Saturday, November 8, 2008

The other crap

Because I'm not just a writer, or director, or director of development, but also run my company, I am often called upon to do OTHER CRAP besides being a creative. I hate the other crap, but it allows me to be more marketable to my business partners and the outside world.

And it got me to thinking about all the junk that needs to be done OUTSIDE of being creative and writing a script/directing a project in order to be successful. So I decided to run down a few for you, since I've once again neglected you for so long.

This is all of the materials that are required to get your script ready to be shown to people. It includes summaries, treatments, and loglines. I can't tell you how many writers I run in to that have a script and don't have the pitch material to get it read. Most of the time, there is a structure to getting a story read.

1-A producer wants to hear a logline. If the logline is compelling, go to step 2, if it's not, the story dies here. This is currently happening with a story i wrote at the beginning of the year. Because it's not "high concept", can't be pitched in 1 sentence, people don't want to read it. In the meantime, my high concept work gets read all the time.

2-Then they want to see a summary/treatment. This is a 1 page document in the case of a summary, or a 3-5 page document for a treatment, that gives the details on structure, plot twists, and how the story plays out. If the story is compelling and up the producer's alley, they will read your script. Doesn't mean they'll like it. In fact, most of the time the execution is terrible, but they are reading it. Scripts on the shelf don't get sold!

Pitch Material
In this ever expanding world of converging media, it's often required, or recommended, to get together other pitch material. This can be a comic book, concept art, or other information that will show the visual style of the show/movie. Why? Because producers are dumb...j/k...but they are very busy, and read tons of scripts a week, and if they can't visualize your noir story, it's never gonna get made.

The Business/Legal Stuff
Thank god for my business partner being a lawyer. Otherwise I would pull my hair out every day. THIS is the stuff I really hate, and the thing that is most important. No investor will give you dime one without this material, even if the script is great. This is the business plan, budget, schedule, cast list, LOIs, PPMs, distributor information, etc. All of the materials that make the package exciting for investors. For a creative, this is a nightmare because it's breaking down all of your scenes and putting a numeric value on them.

However, as a creative, it's also a very important skill to have, because most movies are made either below 20 million, or over 80 million. There are movies in the gooey middle, but the most successful movies fall in those ranges. And, as a baby writer, you'll be writing, or should be writing for the former. And if you know the costs of that 120 call pile-up, you will be able to justify whether it is necessary.

The bottom line is, you are a creative, but you are ALSO a business. You are selling yourself, and these are the materials, outside of the business stuff if you're not a producer as well, that will sell you to a producer, and get your script bought, if not made.

So, before you go wide with a script, make sure that you have all the material to back it up, and when someone asks you about it, you can pitch like the wind and get people interested.

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