PRIMETIME: Living in L.A., Submitting to Websites– Rebuttals and Guest Thoughts

I wanted to take today to respond to some emails and comments from over the past few weeks.

First up… Scott Manville.

Scott Manville’s (tvfilmrights.com) responded to last week’s post about submitting scripts through websites and similar services.  I had said submitting to websites was a waste of time, but Scott– who runs tvfilmrights.com, came back with an insightful rebuttal on why this may not be true.  So thanks, Scott, for the great comment and explanation… very helpful.

I have no problem with tvfilmrights.com’s right to exist or attempt to come up with new ways of finding Hollywood content.  What I have a problem with is services that tell writers these ways are just as good as coming to L.A., getting a job in the industry, pumping out material, having that material ripped to shreds and starting again, networking, building relationships, etc.

They’re not.

Websites, services, and contests may be an alternative to traditional paths, but only in the same way that playing the lottery each morning is an alternative to getting a job.  Is the lottery a “legitimate” way to make money?  Sure.  Is it practical, reliable, or realistic?…  No.

You can submit to websites and contests if you want... but you probably won't get where you're going.

You may have execs, agents, and producers coming to you looking for content, and that’s fine.  Having been an exec, I can say that most execs, agents, and producers are desperate and eager to find new content sources, so they’ll eagerly investigate any place that offers possible stories.  (As an exec, I would often check out with similar services, because you never know where a great story will come from.  [I remember working with one called PilotProject.com.]  But not only did most not last long, they rarely had good material.  And unless a “source” has a consistently high batting average of providing stellar material, you have no choice but to move on quickly to greener pastures.)

But execs also have very limited time… which is why they continually return to trusted contacts (reliable agents, managers, producers, etc.) where they repeatedly get solid material.

So while the Internet is certainly offering new opportunities to creators, buyers, and sellers alike—it will never (any time soon) be a replacement for how 99.99 percent of Hollywood finds content: by talking to colleagues, sharing material, relying on trusted associates who share your sensibilities.

So is it a triumph for a service like tvfilmrights.com to have had some success getting undiscovered material to execs, agents, producers?  Sure—I totally applaud that.

But that doesn’t make it a reasonable way for aspiring writers or producers to LAUNCH A CAREER.

The stories we hear of people who sell things via websites, contests, etc., are flukes; they’re not indicative of how Hollywood works… or, most likely, will ever work.  And while we all love to hear inspirational stories, it’s not really an advisable way to LAUNCH A CAREER.  (After all, the reason they’re inspirational is because they’re flukes.  How many people want to read stories of writers who spent years as assistants, fetching coffee, reading scripts, writing their own material, getting rejected, taking any little writing job they could find… until they finally got a break?  What people like hearing—and what fuels so many dangerous illusions—are stories of anomalies.)

If you want to launch a career, you are best served by following professional paths.

If you want to be a hobbyist, submitting to contests and websites, that’s fine… just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re building a career—any more than a guy who buys a lottery ticket every day is “supporting his family.”

(And for the record—I have no problem with hobbyists.  I’ve written extensively that I believe everyone should be writing… whether journals, poetry, screenplays, essays, comic books, jokes, plays, whatever.  Writing makes you a better person, a better artist… it’s creatively fulfilling… and, hopefully, puts great literature into the world.  But if you don’t want to take the industry seriously and follow professional paths, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re building a career.)

Next up… Nicholas Iandolo…

…who responded to my November 5th post about whether or not screenwriters must live in L.A.

“As the author of the book ‘Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!,’” Nicholas “totally disagreed with me” when I suggested that yes—aspiring writers needed to live in L.A. if they had serious hopes of launching a career.

Well, it’s pretty powerful being disagreed with by another published author… but what Nicholas failed to mention was that he’s a SELF-PUBLISHED author.

Now, this is not meant to disparage self-publishers.  There’s a huge value to self-publishing, and those who do it must often work harder and learn more about selling, marketing, and promoting a book than authors who publish with a house that has established marketing and promotional departments.

Is a self-published author qualified to give professional advice and insight on PR and marketing your own book?  Quite possibly.  Is he qualified to give advice on self-promotion and becoming an entrepreneur?  Perhaps.  Is he even qualified to write, like Nicholas does, about overcoming writers block, finishing projects, getting inspired?  Probably!

But is an unproduced screenwriter who’s never worked in the industry or sold a screenplay—and who selfpublishes a screenwriting book—qualified to give “professional” advice on how to break into Hollywood?…

Not a chance.

And lest you think I’m picking on you unfairly, Nicholas, I’ll point out that you came onto this blog, voluntarily, not only to disagree with me (which is welcomed), but to promote your book… including a link to buy it.  And I have absolutely no problem with that… but it does open the door for me to respond.  And when I smell bullshit—especially from someone offering unqualified disagreements—I call bullshit.  And I am calling MAJOR BULLSHIT.

There’s often a difference between what aspirants, even talented aspirants, WANT to be true… and what IS true.

And I have to wonder: of all the people who disagreed with me so vehemently, how many of them—including Nicholas—have WORKED PROFESSIONALLY in the entertainment industry?

And if they haven’t… why are they refuting professional advice or experience?

(And to be clear… putting shorts online does not make you a professional.  Submitting one hundred screenplays to the Nicholls Fellowship does not make you a professional.  Producing an indie feature that gets into festivals does not make you a professional.  Being a “professional” means working in some PAID CAPACITY in the entertainment industry.  That’s not to say making online shorts or submitting to the Nicholls or getting into festivals isn’t valuable.  It’s all incredibly valuable.  They’re great learning tools, terrific stepping stones along the path to becoming a professional.)

And for the record—not being a professional doesn’t mean you’re not talented.  You can sit in a cabin in Louisiana and write the greatest 30 Rock spec ever written.  You can be in Alaska and compose a brilliant screenplay.  But until you’re staffed… or sell a script… or get a job as a paid producer, writer, manager, exec, agent, assistant, whatever… YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL.

Also for the record—there’s a difference between being successful and being a professional.  I am nowhere near the most successful writer or producer in Hollywood.  There are hundreds of more talented and successful people out here than me.  But I have spent twelve years working professionally in this industry.  As a writer/producer, I’ve written or produced on over ten shows—scripted, reality, broadcast, cable, Internet.  As an exec, I’ve covered countless projects, scripts, pilots, and series.  And that gives me a certain amount of experience to back up the advice I offer.  It doesn’t mean I’m always right.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have to take my advice.  You don’t even have to believe it.  But unless you have your own professional experience to back it up, you can’t REFUTE it.

Having said all this, Nicholas…

I’ll make you a deal.

Your book may be the best screenwriting book ever written, the best motivational tool ever devised.  I haven’t read it– so I have no idea.  But I’d love to take a look.  If I like it, if I find it valuable, I’ll review it and promote it here, complete with artwork and a link for people to buy it.

In the mean time, I don’t want anyone to just take my advice– or discard it– at face value.  After all, Hollywood is filled with people more talented and successful than I am… so I figured I’d get thoughts on these questions from some other professionals out here.  Do screenwriters have to live in L.A.?  Is the Internet a viable way to break in?  Are contact and relationships really necessary to launch a career?

Here’s what some other writers, agents, execs, producers, and managers had to say…

Do you have to be in Los Angeles to launch a writing career?

From Dean Ward, screenwriter/producer (Let Me In, I Hear Laughter (HBO); Tow Truck (The Weinstein Company); Talk Soup; Penn & Teller: Bullshit)

A few years back, I actually decided to move back to Boston after five years in L.A.  By that point, I had been an assistant at Dreamworks and New Line, worked on several TV shows, and sold a documentary to HBO.  I figured I had enough experience and contacts to make things work from the East Coast.  After ten months, I packed up and moved back to L.A.  It was only then that I finally sold a feature and things started picking up.  I’m not saying it can never be done from a distance, because there are certainly examples to the contrary.  But you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I want to pursue this career in Los Angles and face difficult odds, or stay where I am and face nearly impossible odds?’

From Aaron Kogan, talent and literary manager, The Operating Room…

Can you do painting from anywhere in the world?  Sure.  Can you write a book?  Sure.  Those are finished products.  A screenplay is not a finished product.  It’s a blueprint.  It requires other people to bring it to fruition; someone has to look at it and say, “I see what this can become.”  And if you’re not here to make that case, it’s much more of an uphill battle.

More importantly, script sales are only a small percentage of paid writing work in this business.  The biggest upside of writing a piece of original material is NOT selling it… but writing something that opens the door for someone to want to meet you and—based on meeting you and what you’ve written—say, “This is someone I might consider paying to write something else.”  If you even want a shot at those opportunities, you have to be here.

Brendan Clifford, writers assistant (Lil’ Bush, The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show)

Even after four years of establishing myself and building a good resume in LA, when I’m not working and leave LA, it is impossible to find work. Every job wants to see you in person within a few days, or they think you’re not serious or don’t care.

I have a writer friend I get jealous of sometimes.  He works a few days a week at a restaurant and writes the rest of the week. He pays his bills. He has lots of scripts. But he has no connections. I’d love to have less stress and more time in my life, but at a certain point, if you want to be in this world, you have to be in it, you can’t be sitting outside of it. You can spend your life writing anywhere, but if you have no one to show [your work] to who can help you, you have nothing.  Being a screenwriter (small or big screen) does not start and end with your computer. Anyone who thinks it can, will, or should, is in the wrong field.

Is the Internet– submitting to online websites and contests, or even producing Internet content– a legitimate way for non-L.A. writers to get noticed and break into Hollywood?

From Rich Hull, producer (She’s All That, Daddy Day Camp, Tenure), executive (Warner Brothers, Blowtorch), author (Dancing With Digital Natives: Staying in Step With the Generation That’s Transforming the Way Business Is Done)

All the available digital tools are just delivery devices.  So if you’re already writing a script for a studio, then the digital devices today allow you to do that from almost anywhere.  However, Hollywood is a closed club, and there are a lot of people trying to get in.  So digital can’t replace the art of meeting an agent at a party, having lunch with a studio exec, or being able to take a meeting on two hours notice.

From Doug McKay, creative executive, Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan, Zodiac, Shutter Island)

People need to realize there is such a large influx of material coming in to studios and production companies, emails or scripts submitted via websites simply get overlooked.  Many projects we have in development come from reading a spec script we liked but weren’t interesting in making.  We sit down with the writer and hash over other ideas, often coming up with one that works for all of us.  The Internet is an efficient device for sending scripts back and forth, but it doesn’t come close to the value of sitting in a room with someone, talking about ideas and trying to find a project to develop together.

From Gil Cunha, writer/producer (The Hollywood Show (Comedy Central pilot); This is Hollywood? (AMC pilot); The Woody Wittman Show (Comedy.com)…

Several years ago, my partner and I started a website satirizing Hollywood.  One week after we launched, we were contacted by Robert Morton, former executive producer of The Late Show with David Letterman.  A few days later, we were having lunch with Robert and talking about a show he was developing with Jenny McCarthy.  We were also contacted by Brian Unger, former correspondent for The Daily Show, who liked our website and had a development deal at Comedy Central.  Weeks later, we had an agent at William Morris and were working on a pilot. If we weren’t living in Los Angeles, we would have missed those amazing opportunities.

You can write for the web from anywhere.  But is there enough money to have a successful career?  It seems to me… you’d be better off in L.A., working on a web series that has potential to become TV show.  The director of the show I’m currently on just showed us a five-minute web sitcom he shot and produced.  It was funded entirely by a major Hollywood studio… a studio he would have had no access to outside of L.A.  Bottom line: if you’re serious about becoming a writer, moving to L.A. is the smartest thing you could do.

From Ryan Saul, feature agent (APA)

You can launch a career from anywhere, but to nurture that career, you need to be able to drop everything for a studio or producer to meet with you.  Technology allows video conference, file sharing, writing from across the globe, but there is nothing like sitting down with someone looking them in the eye, and gauging a reaction while they are pitching or trying to get a job.

From Ed Crasnick, writer/producer (Raising Dad, Win Ben Stein’s Money (Emmy-winner), Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, The Writers Room (Sony Crackle), This Week In Comedy with Ed Crasnick)

Absolutely, the Internet can help create a world for anyone.  Whatever vision you have, you can now export it for all the world to see.  Any writer must learn to film and edit their own work.  And when I say ‘writer,’ I mean ME.

Make things.  Shorts, web videos, plays, anything.  Write.  Have people read your work and read theirs.  Read Network.  Have a casting party; put it in a living room or on a stage.  Cut together a reel of clips that inspire you.  Shoot a moment from your screenplay.

Anytime you can create and stay in your pajamas is a good day.  That’s the beauty of the Internet.  So let’s recap… you make it big, stay where you are, and then you can hire me.  And I’ll move where you are… in my pajamas.

37 thoughts on “PRIMETIME: Living in L.A., Submitting to Websites– Rebuttals and Guest Thoughts

  1. Pingback: PRIMETIME: Does Hollywood Have a Place For Teen Screenwriters? « News And Events « American Screenwriters Association

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  3. David Ashutosh

    I have a more in between view on some of the ideas stated. I have been studying the craft of writing and there are elements I have far more time and energy to do out of L.A. than in L.A. because of access to more affordable and comfortable housing than I may find in L.A. were I to just put myself there. I also have access to friends who are serious professionals in the field in one form or other, including a professional writer who lives in another country and who has been instrumental in my efforts to develop a certain skill set.

    I have lived in NYC and built up life experiences and insight and I am living currently in a more suburban area which is allowing me further insight and life experiences with which to draw upon. As a writer i have heard from many sources that such experiences are fundamental to writing well. Experiences of being in a more conservative environment have me see things differently in contrast to living in NYC. Having met various folks and traveled a bit the last number of years and had a lot of conversations with people throughout the country and some internationally has helped shape my perspective of the marketplace and of characters which may be interesting to write about and/or settings.

    To me it seems instrumental to have writers with a varied background in life to draw from. Ultimately however, I think there will come a point where it will be time for me to move to L.A. and I have known this for years. Friends have said I could do it outside of L.A. and for one show or other I have thought about, I have figured maybe somehow that would work. However, I have had that sense that at a certain point I will need to be in L.A. both to understand and be further into things.

    In different fields I have worked in I have often had a slightly different approach and I have often been paid more at times when I am paid because I have drawn on more research.

    Being around screenwriting sites has had me have some respect for different people on there and also to see just where many/most of the people are with their interests. They are more in a studying place and testing the waters, and bumping around and at some point if they are serious they too will likely have to either not write for TV or move to LA. I have been disappointed with a lot of the writing quality. But sometimes seeing those scripts has been useful in showing me what not to do, or showing me where a writer is strong and where they are weak in ways I may not have seen so easily otherwise. Seeing poorly written scripts that I connect to more than technically sound scripts for example. I have appreciated some of that experience.

    There is the technical side of the craft of writing and then the heart of writing. The soul of it. Living in LA or NYC or suburbia or a rural area gives one main view of life. Living in a place which one adapts to can often have someone not see the other areas and their strengths and weaknesses.

    If a person starts their writing journey as soon as they know they want to write by moving to LA and learning there and thinking there it seems it creates a sort of boxed psychology. Parents are not usually there, Grandparents are not usually there, etc… unless one grew up there and/or family migrated. It isn’t the same to just vacation as to live around family especially if one is going to write family drama. Or to get some exposure to a certain kind of character that may come in one’s own family or group of friends one grew up with that they would not be around in L.A. so easily as the instinctive connection would not be there. There is an element of knowing the self and the cycles of life and the evolution of community that comes with a lot of that. All of that comes into play when working to write about such things. As does insight with nieces and nephews, especially if one does not have children of their own.

    Yes it is important to meet and network within the industry, but it is also important to meet and interact with people outside the industry as well. Also periods away from L.A. may be useful for some writers for extended periods to offer perspective and new energy beyond just a vacation.

    I don’t have official stats on all this as far as writers and when they moved to L.A. but I think it is worth consideration. I do know that Alan Ball was 37 when he was writing for Grace under Fire, his first series. He was not 21. He didn’t rush into screenwriting. His later work on Six Feet Under and True Blood as well as his film American Beauty got him a lot of respect. So maybe when he was really ready to dig into writing he was there, but I don’t know what all led up to things prior.

    I think taking jobs outside of writing can be part of a calculated education and I think living outside of L.A. can be part of a calculated diverse rich and valuable education which can make one more competitive when one actually arrives. I am not a professional screenwriter at this point working in the industry.

    I question the ‘write write write’ mentality quite a bit in that I have seen folks who seem to have little to draw on personally. Script consultants and analysts talk about the ‘inner journey’ which I think comes from understanding psychology and philosophy. I think education of such things helps and is important and struggling to write and work and network all at once may not be the answer so much as focusing on the layers of education and doing some writing and then evolving into the field. ie. much like baking, it is sometimes the order of things and we don’t just throw things in the oven. or with architecture, it is not just the elements thrown together, it is them constructed carefully after a plan has been made.

    I think there are different paths for different writers. Some may have the vision to write and go through the military and learn there about things that they would not learn so quickly or easily from a book. One friend has extensive experience in a field and is now studying writing. He has a lot to draw from beyond what others may. He and I share notes. His plan is not for television. Also his plan is not to make a full time career out of it so much as maybe a few projects. Plenty of people do that with film. Not as many perhaps with TV.

    I have interacted with a guy who writes for a tv drama series and certainly does some back and forth to LA. I know for myself I don’t like back and forth. I would want to live close to where I would be working. I don’t love to travel which is another reason why in my case spending time living in locations for brief and/or extended periods has been good for me.

    I think there is value to trusting one’s gut in life and sometimes things are a crap shoot that is calculated as one stated. I am definitely one for strategy. Also one who appreciates strange life processes. Steve Jobs did not get where he did through traditional routes. But he followed some instinct. So much of screenwriting is heavily developed based on the work of Joseph Campbell who coined the phrase ‘follow your bliss’ and went on to say ‘doors will open where you would not have thought there would be a door and where there would not have been one for anybody else.’ A lot is also based on Jung’s work who was a mystic and followed his own strange inner wanderings.

    Screenwriting for TV especially is a strange mix of personal art and collaboration, business, etc… but the art that often gets the most attention and acclaim comes from somewhere within. If that somewhere within is saying don’t go to LA yet, then maybe that is worth listening to. And maybe one won’t be a screenwriter for TV, or maybe you will be and it will be part of that Labyrinth.

    We all (or most?) have intellect and instinct on some level. Instincts are not always right clearly, but intellect often doesn’t bring the same magic that listening to intuition does. Perhaps that is where the inquiry of intuition vs. instinct comes in. That said when I listen to the successful screenwriters and/or read about them, those whose work I am compelled by, they often talk about that coming together and use of intuition. So I am inclined to listen to them as much or more than someone who is working, but not as successfully as they are.

  4. Chris Grooms

    As a musician and a writer both and having moved to various cities and failed to move and survive to various others (Seattle/Boston/Chatanooga/etc) from experience I can testify that in this day and age it’s not any easier than it was 10 years ago. It’s actually ten times harder, if not more. I think everyone also needs to adjust to the fact that, this is the information age. We are there. People are easily being creative cooperatively over long distances. We can share information in a heart beat. Record companies are not grasping this new age and embracing it – and they are failing because of it. So, I think that film companies need to do the same and so do agents – to find material. Not everyone can move to LA. There are only so many jobs and let’s be realistic. You can’t really survive in LA working at Starbucks.

  5. Scott Manville

    Chad-

    Thanks for the follow up, and kind words of acknowledgement. You can’t deny it- rubbing elbows is the best way to open minds to any Writer’s work, and a must-do to build any real career. But it is critical to have alternative methods of sharing work.

    My own experiences running development for Merv Griffin and working with producers like Robert Kosberg, Orly Adelson, and the various net execs we developed project with is that incredible stories and great conceptualizing can and does come from all corners of the country. I’ve only seen execs (Senior and lower-level) scurry for a hot project, not caring where it comes from. BUT, yes, I still agree with you that a writer really needs to be in town to have a career. In the meanwhile, why not have a reason to move to town by having projects in play and a handful of great connections. If I knew that decision makers were scouting “ideas” and specs online, I’d jump at any chance to get material reviewed by them.

    At our sister-site http://www.tvwritersvault.com we have 7 executives from 20th Century Fox TV, including two Senior VP’s. At http://www.tvfilmrights.com we have 4 executives from Fox, including a Sr. VP at Fox TV Studios. I did mention before that our first project sold was picked up by Fox TV Studios. Even without an option deal, or pilot order, a new writer on the other side of the country being able to have those people click, view their work, and make direct requests can only help their networking and learning. From the activity I’ve seen from this and other Networks, Production Companies, and Agencies, its really just an efficient way to look for that diamond in the rough. And they are finding them.

    I wouldn’t call it a “lottery ticket”…. maybe a calculated crap shoot is closer in my book. The craft and various elements do play a part in any project’s bid for success. We may be a spoke on the wheel, but we do keep the balance, and I hope our service assists in moving things forward for all involved.

    Wishing you good things in the New Year.

    Best,
    Scott
    http://www.scottmanville.com

  6. Sam

    Blair, I don’t think you get the difference — Los Angeles is where the decision was made to shoot in Chicago and ultimately make that film available to be watched on a plane. The people involved in those decisions don’t live in Chicago and probably weren’t on that plane. There are only a few places called Disney, WB, Fox, Universal, Sony, Paramount, Dreamworks, and Lionsgate. The people who work in those offices primarily live and work out of one city. Just like on Broadway.

  7. Jessica

    I agree. I think it is possible to make it without living in Los Angeles, BUT chances greatly increase if you are where all the action is. IF you have absolutely no desire to move to LA then do everything you can where you are first. On the other hand, if you are like me and in the final stages of preparing to move because you want to…then move and see what happens. Both paths involve risks and neither path can guarantee success so just keep writing, stay heavily involved in your community’s writing scene and live with your choices because the choice is yours and you are the one who has to be happy with it.

  8. Blair

    Sam, with all due respect, that analogy is very weak. Being “on Broadway” means living in NY because Broadway is IN New York. Films, however, are EVERYWHERE (I just saw one on my computer on the way to work in Chicago!). Furthermore, films are FILMED everywhere (Chicago included) whereas Broadway, once again, is in NYC only. Get the difference?

    I know the whole point of this rabble is to disavow those not living in L.A. not find another career but I think I might just try it anyway… maybe, in the end, talent over proximity will win out. Fingers crossed.

  9. Sam

    I recently realized how simple this whole question of moving to Hollywood is.

    If you wanted to be on Broadway, you would move to New York without question.

    Yes, you could find a way to dance in your home town. You’d be encouraged to do that before making the move. You would have been training for years, too, before making that move. Maybe having a private voice teacher or taking extra dance lessons. If you told your friends you wanted to be on Broadway, they would encourage you to move for your career. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a chance.

    There’s no difference with wanting to be “on Broadway” or “in Hollywood” when it comes to where you have to live. You don’t have to live on Broadway or in Hollywood, but you do need to be close enough to drive there to give yourself the best possible chance.

  10. Bill Chernin

    This has all gotten very interesting, and a line of dialogue that’s been running through my head for a few days seems appropriate: “There are only two things that matter in this life: What a man can do, and what a man can’t do.”
    We’ll all be proven right or wrong at the end of the day by this, I think.
    Can anybody remember who said it? I think it might have been Clint Eastwood in the Unforgiven.
    Thanks, from the east coast of Canada,
    Bill

  11. Alonzo Anderson

    As a real life anomaly who lives in Macon, GA who just spoke with a major Hollywood director THIS MORNING who is interested in producing one of my screenplays, I still have to champion Chad’s assertion that being in the place is the place to be. I am accelerating my plans to relocate to LA in order to take full advantage of the opportunities that I currently have because I KNOW that there is no way that I will be able to sustain it unless, “Omaha Street” and “StepSisters*” are substantial commercial successes.

    That being said, just to illustrate to everyone how difficult things are, I have sold one screenplay for six figures and I have another one going into pre-production and I STILL DON’T HAVE AN AGENT. Can’t even get one to call me back. William Morris, CAA & APA won’t even talk to me without a personal referral so, yeah the Geography does hurt me because I feel that if I was in LA making those handshake connections that I would probably have representation by now and who knows what kind of deals could be in motion?

    It’s one thing to be an “anomaly” but, at the same time you have to captialize on it or it just becomes nothing. So, early 2011, I’m moving out west.

  12. Marguerite Fair

    Scott,
    Good information. However….
    Writer’s must be extremely creative to find an Agent.

    WGA’s list of Agents do not want to read scripts from writer’s without credits; we have no choice but to seek Entertainment Lawyers, and online Agents.

    Frankly, I would like to know why the WGA has a list of Agents who are not actually seeking new clients. Life is difficult enough for a writer without knowing we’re swimming up stream right out of the canoe.

    Marguerite Fair, Writer http://www.fairproductions.biz

  13. Rob Andropolis

    Five years ago I went to a screenwriting seminar in Chicago. Shane Black was the principle speaker. Mr. Black first won us over by standing in profile and grabbing his paunch and lambasting himself over how he had possibly accumulated it, then he left us with his most important point: “If you want to be a screenwriter, you’ve got to live in L.A.” He was definitive. He did not cite anomalies. He DID cite the importance of being plugged into ‘the scene,’ the news, the people. Mr. Black’s tone mirrored Chad’s in that this is thee way to go. It does not mean that you are doomed if you don’t relocate. Simply stated, basing yourself in L.A. bests your chances by expanding your opportunities because you are privy to information firsthand. (I should be working on my story instead of writing this procrastination exercise, so perhaps I should next look into Nick’s Cut the Crap book…or is that more procrastination?)

  14. Greg Hatchuck

    Great article, Chad. Good use of conflict too. I think I’m slowly realizing what you said about screenwriting contests – they are not a good way to break in. I still think they are great talent showcases where the connections and who you brought coffee to when working as a hollywood PA does not count. But I think I was wrong thinking that scoring high in them would be a career break for me. Yes, I think I’m slowly realizing what you report – that in hollywood, just like in any other business, who you know is often more important than how much talent you have. And that most people would rather give jobs to those easy to work with (and that often means conveniently located near them) then to talented ones worlds apart. Maybe that’s why there are so few great movies and lots of average ones.

  15. James Rivard

    After moving to LA, I tell aspiring writers that its not effective to randomly lob mortars, its hnd-to-hand combat, and not with grenades, but handshakes. If you are not here to make those personal connections, you will be dependant on random luck, as you noted, like winning the lottery.

  16. kelli Miller

    Good grief… to live in LA or not live in LA. Self absorbed. Boring.
    Professionalism in LA? Now that is funny! Somebody get me some boots.
    Need I say more?

  17. Pingback: To Live and Die … err… Write in LA | My Spec Script

  18. Stu

    This debate is Bill O’Reilly’esque – minus the part where good ole’ Billy cuts you off before you can even speak … I think a lot of people are taking this post the wrong way. Mr. Gervich is not trying to be demeaning to those who do not live in LA (at least from what I gather) rather, I think he is trying to say that if you want to give yourself a realistic shot at your dream don’t go just dip your toe in the water … put your whole nasty foot in! I am not from LA, don’t live in LA, and unless I am kidnapped during sleep and transported in an unmarked van and dropped off in downtown LA, I probably won’t be there anytime soon. But, think about it — if you want to be in the NFL you need to go play college ball. Sure, 1 out of 2,000 NFL players may be like the dude from \Invincible\, but that is not the rule, it is the exception to the exception. Don’t take offense, Mr. Gervich is not trying to keep you out of the town, he’s just spitting the truth.

  19. Jo Ann of Arc

    DEFINITELY THE BIGGEST PILE OF HORSE CHIPS… The biggest, most powerful companies in the world are cutting back on expenses, use virtual meetings/conferences and outsource everything from the other side of the world. These are companies that run the world, not entertain it… but Hollywood execs who produce 90 minutes of “entertainment” need their lunches, parties and face-to-face smoozing. Sounds more like an elitist frat boy party that’s gasping for it’s last breath while attempting to justify it’s own self-indulgent, bad boy behavior instead of a solid, respected industry serious on evolving and delivering a quality product. Purely hypocritical bs, but hey… what do I know? I’m just the consumer.

  20. Chad GervichChad Gervich Post author

    Nick—

    (FYI—thank you, everyone, for all the comments—and KEEP THEM COMING. I’ll respond to as many as I can over the next few days and weeks, but I wanted to take a second to respond to Nick Iandolo, since we’ve been having an ongoing conversation.) (Also, I started writing this before lunch, and when I came back, there were a bunch more posts.) (Anyway, back to Nick…)

    Nick—

    I never called your book bullshit. (In fact, I think I began by talking about how hard self-published authors must work and learn in order to get their work out there… which you confirmed in your post.)

    What I’m calling BULLSHIT is the statement with which you began your November 15th comment to my last post. Here it is verbatim…

    “As the author of the book ‘Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!’ I have to totally disagree with you about feature screenwriters being required to live in LA in order to make contacts and break into the industry.”

    So while in today’s post you say you “never said anywhere in my book that I can help writers break into Hollywood,” you clearly USED your book– which, as you say, is not about how writers can break into Hollywood– to justify why you’re qualified to “totally disagree with [me] about feature screenwriters being required to live in LA in order to make contacts and break into the industry.”

    And THAT statement, plain and simple, is bullshit.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t legit ways for filmmakers or screenwriters to make a living outside of L.A. Commercials can pay well… industrials are great… many museums and corporations commission shorts and videos. Work at a TV station and produce a local show.

    This also doesn’t mean there aren’t incredibly TALENTED filmmakers all over the country, but as I said in the post, “not being a professional doesn’t mean you’re not talented.” There are top-notch, well-produced, professional-looking pieces produced all over the country, including on the Internet. But being GOOD doesn’t mean you’re a PROFESSIONAL. Being PAID means you’re a professional.

    And the truth is: if you want to work professionally as a screenwriter, the industry is based—like it or not—in one place: Los Angeles, CA. If you just want to (in your words) “validate your art,” then no– you do not have to live in Los Angeles. You can live anywhere, shooting features, posting web videos, submitting to festivals. But until you get paid, you’re not a professional.

    I’m not saying this to discourage people from trying or to crush their dreams.

    I’m telling them to ENCOURAGE them, to help them DO WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL CAREER.

    It’s people who continually cite examples of Internet successes, or rare examples of writers who have made it outside the system, who actually DIS-courage. Because by citing flukes—which DO happen (as Alonzo Anderson points out)—they give people false hope. And it’s false hopes that convince people they can stay in Boston, or Miami, or Green Bay, or Detroit and submit scripts to websites or contest… only to wind up years later, unproduced and unsold, wondering why Hollywood doesn’t care about finding good talent.

    Hollywood does care about finding good talent, but like accounting or manufacturing or retail, this is a PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS… and if you want to break in, to have a CAREER, you’re best served by following professional paths.

    Sure, on rare occasions, people not living in L.A. break in. But as I said in the above post, those people are anomalies. And while everyone wants to be an anomaly, it’s not a great way to START A CAREER.

    I also never said, Nicholas, that you were not a professional writer. You ARE a professional writer.

    You are a professional freelance marketing/communications writer.

    You are a professional travel writer. (And I never said writing web content wasn’t legit.)

    You are even a professional book-writer.

    But you are NOT a professional screenwriter.

    And when you say “whether or not I am sold, optioned, working or produced makes no difference,” you’re wrong… it makes ALL the difference. Because professionals must navigate the business paths of whatever industry they work in… and that gives them real-world experiences, savvy, know-how, and relationships that non-professionals don’t have (yet).

    It doesn’t necessarily make them better WRITERS… it just makes them professionals.

    I’m a professional writer. I also like to travel. I sometimes keep a journal when I travel.

    Yet I would never think to call myself a “PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL WRITER.” When it comes to travel writing, I’m a hobbyist… I am not a professional.

    So what I object to is NOT you advising people on how to write their screenplays or follow their passion.

    What I object to is an unproduced, non-professional screenwriter advising aspirants how to break into a professional industry he doesn’t actually work in.

    Are you qualified to advise writers on how to break into freelancing or be marketing writers? Absolutely.

    But we’re talking about breaking into Hollywood and becoming a working PROFESSIONAL screenwriter. And THAT you are not professionally qualified to advise about.

    And while the book jacket may acknowledge as much, YOU certainly did not when you used it to justify why you believe screenwriters don’t need to live in L.A.

    Having said that– I would love to read your book and review it here on the site.

    Shoot me your email address at chad@chadgervich.com, and I’ll send you my mailing address.

    Chad

  21. Shawn Rohrbach

    Just some thoughts in response, Chad. Your erroneous statement that a book is a finished product and therefore easier to sell on line caught my attention the most. After the 45 lengthy email exchanges and five lengthy Skype (audio/video) meetings over three months I have had with my editor on my forthcoming book as we go line by line to fact check, line edit, re-structure and finalize the book before it goes to the designer proves that one, a book is not a finished product when the author thinks she/he is done writing and tries to sell over the internet and two, the internet is a great place to meet and make deals and complete productive work if both parties are savvy enough to use it for that purpose. My publisher contacted me based on a visit to my website and asked if I was interested in writing the book. It seems your position on insisting that living in LA is a necessity may be a self fulfilled prophecy, something akin to literary agents in New York thinking the only good writers live in New York. And vice versa. Another poster here stated he got a 50-50 % response rate from producers et al on the necessity for living in LA. I live in San Diego and have met producers, directors, actors, writers etc here and have discussed with a few of them ideas of adapting my novels to screenplays. I think is it is better to be both savvy to using the internet for networking and productive work as well as living in an area with a very creative population and LA is increasingly not the only area. I finished the screenplay for my first novel and have queried exclusively over the internet because I am so busy with current writing projects and cannot be in LA. I got responses for about 75% of my queries ranging from thoughtful rejections to 2 full reads with laborious notations for possible improvements and requests for re-submission. Re-writing parts of the script for re-submission, re-working parts of my next book for publication, promoting my most current novel and trying to write the next spec novel are the reasons I live in quiet San Diego. I have too damn much work to do. God luck to writers who choose to move to LA and I hope nothing but success for you. To those writers living outside of LA, blessings and luck to you as well, and take heart from the examples given above from other writers NOT living in LA who have successfully written produced feature films.

  22. Mat

    I am currently studying film and putting together my first screenplay.

    Now, the thing I am most concerned about is this attitude that one has to live in L.A.
    I don’t live in L.A., I don’t even live in the U.S.A.
    I live in Australia, and won’t move to L.A., firstly it’s a cost that is far beyond my means, second I really have no desire to leave Australia.

    Lets not forget, that Hollywood isn’t the only place that films are made, and I daresay, it also isn’t the place where the BEST films are made.

    Now, I plan to have representation in the U.S., and will gladly fly in to L.A. at late notice, but I do not feel living there is necessary. I can see it as an advantage, to be sure, but not everyone can move there, and like it has been said on here already, if they are serious about your work, they can probably wait a couple of days for you to fly in.

    Now I am not a professional, and am not saying I know it all. I am just saying there are other options, and surely living in L.A. can’t be the be all and end all.

  23. Dale Goldberg

    Chad,

    I’m an aspiring writer with hopes of being considered a successful professional someday. You’re not the first person I’ve heard (or read) saying that if you want to be successful you must live in Los Angeles. I currently live in Atlanta and have a wife and a newborn baby girl. I obviously cannot uproot my family to go to L.A. (at least, not right now).

    I humbly want to ask, what are your thoughts on the growing film industry over here in Atlanta due to the big tax incentives there are to produce films here?

    Here’s some reference articles for those who might not know what I’m referring to:

    Screen Gems opens studio in Atlanta:
    http://news.euescreengems.com/2010/08/27/euescreen-gems-adds-flavor-to-atlanta-film-community/

    Booming Film Industry in Atlanta:
    http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=166286&catid=3

    Panavision Opening Facility in Atlanta: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/panavision-opening-rental-facility-atlanta-55301

    Thanks for your time.

  24. Alonzo Anderson

    Chad,

    Nice post. I see its stirring up both sides of the spectrum which is always a good thing. I currently live in Georgia (no, not Atlanta!) and I have been writing for over 20 years. I am not a hobbyist and I have been to LA and NY numerous times to get doors shut in my face and largely ignored. Now that’s motivation! However, it was the internet that gave me first meaningful break and a six figure spec sale (Thank you SimplyScripts.Com!!) and yeah, it was a total fluke so, I guess I did hit the lottery so to speak.

    The spec that I sold “Omaha Street” will roll in mid 2011 for a 2012 release. It wasn’t sold to a major but it did go to a well funded indie; but at the end of the day, a sale is a sale right and it is something that I am damn proud of.

    As for moving to LA, I would absolutley love to do that and I do regret not doing so when I was a young buck with unlimited freedom to just do it. That being said, I have made several contacts from right where I am, (I’m not going to name drop on this site but, some well connected people) who appear to feel that I have the chops to carve out a niche in this highly competitive, demoralizing industry. LA is definitely on my radar and I plan on making that move sometime in 2011 (once my divorce finalizes and I conjure up the nerve to say goodbye to my two beautiful young children “sniff-sniff”).

    But, I totally agree with your stance on being where the action is because you can’t catch heat unless you’re standing near the fire. What happened to me was certainly an anomaly and would NEVER suggest that anyone rely on your script being found on a website to get into this industry. Yet, that happening to me has opened up a wealth of opportunities that I will be forever grateful for. Additionally, it gave me the confidence to start my own production company AM Squared Productions and start production on another spec that I wrote “StepSisters*” (now for the shameles plug) that CNN picked up on and ran a feature on this past summer…
    http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/showbiz/2010/07/18/holmes.step.movie.cnn.html

    Once again, this was all done from the small town of MACON, GEORGIA so, yeah it can happen. It takes a lot of good timing, luck, four leaf clovers and an ungodly amount of time writing-writing-writing and rewriting over a near 20 year span but, at the end of the day, just having this tiny twinge of success made it all worth it. Does any of this means a big money deal, or sustained success? I have no idea. But, just getting this little taste of what could possibly occur has motivated me beyond belief.

    So, I can see both sides of this debate and both are clearly legitimate. Thus, I will close with this: The internet was a valuable tool that helped me get my pinkie toe into the door of this closed society but, I am certain that it will take me relocating to LA in order to get my whole foot in the door and take that next step to seeing my ultimate dream come true.

    Everyone out there stay motivated, love what you’re doing and do it because you love it not because you want a Shane Black payday.

    Regards to all and if I can ever do anything to help anyone take that next baby step, please do not hesitate to ask!

  25. Bill Chernin

    Sounds like it’s good advice to me. It’s not what I was hoping to hear, but it makes sense, and I don’t find it all that surprising. I live in the Atlantic Provinces in Canada. we have a decent film industry here, which produces a few features a year, most of which never amount to much, though there have been some really good ones. One horror movie (My Bloody Valentine) is apparently regarded by Hollywood big guns as a classic, and there are a hand full of others which have done decently. I’m hoping to make my bones in Atlantic Canada then try moving to Hollywood when I have something of worth with which to present myself. I’m also 45 with a family and my days of packing the car and hitting the road are over. I wonder if anyone has a comment on this idea.
    Thanks.

  26. Rob Anderson

    I want to commend Mr. Landolo for his passionate and thorough self-defense. Although I do agree, Chad, that in many important ways it is much easier to be living in L.A. when launching a career, it is not strictly necessary either. But first we must define our terms.

    I have several friends and acquaintances in the industry, especially the independent side, and not all of them live “in L.A.” if by “L.A.” you mean Los Angeles itself and its immediate environs (Hollywood, Westwood, North Hollywood, Century City, Studio City, etc.). I know of one person who operates a cooperative studio in Santa Monica. When he needs to take a meeting he just drives in, no problem. Another acquaintance lives in Marin County, not far from San Francisco. He can and does zip over to L.A. (though not to LAX for obvious reasons) when called upon to do so. Is it *as* convenient for those wishing to meet these folks? No, but then if they’re genuinely interested in working with them they should be willing to put up with a slight delay, because despite what some might say finding good content from genuinely creative and skilled people is very difficult. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this.

    Some other commenters here have rather rudely mentioned something I’d like to second, though gently – output by the industry has, lately, begun to suffer, especially on the theatrical distribution/exhibition side. Television is, ironically, pretty robust by comparison. With technology improving content delivery and display quality (high-bandwidth “broad pipe” delivery and digital projection) every single fiscal quarter, it won’t be long before indepdendent producers will have exhibition venues that will completely eliminate the need for distribution as we now know it. And when that happens – when every indie filmmaker out there can start generating ticket income for their work *locally* – the geographical necessity of L.A. will vanish, except as addresses for the studios (kinda like what happened to the big three commercial TV networks).

    I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on this. Thanks for reading…assuming of course you have.

  27. J

    You know what’s interesting? Throughout my young career, I’ve had 50% of the agents & successful producers I’ve worked for or met tell me living in LA is the only way to go, and then I’ve had 50% of the other agents and successful producers I’ve met or worked for tell me it’s not necessary.

    And the funny thing is? Everyone is always COMPLETELY AND UTTER SURE of their advice.

    While I was getting my MFA in NYC, I worked for some big production houses, and things *almost* happened for me there – but in the end, those connections didn’t really pan out. Since moving to a hippie town in Colorado, I’ve made some random connections through contests and traditionally “money-sucking” websites that have actually turned into contacts. Do I expect these contacts to actually help turn a script into a full blown movie? I don’t know.

    But the 50/50 success rate in terms of location continues.

    Your advice is valid. And I agree with it. But I also agree with the people who say LA is not a necessity.

    In truth, we all make our own paths…and someone’s absolute is always going to be someone else’s bad advice.

    Not everyone can move out to LA – even those of us who dream about being a successful screenwriter every.stupid.day. Some of us have even tried to move out and found it impossible to live in at the current time. That doesn’t mean we’re “hobbyists.” It just means that currently, LA isn’t our Mecca.

    [Apparently this subject makes me passionate enough to refer to myself in the plural.]

  28. Nicholas Iandolo

    Chad,

    Thank you so much for your vehement take on my book. If I’m going to be publically criticized, then I’d like it to be from a reputable source. Quite frankly, I’m glad that you had taken the time to not only respond to my points but to learn a bit about me in the process (particularly that I’m “self-published” but we’ll get to that in a bit). That’s due diligence and I commend you for it.

    However, before you attempt to totally discredit me please allow me to respond.

    First of all, I never said anywhere in my book that I can help writers break into Hollywood. In fact, the back cover of my book clearly states:

    “Now I’m not promising you that you’re gonna write the next Academy Award-winning screenplay, or that you’re gonna make millions from following my advice, or that you’re gonna break into the movie business after reading this.

    No, I’m not promising you jack shit except for one thing: if you listen to me, cut the crap, and have the guts, you’ll write that damn screenplay!”

    That’s it. The book is about exactly what you mentioned at the beginning of your rebuttal. It is about motivating people to get off their butts, stop making excuses, and write. Something that you obviously agree with me on.

    \I’ve written extensively that I believe everyone should be writing… whether journals, poetry, screenplays, essays, comic books, jokes, plays, whatever. Writing makes you a better person, a better artist… it’s creatively fulfilling… and, hopefully, puts great literature into the world.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, we seem to agree more than we disagree.

    I provide simple and effective (as in tested among writers, maybe not working Hollywood writers but writers nonetheless) tools to help writers get past their fears and self-consciousness so they can get their stories up and running quickly. After that, I refer the writer to the greats like McKee, Field, Snyder, and Trottier to figure out the next steps.

    The book is a motivational treatise with concise how-to writing concepts in it. I try not to waste the new writer’s time frustrating the hell out of them making them do a whole slew of asinine writing exercises that crushes their creative drives. I try to help them get to that first draft writing like hell. And even if that draft sucks, they’ve done it. They’ve written something that a lot of people talk about doing but never do. And then the writer can go back and polish it up to anyone’s liking with McKee’s et al. help.

    And in spite of Hollywood, there are other writers in other places where people do write (even for the screen in whatever capacity) and get paid for it.

    But to call my book bullshit before you’ve even had a chance to read it is not very professional. Come on Chad. Give me a little credit will you?

    David Trottier, author of The Screenwriter’s Bible, took the time to read my book and endorsed it. He called it, “A helpful book.”

    Are you going to disallow his opinion simply because he doesn’t live in LA these days? His book is in its fifth edition and has sold over a quarter of a million copies.

    He obviously thinks my book is a worthy read for writers to check out.

    If you look back at what I was saying in my response your article about living in LA in order to be a real screenwriter, the gist of what I was saying is that the industry is changing. Come out to the East coast if you don’t believe me. I recently attended a New England film industry gala that was jam packed with filmmakers from all over this part of the county. They are producing content like you wouldn’t believe. Professional, gorgeous, well-shot, well-edited, well-scored films (shorts and features). They are distributing content like you wouldn’t believe in a plethora of non-traditional media (equally as legit as the traditional). And they are getting money for all of this from sources both big and small, corporate and private, angel and business venture. It’s happening right now.

    You’re not going to tell me that the filmmakers I know out here aren’t legit. They’ve got the experience, the equipment, and the talent to make great stuff. Yeah sure, they wouldn’t sneer at an affiliation with Hollywood but they’re not killing themselves to get out there in an oversaturated market either. And they’re working just as hard, and are just as dedicated as anyone on the West coast.

    Now I understand and even agree with you that Hollywood is still the gold standard of the entertainment industry. However, you cannot say that when you can stream anything you want, at anytime you want right to your TV in high-def that Hollywood can keep up with the demand.

    People want good quality entertainment and they’re going to go anywhere they can to get it. And there’s a demand for it outside of Hollywood. I used Bollywood, Cineuropa, and Hong Kong Cinema as examples of non-Hollywood film industry centers that are doing amazing things these days.

    You yourself wrote about what a challenge it was produce a good episode of a regular television series after all of the issues involved inexorably change what once a fine script. And I agree with you on that. Sure lot’s of people may be able to write a better episode than what was aired but after everything that goes into producing that script is said and done, it’s a miracle it gets out there to begin with.

    But I’m not going to argue with you on the finer points of the art of writing or the industry. And I’ll even defer to your experience and expertise on the subject. But I am a writer, whether or not I am sold, optioned, working or produced makes no difference. I am not a hobbyist. I make a living writing. I am freelance marketing/communications writer for a Boston-based corporation. I am a travel writer for BeantownSocialite.com (can’t tell me that web-related writing is not legit either). I am a screenwriter because I write screenplays, lots of them, honing my craft and not making excuses. And I am an author ever y time I work on my passion. In fact, my next book that I’m releasing in early 2011 is titled ‘Cut The Crap and FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!’

    I am going to take issue with your condescending tone about my book being “self-published.” Your attitude towards that creative outlet is a bit prejudiced. And I know that you don’t want to piss off millions of Print-on-Demand writers who are equally as passionate about their art as you are about yours.

    Just like many screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, and actors who do not feel the need to have Hollywood validate their art because it means something to them. Writers of any kind do not need to be validated by publishers in order to consider themselves writers. What I did to create, produce, and distribute my book far exceeds what a publisher would have done had I just turned in a simple manuscript.

    So I’m going to defend my ‘Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!’ here because it is worthy of defense and not bullshit!

    I spent over two years writing (six drafts), researching, traveling, participating, teaching, and engaging (online and live) with anyone and everyone I could find (within my means) in order to put the materials together for the book.

    I spent thousands of my OWN dollars getting my book professionally copyedited, reviewed, designed, formatted, and produced—being involved in every step of the process. And then having the eBook version professionally produced and distributed.

    I spent countless hours promoting my book via book signings, film festivals, radio talk shows, local cable television shows, networking events, over social media networks, and reaching out to other writers like David Trottier.

    And my next book has been months and months of writing drafts anywhere and everywhere (even on the train rides to and from work); researching historical events, literary works, and world philosophies; interviewing people; and working with professional associations to expand, develop, and market all of the tenets and concepts of the book. In short, this next book would not exist had I not gone through all of the massive effort to “self-publish” my last one. And whether or not you might think it’s valid, a lot of people already do. Which I why I’m taking both of them to New York next month, along with the numbers to back them up, and let the literary agents have a look at them. Regardless of what they think, I’m doing it. That’s part of the journey that I think you can appreciate.

    So, can you really say that my book is bullshit (along with your “colorful” picture to boot) when I’ve put in as much if not more blood, sweat, and tears than what other traditionally published writers do—including you?

    And my efforts are paying off. Aside from the recent endorsement, I have sold books on both coasts, and on two continents. Locally in Boston, my book as has been consistently selling out at the collegiate bookstores and other chains. In fact, they seem to be very amenable to carrying “self-published” authors here in the first place. I’ve been treated with lots of respect and even been prevailed upon to offer my thoughts on writing and the like. The eBook is outselling the print by a factor of two to one. In fact, if you go to the Kindle store page on Amazon and type in “screenwriting” my book usually comes up fourth—above McKee’s!

    And I take my licks like every other writer does. I get great reviews and great criticisms but at least they’ve read it.

    But don’t take my word for it. I’d be happy to send you a signed copy of my book for you to read and enjoy. I’d even love an honest unbiased review of it. Just email me an address where you would like me to send it and I’ll FedEx it to you immediately.

    What I don’t want is for you to misunderstand me. I read your articles so I can understand you. And frequently I agree with you. So if you read my book maybe you’ll understand me a little better and realize that I’m not trying to take anything away from Hollywood but in fact add to it.

    Best Regards,
    Nick Iandolo

  29. Blair

    All any of this tells me or, rather, confirms, is that Hollywood isn’t looking for the best talent, but rather the best talent that lives within driving distance. Beats wondering about why there are so many shit films, doesn’t it?

  30. Chuck Hustmyre

    Speaking of a cabin in Louisiana. Although not a cabin, I live in a house in Louisiana and while I am sure living in L.A. has great advantages for a screenwriter, my script “House of the Rising Sun” is shooting this month in Michigan and stars David Bautista (Wrong Side of Town), Amy Smart (Crank, The Butterfly Effect), Dominic Purcell (Prison Break, Equilibrium), Craig Fairbrass (The Bank Job), and Danny Trejo (Machete). Brian A. Miller (Caught in the Crossfire) is directing.

    I wrote the whole thing in Louisiana. I also optioned another script and wrote two published books (Penguin) and two upcoming novels (Leisure Books) all in Louisiana.

    I like to say in live in south LA (which of course really means south Louisiana).

    Chuck Hustmyre
    http://www.chuckhustmyre.com

  31. Doug B

    I admit I am a hobbyist. If I really was into it make or break I would have moved to LA 20 years ago. I like my lottery playing now.

    I do have one question. If Hollywood is looking for new material and the people who are the professionals live and work in LA then where is all this new content.

    I see a huge rut of not so good product and rehashes of movies produced in the last 20 years. Where is the originality? Not in LA it seems.

  32. M. Berg

    So what do you tell those who are trying to use the websites and contests to get noticed? They’re stupid for trying and wasting their time?

    What do you tell all those national contests and websites the non-LA-living writers are using? That they’re all a bunch of liars and swindlers?

    I find it humorous there’s a huge advertisement for the Big Break contest running along side your article. I’m also surprised we see no rebuttal from Final Draft/Script Mag after seeing the past few weeks of articles and interviews they’ve been posting with the winners of 2010 Big Break.

    Is Final Draft’s contest misleading to all who enter?

    For people who have established lives in other parts of the country or world — who can’t uproot their families — what options do we have: A too bad, so sad, should’ve done this 15 years before having kids?

    I believe everything you and others say about needing to meet and network with people face to face to help establish a career in the industry. But is it so improbable to get the career ball rolling outside of LA before living (or commuting) there later?

  33. Jaclyn Abergas

    I’m moving to LA by early next year to pursue and develop my screenwriting career. I struggled for a long time whether to move there, somewhere else or stay put (I’m currently in SF).

    But after talking to so many people, I did realize that moving to LA is best because it’s easier to connect with people in the industry. I mean, the internet’s great and all and it does help a lot but it can only do so much.

    So yeah, I’m definitely moving to LA.

    Thanks for all the feedback on the websites and books. There’s so much out there that it’s hard to find which ones are legit and can actually help you.

  34. John Frederick

    Chad,

    Top writing! The “No Bullshit” hook drew me in quickly.

    Your response was much more valuable than any reading of the book. Further, I admire your humility (confidence) in giving the author the chance to put-up or shut-up.

    Looking forward to getting my hands on “Small Screen, Big Picture.” Thanks for that.

    Can’t wait to get to L.A. !!

    John

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