Clear Information to Help Writers Understand the Entertainment Industry
Sunday, February 21, 2010
SHOULD IT COST $500 TO SUBMIT A SCREENPLAY?
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.