posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 09:35 AM
One day my motion production producing brother sent me a screenplay that he recently purchased for $1M from a first time author. After reading it, I
thought I could do better. 3 years later I got a job offer at Paramount as a screenwriter. I did not take the job but I learned very much about the
I started by reading a couple standard formatting books. If you get the format wrong, even the title page, it will be tossed in the trash by the first
round of readers, who have an impossible task of critiquing hundreds of screenplays per month. Because they cannot possible read that many, they look
for any reason to eliminate beginners or idiots. Anybody with a computer can write. Few can write well.
At the same time, there are very critical elements that all screenplays follow. For instance, all main characters introduced by page ten, 1st, 2nd and
third act turning points at specific pages, etc. If you don't follow the Hollywood format, they figure you for an idiot. (Stories abound about great
screenplays passed up because of a coffee stain on the first page or other minor error).
Once I had a solid draft, I enrolled in an advanced screen writing class at Georgetown University where the prerequisite was having a completed
screenplay. The professor explained that only five percent of nascent writers actually complete a 100 page script. That class helped me polish my
work. The input from other motivated writers was invaluable.
When the gentlemen at Paramount realized I was not going to take the job and move to LA, (ex wife hated LA) he broke it down to me and gave me advice.
He stated that no unknown writer living outside of LA or perhaps NYC, has any chance of selling a script to a studio of any consequence. Its simply
too risky. You have to live out there and network and push and make a name for yourself.
Short of moving there, he said I had a better chance of selling a novel as a first time author. With that I could get a decent agent and then have at
least a chance to break the living outside of LA rule.
I decided on another course. I was determined to learn how to make my own movies. I got an entry-level job in television production working for the
new at the time - MSNBC $50/day for a four hour gig. Over the next six years and a series of risky moves, I graduated up to Director of Photography
for a Discovery Channel series - $500/day plus huge per diem.
That crazy process started in 1993. I left the TV biz in 2004. I just started writing again but this time in novel format. I hope this helps. I had
the benefit of a brother running a very large production company making movies for many millions that anybody would recognize. I also had a friend who
started a company providing crews to cable news companies in DC.
The main thing I had was a certainty that I could do it and would do it. Good luck.