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Test Your Screenwriting I.Q. (Pt. 1)

Steve Kaire sets the record straight on some popular misconceptions about the industry.

True or False

1. Literary agents are eager to add new writers to their client list.
That’s false. Agents are busy enough handling their present clients and don’t take on new clients very often. The exception is when a writer achieves success on his own, and then the agents come calling. The other exception is when a person whom the agent respects recommends that the agent look at a writer’s material with the possibility of representing him.

2. Options are generally a good deal for screenwriters.
False. Options are a bad deal for writers. For very little money, the writer can’t pitch his project to anyone for the length of the option. And when the option is up, the company optioning the material usually fails to set up the project and years have been wasted.

3. Half the members of the Writer’s Guild earn no income from their writing each year.
Unfortunately, that is true.

4. High Concept is any big budget film.
That’s false. High Concept is not related to budgets at all. It’s an original concept with mass appeal that can be pitched in a few sentences.

5. A rejected screenplay can be resubmitted to the same company after revisions.
False. You have only one shot with each company you submit to.

6. Dramas are one of the most difficult genres to sell.
True. Dramas are a difficult sell because they are execution driven, rather than pitch driven. You have to read the scripts to appreciate it.

7. Verbal contracts are just as enforceable as written contracts.
False. Verbal agreements are legal contracts but it comes down to one persons word against another. Get everything in writing so there are no misunderstandings.

8. There is a lot of theft of material in Hollywood.
False. Contrary to public opinion, theft of material does happen, but it occurs far less frequently than people think. It’s much cheaper to acquire material legally than steal it, avoiding lawsuits and bad publicity.

9. The writing and rewriting of a screenplay is generally a one to two year investment of time.
Very true.

10. Never sign a release form because you are signing your rights away.
False. Signing release forms is sometimes the only way to get your material read by production companies and studios.