twardosz 40:59
I mean, did you learn them or we go,

Matthew Doyle 41:02
you will. It was it was essential. If I hadn't done that. Here's what the user happy with that. I developed relationships. And I got a better understanding of how the industry worked. But the most important thing was the relationship I developed with an assistant there, the Assistant, I'm going to get to cover that Sarah Holman who was so hard on me. But even for all that, she was essential in me getting my job at the first agency, I worked at Web, she submitted me to a guy who was already a manual assistant. And ARIA manual is dyslexic. His assistants, at times have the prerogative to send emails on his bath. To make a long story short, she sent his sister my resume, he sent my resume to HR from Ari. And so that's why I was hired. Because they thought that he was recommending me. Great. Wow. So that's how I got in. So I started in the mailroom. And nobody was doing, I was in the middle of for four months. Then I worked for a feature agent Simon Favre, for seven months, when he covered Sundance, then I moved over to television, I worked for more Corman in the television department. And then I worked for David Stone. And I was there for years. And I was an agent trainee usually takes about I'd say probably five to six years to get promoted.

Sebastian Twardosz 42:33
Is it really that long? Cheese used to be shorter? Yeah. Was like three or four people

Matthew Doyle 42:37
get promoted quicker? Yeah, it but it. So much of it is who you work for it the right time? Yes, it used to be that ca. It takes like five and a half years, six years to get promoted. But recently, for a lot of reasons, people get promoted a lot quicker there, because they just had the need, and ways they didn't have before. So So I was there. I was trying to figure out a way to get promoted. And a

Sebastian Twardosz 43:07
your hours weren't saying like, describe some of your hours because they were crazy.

Matthew Doyle 43:12
I worked pretty hard. I got in 730 and I was there till 1030 or 11. How often? Almost every night for how

Sebastian Twardosz 43:25
long? years? Yeah. Did you ever sleep there?

Matthew Doyle 43:29
No, I never did that. I never slept there. That's like

Sebastian Twardosz 43:32
really early. were other people working at that level or just some people?

Matthew Doyle 43:36
Did you ever see anyone sleeping? Yeah, absolutely. People say they're the but here's the thing. Water seeds to its own level. So in this business in this day and age with technology, anyone can justify working all the time. Because there's always things to do. But and if you're a workaholic and you need something to justify meeting your life, you're going to do it all the time. And that's what I was doing. And additionally, I was holding on so tight because I was so scared it would go away at any moment. That way I got in was so random that I and I felt I didn't fit in. And so I felt really that would be fired. And frankly working for Simon Favre. I was a moron. In the first three months. He I thought he was tough on me. He wasn't harder bosses would have fired me. Same with corpsman same with David Stone, all of those agents, they looking back. They could have easily let me go and it would have been fair. So I worked really hard to compensate for that because I felt if I if I'm working all the time, they can say to me that you know you're not giving it your all. And so like that's the way I had and that's why I held on to show my value Isn't it doesn't have to be that way, though. And also, I mean, it's certainly not healthy. But rather than working from 730 to 1030, and then leaving, it's way better to be more intelligent about how you spend your time. However, you can do that. And it probably was not nearly I've gotten a lot smarter about how I spend my time. So while I work a lot, now, it's not about being in the office now. It's about getting out there and seeing people having breakfast lunches, dinners, coffees, drink drinks, every single day of the week. And not defining myself by the guys in the office.

Sebastian Twardosz 45:45
You My favorite story, I just want to see if you have anything to say about this. Yeah, I'm not gonna say the whole name. But it's hierro. Who's the manager? Now, my favorite story out of everybody I've ever interviewed or talked to or met in any class, when he was a creative executive at Warner Brothers. Yeah. Creative executive would mean that he was he just been made an executive. So yeah, but it was kind of the low end and how long ways to go. Anyway. The what brought this up was you mentioning going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he would go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every sing every single day, every single day. And he said to us that he had not set foot in a grocery store in over a year, because every day of the week, he did breakfast, lunch and dinner with somebody and it was all paid for by Warner Brothers. Sure. Well, think of that.

Matthew Doyle 46:36
Respect.

Sebastian Twardosz 46:38
Great. None? Well,

Alex Ferrari 46:40
I want to also ask you what made you want to be a literary agent and also literary agent and television as opposed

Matthew Doyle 46:45
to what came out of your features? Right? I knew it was a gradual process of discovering what it meant. When I when I first was telling myself I wanted to be an agent. I didn't know that I was divided into different departments. You know, I just saw us, which you'd love it represents Will Smith and he represents Steven Spielberg. Okay, cool. I started in the feature department, because I'm really passionate about film and directors of it. It was just clear that when I moved over to television, that that's where the momentum in the industry was, as far as financial promise and also artistic promise. So and also, secondly, I all I cared about for being an agent was understanding the different arenas. So I could advise, accordingly. If you look like an agent, like Ari Emanuel, his brilliance as an agent, and his brilliance in running an agency is understanding all these different businesses and how they work. He started in television when. And then he started, then endeavor was founded, he started representing Mark Wahlberg. He started representing his former roommate, Pete Berg, who was an aspiring actor turned them into a director. And I mean, for Mark Wahlberg, for example. He takes this actor, and then he builds a business producing television Producing Unscripted shows, movies. And it's incredible. That's the value of being an agent, knowing how to grow and build someone, not just in one field, but multiple fields. So that was the additional benefit of that I love. I love film, and I want to continue to stay involved in that my relationships in it are not what they are in television. But

Sebastian Twardosz 48:30
watch, I wanted to just ask them if agencies are separated like an agency web or ca or Uta, ICM, they have different divisions, departments, can you can tell us like break it down? Sure.

Matthew Doyle 48:40
So it's motion picture lit motion picture literary, representing writers and directors for film, motion picture, or sorry, television lit, representing writers and directors for television, unscripted, representing reality stars and production companies for reality television, and talent. And don't get your talent on TV till it depends. No W needed and they had agents who focused on television talent, but it wasn't clear departments. They

Alex Ferrari 49:09
jump back and forth. Sometimes. But the Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Doyle 49:13
I mean, now, especially with the more and more Yeah, I mean, frankly, my mind's not anyone cares what I think. But it's all becoming the same. Like, if you're in a feature agent, and you're at Sundance, and like, just last year, for example, Netflix and Amazon are making the most purchases. Okay. And a year before that, or two years before that layer. People were just wrapping their heads around the idea of them as television distributors, like, well, they're not even television. They're a streaming platform. And they're streaming long form content and short form content.

Sebastian Twardosz 49:43
Yeah, it's all it's all. It's all mixing. Yeah. This year, Sundance is the first year that they have episodic television. In Kansas, part of the festival. Yes. Well,

Matthew Doyle 49:52
my client are conscious Stevenson's film, showing she's very talented.

Sebastian Twardosz 49:56
Yeah, they're also starting. I think they're starting going to do web relatively soon. Yeah, that makes sense. Which, yeah, because the lines are blurring. Well, I was

Alex Ferrari 50:05
like, we were talking last night when we went to dinner. We're walking main street and we see YouTube. Yeah. And we're just like, man, things have changed. Like, you know, eight years ago when I came in, like, you know, it was like, YouTube was great. It's insane. Have any questions?

Sebastian Twardosz 50:20
Um, no, I think I think I think I'm alright. Thank you, sir. So much so much,

Matthew Doyle 50:25
Jeff. When I did the interview, I did have fun. Awesome. Yeah. I love Elijah Wood and happy to be featured. features we all do as well. But really just a fan of one more question. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 50:45
Name three of your favorite films of all time.

Sebastian Twardosz 50:47
Okay. This shouldn't be this hard, Matthew. Come on. A lot of people get it's hard for like, this is not a hard question. No, I know. But I want

Matthew Doyle 51:01
us to be impressive. No, no, no,

Alex Ferrari 51:03
no, no, no, no, no, no, don't try to know just what you like. It could be something as silly as

Sebastian Twardosz 51:09
number one et then Star Wars done. Yeah. Good. Go. Toy Story four stuff.

Matthew Doyle 51:14
Let's go. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Awesome. Really? Yeah. More than Raiders. Yeah, more than Raiders. What do you think? Don't

Alex Ferrari 51:20
don't judge? Don't judge don't don't judge. But if you do like fundamentals and believe I'm joking.

Matthew Doyle 51:30
That's a temple of doom. Yes. Okay. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Okay, number two. Research, right. No, no, that's so wrong. Aliens is number two. Okay. Aliens board

Sebastian Twardosz 51:39
an alien. Yeah, I can see that. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I can absolutely see that. This is a generational thing. It is. It is no, absolutely. Yeah.

Matthew Doyle 51:46
And whiplash. Oh, yeah, of course. And then frankly, any movie with Elijah Wood?

Alex Ferrari 51:55
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Matthew Doyle 51:57
Thank you, Frankie that pardon.

Alex Ferrari 51:58
Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Matt was great. I loved having him on the show. And again, it gave me it gave me personal insight on what the television market is looking for, as far as writers are concerned and pilots and, and shows. So I hope you guys learned a lot and picked up a few knowledge bombs. That was dropped by Matthew. Thanks again, Matthew for being on the show. We really, really appreciate it. And if you want the show notes and contact information for Matthew just head over to indie film hustle.com, forward slash BPS 016 for the shownotes. And if you guys haven't already done so please head over to screenwriting podcast.com. And leave us a good review a five star review if possible, on iTunes and really helps us out a lot and really helps us with the rankings where new show so every single review counts and helps so thank you so so much. And as always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you


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BPS 011: Inside the Spec Script Market with Agent David Boxerbaum

We all have heard about screenwriter selling a spec script for seven figures but who are the power brokers who are helping that process along? Enter Verve Literary Agent David Boxerbaum.

David is a senior agent at VERVE Talent & Literary Agency, and his impressive client roster includes the likes of David Guggenheim, writer of Safehouse; Ken Marino, writer/producer of Wanderlust and writer of Role Models; Maria Maggenti, writer of MTV’s Finding Carter; and Ransom Riggs, writer/co-executive producer of the upcoming supernatural horror thriller, Black River.

At the age of 26, David was listed as one of the Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Generation 35 Under 35,” making him one of the youngest people ever to make the list. He is known for his impeccable taste and his strong industry relationships which help him garner six- and seven-figure sales for his clients in a shrinking spec marketplace.

What is an agent like David Boxerbaum looking for in a screenwriter? How does an agent work with a client to build a career? How do you approach a Literary Agent? All will be answered in this episode. Enjoy!

This Sundance Series episode will be co-hosted by Sebastian Twardosz.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
We have today Boxerbaum. He is a superstar, literary agent over at paradigm. And he has been known to sell many, many spec scripts in Hollywood in the millions of dollars, at least six figure to seven figure sales and he's known, known known for doing that for quite some time, he's built a hell of a reputation for himself. And I had an opportunity to sit down with him and my co host Sebastian tortoise, to discuss the spec script market, how to approach an agent of his caliber, how to get representation, what they're looking for, and how to get it out into the world. And how do you work how a screenwriter or filmmaker should work with an agent and what that process is. So it's a lot of knowledge bombs tossed out in this episode, guys, so enjoy my conversation with David Boxerbaum.

Sebastian Twardosz 2:24
All right, well, David is an agent, your talent agent and a literary agent now do you do both more literary

David Boxerbaum 2:29
agent and town agent? Avi I do have clients that are actors and actresses that actually write as well but more literary than talent.

Sebastian Twardosz 2:36
Okay, and did you always want to be an agent?

David Boxerbaum 2:39
Now I don't know if anybody if she ever wants to be an agent know I don't think I actually knew I wanted to be an agent. It all started when I was one of those kids like most kids who love film I saw went to my first movie was like That looks amazing. I want to do that someday. movie that did it. Listen, I was in love with Frank Capra. So my dad showed me It's A Wonderful Life early on. I just became a huge fan Capra fan and as it went on, you know, anything ambling wise etc in that world 80s You know, world I grew up and it was like unbelievable, Back to the Future and all that so I became in love with movies. And I said, I want to go to film school at this point. I had no quota agent does no good agent. What deals are what selling scripts, all that stuff? I went to film school and where did you go to film school? Went to NYU film school.

Sebastian Twardosz 3:34
Did you apply anywhere else or was NYU the place you wanted to go? So

David Boxerbaum 3:37
growing up in California, I grew up in San Francisco. So yeah, I grew up in California. I kind of wanted to go to USC, you would think like USC UCLA. Obviously I was the kid that wanted to leave home and like go far away.

Alex Ferrari 3:50
Right? You didn't even know the Hollywood was here.

David Boxerbaum 3:53
By the way, in hindsight, yeah, you look back and you that's where the hub of it all is. But I wanted to leave home and I wanted to go to the east coast and experience that and see what it's like to be on the East Coast and be a part of that. So I went to NYU film school and truly loved it. I mean, I was it was in love with what all it was all about making movies and screenwriting and all of that

Sebastian Twardosz 4:13
way. I just have to know did you really love it? Because a lot of people who go to film school actually don't like film

David Boxerbaum 4:18
I love I'd love to single out. Yeah, I surely Yeah, Tisch was great. But Tish, Tish was very much more geared towards what like Sundance is a more independent, more artist friendly.

Sebastian Twardosz 4:30
We forgot to say we're actually here at Sundance. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 4:34
I think everybody will know by the end.

David Boxerbaum 4:38
I went a long time ago.

Alex Ferrari 4:40
Just like the filmmakers were around was it this time was it it was

David Boxerbaum 4:43
Spike Lee was teaching there okay.

Sebastian Twardosz 4:47
From Spike Lee did

David Boxerbaum 4:48
not have a class bike lane. In undergrad the only rest was teaching there. So guys like that. But it was no i didn't have classes like that. But we're still cutting movies too. By the way. We're still Cut Yeah, of course yeah so movie Oh yeah, maybe I was so I graduated I graduated film school now I'm gonna come back to California cuz I can't afford to live in New York

Sebastian Twardosz 5:10
did you want to be when you were in so in film school

David Boxerbaum 5:13
I wanted to be a director that was my I want to be a filmmaker. I guess I'm a writer so director so I really wanted to focus my attention to my I felt like I had the creative love and passion for so when did you graduate? So I graduated in 98 got graduate 98 So came out to LA and New nobody I mean, only thing about in my youth didn't really prepare me for what LA was about to play with me about right. Tell you Yeah, because it's very like sets very Sundance in the bay. So you don't really get the UCLA USC which is like, Hey, you just you know, get in your car and drive down to Beverly Hills and get a job at one of the middle rooms, whatever it is, or one of those jobs in the production offices. I had no clue. So I came out here and was just sent out resumes got like some odd end jobs just to make ends meet. And I got a call from Jerry Bruckheimer films and demand dinner. Yeah, good man. Now, I didn't know him personally, but at the time, but give me I get a good call from one of the many assistants there when interviewed. And I always tell the story. This is the only time that I feel NYU helped me. When I was there. I go an interview and listen, there was a laundry list people interviewing for this job. It was to be like Jerry's, I don't know, eighth or ninth assistant. So you know, literally walk the dog fix a script library. Yeah, the guy is time. I mean, it's 40 now, but the time was like eight or nine assistants? And like number nine. Yeah, I was like, come on, come on. Let me walk that dog. And but it was obviously you're working for Jerry. This was a time during when Kanye was in post. No con Connor was coming with coming out. Enemy the state was in pre and the best was Armageddon was in production. So Michael Bay was roaming around the building all day. And I saw I saw I interviewed and I had honestly, no qualifications for the job much of you have to have qualification to walk. Let me tell you.

Sebastian Twardosz 7:12
So they do background checks on

David Boxerbaum 7:15
a woman who interviewed me went to NYU. And that's that's where that connection helped. And I told that story to the NYU kids a couple months ago. And it was when you got a big laugh at the class because you never know what the NYU connection was, or film school or USC or anything. So did that was there for about seven, eight months, it was an amazing experience to see that but it wasn't really integrated that much.

Sebastian Twardosz 7:40
And you actually do so you're doing more like PN type stuff?

David Boxerbaum 7:43
Yeah, totally pa stuff. We're not getting lunch, whatever. But you know, answering phones occasionally answer the phone a couple times. And Jerry would call and you put it through the number forces and demand three, number two, number one. So I did that kind of stuff. And then, you know, I didn't really know what I wanted to be still in the business. I didn't understand. I knew now. Okay, it was production. It was producers, and there was all executive and all that. But I didn't quite understand what I want to be. I knew coming out of film school, I didn't want to be the kid that ran around town broke with a film scanner on my head, nothing. There's nothing wrong with that. And it's an amazing, creative passion. If you have that you want to do that. And it's a great journey. But for me, I wanted to kind of learn the business, I just still didn't know where to be in the business. So why was there something like if you really want to learn it, you should go to work in an agency that's where the hub of it all is. That's where you learn everything. So I went from there and got a job to way more small room.

Sebastian Twardosz 8:37
How did you end up getting a job when was narrow?

David Boxerbaum 8:40
I applied? I came in I went for an interview you have like the UTA jobless Yes, almost like sounds like here. Here's what you do apply to all of them. And I think honestly, all of them turned me down minus way more. So that places for for at least 1/4 One of the best places, right? So I went there and this was during an old regime that has now obviously since changed many times. But I got a job. They're working for a guy named Lee Rosenberg, who was one of these old school types who had created an entity called triad had merged it with Wim Morris and which is really legendary agent. And the good thing about it good or bad, but anyway, look at it was he was on his way out was his last year in theory, and he was going to retire so he was in. He was in definitely a place of his life that he was ready to mentor somebody. So I was that last person to be mentor clients. Did you have your he had some of the greatest TV? TV creators? Yeah, big TV agent of our time. So I made a lot of money in a course of his career, putting TV packages on there. So that was my first introduction to agents and I was there for a year and unfortunately he did retire. And then that was a kind of an odd place there.

Sebastian Twardosz 9:51
I always think we're going a little bit too fast. Can you tell us what it was like working at William Morris at that time, like for people who get that first assistant job or do you have any Advice

David Boxerbaum 10:00
sure it was in a honestly it was it was a really if I remember it was a really fantastic time it was the place was definitely going through a change there was a there was a regime change and that's kind of also helped push my unfortunate boss out of the building but it was amazing to see such heavyweights in our business and to be around them I was on the first floor there and that's where all the real heavyweights were on the first floor to be around them and see the kind of success that they had built as a young 2223 year old kid I was on that yeah you're working you know all day you're you're doing on to them jobs as assistant that you know normally you think you want to get everyone to do and you're just but you're literally trying to learn as much as you can

Sebastian Twardosz 10:41
you lasted a year I mean cuz I you know I worked at ICM Scherzer for 18 months like most people don't even last a year totally why is it that you Why do you think you lasted that long and did that actually I loved

David Boxerbaum 10:52
it when I once I got in there and I saw literally what everybody said was true the hub of information it was all there I felt like you when you walk into an agency you feel like you've been immersed in the action you're in it right you know there's there's points in the in the business for sometimes for your effect. Sometimes you're on the outside looking in like and you want to be involved in the middle of it. I felt like at William Morris and obviously plays I work now and other agencies you feel like you're in the middle of it you're immersed in and I felt like that was what was so exciting to me. It got my blood going. It was really exciting to come to work every day. I left because my boss retired and I was in an odd place like I was in no man's land. And I got it it was really in shock got a call whether to this day, I still know how why they call me because an odd call. I got a call from two agents that endeavor and said Hey, I hear your boss retired areas every Greenberg and Richard White's airy needed a good assistant during staffing season, that time area was on the rise to become now what he is arguably one of the best TVH in town. And he needed someone to come work for him. So he said, would you come work for me I was like, great i in what's endeavor basic, I didn't really know what they thought was kind of still a startup so to speak. So I went over there. Was that above islands? No, they just move up there. They were in their building above islands. Yeah. Crazy. So I was I spent about two and a half years there working there. And there's an amazing time because that place was growing. So I was at a place that was a monolith to a place that was now starting up and really expanding of buying itself and really becoming a real, you know, factor in the business and these agencies, young agents who are now kind of legendary agents of our time, partners, you know, owners of agencies, were all young coming up in the business was really great to see that and see the rise of that kind of learn and soak it all in.

Alex Ferrari 12:49
So one question I've always had about agencies, you know, I know there's a lot of politics Sure. How is it? Like, is it basically like what they see an entourage? Was it that kind of like, cuz you were saying, like, I was in a weird place? Sure. Like, because you're your boss is gone. So now you're like, what's the power for I

David Boxerbaum 13:07
mean, there's always politics and I think in any off in any surrounding business or any, especially an agency because me it's interesting, you know, it's only the only the few survived right to get an agent, right? And you put so many years into it, you could put three, four or five years consistent and then realize one day that you're not going to make it like now and you spent all that time making little note little or no money, you know, busting ass every day for 14 1314 hours sometimes a day to make no money to literally not make it so is there politics? Yeah, because you're trying to become the guy that gets noticed guy gets noticed the one that best the other and the one that gets the bump to the next level deal. So

Sebastian Twardosz 13:48
the secret sauce to that are just

David Boxerbaum 13:50
honestly, what I always tell in this not jumping to heaven, I tell my students now is that blinders on and focus, like everything else is great, there's gonna be a lot of things that can be distractions, but the blinders on and focus these, this is the time if you want this, you have to focus and just go for it. And literally, you can't let any distraction get in your way. So is there a secret sauce? It's the distractions of the outside world, the social scenes, the the things that will take you away from part of it. I

Sebastian Twardosz 14:17
mean, it's Sure, sure, but like,

David Boxerbaum 14:19
I mean, are you in there in the morning, the last one to leave while you're reading another person? Are you on the weekend doing more than you have to do to to impress your boss? Are you at night going out for a drink? But are you back, you know, at one o'clock at night to read a script before you go to the app at seven o'clock in the morning? Like I'm warning you now. So it's just are you going the extra effort to do it? You know, and we'll actually think

Sebastian Twardosz 14:41
burnout is I should ask you about this because we're at this point. Sure. Because burnout is a big thing in the business. Do you have any excuses I should ever be part of the business. What do you have to do you have any notes or comments on that?

Alex Ferrari 14:52
Cuz that I mean, that's hell, but

Sebastian Twardosz 14:55
actually, at one point,

David Boxerbaum 14:57
I think I think you hit a wall and like everybody's career You know, there's points where you hit a wall and you say, wow, you know what is what's next? And can I? Can I get over that wall just professionally and mentally and physically right? But if your passion action for me speaking for myself only here, if you're passionate and love what you do in Asia and to me, it's different every day because there are so many noes in our business, right? All we hear 99% No, right. Not good enough. Didn't like it didn't do well at the box office. No, no, no, no. That one yes. When you get it, it makes everything else feel like it never had never happened never existed. And that one, yes. Is what gets you to the next day. And I think, for me, the passion of that, yes, a passion of success of seeing your clients grow, as Why wake up in the morning come to work, you know, and I think, you know, obviously, my family, you know, trying to build a career all that is so much part of it as well. But in purely about agent team that get that yes, is such a gratifying part of of the business and part of the job that you live for.

Sebastian Twardosz 16:03
So a lot of people don't, because people just look at it from their point of view, you know, so if you're a writer or director, and you you're used to getting no all the time, what's what's interesting as agents get more nose probably than anybody because I know, from like, it's hard. But think

David Boxerbaum 16:18
about think about also, as an agent, what you deal with the negativity, the know, the all the things that you shield the client from, you know, people always say, Oh, you're like a therapist, you know, deal with clients issues, their own issues, personal issues, as long as a career issues. There's some truth to that, of course, but you think about if you add all that up and and on daily basis, it's this No, no, no. And you're you're taking all that in to answer questions or burnout. Sure, because you're dealing with so much negativity on daily basis. But the positive things that confirmation to the wonderful experience of getting a yes, and building careers, and breaking careers, and seeing clients grow and movies open and do well. And being on sets. It's so much offsets the other stuff. That's all worth it to me.

Alex Ferrari 17:04
So when so let's say you obviously were more literary now, right? Sure. And you're known for selling a lot of high end spec scripts. I had some success. You've had some success on spec scripts. So what would you suggest? Well, first of all, what do you do with a with a client when they first come? You've just signed a new guy sure. And or new guy or girl and they've got a spec script that you like, what's the next step?

David Boxerbaum 17:25
So I'll just say five ways I'll tell you where to start. You know where I got to where I actually said yes, yes. So your endeavor I'm endeavor I worked for Eric Greenberg richer whites and already many well

Sebastian Twardosz 17:40
for argument Yeah. I was working for because we're gonna leave we're definitely gonna get to to just ask but I want to hear like when he gets made agent to because it's gonna be cool.

David Boxerbaum 17:51
Man, you're in a part of society? Yes. Yes. I'll show you a secret handshake.

Sebastian Twardosz 17:57
Manual like

David Boxerbaum 17:59
awesome. I mean,

Sebastian Twardosz 18:01
this is where he's like self censoring.

David Boxerbaum 18:07
I am as

Sebastian Twardosz 18:10
you know, he doesn't know Yeah.

David Boxerbaum 18:11
Honestly, I'm as confident my career has ever been. I'm confident who I am. And I'd be the first one to admit if I thought anybody did think. Not a short time Sure.

Sebastian Twardosz 18:23
No, would you really endeavor

David Boxerbaum 18:26
to have a truly unbelievable to watch the way he he does is he goes about his business, the way he conducts his business, and his business in general, you know, and the man is, is truly the best of the best at what he does. So it's very high. It's very

Sebastian Twardosz 18:41
just the time the effort the calling, effort, the

David Boxerbaum 18:43
effort, the passion, the drive, I mean, that's that talk about burnout. I mean, I everything he does is burnout but the drive to want more and succeed and all the hurdles that one may face along the way to get over them. Back to me, so So then I took a little detour so that endeavor was a good question. So

Sebastian Twardosz 19:09
at the top you're working for orient Ori, like you

David Boxerbaum 19:12
know, didn't know where my place was and the company didn't really under have an understanding of it.

Sebastian Twardosz 19:16
Yes. And down realize how good

David Boxerbaum 19:20
you had an ammo Did you did you

Sebastian Twardosz 19:23
have a decent Do you did you realize how good you had it? Or did or did you have a good I don't did you not have I think I

David Boxerbaum 19:28
had a good I don't think I you know, it's like if I had the Christmas Carol and I can look at you know that my life right? Yes, sure. I would tell my tell young boxer balm that I had a really good and that just to focus and stay and think the different things have worked out unbelievably amazing career and I always think the path I took let me meet my wife and kids, family all that right. So all that path was made was great for all that. Having said that, I think there was an element of naivete in the way I just happened. So

Sebastian Twardosz 20:01
I it's important to have mentors or people that right and sure can absolutely, absolutely than you that can say to you, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:10
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

David Boxerbaum 20:21
Absolutely. But I actually don't regret that what I did is in what I did was I took a small detour from agent teen and went into the production executive ranks, yes, and then worked for a company called Archeo pictures, which has been around for years, many, many years, and had this great library of titles, some of the ohms and they didn't, that you know, the hurdles you face that every day but, and I spent a year trying to put title remakes together and all of that. And, you know, it was exciting experience was also I quickly learned that what I missed from the ancient world was that every day excitement, the you know, the rush that things are moving, things are shaking, and I felt like in the working world, it's a slow down to a halt, right. It's a big,

Alex Ferrari 21:07
it's a different development.

David Boxerbaum 21:11
Just, and I lived in, I lived in looking back, it's amazing, because we had this really wonderful library of great titles that now is probably even more enticing to many, many filmmakers. But then at a time, when you had a lot of great filmmakers who want to be a part of Archeo, because they grew up and love these old titles. So we had some fantastic opportunities to meet people and, and kind of become, you know, contacts and friends and work with people. But again, I quickly learned after a year that I wasn't familiar, I went back into at&t, but kind of had to start kind of take a step back. But I had to kind of start a different size agency and went to a place called metropolitan where I worked for four years there. And it was a great four years agent was it metro was metropolitan. So I went right from assistant there me so I went right from executive to agent major, me back and facing me from you know, whatever, they do a background to be an assistant other places. And they need a young covering agent they could pay no money to and just come in and hustle. And

Sebastian Twardosz 22:15
guys, let you first I remember your office they're like, guys,

David Boxerbaum 22:19
let me tell you what I had when I tell you I had to come in and I had nothing in my corner, you know, nothing in my corner but pure drive and, and a little naivete, which was good, by the way. It was good. Yeah. Because it was it was all an uphill battle. And it was a really amazing experience because at that point, nothing was given. We were small agency, not a huge literary department. And we face hurdles trying to compete with the big boys right I'd come to Sundance this got 1617 years ago and try to sign directors and all then writers and I mean no one ever heard of Metropolitan we were a small little place and sure it was so many great things that came out of there and have blossomed to really fantastic careers but it was a small little place and so after four years spec sale first spec So do you remember it? I don't I don't shell Yeah, guy should have probably prepared flash don't read otherwise. There's been so many I'll just play my old age

Alex Ferrari 23:27
Yeah, no, we have four scripts on the other side of the room.

David Boxerbaum 23:31
So by Monday, you kidding. But I

Sebastian Twardosz 23:35
what you're selling scripts there and stuff. I mean, it was mostly

David Boxerbaum 23:39
online. I was doing TV and feature. So it was I was mostly trained in TV at that point. So I went in there as a real as a TV agent. But I quickly kind of started to also learn the feature business I was doing both. And by the way to this day, that has been a huge asset in my careers. I knew both fields. I do much more feature film now on TV, but I've had success putting recently Queen TV shows on the air and all that but that having both those assets in my repertoire has done so many great things for my career because it gives clients kind of the comfortability that they can come to me and know that I have the knowledge and wherewithal I mean I hope I do well I believe I do to understand both mediums. It's a rarity. I

Alex Ferrari 24:19
think so what's the actual because I know a lot of people listening would love to know what's the inside look at like selling a spec. Like you've got a client

Sebastian Twardosz 24:27
sure you've got a script that you believe in, well, how did they find the first place

Alex Ferrari 24:30
but sure we I mean, we could go back to like, Okay, how do you how do you even get how does that script get to you?

David Boxerbaum 24:35
Sure. I mean, listen, I always say and there's so many different ways a great script and gets in my hands but we say great material rises to the top it's like cream to somehow find its way to the top and it can be in so many various ways from you know, relationships to you know, friends who give it to you to you contest you read to other agencies they leave from and you try to be that guy that poses Don't cheese. But sometimes circumstances arise that something like that does happen. And so it's different different ways it comes Tickity. But you know, selling selling a spec, which, you know, I'm very proud to say it has some success in is, there's no secret science to it. Having said that, I think I've, to my own end have kind of found a formula that works, and found a formula that has has allowed me to have the accessibility to people that necessarily I wouldn't have had before. But most importantly, it comes down to the material itself. And I just feel like, for me, personally, I trust my tastes and trust my, my, what I'm reading, if I love the project itself, and I feel like take it out, I feel like my track record taken out usually leads to nothing what so you've been you've built

Alex Ferrari 25:52
already a reputation ledger, I mean, Dave is bringing in must be at a certain level.

David Boxerbaum 25:57
Sure. I mean, I have always told this anybody I speak to whether it be film schools or conferences, whatever that you know, all agents have in this town, I think his taste and their respect, right. And, and I think respect integrity. Once you lose one of them, you're in trouble. Once you there's both you're done. And for me, I've always prided myself on on on keeping those intact, the best way possible. And I pride myself on just having great taste. And there's no magic to that. It's the old saying, you know, when you see it, no, when you read it is so true. I just know what I respond to and I love and what I respond to and I love and take out the marketplace has just had a lot of success, do you?

Sebastian Twardosz 26:41
What's your process of actually doing this? But

Alex Ferrari 26:44
let's set it up. Like with your client, like you have a new client, you have a spec Do you believe in? What's the next step?

David Boxerbaum 26:49
Sure. So let's use a recent example. So as recent as last weekend, so clients had given me a spec, that was a in theory, a small drama, but not really when you looked at what the story was about historical drama. And it was about auto Frank who And Frank's father, who in his journey to after his daughter, obviously is perished. And he's now escaped the camps or left the camps in the war is over to get his diary published in the same kind of timeframe, or your different timeframe, but they do meet up at the end was this amazing editor named Barbara Zimmerman with a double day and she had found the diary in like a pass then down at the at her office. And it was her journey to get that that diary published as well. So the story of these two people's journeys to get this what now is obviously arguably one of the you know, most well known Diary books of our time published the way it works. So trip was phenomenal. So I read this, you did take yourself in an era where transformers DC Marvel movies, how was that movie going to find its place in the marketplace? But I knew a not only was a writing superb, like, this is a universal story of hope of the will to succeed the perseverance. Everybody knows the book. I felt like this definitely, definitely what specially what's going on in the world today. This would find its place might not be that big studio might not be it, but it's gonna find its place somewhere. So I tested it out there and why test it out. When I do my test things out in the marketplace. I'll give it to a few tastemakers that I love if I get any when of interest. And I'll be very honest with them upfront and say listen, this is the plan just so you know, I'm very upfront about it. And once I caught interest from the few teachers and like I gave it to I knew I had something so

Sebastian Twardosz 28:49
you're slipping into them. Do you? Do you slip it like a day in advance a couple days?

David Boxerbaum 28:53
Depends if I if I'm focused on maybe that tastemaker works for a director that's of high caliber that needs more than a day. I'll give him more than a day but there usually is a 24 to 48 hour window in my process that I give somebody to read the tastemakers are these other agents? No, these are these are producers executives in town. Okay, so that's an also an error now where I think specs have gone from they go out one day takes like a few days people to read it and you find out really where you are in a place of selling or not selling it within like a week or two. I've been thankfully blessed that still my specs go out and I'll know within 24 to 48 hours on my cell phone, you know, I'll know pretty fast, based on again my reputation of selling them and having a taste whatever. So this thing went out on a Friday. By Friday night, there was heads of studios all over us. Because because the producers had given to we had allowed them to go to their certain territories, their studios, and we had heads of states and it went so fast that night that I didn't even have time this happened to me numerous times. but this one really took one optical zone. I didn't even have time to get certain signals involved, the big tbid Because it was going so fast. And in hindsight, I probably should just gave it to them. But it just it was moving at lightspeed a Friday night. And, you know, the scripted comfort zone, these had the studios. By Saturday morning, we started the offer started coming in. And by Saturday evening, we had six or seven offers, they had offered up to where they were and Fox Searchlight one a day, and it sold within 24 hours. But

Sebastian Twardosz 30:33
I want to draw down this a little bit if I can, because this is Evan script, who is a friend of mine. The difference with this one is they're not they weren't totally new writers that you had sold a spec of theirs last year, too, wasn't it? Actually, I

David Boxerbaum 30:45
did not sell that spec at all the other agency that they had been at it sold it ah, they had unfortunately, felt like the agency they were right there. Funny story, they came in they met with me and my colleagues and they didn't end up signing with me Shame on them, they came back so myself and myself, my colleagues and I kept in contact with them over the course of a year here let allow the other entity to do their thing didn't like wasn't like time to really make them make them uncomfortable or or not happy. But unfortunately, their agency just didn't do what their guest was promised them. They came to us cut to

Sebastian Twardosz 31:28
that's what their defense, one of them worked on agencies, one

David Boxerbaum 31:32
of them worked there to escape it, you know,

Sebastian Twardosz 31:40
okay, cuz I was gonna ask like, how did that first one happened because that was also the first one.

David Boxerbaum 31:44
It was also the first one. The first one went out that first one I mean, I know the story, the first one out and went to a bunch of places and it probably should have gotten a better reception. It didn't in the sense of selling to a bigger place. It sold to an amazing producer basil wanted it just to get the financial sell that they wanted a thoroughly this one. This one did very, very, very well for so one question has this one, but this one was, so just summon up. So that cells that night. One of them had just came to see me and I don't think I'm outing him by telling the story. It's just I think a wonderful story about you know why we do what we do want them to just come in and see myself. They a couple days before that would be Wednesday, and had had said basically listen, I need to I need to figure out what I'm doing here. We need to like just get going financially for my family. For everything, I just, there's a little bit of anxiety, there's a little bit of concern, you know, and so when you hear those things, you kind of read through the lines, you know what's going on. And you know, you feel like you're sitting there man to male somebody who has children, whenever you're like, you know, you want to do what you can do. So that actually because I was by no means usually you go with a spec before, there's a whole thing before Sundance theory, whatever, because Sundance is the kind of afternoon start kind of a kickoff of the new Spanish spec season, whatever it is. But hearing that I just was like, man, the man, I have a family of my own. I just felt a real like, you know, responsibility to myself and to him to really see what I could do quickly. To then call him and tell him that we had accomplished this money with money, his life changing for sure. was an amazing experience. But then to hear later on, when he told his wife and his wife was in tears, he told his mom and his mom, it validated for his mom, he could be a writer and you can have success. This is not his first script was for script. Other one again sold for this

Sebastian Twardosz 33:38
one was significantly bigger than his versus high six figures.

David Boxerbaum 33:41
Yeah, this is the first one was not even the same stratosphere Oh, six, maybe not even the same sheet. Right? Is fear? Yes. That you know, yeah. No, not life changing money. Jobs? No, no. Right. So and once again, it's not always about the money. It's about what this did about it. His career as a writers, all of that, again, was was on a Saturday afternoon, which doesn't really usually happen on Saturdays was really a very defining, again, moment of why we do what we do. And if it was ever a moot point, up to that point, if I had felt burnt out, or was having a tough time, that gets you revitalized again.

Alex Ferrari 34:21
So how often and no, this is a story that I hear all the time. When you sell a spec strip, let's say they sell for a million or high six figures or whatever. How many get produced? Because there's so many that being are bought constantly. Yeah, but they just sit on a shelf. I never understand that. So do you have any insight on

David Boxerbaum 34:38
that? Yeah, I mean, it's just so hard to get movies made these days with, you know, original content, which doesn't necessarily make it to the screen these days, as much as we want it to be. Since you know, since the years like, like years past, I would say I'd have 10 One or two who make it to the big screen, which is really, really sad and scary. A big there. Thanks. I mean, the the transaction is they have to have that opportunity to at least have it on their shelf and the property undershelf just but if it comes down to a numbers game, it's that or make the next Batman Marvel or Batman whenever you go for the sure bet, right? Because how many Yeah, how many of the, in his business? How many of these new original content kind of projects? Have we seen that come out and didn't do? Well? How many? I mean, I look at the list every year. These are acquisitions at a Sundance of all the movies a Carson's and then what they do at the box office, and you look and you go, you just get headshaking Yeah, and the year before wasn't very good. I mean, it's just really head shaking. And so it's good

Sebastian Twardosz 35:39
agents, selling movies. A lot of money here. Yeah, that's what you do.

Alex Ferrari 35:43
It was so impressive to even see something like Avatar, that is such a huge risk. Yeah. On a brand new property with nothing. And they spent what 400 $500 million on that? Yeah,

David Boxerbaum 35:54
I mean, that by that point, you're betting on a filmmaker and saying, well, obviously they'll go down with the ship on with him. Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, I think at that point, but yes, you're right. I mean, it's just I mean, I mean filmmaker, not an avatar. There's no IP built in there and nothing you know, no major major stock to start nothing you know, rolled it it rolled it but but but to be able to say from the guy who brought you Titanic brings you answer avatar, yeah, of course brings you I mean, that's that right there. You know, so sadly, not as many as you'd like to see but I still hold hope that studios realize that this is a business of original content and an original creativity real voices, and that there still is a want in need and a passion for Deadpool. But they it's still based on a marvel. It was erotic but a very obscure my

Alex Ferrari 36:48
right and it was done for a think 35 or 40 minutes. Very shoot and in theory a shoestring for them and they change and they change the genre. Yeah, for sure. Because it took a risk.

Sebastian Twardosz 36:57
Totally. I want to switch it up a little bit. talk a lot about writers How do you break a director? Yes, please or a writer to director or just a straight director? You know, what do you look

David Boxerbaum 37:08
for a director purely going to be about the vision of what you see the product for me? Again it's similar to writing is that when you see something it's very visionary when you see a movie that you say that that to me there's there's a point of view there's a vision the way they deal with their shot selection the actor's all that. To me that's what has to stand out these days. How do you break a director? Do you they're going to be from a film they've already done that Garner that gets you know rave reviews in town you kind of obviously have to get him in front of everybody could possibly can that movie

Sebastian Twardosz 37:39
genre matter? No, not at all. Because I've seen some great dramas like I always go back to Spider was great. Yeah, really good show from you can find it on Vimeo I think Yeah. Which is that's just the way they they directed the actors.

David Boxerbaum 37:53
Yeah, not at all. I mean, no donors genre as a matter of genre matters. Only in short films. I believe. That's where genre does stand out. And you look at a short film like we were involved with, like lights out for example, right? I mean, it's simple little shorts. That you know, wasn't unbelievably a visionary but it had a really great hook to it. That's now led David Sandberg to have a very illustrious career and Bill and growing so in short to me, I feel tend to feel comedy and horror are the ones that really stand out unless you do some very visual visual visual effects. Stimulating you know,

Sebastian Twardosz 38:27
like Tron or one of those guys there's a film called ruin right? Yeah really. But yes runner yeah Tron Guy too. Yeah,

David Boxerbaum 38:35
but yeah, West bar did ruin ruin West bossman years you know just hustle and trying to get things made and everything and find us ruin and ruin the Reds Maze Runner but I mean I think baking director is even that much harder because in your asking studio to give a new in theory filmmaker X amount of millions of dollars to make a movie you know put it in their hands extremely hard but it's Jessica board of directors,

Sebastian Twardosz 38:58
directors audition now to write they have to go

David Boxerbaum 39:02
to get a ribbon reel at the particular rip reels have to put together

Sebastian Twardosz 39:06
what does that mean? Every director have to do this now.

David Boxerbaum 39:08
You wouldn't say I went to every director I would say people

Sebastian Twardosz 39:11
not the well known

David Boxerbaum 39:12
newer directors. I would say that most new directors are breaking into the scene unless they were pinpointed by the executives or by the studio by the producers that this is the person they saw they saw something they already seen they already seen something that that told them that they knew understood the vision of the movie would have to at least put something on on film on screen that will show their vision of what they can do look look something that shows somebody and by the way, I tell all my directors to do any of that no matter what when they go into a room to audition for it

Alex Ferrari 39:41
but like a lot I've noticed that Marvel specifically has been using a lot of new directors lately, especially one that is a cheap one that I did this

David Boxerbaum 39:50
car.

Alex Ferrari 39:54
Did I did Spider Man spider web. Yeah, yeah. But it's like how to go from 500 days of scupper.

Sebastian Twardosz 40:00
Yeah, all the time. Like the olden days, I would never have like, because if you, this is what the system is set up to do,

David Boxerbaum 40:09
because you if you look at what Marvel's what Marvel wants to be known for is, is giving your characters depth and giving your character something that layered much more than just blowing up buildings and all of that, right. And you look at what those movies at those kids people have broken out in those movies. So all those movies are present is is just real actors type pieces. And I think that's what Marvel looks for.

Sebastian Twardosz 40:32
What's not just marvel, everyone's I mean, everybody call in trouble. Get your Sundance movie, and then what they'll do is they'll just surround you by, you know, excellent DPS. Excellent. Yeah. Other filmmakers that are tastic. And they want your point of view.

David Boxerbaum 40:44
Yeah, it's honestly a breath of fresh air to see these, you know, these young filmmakers breaking out I think it's great. Yeah, it's a new a new vision for all these movies is wonderful, you know? So I'm all for you know, I mean, sometimes it's risky, but close.

Alex Ferrari 41:00
Close. So what would be advice you would give someone just starting out as a screenwriter, try and break it

David Boxerbaum 41:06
well, so for StreamWriter I mean, simple, same, but great writers, right, which is first and foremost. So if you were scream louder, continue to hone your craft. I always say, you know, I'm a I'm a film school kid that came out here and became an agent, right? I don't think I had the fortitude. I guess I maybe did or didn't to, like put in the time effort to be a director or do all that. But so I commend anybody that puts in the effort to be a writer and sit down and put pen to paper and all that. I think it's an amazing, amazing job and I think it's amazing passion and unbelievable, unbelievable creative outlet. Having said that, so many writers think they're writers and say they're writers yet don't write don't actually put do the work right, they toss a talk a lot. Now she do it. So first thing first is to write. Secondly, is just to get immersed in this world as much as possible, doesn't mean you have to live out in LA Sure, it helps to be around the business and be not. I hate to say bubble of Hollywood, but just be immersed and understand it. Enter contest, read as much as you can about the world of screenwriting and your craft and just understand and know your craft know what it's all about, you know, understand the business that we work in. I think it only makes you that much more. I would just say ready when the success hopefully comes you

Alex Ferrari 42:29
know, now is that a prerequisite to write your first script in a Starbucks in LA. Every time I go to Starbucks

David Boxerbaum 42:38
laptop, it's shifting. Now you can do coffee bean repeat. So it's one of those three half of you,

Alex Ferrari 42:44
anybody who's not in LA get that when I first moved here, I was like everyone's writing a script.

Sebastian Twardosz 42:52
So I was a writer I don't like to do that because I'd want like noise which noise I way too easily distracted like it's just me it's like the Jewish thing in me I don't know I'm just like right away I'm like, wait, what's going on over here? You know, like a dog and up in me went away so

Alex Ferrari 43:10
So breaking the director,

David Boxerbaum 43:13
director is I would say just go out and shoot some shoot every whenever you can. There's so many more opportunities now to be to have your I talked about this when I was talking to the kids man, my you students in my you have your stuff now uploaded on YouTube. I mean, formerly fine, obviously, all these places where people can see your stuff, Emil, I think he's had to go out and shoot, get a camera, you know, invest in something, whatever it is on iPhone, I don't care what it is to shoot something, do it and just start to build and again hone your craft and build your resume when I do suggest features or shorts. Well, I mean listen either or is fine, but it's not me it's hard. I mean, it's hard to go out and shoot a whole feature you know, I mean, you know I'm not saying max out your credit cards and go severely I mean that but like if that's what your passion and love is.

Sebastian Twardosz 43:57
Do what Yeah, but you can break somebody in just a short. Sure. Absolutely. So it's good enough and sure enough, absolutely.

David Boxerbaum 44:01
It's it's harder, but you can of course I think studios are a little bit more resistance to giving somebody isn't given somebody a shot just off a short film, but it's done for sure. But just you know, to break to get your start in directing. I always think film school is great, but most importantly just go out and shoot do it. She won't do it again. I commend anybody that does it just go out and do it. Yeah.

Sebastian Twardosz 44:28
A couple what you mentioned contest so like nickel fellowship Austin's yes that comes to mind you actually I mean attention to them. Absolutely. I

David Boxerbaum 44:35
mean obviously the film school want to be pay attention all of that Sam a golden we pay attention to that. Anything in the blacklist I think Franklin lettered site is such a is is very connected to the Hollywood scene and very in touch the Hollywood scene and we've had great success with the blacklists say. But you know, again, I mean, it's it's so there's not one way or right way. It's just continue to right now,

Sebastian Twardosz 44:59
and do most of your classes usually have a manager before they get to you or does it matter?

David Boxerbaum 45:03
And that's a matter. I mean, I'd say now. Now I'd say a good, I'd say a high percentage of my clients have managers. But at some but not it changes sometimes they come to me, you know, manage some of them to do with a manager. And when it comes to lawyer, so chain, it's different every time and you work together with them as a team. Yeah, the client Yeah, the best thing can happen to a client is that everybody's unified in the approach to the career right? We're all in sync, whenever if there's a if there's a crack in that system, then something's not working, right?

Alex Ferrari 45:31
Do you normally do you sit down and strategize like absolutely career path? Like yeah, I you know, get the script then from here, we're going to do this.

David Boxerbaum 45:39
I mean, I'm much more hands on the approach of agency than most I'd say. Most agents are much more transactional and like in this not knocking other agents is a lot of them are transactional, it's like just getting the job done and so on onto the next I'm very, I get very immersed into note process and making sure again, that everything has my stamp of approval when it leaves the office because again, it's my taste and my integrity and respect out there. So

Sebastian Twardosz 46:04
and by the way, it's not the be all and end all for script to actually sell I mean, as long as the script is really good even if a spec doesn't sell an assignment absolutely assignment but you also did the rounds you get to your

David Boxerbaum 46:15
horse but you know, a great piece of writing even if doesn't sell still a great piece of writing that's gonna get garnered a lot of interest in different areas for you of course, you know, whether it be film or TV wherever it is, so it's doesn't always have to sell and someone to spec isn't necessarily a high percentage these days. Again, I've had some good success but the percentages aren't necessarily they're not the 90s 90s Let me tell you

Alex Ferrari 46:41
what like someone like Max Landis who's been doing sure insane specs lately he's also writes like incredibly few rights ridiculous out there just completely puts up but he's kind of like, like from what I've read he's starting to bring back a little bit of this this shame black days you know, when he sold the weapon and long has been

David Boxerbaum 46:59
doing really well for himself. I mean, to see that but you see a turn

Alex Ferrari 47:02
Do you see studio starting to go down? Like hey, let's pay big money.

David Boxerbaum 47:06
I can only speak for myself, I can't speak for you know, Max or anybody else I can pick for me and Mike, my clients. I have seen a great boom in a spec mark. Okay. Most people would say you're out of your fucking mind for saying that. You have me a spec market. You know, it's all about perspective. Perspective. I mean, keeping the blinders on. I don't care what all the noise is. To keep the noise out, you know, but now I just have seen a great a great success in that world. Great.

Alex Ferrari 47:38
Very cool, man. Thank you so much.

David Boxerbaum 47:39
Thank you guys. Great fun thank you. I have a lot of fun. Thank you for having me here. Of course I'm now have to go out and brave the crazy blizzard. It's gonna be outside. Yeah, they're nothing like a little Blizzard Sundance. But thank you guys. And obviously continued success to the everything you guys are doing to thank you. Thank you for being here. Thanks, everyone

Sebastian Twardosz 47:55
for listening.

Alex Ferrari 47:57
It was amazing talking to David. He was a wealth of information. And it's it's an avenue that I really have never gone down. I've never talked to anybody of his caliber, and really getting inside information on what it's like to sell spec scripts, how it changes people's lives, his clients lives. And also looking at it from an agent's perspective, not only from the screenwriters perspective, and what they're looking for, and what he's looking for, and how he works with his clients, and that whole mentality, so I was really excited to have him on the show. And David, if you're listening, thank you, my friend so much for being on the show, and helping drop some knowledge bombs. And of course, thank you to my co host, Sebastian Tordoff, from circus Road Films and Adam Bowman, from media circus, who are our CO hosts and CO production on these special Sundance episodes. And if you want links to anything we talked about in this episode, just head over to indie film hustle.com, forward slash BPS 011. And there have put David's contact information so if you want to reach out to him, you can and if you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. It really helps us out a lot and gets helps get the word out on what we're trying to do at the bulletproof screenplay. Just head over to screenwriting podcast.com And as always, Keep writing no matter what doctor said.


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BPS 009: How Marketable is Your Film Idea or Screenplay?

So how marketable is your film idea or screenplay? I know so many screenwriters and filmmakers who spend months and sometimes years on an idea that is cool to just themselves. Depending on what you are attempting to achieve with your story, you should always figure out if your idea is marketable or if you have a fighting chance of selling the screenplay or final film.

Paul Castro, the writer of the Warner Brothers feature film August Rush (Starring Robin Williams) shares with us his thoughts on how to test and find marketable ideas. You can download the MP3 or watch the video below.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
So Paul Castro, the writer of August Rush, and I have put together a course called The million dollar business of screenwriting. Now I'm going to give you a one of the lessons that he teaches in this course called is your screenplay marketable? What is the marketability of your screenplay. So I wanted to give you a kind of a sneak peek of the course in this podcast and listen to one of these amazing lectures that Paul does in this in this course. Now, this is not just for screenwriters, this is also for directors, producers, filmmakers, who have ideas that they might want to get flushed out, or a movie that they're about to start, definitely listen to what Paul says, because it might save you years of your life, let alone 1000s and 1000s, or even, maybe even millions of dollars, depending on the level you're at. And at the end of the episode, I'll give you a special link to get the course at a substantial discount. So sit back and get ready to get your mind blown.

Paul Castro 4:04
I wanted to talk to you about the marketability of your idea. So writers we all have a peppering of all sorts of ideas, bombarding our psyche and our soul often, and most of the time every day, at least for me and many of my friends. So how do you choose an idea? Well, I think it's important to take your top three ideas, and be really honest with yourself, is it marketable? Right, because there are ideas out there that are real. Something that's interesting to me may not be interesting to the world. So I wrote a script about a fugu chef one time the Japanese puffer blowfish, which is the poisonous fish and I love this story, and it got some traction but nobody ever bought it. And the writing experience was a value for sure. But I could have spent those eight weeks to 12 weeks to eventually six months working on something that was much more marketable. So what makes a marketable screen Play that's going to put you in the best possible position to sell it. So these days, it is a true story. For some reason Hollywood and actors, movie stars like to play something that actually happened. So how do you acquire that? Well, you acquire it from source material, what is source material from a magazine, a book, an article, something you've seen in the news. Now, you may be saying, Hey, Paul, that's great. But I'm a new screenwriter, how am I going to acquire that? Well, from my experience, I have seen that book authors are a lot more accessible and open than say, trying to get to a movie star. So if you approached a book author knows I said, he or she not the agent, because agents are wonderful, but they're the gatekeepers. They're trying to protect that person. And they're trying to get them paid, understandably, so. But if you approach a book author, and show your passion for the material, have a plan for how you're going to adapt it from book to the big screen. And oh, by the way, you're going to do this for free, as long as that he or she gives you a free option. And if the material once you're done with it is at a level of vibrancy and at a high frequency of quality, that that person says yes, this is what this is my book on screen, in a screenplay form that can eventually make it to the big screen. Yeah, I would love to say you did a great job. If they agree to that, then you go forward as a team to sell the entire project and it cost you time and sweat equity, that can be done. And most writers are a bit trepidatious and shy and circumspect in going that route. Because they feel like well, what value do I have to add? Well, I'm here to tell you, you have a lot, you're a creative, right? That's invaluable. And if you're going to be brave enough to approach this person, and coming from a good place, you're not trying to rip anyone off, you're trying to add value with your talent and creativity, you can acquire some wonderful stories, right? So the market is very friendly towards a true story. Something that's current, is it. Like these days, you hear a lot of stories about autism, which is a very important subject. All right, if there's something that is relevant to the science world as far as as a curable disease, something that has an energy beyond just a true story. All right, an Olympic hopeful, who blah, blah, blah, fill in the blank. Maybe there's something in your hometown, some somebody that nobody even knew about this person. And you could bring that story to fruition through a screenplay where there's a will there's a relative, and there's also a way. So I would encourage you to start looking for true stories, something from source material, if there's a book that you saw when you were you read when you were a little kid, and why isn't this ever been a movie, then that's a voice a little God wink that's telling you to pursue it. So your job now is to spend the next I'm sorry, not one hour, two hours, going to Google going to your Rolodex going to your hometown, going through all your resources to identify a true story that you can bring to fruition through the craft of screenwriting. So you have two hours, make sure you hit the restroom, get some water and get some amens whatever you do, and get prepared because two hours and you're going to on Vale the gym that you were meant to write through a true story from source material. Okay, in 321 Write it

Alex Ferrari 9:01
I'll tell you what I learned a ton from Paul while I was working with him on this course. I mean, he goes over things like how to workshop your screenplay, which I had never heard of this whole technique of how he actually workshops have screenplays, so he can get feedback and make it better it's it's pretty pretty awesome. How to submit to an agent how to get the your screenplay to an agent pitching how to read a room not read a person but actually read a room which is amazing how to write different kinds of screenplays from 30 minutes, sitcoms to one hour dramas, residuals, a W GA, writing assignments and so on. I mean, it's it's a pretty dense course on the business of screenwriting and how to actually make a living being a screenwriter, but again, a lot of the concepts and things that Paul talks about for screenwriters can easily be translated to filmmakers. So definitely a course to take a listen to and as promised I am going to give you a discount code. So all you have to do is go to indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash, screenwriting 25 That's indie film hustle.com, forward slash screenwriting 25. And you'll get the course for 25 bucks. I mean, that is a absolute steal. I'm not not even playing around. It's so dense. And there's some more preview. When you go to that link, you'll see a few more lessons, you can kind of preview and take a listen to. Well, well worth it, guys. So I hope you got a lot out of this episode. And if you want the link again, just head over to the show notes at Indie film hustle.com, forward slash BPS 009. And if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com. And leave us an honest review on the show. It really helps the show out a lot and gets this information out to as many screenwriters as possible. And as always, keep on writing, no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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BPS 004: How to Sell Your Screenplay with Ashley Scott Meyers

Today’s guest is screenwriter/podcaster Ashley Scott Meyers from Sellingyourscreenplay.com. Ashley is a working screenwriter in Hollywood. He also spends his time running a popular screenwriting blog and podcast. His focus is on helping you sell your screenplay. Here’s a bit of his philosophy in his own words:

If you ask 100 different screenwriters how they broke into the business you’re going to get 100 different answers. There is no “right” way to break in. So my philosophy has always been simple: try as many different angles as possible and figure out what works best for you.

Below are two short lists of things you should be doing to try and sell your screenplays. I’ve listed them in order of what I think is most effective (your results may vary). One thing to keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list. You should be thinking of other ways you can market your material and doing those things, too. If you would like to share any of your ideas please email me as I’m always curious to hear how other writers are successfully marketing their material.

Also, you may not be able to do everything on these lists, but the more you do the better chances you’ll have. If you’re serious about success, however, you’re going to need to try most of these things, otherwise, you’re not going to be giving your screenplay, or yourself, a real chance to succeed.

Things you can start doing today.

  • Make phone calls to agents, managers, and producers pitching your material
  • Write query letters for your screenplays and snail mail, email, or fax them to agents, managers, and producers
  • Scour sites like Craig’s List and other online resources for people looking for screenplays and send them your query letter
  • Enter screenwriting contests
  • Try and connect with agents, managers, and producers on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook

Long term items which you should also be doing.

We get into it in this interview so take some notes on this epic conversation. Enjoy!

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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome the show Ashley Scott Meyers, man, how you doing brother? Thanks for being on the show.

Ashley Scott Meyers 2:10
I'm doing great. Thank you for having me on.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
Yeah, I've been I've been a fan of what you do over at sell your screenplay for a long time. So and we we run in the same circles. So it's it's finally we and we bumped into each other at AFM in the hallway as you do at AFM.

Ashley Scott Meyers 2:26
Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Coincidental meeting. But yeah, that was fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 2:30
So um, so first of all, let's talk about how you got into the business like what was your big break? Do even you know, because you're your writer, so it's tough. So how did you do it?

Ashley Scott Meyers 2:39
Yeah, it's tough. So I mean, I think I'm the typical, typical, typical and a lot of ways I grew up on the East Coast, Annapolis, Maryland to be specific, and I came out here after college, you know, and just moved out here and just started working at a tennis club. I play tennis club started to meet people. There was a guy there that was up at CSUN Cal State Northridge. He was getting a degree in communications with an emphasis, I think, in screenwriting, so I went and basically did the same thing. And one of the things that I got out of CSUN was, as I was walking out one night, there was another guy in my class named Stan Williamson, I think that was his name. And he had just sold a script called just write that actually start. And this was, you know, back in probably the late 90s. Start, Sherilyn, Fenn and Jeremy Priven. And it was actually a very nice little film. And I said, Well, how did you sell it? And his answer was, like, super straightforward. He was responding and back in like, let's say, 1998. It was like backstage, and that was the day gala variety and Hollywood Reporter back in the back of those magazines, they would have classified ads. And there were production companies that would be looking for scripts, and you would see him and I had seen them in submitted to a few, but I'd never heard anything from any of them. So I kind of had just given up. But he said, No, you got to be persistent. And you got to send it's going to be hundreds of letters, you're going to send out a lot, you'll probably never hear from most of them. But every now and then you will. And he said I've over the years, I've optioned a ton of scripts through this, and this one actually got option and then produced. So that was how he did it. And I just started religiously doing that. I just turned it into a routine. And every Thursday, I would go down to the public library, and I could get all of these different magazines. And again, back then it was drama blog and backstage West and there was a whole bunch of these things. Yeah, the Hollywood Reporter. And I would go through them once a week and I would make submissions and and eventually I started to get a little bit of people, you know, calling writing back and and eventually I optioned and sold my first script, a script called dish dogs that did end up getting getting produced and had Shawn Aston and Matthew Willard and Brian Danny, which back in 1998 was a big deal. Yeah, they were they were hot actors. It was like a $2 million film. Obviously, the world of independent film has changed a lot since then. But, but it was a great experience in terms of getting on the board and getting a credit, but it was not a great experience in terms of like creative fulfillment. This is the typical stuff, the script was completely rewritten. And at one point we optioned the script to these guys. And, you know, just just this little an aside. So me and my buddy wrote this script, we go down there, and we meet him at this house. And it's kind of it's off where the big Larry Flynt building. So we're driving by the Larry Flynt building, and you take a right into the neighborhood there. And you know, it's like, yeah, and just like a beat up little house, small little, you know, ranch house, and we go in there, and they're like, Oh, we just did a movie with Stallone. And, you know, they hold up this poster and you're looking and you're like, that's not Sylvester Stallone. And it was Frank Stallone, his brother. So that was the kinds of movies they were making. And that should have been our first clue that things might not be headed in the right direction, but to their word, like there was no there was no funny business with the money. They never tried to cheat us or anything like that. They were good. Cool. Like they were super cool guys to hang out with. But creatively we just didn't see eye to eye and they made a number of changes. And I mean, in my opinion, anyways, the movie is terrible. And, but that was kind of my first foray into it foray into screenwriting, Professional Screenwriting, I would say.

Alex Ferrari 6:04
Very cool. Now you've been doing, you know, you've been doing a lot of work at sell your screenplay and you do consulting and you work with a lot of screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays. What is the biggest mistake you see first time film a first time screenwriters make? Yeah, so

Ashley Scott Meyers 6:19
I would say the this the single biggest mistake and I really try and preach this on my podcast every episode is that a lot of screenwriters, especially newer screenwriters, they tend to write scripts about, you know, some life experience or something that they think is cool, that they think is interesting, but there is no discernible market for that movie. And, you know, it's basically dead on arrival. And even if the script is really, really, really well written, I mean, if it's, if it's great, like, if it's super well written, then you might be able to get some work out of it, you might be able to get an agent out of it, you might be able to it might be able to push your career forward. But in terms of actually selling the script, it's going to be very, very difficult, unless you really understand, like what producers are looking for and what budget range and, you know, just understanding some of the more logistical things of screenwriting. It's not I think people that go into screenwriting, they have this sort of fantasy that and this is not this is a pure fantasy, they think that you know, screenwriting, I'm gonna be able to sit, you know, on a beach in Thailand with my laptop and, you know, create my stories and email them off to the producer. And, you know, it's not like that, at the levels I've worked at and which is not even to say, the studio level, which I'm sure is even a whole nother you know, set of parameters, but it's very much about I mean, Professional Screenwriting is really very much about getting assignments, it's about, you know, getting networking with that producer, and then the producer comes to you with his idea and wants you to write it, he doesn't care about if he's the one paying the bill. He doesn't care about your idea, you know, he just needs someone who understands how to put a screenplay together and, and and and can write it for whatever budget he has. So I say that's the mistake is understanding what you're actually how you're going to actually market the script how you're going to sell and understanding is there really an audience for this too many screamers and I include myself in that, like my the first couple scripts I wrote. I mean, one of them was called Mother literally the first script I ever wrote it was called midlife comedy. And it was about this guy going through a midlife crisis. And here I am, like a 22 year old, you know, guy writing about midlife. I knew nothing about midlife crisis. And there was no there was no market for that script. Even if I did, even if I'd have been, you know, a 40 Something guy writing that there was still no market for a movie like that.

Alex Ferrari 8:32
Gotcha, gotcha. Now, how would you? How would you? How would you tell screenwriters to approach prospective producers about getting their stuff looked at or produced?

Ashley Scott Meyers 8:42
Yeah, so I mean, in this in this day and age, I mean, there's a whole host of ways to network with producers, including my own site selling your screenplay.com I will not show that here. As much obviously, I think my own services are fantastic. And and I have a variety of ways for screenwriters to connect with producers. But there's other services out there. I mean, if you don't have a lot of money, the biggest like thing that I think you can do is get an account with IMDb Pro, you can get it for free for a couple weeks. But even if you can afford the 15 or 16, whatever it is per month. Like I'd say 80% of everybody in the entertainment business is listed there with an email address or phone number. So if you want to connect with people, you know, that's a quick, easy, cheap way to do it. Now, when you start talking about sending cold emails, you know, you're sending an email, you don't know this person, you're going to need a volume and again, and you do it a lot. And you're going to need some volume on that because in most cases, they're not going to respond to you. So you need to be doing it a lot consistently. But that's the quickest, cheapest, easiest way. There's other free services. I mean, I've had screenwriters tell me they've connected on Twitter, you know, following some some agents or managers or producers on Twitter and being a becoming sort of a part of their circle, you know, tweeting at them just getting to know them and not you know, constantly pitching your scripts, that strategy. I think I just mentioned stage 32 Craigslist is a great free place, especially if you're writing short films, there's a ton of producers, directors on Craigslist, looking for especially short films, you know, guys out of film, school, even people in film school, they need short scripts, this is a great way to build your resume. It's a great way, all of these things that I just mentioned, you know, knowing how knowing who you're going to sell your script to, doing some short films is a great way to do that. Write some short scripts, they're easy to write, in this day and age, everyone's telling you to make them shorter. I mean, a five minute short script is perfect. And for something like Craigslist, it's easy to produce, and go on Craigslist, meet some people. And you know, the James Cameron and the Steven Spielberg's of tomorrow, those guys are on Craigslist looking for scripts right now, some of those people, you know, 99.999% of them, they're not going to not going to succeed. But some of those people that are looking for scripts on Craigslist, they will go and have careers. And if you get to meet those people early on, that's a great way to do it. There's a tip there's another service called the blacklist, these are all you know, online services, you can pay in some cases, fees and ink tip and blacklist you pay a fee. And then, you know, you can upload your script or you can respond to leads. And I have similar services to like the blacklist or a tip at selling your screenplay. One thing I always recommend, and again, not to show my own services, but I have something similar, but I highly recommend the Inc tip newsletter they do once a week they publish a newsletter that they send to members. And again, there is a cost to this, I think it's maybe 30 or $40 per quarter or something. But it costs it's it's you get to see what real producers are looking for and how sort of granular that actually is and how specific it is. And you know, you can start to get a feel for what you're writing. Even if you don't have scripts to submit to that newsletter, your scripts don't match what they're looking for, you will start to see patterns, you know, female driven thrillers, you know, you'll see that over and over again scripts for you know, for women, you'll good scripts for women, oh, that's, that's an underserved market, maybe that's something that you can tweak on one of your scripts, or maybe on your next script that you write, you can start to sort of figure out, Hey, these are what the producers are actually looking for. And, and maybe I should write something that people are actually looking for. So I'd say those are sort of the main places I would recommend.

Alex Ferrari 12:12
Now, you spoke a bit about short films, are short films worth it? Or is it should film writers do short films, shouldn't they?

Ashley Scott Meyers 12:19
Yeah, I highly recommend it. I mean, again, you have to you have to like you have to understand the expectations of something like this, the short film that you do most likely is not going to go viral. And it's not going to you know, catapult your your career to the stratosphere. But that's okay. I mean, if all you get out of it is a you know, you meet an actor that you hit it off with, and then you know, that actor or you meet a director that you hit it off with, I mean, these short films, there's virtually no budget, so you're not going to make any money writing short films. I mean, you'll be lucky if they pay you 100 bucks. In most cases, they're not going to pay you anything. But I think that's fine. And especially for people that don't have credits yet. It's a great way to sort of get into the system to get on IMDb start to build a resume. I mean, when you're pitching to a producer, your feature film and they say, Well, what else have you done? Hey, man, look me up on IMDb, and you got six short films listed there, that totally puts you in another conversation as just, you know, the guy that has done it. So I would say understand what is realistic with the short films, but they don't take that much to write? And wouldn't you rather write you know, let's say 10 short films and see one or two of them actually get produced? Then, you know, maybe two feature films and see none of them get produced? You know, I think it's a great way just to cut your teeth and network with people and see, you know, you'll start to understand why did they change certain things in my script, and you'll start to understand probably the practical aspects of production, hey, they change this and why did the actor you know, he didn't say this line of dialogue, right, you'll start to understand, well, this line of dialogue was sort of a tongue twister. And, you know, maybe he couldn't, it didn't feel natural for him to say, and that can enhance your writing. So there's a lot of sort of subtle things that you get out of doing a short film. And and it just, it can't be underestimated. Like, that's how you build a career. I mean, everybody wants to, you know, get discovered by the producer and win that Academy Award. And that occasionally happens. So people think that that's like, the way it happens, because it happens, you know, once you know in a blue moon, but if you really looked at the people that have won Academy Awards for screenwriters, I'd be willing to bet 99% of them, you know, they started off very modestly and work their way up and eventually got to that point, and everything starts, you know, it's like the longest journey starts with the first step. And I think short films are great, great first step

Alex Ferrari 14:42
there are you know, there are no prodigies in our business that are there. I mean, there are no people that just show up and like I can just write the Oscar winning script or the Oscar winning movie. It's yeah, doesn't exist as it's kind of a myth.

Ashley Scott Meyers 14:54
I think I think like Diablo Cody, who did Juno, you know, I think she's kind of the goal. Standard for that is that there's this sort of mythology behind her that she was plucked out of obscurity. And she did win that Academy Award. And but again, even if you drill into that story her specific years though she's a wreck. Yeah, correct. And she was, she was working as a professional writer for a newspaper. So I mean, that's another great background, like you're gonna if you want to be a screenwriter, see if you can get a job as a journalist, because that's a great background, learning how to communicate with words and and you know, how to, you know, mess with people's emotions and get people to have an emotional reaction to your writing. All that is great background, and you're laying the groundwork, potentially for screenwriting.

Alex Ferrari 15:38
Now, what are the some of the key elements of a good script?

Ashley Scott Meyers 15:42
You know, I would say I'm big on structure. And I think a lot of screenwriters, I think a lot of people like there's, there's sort of two types of people and you'll one of the people are more are probably better with structure and one type of people are better with character, I would say most people who go into screenwriting, like maybe 70%, or 80%, it seems to me, they're more interested in character than structure. And I think if that's who you are, or in my case, as I said, I feel like I'm pretty good with structure. You know, you need to lean the other direction and kind of be good with the other thing that maybe you're not as natural with. And so I would say that's number one, if I was going to give a tip is, is trying to understand where you fall in the equation, are there a lot of scenes where they're great characters, but it doesn't really move the story forward? You know, maybe you need to step take a step back and be better with structure. Or the the other thing is, does this script feel sort of robotic, it's structured well, but the characters don't feel real. Maybe I need to spend a little more time with with the structure. But I would say the biggest thing I do say, Well, what's a good script? The biggest thing is, you know, evoking genuine emotion. And that's ultimately why movies I mean, the best movies, they evoke genuine emotion in the viewer. I mean, you have a visceral reaction to it. It's an emotional reaction to it. And the screenwriter needs to start that process with the screenplay. I mean, when you read a good screenplay, you know, Shawshank Redemption is a good example. Reading the screenplay. It's, it's an emotional experience, just as watching the movie. I mean, you really feel for this guy, it's he's really able just through the words on the page, you can really feel some emotion, he's able to draw that out of you. And that's the thing like, if you do nothing else, forget about structure, forget about character, if you can evoke genuine emotion and people through your writing, I think you're in pretty good shape. And, you know, you can probably learn a lot of the other stuff. But if you don't know how to get get emotion out of people, you don't know what connects with people, it becomes very difficult to to be a successful writer.

Alex Ferrari 17:44
Now, what are some of the cliches or tropes that you constantly are seeing in screenplays that you just wish that were just gone?

Ashley Scott Meyers 17:51
Yeah, that's a good question. You know, one of the big ones, and it's talked about often is this idea of the opening where it's, you know, you see some really dramatic scene, and then it cuts to, you know, two weeks ago or six months ago, that sort of an I don't even know what that's called, there's probably a name for it. You know, there's certain things like that, that you just you, when you read a lot of scripts, like when you're the lone screenwriter writing your script, you don't realize that every screenwriter in the world is is, you know, doing that same same thing? I would say also originality, I mean, obviously, originality counts for a lot. I remember in the 90s, after Pulp Fiction hit the hit the scene, you know, there was just, there was so many of these sort of, you know, rip offs, fiction and knock offs. And, you know, some of them were better than others, like,

Alex Ferrari 18:40
something like eight nights, eight days in a valley or something like that. Yeah,

Ashley Scott Meyers 18:44
yeah. Three, three days. Surely, they're thrown. Yeah. And I mean, even a movie like go, you know, yeah, it was a big studio movie. It's like, it's basically just kind of Pulp Fiction with a bunch of young you know, urbanites what,

Alex Ferrari 18:57
what to do and what to do endeavor when you're dead. Something like that was another one of those guys.

Ashley Scott Meyers 19:03
And if you I mean, that's just the movies they got produced. So think of how many of those reps were floating around there. So I would say really be original. Don't try and just knock off you know, something or write like something else. Be original have your own voice.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
Now, um, screenwriting contest, what are your what's your opinion on them? And do you think they mean anything? Do they work? Do they help?

Ashley Scott Meyers 19:24
Yeah. So So and I, you know, I kind of feel like I go against the grain with a lot of what the sort of the common wisdom here with a lot of screenwriting consciousness here, here's my opinion, I've and I've had a lot of these people that run screenwriting contests, I've had them on my podcast, so you can go back and you can listen to some of these episodes for yourself. What I have found with the screenwriting contest is the people who run the contest, they genuinely understand that the best thing they can do to promote their screenwriting contest is have a bunch of really successful winners. So when you win their contest, and then you go on To sell that studio script, that's a big feather in their cap, and that's going to help them build their own business. So there is a sort of symbiotic relationship between the screenwriting contest and the screenwriters that entered it. And most of the people that have come on now most all the screenwriting contests, the people that I've talked to, they understand that and so when someone wins a screenwriting contest, they're going to do what they can to help those people move along in their career. Obviously, the bigger contests the Nichols, I think is probably sort of the top of the Keisha I'm tracking board has done a fantastic job really promoting their winners, and they're really well connected. You Austin? Yeah. So there's some, there's sort of some of these marquee contests that are definitely, if you can win them, you know, they they're, they have some real value in place even placing, even placing, correct, correct, but even the smaller contest, I think, you know, again, they can they can have some value if you just manage your expectations and realize that, you know, it's not even the nickels, like, even if you go and look at the nickels, which is, I think, without any but I don't think anybody would argue that. That's the top screenwriting contest so so even with the nickels, it's the top screaming unconscious, you can go and get a list of their winners and start to go on IMDb and see what their winners even winning the nickels. It doesn't guarantee you a screenwriting career, most of the people that have won the nickels or place nickels never went on to do much of anything. So you have to understand that contests are not the be all end all. And it's unlikely sometimes that happens. But most of the time, it's just exactly what I was saying with the short films, it's just going to be another piece of the equation that kind of helps you again, it gives you a little something when you're talking to a producer, Hey, I just got a semi final placing in this, you know, Joe Blow screenwriting contest, and maybe it doesn't count for a lot, but it counts for a little. And you never know how that's going to actually help you down the road. Obviously, don't submit to screenwriting contests, if you can't afford it. I mean, this is not you shouldn't be using your rent money to submit to more screenwriting contests. But if you can afford if you can afford to do it, I recommend trying it. You know, and I have a list on selling your screenplay of sorts, I think it's nine or 10 contests that are all reputable. And it's the ones we mentioned and a bunch of others that I think are reputable and worth entering. So that's kind of where I would send people if you want to know specifically about that. But you just never know the other sort of the bigger question of this. And again, it goes back to what I was saying about short films is I really feel like one big hurdle and and and I'd be curious to get your thoughts on this. Because because I think you're in a similar situation. I mean, we're both from the East Coast, we moved out here kind of to make our dreams come true. One of the big things that I faced was growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, there were no artists, I mean, the only artists that I knew was my guitar teacher who was you know, scratching out a living, teaching, you know, high school kids how to play classical guitar. So that's my that was my experience as an art. So I didn't know writers certainly didn't know filmmakers. But there really were no artist. So there's just sort of this, this, it feels unattainable. It feels like sort of a pie in the sky like it could never actually happen. It just doesn't feel real. And so you know, entering a screenwriting contest, even the lowliest screenwriting contest in the world, or doing that short film and seeing it produced and, and maybe that short film gets into a film festival, I think it just, it gives you confidence, and it gives you it makes you feel like like, these are things that you can do today, and actually have some tangible results. If you're just hurling scripts at Universal Studios and the big producers and the big stuff, you know, you're quite likely to go, you know, 2345 10 years or longer without having any tangible results of them. Just saying no, thanks. No, thanks. No, thanks. So I think getting on the board and having some even minor success as early as early in your career as possible. It just makes you feel like it's real. And I think in hindsight, I was very, very lucky. I had been here about three years when me and my writing partner option that first script dish dogs, but and they gave us 500 bucks for a six month option. And we were just tickled to death man. And we were just over the moon. But all of a sudden, I started to feel like maybe I got a shot at this, maybe I can actually do this. Maybe I'm not this isn't just a pie in the sky. So again, with the contest with the short films, understand what the expectations are, understand that, no, they're not going to, they're not going to turn your life around. They're not going to change your life. But they might give you a little bit of confidence just internally to you, they might be competence to you, it might be something that you can show your mother, you know, I just won this contest, and she might be a little less skeptical of you throwing and driving out to Los Angeles. You know, there's just there's these little subtle things that I think are important and so many people give up. And I'm sure you've had this experience too. I mean, when I got to LA I went down to senex casting I started doing extra work and you know, I met a bunch of people and you know, two years later, half those people were gone three years later, you know Got 25 years, 10 years, almost all of them are gone. And I wasn't smarter and more talented than these people. I was just more persistent. I just kept banging against the door. But But I think having that success with DISH talks again, in hindsight, I was very, very lucky

for a variety of reasons. So I think that's where screenwriting contests, even the lowest screenwriting contests, and same thing with the lowest short film, that's where I think they can really be worthwhile. No, and

Alex Ferrari 25:26
I would agree with you coming from Miami. I mean, I was surrounded by artists, but not filmmakers. It was hard to find filmmakers. So for me when I was growing up, you know, watching like movie magic on television on a Saturday night watching the behind the scenes of Terminator two, you know, it's like, Oh, my God, I can see something. And then later in life, you know, my connection to Hollywood, as weird as it might be as watching entourage, like it was a window into that world, whether it's extremely crazy as it was, it was still that window, and it was a connection there. So a lot of times you do feel like you're on an island, and it's someplace that you think is completely unobtainable. That's why it took me so long to finally move out to LA took me a long, long time. And I've been out here for a decade now and doesn't even I can't even remember a time when I wasn't in LA, honestly. But one of my best friends. That was one of the two three guys I knew in LA when I came out here said, The only regret you will have to moving to LA is you didn't do it sooner. And he was absolutely right. From the moment he met me. He's like, why don't you come out to LA? When you come out to LA? You got to be out here. And there is something about being here. You know, a lot of people's like, do I need to be in LA to make it? No, you don't. But it helps in a lot of ways, in my opinion, because you can walk into any Starbucks in LA, and how many laptops will have final draft open? Yeah, they're everywhere. You're surrounded by this entire its entire industry and everybody everybody walking the street is in the business in one way, shape, or form. So that's, that's infectious. Do you agree?

Ashley Scott Meyers 26:57
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just our own, you know, coincidental meeting at AFM. I mean, we both live in LA, we were it was easy for us to get in our car and drive to AFM. We didn't have to get in a plane and go to a hotel and this, like, I would have never done it, you know, I would have just tried to do it online. So there's all these little subtle things and being in LA as another prime example, you get the question just when people ask it, you know, in some ways my heart sinks, because when someone asked the question, you know, what they want to hear? They want to hear that you don't have to move to LA because they're struggling with that. And but the bottom line is, is is this going to help? You know, you can you can make it, it's it's not impossible, but you're making something that's already very, very, very, very, very, very difficult. You're making it even more difficult by not moving to LA.

Alex Ferrari 27:41
And a lot of people move to LA make those connections, make a name for themselves, and then move away. And that's completely fine. And then they can just come back and forth for business. But what I think everyone does their time here, you know, what are New York, you know, in New York, the other big place, but generally speaking, if you're going to make it in the movies, in the flicks and the pictures, you know, being out here, it helps so, so, so much, and we're both prime examples. Yeah, yeah. So no, I agree. Now, one thing I've always wanted to talk to somebody like you about is the, how the screenplays presented and all the kind of codes that I've heard that you that, you know, producers or production companies like well, if has three, one of those things called the whole description for as the birth of brass braids. Yeah. So there's three of them. They're obviously amateur, and I don't want to deal with it. So it has to have to, and then they open up the first page, how some of the formatting has to be and all that stuff. How much of that is real? And how much of is is BS?

Ashley Scott Meyers 28:41
Yeah, so that's a good question. And, you know, it's, it's, it's subtlety much like the the question about moving to LA, it's hard to quantify, and it's gonna be different. There's no, like, there's no set rules or this and that, but, you know, think about from the perspective of the person who's going to be reading this script, you know, they're probably someone who's overworked and underpaid, they're sitting at a desk, reading through dozens, if not hundreds of scripts, trying to find that diamond in the rough that they can bring to their boss. And so, you know, these little clues, like what you're talking about now that No, I don't think anybody really submitting scripts with the brass braids anymore. Now everything is electronic. So you're on so yeah, so you're on so you're submitting PDFs. But you know, I mean, there are things that you know, I nothing is it's there's no like, hard and fast rules with screenwriting. But I would say you're getting a program like final draft or a you know, some legitimate screenwriting program that will get you like, 90% of the way there because it'll take care of like the formatting and you know, the proper use, and so you're 90% there, and then all you really need to do is go and you can go to selling your screenplay.com/library We got you know, hundreds, if not 1000s of script produced scripts listed there. So you can go and look and I would say look at some of the more modern ones. And, you know, look at how the title page is laid out. Lay out your title page like, you know, a produce script. So just don't do anything, you know, crazy look at some produced scripts and try model years after it, you know, but there are certain things that I think again, if you are the just put yourself in the mind of that overworked, underpaid reader, if a script comes in and the formattings off, what are you going to think you're going to think this guy has not taken the time to learn the basics. And just kind of what you said, I don't know that there's a good example of like a screenwriting prodigy I mean, screenwriting is one of those things, that just takes a lot of skill, it takes a lot of patience and time and like doing it, you just have to put in the hours to get good at this. And there's no, I don't know that there's really any escaping it. I mean, different people have different talent levels. And, and people are able to, you know, maybe achieve success with different amounts of effort. But I read Oliver Stone, like platoon was the script that kind of got him going. And I think that was like his 11th script.

Alex Ferrari 30:59
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Ashley Scott Meyers 31:09
You know, so even a guy like that, who is, you know, immensely talented, you know, super smart. Even a guy like that had to write 10 scripts before he kind of mastered the craft, and had one that people really respected and like, so, you know, it's just part of the process. And if you write 10 scripts, and you're still getting some of these sort of formatting issues wrong, then you know, yeah, that's probably another issue. I would say, you know, the length of script, this is a common thing I see through the script analysis. And, like, again, it's a very, very easy thing to look at, like when you open up a PDF, it tells you, you're looking at page one of you know, 120 pages. So right on page one, that reader can look at what the page number is, and again, put yourself in the head of a overworked reader. If you see that the script is 160 pages. You just got to think, does this guy really maybe this guy's written the next Shawshank Redemption, and there's always that thought, but then the next godfather? I think the script for The Godfather is 160 pages. So they're not father. Yeah, exactly. Are you? Are you really?

Alex Ferrari 32:15
Are you Francis Coppola? 1970s. Yeah,

Ashley Scott Meyers 32:17
exactly. So. So you know, I would just really urge people to take that stuff as seriously as possible and try and do you know, some due diligence, look at produced scripts, and try and present yours in the best possible light. Because I do think it counts. But I think again, it's a subtlety. And I think the act of going through and learning these rules, and looking at those produced scripts, just doing that work will make you a better screenwriter. And that's the whole point is when someone sees 160 page script, the first thing they're wondering is okay, is this is this the next Francis Ford Coppola? or is this some idiot who doesn't know what he's doing? You know, and, and, and, by the way, I just read 100 Other pitch scripts that were 160 pages, and every of every one of them was a stinker. So you know, they're gonna, they're gonna be like, Yeah, I doubt this is the next Francis Ford Coppola with good reason. Because they've never read the next Francis Ford Coppola. They've read 1000 scripts this year, and not one of them has been good as the godfather. So yeah, if you're writing The Godfather, knock yourself out. But But I would say be careful. Be very careful that

Alex Ferrari 33:22
now, can you for once and for all tell screenwriters how to copy write their script?

Ashley Scott Meyers 33:29
Yeah, it's it's as simple. So it's, there's, there's a lot of information. Yeah. Okay. So there's two pieces to that. Number one, the WT GA registration is a good, quick, cheap, easy thing to do. And you'll get a W J number. And that's just a function of going to the W ga.org. website. And there's a link that says register script, I think it's 20 bucks, and it lasts for five years, and a lot of producers will have what you have you fill out a release form, and then on that release form, and might even say what's the WJ number. So that's a good first easy step, it'll take you five minutes and cost you $20. So I highly would recommend that then the other piece of that is going to the Library of Congress and off the top of my head, it's going to be more than I could, you know, explain but I do have a post if you go to selling your screenplay.com that's specifically labeled, you know how to copyright your or copyright your your your script and go do that. I'm not a lawyer. So I don't want to get into like all the legal stuff. But I have had lawyers tell me that there are certain protections and stuff that the Library of Congress copyright will give you that the WTA registration will not so he recommended this was my lawyer was recommending that I do register everything with both the WGI and the libre office. In fact, I don't even know that he cared about the WTA. That's my invitation. But he did. He was a lawyer and he did recommend that I recommend it that he that I registered with the WTO but it's just a matter of going through the process. It's all online in this day and age. So it's not that complicated. And I can't remember, I just can't remember off the top of my head what it is, but I have a post where I go through it in great detail and explain how to do it.

Alex Ferrari 35:00
My understanding the WPA is basically a token and has no legal protection whatsoever. While the only one that really matters is the Library of Congress, the WJ is nice. But it really is kind of like a token. It's nice. But if you only do the WPA, I, you're in trouble. So you definitely have to have at least the Library of Congress, as well, because that's the one that really counts. But you're right. They do. Are there are predictions as to why and there's a sense of credibility, I guess.

Ashley Scott Meyers 35:26
Yeah. I mean, the thing of my experience with the Library of Congress is that it's always taken a long time. And I haven't done it in a while. So my memory is a little, little hazy. But when you register a script with them, they don't give you like, it's not instant registration, just and so it's like six months, yes, six months or nine months later, you'll get a letter with your actual, you know, Library of Congress registration number. And so often, what I find is I get done with my script, and I want to start sending it out. So the WTA will give you a registration number right then and there. So at least your, your, whatever their protection is, and again, you may be right, that it doesn't offer much of any protection, but it is some protection. And so I always just do the WJ. And then I don't I don't feel bad about sending it out before that the Library of Congress letter actually comes back to me. So I can start sending it out. At least I feel comfortable with that, again, do your own due diligence, but that's what I do.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
Yeah. And from what I understand is, once you register at the Library of Congress, it starts at that moment you register. So if anything comes along, and someone tries to take your stuff you use or tries to copyright it after you. Yeah, you're first in line got that date? Yeah, exactly. So it starts from that date, even though you don't get the registration for a year. Now, can you? Um, can you tell me a little bit about selling your screenplay? And yeah, you do. They're

Ashley Scott Meyers 36:45
so sure. So this started, I started, I think, in 2009, as just a blog. And I basically at that point, I had written a book, called of all things selling your screenplay. And I basically just went and detailed my experience selling whatever scripts I had sold up to the year, what say 2007, or eight when I actually wrote the book, and I did a self publishing with the book. And one of the big things that they were recommending, at the self publish the company that and I say self publishing, I was working, this is sort of before Amazon publishing. So I actually worked with a company called Book locker, that sort of, it's kind of like a distributor. I mean, they were the ones who actually pushed it into all these services. And they would send out newsletters, how to mark your ebook. So that's where it sort of started, they said, you know, what, start a blog. And, and so that's what I did. 2009 I started this blog, selling your screenplay, I started to listen to a number of podcasts over the years, including Pat Flynn, who I guess we both have some experience listening to. And so in fact, Pat Flynn was really the first podcast I ever listened to, because he had listened at night on the website. And, and I really liked the format. And it's exactly what you were talking about, you know, people get to really feel like they know the person, because you hear them talking and sharing stories about themselves and their family and stuff. So I thought it would be a great way to, you know, disseminate this information that that I had, so about 2000, I guess it was four years ago, let's say 13, I started the podcast, and now it's a weekly podcast, and I'm a little over 200 episodes into it, and I interview, you know, it's a screenwriting emphasis, obviously, but it's a lot of independent filmmakers, you know, guys that are making the low budget genre films. And you know, they come on, and they'll talk about how they wrote it, how they got produced. And then there's also si a select. And that is basically, you get access to a number of things, including some educational materials, a forum of the paid members, and then you also get leads that come out, you know, twice, three times, four times a week, we actually are networking with producers. And so we're then sending those leads to, to to screenwriters, and they're very specific stuff. As I sort of mentioned earlier, it's a great way to actually see what actual producers are looking for. So that's, I'd say, selling your screenplay.

Alex Ferrari 38:55
You have a new film, I see the poster behind you called the pin the pins. Yeah. How do you pitch the pitch? So whatever you directed it, you wrote it, you produced it, tell me how that whole thing came about.

Ashley Scott Meyers 39:07
Okay. So I think, you know, in a lot of ways, I think my some of my motivation was similar to what you have talked about with with your film is that I kind of felt like, it could be a good case study, I could talk about it on the podcast, and I can kind of show people as I went through this process, how you can go about writing and then directing and producing, you know, a low budget film. Now the real impetus to it was and you can go back and listen to my podcast, cuz I, I usually take a few minutes on every podcast and kind of talk about what I'm doing as a screenwriter. And I'm trying to think it must have been maybe 2014. In the fall, I got two back to back writing assignments. And yeah, nice. So I got these two writing assignments, and you have to work so hard to get those writing like just to get these jobs. Yeah, it is. It's a huge amount of effort. And I mean, one of the writing assignments. I have had one of them actually came through a guy I had interviewed on the podcast. That's actually how I met him. But the other one was the distributors of one of my past films. They are on a list that have just a cold email list that I send out query letters to, and they actually recognize my name responded and said, Oh, yeah, we'd like to potentially hire you to do a project, we're starting to produce our own stuff. And but this process went on for I think it went on for like a year and a half, where I would meet with them and just things never quite worked out. So finally, they said, Okay, we're ready to go after a year and a half of kind of waiting for this. And so I do these two, back to back writing assignments. And, and again, I have nothing but good things to say about the people that I was working with individually. But you know, just creatively, it was not fulfilling, I was writing their ideas, it was brutal work, one of the scripts the guy needed in literally a week. So I wrote the entire feature film script in six days, it was a very rough six days, needless to say. And then, and that one actually ended up never getting produced. The other script I wrote, and, you know, there was a lot of rewriting back and forth. You know, a lot of what I thought was my best the best scenes in there, they were taking them out. And some of it was just budgetary. They didn't think for the budget they had, they could do it. So some of it, I kind of understood, but a lot of it, I didn't necessarily finally they brought on a director, and then the director just literally completely rewrote the whole project did a page one rewrite didn't like anything I did. And again, that's part of the process. But I just got to the point where, you know, at this stage in my life, like, I just don't need it. Like, it's, it's the money that they paid me, it's like, the money that they paid me was not worth the, you know, the juice, the juice that I got out of it. Sure. And so I said, you know, what, I got to just go and try something on my own. And, and that's what I did, I'd written the punch. So that's when I started writing the punch. And I knew this was something I was going to potentially do myself. So I kept it, I made sure that it was a low budget, it was very contained small cast limited locations. And, and and I tried to use follow some of my own advice was it's kind of a crime action thriller. It's a genre film, you know, low budget genre film, it's not like sort of an arthouse film. So I felt like, you know, there might be an audience, you know, through self distribution, you know, you put the poster up, and I got a bunch of guys, you can see on the poster, you know, everybody's holding a gun or a knife. So it is it is what it is, you know, it's a low budget genre film. But this is what I feel like I can actually sell and potentially, you know, make more of these, if I can turn this into a business model.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
That's awesome, man. That's awesome. Yeah. So I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions. Ask all my all my guests. What would what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Ashley Scott Meyers 42:47
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of what we've kind of discussed, I mean, get out there, write short films, just, you know, submit to some of these people on Craigslist looking for short films, get your career going network, I think, I think especially and I understand this, because this is the way I am to, I am sort of an introvert. You know, I prefer to just write scripts, I don't want to go out and meet people, I mean, going to AFM is just, it's a brutal thing. Because it just constantly meeting people and, and having to make small talk with people you don't know, it's very difficult. So I understand that most people that go into writing, they're probably like that, but you've got to get out of your shell, and you've got a network and you've got to meet people, and you've got to understand what these producers are looking for. And kind of get over yourself get over your, your this idea that you're just going to keep writing in your room just writing, writing, writing, cuz at some point, that's not gonna, that's not gonna cut it.

Alex Ferrari 43:39
Now, um, can you tell me what book has the biggest impact on your life or career?

Ashley Scott Meyers 43:44
Um, yeah, I'd have to say, and this might be different than what I would recommend. But when I was early on, and I'm giving all these long winded explanations, I know this is rapid fire. So my first foray into screenwriting was I got a copy of the Writers Market. And in there, there was a bunch of pages of production companies that supposedly would read query letters from new people. So I wrote up a query letter or what I thought was a good query letter and sent it off to I think two people I just picked two that seemed especially open and one of them and back then it was like you would put a self addressed stamp postcard in there so that they could easily reply to you. So one of them I get the postcard back. And it says, Thank you for that undated on, you know, titled manuscript submission. No thanks. And, and so I realized then that I was doing something wrong. The other guy just took pity on me. And he actually called me and he recommended Syd field screenplay. And I went out and I got that book. And and I would say that had the biggest sort of profound impact because all of a sudden, you know, someone at this point I was in college in North Carolina again, knowing no filmmakers, this was pre really the internet. So I suppose maybe the internet existed, but it wasn't you couldn't just get a bunch of scripts. So it was very difficult to get this sort of information. So once he told me that Syd field screenplay had a ton of practical use for information, it's real big on structure. But just some of the stuff like the braids, I had never seen a script, I didn't even know what these brass braids even worth. Right. And, and Sid fields talks he talked about that a little bit, you know, to brass braids and and you know, on your script and stuff. So that was just a big turning point where all of a sudden, I started to, you know, I was going this direction, and then all of a sudden, that book sort of, you know, got me back going the other direction, which I think was sort of the right direction.

Alex Ferrari 45:32
Yeah, that that I remember reading that book in college, too. And it blew my mind. And like, what every movie is the same? Yeah, it just blew my mind. Now, what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the business?

Ashley Scott Meyers 45:46
I think a lot of what we've been talking about is just how important understanding, you know who you're going to sell your script to? And this is, you know, I've been asked similar questions like, if you had to do it all over again, how would you do it differently? What I would do if I was just moving to Hollywood, now, I would make a real concerted effort to find a PA job at a distribution company, a company that was distributing films and learn that side of the business understand why, why they're taking this film, and they're not taking that film. And that would just be really, really valuable for any screenwriter. And it took me a long time to learn it. I didn't do that. And, you know, just through trial and error, and this this movie dish dogs, it really was a low budget, indie or a low budget genre film. It was a comedy, but there was like these young guys, they went to a strip club. So we had kind of me and my buddy just stumbled onto it. And so it took a while to for me to really understand, well, why did they buy that script? And it was a lot of these things I'm talking about was because they could promote the nudity, they could promote a bunch of sexy strippers share. That was kind of a cool story. I mean, these guys were doing, you know, movies with Frank Stallone. So that just sums up what they what they were doing. But But there's something to that. And understanding that lesson is so important.

Alex Ferrari 47:02
Now, I normally ask what your three favorite movies of all time are. But what are your three favorite scripts of all time?

Ashley Scott Meyers 47:09
You know, it's a good question. I mentioned Shawshank Redemption. I really, it's it's a great movie, but the script is equally as good. I read the script for source code. I've recommended that to other people, I think the script is a lot better than the finished film. So if you've seen the film, and we're sort of ho hum on the film, I would highly recommend you go back and find that script. I think and I don't know that I've actually ever read the script for the Wizard of Oz, I have two small children. And we went through this wizard of oz phase where they're watching it over and over again. And you look at some of those old classic movies. And Mike you talk about Sid fields and his sort of structural paradigm and how easily that and organically that fits on a film like the Wizard of Oz, I'm always blown away Wizard of Oz is so well structured. And it's just it's a perfect movie like for so many reasons. And you know, that's it's worth looking at at all these movies I mentioned Shawshank Redemption and source code, but Wizard of Oz is kind of a perfectly built movie. You know, from the character arc to the structure of it to the midpoint to the antagonist. It's It's It's I there's nothing, there's very few movies, I see that I say, I as a screenwriter think I could have done that just I would have tweaked that or would have changed that. And Wizard of Oz is one of the movies I there's not anything I can really point to I say they could have done this better. Or they could have done that better. You know, Megamind is another movie that I watch. My kids have watched it over and over and I'll be sitting there watching it. And I don't know that I've ever actually read the script. But the script is so smart. And it's so perfect. There's very little again with a movie like Megamind that I would change. I can't think of anything, you know that I would change

Alex Ferrari 48:51
about that script. And I know Robert McKee is a big fan of Casa Blanca. Yes. Casa Blanca. Yeah, yeah, for sure. It's amazing. Now, where can people find you? Yeah, so

Ashley Scott Meyers 49:00
I'm selling your screenplay.com Obviously, I'm over there. Podcasting weekly, I am on Twitter, I would highly recommend selling your screenplay.com all my Twitter and you know, Instagram. And so it's listed in the upper right hand corner, but I am on Twitter and Facebook. I think it's facebook.com/selling your screenplay. Don't quote me on that. I'm on YouTube. I do release my podcast on YouTube. So if you prefer to get the video and the audio, you can check that all out. And again, I think it's youtube.com/selling your screenplay. But if you just go to selling your screenplay.com all those links are in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.

Alex Ferrari 49:32
Actually man has been an absolute pleasure talking to you man and talking shop with these attention being on the show, man.

Ashley Scott Meyers 49:37
Thank you. I really appreciate it. And it's a long time coming. I'm so glad we were able to finally connect.

Alex Ferrari 49:41
Cool, man. Thanks. I want to thank Ashley for being on the show and dropping some major knowledge bombs on us. So thank you very much Ashley. If you want the show notes for this episode, just head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash b p s 004. And don't forget to head over to screenwriting podcast.com. And leave us a good review. If you find value in these episodes really helps us out a lot with the rankings in iTunes. And if you haven't already, please subscribe. It really, really does make a difference. I really hope you're enjoying this first batch of episodes of the bulletproof screenplay podcast. There are many more to come, you've got another couple of fresh ones, as well. So just keep on listening, and I truly hope they are valued to you and your screenwriting journey. And as always, keep on writing no matter what.


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BPS 000: Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast – Introduction

It’s here! The first episode of The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast! Now you might be asking…

“Alex, why are you launching another podcast dedicated to screenwriting when you cover that on the IFH Podcast and Filmtrepreneur Podcast already?”

Well, it’s because I know that screenwriters are really NOT that interested in learning about lenses, self-distribution, or social media marketing. They want to get into the craft and business of screenwriting and storytelling. I found that IFH Tribe members that wanted to learn about screenwriting would have to wait until I had a screenwriting guest.

The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, they can get a fresh episode every week dedicated to the craft and business of screenwriting.

I’ll be grabbing some of my past screenwriting themed interviews and re-publishing them here but I’ll also be adding brand new content as well. I already have a bunch of amazing guests lined up for the podcast.

So if you’re a fan of the IFH Podcast you should definitely subscribe to the BPS Screenwriting Podcast as well. That’ll be TWO TO THREE FRESH EPISODES of content every week. Yes, I’m crazy but I’m crazy about providing the best content I can to the IFH Tribe and helping them on their filmmaking and screenwriting journeys.

You can download the screenwriting podcast to your computer or listen to it here on the blog. This podcast feed is listed on Apple Podcasts, Spreaker, Spotify and Stitcher, so you can subscribe there as well.

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Also, please leave an honest review for The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast on Apple Podcasts! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. Until next time!

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
Welcome to the bulletproof screenplay podcast episode number 000.

There's nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Ernest Hemingway broadcasting from a dark windowless room in Hollywood when we really should be working on that next draft. It's the bulletproof screenplay podcast showing you the craft and business of screenwriting while teaching you how to make your screenplay bulletproof. And here's your host, Alex Ferrari.

Welcome. Welcome to the first episode of the bulletproof screenplay. Thank you so much for checking this podcast out. It has been a long time since I've started a new podcast. For those who don't know, I am the host of the indie film hustle podcast, which is the number one filmmaking podcast on iTunes. And I decided to launch a brand new podcast that is dedicated strictly to screenwriting in the craft of screenwriting. Now, I covered a lot of screenwriters, and I had a lot of screenwriting episodes on my original podcast, which will still be going on, of course, but I heard from a lot of screenwriters out in the indie film hustle tribe, that they're like, look, we love the podcast, but we really don't want to know about self distribution. We really don't want to know about the latest cameras, we really don't want to talk to a DPS or listen to DPS. We're about the craft of screenwriting, helping our screenwriting get move forward. So I decided to kind of create an entire new section of the indie film hustle world called the bulletproof screenplay. And there you will find the bulletproof screenplay podcast, you will find a just a huge resources of screenplays that you can download and read from all the Oscar winners to Oscar nominees. To breaking down collections by your favorite writer directors and your favorite screenwriters as well. We will also be focusing on the latest and greatest courses online courses to help you on your path as a screenwriter covering everything from the hero's journey with Michael Haig and Chris Vogler to the business of screenwriting, with August Rush screenwriter Paul Castro, to the definitive screenwriting course taught by Head of screenwriting at UCLA, Richard Walter, to how to pitch a screenplay in 60 seconds, all sorts of different courses. And we'll be focusing on new courses coming out like the Aaron Sorkin masterclass, the Sonia Rhimes masterclass talking about television writing, which will be covered in this podcast as well. We'll also have access to free online education videos that you can watch for free at the website from some of the best instructors in the world. And our suggestions on what the best books are to read about the craft and all new articles that will be written about screenwriting, storytelling and so forth will come out through bulletproof screenplay. I really wanted to put together an immense resource for screenwriters and storytellers out there. So I hope you really enjoy what we're doing a bulletproof screenplay. Now, we will be publishing one new episode a week and that's in addition to the two episodes a week that I do on the indie film hustle podcast. So right now it looks like we're going to be doing Wednesdays for the bulletproof screenplay. It might vary depending on my schedule and

how busy I might be at that at that time. But it will be at least once a week we're going to launch with five episodes, so you have a bunch of great content to start off with. And then after that we're going to do once a week bulletproof screenplay. You can find everything you want to know about bulletproof screenplay at bulletproof screenplay calm, which will lead you back to indie film, hustle, but it will be under the bulletproof screenplay banner there and there you will find everything and if you do want to explore more, and go into other avenues of the filmmaking process, it's all there for you as well. But at the bulletproof screenplay, especially here at the podcast, we're really going to focus on the craft. Now. I am a writer director. I've written a few movies as well. In screenplays, I am by no stretch an expert about the craft I am learning something new every day. And this this podcast. What you can expect from this podcast is me interviewing the best minds on the craft of screenwriting and storytelling. And you will be in I'll be interviewing professional screenwriters, successful big time screenwriters, who've done big, big movies, as well as some of the best authors on storytelling and the craft of screenwriting that is available in the world today. People like Michael Hague, Chris Vogler, Linda Seeger, and many more, as well as bringing on story consultants, people who work within the Hollywood system, people who work in the indie film world as well. So we're going to just cover the whole gambit of budgets and styles of screenplays and stories, because someone who does does movies in the indie world and writes indie scripts meaning like for $2 million or below is going to have a completely different perspective than someone who writes big blockbuster movies of 80 million 200 million tentpole movies. And then there's that happy medium somewhere in the middle, where it's like five to $20 million budget scripts as well. So we're going to talk about the business of screenwriting, and really break down how to make it as a screenwriter how to get an agent, how to get seen how to get your film read, we're going to talk about pitching your film, pitching your ideas, contests, what kind of contests are worth it, which aren't, how to kind of break into the business. We're going to cover all of that during the course of this podcast. Now, a lot of interviews I've done on the indie film, hustle podcast, I'm going to bring over here and introduce it to this new audience. But I'm going to be adding new interviews all the time. Best selling author John Trumpy is going to be one of our first big guests or we're going to have on as well as bringing in big screenwriters that we have Sundance winning screenwriters that I have lined up as well. So even if you've listened to a bunch of this stuff over at Indie film, hustle, there's going to be brand new content in this podcast as well. So it's just a nice addition to if you subscribe to the indie film, hustle podcast, useless, you should subscribe to this one as well, because you're gonna be getting brand new content in this podcast as well. And guys, on a side note, you're gonna one of the reasons I wanted to put this podcast out is I really want to help as many filmmakers and screenwriters as humanly possible. When I started indie film, hustle, I really didn't know how many screenwriters were gonna come or people were interested in screenwriting, were gonna come because I was coming more from a production standpoint. But when I start interviewing these amazing storytellers, and craftsmen, screenwriters were really starting to be drawn to the podcast. So I really want to create something special for screenwriters, and even directors and filmmakers who want to learn more about the craft, but have it in a place where it's just strictly screenwriting, because it is such an important part of the entire filmmaking process. Without a good script. Without a good story. There is nothing you can't No matter what kind of camera you have, no matter how much money you have, if Justice League taught us anything. I bashed on that movie a lot. But it deserves to be bashed on, I'm sorry. But no matter what you have, it all comes back down to the page, it all comes back down to the story. And I really want to explore that with you guys. And as I continue to grow in my career as a filmmaker and a screenwriter, I will be sharing those journeys with you on this podcast as well. And this is not just a one way street, guys, I want you to feel comfortable to email me, ask me questions, request things, because I want this to be a resource for you for all the screenwriters and people interested in screenwriting, out there in the world and you can always reach me at bulletproof [email protected] If you got questions, I'll do the best I can I answer them. I get a ton of emails. I'll do the best I can. But if you have any suggestions if you have any questions you want answered on the show people who you want on the show, if you have any recommendations, please send in that information I greatly greatly appreciate it. And if you want to subscribe to the bulletproof screenplay podcast on iTunes, just go to screenwriting podcast.com. There is no one way to write a screenplay. And there's no one way to tell a story. And we're going to explore every avenue every kind of style, every kind of technique we can because I want you to find the right one that works for you and your sensibilities to tell the best kind of story that you can do. And make no mistake about it. You have a story to tell. You have that screenplay in you. You have to get it out. Don't die with the music in you. And I hope that this podcast inspires you as well as educate you along this along this path that you have chosen to be a screenwriter and to be a storyteller. In today's world.

We need stories more than ever. We need good stories, good films, good books, good just screenplays God, we need good screenplays to get out into the world because we really need it and you never know what your screenplay what your story how it will affect somebody else out there. You never know what it's going to do to somebody's life and how it might inspire them or change the course of their life for the better. So don't ever underestimate your story. Don't ever underestimate what you are were put here to do as a storyteller. When you write write with intention. That is the best kinds of stories out there. Right with intentions. Don't chase don't chase the dollar. Don't try to be the next big big screenwriter and try to make the big big tentpole you can do that if you want, but write with intention because that is what's going to take you to the next level. All right. I hope you guys really enjoy this podcast. And please share and tell everybody you know about it, if you like it and please leave me a good review on iTunes because we're brand new podcast. So every review counts. Even if you left me a good review on indie film hustle, I need you to leave me a good review on this one. So we can get this podcast out to as many people as humanly possible. And as always keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.


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