Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writers kill babies

So if you're a screenwriter, you've been in a writing group at some point. And you know that some of them can be ruthless, with a capital R! Well, if you're like me, you want to get better as a writer, but you don't want to do with the nasty comments that might go along with it. So what's a writer to do? Well I've been in many writing groups, and I've learned a lot along the way. So thought I could share some of those things I've learned.

I'm starting a new writing group with other friends who are also tired of those ruthless writers. Unfortunately, my writer friends are there without me tonight. From my previous posts, you've seen I've been home sick for days. So they are meeting tonight deciding what we want from our new writing group. It's just without me. Darn! Hate being the girl left at home. But hey, body aches win out. We've sort of emailed already some ideas, and I can tell we're all on the same page. The rest of my ideas will have to be emailed after I hear what they all decide. All I do know, is ruthless and mean will be off the table.

So how do you know if you're getting into one of those writing groups? You don't. There's no way. Only time will tell. And even then, sometimes you still have to put up with it until you find another group. I've been in about three writing groups over the years, and now this new one will be the 4th. And when there has been people like that with their negative remarks, I've learned just to tune it out. As long as you're getting helpful comments from the rest of the group, those negative comments are like the wind to me. I know they're there, but they mean nothing to me.

And I'm not talking about negative comments that make my script better. Those are helpful. I'm talking about ones that are mean-spirited, nasty, and probably don't help my script at all. There's always a way to give feedback, but that way, just turns off the listener. I've found that from the people who are like that, it says more about them than the script. So far the people who seem that way tend to be single guys with no relationship and are bitter about it and life. So I feel for them. But on the same hand, I or any writer, does not benefit from script notes that way! Call me crazy, but I like my notes to be given gently. Sort of like visiting a dentist. Painless please!

Now in case someone doesn't know why I titled this "writers kill babies", we writers refer our works of art as our babies, especially our favorite scenes or jokes. We birthed them from our psyche! So no writer enjoys having their babies killed. The worst part, is these writers that give negative comments, yeah well, they kill everything! Not just the babies.

Now the good things about a writing group? Well, that can be a whole other post. So, stay tuned. I'm sure you're waiting with baited breath!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

There's no contest

Okay maybe there are a lot of contests. Hundreds of them in fact. When you're a screenwriter, you find out about all of them. And at times can feel overwhelmed by which ones are worth entering. So then, I end up not submitting to any. Which maybe isn't the best way to behave either. I never said it was a brilliant plan though.

So today I decided to enter Screenwriting Networks' High Concept Screenplay Competition. They're a great group with lots of strong contacts. So I figured why not? I don't normally tell people that I'm entering them, that way if nothing happens, no one knows I failed. But I also figure since I'm writing a blog on screenwriting, entering a contest makes me have to enter it. So I did. And now you get to share in my humiliation if I don't go far. But, can share in my joy if I do. So now I wait. There's one more entrance deadline for it, Dec 15, but the price goes up. Here's the link in case anyone wants to enter it.

So the question begs to answer, are there other contests worth entering? Of course Nicholl's is the top of all of them. If you win that, you definitely get a manager and agent and tons of exposure. I was a quaterfinalist once and instantly got emails from producers and agents. Nothing came of it, but now looking back, that script wasn't ready, so I'm not surprised. But it sure was exciting getting emails early on in my "career" from people who wanted to read my script, instead of me hounding them to read it. It was a taste of being pursued by Hollywood, and I gotta say, I liked it!

I heard from a friend recently and he did well in the Austin Film Festival. He got an agent and manager out of it, and they got his script around town, and now he's on the Black List of Hollywood. For anyone who doesn't know what that is, that means your script is the one everyone wants to read in Hollywood. So yeah, I'd say if that happened from Austin that's one worthy of entering.

One of his good friends swears by Blue Cat, which I know of, but don't know more than that. And my friend swears by UCLA's competition, but you have to be enrolled in their classes to enter. So that limits if you can enter or not. But, the classes are good, if you're considering taking any.

And entering contests can open doors in ways you might not even imagine. You just never know who might read your script. I mean, I was just a judge for a contest and that's how me and my producer friend found a script. Okay no, I'm not saying I'm like the coolest thing ever, and you'd be lucky if I read your script. Hardly! Just saying, you just never know what contacts you can make. There was actually two scripts I read I'd love to produce, but one seemed more feasible. So, that just goes to show, perhaps a lot of contests are just a way to get exposure, even if you don't win the grand prize.

And you never know who is reading your scripts or how much time they're giving your script, in a bad way. I remember one year I found out my actor friend was helping read scripts for his producer friend for Nicholl's. It kind of shocked me that this producer was just casually handing off scripts he was supposed to be judging. To an actor friend, that yes, he was a good friend. But a good judge of a script? Not so sure. It kind of confirmed why my script moved up one year when it wasn't ready. And other years when it hasn't moved up when it's been much stronger of a script.

But you don't want to spend your life savings on entering all these contests. Otherwise it just feels like you're throwing money away. I think the important thing to do is see how far up you get in these contests, and then keep on writing and learning and see if you can move up in each and every contest you do enter. But just pick which ones you think are worth it. Use these contest to open doors, if that happens. But know, just like everything in Hollywood, it's all subjective.

Monday, November 28, 2011

screenwriting NOT writing

So, I've been a screenwriter, non-paid that is, for about 10 years. I've been studying my craft and writing scripts and joining writing groups, and finding new ones, when I've outgrown the old. I've started blogs writing about health, women's groups, and now, screenwriting. I always wondered what I could blog about, and then I realized, write what you know! And that's screenwriting. So as I get closer to my journey of success, I thought sharing my journey might help and inspire other writers.

So, why today of all days when I'm not writing my script, is this the day to share? I guess because I'm sick in bed and tired of looking up websites that are boring me to tears! I'm tired of watching cartoons with my son who is also home sick. So what else is there to do? Blog!

So here's my journey as of now. I have a script with one really big production company, and with another small production company with large success. One seems interested in developing it, but is busy. Hence, why we got it to the other company. So until that happens, I'm reaching out to other production companies.

I'm playing email and sort of phone tag with another smaller production company, but also with nice success. He, from what I've heard, is great about helping people getting into the biz. Although I'm not super new to it, to me, if I'm not being chased down by Steven Spielberg, that means me.

I also have a feature with Disney. But since the manager who submitted it, is not really repping me, I have no idea what it's doing. Most likely collecting dust. It's been there all year. Sigh... I also have another script with an indie producer who has produced a few things and gotten noticed at film festivals. She's busy on her current TV show, so our feature film is on hold. But that's okay. I figure if she's not willing to work on it now, then I'm not interested in pushing it. I guess I'm also waiting and excited to hear from the "big" producer on when he wants to develop our idea. Hoping soon! But it's been a month already. Sigh, again!

So in the meantime, because I hate being a writer waiting, I've started another comedy. That's what I write mostly, by the way. I've finished the outline. Yay! And can't wait to get started on the script and characters. I'm starting a new writers group so hope to get the outline to them this week so I can do just that. My goal is to have the script written by end of year. Sure, that's aggressive, but why not try? I tend to reach deadlines when I make them.

I'm also trying to produce a script with a producer friend of mine. I was a screenwriting judge for a contest this year. And I found a script I knew my friend could get produced. She's produced a horror film that did well in film festivals and got on Showtime. So she said if I ever write a horror film, she's sure she could get it made. So instead, I found a script that I thought we could get produced! So we've emailed with the writer, and hope to talk to her this week and start working on that.

So, although I am not "writing" today. It sounds like a lot of exciting things in the works right? Hoping my day of rest today, will mean I'm ready and able to write tomorrow. I'm just not myself when I go a few days without writing. I'm a writer for gosh sakes!