Don’t let this cool, calm & collected exterior fool you…

August 4, 2015
...because this is what's inside

…because this is how I’m feeling on the inside.

The hunt for representation is underway. Again.

But this round feels quite different.

Maybe this is the experience talking, but my best guess would be that it’s from taking my time and reminding myself there’s absolutely no need to rush through it. These folks aren’t going anywhere, so taking a few more days to properly prepare won’t make much of a difference.

But it is making a huge difference for me.

I’ve got two exceptionally long lists of names and emails, but each is several years old, which requires some admittedly exhausting investigating through multiple levels of IMDBPro into how accurate and up-to-date the information is. Don’t have a subscription to it? You should.

Time, determination, patience and persistence are the four essentials in this scenario.

A lot of time has been spent tracking down where some of those names have ended up. While most are still at the same organization, a good many have moved on. Some to new places, some who’ve gone out on their own, and, from what I can gather, some have totally abandoned ship (including one guy who fell into the deep end of the cliche pool and now sells real estate).

My favorite one so far has been the manager who passed away several years ago, yet are still listed. Just their name and nothing else. I’ve no doubt that at this very moment, somewhere out there, a query email is working its way to them.

The last couple of times I sent out a massive wave of queries, it was in a very rushed and impatient way. “This has to go out NOW!” After finding an email address, I’d immediately cut-and-paste the body of the letter and hit ‘send’. Nothing else. I’d estimate about 75% of them went through, while the remaining 25% came back as ‘undeliverable’ or “address not found”. Those would be immediately dismissed. Over the next few days and weeks, maybe a few responses would trickle in; say 1 for every 10-15 sent. Not the best of returns.

But again, this time it’s different as I’m trying to be been much, much more thorough. Do they even accept queries? What sort of material do they specialize in? Sending to someone who specializes in horror would be a waste of time for both of us. When was their last project? Have I heard of any of their projects? How many clients do they have? What are some of their clients known for? (One place lists Rod Serling(!) as their top client. Interpret that however you want.) They still use Hotmail? Is that even still a thing?

So while I spend part of my time developing a workable list of query letter recipients, I’m also focusing on assembling the actual letter that will be sent. Type ‘screenwriting query letter’ in any reputable search engine, and you get page upon page of links to articles, columns, blogposts and so on. There are countless opinions about what should and should not be in there. Pay attention to those. I tend to favor short and to the point, but effective enough that it gets you noticed and hopefully piques their interest.

It’s pretty likely I’ll crank out a few drafts of this as well before finding one that I think works best.

Like writing the script itself, it ain’t easy. None of this is. But it’s what I have to do in order to make things happen and move ’em forward.

(And if anybody knows a manager they’d recommend or think might be interested in taking a look at my stuff, feel free to point them in this direction. Much obliged.)

Moving on to my next set of doors

July 31, 2015
Luckily, I have a key to each one

Luckily, I have a key to each one

Well, that’s that.

The latest round of work on the western is done. Taking a little break while waiting for some feedback from friends and trusted colleagues, then off it goes to one more professional consultant. Hopefully not too much more to do with it after that.

(Also gearing up to enter it in a couple of contests next year.)

So what now? Easy.

Start researching potential managers to query about it, and get started on the next script – one in particular that may not need as much work as originally expected.

These are thrilling times we live in, chums, with bigger and better things yet to come.

And which of your many projects are you focusing on right now?

Shoulders once again shrugged

July 28, 2015

A couple of months ago I had the good fortune to attend the Great American PitchFest in beautiful downtown Burbank. Overall, it was a great experience and I’m very thankful I did it. I’d pitched the fantasy-adventure and the western to several productions companies and managers. Responses were generally favorable, including compliments on my pitches and a few requests.

I was feeling pretty positive about it as a whole, but as experience has taught me, opted to hold off on writing the job resignation letter and chilling the bottle of victory champagne. Just because the scripts were requested didn’t mean anything would happen.

And of course, I was right.

While I still haven’t heard from a handful of them (and honestly, don’t expect to), the rest have politely passed.

Slightly disappointing, but definitely not heartbreaking. This is the nature of the business. C’est la vie, baby.

In fact, I don’t bear any of them any ill will whatsoever. Their interests were piqued, they checked it out and decided it just wasn’t for them. Nothing else. I think it’s saying something that I got that far.

So although those temporary thoughts of “Whoo! Moving forward!” may have been temporarily scuttled, this just reinforces my commitment to making it happen. I’m of the opinion that both scripts are of high caliber (and the continuing polish/rewrite of the western will make it even more so), and am certainly not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I’d rather be productive and keep trying to get better.

Any writer who goes into this and thinks it’ll be easy is in for a very rude awakening. The amount of time and effort it requires just to get good at it, let alone good enough that you can compete with those who actually do it for a living, is overwhelming to begin with. There will be many, many crushing disappointments before you even reach what could be considered a significant victory, so you learn to roll with the punches. You have to. If you don’t handle disappointment well, you’re in the wrong business.

As I’ve said in many a conversation, there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing than writing. It may take longer than I’d like for good things to happen, but there’s no way I’m slowing down. This is just another pothole on a very long road.

So on that note, pedal to the metal and full speed ahead.

Not speeding-bullet-fast, but getting there

July 24, 2015
The cape helps.

The cape helps.

The edit/rewrite/polish of the western continues, and have to admit I’m actually surprised at how fast the process is moving.

Maybe it’s working with a pen and an actual hard copy of the script, which for some reason is always more productive than doing it on the computer.

Maybe it’s all the ideas stemming from the great notes and feedback I’ve received.

Or maybe it’s simply a culmination of the experience of having done this so many times before. Putting my money on this one.

I’d estimated the rewrite would take me maybe 5 to 6 weeks, schedule permitting. There are a few sequences that need some major work, some that need significant trimming, and plenty of minor tweaks and adjustments to be made. But just a few days in, and I’ve already passed the halfway point.

At this rate, there’s no reason I couldn’t be done within the next 2 weeks. After that, it goes out for one more round of professional feedback. I honestly didn’t think this would happen this fast.

I think maintaining a steady work schedule, a definite commitment to the craft and that internal drive/compulsion to succeed have all contributed to getting me to this point in my abilities. I’m more than willing (one might even say eager) to do the work, and the more I do it, the easier the whole process seems.

Of course there are days when I’m not productive, but even those are getting fewer and far between.

Hopefully you’re also able to devote some time each day to getting some writing done. Don’t be discouraged if it seems too hard or overwhelming right now. Keep at it. On top of that, get feedback and read scripts. Build up your knowledge and apply it to your work.

Before you know it, you’re done and ready to jump into whatever comes next (although it might take more than a single bound).

Maybe I have a shot at Miss Congeniality

July 21, 2015
Many will enter, but only one will win

Beneath these pleasant exteriors exist cunning, ferocious competitors

The past few weeks have been exciting to watch as the latest results were announced for some of the major screenwriting contests.

First, congrats to everybody who advanced! It’s always thrilling to see good things happen for friends and trusted colleagues. Make sure you let them know you’re glad for them.

And if your contest email included the word “Unfortunately,…” it’s not the end of the world. Believe me. There’s a long list of reasons why your script didn’t make the cut. It happens. We’ve all been there. Getting upset about it won’t do you any good. The sooner you put it behind you, the better off you’ll be.

Once you’ve gone through the last of the 5 stages, you’ve got several months to really embrace the opportunity to put more work into your script (or scripts) so you can resubmit it/them again next year.

You want your scripts to do better? Do the work to make them better. Get feedback. Pay for professional notes if you can. Whatever it takes. You’re going up against literally thousands of other writers and their scripts. This isn’t the time to hold back.

Entering contests was something I did not do this year, primarily because I didn’t think my scripts were ready. The western needs at least 1-2 more drafts, and I’m going back and forth as to which one to do after that. I’ve never entered two at the same time, but based on how the writing goes over the next few months, might consider it.

So consider me among those thousands competing against you next year, and remember that each and every one of us wants to win just as much as you do.

Good luck.


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