Monthly Archives: September 2012

Breaking Into Hollywood (from the UK)

Lots of UK writers have been asking me recently about breaking into Hollywood so here’s my advice.

Pretty much the same advice applies whether you’re breaking into your home market or a foreign market and my top tip for both is DO YOUR HOMEWORK!   Just as I’d expect a writer applying to write on ‘Holby City’ or ‘Coronation Street’ to watch the show and know it well, so you have to know the market you’re trying to crack, whatever and wherever it is.

If you’re a UK writer wanting to write UK films you’d be researching UK film production companies, right? So, do the same thing for Los Angeles. Learn which production companies and studios make what films. If you’re into the UK market you’d get Broadcast and Moviescope.  For the US market there are loads of great magazines and websites to help you keep track of who’s making what – try Deadline Hollywood, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.   There are also subscription sites like TrackingBTracking Board, DoneDealPro, ItsOnTheGrid and Screen International.

If you want L.A representation, find out who represents the Hollywood writers whose films you love. The websites that track film script sales always mention who represents the writer so you can build up a picture of the L.A literary agent scene pretty quickly.

Although you can certainly make approaches to Hollywood from the UK, in her ScriptChat Q&A, Los Angeles literary manager Jenny Frankfurt also recommends getting out to L.A and networking in person.  One great way to do this is through the Hollywood Field Trip.  It’s a bit pricey but the feedback from those writers that have been is that it was money incredibly well invested in their careers. Right now the guys have got 2 spots remaining on their October trip and are offering £200 off the price. Do get in touch with them if you’re interested.

If Hollywood is the market you want to write for then you should GO FOR IT – good luck and I’ll see you there!

 

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Practise Makes Perfect

Watching the extraordinary achievements of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes this summer made me appreciate more than ever that if you want to be successful at something, you’ve got to knuckle down and practise.

For screenwriters of course that means practising your writing by simply writing – LOTS! But it also means studying your craft; analysing successful screenplays, reading books on screenwriting or attending seminars and talks by others who’ve analysed thousands of movies and screenplays. It means identifying areas of your craft that you’re not as strong on (story structure or character or dialogue) and finding techniques to help you get better at those elements.

But great writing alone rarely enables you to succeed and there are other aspects to being a successful writer that you’ll need to master. Perhaps you’re lousy at networking or pitching. If you hate pitching (and I know a LOT of writers who do) then practising is vital if you’re to get good at it – at the very least you want to be comfortable enough doing it that you don’t turn into a blubbering wreck when an Executive asks you about your new movie idea.  And who knows, you might discover you’ve got a real knack for it and find yourself desperate to go to a huge pitch festival and get on that stage to pitch with the best of them.

In an industry built so heavily on personal recommendation, networking is another aspect of the job that lots of writers dread. As with pitching, it requires practice so my advice is to get out there and get doing it!

The forthcoming London Screenwriters’ Festival is a great place to learn tips on your craft, practise your pitching and your networking.  I’ll be speaking there and, of course, networking too so come and say hello.  Don’t forget that if you use Discount Code ‘SCRIPTANGEL2012’ you can save £22 off the ticket price.  Let me know if you’re going and I hope to see you there.

Be honest with yourself, identify those areas that you’re really not so great at, and put the work in to get better at them. With hard graft in the right areas you’ve got a great chance of making it as a successful screenwriter.  Good luck!

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