Selling Your Screenplay – #95
(Typewriter Keys Tapping)
Ashley: Hello and welcome to episode #95 of Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger, over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Gordy Hoffman, Screenwriter and founder of “Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition.” He recently did a short film called, “Dog Bowl” which got a Sundance, and he raised the money for it through Kick-Starter. So, we talk a bit about that, I’m getting ready to do my own Kick-Starter campaign and so I really peppered him with questions, really. Just trying to figure out how he went about it, to raise so much money on it, on Kick-Starter. And we cover a variety of other screenwriting related topics as well. Gordy has a world of experience, teacher, screenwriter, he’s a producer screenwriter. So he has a lot of insider into all aspects of screenwriting. And we do get into some of those in the end as well, so stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes, websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog or in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode, in case you would rather read it? Or look something else up later on. You can find all the Podcast show notes on –
www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast. And then just look for episode #95.
I talk quite often about the writers group that I’m in. Each week, three writers present about twenty five pages of screenplay. The pages are read on stage by professional actors. And then the other writers in the group give notes to the presenting writer. It’s a excellent way to work on job material. Hearing them performed out loud is invaluable, and getting notes on the material as well. Can really help with the rewriting of the script. We’re always looking for good writers to join up our ranks. Our group meets once per week, in Sherman Oaks on Tuesday night at 7:00p.m.-7:15p.m. You have to be committed to coming most Tuesday nights, even if you’re not presenting. Okay, I’ve been in some other writing groups, where the writers show up the day they are presenting. That is not this group! This group is pretty much, you have to show up, even if you are not presenting. Because the other writers need to get notes from you as writer as well. So, it’s sort of a reciprocal thing. You should show up when other writers are presenting, then those other writers will show up when you are presenting something. So, it is a big commitment, but as I said, we are always looking for good writers. So, if you’re in the Sherman Oaks area, which is right on the corner, sort of where the 405 and the 101 meet in Los Angeles area. In the Sherman Oaks, we meet on Tuesday night at 7:15p.m. I encourage anyone to come out and audit a few of them, the meetings. We are very opened to letting people audit them, the meetings. It’s completely free to just show up on a Tuesday night, listen to the scripts. And then try to offer some, you know, some helpful comments on the scripts. So, if you live in the L.A. area? Check out the writers group. Which is www.deadlinejunkies.com, you can find all of the pertinent information there. Again, that’s www.deadlinejunkies.com, I will link to them in the show notes. If you don’t live in the L.A. area? You might consider trying to start a writers group in your area. As I said, over the years I’ve gotten a lot out of this writer’s group that I’m in. So, I highly recommend it, really to anybody, anyplace in the world. Find other writers, find a few actors and just start putting in material up in front of them. And then hearing it out loud, and getting notes from other people, really is invaluable.
If you want my free guide – “How to Sell Your Screenplay in Five Weeks,” you can pick that up by going to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, just put in your Email address and I’ll send a new lesson once a week for five weeks. Along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I’ll teach you the process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional log-on and quarry letter. How to find agents, managers, and producers who are looking for new material. It really is everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So, just a few quick words, about what I’m working on? So, the rewrites, last week I mentioned I was meeting with the director of the script. It is a medical drama that is how I will refer to it, it is a medical drama. I originally wrote this, the first draft in about a week. Since then, I’ve done two rewrites on it. And I met with the director last week, so? I got a few more notes, I think that’s pretty much it. I hope I won’t have many more notes. The notes were pretty mild, as far as notes go? And really it was just a matter of tweaking some characters and tweaking the end a little bit. So, it wasn’t that bad, it took me about a day to implement these changes. What’s interesting, to, one of the big changes? One of the changes, was changing the ending? It kinda gives them a more up-beat ending. As opposed to sort of a more sad ending. And that was fine, I thought the ideas they had were actually good. And they had, it wasn’t hard to implement. So, rewriting a bunch of pages. But, a, rewriting the ending is not that challenging. It’s not that hard because I had a lot of like, changes that had to be made through out the script. Again, it was just the sort of going a different direction. There wasn’t enough to go back and set-up a bunch of set-up’s and different payoffs, and set-ups and so it was pretty easy to implement that.
The other note was, getting a specific character, making one that is kind of a minor character in the original draft that I wrote. In making her a more prominent character in the script. And what’s interesting, this is not something that? When I was starting out as a screenwriter, it’s not something you really anticipate until you’ve been in the business. And essentially to have it, an actress prominent actress they want to play this specific part? And the part just wasn’t big enough. And there’s a variety of reasoning’s why she has to play this specific part. They couldn’t give here one of the other parts? I mean, it’s the age and the ethnicity. And there’s a bunch of things that make her perfect for it, this one role. But in her country, she’s the “Big Star” so, we need to build that role up, and it needs to be much, much, much, much, more prominent than the original role was. So, there’s no like artistic, creative reasons for this. It’s purely like a business type of a decision, where the directors and the producer they have this actor, see who wants to work with them. And she is a big actress in this country, where they’re from. Where the film makers are from. Is a very prominent actor. So, they want to get her in it. And they want to get her prominent role. So, it was just a matter of going in and taking that role and making it a little bit more prominent. And again, it wasn’t that difficult, it’s just kind of interesting. When I started out in screenwriting, I think the idea is that, everything is to service that story and the artistic vision of this kind of thing. And most of these changes that I’m making, they are not really about the artistic vision, or in their creativity or anything like that. It’s just really more practical decisions of you know, when I went down and actually worked with the physical set. It was a matter of rewriting the script to actually fit the actual physical set that we had access to. And those are the kinds of things that you don’t really anticipate.
As you know, before you get into the practical, sort of the trenches of film production. And the set and the practicality of these things. That’s one of the reasons why I write and recommend shorts to people. Because doing a short gets you in those trenches. And gets you kind of seeing a lot of the practical aspects of film making as it is, as you are writing.
So, the other project I am working on? I mentioned this too, it’s a comedy, it’s a spoof, and basically, whipped up a draft of that, so, last week. So, by Friday afternoon, I had a 72 page rough draft of that script. And I wrote it fairly quickly, I worked maybe two weeks on it? Now on, I work maybe two weeks on it? Remember we can have actually writing on it, a script. I basically have a solid first draft, I’d say it was more if a rough draft of it. Solid 72 page rough draft. And then this week I will go back. Keep in mind, this is a low-budget comedy script. So, it only has to be 80 pages when they’re actually done, and on to shoot. I’m sure I’ll end up being on it 83-85 pages, something like that? But, so I’m at 72 right now. And then I go up on the comedy set pieces. But I’m gonna add in, and that’s going to expand it out. With the story basic, even worked out in this 72 page replica. So this week I’m just gonna go in and really try to make it fun. You know, just tweak things, you know, a little bit more characters give out, just basically polish it out for this week. I’m recording this on Monday, so alone on Friday, and hand it in. Do one on this Friday. So, I’m going to polish it up this week, and then hand it in. And I’ll do some rewrites, probably for another month, much like I’ve been doing on this medical drama. Where I meet with the director and the list goes on from the director and producers I meet with. The producers on this, I’ll hand it in on Friday. And then I’m sure next week, or the week after I’ll meet with them and I’ll have a bunch of notes on them. We’ll continue to rewrite. In fact the bottom line is the first draft, is due this Friday. And I’m in pretty good position at this point, to get it done. So, I’m sure I hit that deadline.
So, my next big project, we’ve been talking about this for at least a month. My next big project is going to be my own project, producing my own low-budget feature film. And it’s a very contained script. I wrote it specifically with this in mind. You know, that’s a 67% option. It’s like a two guys in a house. So, it’s a pretty, should be pretty easy. Just need to find the house that will work with this production. And once we find that house, that’ll be a lot of our production costs will be just taken care of. Because it’ll be in one location, and not a lot of production moves. A fairly simple location. There’s no special effects, very few. I think there’s only about six or eight, maybe six or eight real speaking roles. There’s a couple of smaller roles. But there’s like six men roles, six, seven, six, I think there’s seven, I’d say? There’s seven main roles. And then some sort of roles on the peripheral. But, contained script, so we should be able to do it, on the easy manage low-budget. But I did shoot the teaser/trailer last week. I spent maybe a couple of hundred dollars just basically making an assembly. Just taking the pieces and then just basically throwing them together. There is still a lot of editing. And you know, sound editing. Something like, a teaser/trailer. It’s going to be about a, two minute, that’s about a minute of teaser/trailer. And then about a minute of me talking to the camera. Basically, picking-up, Hey, this is our Kick-Starter campaign, and so the whole thing will be two minutes. But first we want to just kinda get the teaser/trailer with a lot of sound editing, sound design on that. And I’m not particularly efficient in sound editing. So, I might have to hire someone. Or find someone that can do that. But the video editing, I’m just gonna try and get a rough draft. If not this weekend? I’m obviously going to spend a lot of time on that. I promise this week, if not that then, next week I will definitely hopefully dig into the, getting that done.
I did a little quick research on Kick-Starter campaigns. It seems like launching it? January, or even February, is the best time to do Kick-Starter campaigns. So, that’s kind of what my goal is? Is now, kind of in the middle of October. So, I’ll get this Kick-Starter campaign open and ready to go and then I’ll start doing my research, and that’s really where the bottom line is now, as I gear-up. I’ve never done a Kick-Starter campaign before, so I just need to just kind of learn about that. But that’s kind of my goal. Probably all I’ll want, I see early January, maybe the second week in January. Or something like that. Let the holidays pass, and then I’ll launch it in the second week of January. So, it’ll end in the second week of February. And at this point I should be in pretty good shape is all. I’ve got a deal where, this video up. And then get the video up, and do a little bit more research on how to run a Kick-Start campaign. And then, I think they say, you use a month of ramp-up, where you start and kind of build when you’re done. So, that’s kind of, you know, late in November and December I’ll be built with the momentum. And then move on, into January. Anyway, that’s what I’m working on.
So, let’s get into today’s interview with Gordy Hoffman, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome back Gordy, to “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming back on the show with me.
Gordy: No problem buddy, I’m glad to be back.
Ashley: So, to start out? I usually ask people, kind of how they got their start in the entertainment industry? We did an interview a little over a year ago. So I’m going to point people to that. There’s a lot of backstory with you? We talk and talk a lot about own lives. So we’re not going to go into any of that. It’s episode #27. I’ll link to that in the show notes. And refer people to that. But I wanted to do a, just do a little push back. There was a question on, I asked you about you know, advice for screenwriters? And correct me if I am wrong? If I am paraphrasing it? Correctly, but there was a, your response to something, due to the effect of write a great script. The rest will kinda take care of itself. And I want to do a little bit of a push back on that. Just in terms of I, I spent my career basically writing “B” movies. And these “B” movies are all about getting, understanding what producers can get financed and written. And writing in that direction. And, I think, this is an x, I think it’s an excellent place for screenwriters to start in. With these scripts, are not even that good, much less great? And so, the pleasure of these types of films are very opened to working with new writers. They are very opened to getting scripts from anywhere? So, there is a lot of opportunities, I don’t hear a lot of people talking about that? I mean, if you want to raise studio films. Say, you’re wanted by the studio system. I mean, they’re scripts have to be great. They got to be just really buttoned up and air tight, to succeed at that level. But I do think there is some great opportunities for people at this independent level. But when I say independent level, I’m talking about the genre movies. But ya, gotta carefully consider your market for that to work? Let’s just going ahead and make and hear your thoughts on it.
Gordy: What specifically are you talking about? Somehow, sort of like, you know, directed video AFV. For is that?
Ashley: Precisely, precisely.
Gordy: I mean, how are you actually going to be able to raise a family on that income, and develop. I mean how, is that, how is writing the movie you got? Is luck as you said, not good? I guess, you know, a product or whatever? How is that going to, how are you not going around, a role like that? How does that grow to, okay, you’re being offered a really great, you know, like you’re getting a job in you know, like, “John Gotti’s life.” For somebody. Or, you’re getting a crack at the new “Marvel Comic” that’s coming out on the line. Or you’re, you know, comedy wise, you know, how is it? How does that career? You know, there’s.
Ashley: No, no, now I see how that’s possible.
Gordy: With that said, your, and I think I’ve gone through this my own career as well. And you’re like, “Well?” If I make a certain amount, I spend two years making a certain amount of money. Doing something, but it doesn’t end up in the right hands? And the money’s all gone. How is that a long range plan, to build a career? If it doesn’t lead, that was sort of the thing that happened with me making the short, “Dog Bowl.” Or I really read regendered how, or my approach was? I said, okay, I’m trying to write a staff that I’m going. You know, I’m stuck at a very top agency. I be sent to “A-List” and I was sort of in this waiting game. And wasn’t attached to a director, or just anything. It was just, as a writer I was kinda like cracked, I was sort of like a studio screenwriter, screenwriting circle, whatever? Lack “A” game, and you know, ultimately backing, like, I’m going to make this $7000.00 short that I drew up. That I control, led me now to get an assignment, to get a team. Which is sort of a, I have a really good assignment. That I went completely different route. But in the last, but in those three years from me starting, “Dog Bowl.” I took like a long, it’s weird, I took a shorter route to a better career, by going the long way. So, I’m just, I’m not, I mean, I did something, I think there’s another, I think there’s. People say, “Well,” Like it can happen. A person says, I’m getting paid, $100.00 a day, to be in this like, movie I don’t think is very good. But I, at least I’m getting paid. I’m getting $100.00 a day or $200.00 a day, for three weeks. Instead of, na, I’m not doing that. Instead, in search of that, like holding out for that something better shows up? Because if you’re crowding all of it? Like if you crowd all your space out? Write, like how is that a long game approach? That’s what I don’t think that writing a movie that no one is going to see? And is not, and just has to be, because the money’s going to disappear. So how are you developing in your career that way?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, well, I think it’s a couple, I think some valid points in that. And then, it’s a rough business from top to bottom. I think people on the Podcast that are making a living, doing exactly that. I know this, some of these movies are being made for a million, two million dollars. A screenwriter can make $30,000.00, $60,000.00, man, you can sell a few of these. You know, you can scratch out a living doing that in a lifetime, movies, writing with AFM. Some of these AFM movies are 2,3,4,5 million dollars. So, a writer might be getting like?
Gordy: So, this is, they are, I think that is the difference. It’s like, it’s sort of like, you look at Craig Mason’s at John Robbinson’s, like point of view? They are sort of, their credentials, whatever, are, they’ve made money in the studio system. You know, that’s basically, Craig Mason credentials are, he’s made a ton of money, in the studio system as a writer. And my whole thing is, I want to help you write a classic movie. Like those are two different things? Those are not the same thing? Like gaming and working the system, to make a shit load of money, is one thing. And there is a route and theirs a labyrinth, there’s a network. And theirs things that you can do a lot. But ultimately, it’s my belief that like, that’s not like people that get there, I mean, that’s what you want? If it’s like, money as a power. And it doesn’t, and you don’t care if one, nobody likes your movie. Or nobody sees your movie. Or you don’t like your movie. You know, and you don’t care about that. Now that, as much as I, like, oh, I can pay a mortgage, like with some people, that’s exactly what I want. I want is to like, make money. I want to be Craig, I want to be like Craig, I want Craig’s job. I don’t want Craig Mason’s job. Because I don’t want to do that. I want, because I know that ultimately I want to know who I provide for. Resources and money, everything else. Otherwise, it’ll all come, it doesn’t matter. If I chase a gratifying body of work? I’m still going to get, I’m still probably going to make some money. You know, and that’s happening. And so, I think that, that’s the difference. Or of like, I think what gets confusing? Is the John on this Craig Mason Podcast, that sort of thing? Or like, that thing, is not really about, ultimately about waiting an emotionally compelling classic, great culture shifting, movie. It’s not about that, It’s about making money as a screenwriter. And everyone goes, “Dah.” Isn’t that? Yeah, that’s what I want to do. But the fact is that, that’s not what I want to ever talk about? That’s what, “Blue Cat’s” about. That’s how a “Dog,” when “Dog” set out? I was, I am going to make, something that’s professional, as a short film. But I am going to make something that’s GOOD! And I am just going to make good things, you know? So, and I can’t really, reveal, necessarily, what my assignment is right now? But, it’s a big assignment. And I got it because of my adherence to for that sort of quality control, I think, and just being like, I want to do the right compelling work. And the rest will take care of itself. So, I put the ball in, you know, screening my movie, at the “Family Film Short Fest” Monday night. And having that in one of our most responsible audiences. They were just totally laughing and enjoying the movie, and you can’t put a price on that. You know, I mean, if you, you can keep your $40,000.00 for that movie that is going to end up, you know, sort of the, you know? The “DOD” thing over in Asia. You know what I mean? And that you’re never going to meet your audience. You’re never ever going to know, no one’s ever going to slap you on the back. No one’s ever going to go, “Beautiful” They might happen, I mean, I’m not saying it’s that black and white? I don’t mean to be so divaptive about it? I just feel like it, there’s another, like, I feel like chasing, writing the best movie might in the long run be better for your career, and the bottom line bank account, you know? Then I mean, my brother’s career is a perfect example, of like turning down things early. You know, turning down, “Billy Madison” and stuff like that. Like when he was in his 20’s. And turning down, like, and turning down money that a lot of other actors take. And go, “YEAAAHHH!!” And they go forward, and then they sputter out. And he made different choices, and then everybody wanted him to work for them. And so, he was completely viable, that’s a problem, I don’t know if that’s a word, but? He was able to like, monotize, you know, any completely, you know? And he, you know, had to beat them off with a stick. You know the story. And the fact is that early on, he was saying, “No” to things. So that he could sort of keep his, you know, eye on like? I’m going to, I’d rather make the work that is making me comfortable. And I’m alternately worked out, and it wasn’t actually bad business decision making. I mean, that’s, I think that gets confusing for people. People think like, you need to get all artsie or whatever? And you know, it’s like you’re going to be poor. And, you know, and well, tell that to the, “Tumwater’s,” “Sodemberg’s” you know, and on and on and on. You know, even Robert Downie, you know, it’s like. At some point, you know, he was picked in kind of advanced those things. There’s Johnny Depp, there’s, they were picked because, people were like, these guys are really good. Rio, these guys are really good, and then they put them in the middle of franchises and you know, and look what happened?
You, because of those, because of the fact that they have always sort of tried to chase good work. And not necessarily, be like, okay, let me take the short cut, for like, more zeros to add to the chart. So,
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Gordy: I just think there’s a balance, you know?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And I want to push back a couple of things? Number one when I set out to write these movies, I have high hopes, man, I go into it. I don’t set out to write a mediocre movie. Like I’ll take whatever material I’m working on and I try and make it as good as possible, and I have high hopes. And there’s some, and some history of it, of this actually working. For people like Christopher Knowl, I seen it on NetFlix a couple of years ago. I think it was called, “The Following” or something? It was a really low budget thriller that Christopher Knowl did early on in his career. And it was like, really, really good. So some of these, you know, schloppy genre movies become elevated. Like, if you’re new and talented, they can work, and they can be good. And the other thing is? You know, while maybe the world at large doesn’t see a lot of these short rocky low-budget movies. People in town do see them, and you know, people in town. The one, that are kinda half way decent, you do run into people that have seen your movies. Just because we’re in the industry. Just because there is some value in that. But my main point and I think this is, the one thing that I owe a lot of people. And maybe they disagree with me. Or maybe a separate break? I’ve kind of accepted the fact that I’m not a gloriously gifted writer. And I don’t think I have just the tools to write that, the great script. But I’ve succeeded and sold a bunch of scripts. Because, again, I’ve been very proud of what I have been writing. And I’m not shooting that studio level thing. And here’s what I’m thinking? And I think most people listening to this? Even if they don’t want to admit it to themselves, are probably in that boat. They are probably people more like me, they are not gloriously gifted. And so, the chances of ever getting to that great amazing genre level, is very slim. And truthfully, I think to get to that level? There’s a certain amount of luck that is involved in that equation. And you can’t really engineer the luck, I mean, as an example? My cousin came out here to be a screenwriter. He went to Dartmouth. I say this, only, you know? Because he’s a real smart guy. He went Columbia and ended up going to Columbia Law School. He’s a really smart guy. He came out here. What I consider to be a really good script, he wrote some TV stuff. A really good feature script, he was out here for two or three years. He was doing all the typical stuff. But he was writing stuff that was big studio projects. He had no success, and he just went back to school and now he’s a successful lawyer. And I think that there’s a lot of people like if he had gotten one of these low-budget credits? That would have been, and yes, he wouldn’t have gotten rich on it. But if he had gotten some of those low-budget credits? They are fairly easy to get if you’re smart about it? It might have been enough to keep him into and interested in a career in screenwriting. And I think getting some of those early wins? As I said, can be so survival. And that’s what happened to me. Like I sold my first script, I was out here about three years. If I hadn’t sold that script? I might have been that guy, going back to law school. And just kinda throwing in the towel or going back home from there. Originally, I might have gone back enough. But I got that option and a script, and I did it. And it was pure hop and stance. You know, to get those on those. A lot of stripper scripts, of which I was one of. Those frolicking naked girl scripts. And we just needed. My buddy and I started was funny. And, um, there was a market for scripts, and little did we know? And there was a market for scripts that, you know, was strippers and hot girls in it. And so we got that first win. And it opened up, and made me feel like, yeah, I can really do this. And that kept me going. It kept me academic. My cousin who didn’t get that first win, who was only doing studio films. And I just feel, people come out here and spend two or three years and they spend and don’t have any success, and then they’ll pack it in. There’s got to be a lot of people like my cousin that are smart, talented writers, but they just pack it in and run away because they didn’t get those first wins. And they didn’t get any kind of.
Gordy: No, they left, they left. It’s not, you know, idea that there is external forces. I mean, if you play. You know, if you go home, you go home. I mean, it’s not because the industry did something, and it’s like some sort of weird equation or something, or whatever? It’s like you didn’t hang in there. You know, you’re find, you know, had another narrative in his head. That he had, he had a plan “B.” On you know, it’s like people, like people that are successful, like the Ron Howard’s are a lot harder than anybody you want to talk about, they don’t have plan “B.” There’s no way, because everybody has, everybody goes through intense challenges. And stretches and career collapse, and all sorts of peaks and boundaries and real challenges. Done films that they are involved with. Like, blow-outs, whatever? I mean, look at Ben Aflack’s career? I mean, it’s like he went from like winning an Oscar to laughing stock. Third, like almost like blue jean, felt like, okay this guy was always a capital “A-List” actor. And then all of a sudden, near this electoral comeback. And that was like, he is like a monster. And real mystery right now. At least he was right in the middle of it all. Like three time holes for Warner Bros. So, you don’t think some point in this game. It’s like twenty year, the last twenty years hasn’t been like, holy shit, I might be done. Like I might be outta time. I think I’m gonna have to go, do a television show, or something like that. I don’t know if maybe I’m not going to be a twenty year million dollar man again, ever again? I mean, honestly, so, but if you leave? Because you’re like
(Choking sounds). And I honestly don’t think it’s, if he had done something, a movie? I think, I know what you’re saying? And everyone’s got their own path. And I definitely don’t want it to get all you can, you can make it work. You know, you can make it work. I just, I focus on writing a great, I focus on writing an emotionally compelling script. I don’t necessarily, I don’t know, I’m not sure if like, I don’t know, different people want different things, as screenwriters. And I think that’s good, I don’t think that everybody wants the same job, you know. And that’s why there’s gotta be people like, you’ll think I’m crazy. For like, of course I want to make it. You know, and it’s like, I just know that, that’s not gonna be enough for me. It’s like I actually want to make something out of people, like I’ve made things that people have come up with. That write letters to me. And you know, not, that is to me, like I’m paid, I’ve had the kid write me up a letter saying I’m suicidal until I watched, you know, until I watched, “Love Lies.” So, there’s a letter that’s on my bulletin board for my high school kid. I’m writing, I watched a film in film studies class, and it stuck with me, it’s helped me gain a lot of perspective in my life. I’ve had struggles with suicide. The pain of also a target that is just beginning for me, for those left behind. I have this English style poster for the film on my wall. It remains as one of the most beautiful posters I have.
Ashley: That is compelling stuff.
Gordy: So, so, like, what do you want? Like, why?
Gordy: I got, I mean, the money for, “Love Lies” the respect, you know, probably. I was following one of the patrons in that stripper movie.
Gordy: You know what I mean? It’s the law to hold on. It’s gone, it’s like, you know. So it was spent for, it was probably gone before around 11? You know what I mean? But that letter came last year. That’s an old letter.
Gordy: So I still get people coming up to me, “You wrote Love Lies?” And so, I just thought to mind perspective. And that’s why I kinda try and pitch that. People accept they, it’s my experience, that the value from writing. Is a lot like the inherent prophet? The life prophet, it’s more profitable for the try and maybe dig a little deeper and go for that. In mitigating that what you are talking about. But it’s okay, it’s also awesome, like write a movie, and have fun with your partner and that’s campy, bad! It’s just that, it’s just that what about career development? Like, where are you? When you are talking about Christopher Knowlin, that didn’t, what ever the following was? Was never set up, I think he never made the following, as like, I don’t know if that’s a good example? Just in short, because he made, “Momento” Momento’s not wasn’t made, wasn’t like a Vegas thing? It was, I’m just gonna make this movie? And sell it to, that I can make more money. And make another wrong. You know, it is, it’s different, you know? Both of those guys are coming from the same place that you ask relations that are so large, for both of them, you know? But I do, I really agree with that, everything you’re saying. It’s that, we’re just kinda going? We’re kinda talking about two different things? And I think people should hang in there, look for different opportunities. Like you said, to write. Like there’s only four places where you might write something that you know, would come about if you could write. And make it relax to go, create more space, and allow you to write that personal drama. And you’re allowed because you got like, you know, $40,000.00 to make some, you know, trillion dollar genre movie, picture, or whatever? But also think about, like, where is your career going? How are you going to make space for what you really want to do? Because I think you and everybody else, wants to, the dream is, to write a classic film.
Ashley: Absolutely, absolutely.
Gordy: I mean, I mean, and we want more, every writer wants more, wants to win an Academy Award for writing. And watch happily, but more importantly? He wants to look at that letter on the wall represents the, me. You know, it’s like the, it’s priceless. So, it’s like that is the highest form of gratification from writing, is what you can aim for your audience. How you allow your audience to better articulate, you know, the struggle of life, the meaning of life. And if that can happen? You know, it’s like, it might not be as great as the, you know, the strippers in the, you know. And that sounds like a great movie. Somebody got a link, I’d like to see that. I can’t nobody wants to hire me to do that, like that? They always want me, you know, write something else.
Ashley: Yeah, but, you get, you know, you get the movie you make for yourself. And you love life. Because no one’s going to hire you to write a stripper, you know. A stripper.
Gordy: Yeah, and it would, but you have to be completely despondent, and have something, yeah?
Ashley: The rest, yeah, had strippers in it. So, there ya go.
Gordy: Yeah, Russel is, Russel was grey. And yes, we’re seeing the same things. I, sure, I just want it, you know, I definitely want it. Want it to come across as right and wrong. Because everybody there, is all these paths. But the one thing I didn’t want to have to emphasize is, take responsibility for you know, your career. Don’t think. Oooohhhh, that why, I went to law school. It’s like, no way. You know, it’s like, you made a choice. You, made the one that changed your career. And he might have struggled and said, you know, this isn’t practical for me. And it wasn’t his cup of tea. But, you know, it’s very competitive. I mean, you know, it’s the people that are now, also football league, people that are in the NBA, the women at the U.S. Open this week. I mean, there’s no quit in those people. I mean, they have walked through unbelievable stuff, to where they are now, to elevate themselves. Like through, guys on the PGA Tour, that kinda stuff.
Ashley: And, I’d be, and again, I’d be not sure I’d completely agree with that. And I think, and I totally get what you’re saying, about John Augustine and Fred Mason. But, listening to their Podcast, there wasn’t a lot of struggle in their career. And I think those guys are prime examples of Fred Mason and Princeton, he probably did have a plan, “B” he thinks a doctor like my cousin. But for whatever reason? He was in the right place, right time. Got his sold to scripts and so his career took off.
Gordy: There is definitely, there is definitely always luck, or things happen in them in life? But, you have to be present to put those. Your friend lacked luck early. He chose to leave before the door opened. He wasn’t there, the door opened for your friend, but he was backing off at law school. You got that’s the point, it’s not there isn’t some, like, outside force. I mean, to say, you could say a lot of things? Craig Mason and John Augustine, those guys are hard workers. And they, to say that they, because Craig went Princeton, and he walked out. He, or whatever, or.
Ashley: No, no, I’m not claiming that at all, I’m just saying, my cousin went Dartmouth also and he left school. And so he, his trajectory was in ward to craze, but he went one way and Craig went another.
Gordy: But to say it’s, luck? That Craig is where he is at. And your friend went to law school. That’s like putting cheese on too much stock. In like that fate of the stars or something? When it’s really, the person, it’s the person making the choice. It’s the person take, people take themselves out of industry. I mean, without disassemble that. Your friend left, you know? And it’s not because, and Craig’s not a successful screenwriter because? And a successful, you know, film maker, you know, because of luck. You know, who wouldn’t.
Ashley: You’re saying.
Gordy: The same luck as making things for your friend had, but your friend left.
Ashely: Yeah, but.
Gordy: He left, I mean, (Pause) Go ahead.
Ashley: Would have Craig stuck it out for ten years, 15 years, grinding it out? Listening to his Podcast, I don’t even hear the guy so I don’t know? But listening to his Podcast I don’t know he would have started there? I think John Augustine, has all these skills technical skills. You know, he’s created software stuff. The John Augustine stuff without these would have broke his way. But he stuck it out and ground entertainment industry. I don’t think so, I think probably would have been a successful ad developer. Successful running some sort of Tech. company. He would have, those guys are so, they are exactly as you are saying, smart and hard working. So other opportunities would have come their way? At some point they would have said, “Ah, this is a much better opportunity.” And here’s the other thing that I, and I rest my way with this. As I have had screenwriters on the Podcast, the most successful screenwriters I’ve interviewed from Doug Richardson wrote “Bad Boys” and “Die Hard 2.” I’ve interviewed Mark Lawrence through “Mrs. Congeniality.” There wasn’t a lot of struggles in their stories. Everything’s they pretty much got took off pretty simply. And the one exception, John Jarod who wrote, “Romeo Almost Died.” He’s the one screenwriter, or studio level screenwriter that I’ve interviewed that had a lot of struggle in his story. But, most of these guys, and I put Craig Mason and John Augustine in this. There wasn’t a lot of struggle in their story. And I’m, and I don’t have a.
Gordy: And I don’t either. But if I put you in a room with those four dudes and say, “You didn’t struggle.” You’re going to look at those guys and say, “You didn’t struggle?”
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gordy: Easy man, those guys are all grinders, they wrote so much. Beyond what most of the people listening to this Podcast obviously can’t even think about writing as much as those have did before they ever got, like, made it? The amount of work, you know, the amount of rewriting, the amount of dues paid, grinding. Of, that’s not my experience. I’m friends with Jason Pauly, wrote, you know, “Americans Nightmare.” You know, he was nominated for an Oscar. It’s, you know, I know Craig Portman, who wrote, you know, he wrote the picture, “Dallas Buyer Club.” And that was a twenty edition made up. I mean, these guys not made up, nobody that I know? The guy, I’m a friend of, my friend is texting me now, “Ice Age 2.” You know how much work that is, that guy puts in? And what he was doing? He had no life, like writing expects, writing acknowledges MTA. He’s got a full time career, he has a house up in the hills. He has the whole thing anybody would ever want.
Gordy: He just brought in a Tesla. I mean, all of the cliché things. And it’s all from screenwriting. And that guy, Jena Packed is one of the hardest working writers. He’s a grinder, he’s a grinder.
Jason Hall, went through the insomnia thing, forever, forever. He still goes through insomnia. And he’s nominated for an Oscar, and he’s still like, he worked his butt off to get there. Besides using, he’s, say like these guys struggle, that’s, I’m just telling you. That is not, I would not, maybe you didn’t struggle? But I sure as hell would not want to tell them not. Because I don’t think they respond, it would be like crazy you know? So, it’s not my experience and it’s like?
Gordy: It’s like, I have a very good job right now. That, and it’s a job that I think like many people would have? It’s sort of like, a job that I think everyone aspires to. And I had to struggle to get there. I struggle my ass off, you know. I mean, I work really hard. But I think everyone, but that’s not me. I think that’s common. So, I think you got a temper, I honestly think that it’s like, it’s says it basically, the people that have made it are lucky. And the people who don’t?
Ashley: No, no, no, no. You know, I don’t want to make a scene like that. I think the people that, for the most part, and Craig Mason and John Augustine, for the most part extended careers. They’re not lucky, they are incredibly talented. And they are born with incredible talent. So there is some luck in the equation. And then that’s what I’m saying. For myself, I don’t think I have as much talent as them. So, I think that’s the differential thing. But, as a whole, it’s good to hear what you are saying. Because I definitely appreciate hard work thing, and there’s no award on the horizon definitely. Yeah, so.
Gordy: It sounds like, people can be gifted, and there’s people that have large gifts that don’t like work hard. And they leave town and stuff. And they, those people are maybe less gifted or whatever we mean. Like measure a gift, again, I just don’t think it’s a measure for their talented, they made it. I’m not that type, talented. You know, I don’t think so, I think maybe it’s just, you know, I think there’s a combination of all those things. I think because it’s people. I recently had a map for things? And then you have to kind of hang in there. And work really hard. Like, Larry Bird did, and Michael Jordon did, you know. And you know, Cal Ripkin. You know what I mean? People like that, that are like, that are like, J.J. Watt. I mean, those guys are gifted. J.J. Watt is gifted. He’s gifted because he’s massive. So he wasn’t born a 5ft. 4in. you know, he’s a massive dude. And he’s obviously, ridiculously gifted. So, he’s gotten something that he has, and didn’t have to earn. With his handed, but beyond that, the guy works his friggin’ butt off! That guy is, he works so hard. And, he got his breaks along the way. I’m sure his story is like, well, yeah. I ended up, I got really lucky because I got transferred to this one high school. And this guy was a really great coach. He had all the eyes of all of the recruits and bla, bla, bla, bla… And so there’s always, we were talking about the walk part of it. And then there’s the gift part of it. But then there’s the friggin’, you know, the fact that he can’t eat pancakes until he retires part of the day. And things like that that are just like, and the amount of work that goes into it. It’s just mind boggling. How hard, they work harder than everybody else. So that’s something, the thing is that, that’s the stuff that can be, that you can have control over. That’s the thing that everybody, you can control what you are writing. And you can control how much you write. You can control what you picked to work on. And you habits and everything else. That’s, you can control lot. You can control whatever the gift you were given, by whatever? Whatever talent you were endowed with it. But you can control how hard we work. And I think that is ultimately and in the, that sense of fight in you. When I think that’s what it is.
I think John Augustine going down, those guys they have fight. You would never ever say that, like walk member more than fight with you guys. It’s like, no way, I think that there is definitely. You got to interview those guys that would be a great follow up. See if you can get Craig Mason, this would be a great conversation. The conversation of what pull, fight and skill. And what’s going on and I think it would be a very lively conversation. I
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gordy: I’m just saying?
Ashley: I think we’re basically
Gordy: I think (Pause) Yeah, yeah. I think, yeah, it’s all good. I think any honor role that we are going towards the same place, you know? So, anyways, I didn’t even want to talk about, “Dog bowl.”
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Gordy: In other words, rambling on…
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Let’s get into.
Gordy: Sorry about that.
Ashley: Yeah, that’s good, good conversation. Let’s get into “Dog Bowl” a little bit. Maybe you could give us a quick log-line kind of pitch us what it’s about? And I will link to the trailer in the show notes. And we’ll dig into some of that, snip-its of how you made it and what happened?
Gordy: Yeah, yeah. I, um, “Dog Bowl” is about a girl who steals a vest, she’s sort of a hard girl getting lost, emotionally lost. A young woman who steals a vest impulsively off of a service dog. And sort of runs away with it. And then the, it sets up this domino of this trail of self-realization about her identity, of her place in the world. And it’s sort of a pivotal. And so I guide, I basically started, we basically have a girl sitting next to a service dog. Today, that sort of image in my head and I went from there. And you know, it’s kind of a long journey, I mean, I got it.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Let’s start at the beginning. What starts at the beginning? What, why did you decide to do this film? You’ve already done some features. Why did you decide, hey, a short would be the right project for me right now?
Gordy: I mean, I do actually need a hand held point of view, feature about a bad shore. That part of it that goes haywire. And it was, you know, pretty down and dirty, early days, semi-early days with digital. And, it wasn’t, it just didn’t have a very commercial look obviously. It was a different kind of texture to it. And I knew that if I want? It didn’t hold a lot of currency I think? It, people wanted to like, make a features. So, I wanted to I thought, you know, I really don’t have a short that is commercial tied part polished looking, narrative short.
And I thought, you know, I should get something like that. I don’t use it as a calling card. And that sort of where the professional goal is. And so I set out, I hadn’t written a script when I had set up with
Kick-Starter, I wanted to raise, you know, about $7000.00-$10,000.00 and I ended up raising
$23,000.00. I, on that first Kick-Starter. So I made over 20% of my goal of. And that made me really pause and said, “Wow, I need to really make a great movie with this. Or like, every single person that made me from grade school are gonna be like, why did we give you money, you know? Wow, which is great about keeping the Kick-Starter campaign. It’s like, you know the thing about the greatest thing about Kick-Starter campaign? They are out on the internet forever. So you better like, get your goal. And you better make your movie, or your going to have something on the internet, something on Google Search with your name on it. That’s going to be like (Peanuts – “Whaah, whaah, whaah…) you know? If you don’t like close the deal, it’ll be like, “Oh, man, your screwed man!” And people are going to be looking at that like, A-ha. He can’t even do a Kick-Starter campaign, seven years ago. And only got 17%? That’s like, Ohhhh!!So, um, yes. So I got that money and I was, I like need to write something really fast right away! Good, and I took it, I just was really patient. I kinda got it to a level was like, okay, it’s sort of an indie kinda thing? A, but then I was like this is not really going to serve the purpose. This is not going to make people listen to what I was thinking here. And people’s minds that you really saw, just hung in there and I just did it. You do diligence with the script. And with every other component. With the “DP” really wanted something professional. You know, it’s like, I needed strong out. So, you know I did, all this stuff I need to do, sort of, over the biggest thing, is patience. So I think people are impatient. People want their scripts to be done. And all I’m shooting at this. I’m like, while you take another nine months, and get better prepared. What’s the point? You know? Like if you’re going to find yourself back in the same place, in your are? You know, if you take a longer time? It’s actually the shortest route to them. Like advancing everything, it’s, I did take one, almost two years to go from, pretty much the whole journey. And that’s how long, see it’s like a long time for a short film. One Dog Bowl is done because once I got into Sundance. And it went, you know, going to fantastic film festival in Austin. And we’re going to Rain dance after London it was in the film festival. Not only did he was constantly featured foreign film producer. That already wanted to put out about this writing assignment. Then principally from “Dog Bowl” go after her site, and then put two and two together. And said, “Well, maybe he could do this?” And then I came into the company. And pitched them, and then suddenly I’m doing this thing. And it’s really, really weird. “Dog Bowl” doesn’t exist, this job doesn’t exist. So,
Ashley: So, let me take a step back and get it, the Kick-Starter campaign. And so, how did you actually get eyeballs? Because that’s actually the purpose, first kind of thing? What did you do to prepare for Kick-Starter?
Ashley: What did you actually do to drive traffic to it?
Gordy: Basically speaking, you go live, and you get rolled. And then you sort of meld so many people that you’re like, “AAaahhh!!”
I feel bad for people who are like 28, who are all doing Kick-Starter campaigns. Because they’re basically have so many people in their lives and you gotta just get people from college, and high school.
And no body, none of your friends really help or have a lot of money. So, it’s like a, you’re dad, your mom, whatever, you know? Like I was in my late 40’s when I was doing my Kick-Starter campaign. So it would have, I sorta got, the story was like, you know, it was sort like, nice because I’m, outta all my friends that went to high school. Have raised families, and they all have successful careers, and they know, so? There was a lot of help from people. I don’t know if I’m useful, and needed a line, I knew, I just become the type. Because over the years, of course I met a lot of people. I had a, they say a I had a thousand friends on Facebook, and because of “Blue Cat,” I had any, I know. A lot of people, I teach a lot. So, I went to my former students gave me. I had a woman who taught at USC, she gave me a $1000.00, you know, and it was like, amazing, it was like, wow! And so things like that, you know, I had a lot of people. So, I think you want to, you know, there’s a lot of different ways that you just want to make it. I think that, you wanna, your Kick-Starter paid. Your Kick-Starter video, and there’s a lot of different things that have to, that I believe that make your Kick-Starter successful. But, what I did with my own original Kick-Starter page was from find people of who I am? Why they like me? And why I’m maybe talented? And I try to remind people of that. Be like, Oh, go Gordy, and that is something. You know, just think about that light. Remind people of like, who you are? If principally you are, your funding is going to come from your family and friends, then your social networks, you know, your people whatever? And that’s yeah, that’s, in terms of eyeballs. I didn’t really do a campaign where there was some random people that found it? And definitely some people found it, and donated. But the campaign was driven simply by my own sort of by different communities, by “Blue Cat” my screenwriting team career, you know, that fact that now, you know, over the years, you do, obviously you meet a lot of people. So, a.
Ashley: So what does that actually look like in terms of saying, you got this network of people. Did you send personalized Emails? Hey, Joe, remember me, we were on the football team together? Did you send custom Emails to people from high school? Did you just send out just pad Emails? What did that option look like?
Gordy: I definitely had pulse on Facebook. And I announced it on Facebook, and that. And obviously Facebook was very helpful. In terms of getting it out there. I, you’re supposed to sound out through Emails. You’re supposed to send an Email out at the beginning, saying, this is going to start. And then you get an Email out the day it starts. And I did that, I sent an Email out, like a wide, like every Email address I had. I just said, I’m doing this. And then you get a really good flush of money at the beginning. And then you do one in the middle. And then do one at the end. That’s sort of the reward. And I don’t think I really sent out, I don’t know if I sent out an Email, like half way through. Like the actual person not willing to who came late. So I wasn’t willing to do? But that’s sort of the rule, is you, you know, you let people know it’s going to happen in advanced, like maybe a week in advanced. And then you say, here’s the guide. And then you get a nice little bomb. And, but, you know, again, it’s you know, I think there are other things that come into play. They, I think, eyeballs are not necessarily, the key? The key was, I had a lot of words, I think people have their rewards are often the problem. I often go to starter pages and go, like, why? You know, like they have a lot of stuff. And the stuff you’re giving is like, you have to give $200.00 to something that’s kinda cool.
Like you’re not getting anything that’s really cool, until a lot of money is given. And then it’s not even that, you’re asking me to give $200.00 for a Blue-Ray or something? You know, it’s like, okay, I want the Blue-Ray, but by $200.00? So, rewards, I think a lot of people get a little, they get a little, scared. They think, oh, that’s a lot of rewards. But actually, why not give them, I mean, you don’t want to give them too much or too many choices. Because that does get overwhelming. But by giving a lot of many different ways to get in there. And then I wrote all the rewards, and they were, the rewards were funny, and they were creative. And there’s ways to, and people have time and $10.00, $15.00, $20.00, $25.00, $35.00, $50.00 to give. And to get into the thing. And if people have questions, they can go? You might want to link my Kick-Starter campaign too. Because I think that, they can see where? What rewards people responded to? What rewards they didn’t respond to. And you can see this sort of this thought process I have, kind of like, how do I get to people? Like how do I get people connected to them, the making of the movie we’re talking about? I’m not talking about making a movie. Everybody make a Kick-Start for a short movie, or a feature film. How do you get people involved? And how other people didn’t get like, responded to? So, I think that, the rewards is all, not the problem. The videos are too long, you know, like, often times the video? My video was like, 90 seconds. And I would probably make it, like a minute. Like a minute, like you don’t have, you want to be really creative. Like here I am, this is my thing. Who wants to watch a four minute pitch video? And they are all that long. They are always like three or four minutes long. And no body wants to watch those things. Like, nobody, like who watches those things? But they look at it and go, oh, this is only a minute and twenty seconds? You know, and then, they just watch it. And then you kind of just get it done. And something creative. And you just, and I think that was key for me. Is I didn’t, you want to know how I did the campaign? But one thing I did read, that was so helpful? That, these guys that said, we watched pitch videos for six months, trying to perfect, like try to make the best pitch video. And I realized we needed like a chore in our video, which was like 90 seconds. And we said after we were done, the one thing we regretted was, we should have made it shorter. And when I left that, was like, oh? And so, I was like, my video is gonna be like, a myth. I just love that, it just made a lot of sense. And I was like, I think that people can watch my thing and they watched it. As to the video was short, easily digestible, reminded people of who I was and why I am doing this? And then I had all them. It doesn’t really matter, all the, they can read about it. And again, people write, like this huge parts of a project. Who reads that stuff? And their phone, they read, like this whole thing. It’s just, you want put this stuff in there, so you’ve got some, you don’t have nothing there.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Let me ask you about?
Ashley: Let me ask you about a couple of the rewards that I notice? One of them, I’m always curious, I always feel like people are stingy with the downloads, and you had your, I think it was $25.00? It was to get the digital download. Why not make that cheaper? Like it seems to me, especially, for sure. Like you can go online to ITunes and get a digital download of a studio movie for $12.00. So, why not make the digital download like $10.00 or $12.00?
Gordy: Well, it’s because it’s inherent in the Kick-Starter outsourcing principle of you’re not really, if you’re paying $40.00 for a T-Shirt? That’s too much, right?
But what it is, it draws, it’s like you’re getting $40.00 to the making of the movie. And the T-shirt is an incentive like thing. So, yes, $20.00, when double those live on the website. It’s going to be a $99.00 or something like that, alright? But, we’re making a movie. So, we need to say, you did not did you give $29.00, to us, and you get a digital download. It’s not really like, you know what I mean? It’s not really like you’re really buying something?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Gordy: A target or whatever it is? It’s not the right price. It’s implicit in that $25.00 that there’s donation going. Because honestly you have, like with the T-shirts. Now, I think our T-shirts are $50.00, or $45.00? How much are the T-shirts there? I thought it was more like $50.00? Yeah, so it’s like because you have to pay for the T-shirt. Like, we own hoodies that are or were $50.00 or something? Or something like that? And our T-shirts are $50.00. And the T-shirts can, because we have to ship them, make them. So, if you want to have any money extra, for the production of the movie, you have to charge more.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Gordy: That’s why it’s more blatant, I’m telling you, words is a huge issue. I’m telling you. You do it all the time because people send me their Kick-Starters, to donate a lot. And also just like, some people ask me for advice, because I’ve had success. And, so, and, you know, it’s one of the things I often see. I’m like, why are you being so stingy with the reward money? Why are you not giving them anything? You know, I was very, I mean, I sold executive producer, I sold to producer credits, I sold Co-Producer credits. You know, I just, it was like, I don’t have to hold on to those? You know, I was able to, those are like, $400.00-$500.00, or whatever, $1000.00. I didn’t have to, you know, it didn’t, you know, my “Dog Bowl” is not, I don’t even have a reward in “Dog Bowl.” I’d rather have, like, you know, four, like five items, five executive producers or something like that. Most of them were almost all were Kick-Starter producers or Kick-Starter backers. And my credits and my movie, don’t really look like others that have big lists of Kick-Starter people. Because that wasn’t one of my rewards. The reward was give me $50.00 I’ll put your name in the event thank you credits. Because I didn’t want that in my movie. I wanted a clean credits, I wanted something that would look. I didn’t want to remind people, like, oh, amateur film, or whatever? I didn’t want to keno anybody and like that. But I definitely wasn’t all coveteous of producer credits and all these various credits. That PA Credits are, it was like the second Kick Starter that I did for post-production. I think I had a sold, a production assistant credits for $200.00. And Stephen got the gear, the Pulitzer Prize for drama, is one of the PA’s on “Dog Bowl.” And I had at least one person go, Stephen would be great, he was a PA on your movie? No, no, no, he just paid money. But he was the first backer on my thing. But it was a start. But there is listed, there was this salt. And he was away for a creative way for people to get involved. And they are credited in the movie. I had one person that wanted to be credited as the Post Production Supervisor. And they literally bought credit because the wanted that on their IM TV page. And they were vigilant about, when’s it going to be up? You know, because they were literally buy up credits to put up on IMDB, with whatever they were doing. And it was like, okay. Whatever, so, yeah, if you really truly creative and yeah.
Ashley: How did you come up with the idea? I noticed there were a lot of them that were like, hey, if you want it on there anonymously give. Like that’s totally counter intuitive. So, where did you call for the idea? To just allow people to anonymously give without getting a credit? Or really getting anything of the rewards.
Gordy: There’s people out there that will do that. There’s this angel people that are like, you know, there are just people that don’t really care. They don’t want anything, they just want to help you? And, sometimes those work, and sometimes they did, or it wasn’t like sell out of those. But it gave people that wanted to give $1000.00 or $1500.00 is just like call them up and angels investor, sort of, so to speak. And you know, and you were like, you know, you can get some for now. Because a lot of people don’t care about getting. Like when I give, most of the time I’m like waiting for you to send me, like, the zip load of, the digital stills from the movie, you know what I mean? I just look and say, I’ll give you $50.00, I’ll give you $75.00, I’ll give ya $100.00, I’ll give you 1000.00 whatever? You know, and that’s the, and you just look at something to do. Others look at it differently. But that’s why. I just really encourage, I spent the most time, on my Kick-Starter page, looking at the rewards. Like you make that short, little video you know, making it unique, short, you write up your little thing. You do a write-up make a, it clean and short. And the rewards was where I was like playing with the prices, and being like, well, maybe that should be 35? And I really spent time with that, and I just knew, just look at camp, campaigns? I don’t, and I just, that’s where they’re losing. Because they, there are so many people, that they probably would give, but they can’t. That probably is said, but the thing is, they say that the common donation. You know, they’re the most funny. I got the most donations from kids who were like $25.00, weren’t they Olivia? Those are like the highest ones with the people, that was the most popular ones. And you know what? If you sell 17 of them, you know? That’s, that adds up. You know, and they’re just, you know.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so well, that’s great. In a bit as I said, I’m going to be launching a Kick-Starter campaign. So, maybe I’ll come back with some more questions here. And then in the future. So, let’s talk about the, “Blue Cat, Screenwriting Competition?” I get this question all the time. People are just coming to me and saying, “Hey, Ash, come enter this contest, or enter that contest?” I want, I wonder if you could just tell me, what’s a little bit better contest? And what differentiates from the other contests out there?
Gordy: Well, Um. One, “Blue Cat” is probably the only, I’m not sure, but it’s the only competition where you can actually listen to the judge of the competition actually talk about screenwriting. And you can actually watch a video of me, or you can watch 50 videos of me talking about screenwriting. And so, if you, listened to one of my videos. You’re like, that guy doesn’t know anything about making movies. Then you don’t have to enter. But basically you can walk and watch my videos and say, okay, so the judge is actually an authority on screenwriting. And I also have a top track record. I taught at USC, I taught at UCLA. I mean, In my bio. You know who the judge is. And my picture is on the website. I have pictures of me everywhere. And on the face of, “Blue Cat.” So, that, you don’t find that. Linda and even if the other major competitions, I mean, people that won them. I’m sure they’re out there, not like hiding or anything? Okay, you know, but our day. Are they experts? Are they writers? Look, I’m a writer, I’m a professional writer.
You know, so, it, for all those things that separates. And “Blue Cat” is, was one of the earliest competitions to give written feedback as a part of our entry. And we. And I think that, you know, I think that most people would agree that our feedback is probably the best. Because we have been doing it. You know we have been gone all through a lot to work out all the kinks, develop a reader, pool, and hire those readers meticulously. And just keep it and improving that system. And we’ve been doing it for fifteen years now. So it, so we, so that’s why we get a lot of complements on our feedback and get very few complains. And people, that’s why that’s our growth. That’s, our brand, our brand, they are there for the writer, for your development, and we will give you written feedback, real feedback on your movie, that you have submitted to us. And everybody gets that, as part of their entry fee. And I think that’s, you know, that’s what separates us, and we give big cash prizes. We hook people up, and fill with, you know, our winner this year, got signed, you know, and industry, you know, got them in. Got them a manager went out on a bunch of meetings. And it pretty much happened. The industry to let her write here script scratch. And she had other people coming up to her, and she went without. So she’s all, you know, in all, we di that all. You know, Austin does that, and Nickels it grows in that. I think the thing that separates Blue Cat is, you know I think the confidence that you can have? Knowing only that, at least you know who is? I hired the readers. I hand out the information directly, and I’m the final say in that, I’m the judge. So, that alone is the, it gives people confidence. A lot of people who have entered Blue Cat do enter anybody else. Because, they, because of that. Because the just like they have a mind, and go, okay, I agree. On what he’s saying about that particular element of principle screenwriting. And so, I’m, I don’t feel like I’m just throwing my money out into the ether. You know, my submission fee out into the ether. Never knowing what’s going to happen. And then you know, because of the feedback that comes with every entry. You know what happened. It’s not like you enter these other competitions and you get this vague sense of reason the ones you don’t, you never know?
You never know, this whole thing.
Ashley: What is that, feedback look like? Does the reader get like a pass, consider is there a recommend?
Gordy: No, there’s never, it’s more like an Internal, like conversation that you would have with like, maybe you know, a colleague. Where we tell you, what we think is working. What we don’t. What we think needs more work. And that’s it, just sort of about roughly five or six hundred words. That are on those two questions. That’s it, you know, you know too many people like you know, covering to make you feel like deluding you into feeling like the professional. It’s us having a conversation, a development conversation with you. And you know, the other thing? Because of that feedback. You, and I think this is why we continue to grow. Of people considering to come back to us every year. Basically it’s people know we read your entire script. That’s another thing people will really like about Blue Cat. Is like, they read my whole script. There is actually a person that read my script. And it’s always unsettling, when something comes back no matter what, like a film festival or something. Like you don’t even know if they watched your film. Like I don’t know, you know? Did they watch Dog Bowl, you know? And you know, I think that’s the other thing. But, quicker feedback looks like. And like I said, we rely on it, insurance to let us know, who the reader is. Is like, hey, this reader was ABC. And you know, our staff will look at that play. So, would have, it’s happened, helpful there because sometimes we do? A reader gets hired, has a bad day, or burn-outs or something. Or if they are really nasty, or something like that. Or sloppy. And the entrant will complain to us. And we’ll be like, a corruption. So, you know, so that’s literally, we have a lot of entrants.
They’re all talk, screenwriters, talk to each other now, you know? And they compare notes and stuff, especially competition readers. So, you know, we have built in our performance, focus on that particular performance. Instead of opposed to other ways to entries. We just well them to, let’s just read the scripts carefully. And judge a good competition. And by doing so, we get really strong winners. And then those winners and finalist go on to have like special things happen, career wise. And then it always reflects back on us.
Ashley: Sure, sure. So maybe you can tell us about some of the dates on, is it once a year? You collect the scripts, and when does that roughly take place? Or is there multiple entry dates.
Gordy: Yep. Yeah, yeah. There’s at least you know what like Sundance, like Nickels or whatever anybody else does? There’s a couple of different times you can submit. And we have a regular deadlines: October 15. So, that’s about a month away. And you act by October 15th and get your feedback, back early. You get it back in November, early Novembers. So that’s sort of the last time we after on that. You’re going to get it at the normal time. But our final deadline is November 15th. And then we have a feature time, it’s 15,000 and it’s Shorts as well, this is our third year accepting shorts. And our shorts prize is $10,000.00.
Ashley: Oh, wow.
Gordy: So, yeah, nice, sexy, you know, money prize and other stuff. But, a lot of people, more important we give you a platform to like, give you like a deadline to work on your movie. Or else give you some feedback. So then you can like become modern people. You know, we moved our deadline, a few years ago to the fall. And a lot of people use us, Blue Cat, like I’ll do my first draft to Blue Cat. You know, I’ll see how I’ll do? I’ll get the feedback. I’ll rewrite it and send it to Austin and Nickels this spring, you know? And some on to Sunday, you know? And all and basically all the rest of them in the spring. We have had a lot of people use it to evolve their work. And that’s really, that is what, Dan is populous for. It’s nice, we do have those people that come out on top. And then we have fun with that. Not only do we help them, by over all our, because of our feedback, and the announcements we give out to everybody. You know, we are able to support everybody. November 15th, was the final deadline. But October 15th is, if you submit by October 15th. We would also like, there’s a prize that’s [14:38-14:44 – Inaudible] The final deadline is sort of off. You know, our most expensive, earlier in the summer is obviously read. Just likely, we go to Sundance and Austin and stuff. So,
Ashley: Perfect, perfect.
Ashley: So, what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? You can mention your Twitter handle, I’ll link to everything in the show notes. Your Facebook page, maybe a blog? Definitely mention Blue Cat website.
Gordy: Yeah, yeah, we have all that. All that, a, our Twitter account is very factive. Our Facebook account of course is, you know, our Facebook page. And you know, some Instagram, you know, we’re pretty influent in social media, our Twitter account is a great, because Twitter will like remind you of a link to our blog. We live a very active blog, A lot of original content. You know last year we interviewed, you know, of, one of the writers of, “Birdman.” You know, before the Oscar, before they were ever nominated. It was an exclusive interview that Blue Cat had with the writer. One of the writers of “Birdman.” So, that stuff ends up on our blog. And you know, the down, that’s good. The most important thing is, you should go to the website and
sign-up for our newsletter. Our newsletter has all the content we post on the blog. And we have free script downloads, we have links to, like, you know, your Podcast. You know, things that start to, it’s a very useful tool. For many years, people did it. It’s just within power, sort of permission to continue this work, or this newsletter. But if you go to our website, there’s like a box that shows up. And it’s an opt in thing, free obviously, new thing. A letter, it comes out weekly these days. And that has a lot of information in the newsletter. Things in there you can blog, always a script out log. A line of scripts who, go in and move up. Oh, that script, and they just go in and download it. Especially closer to award season, we have a ton of them. So, the newsletter is probably the primary way to keep contact with us. But then obviously follow some Twitter, Instagram, But I always, jump on this newsletter, and so on.
Ashley: Perfect, I’d go, and thank you for coming on the show. Another great interview, and I learned a lot and I had fun talking to you. So, I really appreciate it.
Gordy: Okay, thank you so much, man, so great. I always love talkin’ to you.
Ashley: Thank you, we’ll talk to ya later.
Ashley: I just want to mention, two things while doing this, Selling Your Screenplay. The purpose, find screenwriters, who are looking for material. First, we created, a month ago, a newsletter that would be some directed to producers. Every member of SYS would like to submit one log-line per month, per newsletter. I went to Email my large database of producers and asked them if they had already received this month’s newsletter? Which is so far, about 170 producers who have signed up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and happy to read scripts from writers. So, if you want to participate in this pitch newsletter and put the script in their hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select. Or you can go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com.
And secondly, we are one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites. So, we can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in. A week from a partner. Some weeks we’ve been getting about eight to nine high quality paid leads per week. These are producers on production companies on actively looking to buy material. Or are actively in looking to hire screenwriters for a specific project. This sign-up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads Emailed directly to you several times per week. These leads are all on the gambit from: Production companies, looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their own ideas. We have producers looking for short features with producers looking for TV series pilot. It’s a huge amount aray, of different types of projects. So no matter what type of project writer you are? I’m sure you’ll be able to find something, some quality reads service. And these leads are exclusive to our partner. And they are exclusive to SYS Select Members. So, you have to join to gain access to these leads. To sign-up go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select, or www.sellingyouscreenplay.com.
I recently set-up a success stories page, for people who has success through various SYS Services. So if you want to check out, with some other people who have tried our services are saying. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also if you had success with any of the SYS Select Services, please let me know, it’s inspiring to know of these success stories. So I would love to share your story, either on a success page, or even in a Podcast interview. So, if you’ve had success, please do contact me.
In the next episode of the Podcast I’m gonna be interviewing, Scott Morgan. He is a screenwriter, producer, a few years ago, he moved over to China. And has built up relationships with Chinese Production Companies. And has got a whole bunch of films that are sort of in the pipeline. There is a ton of opportunities, because I’ve talked about this on the Podcast before. But there is a ton of opportunities in China. China is absolutely exploding in sort of a growth in the entertainment industry. So there is a lot of new companies that are trying to get into it over in China. They have a lot of money, a lot of them don’t have a lot of it, experience with reading high quality scripts, with production. So, that means, there is opportunities. These Chinese production companies, they want American writers, who have some success. Or even if you don’t have some success. They just have you, the American writers, that having more experience. And having just a little more knowledge of what makes a good movie. But they really want to work with American writers. So, getting into this market, it is an emerging market. And getting into the ethnic early stages is important, I think. There is, as I have said, is a lot of opportunities over there. So, anyways, I had spot on, I knew Scott had some experience with it, the Chinese marketplace. I’ve had a lot of questions about, there are questions about censorship? You know, what actually is the Chinese Government going to allow? There are questions about actually how to actually work with these production companies? So, had a lot of these questions? And I got turned on to Scott, so if he’ll have a lot of experience on that. I’ve asked him to come on the Podcast, and just talk about this. And he was more than happy, he really offers a lot of great insight. So, if you are interested in writing for this market? You do not have to be Chinese movies, a lot of them are American movies, but with a slight Chinese angle. So, it might be like, you know, an action movie that takes place in America, with someone from China in it. Those kinds of movies. There is something that sorta cross cultural appeal, those types of scripts can really work. And this is all stuff I get into with Scott in the interview. So, keep an eye out for that next week, I’ll be publishing that next Monday.
So, I talked about Kathy was up, I think? A lot of what we talked about today being, in terms of the contest? Gordy runs a Blue Cat Screenplay Competition. So, I did talk about that, by Austin Film Festival, so I do want to mention that again. I could post on my blog, I’ll link to it in the show notes, the URL is kind of unwieldy. But basically in that post I listed out a bunch of contests that I thought were reputable contests, I think there are 10 or 11 contests on there. And that, you know, if it just isn’t on this list? It doesn’t mean it’s not reputable? I just put a list together of all the contest that seem to be the most reputable in the industry. So if you are looking for contests that are reputable? Just go and check that out, as I said. I think there are 10 or 11 contests on this list. And I will link to it in the show notes. It’s just a blog post, for a list of contests. And say a little something about them, and link to them. So, that’s a real good place to start. I definitely think you want to make contest a part of your marketing strategy. So, checking out this post is a good place to start. And further-more, checking out the Blue Cat Screenplay Competition is also a good place to start. You just heard Gordy as I said, I think he has a lot of experience, and it’s a great contest to enter.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.