Saturday, May 08, 2010

Comment on "The Speck Market" column

Hey guys, so if you read Creative Screenwriting, you've likely read my most recent column "The Speck Market," which is a candid and not exactly rosy picture of what's happening in the feature film spec marketplace. Just received this e-mail from former CS columnist, screenwriter and teacher extraordinaire Ron Suppa:
Good and important column. I always read you first. (Still don't get why the K in Spec -- significance?)

This causes a tough time teaching screenwriting. They all have dramas. And no one is buying dramas. No one is buying much of anything from new writers. Can't get an agent for them. Half of them are over 40 (or 50) -- it's too late for them, practically speaking, but what are you supposed to tell them? They can't come in and write Shrek V (was that your idea for the K?) They can't afford bestsellers to adapt or find a way to package stars into their new scripts. They don't have the rights to TV shows or past movies for remakes or sequels. They all come out naked. I feel as though we're teaching a theoretic, classical, dead art form.

Cheers anyway,
I replied:
Hi Ron, exactly. Speck as in "minuscule." What I tell my clients is to focus on TV if they want to write drama, forget features, and if you can DIY, do it. I'm doing the same thing myself and am shooting my next action movie short (starring Lou Ferrigno) with zero help from Hollywood but plenty of help from my buddies! If you DIY, ageism is a nonissue.

Hollywood, and indeed the USA and the White House, has been taken over by the big corporations, and that's just the way it is. The old paradigm is dead. Long live the new paradigm!
And there it is. We writers can't just continue to trudge along pretending it's still the 1990s. The rules of the game have changed. Youth and source material are what is in demand. High-concept is also still in demand, and that is why a killer idea with mediocre execution will always have a better shot than a mediocre idea with brilliant execution. So check out the column and let's all be real about things. TV and the Web are two places that are still vibrant and a way in, as are film festivals (provided your short or feature racks up some awards, of course.) A high-concept spec feature can still get attention, but don't expect it to sell. But you will hopefully get meetings off it and then can maybe use it as a sample to help sell your TV series idea. This is the way it is 2010. It's not wonderful, but there are opportunities for those who are savvy about what's in demand and what isn't.

Jim C.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone got a time machine?