Thursday, May 18, 2017
Yes, I am not dead. Very sorry, it's been a bad week of sorts so I hope to catch up really quick. I'm attempting to get some of my screenplays (aka scripts/whatever) on my new friend/buddy, being Virtual Pitch Fest.
It's an interesting idea in a way. Basically it cuts out the agent who in the past, would represent writers. How does it work?
What I did is get the best 16 of scripts I haven't sold. I have around 38 scripts going back to the middle ages. Some go back to ScripThing which was a version of Screenwriter, my favorite software. This became Movie Magic Screenwriter.
I never liked Final Draft for a few reasons being that the company felt it was the only screenwriting software. It wasn't. I go back to 1983 where we had a rough version of Screenwriter, I don't even recall it's name.
But it was the only one around. And to us, it was great. FD came along later and to me it's just a Microsoft clone. Not a true screenwriter software. I remember when I taught extension classes at UCLA, the FD guys would tell screenwriters that they are the "only real screenplay software".
Which by then there was a handful of softwares.
When I told my students to get Screenwriter, the not very friendly screenwriters shop were told to tell anyone that FD is the professional. I told them to stop playing favorite and they don't like me.
Which of course, as you have heard, it's not the only screenwriting software.
But back to Virtual Pitchfest.
So now, you can send your script onto a Hollywood company, there's even NBC on the site and others too. Real production companies.
I mentioned that you wouldn't really need an agent but it would still be usable. However if you're new, no decent agent would take you.
And that's where Virtual Pitchfest comes in. I had no sides, just you and your script.
I had a "hit" on my first try, a company liked my script and asked for one, which I emailed. But I haven't heard from them yet so it's a "wait and see" moment.
So I have 16 scripts to sell but it's not as easy either. Maybe more of a shot at it, but it's the same old thing. Pitching.
So have a look at it, I'm not getting anything for it, but since I haven't made a sale yet, I'll wait and see.
But one thing that is certain; it's not like "the old times", in which an agent would send a writer to a producer who would look at what you've written IN PERSON.
Yes, producers actually would meet you.
Now it's all thru web stuff and nobody meets anyone anymore.
It's a lot harder for the perennials, I don't envy you at all.
More Movies on Monday...
Friday, May 12, 2017
Sorry about not getting back, I was trapped in trying to put three screenplays together. Sounds great but very volatile in terms of what's gonna happen.
Basically I have a shot at three screenplays of mine are being considered. Of course the Killer of Spec Scripts is lurking around.
I hate this thing.
For instance, one of the scripts would be probably with a director friend. However, that director might not be wanted by the money people who probably have their own director. If that happens, my buddy will be mad.
Because I'm dropping him.
It's tough. Friendships have been dissolved with this stuff. I'm not going to tell the producers I won't sell the script unless "Harry" directs.
Different people would say it a different way.
I'm going to work over all of these items on the week-end and see if anything changes.
I'm also going to talk more about Virtual Pitchfest. It's pretty interesting and has to do with two of the screenplays above.
Also, next week, I want to talk about actors and directors now and then. How good are they now as in 2017 and how good they were in 1969.
We'll go back to the "Days of Wine and Roses."
And more of my Rocky Mountain TV gig.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Sorry to slow down, had some work to do over the week-end, had some old friends in town and took them to the best, smallest cemetery amongst the sky scrapers. You oughta give it a look. One of my friends found Frank Zappa's gravestone, sort of. More later.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Sorry for taking so long, this week has been full of surprises.
First of all, the writer's strike didn't happen even up to early Tuesday morning and partially solved by the networks. Everyone is happy. Mostly.
But something else took a lot of my time on a different angle.
I have three screenplays being looked at for possible sales. As in $$ or was that $$$?
The first project is called Side By Side and is a dark story about bad people in the 1950's. It's got a lot of good comments and now hoping to connect with three parties in order to put it all together.
Of course it can fall apart at any time.
Secondly I discovered an interesting website that requires that you "pitch" your screenplay to a production company. This is sort of a parallel to those pitch fests where you pay $50 or so in order to have a person from a real production company who tells you your story isn't any good.
Okay, so I'm bitter. But I've always been a bad pitcher. The rule usually is that great pitchers often are bad writers and bad pitchers are good writers.
At least I think that.
But this new deal gives you a pitch to the company of your choice.
It's sort of the same thing except that you email your pitch to that particular company.
What's the difference?
Well, you don't have to go to someplace in L.A. or anywhere where there are pitches being done. Sure, you get to see the real person you're pitching, but it all ends up the same way anyways.
For instance, I pitched 8 scripts in 3 weeks and 2 were selected to be read. I haven't received any more news for now but no news is good news.
Of course, I have around 30 screenplays on my "shelf" so I have a head start. But anyone can still try to find the right production company for their interest. The companies are real, some of them I've never heard of, but there are major studios and networks amongst them.
So what that means is that you could keep looking for that right company as there's around 200 or so companies. That can mean you can keep looking till you find one.
Of course you have to pay for each one.
So give it a look. It's called Virtual Pitch Fest or something like that.
So what are the other two screenplays?
Well, one of them is an international political thriller and the other is a Christmas movie. I'm going to pitch a sequel to my Ghostkeeper movie, Ghostkeeper 2 eh? I figure that I can keep pitching Ghostkeeper for the whole year.
I know most of you have maybe one script or more, but it's worth a shot. It could cost $15 or something like that but it's the easiest way to pitch.
And no, I'm not part of the company. I pay just like everybody else, although WGA writers get a bigger break, mostly because we do have stacks of screenplays that nobody wanted.
So here's what readers of Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Website:
Reviews: “this thing is quite good”, “reminded me a lot of Chinatown with it’s film noir slant and grotesque bizarre edge”, “this script is great, the story is great”, the concept is original and although it made me a little uncomfortable at the beginning, the human aspect of it won me over”, “the progress of the story became a very enjoyable experience”, “this story and the author’s screenwriting technique are excellent”, “the story captivated my imagination”.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Only thing I heard was that they, the writers and the producers, all in a group, might be getting close. Right now us writers are waiting to hear what happens. Eh?
I'm going to post several posts next on a TV series I did some years ago. Some of you might have read it but for those who jumped into the blog recently, it's a good lesson on writing with other people who don't like you.
Or something like that.
I'll start maybe Wednesday
Friday, April 28, 2017
As mentioned, the WGA members have decided to strike, most likely after the end of the month as that's when our contract expires. Everybody is worried as I mentioned that the last strike which lasted 3 months, cost California anywhere from around $500 million up to a billion dollars.
And again, because of a bunch of writers.
Because it all begins with someone who sits down at home or at an office and begins to write a story for someone. And get paid for it. That payment can be anything from a hundred dollars up to millions of dollars.
But not everyone gets a reasonable amount of money. That's where WGA comes in. They make sure their writers get paid. You remember that from last week wherein a company made my movie without paying me.
And if I wasn't in my Canadian guild, WGC, I would have gotten it but it would have taken even more than the 14 days that it took to get "them" to pay me.
I also know of writers who aren't in WGA (or WGC - the Canadian guild) and they get very little. A friend of mine in his early 40's writes screenplays for about $2500. My minimum is around $48,000, meaning that this fee is the lowest that producers can pay.
And if you have a good agent or a hit movie, you can make millions.
Unfortunately I didn't make millions. But I didn't write scripts for $2500. That's all you need to know about payments.
And why I'm in both guilds. Because I want more that $2500.
I sold my first script back in the mid 1980's when I came to LA and found a lovely lady who would be my agent for a year or so. I was broke and upset due to a divorce and because I write, I decided to write my anger into a script.
It was about a women's baseball club that played against small town baseball clubs. The girls would be pretty good and mostly would win. Except this one town of rednecks. Someone got killed and the girls hit the road escaping the rednecks.
But here's the difference. The girls were athletes and they fought back just as hard in their own way.
It was a pretty raw and tough script, sort of a version of Deliverance. And if you haven't seen that 1972 movie with Burt Reynolds, see it.
And I had the best title.
Got it? You sure?
So I sold the script for $7000 and went back to Canada.
But when it got made there was a lot of changes, more sexual material, certainly not from me. And there was another thing; the writers.
Yes, there was a handfull of writer names that I never saw and my name was "Story by Jim Makichuk". But when I got a copy of it, the script was about 60% mine. The worst stuff was the other guys.
And they changed the title from Bush League to Blood Games. And I tried to hide any VHS copy at that time.
You can find it somewhere online if you can. But just remember, the bad stuff wasn't mine. It's actually pretty funny.
And the girls win.
And I had nothing to do with the cover.
See you Monday. Maybe.