This week's Answer:
Clara, that’s very well
written. If you could write me up about 120 pages of something like
that in a thriller genre, I’ll be sure to get back to
you real soon.
Just playing with you.
It seems that you have found yourself in the
Bermuda Screenplay Triangle, a mysterious vortex, where
many a Screenwriting Sailor has unexpectedly lost sight of
his or her precious cargo.
Or, possibly, you’ve been boarded by pirates (and
I do mean “pirates”) who have absconded with your
(“Arrrrrr, m’ hearties, throw the lot of them
thar scribes o’rbard, but, first, be quick, and strip
‘em all of what they be scribin’!)
Don’t despair; it happens to the best of us.
Wherever there is money to be made from the
creative talents of others, there will be those who will
attempt to do so in a disreputable and dishonorable
(that’s definitely “disin’” you) fashion.
Selfishness is its twin.
(And if there are triplets, God help us who that
could be.) It’s
“biz” is replete with rapacious vultures, slimy
snakes, bottom-feeding snails, cunning wild cats... Hey,
maybe there should be a Show Biz Zoo, where we
screenwriters can visit.
There could be a tour guide that points out the
latest predator, and a sign, which reads:
“Don’t Let The Animals Read Your Scripts.” I’d go.
Referring more distinctly to the
aforementioned problem in regards to the Web, “web” is
a good word for it because, in a sense, you have to be
careful to not get trapped or hung up in a type of
spider’s web, where unsuspecting screenwriters and their
work are ambushed by deadly Screenplay Stealing Spiders
(what’s with all these animal allusions?
Maybe it was that creature feature marathon I
watched this weekend) that paralyze their victims with a
Promise You The World Venom, wrap them up in Pretend I Can
Do Something For You silk, and come back for them later as
the main course of a Plagiarize Pizza Party.
Not a pretty picture.
Here’s another one:
Have you fallen prey (there’s that creature
metaphor again) to those websites that tell you that they
really want to help you with your script, submit it to the
top, top people in the industry (whoever they are), but,
first, there’s a But First Clause. Don’t you just love those?
But first we’ll need to evaluate your script. Which will cost you a nominal sum of $9,000 dollars.
THEN we’ll be happy to submit it. (I know I
exaggerate, but, hey, you know that famous quote: “Exaggeration is the spice of life.” Actually, it’s not a famous quote. I made it up. I
was exaggerating.). I’d
say that’s very nice of them, submitting your script,
wouldn’t you? (And exactly what does “submit” really mean?
Are we talking about dropping off a pile of scripts
to an overworked reader at a studio?
Or simply sending attachments with screenplays to
some office worker’s e-mail address?
I “submit” that for the jury’s
I’m not saying that these so-called creatures -- I mean
“individuals,” -- who run these types of companies are
all devious, unconscionable, reprehensible, and nefarious
never say that.) But,
if I were you (and thank goodness I’m not because then
we’d have a hard time telling whose towel is whose),
I’d make sure I had my Conflict Of Interest Detector
working. And the conflict is not just with their interest.
Watch for how it conflicts with your
interest in selling your screenplay.
Your interest in selling your screenplay for a
decent amount of money that is proportionate to all the
time and energy you put into it.
Your interest in being treated fairly.
Here’s my advice about how to go
about showing your work.
First, get the stars out of your eyes (not that
it’s probably quite a dazzling and pretty lightshow that
you’re seeing). Let’s
call the nefarious businesses I referred to as “These
Companies,” shall we?
These Companies depend on that stardust, that
Hollywood glitter, to obscure your vision. Remember that screenwriting, as creatively exciting as it can
be, is also a business.
Keep your eye on the second word of “show
NEVER, and I mean NEVER (did I say “NEVER”?) send out
any material until you feel comfortable with whom to whom
you are sending (that’s a mouthful.
If you say it slowly, it could be a mantra:
“I send material only until I am comfortable with
whom to whom I am sending...
I send material only... “ We could start a
Screenwriter’s Ashram, where we all meditate our
screenplays into existence, manifesting them by bringing
them in from the Blockbuster and Mega-hit Creative Plane.
That’s a great idea.
And I could be the head guru and you could entrust
all your worldly goods ((including your screenplays)) to
me. When I
don’t show up for a few months and return in my Rolls,
we could all give praise.
I mention this never-to-happen parable just to
point out that wolves come in more than just sheep’s
Or agent’s clothing.
Or investor’s clothing.
Or Anybody Who Looks Too Good To Be True’s
clothing.) Third, send out feelers. Feelers is the way, I have found. Write a courteous e-mail; introduce yourself and what you
have to offer (just a logline, never your full story.
Not even a synopsis.
Not until you know who you’re dealing with.
And you could be doing it with “card sharks.”
I promise: that
will be the last “creature” allegory.
you’ve done that, most likely, by one of These
Company’s response (or lack of response), you’ll soon
know if you want to take the next step with it.
Even then, careful:
How’s that saying go?
The next step is a doozey.
Watch yourself every step of the way.
As Jewel so aptly pointed out:
Trust your intuition.
(And if you don’t have any, I’m sure I can help
you get some. But
first you need to send $9,000.)