Certainly, writers can write anywhere, but professional screenwriters will tell aspiring screenwriters time and time again that the business of screenwriting happens in Los Angeles; ergo, if you want to have a career in screenwriting, you have to be in LA. You need to be in LA to take meetings with producers and studio executives, to network with peers and industry associates, to pitch your current and future writing projects. Or do you? As for pitches, you can easy post those online like Josh Hallman's pitch for The Abstract below. But there's a catch:
You see, while Hallman has put together a tight, pithy pitch for The Abstract online, giving producers and execs not only the concept and story but also a glimpse at who he is and what he would be like to work with on a project, Hallman also lives in Los Angeles. That means if creative execs find Hallman's online pitch and like what they see, a meeting over breakfast, lunch or coffee with this writer can happen tomorrow (assuming Hallman can clear his schedule, of course).
How long will this have to be the case, though? As the next generation of junior executives rises through the industry ranks -- a generation raised on YouTube and Skype, tweets and txt msgs -- perhaps face-to-face meetings in Los Angeles will become less important. Heck, for NFS, I've never met Koo, Joe, or any of the other contributors to this blog in person - we just talk over HipChat (although Ryan and I have spoken over the phone. Once). With virtual connections and meetings happening so much more frequently nowadays, posting a pitch for your screenplay online may be one of the best tools to promote your work. And if the pitch doesn't work, you could always post some or all of your screenplay online as a writing sample.
In all honesty, I think to become a professional screenwriter, you will need some sort of presence in Los Angeles. For most, that means living there. But for those of us who can't or choose not to live in Los Angeles, we'll eventually find ourselves there to take a meeting. If we're so lucky.
Do you have any pitches posted online? How do you think Skype, FaceTime and other online "face-to-face" communication tools impact where professional screenwriters can ultimately live? Share with us in the Comments.
Link: The Big Shoe - Josh Hallman's video blog
[via John August]
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https://vimeo.com/41078994 - created this pitch to meet Donald Glover, my dream actor for the lead in my next short film
September 13, 2012 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Hilarious true story and a great pitch, Sam. I might cut a little bit of the comedy (Local Brew) stuff as the aesthetic of the rest of the clip is higher-end, but other than that great idea and great execution!
September 14, 2012 at 10:16AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Well from the visual effects POV I can say I almost never see any director showing up in the studios I've worked on. They all rely in remote review tools like Cinesynch and Skype. It's actually more productive remote meetings rather than when I director or producer shows up in the studio. That's one of the reasons you can have big VFX studios in all continents working for projects based in LA. Even shootings now are going to where tax credits are more attractive. At one point the remote meeting thing will find it's way to be in all places within a production.
September 13, 2012 at 3:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I wish living in LA was a realistic option for me, it's been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I'm young, have little experience & am from New Zealand, so moving abroad to the USA is in & of itself a MASSIVE undertaking - especially if I wanted to move to LA, which I understand isn't a cheap place to live. I really hope online pitches become a realistic & popular used method.
September 13, 2012 at 5:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Yeah, I agree Chris. While I certainly think it's possible to make a living as a screenwriter elsewhere, that might realistically be possible only AFTER moving to LA, establishing yourself, and then moving away once you're established. If screenwriting is going to pay 100% of your bills, LA is where they make movies that pay bills and if you get your foot in the door, they are going to want to meet in person, and more importantly you are going to want to meet in person.
John August has a nice post about these "generals," which I've gone to LA for a couple times:
My roommate just moved to LA for exactly that reason, in fact: he was sending stuff, he was getting traction and notes, he had an agent and manager out there, but he wasn't getting any facetime with the studio powers that be and in a relationship-based business that just makes no sense. So he moved, as he should. As a writer/director I think it's a bit different -- you need a producer and you need financing but there are other indie routes for those things... and there are exceptions to every rule... but when you have meetings scheduled in LA you're going to want to go. Conference calls suck and leave much less of an impression. And if you sell a script or get an assignment you're going to be there regularly, IMO.
Also, just a couple quibbles from the pitch video: "these boys who are being invaded" just doesn't sound right (unless it's that kind of movie) and furthermore one could argue that them being "evacuated" means they're getting an enema. I'll just let The Wire say it:
People use it the way he does (as well as the reporter in The Wire), and in modern times most people accept the word to be used either way. But I thought I would tie it in by saying that you might have to first move to LA in order to evacuate LA. Either meaning works there.
September 13, 2012 at 8:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I would rather work with the top 5 people outside of LA rather than #400-500 in LA. If you've got something REALLY good, you will find the people to make it happen wherever you are rather easily. They don't get sent the LA screenplay often. They aren't in LA for a variety of reasons (not least of which, they may hate LA and everything it stands for). But they can bring home a hit film and if you've got the designs on one they will be interested. More interested than the schmoozers and petty power brokers.
And if you're "successy," the world, including LA, will beat a path to your door, wherever you may be.
If you suck, fix it. Moving to LA while you still suck will just make you a certified failure.
September 13, 2012 at 9:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
You can get a screenplay made anywhere, of course. But we're talking about being a working screenwriter.... I.E. regular paying jobs from which you make your living. This is some great advice, though: "if you suck, fix it." A lot of people are going to have a revelation with that one. They will think of their lives as being divided between two different phases: the period of darkness and despair before such amazing advice, and the period of amazing and fulfilling productivity after. It will be like BC and AD. Thank you Jesus!
September 13, 2012 at 9:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just to clarify for the sake of your argument: the "evacuation" is not an enema. Although, I'm starting to think maybe it should be...
September 14, 2012 at 9:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Ah, good to know! That could take the movie in a very different direction...
September 14, 2012 at 10:12AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Do you know what is there to prevent studios and indie filmmakers from seeing these things online in the open, creating the film, and when they're taken to court, simply saying, "We had a similar idea for some time now, and coincidentally this person's pitch appeared online, but the two are not related."
I'm sure this would be a much harder thing to argue for (the theft of an idea) when you put everything out in the open rather than having it optioned on like in the "Coming to America" Buchwald v. Paramount lawsuit.
September 13, 2012 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
It may be out of topic, but i think that right now if you want a movie to be made based on your story you should write a book, publish it (even through the interne) and then write a screenplay. If it is copyrighted material the studios cannot copy your work without permission, and even if you don't get money through the studio you can always tell them to write: "Based on the novel by XY" so your book sellings are going to increase.
September 14, 2012 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
AS's comment is spot on. That's what I'm doing: "writing" or making the graphic novel and publishing it first, and then using it as a storyboard.
September 14, 2012 at 4:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
World if becoming global village and all industries are using online tools big time, and film industry is no exception. Way to go in the future. Off course, some meetings can not be done online but initial ones are definately to go online.
September 20, 2012 at 4:04PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
If you post it online, then you're "idea" is stolen. lol. And ideas are not copyrightable
September 20, 2012 at 4:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I love the idea of pitching through a video but not i'm sure if whole-selling it on YouTube is the best idea. As far as that goes if your going to be professional screenwriter and pitching them, even in video you need to adhere to the laws of pitching and filming an interview. I've nothing against Josh but the camera looks to be shooting looking down on Josh and that is disconcerting and bad filming. The motion graphics are a bit armature and ok, Josh is not a Motionographer but if it's not going to be done well, then I would suggest not doing it. Now then tag line? Ok from my understand L.A. Types are really busy and it just seems like Josh takes forever to get to the point. Of course I suffer from the modern effects of mass in formation and what everything now! Or maybe it's A.D.D. I just think if you want to pitch it this way you should make it awesome! I mean it's for a job right?? If I was gonna pitch an idea I would make more like a movie trailer! Now that's a pitch! Of course I could be wrong :D
September 21, 2012 at 1:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM