Why Does Tarantino Think You Should Write Feature Specs?

Spec scripts are not as popular today—but they should be. 

There's been a transition in the last few decades for people who wanted to break into screenwriting. In the 90s, the spec market was on fire, and major execs were looking for the next big idea. Titles sold for millions of dollars and launched the careers of people like Quentin Tarantino, Shane Black, Joe Eszterhas, and others.

Specs were a great way to write freely. You got to handle your story, put your voice on the paper, and show the world how creative you were. People loved going on journeys where they had no idea what was coming next. 

But nowadays, the spec screenplay market feels a little dry. 

Most writers get their work in television. And the ultimate goal is to get into a writers' room. From there, you can try to sell your own shows and become a showrunner. Television writing can provide a long and stable career if you can get your foot in the door. 

But Quentin Tarantino has another way he wants to show you... He wants you to go back to writing a bunch of spec screenplays. 

Check out this video, and let's talk after the jump. 

I found this video to be really interesting. On one hand, I think the limited amount of movies studios are making really pushes beginning writers toward television. On the other, I do think that execs love reading great feature specs. I mean, every year we publish the results of the Black List. And I have a lot of friends who work in features who are constantly sharing scripts that they like. 

There are lots of variables at play. And the truth is, Hollywood is always looking for new voices and creative people. 

I don't think there is a right or wrong way to break in. Especially with generations being raised on television. Some people feel way more connected to that than they might be to movies. 

But there's one trend I think people are picking up too late. 

Movies are coming back in a real way. 

With the advent of streamers, we are seeing film come back, though not in the ways you might expect. While event and tentpole movies will always be prioritized, we are seeing a resurgence in romantic comedies, mid-budget dramas, and thrillers. We're also seeing places like Netflix and Hulu push comedy and horror in a real way. They're acquiring films from festivals and putting them on the front page of their platforms. 

While we are not seeing the spec surge of the 90s, I do think we are entering an era where the hunger for content will create more of a healthy market. So if you are inclined to write more specs and to hone your voice, I think the time is now. 

What's next? Get our free screenwriting eBook

So much of what we're talking about on No Film School when it comes to screenwriting is summarized in our new eBook. It also helps guide you through a 10-week writing plan that will get your script actually finished.     

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90s the best movies.

January 9, 2021 at 1:35AM, Edited January 9, 1:35AM

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John Cloudy
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