Posted tagged ‘screenwriting’

Dirty Water Dogs and Stub-Nosed Monkeys

May 15, 2015

Although I haven’t been posting any updates about my screenwriting projects of late, it doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope or stopped putting my stuff out there. When you’ve been at it as long as I have, you build up a body of work. If the scripts you wrote were any good, they should stand the test of time. With experience and distance from the original inspiration or catalyst that motivated you to crank out the first drafts, revisiting old material can yield fresh insights that improve the story and writing itself.

Since my last blog entry about renewed interest in my Menehune family feature script, I’ve signed a 90-day shopping agreement with a producer who is working with a Chinese multimedia company that is making low budget films in the USA. He found my Amish horror spec, SNALLYGASTER, on the Jason Scoggins Spec Scout site (free listings) and liked it because he grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country, where my script is set. I used that producer’s interest to prod a small prodco to get back to me on my Muslim baby/doll murder mystery suspense script — and over the weekend, their director of development read it after he got back very good coverage from their readers. Now the doll script is also being shopped to distributors through the prodco. That lead came through the Inktip weekly e-newsletters (also free). And via another Inktip e-newsletter request for scripts, I got a producer request for a big budget sci-fi spec I cowrote.

I also continue to enter screenwriting contests while I’m still eligible — that is, I haven’t made enough from options or an outright sale to disqualify me. I’m in that lull stage where you have to wait… then wait some more for news. I don’t want to jinx anything by pestering the prodcos for updates, and cling to the hope that no news is a good sign that those projects are still in play. The benefit of being a more “experienced” writer (old guy) is I don’t lose sleep over it anymore. I get on with my life. Instead of thinking about my prospects of selling, I’m more reflective of my solitary place in the universe and how small we all are in the grand scheme of things.

The other day while jogging to the beach, I counted my blessings and my mind drifted to dirty water hotdogs in New York City, where I misspent a good portion of my 20s before escaping to my present home in Hawaii. In spite of the jokes about the dangers of scarfing down those boiled frankfurters plucked out of the battered, weathered street carts, there was something I liked about the consistency and taste of those onions simmered in a red sauce that to this day, I cannot identify. It was the ideal hangover food after a night of partying and heavy drinking would leave me with less than three bucks in my wallet. No matter where the hot dog cart was — Downtown, Upper West Side/East Side, the Village or Soho — they always tasted the same.

Back then though, I never stopped to think about it much: how immigrants brought these sausages to the New Land, and renamed them for Americans; or the newer immigrants who took over the hot dog carts and introduced other foods from their respective countries; what it took for them to get that beat-up cart; where they got the red sauce recipe from — or was it sold by the originator? So, after my jog, I showered and Googled hot dogs and the red onion sauce recipe. Found some interesting tidbits too!

Snub-nosed Monkey19The dirty water dog memory stirred up a more recent image I recalled from watching a PBS Nature show about an orphaned snub-nosed monkey I identified with. I wasn’t abandoned and left to fend for myself like that poor little monkey, yet my days as a young bachelor in NYC, longing for connection and love, often left me feeling painfully alone. Drinking and partying was part of my survival mode. I convinced myself I didn’t need anyone, or their approval. In some ways, you could say it toughened me up for the inevitable rejections I would later have to endure as a writer. But damn, at the end of that nature show, I was really pulling for that cute little snub-nosed creature to find a friend and reconnect with his missing mother. And I think about that young lonely man, dressed in his business suit with day old razor stubble, savoring a warm hot dog with red onions, with no clue as to what the future might hold for him. Selling a screenplay was the farthest thing from his mind.

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Time Flies

November 12, 2014

Hard to believe this year is almost over! So many things I wanted to write about here in this blog, not to mention script and book projects that I haven’t had time to finish due to other priorities. I don’t like making excuses for not writing, but as I get older there’s just so much I can do in a day… and I have to be realistic about what I can achieve before time runs out.

In fact, the theme of time and aging pervades most of my life now — what I choose to do or not do, how I respond to movies, books or TV shows, who I hang out with or avoid. For instance, it’s tough listening to a much younger person talk about their success in the movie business after writing just one or two screenplays while you’ve been working at it for years. You wonder, why them and not you?

Rather than suck on sour grapes though, I actually try to learn from those younger success stories — up close and personal when possible. Last month, I took a weekend workshop with Nicholl Fellowship winner, Destin Daniel Cretton, who wrote and directed SHORT TERM 12, a highly-regarded indie film that landed on some Top 10 Movies lists last year. ST12 began life as a 21-minute short that made it into Sundance, and was based on his experiences as a staff worker in a group home for troubled foster kids who were aging out of the system.

Destin is a very humble, soft-spoken guy from Maui, with a very clear idea of who he is and what kind of films he wants to make. The University of Hawaii workshop was supposed to be about going from making shorts to features, which makes sense if you think about it. Yet that doesn’t seem to have been a conscious strategy on his part. In film school, he made some shorts on real film that got into some film festivals. The ones I saw were, well, what you might expect of a college student. Quirky, imaginative, obviously trying to make a statement about not succumbing to expectations or being like everyone else… and that’s his attitude towards life, I think.

The ST12 short is a big step up and much more mature in theme and technique. It’s easy to see why it did well at Sundance. He said he hadn’t thought about turning it into a feature script until after the short was done. That screenplay won a Nicholl Fellowship in 2010. I asked if he got a lot of meetings out of that. Surprisingly, he said no. Perhaps, it was because ST12 is a coming of age drama and didn’t fit the high concept mold that agents, managers and producers prefer.

However, that fellowship money allowed him to write and produce his first indie feature, I AM NOT A HIPSTER (available on Netflix instant streaming) which he says was the real turning point. And he made it for a grand total of $65,000! Because he had enlisted talented people who believed in his vision and project, they agreed to work for practically nothing. The payback came later for them when he was able to hire them for other projects. So that’s the first lesson I learned: find like-minded people with talent who are willing to work with you because they believe in what you’re doing as much as you do.

HIPSTER got him an agent at WME — I know, you don’t think of the most powerful talent agency in the world as being indie-friendly. Yet Destin says the WME agent he signed with understood him and hasn’t pressured him to take projects he wasn’t really interested in. That said, he did meet with people like J.J. Abrams at Bad Robot, and eventually landed a deal to write/direct THE GLASS CASTLE starring Jennifer Lawrence (after telling the producer what he felt was wrong with the script they had — and them passing on him initially). He also met with Matthew McConaughey, and described it as a somewhat surreal experience.

The biggest takeaway though is the simplest: find a way to make your own film. Start with a short, or a very short short if that’s all you can afford. My biggest regret as a writer is I didn’t pursue that angle from the beginning. I’ve got a lot of well-written scripts that will never see the light of the day… unless I try to make them myself. Now that digital cameras and editing software are available to anyone who wants to make movies, it’s much more doable even if you haven’t gone to film school or have little technical know-how. Heck, make your own movie trailers to show your vision and bait producers or agents into asking to see more!

Getting back to this blog theme, two recent movies I recommend — and one I don’t — all involve time and aging. I liked CHEF because it’s about a middle-aged guy who rediscovers his passion for cooking by leaving the restaurant biz behind and going on the road in a food truck with his son and a buddy. It’s a bit different too in that it doesn’t follow the usual 3-act/Save the Cat beats structure. And the ending is a little too tidy. Still, it was refreshing to watch something that was heartfelt and didn’t involve anyone shooting or killing each other for a change.

The other movie I really enjoyed was BEGIN AGAIN, which is similar to CHEF: Aging “has-been” record producer rediscovers his passion for indie music and bonds with his daughter in the process. Oh yeah, like CHEF too he gets back together with his ex-wife at the end… which isn’t very realistic, but gives you the warm and fuzzies. There’s a scene in the beginning that I loved: the drunk producer has been fired, stumbles into a bar where a young women is performing on stage solo. She’s shy, her voice is fragile… vulnerable. The crowd tunes her out —

But he sees something, hears something in her voice and words that no one else does… and we see what is going on in his head as instruments on stage start to play themselves in his mental song arrangement. The quiet little tune becomes a potential hit right before our eyes. That’s what a movie or music producer does. That’s what we do as writers/directors too. We see things and hear things in our head that no one else does. That’s what art is.

As for the movie I hated, it was that big budget high concept sci-fi aliens war movie, EDGE OF TOMORROW. I’ve written here before why I hate time travel movies/stories so I won’t rehash that rant. Suffice it to say, watching EDGE was like being stuck in a boring video game that makes you replay the same scenes over and over until you get to the next stage. If your main characters keep “dying” every couple of minutes, who cares when or if they really die at the end? Hell, I’m getting to an age where real death — aging relatives, friends, mentors — happens with more frequency each passing year, making what time I have left more precious. I don’t want to waste it on things that have no meaning to me.

Reasonable Facsimiles

December 6, 2013

Been awhile since my last post, mostly because I’ve been busy with my Career Changers TV show, and also because I haven’t had much motivation to blog about screenwriting or the entertainment biz in general. Lately, it feels like nearly everything I see on TV/movies, or read in “hot” scripts and amateur screenplays, or listen to that is supposed to be “new” music…. well, it all seems like pale imitations of better stuff that has been been amped up, dumbed down, and homogenized for a mass market with short term memories.

Okay, I know that’s a tired trope. And maybe it’s more of a reflection on how long I’ve been writing. As you get on in years, you can’t help comparing things you grew up liking with things that are in vogue. I suppose every generation thinks “their” art and creative ventures were more original than the next generation to come along. But it really hit home the past week on a personal level, causing me to ponder whether I still have the stomach for screenwriting in a business world dominated by the cold hard realities of commerce versus the idealistic notions I once had of creating art.

The clash of personal artistic ambition and what I do these days to make a buck came full circle last week in an unexpected venue: my¬† cameraman and I were shooting a segment on the Legends in Concerts Waikiki show, which features “tribute artists” who perform as Elvis, Britney Spears, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. The Chief Operating Officer of all the Legends shows worldwide, Brian Brigner, explained they don’t call them impersonators because of negative connotations associated with that word — i.e., con artists, drag queens who lip sync, comedians who do bad imitations of celebs, etc. In fact, these performers did all their own singing on stage, which has not always been the case with some of the stars they portray in the show who often rely on lip synching themselves because it is very difficult to dance, perform acrobatic moves and sing at the same time.

What made my interview with Brian even more interesting is that before he began working with Legends, he was managing and producing real music legends such as the Gatlin Brothers, Ronnie Milsap, and others who were huge country stars. He also had managed touring productions of big Broadway shows and ran live theater operations that offered a variety of “products” as he refers to shows and music acts. His start in show biz though came through the Indy car racing circuit… which actually makes sense. Fresh out of college, he decided he wanted to get involved with the business side of car racing, and that’s how he learned about marketing tie-ins to sponsors, packaging race car drivers as stars, putting people in seats, and so on. All the things you have to do in selling live theater shows — or movies for that matter.

I was really impressed with Brian’s professionalism and how smoothly the Legends show ran from start to finish. Everything was well organized, every performer and supporting cast member hit all their marks on cue, the band was note perfect, and the customers — mainland tourists, Australians, lots of Japanese — ate it up, squealing with delight when the look-alikes ventured into the audience to shake hands, kiss cheeks or accept a small stuffed koala bear as a token of appreciation for the Elvis imitator — er, tribute artist I mean. Truth be told, I enjoyed the show too.

But afterwards I flashed back to a script I wrote years ago that had been optioned by the writer of an iconic movie. I’ve blogged about what went down in the past, and the writer asked me to take his name out because he said there were some things that were inaccurate or might give the wrong impression of him. Rather than argue or ask which things I may have misremembered, I deleted those posts. Still, it was a script that to this day I believe was prescient and a smart commentary (or weird and bizarre at the very least) on the state of the entertainment biz back when I wrote it in the mid-1990s.

It was called I GOTTA BE ME and it was about a failed punk rocker stuck in a dead-end job, who becomes the poster boy for the ultimate “lifestyle makeover” company… which is really a front for a Disney-esque multimedia conglomerate whose real goal is to makeover entire cities, beginning with Hoboken, New Jersey, by brainwashing the residents into consuming their products from the cradle to the grave. That includes shows in which “look-alikes” replace dead stars to perpetuate the sales of their work, while remaking crappy TV shows and movies for a younger, dumber generation (they take over education and job training by privatizing government). The recycling metaphor is extended to how the corporation handles its biggest infrastructure headache: dealing with all the human waste produced by old people in Hoboken. So the CEO gets the brilliant idea of recycling shit into frozen yogurt, which they add an addictive ingredient to, then reselling it to the residents who produced it.

In my plot, the protag winds up in a Movie Coma, and the corporation replaces him with a look-alike — who does a better job of selling their product than the real guy. So they keep him in a coma, until he accidentally gets out of it and discovers the contract he signed allows them to use a Reasonable Facsimile of himself should he ever be unable to perform his duties as company spokesman/poster boy. When I look at the kind of scripts I’m currently trying to write to fit what I hear producers/agents/managers say they want, I start to wonder if I have become a Reasonable Facsimile of myself as a writer.

Needless to say, the writer/producer who optioned it was never able to get any traction with studios on the project. Yet when I look at the entertainment landscape today, I can’t help but think this is where we are and who we’ve become: mindless consumers who will swallow our own recycled crap if it’s dressed up with artificial flavorings, packaged in bright colors with cool graphics, and touted by the latest, hip celebs who get a piece of the action.

And you know why I was inspired to write this long, rambling missive? Last night I watched a documentary, GOOD OL’ FREDA, about the woman who was the Beatles’ secretary and fan club president for the 10 years they were together. Listening to her talk about the “lads” and seeing the old black and white photos of the four young guys made me yearn for a time when bands kind of just happened on their own, with no clear intention of conquering the music world or becoming a corporation unto themselves. They seemed so natural and authentic — the antithesis of music stars who aim for millions of YouTube views with each new release, regardless of how mediocre it is.

It got me to thinking about rock concerts back in the 60s and 70s, when bands and music events were often unpredictable, unruly affairs where nothing happened on schedule, musicians might be impaired or unable to perform… and even a bad show could seem special because you knew you were there to witness something unique. Sure, the band might flame out or never quite catch fire with the masses for whatever reason. But the glow from seeing the real thing — the originals — always stays with you.

Perseverance

August 2, 2013

“Congratulations!”

That’s the first word I saw when I clicked on the email that said “Academy Nicholl Fellowships Notification.” I had been so busy this week with my Career Changers TV show and other video projects, it had completely slipped my mind that the quarter-finalists were being announced. In prior years when I felt I had a good chance of making the first cut, I would anxiously check my mailbox each day before they switched over to emails.

Call me old-fashioned, but I preferred getting the news via U.S. mail. Picking up the envelope, feeling the weight (rejections were one page, advancing scripts had extra pages of info), opening the envelope… there was more drama than clicking an email. Still, I was pretty happy to see that out of 7,251 entries, my script was one of the 372 that scored high enough with two out of three readers to make the quarter-finals list.

It’s been a long time between placing in the Nicholl Fellowships for me. The prior two times with two different scripts, I didn’t get any farther in the competition, and making QF did not change my life. I’ve blogged about realistic expectations related to contests such as this one before, and noticed in the past couple of days there have been a lot of views of that old post.

The reason I wanted to share this year’s news is I blogged about the script I entered back in April, when I wrote about the Black List ratings service. Here’s a link to that piece. My “Lost in the Supermarket” script was an old coming of age drama/comedy that was semi-autobiographical. Some might call it a “soft” script with no commercial hook — not the type of thing that is likely to get interest from agents, managers or producers. There are script “consultants” out there who would tell you not to write this kind of story, unless you’re doing it for yourself.

And there’s some truth to that. I’ve pitched this script to my former manager, put it on InkTip, entered it in contests — including the Nicholl years ago — and didn’t get much love for it. But they say if you have a well written script, it’s often a matter of finding the right reader(s) at the right time. It takes a little luck.

I tweaked the script and revised a bit here and there over the years, while writing new stuff — specs I thought were more commercial (and got more requests from managers, prodcos too). Yet I never completely gave up on my Lost script because I knew the writing was good. The dialogue for each character was spot on — they each had their own voice. I also had a feeling that it had a better chance in the Nicholl because more and more writers are trying too hard to write the kind of movies that are being made… and dying at the box office because they lack soul and heart.

So what it means is at least two of three Nicholl readers in the first round really liked my script a lot for one reason or another. I got lucky — if they had been the Black List readers or some inexperienced reader, like the ones that do early round judging for other contests, I wouldn’t have made the cut. If you didn’t make it this year, don’t give up. Keep writing, don’t try to guess what readers are looking for… write something you can pick up years from now and still be proud of. Write something that is built to last.

The Continuing Adventures of Pineapple Man

July 6, 2011

Actually, “Pineapple Man” is the comic book creation of Sam Campos, an artist in Hawaii. I read about him in the local paper a few years ago, and had wanted to meet him for a couple of reasons: he was friends with Jason Scott Lee, an actor I envisioned as the meth-addicted murder suspect — and possible curse victim — in my INUGAMI Japanese werewolf script; and Sam was doing storyboard work on Hollywood movies. I thought maybe we could help each other with our mutual contacts, and perhaps collaborate on projects right here in Hawaii. But he went to L.A. for awhile and I wasn’t able to connect with him.

What brought us together recently was the Amazon Studio contest. He had been shooting/editing a no-budget superhero television pilot on his own, when he heard about the Amazon deal and considered entering his project because there was big prize money being offered. I happened to be looking for a storyboard artist to turn INUGAMI into a “test movie” for the AS contest, since that’s what they really seem to be looking for. That gave me an excuse to email Sam, and next thing you know we’re having coffee in Kailua and talking about our respective experiences with various managers and producers in Hollywood. In fact, he has kept his L.A. phone number because he says it’s hard to get movie work if they know you reside elsewhere.

After I explained to him that Amazon has some pretty restrictive conditions for test movie submissions, Sam realized he didn’t want to tie up his TV pilot project in their contest. But he was very interested in doing the art work for INUGAMI and my Amish horror spec, SNALLYGASTER, which made the Amazon Top 50 monthly semifinals list twice. As it happens, I’m in the process of adapting SNALLY into an ebook format for Ed Gray’s Aisle Seat Books venture, which was another Amazon Studios-related connection. Ed’s concept is to turn good screenplays into good ebook reads that retain the best elements of a page-turning script — but in a prose format that’s easier on the average reader. You won’t see large blocks of narrative or internal thoughts. The emphasis will be on action and dialogue, just as it is with most movies. Will there be a market for these script novelizations? I have no idea. I’m willing to take a shot at it though.

Sam’s approach to storyboarding is to first ask the writer to choose three key scenes that contain the best visuals you’d want to see on the big screen — sort of like a movie trailer. He also asked me to list actors I’d like to cast in starring roles so he had a clearer idea of the characters he was going to draw. Doing both exercises helped me see my own movie in sharper detail as well. Try it with your own script or book manuscript. It might change the way you view (or pitch) your story.

For the SNALLY ebook, I asked him to give me a quote on doing the cover art work. He started reading the script and emailed me to say how much he liked the writing, and that he could really see it as a movie… a big compliment since he’s worked on Hollywood productions before. His price was very reasonable too, so I told him he’s hired. Now I just have to adapt my script to meet Ed Gray’s guidelines. Oh, and the reason I decided to chance it with Ed is that he got Amazon Studio’s endorsement for adapting AS script entries into ebooks. They even said they’ll help promote the ebooks, which is no small thing. Will I make any money from this publishing experiment? Who knows. But I’m sure it will get more attention than if I tried to self-publish my script adaptations.

More importantly, the Amazon Studios contest experience has kicked my ass into another gear. I’m not just sitting around waiting to hear back from managers or producers or contests. I’m taking numbers, meeting with professionals in the TV and film biz here in Hawaii, and trying to make something happen on my own. And I’ve gotten more results in the past couple of months than I did in two years while being repped by a semi-famous manager. So bad-mouth Amazon or other screenwriting contests all you want… it still comes down to what you do to promote yourself, and your work.

The Shane Black Effect

May 26, 2011

I blame Shane Black for thousands of crappy action scripts, and coverage by professional script readers that mistake writers’ self-conscious asides for “voice.” Don’t get me wrong — I happen to think he’s a terrific screenwriter, which is why he can bend the rules. But when aspiring writers began trading LETHAL WEAPON scripts back in the day, I saw the unseemly aftermath: legions of Shane Black copycats, trying to emulate his style. Unfortunately, their clever bits directed at the script reader were more entertaining than the plot itself. Screenwriting became more about being “cool,” and less about visual story-telling. His success gave the lowly screenwriter rock star status.

Which is somewhat ironic if you’ve ever met him. He’s quite humble and self-effacing to the point of being ridiculously insecure about his own talent. Years ago, I was at the Maui Writers Conference when both Shane and Joe Eszterhas of BASIC INSTINCT fame were speakers. They really had a great line-up in those days, and the MWC screenwriting contest was judged by some very impressive movie/TV people as well. Anyhow, I had optioned a script to the co-writer of ROBOCOP, so I felt like I could strike up a conversation with Shane when I saw him walking by alone. I asked if his parents named him after the movie character in the Western, SHANE. He paused and said, “Oddly enough, no…” To be honest, I can’t recall what he said after that because I was pretty nervous just standing there talking to him.

Later, I spotted him sitting at the bar with Esterhas, a bear of a man who was the antithesis of Shane in almost every way. Since I’m a recovering alky, I bought a cola and sat across the bar from them with a couple of Shane and Joe wannabes. We tried to imagine what they could be chatting about over beers. We also calculated how much the two were worth from their recent multi-million dollar spec sales. Yes, those were heady times for screenwriters. And that’s why I blame Shane for all the lousy scripts that have been pouring into Hollywood ever since LETHAL WEAPON came out.

Before Shane rode into town, it was almost considered unprofessional to write self-indulgent stuff that winked at the reader or wasn’t directly related to the plot and characters. Relying heavily on dialogue to tell your story was considered bad screenwriting. It was said that you should be able to just read the narrative lines as if it was a silent movie and tell from the action on screen what was happening. But more and more, it seems like movie dialogue sounds like bad sit-com writing, where everyone is trying to come up with snarky putdowns and coin the latest celeb/reality show phrase du jour.

I understand the need to make the script read entertaining and fun. However, I try to save my best lines for the characters. Too many nudge-nudge writer asides take the reader out of the story, in my opinion. I’ve seen screenwriters do some funky formatting things too, which I admit looked kind of cool… but if the story is generic or derivative of movies we’ve already seen, there are no gimmicks that will make it any better.

Perhaps one of the best compliments I’ve ever received came from Charles Leavitt, who wrote BLOOD DIAMOND, K-PAX, THE MIGHTY (underrated, worth watching), plus other movies. A bankruptcy lawyer here in Honolulu knew Chuck through a family connection, and as a favor to me, asked him to take a look at my family/adventure spec about the mythical little people of Hawaii (MENEHUNES). The lawyer was also an aspiring screenwriter, who I had given notes to in the past. Against my advice, he sent Chuck a script that really wasn’t there yet… and when he got Chuck’s feedback, it said many of the same things I told my friend. Chuck didn’t pull any punches, so I was a little anxious about his critique of my script.

Months went by before I finally got an email from Chuck. He started out with the positives: “At least you know how to tell a story visually. That’s no small thing.” He proceeded to tell me that my dialogue and characters needed considerable work, although he thought the plot and structure were pretty solid. It wasn’t a glowing review, and he didn’t offer to show it to his agent or anyone in the biz. But I took solace in his opinion that my script didn’t totally suck.

InkTip: Waste or Worth It?

January 6, 2011

Recently I responded to a question on a screenwriting message board asking if InkTip.com was worth trying to promote your script. For $60 you get a six-month listing on the site, where your logline, synopsis and script can be read by industry professionals. I’ve used it before and gotten positive results, which I mentioned in my reply. The next writer posted: “InkTip is a complete waste of time and money.” Maybe for him… and maybe for you, depending on the type of script you have or whether your pitch is any good.

My philosophy for marketing scripts is simple: whatever works. The only way to find out though is by doing your research, then trying different approaches and venues. I’ve heard people say mass e-queries are stupid… and then you hear about someone who landed an agent or got a deal using one of those services (myself included). The same is true of InkTip. Granted, you’re not likely to have studio level execs or big agencies reading your stuff. What’s more likely is you will have smaller management companies or indie type prodcos looking at your logline and budget range info (your listing includes lots of categories to help producers search for projects that fit what they’re searching for).

If you have a “smaller,” more personal type script that’s a drama, quirky comedy, low budget horror or thriller, then InkTip might be a good fit for you. At $60 for six months, it’s not much more than entering a contest — and how many reads are you going to get from entering a competition? Possibly one and you’re done. Make it to the later rounds or finals of a contest, and you might get read by half a dozen judges who may or may not have some clout. Moreover, if your logline and synopsis isn’t getting many views on InkTip, that may tell you something needs tweaking in your pitch or requires a major overhaul of the concept.

As I said, I’ve made some good connections through InkTip. A few years ago, I listed my INUGAMI script and got a request from Ben Rock. Turned out he was one of the core BLAIR WITCH guys (he was credited as set designer) and was looking for horror projects to direct. BTW, he directed THE BURKETTSVILLE 7 companion piece documentary for cable, which I think is actually better than BLAIR WITCH. Stylistically, it reminded me of a creepy old real documentary called TITICUT FOLLIES about deplorable conditions in an insane asylum, crossed with Errol Morris documentaries (Ben said I “nailed it” when I told him that).

Ben liked INUGAMI a lot, and forwarded it to his manager… who then sent it to some of his studio contacts without telling me. They passed, but I remained in touch with that manager. Although I didn’t sign with him, he’ll still read my stuff, but he’s looking for very specific type scripts that he feels he can sell. In fact, he did sell a spec for a million bucks a couple of years ago and the movie got made by A-list people. Unfortunately, it bombed — and I wasn’t surprised because the manager had sent me the script before it was produced, and I felt it was a lame rip-off of other hitmen/hired assassin movies I had seen. Of course, I didn’t tell him that.

I’ve made contact with other producers as well through InkTip. Most recently, I listed my award-winning low budget script, THE DOLL… and yesterday I spent an hour on the phone with an upcoming actress and veteran director, who have formed their own prodco, and are very interested in producing my script. So is InkTip a waste of time and money? Not for me.

I’ll fill you in on more details about THE DOLL project and what’s happening in my next post. Wish me luck! And don’t listen to anyone who tells you what will or won’t work for you. Because the truth is many people know a few things about how to make it in the biz, but there are no set and dried rules for success. Try. Fail. Try again. Repeat as necessary.