The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been omitted to protect the innocent.
The script of a friend of mine has had some positive results in the contest world, and the most recent venture was getting professional analysis on it, resulting in somewhat decent scores.
I’ve read this script, and it’s very, very good. It takes a classic story everybody knows, and then examines what happens AFTER the events of that story. There’s a lot to like about it, and my friend is doing what they can to get it out there.
Part of their effort is seeking advice from those with more experience. Sometimes it’s via social media, private online groups, or public community forums. We’re in several of the same groups, so I’ve seen a lot of my friend’s posts.
Not that I consider myself to be especially ‘experienced’, but since becoming connected with this person, I’ve done what I can to be supportive and helpful when applicable.
Earlier this week, my friend came to me with a dilemma.
They’ve been frequenting a community forum where one of the members regularly belittles or downplays any form or announcement of good news posted by another writer. Sometimes it’s along the lines of “”Look, this is a tough industry. If you can’t take the criticism, you’re totally in the wrong field, which it looks like you are.”
I also marveled at how much time people tend to spend on these forums. Many comments tend to be of the “I know better than you, so bow before my obvious superiority” sort. This was a big part of why I stepped away from them. I’d rather spend my time, y’know, actually writing.
Quick side note – the person claims to have representation, and some optioned scripts as well as a news release from a few years ago about their latest script being shopped around. Both my friend and I scoured IMDB Pro for any mention of them at all, but…bupkis. Take from that what you will.
As much as I consider every other writer to be my competition, I don’t think I’d ever actively try to dissuade somebody from trying. Would I remind them this is an extremely tough field to break into, let alone thrive in, and that their overall chances of success are very small? Yes.
I’ve also dealt with “professionals” who’ve talked down to me and told me my story ideas were stupid and worthless, using the reasoning “I’m just treating you the way somebody in the industry would. If you can’t take it, maybe you shouldn’t be trying.”
Not having as much experience as some, the people I have encountered were actually polite, helpful and supportive. If something didn’t work for them, I’d at least get “thanks, but no thanks.”
This does compel me to ask: is that really how the industry treats most people?
This most recently came to a head when my friend asked about suggestions for how to use the positive results they received from a reputable script analysis service as a marketing tool.
The same person was the first to respond, saying the concept wasn’t that original, so the script didn’t have much of a chance, and marketing it would be a very tough sell. When asked what they would recommend, they seemed to just repeat the same things.
My advice to my friend was to ignore 99 percent of what that other person said, but keep in mind that yes, the field for potential interest in their script is limited, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least try. There’s no guarantee, but you never know who might say yes.
I made some suggestions of possible strategies, and summed it up with the standard “if they say no, you move on to the next one.”
As many of you probably already know, I’m a big believer not just in networking, but also in supporting the writing community. I try to help when I can any way I can.
This other person seemed to run completely counter to that. I just don’t see the point in why they would. To make themselves seem important? To show off their accomplishments? Wouldn’t they rather be seen in a positive light, rather than a negative one? I know I would.
I also mentioned to my friend that treating people like that could eventually backfire. Just because you might be a nobody today doesn’t mean you couldn’t be somebody important tomorrow.
And writers have long memories. We tend to remember those who leave bad impressions.
The best I could offer my friend was that I was there to help them and offer encouragement and advice when needed, and I hope other writers feel the same about their friends as well.
-The fine folks at Shore Scripts have a couple of deadlines coming up fast.
And for writers of film and TV, this Monday – 31 August – is the final deadline for the Shore Scripts 2020 Feature & TV Pilot contest.