Frequently Asked Questions
No. “Seldom asked” would be more accurate, and even that’s a stretch.
No. Most professional writers won’t even touch a script unless it’s submitted through proper channels. (Agents, managers, studio execs, etc.) This provides us a layer of protection so that we don't get accused of stealing someone's idea. By the way, we don’t need to steal your talking dog show idea. We have a shoe box full of talking dog show ideas that no one wants. If you send me an unsolicited script, I will return it back to you without even opening the envelope. Same goes for unsolicited brownies.
The Writer’s Guild of America allows people (even non-members) to register a script for a small fee. Apparently, this offers new writers a level of protection. That said, I’ve only registered one script in my entire career, and that’s when I was just starting out.
I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt. In my opinion, if a producer or studio likes your script, it’s much less expensive for them to just option it from you, rather than face costly litigation in the future.
First of all, stop saying “awesome,” it makes you sound like a ten year old. (If you happen to be a five year old, keep saying it. It makes you sound mature.) Secondly, it sounds like the job you want is “boss.” You know, where you get to order people around without actually doing the work yourself. I want that job too.
Every working writer has a hundred ideas for TV shows. The hard truth is, working writers don’t need your idea. They need big name talent attached, or a powerful producer, or the rights to a best selling book. Moreover, when a network buys a TV show from a writer, they’re not just buying the concept. They want the show to last 10, 20, or even 200 episodes. So they’re trusting that the writer has the experience to deliver that. Unfortunately, you need to bring more to the table than just an idea.
Look dude, I’m just telling you the hard truth. If you prefer to immerse yourself in fantasy, start following some Instagrammers. #BestLife
Back in the day, I broke in as a production assistant. It was low paying grunt work, but at least I was exposed to working writers, and was able to learn from them.
Today, the barrier to entry is much lower. You can shoot a video on your phone and post it to YouTube. Build a following, and soon Hollywood will be reaching out to you! I’ve been involved in a number of projects where a studio discovered someone this way, and brought me and my writing partner on board to shepherd it.
Welcome to Hollywood. In fairness to Hollywood, you may not have a firm grasp on the definition of “sell.” When you sell something, it’s no longer yours. That’s like saying, “I want to sell my car, but I’m worried the new owner will paint it blue.” It’s their car now, they can paint it whatever color they damn well please.
Most networks or studios will assure you that they don’t want to mess with the creative vision of your beautifully written courtroom drama. And they may very well mean it. But the minute the boss tells them to cast a talking elephant in the show, you can bet your ass Lieutenant Dumbo is going to take the stand. He'll offer his long-winded testimony, the judge will admonish him to keep it brief, then the elephant will say, "I apologize, your Honor. Here's the trunk-ated version." The editor will crank up the laugh track and you'll rant and rave about how awful Hollywood is. But you didn't seem to have a problem with Hollywood when you cashed the check.
After 25 years of writing screenplays, it was time to try another format. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. I plan to post a new one every month or so.
At some point, I may have something important to announce. Most likely, I’ll be doing this via email. But there's a chance I'll be announcing via carrier pigeons launched from the rooftop of a Victorian mansion in 19th century London. If you live within a 20 miles radius, don't look up that day.
By the way, I don’t plan on sending many emails, and you can unsubscribe whenever you want.