The Story of a Moment
One day you are going to ask me how I did it, how did I row, row, row my boat up the friggin’ sweet stream of success. I will flash you a slick smile. Skim a load of details. Forget how hard I worked. Make it sound easy. But, so you are not fooled, I will riff about it now, while still in the wild...
Here is how you figure out what the fuck to do with an awesome screenplay:
First, you have to spend half your life (well, I guess that depends on how old you are) learning the craft of screenwriting. Theory doesn’t take much time at all and is pretty much useless. Theory won’t teach you how to do anything, really. Theory is Robert McKee. Read that book (Story) once and then throw it away. You have to read a lot of scripts, then watch a lot of movies, then get some screenwriting software and write. This is best done if you are resourceful, move to LA, randomly e-mail a known script guru, illicit a response with your amazing e-mail skills, trick him into meeting you so that he can do good by giving the next generation some tips, score a referral to a private screenwriting workshop…
Then you start attending the workshop. You have to pay for it, of course. You outline, you write. You rewrite. A lot. You never miss a week. You put your life into words. You think about your story all the time. You get ripped a new one every go. You want to quit, but you never could. It takes a year or so, probably. Maybe more depending on how much you suck going in and how much you suck at life in general.
All the while you have only a few words to paint pictures with and you learn to use them wisely.
And all along the way you make contacts and network. You talk about your project. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have your own teen show hanging about for a load of the process. This can earn you some cred and contacts. It doesn’t hurt to be acting and producing. It doesn’t hurt to be young. Or old. Or anything, really. (If you know how to use what you have in your favor and not let someone use it against you.) What does hurt is to be holed-up and not socializing. (Unless you are playing Zelda, because that definitely helps your story techniques.)
Oh and you may want to launch your own amazing website and put some stuff on it about how you’re (undeniably) awesome.
Because, fuck, you’re almost done.
Your screenplay’s a fantasy, so you get someone good to do the concept art. You know, so that you can showcase The Awesome visually…
And you dive into final revisions. Your screenwriting workshop is wicked amazing and helpful, but it’s starting to wear on your nerves. After all, there’s only so much that seven people can say about one story before they have nothing else to say. And you are at the point where you can make your own artistic decisions. (If not, you should probably realize that you suck at life and fire yourself from living.) You get the workshop’s final feedback on the entire screenplay, and peace out to do an (almost) final rewrite.
You rewrite and then send your screenplay to three acquaintances. Said acquaintances are other (perhaps older and more experienced) screenwriters who can give raw feedback. These are your friendly industry contacts. They will read an almost finished copy, give feedback, wait for your final revisions, and still give it out to people they know. (Assuming, of course, that they don’t think your story sucks.)
Final revisions-- Then, you hit up every single contact you have and force them all to read your story.
Now’s the time when you need an amazing query letter to rock the world of every stranger producer in such a way that they holler, “Get me that screenplay wicked fast, yo! I must read it at once!”
I have mentioned that letter writing is a lost art. Query writing is an even greater challenge. But, if you have e-mail skills and can get professionals to cold meet with you, then you’ve probably got it on lock. So you put your skills at it and keep revising your creative query. You have two nightmares about appearing on Query Letters I Love because your story is a fantasy and it’s challenging to write about a fantasy without sounding like some sort of wizard. (Believe it or not some people do not take kindly to wizards.) This gives you acid reflux and prevents you from singing live on SNL oh, wait, no— that was someone else.
Anyway, you have a query and a screenplay and you research the shit out of the whole 10 production companies who could probably, actually pull of an original epic. You pause, “Shitwhatifmystorysucks?!” You almost cross the line to I-need-validation land…
But then you realize: I am the shit. My screenplay is the shit.
People want this story. Bad. They just don’t know it yet.
After all, if Sly can Rocky the industry, then certainly you can. Although, you are much smaller, so your pounding on doors might be less loud, and you haven’t actually seen Rocky….
But you’ve put the work and the time and the soul into the project and have therefore earned the right to be insanely cocky in a Stallone-like manner. You’re not desperate; you’re awesome.
Matt Damon? Ben Affleck? Good Will this! They have nothing on you, kid.
And everyone is about to fucking know it, man.
Every. One. Will. Know.
And, that, my mofo, is awesome.
I am going to kick so much ass. You are seriously going to lose your shit.
And, if you are the shit or know someone who is the shit and they want to seriously read this shit, (i.e.: solid, awesome screenplay 'n shit,) then let a Ninja know.
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