Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10 scripts...

To add on to my previous post, the old adage is that it will take 10 years or 10 scripts to get a sale. Which means, theoretically, you have 8 scripts which will be terrible. Now, hopefully one of those terrible scripts will be in your genre, but if not, it still gives you 2 scripts to get the sale.

My timetable is roughly as follows:

1-3 scripts - shite. Don't show them to people unless you are really secure with yourself.

4-6 scripts - average. Now, you've taken the good things you do and integrated structure into it.

7-8 scripts - good. You're coming into your own as a writer. You have a genre and a voice, and you know what you want to do.

9-10 scripts - sellable. Hopefully, you've mastered the little things, like action cues and formatting that kept your script from being sold before.

Congratulations, now you're a writer. get ready for a life of rejection and under-appreciation.

So, you see. there's plenty of time to write a whole lot of junk, to see if you like writing for that genre, and abandon it when you decide you don't like it, if you decide you don't like it. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.


I'm going to make this quick, probably.

I read a post on the Rouge Wave today and one of the tips she gives is for writers to specialize in a genre. This is something that is so important to a writer, because you want to be "typecast" as the go-to guy in a specific genre. This goes for writers, directors, producers, etc.

For instance, if Eli Roth's next movie was a period piece romcom, you would be very confused. The same if Martin Scorsese came out with American Pie. It's because you know them to be in a certain genre. An audience can say, Scorsese did that movie, and I like his movies, so I'll like this one as well. In fact, audiences become rather angry if they go to a movie that isn't what they expected, because they feel doped.

But, I want to make a word of warning. Make sure you are relatively certain that:

a- You can write scripts that are sellable. (If your movies are esoteric David Lynch movies, the audience is smaller than Ben Stiller movies).


b- Make sure you will be happy writing for this genre for a long time, your career actually.

I will leave with one final idea. Just because you write one script in one genre, doesn't mean that you HAVE to write another script in that genre. When you are a baby writer, it's fun to explore ALL the possibilities. So, if you don't know what "fits" yet, write a horror, write a comedy, write a drama, or a period piece, or a kid's movie. I actually learned after writing a kid's pilot that I really love to write kid's sleuthy detective movies/tv.

It's sort of like college, some people go in knowing exactly what they want to do, others are gen ed for a while. Once they find something that suits them, then they declare. However, you should always feel free to abandon these projects after a garbage or first draft. Who knows, it's possible in 5-10 years you'll pull that draft out because someone is looking for a Polish immigrant script set in post WWII Denmark.

Personally, write(get it) now, I'm working on a broad spectrum of scripts from a crime drama, to a romcom, to a snarky independent, just because I want to see what fits FOR ME. I'm writing a TV pilot, a comic book, and five movies. I'm doing this because my main genre, independent, quirky movies doesn't pay very well and I am looking to see if there is a sub-genre or other genre that fits me better.

Once you find that genre, stick with it. Keep doing specs in that genre. I have a friend who writes really sick, twisted stuff. But she has 5 scripts right now and they're making the rounds and are being well received. When an agent looks your way, they will want to see 2-3 samples of work in a specific genre to make you sellable as a writer. It's much harder to sell a jack-of-all-trades writer than one that specializes in something.