On Day two of the ScreenCraft Writers Summit, we went to writing church, literally in a church, where experienced writers spoke the gospel about their craft and careers.
- Bombing happens to everyone.
- Getting your script ripped apart with a red pen is just part of the process, it’s not personal.
- And that all first drafts are crap. So don’t worry about that.
- Also, the way you get lucky is by working very, very hard.
Next I attended the The Science & Entertainment Exchange Presents: Science & Storytelling panel moderated by Rick Loverd who directs a program of the National Academy of Sciences called The Science & Entertainment Exchange, which is available to ALL writers if you have science questions related to your screenplays. Just call them. Good to know.
At the Development 101: Hollywood’s Creative Process panel, we learned that spec scripts are rarely sold outright these days. Packaging first is the norm right now. And being replaced is very common. You will be rewritten, and you will rewrite others. This is part of the normal process. Reiterating what we always hear, when they read new scripts, they’re looking for the unexpected. And they want to be gripped by 15 pages in. The best thing a writer can do to help their career? KEEP WRITING.
At the panel Life in the Movie/TV Factory: Navigating the Studio System, the panel of three FEMALE development executives, talked about the importance of the writer’s voice and how scripts that are written from the heart, where the writer has some connection to the material or a passion for it, somehow those scripts are usually better. For them, the funnel for new writers is almost exclusively coming via agents and managers. (But later they said Production companies might be more open to accepting material from new writers.) They do take ‘generals’ with writers often, even if they can’t buy the current script, because they want to build relationships. You never know who could write the next hot thing. And often the general meeting will lead to work down the road, even if it takes five years or more. They also want diversity to be part of the DNA of their studios, not just a buzz word. And many times today it was repeated, both by writers and execs: this is a marathon, not a sprint.
They also talked about the rise of anthology and limited series which studios like because it can bring bigger actors to television who don’t want to commit to seven years on a normal series. For features they want to “eventize” films so there’s a reason to leave your house and go to a theater. They also talked about attaching actors and how all the big name “stars” we’re excited about right now have been working very hard for a decade or more. There is no overnight success. Again, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
April Wright, guest blogger, 2018 ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta attendee.