MI CHA E L HA UGE — D O YOU WA NT TO BE A SC REENW RITE R? T RI E N N I A L S C RE E N WRI T E RS FE ST IVA L
Do you really want to be a screenwriter? — By Michael Hauge I’ve been teaching screenwriting classes and seminars for more than fifteen years, and I’ve worked with thousands of movie and television writers at various stages of their careers. But, whenever I’m with a group of would-be filmmakers hoping to launch their careers, I encounter two different myths about the Hollywood obstacle course that both lead to disappointment. The first misconception is that Hollywood is an easy path to fame and fortune. Perhaps a writer watches some brainless TV show and concludes that anybody with the I.Q. of corn could write drively like that. Then she reads about how Joe Esterhasz sold a spec script for slightly more than the gross national product of Portugal, while she’s wondering how long she can get by on her $25 check from ›Big Rig Monthly‹ for her article on mud flaps. And then some polite, but chicken-hearted, publisher tries to let her down easy by saying that her 873-page manuscript about the Millard Fillmore White House years would be much better as a movie. So before you know it, she’s typing ›FADE IN.‹ She has fallen victim to the erroneous belief that writing a movie is no harder than watching one. She thinks that everybody who sells a script will be a millionaire and that because movies and TV shows are plentiful, relatively short and frequently mediocre, there really are no rules, standards or professional skills to worry about.
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In other words, that screenwriting is easy.
The other, more destructive, myth about screenwriting is just the opposite: a writer hears about the thousands of unproduced, unsold, unoptioned, unread and unopened screenplays floating around Hollywood and decides that his dream is absurd. Friends, loved ones and failed screenwriters will be happy to reinforce this belief with loads of anecdotes and statistics: everybody in Los Angeles is working on a script; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; every writer in Hollywood gets ripped off; you have to live in Southern California; you have to be a young white male; and even if you could break in, writing movies is obviously a ridiculous, pointless, demeaning and hopeless pursuit for any serious writer to consider. In other words, screenwriting is impossible.
Not True Either.
Published on Mar 15, 2014