Interview, part three:
SMS: Have you ever attended events like a pitchfest? If so, how was that experience?
DE: Never been, but now that you mention it, I think I should.
SMS: I see that you are based out of New York – do you have any plans to move to the West Coast?
DE: New Yorkâ€™s a great place, especially for a writer. Recognizing peopleâ€™s idiosyncrasies is one thing but in New York youâ€™re forced to deal with them. While on the subway I rub shoulders (sometimes unfortunately) with unique individuals and often plug their mannerisms into my characters when I come home at night. It also took the crowded, dirty, and fast paced nature of this city to make me realize that I wanted to start focusing on my hometown as a setting and subject. As of right now, Iâ€™m staying put.
SMS: Do you have an agent/manager? If so, what steps did you take to get one and what advice can you offer to other screenwriters looking to get representation?
DE: Theyâ€™re both on my wish list.
SMS: How much do you estimate that you have spent entering screenplay contests during your writing career? Do you feel that has been a worthwhile expenditure for your career? If so, why? If not, how do you wish you would have spent that money to further your career?
DE: My grand total for 10 competitions was $464. I was able to keep the costs down by only entering competitions that accepted emailed or downloadable scripts (cutting down copying and mailing costs) and by trying to enter by the early deadline in instead of the final deadline. Most competitions have several deadlines at different price ranges, and if you enter early you can save 10-20 bucks per competition and sometimes be eligible for early-bird prizes.
The expenses were very justifiable, especially since you can write them off when tax season comes around. If I was to do it all I again I think I would enter about half of what I did the first round, focusing purely on competitions that offer workshops (such as Film Independentâ€™s Screenwriters Lab and The Sundance Screenwriters Lab) and spend the rest on script consultation.
SMS: Have you ever paid for script coverage? If so, what place do you suggest writers consider using, i.e. where do you feel gave you the most helpful feedback?
DE: As part of an award, Joe Gilford, of Story Rescue (www.storyrescue.com) donated a full script consultation, which was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. He sent a report covering general comments, analysis, and prognosis as well as a redlined copy of the script with numerous notes and corrections attached. We then spent the good part of an hour talking shop, covering topics ranging from what he thinks is lacking, to what he thinks is strong, to what I should do to make both better. He was very friendly, constructively honest, and encouraging.
SMS: What steps do you plan to take to continue furthering your writing career?
DE: Iâ€™ll obviously keep on writing, but I need to hit the streets and start a broader marketing plan. In the art and photo world you can usually let the visuals speak unaided, however in the script world I think you need to stand up and give your work an extra voice that rises above the ruckus. I need to work on polishing that voice and finding the right people to listen and ultimately read my work.
That concludes our interview with screenwriter David Ebelhoft. And watch for our upcoming interview with screenwriter Joseph Brennan.