Dream big, work small-ish

Small beginnings can have big endings
Small beginnings can result in big endings

Last week, I had the good fortune of having a “getting to know you” lunch with a working writer I’d connected with via Done Deal Pro.

We discussed numerous things, almost of all which were about our writing. Hearing about another writer’s experiences never gets old, especially one that’s had some success.

As our time started to wrap up, he offered to read one of my scripts. “But,” he added, “don’t send me any big-budget tentpoles. There are six people who could actually make those happen, and I don’t know any of them. On the other hand, there are about three thousand who can work with a small, low-budget script, and I know a lot of them.”

As much as I wanted to send him one of those big-budget tentpoles, I decided it was better to go with an older one that would be considered small budget and only has a few locations. (Since it was an older script, I added that my skills have improved since then)

Another point he made was that there are a lot of writing assignments available (TV movies, small indie films, etc), and a small script could show you’ve got the chops to handle this kind of work. He admitted it may not be the most glamorous, but I totally understood when he talked about the thrill in seeing his name with a “Written By” credit on TV.

As much as I enjoy writing the stuff I do, just about all of it does fall into the big-budget tentpole category.  I’m not an established writer, which makes it that much harder to move forward with it. Having a manager helps, but it’s still an uphill climb.

It’s smart to take this kind of realistic approach. You may love working on that effects-heavy epic extravaganza, but don’t count out the potential of that low-key dramedy you haven’t looked at in years. A little touch-up work may be all it needs.

It never hurts to have more scripts in your arsenal of material, and a smaller one may end up being the one that gets things started.

3 thoughts on “Dream big, work small-ish

  1. I was advised the same by a screenwriting friend as well- because the buyers are more for mid-budget or low budget versus the bigger blockbusters for which there are only six or seven major buyers for that comparatively.

    That said, doesn’t hurt to do our big budgets and also throw in a few lower budgets anyway – though I will be honest – most of the ones I have are big ideas. Right now, just going with my own gut and confidence, not to mention bit of ego because I like my stories and feel passionate about them – but…give buyers line of least resistance, I was told.

  2. Blake Snyder told me– granted this was in 2008 or 2009– it’s ideal to have three screenplays at three different budget levels. Though the most common budget producers solicit me for is under $250K.

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