Sunday, February 21, 2010


This question rose from a panel I was on 3 weeks ago with a producer with over 1 billion in ticket sales, another lit agent, and the story editor at WME. The panel was specifically created to give this particular group of high level screenwriting students a "reality check" regarding the business and their material.
 One of the major points made was that far too many talented writers are wasting their time pushing material that will never sell or move their career forward.

With the advent of final draft, pdf’s and email the cost to writers to create and send a properly formatted screenplay have dropped dramatically. In economic and strategic terms this is referred to a low barrier to entry. And many people feel that since they can type and have seen many movies that all of a sudden they are screenwriters. If I applied this same mentality to myself I should be at the Vancouver Olympics this week on the U.S. Team….. because I can ski.

An outcome of this is many untalented writers pushing bad scripts and as a result we agents, managers and producers are drowning in crap submissions. This is the very reason why new writers find it so very difficult to get people to read them. 
When you ask someone to read you, they immediately think about the odds that your script is any good, and that’s not a function of you. It’s based on 100’s or 1000’s of scripts they’ve read in the past. It’s pretty simple math; odds that it’s good enough to sell or sign 3%, time to fully read 1hr -2 hrs. What would you say?

A major problem in the system is writers have no economic disincentive preventing them from simply throwing material at agents/managers/producers to see if it sticks. And, if there were a monetary penalty for submitting a bad script that waists everybody’s time, gumms up the system, and hampers quality material from getting through (say $500, if the script is deemed good then the writer gets their $500 back), the quality of material would probably increase dramatically as writers would not risk lousy submissions and b forced to better police their submissions.


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Though this information "feels" accurate, I have to note that I haven't personally double checked its data or methodology. Example, industry reports usually only include data from the largest agencies and management companies because its very difficult to capture data from the small ones... like us, and all those small companies in aggregate are meaningful. Regardless, the important takeaways concerning trends are probably fairly accurate, and I applaud Jeremy's work as it helps demystify the industry, which allows investors to feel more confident and therefore fund films.

Jeremy Juuso Consulting has completed the first year of its ongoing survey of the U.S. specialty film market and its financing traits.

Defined as any film released into 1,000 U.S. movie theaters or fewer on opening weekend, specialty films are comprised primarily of independent films with no studio ties.

Summary statistics for the 2009 U.S. specialty market are available to the public in “The A.K.A. Report” at .

Individual statistics on over 400 films are also available to the public at the same web address.

Findings about the 2009 U.S. specialty market include the following:

----- 403 films were released, excluding reissues and the Academy-nominated short films compilation.

----- 43 involved studio financing.

----- 38% were private equity financed (i.e., private equity comprised more than 70% of the budget).

----- 18% were distributor financed (i.e., at least one distributor or its parent company supplied more than 30% of the budget).

----- 12% were private equity driven (i.e., private equity comprised 30%-60% of the budget).

----- 10% were European government supported as part of an international coproduction.

----- No overlap exists among the previous four categories.

----- 137 films (34%) had at least one star, where a star is an actor who previously was a lead in at least one feature grossing $50 million or more domestically.

----- The average budget for star films released during Q1-Q3 2009 was estimated at $7.9 million (excluding P&A), with an average box office of $1.8 million for these same films.

----- The average budget for non-star films released during Q1-Q3 was estimated at $3.6 million (excluding P&A), with an average box office of $1.0 million for these same films.

----- Less than 15% of specialty films released in Q1-Q3 generated 90% of box office revenues for specialty films released in Q1-Q3.

----- Late Q4 releases are still accruing significant box office receipts.

----- 344 films (85%) debuted at a film festival prior to U.S. theatrical release.

----- The top debuted-at festivals were Sundance (64 films), Toronto (43), Cannes (37), Berlin (21), Tribeca (19), Venice (17), SXSW (13), Slamdance (7), and Telluride (6).

----- 95 other film festivals had less than 6 films represented.

----- 113 specialty films (28%) had hired producer’s reps to attain and/or negotiate their domestic distribution agreements.

----- The producer’s reps did not represent the films in the majority of foreign markets, if any.

----- Among the films released, CAA had been hired as a producer’s rep on 21 films, Cinetic Media on 20, Submarine Entertainment on 17, William Morris on 14, Endeavor on 11, and ICM on 8.

Further details on distributors, self-distribution, foreign sales agents, genres and languages, and day-and-date VOD can be found in “The A.K.A. Report” at .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LAEDC Study Concludes Redbox’s $1 DVD New-Release Rentals Could Result in $1 Billion in Entertainment Industry Losses

Ripple Effect of Lost Revenues in Southern California Could Cost More Than 9,280 Jobs and $1.5 Billion in Economic Output, Along With Reduced Contributions to Guild and Union Pension Plans
Los Angeles – The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) today unveiled a new economic study entitled “The Economic Implications of Low Cost DVD Rentals” which illustrates the negative impact that low cost, new-release DVD rentals could have on the Entertainment industry and the Southern California economy.
The LAEDC study, which utilizes the Redbox model of $1 DVD rentals available at the street date, shows the ripple effect of $1 billion in lost revenues to the domestic home video industry in the Southern California region – the entertainment capital of the world – would lead to an additional $500 million in reduced economic activity. The loss of motion picture production in and around Los Angeles would result in the loss of more than 9,280 jobs with annual earnings of almost $395 million, according to the LAEDC’s study.
“The economics of the motion picture industry are based on exclusive release windows which allow price differentiation - that is - some earlier transactions take place at higher price points," said Gregory Freeman, Vice President of Consulting and Economic Policy for the LAEDC. "Redbox, or any other distributor that weakens the release window model, could reduce overall industry revenues. Lower revenues will likely lead to lower production activity, hurting the Southern California economy.”
Of the 9,280 jobs, more than half of the losses will occur in the Information Sector, the LAEDC found. In addition to motion picture and sound recording industries, this sector includes publishing industries, radio and television broadcasting, telecommunications industries and Internet service providers. Other industries impacted will be retail trade, accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services, and manufacturing, among others.

LAEDC Study Concludes Redbox’s $1 DVD Rentals Could Result in $1 Billion in Entertainment Industry Losses p. 2/2
The loss of production will also result in a reduction of up to $35.4 million in contributions to health and welfare funds for entertainment guild and union members. The LAEDC study found that the majority of this loss will occur in union plans for below-the-line employees because residuals paid to such employees are diverted into health and welfare funds.
Finally, state, county and local tax revenues could be reduced by more than $30 million, according to the LAEDC study. Earnings that would have circulated throughout the regional economy, generating taxable purchases and thus tax revenue, will be lost. Additionally, the state will lose income tax revenue and unemployment and disability taxes that would have been paid.
On top of the losses caused by Redbox $1 DVD rentals, the home video industry as a whole is undergoing transformational change, which is described in some detail in the LAEDC study. The current recession has adversely affected consumer purchases of discretionary items, technology is enabling digital delivery of content, and households are opting for other forms of entertainments. Nonetheless, the LAEDC study concludes, any loss of revenue due to the widespread availability of low-cost rentals, particularly if new releases are available for rent on the street date, can be characterized as an opportunity foregone, since overall revenues of the industry would be higher if these rentals were not available.
Redbox’s low-cost kiosks are challenging the traditional distribution and release model of the industry, which is built upon timed, sequential release into differentiated market segments through a variety of channels (box office, sell-through, rental, pay television and cable). According to the report, the financial success of a project (and its distributor) depends on a multi-phased distribution strategy. Although box office numbers are headlined in industry and popular press, revenues from this income stream account for less than twenty-five percent of the total revenues earned by distributors. Most movies are not immediate money makers and companies rely on sequential sales, such as in the home entertainment market to recoup their production and marketing investment.
Given the unpredictability of the studio agreements and litigation with Redbox, the LAEDC report finds that the economic impact of the spread of low-cost new release DVD rentals is uncertain. However, the report says film production will decline relative to what it would otherwise have been.
The report also points out that new forms of digital delivery will provide new streams for the industry, but the decline in DVD revenues represents an ongoing loss of an existing significant revenue stream, while the offsetting gains in revenue from digital delivery seem to be more uncertain.
To view the entire report, visit

About LAEDC ( The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), the region’s premier business leadership organization, is a private, non-profit organization established in 1981. Its mission is to attract, retain, and grow businesses and jobs for the regions of Los Angeles County. Since 1996, the LAEDC has helped retain or create more than 152,000 jobs, providing $7.5 billion dollars in annual economic impact and more than $128 million dollars in annual tax revenue to support local government and schools.

Report Sees Modest Increase in Industry Employment

LAEDC’s Entertainment Report Sees Modest Increase
in Industry Employment, Another Strong Year at Box Office
Despite a boost from California’s film incentive program, runaway TV/film production remains a significant threat
Los Angeles, CA — A new study released today by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC) Kyser Center for Economic Research predicts a modest increase in industry employment in 2010.
The report also forecasts another strong year at the box office, no foreseeable labor issues, and a boost in production from California’s film incentive program.
Other pluses include NBC’s programming of scripted series in the 10:00 p.m. primetime spot being vacated by Jay Leno and the ongoing investment in the entertainment industry’s infrastructure such as NBC Universal’s Evolution Project and the Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch. However, key issues include changes in the business model, with an intense focus on costs. Run-away production remains a significant threat and changing technology, distribution, exhibition and marketing models are noted. The media industry will continue to struggle, reflecting a slow rebound in advertising and changes in the way consumers access information.
The LAEDC study recommends a renewed focus on entertainment as a serious business because it is a high-wage, high-multiplier activity. The study cited efforts by the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita to become more “film-friendly.” It also recommends watching the state’s film incentive plan that has helped boost employment in this sector.
“The coming changes in how the industry operates also need to be monitored,” said LAEDC

Founding Economist Jack Kyser. “At the end of the day, content is still king and leaders need to be alert so that much of it is still produced in the County.”
Entertainment: The TV/film production industry had a good year at both the domestic and international box office in 2009. However, this box office bonus did not translate into jobs. In 2009, there were an estimated 9,000 industry job cuts, reducing the total from 141,400 in 2008 to 132,400 jobs.
The slump was blamed on the economic impact of lingering labor issues, run-away production and major changes in the industry’s business model.

Television (broadcast & cable): This sector is facing major challenges in its business model, due to changes in the way consumers access content and their willingness to pay for it. A declining pool of advertising dollars compounds the problem. According to the LAEDC study, broadcast TV employed 9,185 people in the County in 2008, while the cable and subscription TV industry had a local work force of 6,707 people. Employment in both sectors declined during 2009. A significant challenge for both broadcast and cable TV is the growing audience appetite for on-demand TV, and their unwillingness to pay for the content.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Film & Media News Content

If you scroll down the far right side of the blog you'll now find film and media news from the LA times, NY Times, Financial Times, Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood, Daily Variety etc.

I hope it helps as a one stop news source.

Best regards,


Universal Studios Names Licensing Czarina

Nice Work Sperber- a friend from college.

By Nikki Finke

Stephanie Sperber has been named President, Universal Partnerships and Licensing (UP&L) for Universal Studios it was announced today. Sperber has secured promotions, licensing agreements, and corporate alliances across all divisions of Universal Studios with American Express, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Cartier, Xerox, Sharp, Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hallmark, etc.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

“Do query letters work?”

They other day I was asked “Do query letters work?” Yes they do.

But let’s define what a query letter really is. A query letter is just the first request by a writer to have some else read her script. That’s all it is. It may be verbal, a letter, an email whatever. Agents and mangers do read some new material.

And what does “Work” really mean. If it’s land an agent or manager, the query can’t do that. Only the script can. But, if “work” means get your script read…sure.

So then, the real question is “Will MY query letters work?” Are MY query letters worth the effort?”…….. Maybe. Some do them well and some just throw crap at the wall to see if it sticks. And agents and managers hate those people.

Query letters to people you don’t know are the least effective method. But they are a starting point so send out a ton; it’s a numbers game. However, don’t use queries to hide. Most people hate networking, but it’s by far the most effective way to get you and your material out there. So sure send out queries, but also network, network, network. Queries should just be part of your overall strategy.

Rules for query letters

1)Make sure your material is good enough to compete at the highest levels. Those are the only people we’re signing. Unfortunately far too many people who can type and have seen a few movies all of a sudden think they can write a screenplay. I can swing a baseball bat; it doesn’t mean I should be playing for the Dodgers. Plus you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your script is less than 8/10, we’ll never read you again.

2)Find out how each company you’re submitting to takes submissions. Example: Above the Line does not accept queries via the mail or email, only via our website. And yet we get them in the mail everyday and they go strait into the round file.

3)Write a really good and concise letter. Check your spelling and grammar. If you can’t write a page, why should I think you could write 110 pages? Then stick it in a drawer for 10 days- don’t peak- then pull it out and re-write it.
4)Make all your communications personal- Never Dear Sir.

5)If you’re sending to prod companies, target those that make your kind of movie. Don’t send Joel Silver some tender coming of age drama.

6)After they pass, see if you can get some feedback. Ask them to be brutally honest, or send you the coverage if possible. If similar negative comments are coming back, stop immediately as your going to need to re-write your script or write something else that can sell.

7) If they honestly like your stuff, but it’s really not for them, call their bluff and ask them to refer you to someone who may like it. If they wont, they really didn’t like it and are just giving the Hollywood kiss off.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Death of the Slush Pile

Even in the Web era, getting in the door is tougher than ever
By KATHERINE ROSMAN of the Wall St. Journal

In 1991, a book editor at Random House pulled from the heaps of unsolicited manuscripts a novel about a murder that roils a Baltimore suburb. Written by a first-time author and mother named Mary Cahill, "Carpool" was published to fanfare. Ms. Cahill was interviewed on the "Today" show. "Carpool" was a best seller.

That was the last time Random House, the largest publisher in the U.S., remembers publishing anything found in a slush pile. Today, Random House and most of its major counterparts refuse to accept unsolicited material.

Getting plucked from the slush pile was always a long shot—in large part, editors and Hollywood development executives say, because most unsolicited material has gone unsolicited for good reason. But it did happen for some: Philip Roth, Anne Frank, Judith Guest. And so to legions of would-be novelists, journalists and screenwriters—not to mention "D-girls" and "manuscripts girls" from Hollywood to New York who held the hope that finding a gem might catapult them from entry level to expense account—the slush pile represented The Dream.

Now, slush is dead, or close to extinction. Film and television producers won't read anything not certified by an agent because producers are afraid of being accused of stealing ideas and material. Most book publishers have stopped accepting book proposals that are not submitted by agents. Magazines say they can scarcely afford the manpower to cull through the piles looking for the Next Big Thing.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Web was supposed to be a great democratizer of media. Anyone with a Flip and Final Cut Pro could be a filmmaker; anyone with a blog a memoirist. But rather than empowering unknown artists, the Web is often considered by talent-seeking executives to be an unnavigable morass.

It used to be that you could bang out a screenplay on your typewriter, then mail it in to a studio with a self-addressed stamped envelope and a prayer. Studios already were reluctant to read because of plagiarism concerns, but they became even more skittish in 1990 when humorist Art Buchwald sued Paramount, alleging that the studio stole an idea from him and turned it into the Eddie Murphy vehicle, "Coming to America." (Mr. Buchwald received an undisclosed settlement from Paramount.)

Today, you can't even send an e-mail to a studio. When visitors to the Universal Pictures Web site select the "contact us" option, they must agree to a waiver that frees Universal and its affiliates from liability related to accusations of plagiarism. "While we are always happy to hear from you," the Web notice says, "it is Universal's policy not to accept or consider creative materials, ideas, or suggestions other than those we specifically request. This is to avoid any misunderstandings if your ideas are similar to those we have developed independently."

"It does create an incredibly difficult Catch-22 on both sides, particularly for new writers wanting to get their work seen," says Hannah Minghella, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation.

Fending off plagiarism lawsuits has become an increasing headache for publishers and studios. "It's become the cultural version of malpractice," says Kurt Andersen, the novelist and host of public radio's "Studio 360."

Some producers make it easy: They just refuse to deal with new writers at all. Mike Clements, president of Good Humor, the production company founded by Tom Werner ("The Cosby Show"), has a personal policy against reading any sample or script that is not sent to him by an agent. "I make the occasional exception for a friend, or for my aunt," he says. "I just make them sign a release first."

As writers try to find an agent—a feat harder than ever to accomplish in the wake of agency consolidations and layoffs—the slush pile has been transferred from the floor of the editor's office to the attaché cases of representatives who can broker introductions to publishing, TV and film executives. The result is a shift in taste-making power onto such agents, managers and attorneys. Theirs are now often the first eyes to make a call on what material will land on bookshelves, television sets and movie screen.

Still, discoveries do happen at agencies, including the biggest publishing franchise since "Harry Potter"—even though it basically took a mistake to come together. In 2003, an unknown writer named Stephenie Meyer sent a letter to the Writers House agency asking if someone might be interested in reading a 130,000-word manuscript about teenage vampires. The letter should have been thrown out: an assistant whose job, in part, was to weed through the more than 100 such letters each month, didn't realize that agents mostly expected young adult fiction to weigh in at 40,000 to 60,000 words. She contacted Ms. Meyer and ultimately asked that she send her manuscript.

The manuscript was passed on to an agent, Jodi Reamer. She liked what she read, a novel called "Twilight." She signed Ms. Meyer, and sold the book to Little, Brown. The most recent sequel in the series, "Breaking Dawn," sold 1.3 million copies the day it went on sale in August 2008. The latest film grossed more than $288 million in the U.S.

At William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Adriana Alberghetti only reads scripts sent to her by producers, managers and lawyers whose taste she knows and trusts. The agent says she receives 30 unsolicited e-mails a day from writers and people she doesn't know who are pushing unknown writers, and she hits "delete" without opening. These days, she is taking on few "baby writers," she says, adding that risks she would have taken five years ago she won't today. "I'll take very few shots on a new voice. It's tough out there right now," she says.

Book publishers say it is now too expensive to pay employees to read slush that rarely is worthy of publication. At Simon & Schuster, an automated telephone greeting instructs aspiring writers: "Simon & Schuster requires submissions to come to us via a literary agent due to the large volume of submissions we receive each day. Agents are listed in 'Literary Marketplace,' a reference work published by R.R. Bowker that can be found in most libraries." Company spokesman Adam Rothberg says the death of the publisher's slush pile accelerated after the terror attacks of 9/11 by fear of anthrax in the mail room.

A primary aim of the slush pile used to be to discover unpublished voices. But today, writing talent isn't necessarily enough. It helps to have a big-media affiliation, or be effective on TV. "We are being more selective in taking on clients because the publishers are demanding much more from the authors than ever before," says Laurence J. Kirshbaum, former CEO of Time Warner Book Group and now an agent. "From a publisher's standpoint, the marketing considerations, especially on non-fiction, now often outweigh the editorial ones."

Getting an opportunity in Hollywood as a writer once required little more than affiliation with elite institutions like the Harvard Lampoon, the humor magazine which spawned writers for "The Simpsons" and a host of others. The Web was supposed to dismantle such barriers. And to be sure, the Web has provided a path for some writers who use it well.

Scott Belsky, a 29-year-old Web entrepreneur whose sites include "The 99 Percent," wanted to write a book on how to succeed in the creative industries. To secure representation, he approached agents with data on his Web traffic, samples of reader comments posted on the site, and the number of times various posts had been blogged about, tweeted and retweeted on social-networking site Twitter. This data convinced Jim Levine at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency to take on Mr. Belsky as a client. Mr. Levine used the information to land him a book deal. "Making Ideas Happen" will be published in April by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Group.

"These days, you need to deliver not just the manuscript but the audience," says Mr. Levine. "More and more, the mantra in publishing is 'Ask not what your publisher can do for you, ask what you can do for your publisher.'"

But relationships still trump everything. Consider the path of one television series, "Sons of Tucson," set to debut on Fox in March. The show, a sitcom about kids who hire a ne'er-do-well to stand in as their father after their real dad is sent to prison, was created and co-written by neophytes—a rare event.

Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman worked hard to get their big break, but because Mr. Dewey had done some acting, he was able to sign with a manager. The manager introduced them to a producer, Harvey Myman, who helped them develop a pilot script and got them a meeting with Fox, which ordered a pilot, then the series.

"Sons of Tucson" shows that unknowns can still make it—if they make some connections. "You really do rely on other people to be the arbiters of what may and may not work," says Marcus Wiley, a Fox TV executive. "If I was an agent submitting to an executive, I'm going to be calling that executive next week for something else. So the chances of me claiming plagiarism are slim," he adds. "This keeps both sides honest."

Despite the refrain that most everything sent to the slush pile is garbage, publishing executives confess to a nagging insecurity of missing something big. "Harry Potter" was submitted to 12 publishers (by an agent), all of whom rejected it. A year later, Bloomsbury published it in the U.K.

In 2008. HarperCollins launched, a Web slush pile. Writers can upload their manuscripts, readers vote for their favorites, and HarperCollins editors read the five highest-rated manuscripts each month. About 10,000 manuscripts have been loaded so far and HarperCollins has bought four.

The first, "The Reaper," came out in July and sold moderately well. Last November, the publisher released another Authonomy offering, a young adult book called "Fairytale of New York," which has sold over 100,000 copies and is a best seller in Britain. HarperCollins also launched a similar platform for teen writers called "InkPop."

One slush stalwart—the Paris Review— has college interns and graduate students in the magazine's Tribeca loft-office read the 1,000 unsolicited works submitted each month. Each short story is read by at least two people. If one likes it and the other doesn't, it is read by a third. Any submission that receives two "Ps" for "pass" as opposed to "R" for "reject" is read by an editor.

"We take the democratic ideal represented by the slush pile seriously," says managing editor Caitlin Roper.

The literary journal publishes one piece from the slush pile each year. That leaves each unsolicited submission a .008% chance of rising to the top of the pile.

Write to Katherine Rosman at

Corrections & Amplifications
Mary Cahill was a mother of two at the time her novel "Carpool" was published. In a previous version of this story, she was incorrectly referred to as a "mother to be."

Staying Out of the Slush Pile: Do's and Don'ts
• Find an agent who's hungry—a nd "monetize." "Anyone who wants to break in should read Variety and Hollywood Reporter and see which assistants have just been promoted to agents…anyone can teach a three-act structure. What I want students to get in the mind set of is 'How do we write something with the purpose of monetizing it?'" —Ryan Saul, literary agent, APA, and screenwriting instructor
• Don't be a barista waiting for someone to stumble upon your genius. "Our editors travel, they get around. They look at writer's conferences, at MFA programs. They look at magazine articles and at blogs. That's what editors do, they sniff things out from so many different sources." —Carol Schneider, Random House Publishing Group
• Find another way in Slush pile finds "are the rare exception that give people hope. If we found one writer a year that sent things in randomly, that would be a lot…agents are necessary gatekeepers but it's nice if there is an alternative entry…there are subversive ways to get your stuff read—you just have to be dedicated. A writer I know wasn't able to get treatments read so he started rendering them as comic books." —David Granger, editor in chief, Esquire
• Contests! "I'm always wary to recommend to writers that they go to competitions too much because there are fees and they can end up spending a lot of money. But the ones that do get industry attention are really fantastic opportunities to network and to make important relationships." —Hannah Minghella, president of production, Sony Animation Studios, formerly in development at Miramax
• And buck up. In 1957, Tom Wolfe interviewed James Michener, a former slush pile reader and the author of "Tales of the South Pacific." Mr. Wolfe asked him if he had worried, upon submitting the Pulitzer Prize-winning tome to publishers, about competition lurking in the slush piles. "If you've ever read a slush pile," said Mr. Michener, "you'd know I had nothing to worry about," Mr. Wolfe says. "He knew how much garbage there was out there."

Thursday, February 4, 2010


It's become clear that a number of screenwriters who are working at improving their craft are unfortunately paying for "consulting" services they shouldn't be.

Times are tougher in Hollywood these days and everyone is trying better compete and generate more revenue. This is true of writers and writers "consultants." A friend of mine who is a really good psychologist once told me that the better a psychologist is, the less they earn. I said, "That makes no sense. Shouldn't it be the other way around?" He laughed, "No because one we fix them, they don't pay us anymore!"

The same is true of writing consultants. You could bring them a script that you personally love and truly believe in, but that has almost ZERO chance of selling or driving your career forward because at its core it's just not what the market is interested in. Yet the consultant will take your money to "improve its chances." I'm sorry, but improving a screenplay from having a .001% chance of selling to a .002% chance of selling only helps the consultant's wallet, not the writer.

And we all know we can develop material almost forever, creating an endless revenue stream for the unscrupulous consultant.

Like a doctor's Hippocratic oath, "first do no harm", the first thing a consultant should do is review the viability of the screenplay in the market place either as something that can legitimately sell, or be one hell of a great writing sample. If it can't do either, there is no need to consult on it further, move on to another project that can fulfill these mandates. This gets the writer that much faster to their goal of a sale, or starting a new career.

This is where my "will that dog hunt" consulting services come in play. I'll save you countless months of development of screenplays that waste your time and energy. My services are not cheap, but neither is my 16 years of experience.

Important Note: When I'm acting as a Consultant, I'm not acting as an agent. I don't where both hats at the same time.

Package A: For $200 I'll review your treatment, attachments, skill level and concept and let you know if you should be investing your time or moving on to the next project along with feedback to improve a worthwhile project.

Package B: For $500 I'll review your treatment and script, attachments, skill level and concept. I'll provide coverage from 2 different highly skilled script analysts and let you know if you should be investing your time or moving on to the next project along with written notes to improve a worthwhile project.

You can reach me via my website

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Top Box Office = Downsizing

450 Staff, 6.5% Of Workforce, 100 Open Positions Closed

From: Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 2:58 PM
Subject: Transforming the Studio

Dear Colleagues,
In our article in The SPE Reel in December, we spoke about the shifting landscape of entertainment and its impact on the economic model at the heart of this industry. Despite the records our studio set at the box office, we’re not immune from these forces, and we said then that costs needed to be controlled as part of a sustained and strategic effort to remake Sony Pictures for the future.
Since that time, in all-hands meetings and small groups, our division heads and executive team have been in touch with many of you to talk in more detail about the transformation of the studio and the kinds of changes being considered.
Last week, the first steps towards the creation of a new operating model for our studio were taken in our home entertainment division and the IT department.
Today, we want to let you know, in a timely manner, what will be involved in the crucial – and difficult -- next phase of this process.
In several stages, we will have a workforce reduction, with most of the notifications taking place by the first week in March. It will affect each of the studio’s divisions, with the majority occurring in home entertainment and IT, and in the United States.
We do not have final numbers or specific dates for all reductions now, because decisions regarding proposals for certain international offices are pending. Local laws will be governing a consultation process with employees in those locations.
The decision to take this step was difficult. But it’s being done in the context of a strategy designed to help us safeguard our competitiveness and chart our own course through these troubled waters.
The need is clear: from the growth of online piracy, to the social media effect on the performance of films, to the way people have changed how they watch television and acquire DVDs. The business is going through a rough period of trial and transition, and we have an obligation to take the steps necessary to get through it.
As we said in December, we are grateful to everyone at Sony Pictures for helping us meet the challenges of this time in our history from a position of strength. And we are confident that the changes we’re making, as difficult as they are, will keep us on a path toward greater success in the future.
Michael and Amy”