Why I Passed On Your Screenplay

A Hollywood pro steps up to tell us how the TV/Film writing biz really works. Our suggestion is that you read it carefully and relish the insight this knowledge gives you.

by Tennyson E. Stead

For almost 10 years, I worked as a development executive for Unified Pictures and Exodus Film Group. One of my chief sources of income over the last year has been writing script coverage, writing development notes, and in general parsing screenplays for writers and producers. My friends, I have read a LOT of screenplays. If you’re an undiscovered screenwriter with more than three our four scripts out there on the market, there’s a fair chance I’ve covered you at some point.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a lot of discussion on Stage 32 about how and why institutional Hollywood has come to regard the overwhelming mountain of screenplays currently being produced by aspiring writers as a burden, rather than as an opportunity to discover the next great cinematic voice. Is it really even possible that the percentage of “bad writing” versus “good writing” is high enough to justify ignoring or throwing away literally an entire market full of spec scripts? How did we get here?

How the Spec Market Fell Apart

Most people working in development today, whether we’re talking about screenwriters, executives, or representation, did not come from a show business background, so we need to preface this conversation with the understanding that a huge majority of the people working in Hollywood today either don’t know or can’t articulate just what the hell is wrong with our development process. Most executives today come from business school, and most writers of substance come from a literary or journalistic background. To a literary or an advertising mindset, bad screenwriting is usually a problem of tone.

Nope. Good dramatic structure is about action, motivation, and conflict – scene work, in other words – just as surely as it is about act breaks and turning points. Most actors, directors, and writers who come from a classical performance background know these practices as a matter of habit, and we usually take it for granted that Hollywood greenlights productions with an eye constantly cast towards the fundamentals of drama. Because the vast majority of writers, executives, agents and managers never actually learned those fundamentals in the first place….

Read it all at stage32.com

 

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 Writing Contest Countdown

The 28th running of our PEOPLE’S PILOT Script Writing Contest ends in less that 2 weeks, at 10:00 pm Pacific TimeNovember 1st.

Over $20,000 worth of prizes and bonuses, including free feedback & TVWriter™ founder Larry Brody’s Storytelling Patterns e-booklet await all entrants + $$$,  free classes, LB mentoring, & more interweb goodies for winners.

For all the info, CLICK HERE

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Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #68 – “Ch-Ch-Changes”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

by Larry Brody

Doug the Dog Breeder’s recent comments about patterns of behavior have gotten me thinking about the animals at Cloud Creek Ranch.

Common wisdom says animals in general are creatures of habit. But Brody experience says, “Not the dogs, cats, and chickens here. For them, change has become the order of the day—as of this week.

Take our dogs, for example.

For over three years, since the birth of Decker the Gentle Giant and Belle the Wary, the dogs had the same morning pattern. At seven o’clock, after I fed the horses, I would let the two younger dogs out of their yard and they would run into the house with me to join their mother, Emmy the Bold, for breakfast.

Emmy always finished first. Then she and whichever of her kids ate the quickest would rush to the door so I could let them out to roam the woods for about an hour.

The remaining dog—usually Belle—would curl up on the couch until the others returned. As soon as I opened the door, Decker, run ragged by his super-energetic mom, would shove his massive way inside and Belle, like his partner in a tag team match, would take his place, going back into the woods with her mother.

This week, though, Belle has proved herself the Queen of Creative Thinking.

Instead of coming in for breakfast and trying to rush her food down in a usually futile attempt to eat faster than her brother, now she stays outside and waits for Emmy to join her. Then off they go.

“Food?” Belle says. “Who needs it? I’ve got first dibs on the action!”

Then there’s the cats. Thei change in behavior looks to have been a joint decision of Baggy, the twenty-five pound look-alike of Fantasia’s hippo ballerinas, and Roberto El Gato, the tuxedo cat who never has let anyone but Gwen the Beautiful touch him.

(Actually, no one’s ever even seen him but Gwen, Youngest Daughter Amber, and me. That’s what being born in a box alongside a busy freeway does to even the bravest of critters.)

For almost five years, the two cats were for all practical purposes the owners of the back of our house, as anyone with a working sense of smell could attest. The guest room, downstairs bathroom, hallway, and laundry room were their domain, and neither cat so much as ventured beyond an invisible boundary line.

Imagine my surprise, then, when this week they decided to broaden their horizons.

Suddenly they’re everywhere. Splashing papers off the partners desk Gwen and I share. Taking over as centerpieces on the dining table. Sprawling across Gwen’s pillow in the evening. (They still won’t touch mine, which has taught me to be grateful for small mercies.)

What made them change the pattern? I don’t have a clue. Maybe they just did it because they could. Or maybe they did it to prove they could. Or maybe they’ve been talking to Belle.

Then there’s the chickens’ new behavior. For years the same thing happened every time I entered their domain. They’d cackle and flutter and flap themselves out of my way, eating the bread I threw only if I threw it farther than my shadow.

All except the old brood hen. She would sit in the coop, atop the day’s eggs, and sing and sigh and spread her feathers so I could pick her up, pet her, and take away those yummy little omelet makers.

When the hen died last year the next hen in line replaced her but would have no part of me. The sight of me would make her shriek and puff herself up and fly from the nest, abandoning the future kids and “saving” herself.

Ah, but this week it’s a whole new ballgame. I walk into the chicken yard and the chickens come swarming to me. Not only do they not care how far I throw the bread, they clamber all over my feet to get at it.

And the new brood hen! She sees me and sings and sighs and spreads her feathers. When I reach down to her she draws herself up into my arms and vibrates as though purring. “What’s mine is yours!” I hear her say. “Take whatever you want.”

Humans are special? Isn’t that the usual thing we humans say? That we’re the only animals who can grab the bull by the horns and initiate the kind of change they hope will improve their lives?

Not here on the mountain top above Cloud Creek.

Not this week anyway.

10 Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – Oct. 21, 2019

Happy Monday morning everybody!

Hope your weekend has been a great one. Time now for TVWriter™’s latest look at our most popular blog posts and resource pages during the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

How To Write The Perfect TV Series Review To Captivate Your Readers

Writing the Dreaded Outline

‘The Following’ Season 4 was Cancelled by Fox Because the TV Series Became a Victim of Lazy Writing!

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 Writing Contest

Corporal Punishment and Primetime TV

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT – Enter

Tyler Perry Tells Us How to Become a Famous Writer

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

Empty Promises: My experience submitting scripts to Amazon Studios

Why I Live in Port Townsend, WA

Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Stephanie Bourbon on How Writers Can Find Their Creative Selves

What does it really mean to be true to yourself? For that matter, who the heck is your true self? Clearly, this is a tough question for everybody, but writers seem especially prone to engaging in the search.

Sit back and click, young Jedi, as Stephanie Bourbon steps forward to help guide you through the maze

Stephanie’s YouTube Channel is HERE

And her Story Concierge website chock full of further instruction is HERE


Former Larry Brody student Stephanie Olivieri Bourbon has found great success as a writer and illustrator. Now she’s branching out into video with a series of extremely helpful ones about – surprise! – writing and illustrating.