BIZ TIP TUESDAY:

ATTACHMENTS


porkys - Buy it!

A few years ago FRONTLINE on PBS did a show called THE MONSTER THAT ATE HOLLYWOOD about how the film business has been taken over by non-creative types in suits. Peter Bart said that when he was at Paramount (70s,80s) a couple of guys who had actually read the script decided to greenlight a movie; now there are dozens of people involved in the decision including marketing, toy division, the guys in charge of fast food tie ins, plus other non-creatives... and none of them have even read the script! Movies are products made by giant corporations. These companies are more interested in safe investments than telling a good story. If you want your script to get made, there better be a big name star attached.

So, should we try to attach actors to our scripts?

Groucho Marx once said that he refused to join any club that would accept him as a member. You run into the same problem attaching actors to your script - The only actor that can help your script is one who can make a studio exec drop everything and write a check the minute they find out that actor is attached. That means it HAS to be a huge star. It HAS to be someone getting at least $10 million per film... and you'd be better off with one of those $25 million stars like Julia Roberts or Will Smith.

The A List Stars are A List Stars because they can get a film MADE... and that's exactly what you want. If you have a star attached to your screenplay it has to be a star that can get the film made... Kathy Bates is a great actress, she's an Academy Award winner, but she won't open a movie at a studio budget. People don't drop everything and stand in line to see Kathy Bates the way they stand in line to see Julia Roberts. You might have signed the greatest actor in the world, but this isn't about TALENT it's about BUSINESS. Will having the actor in the film sell tickets? Will it sell enough tickets so that making the film is a no brainer?

porkys - Buy it!

Kathy Bates probably can't do anything for your script. She can read it and like it, but not a single studio exec will really care if she's playing the lead. Having her attached to your project may even be a liability! Let's say she reads the script, loves it, passes it around.. and your script is gold... Doug Wick at Red Wagon (Sony) FLIPS over it! This is the perfect script for Julia Roberts! But Kathy Bates is ATTACHED to play the lead. Wick says: No deal. A script that's a hot property with Julia Roberts, is an interesting little Indie film with Kathy Bates... and interesting little Indie films don't always make money - again, this is about BUSINESS. So the script is dead. Dead BECAUSE a very talented non-A-list-movie-star is attached.

So, maybe you should just get your script to Julia Roberts? Many new writers think that is the solution to selling their screenplay - just get a big star attached. Hey, it's a great script with a great role for Julia Roberts! Of course she will want to star in the movie! But stars are STARS. They are very well protected from reading fan mail, let alone scripts. Everyone wants to get their script to some big movie star - Will Smith or George Clooney or Tom Hanks or Reese Witherspoon. They are almost impossible to connect with. They have people all around them. If you went to high school with Julia Roberts, you can probably get her a script. If she doesn't know you, you have almost no chance.

One good thing that might happen by having Kathy Bates attached to your script - she might attract other actors to the project... if you plan on producing the film yourself. Kathy Bates works if you are going the indie route and writing-directing-producing the film yourself - she'll probably help when you are looking for financing. That is attaching herself to a movie, and actors do that sometimes. But if you are just trying to sell your script and are looking for attachments? Actors seldom attach themselves to scripts from a writer. There are so many screenplays out there trying to get through the gates that the odds of yours being the one are slim. We want an actor attached because we think it will be easier to sell the script, and actor wants to attach themselves to a project because they think the project will get them employed. So they are looking for the *writer* with connections that *they* can take advantage of. The writer wants the actor to give them a boost over the wall and the actor wants a writer/project that will give *them* a boost over the wall.

CALL MY AGENT!

hcd - Buy it!

Trying to get to an actor through their agent or manager is not going to work, because those folks are getting scripts from studios and big producers... And those scripts have "firm offers" attached - money. Real money. Real money that the agent or manager gets 10% of. An agent or manager earns a percentage of what the star makes on a film, and if you are offering nothing but a great script, and a studio is offering $25 million plus about $10 million in perqs, well... which would you want 10% of? If your script doesn't have a "firm offer" attached - doesn't have money in place to pay the actor their quote - there is little chance your script will go anywhere other than the trash can.

Firm Offer: One of the problems you might run into trying to attach an actor to your script is... actors are *employees*, so it's all about what they are being paid. If you do not know an actor (or director) personally, their agent or manager will be most interested in what you plan on paying them. And maybe what you plan on paying them *to read the screenplay*. Sometimes there is a fee, designed to get rid of people who do not have the money to pay their client. Sometimes they want the money to pay their actor or director clients (millions, friends) in an escrow account before they will read. The problem is, if you do not have a personal relationship with the actor or director, you must approach them from the business side where it is all about money.

(Stars *will* attach themselves to a script for no money if a producer with a great track record offers it to them. This happens frequently, becauae that producer is going to make the film and there *is* going to be a check. If *I* said I was a producer (hey, I have a producer credit) and tried to attach a star - they'd laugh in my face. Or have their agent laugh in my face. Or have their agent's assistant laugh in my face. Because I am not much of a sure thing when it comes to finding the financing and getting the picture made (and the actor paid). I'm just a writer. Which brings us back to square one - getting our script to a producer who means some thing and will take it from there. The idea of finding some way to sneak past the front gates usually doesn't work!)

I think you'd be better off sending a series of personal, fun, amazingly well-written fan letters to develop a "relationship" with a hot up-and-coming actor... But then the problem is: at what point do you become a stalker? (You COULD get to meet members of LAPD's Threat Management Team, and that could spark a screenplay idea.) And stars have services that open and respond to fan letters, so the person you're really writing to is someone not that much different than you - a wanna-be actor or writer who is earning a living reading fan mail for a star and hoping the job might lead to something better... maybe they'll even meet the star some day!

I think sending fan letters to directors is probably easier. Not big famous directors, just great directors the general public has never heard of. No one in Ohio becomes a crazed stalker for Stephen Frears. Stephen Frears isn't getting MOUNTAINS of fan mail every day. Stephen Frears doesn't have to wear disguises to go to Ralphs Grocery. Stephen Frears doesn't have a bunch of people blowing smoke up his butt every day. And Stephen Frears can probably get a movie off the ground. Directors are great attachments!

Also look at other key crew members - cinematographers, composers, effects people - anyone who is critical in getting a film made. Then your script uses their connections.

PERSONAL CONTACTS

Buy The Poster!

If you have ANY chance of getting a script to an actor, it's going to be through some personal contact (that we can't really control). I have had Drew Barrymore sitting behind me at the Sunset 5 theaters a few times. I could have probably worked that into getting a script to her... but everybody she meets probably has a script. I'd have to build a personal relationship of some sort to get my script in the "to read" pile rather than the trash pile.

Attachments are important, but unless you have an existing relationship with a movie star it's unlikely you can get your script to a big enough star to mean anything. You should still try to develop connections - if you get a chance to get a script to Kathy Bates, go for it! (Just don't attach her as the lead.) It's more likely that your connections will be other people trying to break in. A friend with a day job as a secretary in a small agency is a great connection... and more likely than getting Julia Roberts attached to your script if she's never heard of you.

The best way to get a big star attached to your script? The old fashioned way. Write a great script. That way your little connections can begin passing your script up the ladder - and every rung of that ladder will think your script is so great they will keep passing it higher and higher and higher... until it gets to Doug Wick at Red Wagon (Sony) who buys it and sends it to Julia Roberts. Next thing you know, you've sold a script to the producer of GLADIATOR and SPY GAME that has Julia Roberts attached. My guess is all of those non-creative types will give your project a greenlight... even if they haven't read the script.

Producers buy screenplays, stars are just employees. Unless you can afford to hire a star, you are better off getting your script to producers (and agents and managers). If a producer reads your script and tells you they might be interested if a star was attached - that's a polite way of saying they did not like your script.

More on this in the new BREAKING IN Blue Book!


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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!

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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.

ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER?
AND ARE THEY THE RIGHT SCENES?

Your story is like a road trip... but where are you going? What's the best route to get there? What are the best sights to see along the way? Just as you plan a vacation instead of just jump in the car and start driving, it's a good idea to plan your story. An artist does sketches before breaking out the oils, so why shouldn't a writer do the same? This Blue Book looks at various outlining methods used by professional screenwriters like Wesley Strick, Paul Schrader, John August, and others... as well as a guest chapter on novel outlines. Plus a whole section on the Thematic Method of generating scenes and characters and other elements that will be part of your outline. The three stages of writing are: Pre-writing, Writing, and Rewriting... this book looks at that first stage and how to use it to improve your screenplays and novels.

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ALSO NEW!

DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!

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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.

IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?

Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

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BRAND NEW!

*** THE BOURNE MOVIES

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NEW!

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This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

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*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!

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*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


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SUBPLOTS?

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Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!

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Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR MOVIES *** - For Kindle!


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*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!

***

Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

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I WRITE PICTURES!

*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)


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BEST SELLER!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

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*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

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Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2018 by William C. Martell


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