Thursday, May 05, 2011

Screenwriting IQ Part 2 by Steve Kaire

Quick quiz, then we'll discuss some common myths about the biz. True or False:

1) You should try to get your material to directors or actors who may take an interest in getting your movie made.

True. Get your material to anyone who might be in a position to help.

2) Another term for a thriller is a suspense film.


3) Most material that is optioned is successfully produced.

False. The vast majority of options expire without the project getting made.

4) Beginning as an intern or reader for a production company is a smart way to start a writing career.

True. You get to learn how the business works, read a lot of scripts and network.

5) It is easier to sell screenplays based on established books, comics or other medium.

True. Films based on established material from another medium have a built-in audience.

6) Studio readers synopsize all the scripts they read and decide whether or not to recommend the script.


7) You should write and try to sell sequels to successful movies.

False. If you don’t own the rights, no one will buy it. You can still maybe use it as writing sample, but it may be difficult to interest anyone in reading it.

8) The easiest genres to sell are comedy and romantic comedy.

False. The easiest genre to sell are action movies because they do well in foreign markets.

9) You shouldn’t write a period piece because it is more expensive and they don’t sell.

False. Although period movies are a much tougher sell, if that genre is your strength and you target the right companies, go for it.

10) With the increased studio focus on PG-13 films, horror specs are difficult to sell.

False. Horror films are typically low budget and have a dedicated following. Bear in mind however they are not generally studio films.


There are several common myths that I’ve encountered that hold back the careers of new screenwriters. First is the notion new writers have that there’s big money to be made from screenwriting. They hear of spec script sales in the six to seven figure range. The truth is that these days, it’s more difficult to sell because of the avalanche of submissions. Those writers fortunate to sell their screenplays are often paid in the low six figures. Half the members of the Writers Guild have no income at all from their writing in any given year.

The second myth is the perceived glamour associated with being a screenwriter. Writing is a solitary profession that takes years of writing and rewriting on a single script. The business is filled with frustration and disappointment.

The third myth is about acquiring an agent. New writers think they’ll write a script, get representation, and collect a big payday soon after.  The reality is that getting good representation these days is difficult. Agents are buried with work representing their existing clients and aren’t actively looking for new talent to take on. That’s why I strongly recommend marketing your material yourself. I sold all 8 of my projects without representation. How I did this is discussed in detail on my CD or new Ebook.

Despite these obstacles, if you feel that you want to pursue screenwriting, you should press on. Educate yourself on the craft, network as much as you can and learn how the business works. Having realistic expectations and knowing what you’re up against, gives you a leg up on everyone else.

Steve Kaire is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold eight projects to the major studios without representation. His top rated CD, "High Concept –- How to Create, Pitch and Sell to Hollywood” is available on his website along with original articles.

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