Sunday, November 22, 2015

William Martell @wcmartell #Scriptchat Transcript November 22, 2015

William Martell @wcmartell brought great insights tonight on the business side of screenwriting, moderated by Zac Sanford @zacsanford.

Read the transcript below or on the Storify site.

William Martell @wcmartell #Scriptchat Transcript - November 22, 2015

William Martell @wcmartell #Scriptchat Transcript - November 22, 2015

Tonight William Martell discussed the business side of screenwriting. Zac Sanford @zacsanford moderating.

  1. I'm a native Californian - we're always early or on time. Damned transplants give the state a bad name with their tardiness! #scriptchat
  2. @wcmartell My boss is notoriously late... It annoys the hell out of me. Then again, I'm also a native Californian. #scriptchat
  3. It's ScriptChat o'clock. Please welcome our guest @wcmartell, talking the business side of screenwriting. #scriptchat
  4. So before we dig in, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself @wcmartell. #scriptchat
  5. Hello everyone - usually I'm sitting in the back of the room making fun of the guest, so it's only fair to be on stage! #scriptchat
  6. I have had 19 films carelessly slapped onto celluloid, done a bunch of assignments that have yet to be made, 25 years in the biz #scriptchat
  7. Yes - my new Blue Book is on Breaking Into the biz and staying in. Assignments, meetings, selling, etc - stuff we'll talk about. #scriptchat
  8. Here's the thing, you are *always* breaking in. You sell a script and everyone wants to meet with you. Later they forget you. #scriptchat
  9. My *first* time breaking in was rewriting a screenplay for a drive in kung fu movie, NINJA BUSTERS for a friend. Led to nada! #scriptchat
  10. Hey Bill - Where do you think writers should concentrate most of our effort? What's your best selling book and what should be? #scriptchat
  11. Second time was a sale to a company with a deal @ Paramount. Script floated around town & landed there. #scriptchat
  12. Focus on writing great screenplays that show you can write commercial material or showcase your amazing writing skills. #scriptchat
  13. Anyone following along, feel free to jump in with your questions for @wcmartell #scriptchat
  14. The wacky thing about that 2nd time breaking in was that the script found its own way to the buyer, because people loved it. #scriptchat
  15. #scriptchat @wcmartell That's inspiring! Your 2nd script excited people, and they responded.
  16. Proactive: So many things! Easy stuff: know what sold, know what was successful, know who buyers are. Read the trades (etc). #scriptchat
  17. @wcmartell What are your thoughts on writers who don't live near SoCal? Is moving a must? #scriptchat
  18. Proactive: Also make connections, whether you are in Hollywood or your hometown. #scriptchat
  19. Go to places where you might make a connection: Film fests, etc. Ages ago I went to San Fran Film Fest and met Robert Evans. #scriptchat
  20. @wcmartell Q: You mentioned a script "Floating around" and being found by a buyer. How do you get a script to "Float around?" #scriptchat
  21. I love watching when a script has some heat. When people all across the industry start spreading it around w/"you gotta read it" #scriptchat
  22. I did not have a script with me when I met Evans, a friend of mine did - and he read her screenplay! (well, had it covered) #scriptchat
  23. Heat: That's probably really how a script sells (or writer gets assignments) - the screenplay is a "must read". Not easy. #scriptchat
  24. #scriptchat @wcmartell Do you feel safe that your scripts won't be stolen, once copyrighted? Or do you know of cases where ideas were taken?
  25. @wcmartell Readers read A LOT... it's tough to write a script that becomes hot. I'd say less than 1% now of the specs. #scriptchat
  26. Floating around: I gave the screenplay to a local actress who moved to Hollywood. She got a job on a low budget film. (1) #scriptchat
  27. @SarahAlexis4 A lot has to do with reps floating scripts or "going wide"... But some contests have cache in the biz. #scriptchat
  28. Floating around: She gave the script to a crew member. Crew member read it and said: Better than this crappy film I'm working on #scriptchat
  29. Floating around: Script was passed around town - each person trying to earn points by passing it up. Landed at a studio producer #scriptchat
  30. @SarahAlexis4 A great voice, an interesting take/spin on the familiar, great characters, doesn't necessarily need to be comm. #scriptchat
  31. @MarcBreindel @wcmartell “The easiest way to sell your script is to have it stolen...” #scriptchat
  32. Scripts that float around are the kind of stuff people want to see made. That's the best I can do on that question. #scriptchat
  33. Right: Your reps take a script out wide and everyone reads it, and it's a hit or not. This leads to meetings and assignments. #scriptchat
  34. @MarcBreindel You can't copyright an idea. Specific dialog yes, but not most plot ideas. #scriptchat
  35. #scriptchat @wcmartell What do you think about amazon studios accepting drama scripts?
  36. Has Amazon studios ever made anything from a submission? Producers produce. #scriptchat
  37. @wcmartell YES, Gortimer Gibbons Life On Normal Street was a submission. #scriptchat
  38. @wcmartell With Ted Hope over at Amazon, at least they're starting to make things, but not necessarily from submissions. #scriptchat
  39. Hope at Amazon is basically getting funding for the films he would make anyway (well, he said he quit once). #scriptchat
  40. I think people like the idea of Amazon's open submissions, and I know people who have made money there. But they are the fluke. #scriptchat
  41. Q @wcmartell What do you feel is more important: talent or who you know? I know you need both, but... #scriptchat
  42. One thing we should all consider is having a TV pilot or two on hand, since that is the currently expanding market. #scriptchat
  43. Talent or who you know: I think talent will get people to know you. But there is no "vs." in screenwriting - it's everything. #scriptchat
  44. #scriptchat just saw man in the high castle on amazon. big investment on their behalf
  45. If you stick your screenplays in a drawer, no one will ever discover them. You have to get them out there. #scriptchat
  46. @jgsarantinos Yes, they really gambled on unknown talent like Philip K Dick and Ridley Scott. They came outta nowhere! #scriptchat
  47. THIS! RT @wcmartell: If you stick your screenplays in a drawer, no one will ever discover them. You have to get them out there. #scriptchat
  48. But if you get a bland script out there, nothing is going to happen. #scriptchat
  49. Work for Talent Campus submitted to mentor :) Biggest thing learned? How uncomplicated scripts / story can be. #scriptchat
  50. @blueneumann @jgsarantinos Man in the High Castle has been in development for YEARS in many different forms. Still need to watch #scriptchat
  51. Here's the thing with Amazon - they are more likely to buy from a producer than for you or me. #scriptchat
  52. @wcmartell #scriptchat Hollywood is a full-contact sport! Guess we just play to win, and take our lumps.
  53. I have not done TV work (except MOWS) - but have pitched projects (through producers) that didn't get picked up. #scriptchat
  54. #scriptchat also saw Casual on Hulu. the line between cable and streamers is blurring
  55. W/O reps: query emails, networking, try to find someone to read the damned thing. #scriptchat
  56. @wcmartell thank you! This gives me an excuse to write a TV pilot. Have one in mind. :) #scriptchat
  57. I was at a Final Draft managers panel a few days ago - one manager said he regularly reads equeries. #scriptchat
  58. Some of the managers said they read the Blacklist 2.0's hot screenplays list, looking for interesting stuff. #scriptchat
  59. I want to get on the Blacklist just so I can READ the other stuff on the Black List. #scriptchat
  60. Equerying costs nothing - so don't worry about that one manager's contact info, just equery everyone! It's all a shot in dark! #scriptchat
  61. @blueneumann Is it you want to read the stuff from the actual list or the scripts that are submitted by people breaking in? #scriptchat
  62. @blueneumann Gotcha... I'm in there, but honestly, 99% of the stuff doesn't grab me. Even the higher rated stuff. #scriptchat
  63. Actual list is Blacklist 1.0, people trying to break in is the "how can we make $?", 2.0. And not all 2.0 are newbies. #scriptchat
  64. If you do go the equery route, just know you might receive some nasty emails, mainly be ignored, but might get some bites. #scriptchat
  65. Queries are a numbers game. And you need new scripts so you can keep querying. #scriptchat
  66. RT @wcmartell: Queries are a numbers game. And you need new scripts so you can keep querying. #scriptchat
  67. I think of queries as billboards - when you see a Coca-Cola billboard, you don't instantly buy a Coke. But you remember it. #scriptchat
  68. @blueneumann @wcmartell In general, yes. But I must chose between spec script or pilot. So much to write, so little time. #scriptchat
  69. Q @wcmartell So once you've broken in or made that first connection, how do you stay relevant? New Assts daily. New writers. etc #scriptchat
  70. If they keep seeing new screenplays from you in queries, they know you are a writer, not just 1 screenplay. #scriptchat
  71. To stay relevant - have new material. When your heat dies, write new screenplays and get it back! #scriptchat
  72. You want to have enough material that someone can ask "What else you got?" and you have something. #scriptchat
  73. Also you want to have a "master plan" for your career - not just "If I can just sell this one script". #scriptchat
  74. @wcmartell I can't tell you how many writers I've asked "what else do you have" and they have NOTHING. :( #scriptchat
  75. Where do you want to be *after* you sell that script or land that assignment? What is the big plan? #scriptchat
  76. #scriptchat @wcmartell How much value in focusing on particular genres or subjects? Can wide range appeal to producers?
  77. Good in the room: People want to work with people they enjoy hanging out with. As writers we are often nervous, shy, etc. #scriptchat
  78. #scriptchat If your goal is to sell just one script, then that is pretty BORING.
  79. Relax! Start with small talk (and this will give you clues to who that exec is) and when meeting is over, jot down clues! #scriptchat
  80. A meeting is not about a goal, it's about a relationship. #scriptchat
  81. If you take "this meeting can make or break my career" off the table, you are better in the room. #scriptchat
  82. Relationships are key in the biz. RT @wcmartell: A meeting is not about a goal, it's about a relationship. #scriptchat
  83. @wcmartell Helps to research the folks one is meeting with beforehand... #scriptchat
  84. Why you are in the room: A general meeting is just to get to know you, and for you to get to know them. But can lead to work. #scriptchat
  85. What Dwayne said: Know who you are meeting with and know the company and what they've done. Research! #scriptchat
  86. I think you don't want to be that crazed fan - that Chris Farley character from SNL "Remember that time you..." #scriptchat
  87. Just like when writing a screenplay, just because you've researched doesn't mean you have to use all of it in the meeting. #scriptchat
  88. By the way - once got an assignment because the writer they met with before me had not bathed and seemed hung over. So bathe. #scriptchat
  89. Q: Do you think budget when writing? Or potential producer/company slate? #scriptchat
  90. 12 minutes left with @wcmartell -- Talking about the business side of screenwriting. Get those questions in! #scriptchat
  91. One of the things I look at in the book is doing a drive by before the meeting to figure out parking, etc. #scriptchat
  92. Budget: A spec is usually a job application for an assignment, so it doesn't matter as much... but: (part 2) #scriptchat
  93. (part 2) If you can write a blockbuster script than can be shot inexpensively, that shows an understanding of the biz. #scriptchat
  94. @wcmartell Did that once. The next day… LA traffic was TANGO UNIFORM. I 2 hours early and arrived 90 minutes late. D-OHH! #scriptchat
  95. @wcmartell Is it true that the executives at the meetings are always late? #scriptchat
  96. Once we get to production, it's all about the most bang for the producer's buck. If you can deliver a big movie on budget... #scriptchat
  97. You will be cooling your heels in the waiting room for maybe a half hour! But if you arrive ten minutes late? They were ready. #scriptchat
  98. For assignments, you want to make sure you can write good material on a deadline. I always leave a couple days for a rewrite. #scriptchat
  99. I don't know about Skype, since I live here. But I have friends out of town who use it for meetings on assignments. #scriptchat
  100. @byChrisPhillips @wcmartell Using it more and more for meetings, but usually first meeting is preferred to be face-to-face. #scriptchat
  101. I think technology is a great thing for us - we can now interact with people online that would never return our phone calls. #scriptchat
  102. New writers are less expensive that experienced ones. "The rates have gone up." #scriptchat
  103. Had one Skype meeting which seemed pretty much a planned blow-off. In person meetings bear much fruit! #scriptchat
  104. All the time. @wcmartell nailed why. RT @supergloss: @wcmartell Would you say there is a constant desire for new writers? #scriptchat
  105. Pitching your take: I try to find the most interesting version of the story, which still fits what I want to write. #scriptchat
  106. Just FYI, there will be no chat next week so everyone can spend time with their families for the U.S. Holiday. #scriptchat
  107. No #scriptchat next week while we digest our turkey feast. Happy Thanksgiving!
  108. In the book I have some big name writer's weekly rate as an example of why they want new writers. #scriptchat
  109. On December 6th we'll be talkingThe ReWrite (Where the hell do I even start?) with @jeannevb moderating #scriptchat
  110. Books: When Hollywood buys a book (or other IP) they are buying the IP's audience (and recognition value). #scriptchat
  111. @wcmartell Did you put Tina Fey's in the book? Her quote is astronomical! (from what I've heard). #scriptchat
  112. I don't know if rewriting gets easier, but there's more of it. #scriptchat
  113. Thanks to @wcmartell for coming in and being a great guest this week. Make sure to give him a follow if you don't already. #scriptchat
  114. I think it was Simon Kinberg - $300,000 a week (times 52 is...) #scriptchat
  115. @blueneumann @wcmartell Probably doesn't work too many rewriting, but also makes big money producing. #scriptchat
  116. @wcmartell Great answers and insights, Bill. Thank you for taking the time to chat. :) #scriptchat