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J

I thought that article was hilarious. It's why I hate schmoozing. It's like prostitution. In fact, I'd probably take prostitution over schmoozing because at least there's money involved in whoring yourself out.

E.C. Henry

Billy,

Just checked Josh Olson's IMBD message board; only 1 post as of Saturday September 12th, 12:30 p.m.

I STILL can't look at Josh Olson's mug-shot without laughing. How can a pro get so undressed by an amateur? And this is no ordinary screenwriter. Josh Olson was nominated for an oscar not that long ago! His lack of professionalism in the face of an obvious have-not just boggles my mind.

As a pre-pro writer living outside Hollywood, wanting very much to get my scripts in the hands of movers and shakers, my hy heart beat very closes to the issues raised in this situation.

How is a pre-pro screenwriter SUPPOSED to solicit interest in his/her material?

A couple years ago I went to a pitchfest in L.A. Sceenwriters were put in a holding room like cattle -- and YES it felt just like that. A bell rung, then we hurried to meet a prod. co rep. Got 5 minutes to pitch a story, then buzzer time for the next wave of the herd to roll in. I pitched several stories. Got nowhere with any of them, but given the set-up it is wholely condusive to just that, failure.

I honestly feel those IN the castle owe those outside nothing. But I'm very greatful for those who have risked something to help someone else out. Those people are the real heros in this story. Those who are willing to help the helpless.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Bill

As I read Olson's piece I was struck my something else: the assumption that someone who writes has the ability to critique the writing of others. I suppose it's a natural assumption, but I don't think it holds true. I think being able to read something and recognize it as having potential is a different talent and not one you necessarily have because you are writer. (For one thing, there is some very well-written crap out there.)

I liked what he said about people really looking for a pat on the head. Years ago, I discovered that with my own writing, while I liked helpful suggestions (at least I think I did), what I really wanted was a pat on the head as a way to stoke the fire, so to speak. I rarely found people who were good at critiquing and consequently found the only person I paid any attention to was myself. Of course, that may also have been my own ego.

I have had friends pass on novels, stories etc. from others for me to "look at and see what you think." I take a kind of passive-aggressive approach in that I tend to mutter vaguely about meaning to get around to it ... but never actually doing so. My reason is simply that I avoid disagreeable things and, as Olson says, "... it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't (write)."

btw ... Does this mean I shouldn't email you those ten scripts I've written that will likely change cinema as it's known? :-)

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=802349586

I thought it was funny and poignant at the same time. I'd rather find an inexpensive consultant than bother someone who has to write for a living.
Sure, I'd love it I impressed a pro enough for them to say "I'd love to read something of yours," but I'd actually rather read theirs.

And if you are at least offer them $50 or something so they know you understand how valuable time is.

Or better yet just expect an overview, not full coverage. Writers don't do that.

Eric C

This industry sucks. I'm struggling to get in, but how?

At the same time, asking strangers to read your stuff is very presumptuous.

Maestro

>"I can't remember the last time having a tantrum in public got a writer ... so much attention."

While I can't, either, Olson has thrown so many tantrums in public that he was bound to connect sooner or later.

@Bill:

re: "I think being able to read something and recognize it as having potential is a different talent and not one you necessarily have because you are writer."

I beg to differ. There's a saying, "you have to be willing to kill your babies." That's screenwriter-ese for 'you have to be able to put your personal feelings/prejudices aside and objectively assess whether or not a script/story has potential.'

@E.C. Henry and Eric C:

re: "How is a pre-pro screenwriter SUPPOSED to solicit interest in his/her material?"

Aim lower. i.e. instead of trying to get Josh Olson or John August or another "A-list" screenwriter to read your work, approach Assistants, the guys/gals in the mailroom, and anyone else who is also trying to work his/her way up. Hopefully, you can all work your way up together.

Also, join a writer's group. Again, there's the possibility that when one of you breaks in, s/he can pull the rest of you up, too. But even if that doesn't pan out, critiquing others and having your work critiqued will help you develop the skill I mentioned above to the point where you will no longer feel the need to have your work validated by someone else.

As Charles Edward Pogue used to say, "A professional knows when he's done good work."

Mark

JamminGirl

Honestly, even as an "unwashed newbie", I have to agree with Olsen. I'll tell you why;

A former friend of mine (him being former has nothing to do with the proceeding story, btw)is a published author who I met at a coffee shop. He's written one novel that gained the interest of a local producer who then hired another local director. (Together they constantly solicit money from the Montreal Govt for grants etc, but that's beside the point.) They asked him former friend who here on shall be called 'Bruce') to work with the director to adapt the novel to a script. Well! Bruce almost came to fisticuffs with the director!

Now I'm not sure if I should back up and introduce Bruce to you, but within our first conversations, Bruce lamented on how the director is a lazy so and so who wants to share half of the script credits and two hundred grand payment, when he's the one doing all the work and how he wish he hadn't signed that effing contract.
Now I commiserated with him because I saw that he's piss poor, and the stories he tells me of how badly the "industry" treats him...
All this time I had not seen anything Bruce written. My budget was too tight to purchase that single copy of his book at Chapters. So he sent me the galleys.
I was impressed with the cliffhanger style he used to end his chapters and the colour the book took on in parts. It didn't flow very well but I chalked that up to style. He later told me that it was heavily edited by his publisher.
He then sent me the sixth draft of a script he and the director put together. It was his story but since he wasn't a screenplay writer, the director critiqued and gave him notes. Now I'll digress a bit to say:
I was trained in film at an Art College(and was absolute top in both my writing classes), have written a few that got high praises over at simply scripts, (even though I was new to the site and you know how folks hate newbies),I'm a part of a writer's group in Toronto etc. All that to say I know a thing or two about screenplays so I can give credible feedback.

Well Bruce asked for feedback. The first five pages were intriguing. "A child's body discovered, drained of all liquid"... Then he introduced a slew of characters all at once and God help me if I could decipher who was whom, but since it's visual, I'm sure it wouldn't be as bad onscreen... Read on... FBI headquaters, lead investigator... read on ... guy fishing, died of an aneurism, falles into water... light from sky hits body, it's alive! Yes, I was intrigued ten pages in. The paragraphs were crisp, active and terse. No problems there. Until I realized something by the time I hit page twenty; what's the story about? Whose story is it?
There was NO protagonist. Read NO PROTAGONIST. Just a dead guy who went around like a zombie(absolutely no personality) and killed a few well known people in the world of the "story". I'm being generous when I called it a story. It was simply a laundry list of events. There was no emotional scene(not even one that solicited laughter or even a smile), there was no one to root for or hate. I felt no connection.

So I asked him who was the protagonist. He said there didn't need to be one. I asked him where he thought there was emotion in the script, he got angry and said the script was "fucking perfect" as it is and what the fuck did I know? I'm just a "wannabe" but he has stuff behind his name.

So I asked why was he constantly asking if I'd read the script? He claimed he was just showing me what a professional script looked like!
This is the same guy who complained bitterly about the lazy director who just wanted to change things but stopped sending him notes on the script.
Turns out that the director couldn't give him notes without him throwing tantrums and telling the director to go eff himself everytime he made a suggestion, so the "lazy "director stopped sending him notes and would instead deal with the producer only. (He later confessed that after I psychoanalyzed him and told him he has selfcontroll issues and can't take critique).

All of his complaints about the "industry" was really about his publisher(which he lucked out to get because it's a small niche one within a certain "community") and the director who had co-written a film with his wife that one top prize at a festival.

But I learned. People don't want the truth, they want a pat on the head. Another guy(Ken) sent me one of his scripts two months ago and I've been avoiding him just because I couldn't read past the first paragraph. I've been spoild by active prose. This guy scoffs at the thought of studying the screenwriting process. So he churns out nine scripts where none of the characters are capitalized when introduced, and the protagonist's name is in bold throughout the 88 pages(yes, he isn't even aware of the standard length of a feature, yet he manages to get lawyers to PAY him to write their stories! Is this guy a good talker or what?).

Anyways, Olsen, I agree with yah... Hope I didn't bore anyone with my tale...

JamminGirl

sorry, that should read "won" top prize, not "one" top prize.

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=802349586

I think his story illustrates a LARGE problem facing screenwriters: people who think Shane Black didn't write Lethal Weapon as his Bachelor's thesis.

It's hard to believe sites like this don't have hundreds of active posters and theorists. You write by yourself but you can't be a writer by yourself.

Imagine if people went out for architecture jobs because they think they have a good idea for a building since they work in one. It would clog up the market for actual architects.

Being an "already have a career" type I can't take the time to go back to a formal program, but I have availed myself of the thoughts and techniques of several pro writers I found with a little diligence.

mernitman

J: Some say shmoozers are losers.

EC: Indeed, the helpers are the heroes. But now and then, I think, the evidently over-put-upon are allowed to vent.

Bill: You make an interesting point about "the pat" versus "input." I think often the people who want to get read are actually looking for the former, period. Meanwhile, re: your projects, no worries - I've already changed my mailing address.

Christian: Yup.

Eric C: Well, there you have it - yes, it's exasperatingly tough to break in, and yes - Olson's article could've been subtitled, "Against Presumption."

Maestro: Your networking suggestions are shrewd and noteworthy.

Jammin: Not boring, but all too familiar. Wanting the pat and not the input is a hallmark of writers who'll have difficulty, shall we say, when/if they're lucky enough to actually work for hire in the industry.

Christian: Ah, diligence! Here's hoping it doesn't ever go out of style the way civility seems to be going nowadays.

Maenwhile, for all readers - In case you haven't heard the Dr. Suess-ified version of Olson's now-immortal piece, here's a link to Harlan Ellison's recital:
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/harlan_ellisons.php

металлоконструкции

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mernitman

Дякуємо Вам за відвідування!

Teddy

Thanks to Google Translate, I now know you are a class act all the way, Billy.

mernitman

Teddy, Google Translate is, in fact, the shit.

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