Friday, May 04, 2012

More Screenwriting 20 Questions with Steve Kaire

Steve Kaire

Ready for another round of 20 Questions with the High Concept King? Steve Kaire once again tests your mettle. 15 or better correct is a great score!

True or False:

1) Producers have a call-back list of 50 people per day.

False. Their call-back list is often over 200 people per day.

2) Production companies generally read your material in 2 to 3 weeks time.

False. It’s often around 2 to 3 months.

3) Partner pitching is permissible with one partner pitching one part, the other pitching the other.

That’s true.

4) Good dialogue uses full, complete sentences.

False.Good dialogue uses phrases and short sentences and accurately reflects the way people actually speak.

5) The easiest way to structure a screenplay is viewing a similar movie and structuring your script the same way.


6) You should expect brutal criticism of your screenplay from a studio reader.

True. Rumor has it that they’re often frustrated writers themselves. If you've ever received coverage from a studio, you're probably still licking your wounds. Good coverage services like Coverage Ink however specialize in presenting notes in an empowering, not belittling, way.

7) There’s no easy way to find out who’s buying what.

False. Many websites list what’s being sold and to whom.

8) The Great American Pitchfest and InkTip Pitch Summit are the two biggest pitch festivals in the country, both chock full of opportunities for writers.


9) Sometimes writing about what you know makes you too close to the material to be objective.

That’s true.

10) A query letter is typically two to three pages long.

That’s false. A query letter should never be longer than one page and should be as brief and snappy and compelling as possible.

11) There is more money available to invest in independent films now than ever before.

That is true.

12) The most important element in a letter of introduction is the person who referred you to that company or agent.

That’s true. If you have the name of a person who referred you, list it in the first paragraph.

13) No one in the industry really cares about screenplay contests.

Not true. While most big name agencies and production companies couldn't care less, some do, and many small to medium-sized companies will read the winners of a few notable contests.

14) A slam dunk is a compelling, high concept premise that is universally recognized as being a winner.


15) During a pitch session, you should first tell the listener how you got the idea of creating your story.

False. This is another big misconception. You have limited time to give your pitch and the listener doesn’t care how you created it.

16) A fish out of water story is an example of a brainstorming technique.

That’s true.

17) It isn’t permissible to e-mail your script to interested parties who requested to read it.

False. Many companies and agents now prefer online submissions to having all those stacked scripts in their office. Ask the company which is their preferred method of submission.

18) Unlike agents who charge a flat 10%, managers can charge any percentage of a client’s earnings that are agreed to.

That’s true. While many literary managers charge 10%, some charge 15% -- and some celebrity managers charge up to 50% of their client’s earnings.

19) When you use a framing technique, or mash-up (example: It’s “Apollo 13” meets “Die Hard,”) it should come at the end of your pitch.

False.Framing techniques should be used before you pitch your logline to prepare the listener for what type of story you’re about to pitch.

20) All well-written screenplays should contain a main character who goes through a character arc.

True. Virtually every script has one of its characters undergo a positive change by the end of the movie. Notable exceptions are horror movies and action heroes, such as the James Bond character and Popeye Doyle in “The French Connection.”


How did you all do? If you got every one right, then pat yourself on the back and go get 'em, tiger. If you knew several, then way to go! If many of these stumped you, definitely start reading the trades regularly. Becoming a savvy student of the biz is key to making it as a writer in TV or film. Keep up the good work, and I'll see you all back here in 30.

Steve Kaire ( is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 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 and national screenwriting contests.

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