How to Avoid Career Pitfalls for Screenwriters with Felicity Wren
I wanted to take a deep dive into the marketing side of screenwriting today because it is in fact, a necessity in the industry today. Unfortunately, not many writers bother themselves as much about marketing their work. While I have some course resources on the IFH Academy website to help writers pitch stories or to get past the gatekeepers and so on, I thought it would be favorable to have marketing and development exec, Felicity Wren on the show to delve into the subject.
Felicity started off in this business as an actor and now is a producer and VP of Development at the International Screenwriters Association (ISA). ISA (Est 2008), is a screenwriters community and resource platform that allows branding, marketing screenplays to producers and provide learning resources for seasoned and new writers.
To date, ISA subscribers include 5,104 Industry Pros, approximately 70,000 Screenwriters, and 8,039 resources for screenwriters. Definitely, a goldmine!
Felicity trained academically across the performing arts sphere (writing, directing, acting technique, and script analysis). She pursued acting and appeared in films like Star Trek Into Darkness, The Battle of Hogwarts, Tales of Uplift and Moral Improvement, and more, but lost interest in the competitive reality and stress of waiting for the callback.
So, she pivots. Alongside her partner, she launched a theater company, Unrestricted View (1999) in London that worked primarily with new professional creatives. A decade later, Felicity moved to Hollywood to seek the bigger dream.
Some of Wren’s work includes short films like The Trap, Homeless Realtor, Who’s Who, The Force, and several others. At the ISA, she get’s to work directly with the Program Writers, and ISA Contest Winners, ensuring their projects get in front of eminent producers, managers, and agents in Hollywood.
For screenwriters trying to sell a script, you have to know your voice and feel comfortable using it beyond your incredible writing. Understanding what you bring to the table is key in every profession. Of course. Coupling that with some marketing tools can propel you for higher success. That’s why this conversation is important.
Enjoy my very informative conversation with Felicity Wren.
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Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'd like to welcome to the show Felicity rent. How you doing, Felicity?
Felicity Wren 0:19
I'm really good. Thank you, Alex really good indeed.
Alex Ferrari 0:22
So thank you for coming on the show. You know, I've been a big fan of what you guys do over at ICA for a long time. And, and I thought it would be appropriate to have you come on the show to talk about marketing, because it's something that writers generally don't think about your career building and how to pitch how to actually try to pitch your story, how to get through all these gatekeepers, all these kinds of things. So I want to kind of do it a little bit of a deep dive into marketing, because it's, it is unfortunately, a necessity in today's world, if you just can't write the great American screenplay and hope that the, the gods from Mount Hollywood show up and you're like, you now shall write, here's $3 million this way to the Hollywood Hills, like that's not, that's not a thing. But a lot of screenwriters and I know that you know this, I think that's the thing. And it's not this. It's another skill set now that we have to talk about, which is marketing. But before we get into that, how did you will get into this business, this ridiculous business that?
Felicity Wren 1:25
Yeah, we were just talking about the fact that it's a bit of an abusive relationship. So yeah. Why on earth? Well, I kind of, I'm from the UK Originally, I think my accent does give it away, just in case anyone was wondering what's wrong. It's not Australia is the UK. And
Alex Ferrari 1:42
I was gonna pinpoint South Africa. South Africa, obviously.
Felicity Wren 1:48
Obviously, makes perfect sense. So I always loved acting. And then I realized that it's actually so difficult, because you're always waiting to be picked. So I thought, What can I do to change that? So the guy I was seeing who became my husband, that time, we started a theatre company, and we actually found ourselves in a little theater. And we started working with creative people and people who were starting out in their career. And that was 20 years ago, and I still run that little venue in London. And 11 years ago. I was thinking, hmm, it surely there's more to life than this, because I think, I don't know if everyone feels the same. But I think that even genetically it says, every seven years, you become a completely new person, every cell in your body is renewed. So I feel like if you're having a lovely life, or even if you're not having a lovely life, that's maybe a moment for you to think what else could I do with myself? And so I you know, you always have that Hollywood dream, much as you were saying earlier about the writers getting someone will discover me, I felt I could come from Hollywood.
Alex Ferrari 2:51
discovering my genius is what I like to say is like, why hasn't Hollywood discovered my genius, obviously? And why hasn't Kevin Fey he called me up to direct the next Avengers? I don't understand. Can you explain to me
Felicity Wren 3:05
the reason if you do need to be there, as though it's one of those things to kind of like, or not so much anymore, but it used to feel like that. So I thought, well, Hollywood, you know, just really needs a female British actress. It looks a bit like Meryl Streep's daughter that she didn't have, who hasn't had any work done? So that's my thinking, of course, very sensible. Until unrealistic.
Alex Ferrari 3:29
Sure. So the thing is, it's funny, because we're talking about the pecking order of abuse in Hollywood, and actors get the worst, the worst of the stick, they have no control. They're commodities in the process. writers are right next door to them, they have a little bit more slight bit more power, and control. And then probably directors, filmmakers, and then all the technical aspects of things. But I mean, and this is something I've said before on the show is, you know, to get into this business, you have to be a slightly bit insane, because it's not, it is not a business that makes any sense of any any sort whatsoever. I mean, because I mean, I've been in the business world, and I've been in the film industry. And this is the only business in the world would you could spend $5 million and have a worthless product at the end of it. I mean, am I wrong? Like you could you can spend $5 million over but over over selling, you know, over building a house with marble and this and it's in the wrong neighborhood in the wrong location, yet you still have a house with some value might not be the full value of what you spent. But there's value there, you literally can be have something that is worthless, and spend $5 million, if you don't know what you're doing in this business, and how it's insane and you know, and by the way, you can't even tell it what money you get. If you put 5 million in you're like, I think we're gonna get five to 10 back maybe what world is that a business
Felicity Wren 4:56
is not a business and the thing about that I always feel as well if you kind of work In the business world, you can think I'm going to start at the beginning. I'm going to serve my apprenticeship. I'm going to work my way up, and someone's going to notice how good I am. And I've been here for 10 years, and then it's going to mean something. And it's here. It's like, it doesn't none of that none of those rules apply. I think there is a kind of sense that maybe for an actor, you don't have to audition anymore, although Viola Davis was talking about the fact that she still had to, I think that's changed a bit with them recently. But you know, it was disgusting. It's used to racism in effect right there.
Alex Ferrari 5:33
Felicity Wren 5:36
You know, I hear even if you're doing really well, and you're thinking, I can't do really great if you do a bomb project, when you go to movie jail, and you're back where you started.
Alex Ferrari 5:46
It's, it's insane. The old deal joke is how do you make millions in the film industry? You start with billions. So
how do you make millions in the business? You start with billions. But what it's, but it's it's true. I mean, and I'm kind of spotlighting and making poking fun of our industry, because it is it's insane. Obviously, someone's making money. Generally, it's not the artist. And that's a whole other conversation. Generally, it's not the artists. But you know, there is a business somewhat in there. But at the independent level, and things like that so hard to generate any real revenue, especially in today's marketplace, and for screenwriters trying to sell a script. I mean, when I was coming up in the 90s, you know, we were still in the boom of the spec script. It was kind of tailing off the spec script boom, of the 80s, where Shane Black and Joe Astor house, they weren't like getting, I mean, I think I read somewhere, Joe Astor house made $20 million on films that never were produced. Never were produced. I mean, he did produce they he did a couple really good movies. Yes, it gets. Yeah, don't get me wrong. He, I mean, he's, it wasn't like an anomaly. He was a really good writer, and still is a really good writer. But but that was that was kind of tailing off in the 90s. And there wasn't nearly as much competition and there was nearly as much information about I mean, I think when did subfields book come out? Like,
Felicity Wren 7:17
Oh, my God, does that save the cat? No, no,
Alex Ferrari 7:19
no. sixfields was the basically the first book on like, screen for screen format. It was all about screenwriting format. I think, the 90s I think it was in the mid 90s. I know save the cat came out in the late 90s. But it wasn't Yeah, there wasn't a lot of information yet. So the competition wasn't as fierce. But today, everybody's a screenwriter, everyone's a director, everyone's because there's so much more information about our industry. So I mean, how do we cut through as a writer in today's world in your opinion?
Felicity Wren 7:53
Um, well, you have to know your voice. I think that's the thing is like more than anything, is you have to really kind of like drill into I mean, obviously it worked really well for me being Meryl Streep's daughter she didn't and didn't realize she had that's my obviously my my benefit but I think it really understanding what you bring to a piece of work to your work to the industry. And really then making the most of that and using everything everything that you have so that you can understand that if there's a big push right now for Latina writers then if you're Latina, go for it don't go like I want to be seen just because my writing is just like this. No, absolutely just use everything you can I think it's a start with the very beginning. Understanding yourself looking at the movies that touch you, why did they touch you? What is it about them what the stories they keep telling will probably tell you a lot about your own pressure points. The because I feel like writing itself is a really therapy, isn't it? I mean, that's what writers are doing. They're just working out what's going on inside them on the page. So if you look at other movies that really touch you, I think you'll get a bit of a clue as to what's really going on with you then really understanding those ideas and working to to really hone them and find your way of presenting them that is different from other things you've seen but the same because that's that's the other thing you know, it'd be too crazy because people want things that have already made money. But I think that's going to be the first point is understanding who you are your voice getting really clear about it the stories you want to tell the themes that you have that are important to you and then start writing I think the idea that you just need one great script is a lie. I know this this I think again, that's still with that whole thing about I think they've been like one or two stories and where people have been swooped in and kind of like it was my first grip. It was my first acting role and
Alex Ferrari 9:55
Diablo Cody is a perfect example of that with with Juno. She got the Oscar and all A lot of stuff it was like it was my first script and she had been writing for years and that's what people don't understand she she'd been writing. She's been a prolific writer before she did her first screenplay. But, but I always tell I always tell screenwriters and filmmakers as well. That the only thing you have going for you is your secret sauce. That thing that is unique to you like there can't be another Quentin Tarantino because he's already he's got them he's he's cornered the market on Glentoran. Like Aaron Sorkin has cornered the market on being Aaron Sorkin like there's no one's going to be able to do that. No one's going to be able to be another Alex for another Felicity. Like we have our thing that is ours, that gift that that voice, our experiences. It is so unique to us. And I think once writers understand that all successful writers do this, all of them across all mediums are the ones who tap into that, that makes them special, the guy or the gal who is copying or trying to imitate. And by the way, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. We all do that. We all start imitating because that's how we learn from filmmaking and screenwriting we start, you know, we read the Shane Black scripts, we read the Tarantino scripts we like we got to read script, like the moment you sit down to start to write dialogue like Tarantino, you realize, Oh, this is not possible. Because it's just something inside it. Like when you start writing Sorkin dialogue, you go, I can't get the beats the heat he's doing or Mamet or they can't, because it's there's, you can't, you could try to go down that road. But I think once you start tapping into that, that well inside of you, is when the magic start happening. Do you agree?
Felicity Wren 11:43
I totally agree with that. And I feel because the thing is you said at the beginning is there's no guarantee about really being in this business. So you should do it for the love of it. So if you really love sitting down writing, getting these stories out thinking about your characters exploring where they might go, then at least you'll have the pleasure of that, regardless of what happens. I mean, of course you want something to happen. And you aspire for that. And there are things you can do to put yourself out there so that more people know about you, I think you have to be brave. Understand what your ideas are. And then don't be afraid to share them. Because actually, people want to hear about you we want. I think this idea that only some stories matter is false. All stories matter. We're all human beings on this planet, trying to get through trying to make trying to make ends meet, trying to cope with heartbreak and enjoy, you know, all the gamut of emotions. But the way we connect is through story and through understanding and really having compassion and empathy with another person. And you don't know I always say to my writers, I'm like, you don't know what that one story that you've written that one line that one moment that one scene will do for someone else who either reads it or watches it, and suddenly they feel seen. And that is probably that should be enough for you to sit down and go like, I'm gonna do it for about a minute. So if one person and then I feel better, then that's enough. And then from there, of course, we want to make money. But if you start from that, I think very sweet, unique place.
Alex Ferrari 13:28
No. Are you telling me then that you shouldn't get into this business for the money? Is that what you're trying to say? I mean, I got into some TV rich, obviously. So why it hasn't happened yet. But but that's why I started obviously, because this is the place to make money. I mean, every money in this business. I kid I kid but but as a kid, so many, so many writers and filmmakers come in to this business like I'm gonna be rich, you know, it's like, hey, it's gonna be it's gonna be raining Benjamins all day. Because you read the stories and you hear the press that Hollywood does. I've always said the holly was extremely good at the sizzle, but sucks at the steak. And they sell this. They sell the Hollywood dream. So beauty. They've been selling the Hollywood dream since the 20s. Since you know, since Chaplin jumped out, you know, or the Keystone cops are running around. They were selling the Hollywood dream. And I always tell people who haven't been to LA. I got the perfect example or analogy for Hollywood is this. It's the Oscars. When you go down to Hollywood Boulevard on Oscar night, oh, my God, it looks amazing, doesn't it? Oh, it looks great on television. It's great. Then your family flies into LA and they're like, hey, I want to go down to Hollywood Boulevard at the Chinese theatre and like, you don't want to do that. No, no, no, it's great. No, it's great. I want to go see it. I'm like, you don't want to do that. So I did the same thing. When I first got here with a friend of mine who lived here before I moved here. And I went to downtown downtown and I went to Hollywood Boulevard, and we parked where Madame Tussaud's is now that was that was an empty parking lot back then. And I parked in the moment. We got out there was a woman who walked by and she's just like, welcome to Hollywood and she lifted up and flashed us. And I was like, my wife and I were just like, wow. And my friend goes, welcome to Hollywood and we walk down the street and I just my wife was clinching to me because it was not. I'm like home like, and the farther you will get away from the from the Dolby theater. Oh, it gets shade here and shade here in shader. And that is it. It looks almost like a cesspool other than that little block. Am I wrong? I mean, it's perfect analogy for Hollywood, because it shows you on the screen. Oh, it's so pretty. But the second The show is over, they pull up the red carpet, and it's like, needles in the gutters. It's insane. Yeah.
Felicity Wren 15:45
Yeah, that corner is particularly ugly as well when the red carpet is gone. But it literally from above, when you've got the seats down and you can't see the street. There is absolutely nothing there. And then you're just accosted by people out of work or actors dressed as Disney characters trying to take their photo with you. And then it just gets further down to is really stripper attire. Drops further down the shops further down. But it is the absolute opposite of what you think there is no paved with gold in Hollywood. That is not true.
Alex Ferrari 16:15
It's a Boulevard of Broken Dreams. That's damn sure. It's as cliche as that is once you're here. I've been here for over a decade. And when I got here, the streets were paved for gold. For me. I was like, Oh my God, look, there's Warner Brothers. Oh, look, there's Disney. Oh, look, there's a boathouse, I was so excited just to be in the business about a year or two. And you're just like, yeah, this is this is the reality. Okay? Okay, this is how this game is played now. But at first you don't. And that's one of the reasons why I do what I do is because I want to warn people trying to get into this business. Look, I'm not saying don't follow your dreams, but you got to be prepared for what's coming. And most people aren't there. Most people are not prepared for that. I always say people, the punch, we're all going to get punched, we all get punched throughout our throughout our careers. No matter who you are, if you're Steven Spielberg, if you're, we all get punched by this business. And occasionally, you learn how to avoid the punch, you learn how to duck, you learn how to take the hit a little bit easier. But if you don't know that there's a fight, you're gonna get knocked out in the first one. And how many fighters have you run into who the first time that punch comes, whatever that punch might be, they're out for the count. And they just like, I'm out. I don't want to do this, because they weren't prepared for it.
Felicity Wren 17:32
I think as well as so many things can be disappointing. Especially if you're a writer, a baby writer, or someone that's doing it as a second career, we have a lot of that. Then you're used to a certain set of rules. You know, if you're a baby, right, then you just come from school or college and everything's been pretty easy until that point. And if you're a second career, then we have those rules again, that you can work hard enough and people would understand and you would get somewhere or is it this just not like that here. So people promise you things and then they don't do what they say they're going to do. So you have to understand that you can it's a weird thing though, because I do think still think you need to celebrate all the time to keep your morale up. So the fact is that someone says I want to option your project, you should be like, wow, you know, you should literally like run around your front room, you should call your friends you should if you drink have a beer, if you don't drink, have a look. This is not an advert for look for you know, do something to go like oh my goodness, this is amazing. Someone has realized my work, seen it and liked it. And that's wonderful. And then just get back to work. Because until it's actually signed, the contract is signed until the money has gone over. Till even it's there started Principal photography until Principal photography has stopped till it's in the editing room until it's all done, done. Done. It doesn't even really exist.
Alex Ferrari 18:57
Until you're at the premiere on a screen or on your home screen at a digital premiere nowadays. It doesn't exist, it doesn't exist. I know it's shocking for people to listen to but here in Hollywood people do exaggerate sometimes. And they lie straight up and they tell you they're going to do something and they don't. And the first few times that happens to you You're just like wow, this sucks. And it's it's it's it's rough. It's a rough go of it no question.
Felicity Wren 19:30
I think it's because everyone's trying to kind of push each other away push off of each other. And this is I don't mean it sounds so cynical, but it's so hard to get a movie made that you're like well if I get someone attached, then maybe someone will then put the money up so you kind of like you lie to both parties to say that this person is attached to you want to put the money and then you go this person for the money I'm so do you want to be attached and there's that that kind of money. Yeah, that really I think can be, that's where it can all fall apart. Because actually nothing is really set in stone until it's set in stone. And like we say, that's when it's all done. So I think you have to find ways to make it almost like a game for yourself. So it's more lighthearted, I think, to kind of stay in a place of it would be great if that happens, but it's not gonna ruin my life, you know. So that's what you need lots of other stuff. I think the other thing to remember in this business is that you do need friends, family, hobbies, you know, other bits of your life to fill you up. Because this, whatever this is, is never going to be enough. And so when you're let down, you still have other things and you're like, well, I can go to the beach, it's okay, I can stop writing for a day I can do that I can, I can go out for dinner with my lovely partner, I can do something that makes me remember that I am a human being living on the planet. And this is just one of the things I do. However, you have to have a passion for it. But it's still one of the things you do.
Alex Ferrari 20:59
That was the biggest mistake, one of the biggest mistakes I made coming up is that my entire identity was associated with being a filmmaker, and being a director, like that was my whole life. And, and to a certain extent, you have to kind of be that obsessive, especially at the beginning you have to be. But that balance that you and I are talking about is it's only because of age, you know, we've been around the block, hey, I've been around the block a little bit. It's like, you know, just to speak the way you just say was so eloquent. And wise. I don't hear 20 year olds speaking like that, generally speaking, and it happens every once in a while, but very rarely. So that is just you just kind of kind of go through it. And you realize there's a hopefully people listening who are of that age, can take these notes and understand that that I know you're trying hard to to break through and I'm writing and this. But if you completely attach your identity to the craft of screenwriting, or filmmaking, or being in this business, you will never, ever be happy. I don't care if you went to Oscars, because I spoken to Oscar winners who have won the Oscar and then they're like, now what? Because and when that if you don't win the Oscar the next year, I'm a failure. Like, how crazy is this? thing? Things like that. So you have to have a balance in life. And I'm so blessed to have a family that balanced me because when I was young, I was it was first 10 years. There was just that's all it was. But I was very, very depressed, very unhappy, because it was just this kind of high, low, high and low, high. Yeah, constantly. And you never, you never had this baseline. It was just constantly highs and lows. So you, you'd be so happy one day, and you would crash the next because that guy lied to you. Or the financing fell through, which was never really going to happen anyway, because it was just some kid with a trust fund who said, Oh, mommy's not gonna give me the money this week. So, you know, these are the things
Felicity Wren 22:57
and condition them is next, isn't it? It's like next. So you get there and you think, Oh my god, I would be so happy. If I moved to Hollywood, you move to Hollywood, you're like, Okay, what's next? I'll be so happy as someone read my script next, then they want it, then. And you can't lose track of that moment when you were a little person just wanting to move to Hollywood, and being able to look back and think actually, I've come so far, and I'm doing so well. And am I enjoying this process? That is what it should be? Am I am I taking a moment each day to be grateful? And just to say, wow, I feel like being a storyteller is one of the best jobs on Earth. I mean, I know it's not easy. But getting to dig into the human idea, again, to tell stories about love and triumph and changing the world. I mean, what an amazing thing to do. I think there are lots of jobs where people are just earning a paycheck. And you know, I respect them so much. Because that's, that's hard just to do that just to do something for the paycheck. Whereas with a story, you actually get to go like disappear into your mind. And imagine a different way for yourself and for others. And I just think it's such a privilege to be here. And so enjoy it in the in this process. Really, pat yourself on the back more often than not, you know, take a stop and go oh my god, this is amazing. I'm so glad I'm here. I'm so glad I'm doing this and even when it's rubbish, it's just show me how good it's gonna feel when it's great.
Alex Ferrari 24:29
Then I want to point something out that you just said, the process. I think that that's where so many screenwriters fail is that they don't enjoy the process. They only look at the outcome. And they're putting so much pressure on their work and their art that it can never live up to it. I used to do that constantly with my work when I would release a short film. I'm like, this is the one. This is the one that's going to blow me up. This is the one that Steven Spielberg is going to see and he's going to come down from Hollywood tapped me on the shoulder is like now you shall do Jurassic Park seven. Now like that was that was the end when it didn't Do that which it doesn't, and it can't. And the people and I've spoken to the people that had that has happened to, by the way, and every one of them never expected that no, never thought it was going to happen to like, I was just making a short film. And all of a sudden, someone from Hollywood showed up into like, hey, do you want to make the feature version of that? And here's a couple mil, like, literally that conversation. They never said, Oh, this is the thing that's gonna blow me up. No one ever said that one of the famous conference, one of the famous mythical stories is El Mariachi, which is Robert Rodriguez isn't people still talk about that movie? As the like, well, he did a movie for $7,000. And we can get into all that another time. But But he was making that movie. And everyone's like, oh, he was making that movie to get found? No, he's making that movie for the Spanish VHS market. And happened to drop it off at an agents who a friend of his who worked as the assistant to an agent, that agent happened to be the biggest directing agent in Hollywood. He saw it, and but it wasn't. And when they were going to release a mariachi, it's like, No, no, no, no, no, no, give me the money to remake it, I don't want to this was I was just playing, I don't want people to see this. And that was and that was the thing. So writers have to understand that as well that you have to enjoy the process. And the moment that I stopped, I started to enjoy writing, or enjoy what I do on a daily basis and never put an outcome towards it. I became so much happier.
Felicity Wren 26:31
Yes, I like everything in life, isn't it, it's like, if you're trying too hard it is it worth the cost of that. So if you're looking for love, if you want to be in love, don't look for it, it's that same kind of thing, you do it because you're having a nice moment telling the story. And then keep telling them keep telling them and I think that's the other thing about I think we started with that is that I think you should really be thinking about ideas and writing out the ideation you know, really spending some time every week, every month to just think okay, reading articles what's exciting me right now what is kind of like happening in the world that is important, but still is relates to me and is relevant to my life and the things that I care about. And just say like just write start writing ideas out about right. So what would happen if this if these people, if these people who I'm trying to think of an example, had cat is landed on the moon, and it's not a great one, it would be a very niche market. But you know, so start thinking about what ifs and ideas and stuff like that. So you're always trying to generate new ideas that are relevant to what's happening socially right now. And that also kind of still touch who you are. So that you you're not stuck as well on just the grind of this one script that maybe you're working on or you're madly in love with, but might need a little bit of time away. It doesn't mean to say that you're writing on 15 things at once, but be focused on those scripts you're writing on. But then think take some time to write some other ideas. So that if you are ever in pitching this fabulous script that you're in love with, and they ask you what else you have, then you have 10 or 15 other ideas ready to go that they can talk to you about because as we know, even if they're only going to buy one of the scripts from you, they're actually buying you the writer rather than just the script. And so you want to show that you're that kind of writer that's full of ideas, and really can be flexible and move with them. And if they start talking, you can start riffing back and you know, they want to it's like a marriage, you're going to get in bed with them for a long time, if they take your script unless you start to make it.
Alex Ferrari 28:36
I was talking to a screenwriter The other day I was a very successful screenwriter. And he's like, when I went to pitch, this is what I did, I would have the eight minute pitch for my big script that I loved. And then they would go That's great. What do you have? What else do you have? That he's going to a two minutes, two minute pitch for another script he had? And he was like, boom, boom, goes. Yeah, that's great. What else do you have? Then he does this thumbnail 22nd pitch, they're like, That's the one. And you just never, you never know. He's like, Alright, that's the one you want to buy? Okay, well, we'll sell you that one. So you have to have multiple things. And I always tell screenwriters as well, that if you're working on a script for two, three years, and it's just one script, and that's the only thing you're writing on, you are not a professional, you're hobbyist at that point, you're not a professional, you have to professional writers write and write a lot and have multiple scripts. I know you don't have to have multiple scripts doing at the same time, though I find it to be helpful to be jumped back and forth. Sometimes maybe between two or three, maybe Yeah, not 15, but two or three. But you should always have your product and ideas. It's you need to walk into meetings with minimum of three ideas or scripts ready to rock and roll if not five or six. And you're really not going to be any good at writing into you're probably into your fourth fifth sixth. Seventh, if not 20th screenplay unless you're a prodigy and they do come but that That's the that's the outlier. You can't really Hey, well couldn't turn it here. I'm like, stop it. Stop right there. Stop. Well, Aaron Sorkin did stop, stop. Don't put your name in the same sentence with them because they're, they're a different level than you are. And it's not better or worse. It's just at a different place in their career than you are and the kind of towel. It's like, well, Mozart started looking. Like I picked up the I picked up the piano. Well, Mozart was seven. I'm like, really, really, he was seven. Really, you compare yourself to one of the greatest geniuses. But that's, that's the insanity of screenwriters and filmmakers.
Felicity Wren 30:37
I know, the good news is you can get better at it. You can get better at it. And actually, it's not as ageist as other bits of the profession, so you can get better. It doesn't matter how old you are in the same way unless they're looking. I was talking to someone the other day, a millennial. Actually, no, she's probably the the younger than that. She's like, she's only 22. And they're not millennials and more on open other
Alex Ferrari 31:02
and new. Forgot the new Yeah, not even. I don't have that new generation anyone. Anyway, but we are so old fellas. We are ancient. We are ancient. We are dating ourselves. Let's just watch. Let's go to blockbuster went to VHS and just watch a movie tonight. I mean, seriously, we're that old.
Felicity Wren 31:26
He was talking to me about dialogue. And she was like, Oh, God, all these millennials writing this dialogue for our generation. And I was like, I mean, cuz I was like, that means? I mean, just like, Oh, gosh. And that's like, yeah, so um, then Okay, then I think you've got it. She's a writer too. So I say then you need to get out there. And actually, all these people in rooms need to be going, like who are hiring from rooms need to be going, Okay, I need to find me some baby writers, because we think we know how people are speaking and they're not speaking that way. So let's actually get some authenticity in the room. And I think that's something I've really enjoyed this year. COVID, and just previously to COVID, this whole kind of thing is this I search for authenticity in writing, and in rooms and in TV shows and in features that stop being older white dudes kind of writing young women and stuff like that. I felt like it's great that things are changing.
Alex Ferrari 32:28
Yeah, no, there's no question and you're starting to see more and more diversity in, in, in movies and television shows. And it's, it's not that the old white guy story is not good. It's just that's all we had, we need to have, yeah, other points of view, because that's not the country we live in. And having those other points of view are are fantastic. And I'm really glad that that's happening now. And giving opportunities to mean being a screenwriter in the 90s. Unless you're a white dude, it was it was rough. I remember coming up as a Latino in Miami. And they said, If you direct the Spanish commercial, you won't be able, they won't allow you to do English language anymore. Because I would then be put in the box of he's a Latino director does Latin American or Latino commercials, because God forbid, if I can aim a camera at a Spanish speaking person, I can't aim a camera at an English speaking person, you know, or, I don't even get me started that whole world. But that was that was that was the fear. And I had done some Spanish commercials. And I'm like, I can't put them on my reel. Because I would get I would get ousted from the room. It was just insane.
Felicity Wren 33:41
It was like, I'm glad that the multi hyphenate has become a thing though. I think though that has become it didn't used to be. And I think everyone was very much more if you're an actor, you're an actor, if you're right, you're right. If you're a filmmaker, a filmmaker, a director, you know, I mean, you weren't allowed to do all those things. It's like you're almost being greedy. Whereas now actually, they want you to do those things. But it also means that you have to as a screenwriter, or a filmmaker or anyone in this industry. Treat yourself like a business you are a business person. And I've been talking to him recently, and I think even going so far as to become a producer yourself as a screenwriter. So you can hire yourself as a producer on for scripts, if they're going to get made by somebody so that you can be fired off the script as a screenwriter, but you're still on in some capacity as a producer is something to think of. So everything you're doing now when you're trying to get your script out there. Think of it as a business person, not as a creative and that's why you kind of need your head split down the middle I would say and I'm sure you would agree is that half his business and half his creative because this business half has to be making the deals or learning how to build a pitch deck. Being good on the phone, selling something, learning That is the business side. And the other greatest I sometimes forget, like, we aren't going to tell this amazing story about things I love, you know, it's like the two halves.
Alex Ferrari 35:07
Well, like I always say there's the word show in the word business. And the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. And there's a there's, there's a reason yes, it does, one needs the other. But without the money, they no show. Because they'll put on a show, it could suck, but they'll put on a show. But the money is what really is going. Now, I was talking to someone the other day that about branding, and they were a screenwriting team, and very successful screenwriting team from the 80s and 90s. And I was talking to him, and they were saying that they branded themselves in town as the rewrite guys, they would be known as the guys who would come in to trouble projects and rewrite these projects and in specific genres. So they did romantic comedies. And, and through an action, which was weird, it was, like I said, they would add a little bit of comedy to action projects and things like that. And I think as a screenwriter, even at a certain level, you need to think about branding, branding yourself in the business, because the business wants to throw you in a box, they need to throw you in a box for their, their small minds, to to put to be able to deal with you. Because there's just so many things, if you do everything. I can't, I don't know where to put you. So you need to kind of find a niche at the beginning, you could venture out later, but at the beginning, you need to find a niche and focus on that niche and become a brand on that. And it could be you're the dialogue person, you're you know, I can I can do rewrites. I'm really good at you know, subplots, I'm there's things as far as getting work, not selling the million dollar spec, working as a writer, I think that's so powerful because every every major screenwriter you could think of they had their niche. I mean, Quintin was rewriting Crimson Tide. And you can tell the scene that he rewrote, because it's so clearly him, because Denzel Washington in a new killer service, talking about Silver Surfer, so. So it's like, that's the good dirtiness. But he was he was he was brought in to punch up dialogue. We know when he was starting out, because that was his brand. Would you agree about branding? And how do screenwriters If you agree, brand themselves in the business?
Felicity Wren 37:29
Yeah. It's a really interesting question. I reached out to our writers on our development, slate, and the the way we asked them to talk about themselves, is that if you were a Hollywood producer, because they're all or average from anywhere, quite frankly, but you were clicking through, and you were looking at your profile, so the kind of like the bio of you the story of you. What kind of writer would they get if they hired you? So are you someone who in is fascinated by familiar relationships and how they explode? And how life can be different if you come from a blended family? Or do you do like to focus on dialogue and comedy and and unpicking stories and from narratives that we've already heard? You know, I mean, so whenever you because I feel, again, it's that thing that we started within the idea that knowing who you are and what your pressure points are, and what your story is, that is your brand. So you have to get it get very kind of clinical, I think, and dissect and go into your work and go like, what are the things I keep talking about? That actually, if someone was going through and they went, I want to punch up a dialogue and a family script with a with a breakup, a new Hello, I really interested in relationships and breaking up and kind of, then they've got that for you. I think it's, I think if you're particularly interested in horror, or something like that, and you say, like I seem to be drawn towards these kind of genres, and to put that in as well. But I feel like the how you tell a story and the kind of beats of it, the heart of it, even in these different genres will probably remain pretty similar. Because that, as you said, is your special sauce. So I guess what, what you're asking for the brand is to find your special sauce and articulate it correctly.
Alex Ferrari 39:25
Write it, articulate it, if you will. and promote yourself that way. You're right. I think one of the bigger mistakes that a lot of early or baby screenwriters as you'd like to call them do is that they're like, Oh, I write horror, romantic comedies, actions and sci fi. Like you're done. There's just this No way. No one's gonna hire you because they don't want a generalist. They want a specialist when it's writing. Would you agree that they're like, I'm an action producer. I want a guy or a gal who just loves action and writes action. And if there's a little humor in it, all the better great but I need someone who's focused on actual or at least someone who's focused in horror, and thrillers or I need someone who's focused in sci fi, or in romantic comedies or comedies. Do you agree?
Felicity Wren 40:10
I think I mean, I felt like it's got a bit because of a much more genre busting. And I think genres themselves become a bit more fluid. But I think it's that the thing about, as you were kind of saying is, you can't be an expert in everything. And if you are trying to build up your career, you should be trying to find producers, directors, managers, these kind of people that like people like you. So in a way, you want to kind of work out what your voice is, what your brand is. So that then you can be very targeted in your approach, if you are thinking about producers you'd like to work with or that might like to work with you. So what do you have in your portfolio that is like, work with what they have produced, and then see if you can find a way to get to them. I mean, it's always trying to find kind of roads in but that I think helps you decide who your brand is, and what your brand is. And then where you can target your approach. And manager, if they tend to, I would say, probably tries to cover all bases, but see if there's a hole in their roster. So they've got a comedy person, they've got a an action person, they've got a TV person, but we haven't got someone that's really focused on horror, then maybe you could approach it that would be your approach is that I see. I really like these interesting characters that are in difficult situations. I particularly like horror that psychological rather than gruesome, I see that you have done these other your other writers on your roster, do this, this and this, I feel like this is maybe a place where I could fit in your roster if you're looking right now. So I think branding will help you across the board, in your sales pitch.
Alex Ferrari 41:46
Can you also know, myth bust, this concept that all I need as an agent in my life is going to be better. All I need is a manager to sell me and then they will see my genius, and the millions will roll in. Can you please bust this myth for anyone listening?
Felicity Wren 42:09
I always say there's a reason why they take you they take 10 and you get 90. And it's because even if you get a manager at maximum, they're gonna do 10% of the work and you do 90%
Alex Ferrari 42:22
That's great. I love that. I've never heard that one. That's great. So
Felicity Wren 42:25
I mean, like the idea that they're going to, they're going to take you on and then the unit sit by the phone, and it's going to ring and it's the same for actors, you know, I mean, that is not not going to happen. The best thing you could do if you were going to meet with managers, or try and get in touch with them and try and you know, there's a whole thing, Twitter, follow on Twitter, you know, do your homework on IMDB Pro, this is not an ad with IMDb Pro, but find out you know who their writers are, is that you nowadays can find out a lot about who they are and what they want. So that you when you approached them, and you're like, actually, I think I might be the right fit for you. And I've done some homework as to where I think my projects might land in the industry. They're like, thank God, I don't have to think about that. They've already given me if they like you, and they'd like your work. They're like, wow, I already have a starting point, I don't have to think about where I'm going to send them. Because if I agree with some of these ideas, and that's taken some of the work away from me already, managers are looking like most people to do as little as they can for as much return as they can. And depending on where you are in the roster. Again, they've got lots of people at the top that they have to, they have to be seen to be doing a lot more for if you've just signed with them. And you are literally the last person that or they might give you a bit of a burst at the beginning where they're like, okay, you around town and you have this kind of flurry at the beginning. If nothing happens, then then it will be crickets, and nothing will happen ever again. So this idea that they are going to look after you and change your world is absolute rubbish. But it does give you It gives you a tick, it gives you an authenticity it gives you someone else has chosen you for when you can then go out into the world and approach other people. And you're like, well, I'm signed with this manager. So therefore let's have this conversation.
Alex Ferrari 44:10
Yeah, and I noticed you kept saying manager and you didn't say the word agent very often in that conversation because it's very true. Managers are a little bit more open to nurturing careers slightly bit slightly more agents are mercenaries. They're absolutely mercs business. Yeah, it's just the business in for P and for screenwriters, you have to understand that no agent is the agent is only going to sign you if they believe they can make money with you. And the easier the money the better. You just want Sundance, I'll sign you because I know I'll be able to probably flip you really quickly and make a little quick cash. You're a commodity. That's what that's what it is. You look at you look at these huge movie stars from the 80s and 90s. They're not at CIA anymore. They're not at William Morris anymore. They're at they're at second tier because their career doesn't is not making 20 million he's not making she's not making 20 million a pop anymore. So it's business, it's business where a manager will kind of little bit more. But yeah, you're right, the water bottle tool, though, they might throw you on the water bottle tour. And if no one if there's no bites on that shotgun, it's a shotgun approach essentially, to should throw you out there, see if anyone bites if someone bites, great if no one buys, okay, let's see what happens, we'll hold them, you know, we'll hold them around or hold around for a little bit to see what happens. But it's, it's the case. And like you said, the more the more of a complete package you can bring to them as a writer, the more likely you're going to get so if you are a prolific writer, who is now not only written screenplays, but has multiple selling books, self published books on on Amazon, you have a website, you have a maybe even a small following from your books, you've got a business, it, you've packaged all this together, you bring something like that to them, they're gonna take that writer, much more than the writer who's just like, this is the one I forget, it
Felicity Wren 46:17
was a nice idea, but it's just again, is that they only the manager only has so much time to in their day. And they are on to make money themselves, you know? And so if you can help them make money from you, then they're going to be like, thank you very much. I've been looking for you. Yeah. And also, I think it's just to empower yourself. I mean, the we talked about this earlier, Alex and I, you know, the actor has nothing until they start writing, you know, and if you're a screenwriter, you know, you, in a way are waiting to be picked. So how, how can you help yourself, you write a lot, and then you do the research so that if something does come along you already if someone if you're in a lift somehow, if it ever goes in elevator, that's the word that you can you can pitch your project, you know, where it would land in a streaming or TV, you know, producers that might be interested in it. And you've already done this work. And if someone's saying that what you're doing right now, again, well, I'm doing this and I think it'd be right right to do Max, but I'm just awaiting my manager speaking to a few people over there, then suddenly, you can speak with authorities and they're like, Oh, I show maxes looking at someone's but you know, then because everyone likes to hear those kind of trigger words that there may be means that they should be interested in having a look themselves. And it means that you have something, something to hang on to, rather than just, this is my art and I'm writing. It gives you you know,
Alex Ferrari 47:43
you're providing value. And that's the key to any career. Anything you do in life is to provide value to the other person, every relationship that you have. you're providing value. So, so many screenwriters Do you know, I get pitched. I get I get pitched screenplays. They send me this is how and I've said it 100 times on the show. Don't send me a screenplay. I'm not a producer. I'm not gonna produce your screenplay. I know. And I will get cold emails with a query letters with a screenplay attached, which of course gets deleted instantly. Now I'm like, Why? What you've done no research. You just saw me talking to some producer and you think that I'm gonna like read your screenplay, and go, Oh, you know who we are all you know, I'm gonna reach out to this guy that I just talk to. Because obviously, no notes to your homework. I mean, and that's the other thing like somebody screenwriters don't know who to Who do you approach and how do you know who you approach I always tell them IMDb Pro, IMDb pro IMDb pro IMDb Pro is your best investment, great ROI. And you like you've been saying, find out what they're looking for who's on their roster, what kind of projects that they're into? Are you going to pitch a romantic comedy to Blum house? which I'm sure they got and I promise you they get them? I promise you they get?
Felicity Wren 49:14
Well, I think you just want to set your, your best foot forward. This is just so that you have more of a chance. And I think sometimes it's difficult because again, it's your own work and dependence. Some people are egomaniacs and like it's my work, you got to listen to me, but I tend to find that they tend not to be the best writers is the people that are more
Alex Ferrari 49:36
Felicity Wren 49:37
Yeah. It's the people who are a bit more humble a little bit more sensitive and find this difficult. Try and imagine it's your best friend. I don't know call your rights yourself. I guess it's Beyonce, isn't it? It's Beyonce and her kind of Alter Ego you know, she has her stage persona. Queen Bee the queen bee Yeah, queen bee. So I guess basically do that for yourself is that you have the right to who is a sensitive Human has to kind of expose it in a way so that we can have enjoyment from it. And then you have the business person that goes like, Okay, I'm going to take that sensitive little soul, and I'm going to work out the best way to move them forward and use a different part of your brain, call yourself something different. I'm sure people have actually kind of Well, I think is all those kind of old movies where they were like, Hey, I'm here for the meeting. And then they go, like, I'm here, you don't mean to pretend to be the agent and then ring them up. You don't have to do that. But I think psychologically, it's probably worth doing that. So treat your writer friend, as your best friend and try and see if you are giving them advice. What would you do and how you would be like brave, be brave, throw your hat in the wing, enter that contest, you know, try and send a cold email, see who you might want to work with, you know, really give them advice as as you would a best friend, because I think there's only so hard when it's just little you and your work. But actually, people are looking for story all the time. And it is so hard to find good ones a good script is honestly, it's not even a needle in a haystack it's needle in the haystack in the hay field. You know, I mean, in a in a low in somewhere where there's lots of hay. I mean, it's like, it's huge. It's so hard to find a good script. And an original voice. I mean, if you have something if you think oh my goodness, I read a script the other day that I really liked because it was about two young homeless kids, and then living on the streets, and then sort of an incident happened, and then how they get off the streets. I've never really seen that. And it was and it was written from such a authentic point of view and gave the main characters had had things that were extraordinary about them, even though they were dirt poor and living on the street and in hardship, you know, in that that I was like, Okay, this is this is good. This is interesting. So, whatever your story is your uniqueness, your point of view, if you have something original, honestly, someone will want to read it and will want to make it.
Alex Ferrari 52:05
And I think you mentioned this a little earlier in our conversation in regards to the the pressure that you put on art, but like the, the All I need is this and then this will happen kind of thing. Like I just need to win the nickels and an hour I guess I just need to get an agent or I just need Steven Spielberg or Chris Nolan to see my work and I'll they'll come on and Shepherd me through and you know, these kind of things. And I think screenwriters as well as filmmakers need to break apart from that, just get that guy get out of that mindset, because it is all about the process and enjoying the process and enjoying the road. Because this is going to be a painful Look, you've chosen a very interesting career path. As a screenwriter, it is wonderful, it is beautiful, you get the privilege to tell stories, but it is not an easy path. For any writing. Writing is never been easy for when it was Charles Dickens. Shakespeare had, you know, Shakespeare had a rough time a rough go of it. You know, he wasn't considered Shakespeare when he was writing, you know, he was just another dude trying to get a play off the ground. So, and to understand that, that humility that you must have, because if you are not humble, this business will humble you to your knees. Oh, my goodness, he will humbly anytime I see one of those egomaniacs which I've run across, oddly enough, a handful of times in my business. And in my time, in my time in the business, I always say to myself to the business will take care of them. You know, I've had literally I've literally had producers in the room like I'll see at next year's Oscars with this film. Like it's just such such delusion. That and i think i think i think when you run into people like that, and I think this is an interesting conversation to have, when you run into delusional people in this business, on every every level, from the screenwriter, to the producer, to the financier to the actor, whoever, when you that is obviously a defense mechanism that they've created for themselves to survive this. This this this Bartlett that is the film industry. They don't understand yet that that's not the way to do it. But it's it's a defense. How would you if you have to deal with someone like this, which I'm sure you have, and I have as well? What advice would you give to deal with delusional people? And by the way, if you don't know any delusional people, you are the delusional person. Like I always, I always, always say like, how many people here have ever How many people here know an angry bitter screenwriter or angry and bitter filmmaker? And and everyone raises round like if you didn't raise your hand you're the angry and bitter screenwriter that everyone else looks at. So
Felicity Wren 54:49
oh my gosh, but it's true, isn't it? I think I think you're right though. I think I try and look at it like this for anyone that is being Either mean, or delusional or, or horrible, or where that all that kind of stuff comes from something that they've got going on with them. It's actually nothing to do with you. And the fact that you're at the kind of like, I had no receiving the the blunt stick of it that and you know, then behaving so badly. I think it's just to try and remove yourself from that situation and get to what they are really angry about or delusional about or so you kind of try and undercut and keep asking questions. So you kind of go like, so is it this? You do? Not? I mean, so you kind of like so. So you've got the money. So where's the money coming from? Okay, so who's Billy? Is it in the bank? You'll I mean, so you keep asking questions, that kind of unpeel the kind of the delusion, I think not in a mean way, but just in a kind of like, so I don't understand. It's like, it's really kind of getting to the truth of it. Because if you ask for the truth and ask enough questions, I think you can then kind of like barely the guy like I'll, or they'll be like, admit something, or they'll kind of storm out and then you know, and then just God anyways, but I think remaining in your own strength, so not kind of getting caught up in their what they've got going on. So like, does that seem real to you? You know, it's the same thing, isn't it? If a deal seems too good to be true, is
Alex Ferrari 56:27
no. So with that said, though, with that said, I'm going to I'm going to tell you a story really quickly. If I told you that there was a producer, who said, we're going to get a million dollars for this project. Where's the money coming from? Oh, there's this. This guy who married a rich woman in South Africa, let's and he gets a stipend of a million dollars a month to play with, as his has his walking around money. And a million dollars is no big deal. And he really just wants to be part of the filmmaking process. Give him a part in the movie a little, a small little cameo. He wants to go to the red carpet, all this kind of stuff. And the director is a first time director. The cinematographer has never shot a feature. And we will probably have a couple of real actors involved, like faces and maybe even an Oscar nominee. Do you believe that thing happened?
Felicity Wren 57:35
I hope it did. Because it sounds amazing. But oh my God, what a What an amazing group of things to happen all in one go. Did it happen?
Alex Ferrari 57:44
Yes. I wasn't, I wasn't the director. But and I won't say any more about the project because I don't want to bring the project out. But it is in my past. I was part of the project in a small capacity. That's exactly how it happened was a good? No, no. Nothing in that conversation stated that it was going to be good.
Felicity Wren 58:09
No. But I mean, again, I'm hopeful. It seemed like a dream come true. I wonder if somehow then blossom,
Alex Ferrari 58:15
blossomed into an Oscar winning now. Nothing, Nothing. Nothing. No, it was a complete and utter disaster. The only thing that held it together was the cast. And they were it was also at a different time period. It was thinking, like I say the dates but it was at a time period where it was easier to sell international based talent nowadays is not as easy. But yeah, but so there's those stories, and you can imagine me I was just like, why is this happening? and Why doesn't anyone give it to me? Why hasn't someone given me the million dollars? obviously have a much better back? Don't they understand my genius? Like I always say, I'm the humblest guy you'll ever meet like the humbleness of the humble. No, but humble people. I'm the humblest but yes to being home. I'm the best at being humble. Number one. Best the better. Everybody else. It's ridiculous. But so you see things like that. And I worked along the post production business. So I would see these stories come in. And it would get me so angry. I was an angry bitter filmmaker for so long. Oh my god so long. And I know in the screenwriting world as well, you see these projects get done and you see these paydays. And you're just like, why did that person get that? What? But you can't look at things like that. You just got to go out on your path. You're on your on your journey and just keep, keep look going down. And I promise you something good will eventually happen if you do that. If you enjoy the process. You're winning. Right? Are
Felicity Wren 59:49
you already winning? And I always kind of think you can reframe everything. So like you can kind of go like Oh, why did they get that money and you go and it's so terrible. And you're like, well, this is inspiring me so I can go I got that money and it's terrible. And mine's gonna be better than that. You know, I think everything that really annoys you, if you can take a minute to step back from it, and just kind of flip it, flip it, I feel like you could do this in life anyway, just try and flip it and go like, Oh, I didn't get that role. And I think it was a Jennifer Aniston she was opera and an advert or something. And she, she was down to the last two that you know, that pen heavy pencil thing. And she was going. And she was really she didn't get it, she was absolutely devastated. Because it was going to like be I know, $5,000 because I used to pay or maybe even $15,000 because I used to pay quite well back then. And she was going away filming and everything. And she didn't get it. And then she called into the friends interview. And it would have been while she was away filming and she got that role instead. And you have to think about how different her life has been for not getting that interview.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
I do believe that there is a plan for us on a now we're not we're going into spiritual world and the destiny and all that kind of stuff. I think we do control our own destiny, I think we do definitely have to put the work in. But they're there. This just forces man, there's just things that just you you can't see things like you know, the friends gang. How they all got together like it just so happened stance that was so perfectly put together. We're making a hundreds of millions of dollars 20 years later still and they're still making money off that show. All those kinds of things. There is destiny, there's just no question I was listening to. I had the producer of pretty woman on the other day. And and he was talking to us about Julia Roberts. And he wanted Julia Roberts to be on the show on the movie. And Gary Marshall wanted Julia Roberts but Richard Gere had to sign off. So Julia Roberts, Jesus, this is Julia Roberts, basically, I think after mistake pizza. So she was not Julia Roberts, she was I think, 20 whatever. I think she's like, 2021. She was a baby. She goes to his apartment, Gary's with her. Gary leaves the room. This is the way the story goes. Gary leaves the room. He's like, I got to go to bathroom so he can get to get to know her. And then like, 15 minutes later, he still hasn't come back. He calls up Richard, on the phone and goes Richard, what do you think, while she's at the room, and while he's on the phone, Julia Roberts writes on a post it writes a little note on the post that and then shows it to her. And it says, Please say yes. And, and, and Richard, of course fell in love with her at that moment. And the rest, as they say is history. But that was just a, you know, just a that's fate like you can't and how the and how Julia Roberts was even considered for that role. So many stars had to align to get there. There is that there is that?
Felicity Wren 1:02:53
But I think the the friends thing, sorry to interrupt you, I would say with friends is that all that money didn't make them happy? Not everyone?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:02
Absolutely. You're absolutely right.
Felicity Wren 1:03:05
So actually having a happy life is more valuable than being an Oscar winner. Or the best screenwriter, or the most famous actress, or the most, you know, being happy with yourself and with your who you are as a human being is me for Be careful what you wish for. Because it might just come true.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:27
And people listening like oh, I want to be a famous this or I want to you know, direct that or I want to write this. They don't understand what that entails and what trade offs you have to do. If you want to be the biggest movie star in the world. There is some trade offs. You want to you want to write on a studio project. There is some trade offs. You want to direct the Marvel movie. There is some trade offs things that you don't understand because you've never sat in that chair. And I've been blessed by being able to talk to a lot of these writers and directors who do sit in these chairs. So I hear all the stories. So when Kevin Fay he does call me for Avengers part five. I'm ready. I'm ready. So Kevin, if you're listening, I'll take the meeting. I'll always take the meeting. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked my my guest Felicity what are three screens? What are three screenplays that every screenwriter should read?
Felicity Wren 1:04:28
God Yeah, get out. What's God is the one that's just it's Emily Blunt and john because
Alex Ferrari 1:04:40
Chris was quiet place. quiet place. Yes. a quiet place you should read that because i think i love about that. Is that so imaginative about how they, how they put it on the page. You know, I mean, they kind of did something different and want to Jim Hart's ones. I would either go Dracula or hook one of those people. Jim Jim, a friend of the show, Jim. And, and yeah, that hook. God are the stories of Hogan and Dracula. Oh, god, they're they're amazing. Yes. All great choices. Also, I wanted to kind of highlight what you guys do over at the ICA. So let's you're what you're helping screenwriters as well as we are, what are you doing? What are the resources you guys have for screenwriters? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Felicity Wren 1:05:31
Yeah, thank you. The I will, I'm the VP of development for the International screenwriters Association. It was started by someone who was a actor turned screenwriter who moved from Chicago to LA and was like, oh, my goodness ever wants to take my money and no one is doing what they said they were going to do. So he just started as an online resource for screenwriters, so that you could check stuff out. It's a place of community for screenwriters is a place where you can put your profile up, you can put your screenplays, you can put posters sizzles. So you can make it a place with other screenwriters where you can completely put your brand in one area. We have producers that are signed up to the site, and they definitely go through and look at talent and look at screenwriters, you can promote your success on it. And then it's also full of the other half of the business. So that's you and your craft and your career. There's a lot of teaching elements of it too. But there's also the business side. So we have it's called ISO insider where movie make a variety of all the news comes through. So you can have a look at that. There's pro tips and tricks about what's going on in the industry, red carpet interviews, interviews, like such as yourself. But as you go and speak to directors and producers and see what they're doing and how they how they found a way in the world. So it's always just it's a hub really, for you to find people like you and information you might need. I also want a development slate of 172 writers, which is a top tier writer pool of scripts I found through contests and referrals and success stories, just brilliant success stories. I love following people who are doing well and telling people about it. That's the other thing if you weren't doing well, not to be obnoxious. But let people know. Let people know that said no to you in the past, let people know that helped you on the way say thank you. Those those are all we all like to feel that we've you know, it reminds me that we're all connected. And in some way, even the pizza takes hundreds of people to make it, you know, want to grow the corn did my middle look on? You know, like? Yeah, I mean, it's, we're we're also interconnected, I think COVID showed us that more than ever, is that we actually all need each other. So to be in a place where you kind of go like, okay, we're all here again. And when it is when times are difficult. And when you have those moments where you're dealing with delusional people, things are down there to have these other people that will lift you up and say like, I really believe in you and you know, keep going.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Now in England, do they have pizza made of corn? Because I wasn't aware that corn was an ingredient in pizza. So I was just I just wanted to clarify because I haven't been to England. I'm not sure if that's the thing. I just want to be prepared. If there is corn pizza, not to look like an outsider. Yeah. I'm sorry, I couldn't let it go. I now have weeds. Oh, god damn it. Yeah, you're right. As you were talking, was you were talking like Did she just say corn? I can't let that go away. About the tortilla pizzas. Everyone. It's it's very LA. It's very la it's very la with the tortilla pizzas. So what advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Felicity Wren 1:09:11
Find your people. I think. Go on Facebook, join all this amazing groups. Go on Twitter, go on Instagram do all the social media stuff and find all the people are out there doing it. Hashtag screenwriter is massive on Twitter, you need to be following that. And from there you will find lots of screenwriters and showrunners and producers because they're all looking on there to it became an again an amazing when the industry changed. It became a place for people to find each other so and I also think is a place where you can celebrate so if someone has got a new project out and you've seen that in the trades, because you're now reading the trades as part of your job. You can then congratulate them on Twitter or Facebook or wherever and they do notice if you keep saying and if you say something smart If you're funny, the other thing to do in those Facebook groups is to help others so that if someone says I need a script reading or I need a logline looking at be one of those people that offers advice that does help out, not to your own detriment to avoid writing. But do it enough so that you're a person that's part of the community that's actually trying to make this stuff happen, then I think it's hard to kind of enter contests and fellowships and look for grants and see if there's like a little area in your hometown, if you're not in LA, that that has projects that they're working on, volunteer on, find people are writing shorts, or producing shorts, film, schools, volunteer go to be unset, you can learn a lot from being on set, I think, one about how actors and directors work with each other with lines, but also just how the whole process is so that you can be a better screenwriter, I think really immersing yourself in the job, then read, read all the time, read other people's scripts, read scripts, whilst watching the movie, see how much they changed it. If your TV's your thing, kind of get into TV, t scripts, TV scripts, and then it's the start putting pictures together, start practice looking at pitch decks, thinking about so you actually act as a producer for yourself if you are going to create this because it's probably in your mind. So then how can you put it on the page? What's the tone? Who would you have in it as your dream cast? Why now why you why you this writer, put that all in the pitch deck, even if he never send anywhere which you should, even if you don't, it means you can talk about it more eloquently. If someone asks you about it. Practice your pictures for 10 minutes, one to two minute one, one minute, Mark, as Alex was saying about that. And keep learning don't give up. Be persevere, believe and know that you have your your own journey in this process. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. It's miserable. And pointless.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:57
And bitter, bitter, bitter screenwriter, the bitter filmmaker
Felicity Wren 1:12:02
just makes you feel horrible. What's the point in doing that? You know, it doesn't touch them at all. And you just going around going it should have been me It should have been me and it's like my eye and just makes no sense. Just try and do something better.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:17
Or just do something that you that they can't do that do that thing that you can do and only you can do. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Felicity Wren 1:12:35
self belief. I think that is the hardest one. And unfortunately, nothing in any aspect of your life works without it. You have to believe in yourself. You have to think that you're worthy. So self worth, I think, and it's an ongoing process. I'd like to say I'm there but I'm there on Sundays that you know, I was nervous about doing this. I will beat myself up afterwards about times I stumbled over words you know, I mean, so it's a continuing, we're all a work in progress. So I guess remember that and let yourself off the hook about it. You know? I haven't killed anybody yet. You know, so I'm not a murderer. So it's their worst things.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:15
Exactly. And I've already forgotten about the corn pizza. Oh my god. My name is facility worm when I eat corn pizza. I'm telling you that is a teenage sleuth book series. Right now you and I should we should go operate. And last question three of your favorite films of all time. Okay. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Surely.
Felicity Wren 1:13:46
So good. The only thing is I have to have 10 minutes afterwards to cry. I literally have to cry for 10 minutes afterwards because I'm so sad about my life choices and so happy about them at the same time. It's one of those things that you know if you had to do it all again, would you Yeah, yeah. It does it hurt like hell. Yeah, so it's just I love I love the imagination of it the magic of it. I mean, I was gonna then go, can I do for because then I would then that leads me to the Truman Show. I'm a very kind of I'm very think a very big fan of Jim Carrey. I think he is underrated as an actor. He's I mean, he is a modern David Van Dyck again massive fan of his. I think he is so versatile and so talented. And people when he was in this in a stereotype box for a while, but you know, he he is incredible. I think he's an amazing, man. Amazing. So so those are my two. I'm going to link those together even though they're not the same. And then the hours I just love because I really enjoyed Steven daughters directing. I just think the script itself is so beautiful. I haven't seen So I hadn't seen many pictures with three very dynamic and different female leads, who kind of that ensemble was such an ensemble piece. And it was, I'll never forget that image of Julianne Moore on the bed, reading the book and the water just coming at her feeling like she's drowning by being a housewife. And as someone who doesn't want to be a housewife, I really, really kind of really spoke to me. So the hours and the storytelling is beautiful. And the acting is incredible. And then I think, a bit more recent, is arrival. Because I just, Oh, my God is such a smart script. And it just, when you understand what it's been doing with you at the end, how it's been messing with your mind. I was I was just blown away by the ingenuity of it and the the stylishness, exotic sophistication of it, and and I also hate it when alien aliens are portrayed as the enemy, because I feel like it's another form of racism. It's all like,
Alex Ferrari 1:16:11
who's not you is an alien ism.
Felicity Wren 1:16:14
Yeah, it's an alien is a racist. Everything is this whole thing about keeping us divided, you know, anyone that's not you is to be feared. You know, and I feel like, I love that about arrival. It turned that on its head. And it gave us an same time humans, we're gonna help them too. So it wasn't a case of we've come to rescue you it was a partnership. So I really enjoyed that about
Alex Ferrari 1:16:35
and where can people find out more about what you find about you. And what you do over at ICA?
Felicity Wren 1:16:43
well, you can find us at www dot network iaasa.org. And I am on the website there. You can I mean, basically, you can just go this is a really kind of big website, you can go and have a bit of a poke around Have a look isn't so much free stuff on it, there is a $10 a month or $99 a year membership. That puts you want to slightly, it's called IRC Connect, it's a slightly more elevated membership, the rest of it is free. And that basically just means that you get for free contest entries a year which is actually worth more than the fee you pay to be on it. And you have a few more things that adjust for you extra classes and stuff like that. But you can have a look. It's all free, have a wander around. I'm there.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:28
Very cool. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you had a lot of fun. And I'm I hope this episode helps a few screenwriters out there and hopefully they're not crying curled up in a corner somewhere in the fetal position. After this conversation, I hope they are empowered to move forward with their dreams and their careers. So thank you so much for that.
Felicity Wren 1:17:48
It was such a pleasure to meet you.
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