I follow a few writing groups on Facebook, where mostly newbies post questions about writing, or their writing careers. Whenever I respond to people's posts, I always try to be helpful, and kind, no matter how naive the post is, while a lot of other people can be sarcastic, insulting, and Troll-like. But today, for the first time, I saw a post that made me want to unleash my judgmental beast. Here's the original post. (It's such an embarrassment, in my opinion, that I've chosen to black-out her name.)
I've seen posts in the past with the some of the same elements, but never all at the same time. Let's break down each one of her points:
"l am looking for an agent or someone successful in the movie industry to sell my feature."
This first sentence, though a simple, harmless query, shows me how little this person knows about how the industry works. Why is this a problem? For starters, no one in any industry is looking to have a meeting with someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. Getting a movie made is a process, even as the writer. And you need to have some understanding of that process. And what does "someone successful in the movie industry" look like anyway? An agent doesn't want to find you, and sell your feature for you. An agent wants you to come to them with a potential deal already in play that they can seal for you. If you don't know what food is, how will you ever get a job waiting tables? Not a great analogy, I know. Sorry.
"I don't want to seem arrogant, but the concept is fresh and the script has award -winning potential."
Yes, you do sound arrogant, and there's probably nothing special about your concept. Maybe it's a fresh concept, sure. Maybe you picked a really good one. I don't deny that. But it's not going to be so amazing that the "someone successful in the movie industry" is going to step out from behind their desk, and say, "Yes, I want this inexperienced, no-name writer, to write it for me." Plus, you've already shown how little you know, so your opinion on what script might have "award-winning potential" means nothing.
"Any suggestions for someone with no connections in the industry and no credentials?"
This is a legitimate question. But have you ever heard someone say, "I'd be a really amazing lawyer- but I've never been to law school- can you help me get a lawyer job anyway?" Again, not a great analogy, but hopefully you catch my drift. The answer is: you have to make connections and get credentials.
"Don't tell me to network, please."
Okay, don't network. Sit on your couch and wait for Facebook to give you a writing career.
"Also, l don't want to spend 20 years of my life writing films that are never produced just to have a big portfolio that can impress people."
Oh, you don't? Why didn't you say so in the beginning? We'll just give you your successful career then, and you don't have to put in the work.
But seriously, it doesn't always take 20 years. Some people reach success much sooner! But they definitely reached it by doing more work than you're doing.
The feature l wrote is impressive enough."
No, it's not. You know how I know? First of all, because you lost all credibility with me at the start. Secondly, because 98% of scripts are not "impressive enough." If you're that good of a screenwriter that people are going to break their rules about taking unsolicited material from no-name writers, then you'd probably know a little more about screenwriting in general than you clearly don't. I'm not saying your script couldn't become impressive enough after some revisions. But none of us, and certainly no "agent, or someone successful in the movie industry" will believe it is now.
I'd like to reiterate that I try to be compassionate and sensitive to a newcomer's naïveté. But this Facebook post reeks of blatant entitled ignorance.
Selling a movie is not a gift that's given to extra special people; it's a business and it takes skill. Learn the trade, learn the business, and do the work.
So what should this person do to not be so ignorant? Here are some ideas:
Join a writing workshop or get a professional to give you feedback on your script to see if it's really as good as you think it is. (Not your mom. Don't ask your mom.)
Read books on the industry, like this kind of annoying and poorly written, though still informative "That's Not The Way It Works."
Get a job in a production office, on a movie set as a P.A., or as an agent's assistant.
Read the autobiographies of movie folk you respect.
Book a session with me!
Have a suggestion for new writers? Leave it in the comments section!