In today's ultra-competitive entertainment industry, a writer needs every weapon at his disposal to get ahead of the competition. Our new Guerrilla Screenwriting column will provide innovative tools, strategies and tactics to help writers sell their work and build successful careers. My goal is to open your eyes to new possibilities and make you aware of how important marketing is to your success in Hollywood.
I’ll share practical advice and war stories, not only from my own experiences in Hollywood, but those of other successful writers and entrepreneurs as well. Being ex-military and a natural born warrior at heart, I see screenwriting from a unique perspective. I look at every story project I undertake as a battle plan. To accomplish the mission, I know I need to do A, B, and C, no matter how difficult, risky or time-consuming those tasks might be.
I’m not afraid to think outside of the box and take risks. After many years of slugging it out in the Hollywood jungle, I’ve learned a few tricks, secrets, and shortcuts. I know what it takes to succeed in this crazy business. I’ve been lied to, beaten up, and taken advantage of by some of the biggest players in Hollywood. I’ve also had wonderful experiences and worked with lots of smart, amazingly talented people in the biz.
After you get to know me, you’ll see that I’m a straight shooter. I don’t sugar coat things and I won’t BS you or tell you how easy it is to make money from screenwriting, because it’s not easy. Writing a good movie, TV show, or novel is one of the toughest endeavors a person could undertake. It’s an elusive art that seems easy on the surface, but is actually very hard to master.
When Script Magazine approached me to write some articles for them, I was more than happy to contribute to such a worthy publication. It’s a fantastic screenwriting resource chock full of valuable nuggets of wisdom. When I was first starting out in Hollywood, I devoured every issue I could get my hands on. If you’re serious about being a writer, I encourage you to do the same.
In this digital age where our email inboxes are flooded with news and product information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on valuable stuff mixed in with all the clutter. That’s why I advise you to do what I did and create a separate email folder for the Script newsletter and then make a conscientious effort to read each article in it once a week, perhaps on a Saturday when things are a bit slower and quieter in your life. I kid you not. You can literally learn something useful in every single article that will help your writing or at the very least provide insight into how the movie industry works.
I love teaching and helping enthusiastic, young creators develop their craft and business acumen. Over the years, as a seminar instructor I’ve taught hundreds of students and read hundreds of scripts, both good and bad. I believe in the concept of “tough love.” To survive and thrive in this brutal business, you must develop thick rhino skin and learn to accept criticism graciously. Not everybody will like your work, in fact most people will find something negative to say about it, but that’s okay. Writing is a long process of trial and error. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised on a regular basis. Like working out at the gym or hitting a tennis ball, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
The best way to learn a new skill is to learn from those who have already done it successfully. Find a mentor, guru, or whatever you choose to call it. I can assure you that whatever it is you’re trying to do has already been done before. So, why reinvent the wheel? Heed the advice of those pioneers who came before you. Don’t make the same stupid mistakes others have made.
We now live in a golden age of information, where nearly everything is available on the Internet. Things that were once closely held Hollywood secrets are now readily shared online. The costs and means of production have dropped significantly, to the point were a 14-year-old kid in Kentucky can buy a HD camera and some inexpensive editing software and make a high-quality video, then throw it up on YouTube, get a million views, and become an overnight sensation.
A radical shift in the way we tell stories and the way we consume them is happening under our very noses. As writers, we need to keep up with these rapid changes in technology in order to stay employed, seize new opportunities to earn income and showcase our talents to the world. I hope you’ll join me in the coming weeks as we explore new ways to break into the movie and TV business. We’ll discuss such topics as transmedia, graphic novel writing, web TV series production, video game writing, personal branding, internet marketing, productivity, and of course regular ole’ Screenwriting 101. :)
- Alt Script articles by Clive Davies-Frayne
- Producer’s POV: How (and Where) Should I Pitch my TV Show?
- Business of Screenwriting: Things a Screenwriter Should and Should Not Do
Tools to Help: