One of the many interesting sites for new screenwriters is Scriptshadow. Among other features, the site includes an informative blog that covers a range of topics, and one recent post caught my attention. A guest post by Randy Steinberg, who identifies himself as a failed screenwriter.
Ooh. Ow. You just got a little twinge in your chest, didn`t you?
Because failing at something is often healthy, for the most part, I think. But declaring an entire career a failure? That`s a lot of weight to put on your shoulders. I think redirecting your career isn`t failure… But I digress.
There`s a lot of different suggestions about what could make a screenwriting career easier to undertake and, like all things relating to screenwriting, all could be applicable to any number of individuals.
There was one nugget I wanted to single out, though. A piece of advice I`ve heard too many times that has never made any sense to me. Here`s how Steinberg puts it:
You’ll hear Hollywood insiders frequently tell new writers to just “write a great story” and you will get noticed. I think this is terrible advice. If there are two writers of equal skill, one who loves writing period dramas with female leads over 50 years of age and the other who scripts action pieces with 30-year old male leads, it’s not hard to see who is going to get more traction.
Here`s my mini (tangentially related) rant on the topic- I just read a script of a film that has been vexing me. It`s a film that`s recently gotten some critical attention, but I kind of loathed it. A lot. I`ve been struggling to figure out why I disliked the film. I thought reading the script would make it clear what a great script it was and I maybe just didn`t give the film a chance. But the screenplay seemed to be more of a mess than the film! I did find the characters and themes were very much in line with the stories Hollywood is currently telling, though, and it makes total sense why it would get made and critics would like it.
Is it possible that sometimes so-so scripts get made? Maybe someone wrote a not-so-great script and still got noticed by Hollywood? One thing I know for sure is that there`s a lot more to being a successful writer than being a great writer. Crazy, but true.
I saw this post too, but I wonder how true his comment is. I have been encouraged to give my scripts a great part for a woman in her 40s or 50s since there are many great actresses in this age range and few parts available. And we all know that getting talent attached helps move things along. Yeah, this movies don’t usually make beaucoup bucks, but not every movie can be a 200 million dollar action flick.
I think a fairly odd example was used- the older female role versus the younger male role as making the only difference in consideration of quality- but I do think the advice to write something great and people will find you is utter bs. Lots of really talented writers have yet to break through for reasons other than the quality of their work. It`s the one piece of nonsense advice I don`t ever want to hear again…