Showing posts with label Film Industry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Film Industry. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Your Hyphenate Brain – How Fiction Writers Can Play the Hollywood Game to Their Advantage

Today we're happy and excited to feature Zoë Green, a guest writer for!

Zoë Green has recently been hired to write projects for Rob Reiner and George Clooney and is currently writing a superhero(ine) movie for Stan Lee. To learn about writing for film/TV visit her site


Picture the scene. A young woman emerges from film school, secures a literary agent and writes her first screenplay with the idea that she will sell it to Hollywood. It hits all the right notes – it’s a big budget sci-fi / fantasy extravaganza, and is hailed by all studio readers as a unique blend of character and ‘world building’. Compliments fly. High powered meetings ensue. But alas, no studio can actually buy it. The reason? The work is original and not based on an existing underlying intellectual property.

A number of years have passed. I (the young woman in question) have been lucky enough to build a screenwriting career from this original screenplay. It did the work of a good spec – it got me many meetings which led to much free ‘take’ work which led (eventually and often in anti linear fashion) to a number of TV and movie sales. But the cold hard truth remains that in today’s sputtering spec market an original screenplay will rarely sell unless it happens to be a commercial enough twist on a public domain concept to pique the interest of a studio. All those of you who want to see your own stories up there on screen may as well hang up your hats. But wait! There’s another way. Call it the double-edged sword. The buyers want original content to turn into movies. They are gasping for it – to the extent that producers rabidly comb short story websites, galley manuscripts, random tiny comic book imprints and blogs to find something, anything, with an existing built in audience, however tiny. So if you’re an aspiring screenwriter with a fictional bent, consider yourself as the progenitor of a multi-faceted creature ‘the idea’ and make sure that it exists in the right format for them to find. Come up with a high concept idea and get it published. Almost anywhere. And then make damn sure you have the screenwriting skills to insist that you get first pass at the script when they come clamoring to option it. It will serve you to have the screenplay version already written. They may well buy it from you and you could suddenly find yourself a card-carrying member of the WGA. You may even then be asked to write the tie-in movie novel in an interesting reversal of media. Result!

Remember this --- producers and studios have an endless devouring need for new material. So understand that a person who can strategically write both fiction and film may well be the only kind of person who can retain any kind of control over original ideas in this very precarious, ever shifting game.