Dreams do come true. Sometimes as dreamily as we’ve imagined them. Sometimes a little less or even more so. Here’s how Ken Miyamoto made his dream happen:
by Ken Miyamoto
Seeing your screenplay produced is the ultimate goal for every screenwriter.
It’s one thing to win a contest, get representation, sign that first option contract, and get that first check for either a script sale or writing assignment—but the final summit is actually seeing a studio produce your screenplay with a name cast.
It doesn’t happen often. Most working screenwriters make money off of spec scripts and assignments that never make it to the big screen or television.
Here we offer a ground-level, in the trenches perspective from a screenwriter—me—that saw his screenplay go from page to screen. I’ll share the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the process to give all up-and-coming screenwriters a real-world look into what it’s really like to be a screenwriter—and how it really feels to see your work produced by Hollywood.
The purpose is to showcase a story apart from the glitz and glamour that we read about with the top 1 percent screenwriters making big paychecks and working with A-List talent. 99 percent of the other working screenwriters out there have a much different experience.
This one was mine.
I had worked in the film and television industry for years—but on the studio end of things. I moved to California from my home state of Wisconsin with hopes and dreams of becoming a professional screenwriter. When my wife and I relocated to our second apartment, we blindly selected one in Culver City. To our surprise—and my utter glee—the apartment was located just across the street from Sony Studios. The former home of MGM.
I wanted—no, I needed to work behind those walls. After weeks upon weeks of failed attempts to secure a Sony job through their employment website, I walked up to a Sony security gate and asked the guard, “How do I get a job here?”
Two weeks later, I was a Sony security guard. I worked my way into the VIP parking lot and enjoyed months of seeing and talking to Hollywood elite.
I then worked my way out of the Sony security uniform and into an office position where I later became a studio liaison working with incoming film and television productions. From there I networked and got into Sony development as a script reader and story analyst—all while honing my own screenwriting skills on the side.
I later left my studio position to raise our newborn son while writing at home. I managed to secure representation from my first notable screenplay and found myself invited to multiple meetings at Sony, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Bros, and Disney.
But priorities changed after nothing came from those meetings. We decided to move back to Wisconsin to raise our son closer to family. Ironically enough, I managed to sign my first contract after moving 2000 miles away from Los Angeles. My deal with Lionsgate was going strong until the one-two punch of the economic crisis and the Writers Guild strike of 2007/2008 hit.
I continued to write but the industry was left in such turmoil in the months and years that followed.
The Right Place at the Right Time
I was mentoring a group of screenwriters based in Wisconsin when I received an email from a producer and executive in Los Angeles. He had offered to help me and the group in any way, being a Wisconsin native himself. I pitched him my scripts and signed a release for him to read them. Long story short, he was impressed and offered me my first writing assignment…
Read it all at moviemaker.com