Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Giving your scripts a beauty makeover...

They say you should have at least three decent scripts and ideas for several more to even embark on a career as a pro screenwriter. But how do you know if your script is even ready for the market? Is it an A-grade script or still a C-minus? The only way I know to gauge this is to read other scripts in the genre, especially produced and successful ones.

Read The Social Network (whatever your genre) and you'll start to get some idea of the standard you're up against. Actually, you'll weep. Then you'll be inspired and determined to match Mr Sorkin's standard, damn it!

I currently have four scripts that need rewrites to become beauty queens - right now they're more in the spotty, overweight category. Some of them have definite potential and just need some Atkins/benzoyl peroxide/new hair, while others need a whole rethink (liposuction, anyone?).

So my plan for the next few months is to take one script a month and rewrite hell out of it. Map out a new structure/new jokes or whatever it needs and get it done. Then I'm also going to write a new script I have (a fairly) solid idea for.

That will leave me with five scripts that are up to at least B-standard, hopefully making a good inventory for heading to L.A.

My other U.S.. prep has been chugging along. I've put about thirty possessions up for sale on ebay/gumtree and will go to a car boot sale with some of the rest over the next few weeks. I have a lot of crap so the sooner I start the better! The house is on the market and I'm praying to every deity out there and some others I've made up that it will sell. (View it here, it's really pretty!)

And I've been contacting people who've walked the walk for advice on moving to L.A. So far I've been given a list of neighbourhoods to avoid and the name of a visa lawyer. If you're reading this and you have any thoughts or tips, I want to hear 'em!

Giving your scripts a beauty makeover...

They say you should have at least three decent scripts and ideas for several more to even embark on a career as a pro screenwriter. But how do you know if your script is even ready for the market? Is it an A-grade script or still a C-minus? The only way I know to gauge this is to read other scripts in the genre, especially produced and successful ones.

Read The Social Network (whatever your genre) and you'll start to get some idea of the standard you're up against. Actually, you'll weep. Then you'll be inspired and determined to match Mr Sorkin's standard, damn it!

I currently have four scripts that need rewrites to become beauty queens - right now they're more in the spotty, overweight category. Some of them have definite potential and just need some Atkins/benzoyl peroxide/new hair, while others need a whole rethink (liposuction, anyone?).

So my plan for the next few months is to take one script a month and rewrite hell out of it. Map out a new structure/new jokes or whatever it needs and get it done. Then I'm also going to write a new script I have (a fairly) solid idea for.

That will leave me with five scripts that are up to at least B-standard, hopefully making a good inventory for heading to L.A.

My other U.S.. prep has been chugging along. I've put about thirty possessions up for sale on ebay/gumtree and will go to a car boot sale with some of the rest over the next few weeks. I have a lot of crap so the sooner I start the better! The house is on the market and I'm praying to every deity out there and some others I've made up that it will sell. (View it here, it's really pretty!)

And I've been contacting people who've walked the walk for advice on moving to L.A. So far I've been given a list of neighbourhoods to avoid and the name of a visa lawyer. If you're reading this and you have any thoughts or tips, I want to hear 'em!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

L.A. Story

A few weeks ago, I was complaining after a particularly hard week's work (as is my wont) about how much I hated my day job. It was Friday night and the person I was talking to had heard these words one time too many. "You've hated every job you've ever had", she said. "Why don't you do what you really want to do?"

I made excuse after excuse but she kept saying this. "Why don't you follow your dream? To write scripts and make a living from it?" Then, and I don't know why because this whole scenario had happened before but not affected me like this, it suddenly hit me.

She was right. I have to do what I want to do. Because if not now, when I have no husband, no kids and no pets, then when? There is nothing stopping me at the moment that I can't overcome.

So I wrote a game plan for how I was going to do this. How I'm going to move to L.A. and somehow get a visa and write scripts. And hopefully sell them in the Land of Movies and make enough to live on.

I'll post extensively on this over the next six months for the benefit of anyone hoping to do the same. Maybe we can compare notes.

Or maybe you have moved to L.A. to follow your screenwriting dream, in which case I'd like to hear your thoughts too. For now, my goals are:

Write a new script I have an idea for.
Rewrite three existing scripts to make them saleable.
Try and get U.S. producers interested in them.
Sell my house. Or strictly speaking, my half of the house...
Sell my car and most of my possessions.
Save some money for the 3 months in L.A. when I can't work.

This is a journey and one I can't wait to start on...

L.A. Story

A few weeks ago, I was complaining after a particularly hard week's work (as is my wont) about how much I hated my day job. It was Friday night and the person I was talking to had heard these words one time too many. "You've hated every job you've ever had", she said. "Why don't you do what you really want to do?"

I made excuse after excuse but she kept saying this. "Why don't you follow your dream? To write scripts and make a living from it?" Then, and I don't know why because this whole scenario had happened before but not affected me like this, it suddenly hit me.

She was right. I have to do what I want to do. Because if not now, when I have no husband, no kids and no pets, then when? There is nothing stopping me at the moment that I can't overcome.

So I wrote a game plan for how I was going to do this. How I'm going to move to L.A. and somehow get a visa and write scripts. And hopefully sell them in the Land of Movies and make enough to live on.

I'll post extensively on this over the next six months for the benefit of anyone hoping to do the same. Maybe we can compare notes.

Or maybe you have moved to L.A. to follow your screenwriting dream, in which case I'd like to hear your thoughts too. For now, my goals are:

Write a new script I have an idea for.
Rewrite three existing scripts to make them saleable.
Try and get U.S. producers interested in them.
Sell my house. Or strictly speaking, my half of the house...
Sell my car and most of my possessions.
Save some money for the 3 months in L.A. when I can't work.

This is a journey and one I can't wait to start on...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Waiting for Mr (or Ms) Producer...

Blog, it's been too long. In my defence, I went to NY for a week. I haven't been sat at home watching TV or anything.

I even kept up with my film education, going to see Water for Elephants (pretty bad) and Hanna (looks great but kind of pointless) while I was there. On a better note, I saw the play Born Yesterday, which was made into a film over fifty years ago with the brilliant Judy Holliday and is now a play again with the equally amazing Nina Arianda. Her Brooklyn drawl rocks.

In other news, the film people finally sent on my option agreement, which I've signed and sent back to them. They were busy getting ready for Cannes, apparently. They asked for one document to be signed by a "notary". Does anyone know if this is a common or garden lawyer, or is it a special type of one?

I'm trying not to get too excited. Things aren't really done and dusted until they've signed their bit and sent it back to me. Or really, until the film is shot, edited, playing on a TV somewhere and I have my fee plus residuals.

What I've realised is that dealing with producers is a bit like waiting for a phone call after you've been on a date or to a job interview.

Will they call? Why haven't they called? They're not going to call. Next! Except in this case, they did call. Well, emailed. But not after teasing me for the best part of a week - and that's nothing. People wait weeks, months, for producers to say yes, no or maybe.

I'll have to grow a thicker skin and get well used to waiting...

Waiting for Mr (or Ms) Producer...

Blog, it's been too long. In my defence, I went to NY for a week. I haven't been sat at home watching TV or anything.

I even kept up with my film education, going to see Water for Elephants (pretty bad) and Hanna (looks great but kind of pointless) while I was there. On a better note, I saw the play Born Yesterday, which was made into a film over fifty years ago with the brilliant Judy Holliday and is now a play again with the equally amazing Nina Arianda. Her Brooklyn drawl rocks.

In other news, the film people finally sent on my option agreement, which I've signed and sent back to them. They were busy getting ready for Cannes, apparently. They asked for one document to be signed by a "notary". Does anyone know if this is a common or garden lawyer, or is it a special type of one?

I'm trying not to get too excited. Things aren't really done and dusted until they've signed their bit and sent it back to me. Or really, until the film is shot, edited, playing on a TV somewhere and I have my fee plus residuals.

What I've realised is that dealing with producers is a bit like waiting for a phone call after you've been on a date or to a job interview.

Will they call? Why haven't they called? They're not going to call. Next! Except in this case, they did call. Well, emailed. But not after teasing me for the best part of a week - and that's nothing. People wait weeks, months, for producers to say yes, no or maybe.

I'll have to grow a thicker skin and get well used to waiting...