Today we have the third installment of the See Me Sell A Screenplay (SMS) interview with screenwriter Blake Snyder (BS). If you missed the previous parts, first go read: An interview with screenwriter and author Blake Snyder – part one and An interview with screenwriter and author Blake Snyder – part two.
Interview, part three:
SMS: What is the lowest amount you think a writer should accept for an option on a script?
BS: I think a free option can be the right option. I think it depends on where you are in your career. The fact that someone is willing to take a chance on you and take your script out to promote it is an indicating factor of success. And it is something that you can go ahead and tell other people about.
SMS: What about thinks like Pitchfest and the Final Draft ‘Take A Meeting’ that happened last weekend – how beneficial are those for screenwriters?
BS: Tremendously. But I also think that you have to go into it knowing that the value of it is not necessarily ‘I’m going to go in and sell my pitch now.’ I think that the value is ‘I’m going to go in and very smartly make contacts, I’m going to get business cards and shake hands with people that I will contact in the future. And I’m going to be as interested in them as I hope they are in me.’ I think if you can get into a five-second conversation with a development executive something of interest to them then when you are surfing the net one day and you see an article on boating and you remember ‘oh yeah, there was that I guy I met that was interested in boating.’ Then you send them that article. I think there is a big part of it about being of service to other people that is extremely valuable in anyone’s career. It’s not just about you. So, that’s the value – you are interfacing with people who can go on your contact list and in a sense it is who you know, but who you know is controllable and you can manage that and sort of enhance that. I challenge writers to say at the beginning of the year or when I hook up with them to make a list of them contacts and double that list by the end of the year and then double it every year after that. And I think that this is an important aspect of the job. It’s not just sitting and writing a thousand words a day. The other half of that is, not marketing yourself necessarily, but networking. It’s an exciting thing too. What I love about my job now is that I get a chance to help writers understand this stuff. Whatever your goal is – you may want to make a lovely $100,000 independent film and show it on two screens and that is fabulous, but know going in that is what you are doing and that is your target. I will help you as much as I can to get that story as good as it can be. I will also help you target House Bunny and that kind of sale and that kind of world too. They are all viable and they are all of equal merit.
SMS: You already said that you thought it was a good idea for a writer to get a manager – is that over agents?
SMS: What about writers who just send queries out to production companies – should they focus more on getting a manager or sending out those queries?
BS: Again it depends on where you are but the query letter and the email query does work. We had a guy in our workshop who pitched in our class with a script called Dr. Sensitive. We worked out the beats for that story and he went on to write that script and pitched it in email query to several people in the Hollywood Creative Directory. One of the people who responded was Underground Management. The reason I like managers is very often, now this is not always the case, but very often they will also have a hat of producer. And their real interest is finding material that they can help you to develop and be attached as a producing entity. If you can find those people – again do you homework so you can distinguish between the ‘fly-by-night’ people and the real people – and proceed accordingly. Again, I think that this is all about the networking process. I think you can get results from an email query.
SMS: As someone in the business, how many working writers do you know that didn’t already ‘know someone’ to get their big break?
BS: I think a majority actually. Even though my father was in the business, he has passed away by the time I was making inroads in the business. I think what he did give me was an appreciation for certain aspects of the business. There is an up and down quality to this. The first lesson of show business for me was as a kid one Christmas we had a lot of presents and the next Christmas we didn’t have any. That’s showbiz! But it’s also normal so it’s not something to wrack your brain and worry about. It’s a tough career.
SMS: How difficult is it really for an outsider to break in?
BS: It’s the same. I think it’s a great democracy. There is this myth that there is this wall trying to keep you out from Hollywood when we are desperately trying to find the next House Bunny. But you have to put it in terms that we can understand and appreciate and that we think we can profit from. If you have that, you don’t need to be anybody.
That concludes part three of our interview with Blake Snyder. Stay tuned for the final part where Blake gives his thoughts on what type of training a screenwriter really needs.
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