Ashley: Welcome to episode #146 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing, Writer/Producer Director – David Gould. He’s a film maker from New Zealand, he’s starting to raise money for his next project. So, we talk quite a bit about what he’s doing on that front. Especially as it relates to the American film market. Which is the large independent film market that takes place in Santa Monica in November. He’s going to AFM, with this new project. So, we talk about his strategy for raising money with it. And we talk about his early part of his career. Kind of how he broke into the business. So, stay tuned for that.
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A quick few words about what I am working on this week. Once again, the main thing is trying to do is to push my feature film, “The Pinch” through post-production. Last week I saw the first 55 minutes of the rough cut. It’s coming together nicely I hope to have a rough cut in the next couple of weeks. At this point I’m kinda just waiting for the rough cut to get done. And then once I have that. I want to really take my time with it, so that we can get the best locked picture possible. It’s going to be a lot of time once the rough cut is done with me reviewing it. Sitting with the editor just doing tweaks. Getting notes from other producers, some other producers, some of the other people who were involved with the film, getting notes and that. Just as I said, just trying to make this locked picture as strong as possible. Then once I got that ready to go I will start reaching out to all the other various people who will be working on this in
I’ve been re-writing my limited location romantic comedy. I have been talking about that the last couple of weeks on the Podcast. As part of that process, I’m trying to watch some romantic comedies, I actually went back and watched, “When Harry Met Sally” last week. It’s a really great movie, really the gold standard of romantic comedies. If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t seen it in while, I highly recommend it. It’s currently on Amazon Prime, and to stream for free. So, if you get Amazon Prime? You can check it out for free. Next up in my Que is “500 Days of Summer.” I’m hopefully going to watch it this weekend or next.
As I am watching it, watching these movies, I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what movies are available where? I wonder if there’s some people out there that have a way of doing this? If anyone knows of a service where you can type in a movie title and see where it’s streaming. Please do let me know? I found one called, “CanIStreamIT.com, so it’s “Can I stream it?” But it flat out doesn’t work. I mean, most of the time it just gives you in accurate results. Which is completely you know, useless. I have Hulu, I have NetFlix, Amazon Prime, I even subscribe to HBO, Showtime. Plus, Time Warner Cable has there own ONDEMAND Service, which pipes into other channels I get, FX, and a whole bunch of these other channels that are on Time Warner. So, it will be nice to have a tool with which you could just type in the movie title. In which it would show you were it is streaming? I’m not so concerned about ITunes. Everything is pretty much on ITunes that’s available for purchase on Amazon. So, I don’t necessarily think that’s all that valuable telling me it’s available for purchase. Because we all know that. But when I am already subscribing to all of them, these other services. It’ll be nice to know where it is playing. As I said,
“Can I Stream It IT.” Just doesn’t work, in theory though, it’s doing what I would like. Where you type in a title and it tells you it’s on Amazon Prime, it’s on NetFlix, Hulu, or it’s not on any service. As I said, I think the results are obviously less than 50% accurate. Most of the time I type something in and it doesn’t come up with anything accurate results at all. And then when I go and double check it? Like, “When Harry Met Sally” a prime example. It didn’t come up and say, it was on Amazon Prime. I just had to go on and do that. And that the only problem is, when you are looking for a movie, you got to log-in to all these different services. Do a search, it’s not there, go to the next one. So, if you just had one portal, one website that you could type in the movie title and have it show up. That would be very, very helpful. I don’t necessarily think it’s an easy problem to solve? And maybe that’s why there is nothing out there, because you would have to pipe into all these different services. Get some sort of data feed, or have to have an API or something you could pipe into and get these types of results. In any event if someone knows of any service like this, please do let me know. I would find it very useful, I would definitely talk about it on the Podcast. Because I think other people would find it useful as well. So, let me know, info. www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Anyway, that’s what I am working on.
Let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing Screenwriter/Director/Producer – David Gould, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome David to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
David: No worries, thank you very much for having me.
Ashley: So, maybe just to start you can kind of just give us a brief over view of your background and kind of how you got into the entertainment industry. And take us back as far as you feel comfortable taking us back. Were you one of those film geek kids, that was shooting video back as a kid. Or just, really take us back to the beginning. And kinda just bring us up through maybe the last couple of years.
David: Yeah. Well, it seems, I’m certainly not one of those kids who started out with Super 8 film. And stole from my dad and that sort of thing. But, I guess my background being it’s always been about visuals, very strong on the visual side. And so, just interestingly enough, at school, at high school. I saw some computer graphics. Very early versions of computer graphics and was absolutely fascinated with how you could, how it could be done. And I think that drove a lot of to where my career went. And then, and so I, my actual background is in Software Engineering Programming. So, I did a degree in Software Engineering. By then I did a massive advanced computer graphics. I was always driven towards how can I create these amazing images. And then from that, I had the opportunity to travel overseas, I went to work in Paris, in France, and I worked for a big pharmaceutical interesting enough. The companies had been doing visualizations for pharmaceutical companies. I then had opportunities to work in London in games, and then onto Luxemburg in animated film. I worked in Los Angeles, for Disney,
New York doing commercials. And then off to San Francisco to work with some Pixar. It was 8 Pixar guys who developed the rending technology. And from there I went down to New Zealand, here where I am now, working on “The Lord of the Rings.” So I guess my trajectory has always been working more on the visuals space. In terms of doing visual effects. And then I think the shism for me, the chance for me was in 2005, at the end of the 2005, we had just finished
“King Kong.” And with that film. It was interesting to work on it, huge big blockbuster film. If you can imagine that? I felt like I wasn’t necessarily being as creative as I wanted to. I wasn’t here to express my ideas. So, I left, I went back to Australia, New Zealand at the time. I went back to Australia at the time, and had the opportunity to start-up my own production company. And there I sat down and wrote my first screenplay. Which is, “Awakening” an animated short film. And that film went on to win many awards. In fact, Disney Feature Productions, Disney Pictures I suspect? Optioned it, to turn it into a live action film. So, that’s been a real interesting trajectory. To have my first short, my first script that I wrote, and have it go in that particular direction. From there, I did a lot of live action short. I then moved back to New Zealand. And continued working on “The Lord of the Rings” films, I worked on the “Hobbit” “Tin-Tin”
“Rise of The Planet of the Apes.” But, always wanted to do my first feature. And I knew that I would have the opportunity to do that here in New Zealand. So, technically, I’ve never been to film school. Although, a lot of people have. They talk about the benefits of going. I don’t think I’ve worked as I sort of went along. I obviously have a sort of strong post-production background, working on all these Post-Production companies. And then I effectively, I went to Australia that time in 2005, I started from scratch. And that was really difficult because I had already sort of really strong career in visual effects. You know, I had won many awards, and had written books on the subject and so on. And then to go and sit in meetings. And people saying, well, what have you written, what have you produced? I have done nothing. But, you’re trying to start again, so, your whole career is like starting from the very scratch. Like, you got to go out there and prove yourself, make the films, get people on-board, and do all that. So, it certainly was a big risk, a big start and sacrifice. I could have continued on doing what I did. But, I really felt like I needed to tell these stories, my stories. So, it’s now been around ten years since that happened. Not only this journey as a what I’d say, a film maker, a Writing, Director, Producer. And so that’s a slowly progressed from there. So,
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk about that first short. So, it sounds like you’ve been doing, you’ve been working post-production. So you knew like, technically. How to do all of this and animation and stuff, correct? Because that’s kinda what you’ve been doing on these bigger features.
David: Yes absolutely. I guess the a, I guess I best describe the difficulties or what I have learned from this, yes. Is that you go from working in this huge production company, is like, Disney, or what a digital way. You know, the resources are enormous, you know, 300 people, the computers, everything available at your finger-tips. To then going and starting your own production company. And everything from setting-up the computers, to putting in the cables, to the people to the nuts and bolts. On a daily basis to try and get this sort of thing to working. And that was really difficult. Because – A. I didn’t have the resources, didn’t have the financial resources to do. So we’re bringing up a lot of students in. And we found out a lot of the students, even though they had technically 2 years of experience. Or actually finished their studies. Didn’t really have the fundamental strengths in information. So a lot of the teachings going on. So it was a long process, it took quite a long time to make that film. So,
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, Let’s talk about what you did with that short? Like you mentioned Disney optioned the rights to turn it into a feature. What did you do, so you get done with the short. And how did you promote the short? Was it film festivals? Did you have contacts in the industry? What did you do to actually get there? To get that short promoted?
David: Yeah, that was, I tried the short film festivals to get it around the world. We won a couple of festivals in and from there it kind of build. It was like a momentous kind of build. I went from there. But how it ended up being a going to Disney? Is kind of interesting. I had made a connection with Mario Iscovich who was their Executive Producer, there at Disney. He had done, “Race to Witch Mountain.” “Runaway Bride” those kinds of films. And so, I had the opportunity to meet with him. And I can actually, was talking about going to my going to him. And I was pitching, “The Cure” at the time to him. And he looked at it, looked at the trailer, and the whole idea and everything. And so yeah, just the extra initial ideas. He says, it’s not really a Disney film. So, I thought, oh, okay. So, I handed him my show reel which had my first short film on it, the live action as well as the animation one on it. And he came back to me, in I think about 3 weeks-time. And he said, “David, look, I don’t think your “The Cure” is right for us. But you know, he was really, really smitten with it “The Awakening” I think it was an amazing film. I would like to turn it into a live action. And so, it was interesting really, because it was animated. But when I first sat down to write the script. I always envisioned it actually being live action. Sort of a visual effects for the robots, in real live actors in like transformers. But I have not seen that kind of style, very different styles, more like “Iron Giant.” So then, from there I was three weeks later where there were. They came back and said, “Hey, you know, we want to make this happen.” The ball started rolling from there. So really, just an opportunity chance meeting like this. The project I propositioned didn’t go through but, had to look at something else. But, that’s something not often miss.
Ashley: Yeah. Just back us up one step. How did you meet this fellow of Disney? Was that just through working on these other big movies? Or you said, it was at AFM. You just like sparked up a conversation.
David: Yeah. What happened was, because I was at Disney. I was working in the Post-Production area. And Mario works in live action. So, we never had any interaction, or know each other. I actually met him in, on Facebook. We made a connection at Facebook. I’d seen some of the work he’d done. And I said, Hey look, I’m done, I just basically put it out there. Hey, Mario, I’m going to be going to AFM, do ya want to meet up? And he graciously said, “Yeah.” Cool, I had seen some of his stuff, real come on down. So, he loaned jenny time and come on down. And that was basically how it went. And from there, once I did the Disney option then. I had the option to get a manager and that, and an agent and so on and so forth. It all kind of spring rolled, or snowballed from that.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And just for one second, let’s just talk about Facebook. I’ve never really tried to do anything with the networking, the professional network. You know, I post pictures of my kids on my Facebook page. But, I’ve had other people come up on and say they’ve used Twitter and Facebook and stuff. Was this like an active thing you were doing? Just sort of somebody you peripherally. So, you friended him and he accepted your friend request? Or were you actively going after these people you thought could potentially help you with your career.
David: Well, I think given where we live and is in Australia where it is say the distance we are from say, Europe and America. It’s really helpful for us. Because we don’t have the opportunity to bump into someone at the corner store. Or have those meeting as opportunities. So reaching out via the network. As you know, it a people business. It’s a networking business, so. A lot of the connections I already had were building off of that. As with Mario, he was, I think we had a certain number of shared friends. And then I made that connection to him, he accepted that connection. This being said, it was, when I made a connection in America, it was quite a few years back. I think that Facebook was a little bit easier, in terms of how, if you weren’t connected to someone back then that you would still get your message. To where as now it goes into this “Others” box. So, I think maybe it was a little bit easier back then. But, ultimately, it came down to “Hey, Mario. This is what I am looking to do. Would you set a meeting?” In finding people that are willing to do that? Also, make connections to production managers and other people, producers via that method. I think if you come across the road that way, you’re not in their face, you know, you’re gracious and respectful of it at a time. And not, you know, badger them. I think people are willing to meet. Or maybe they’re going to look you up on IMDb, that’s the first protocol. Are you a normal well adjusted person? Have you made these films you say you have? And then the meetings can kind of spring from there.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, is there any place this original short film, do you have it online, if people want to see it? Can I link to it, or is there, is it just on reels?
David: Yeah. It’s absolutely online – www.theawakening.com, and there is a video, there’s a little rental fee you pay, you can watch the short there, it’s like $0.99 or something? And so, it’s quite cheap. Yeah, you can certainly see it there yeah.
Ashley: Okay perfect. I will link to that in the show notes if anybody is curious to check that out? So, let’s dig into your feature film, “The Cure.” You mentioned that a moment ago that you were trying to promote that throughout this process.
Maybe to start out, you can give us kind of a log-line or pitch? Just tell us what the movie is about? I always grab the trailer and put that in the show notes so people can check that out. But, if they haven’t already done that maybe you can just pitch it real quick?
David: Yeah sure. So, the pitch basically is, about a female biochemist who’s working for a huge pharmaceutical company. While working at it, she discovers, they’ve actually discovered the cure for cancer. So, she now has the formula wants to get it out, get it out of the building, get it out to the world. And of course the company wants to stop her. She’s also got other colleagues that are working with her also. That see some benefits to either selling it, or using it for other purposes. It’s a contained thriller. You know, it’s all set in one building. And again, that was all budget reasons, and trying to make that work. So, that was kinda what drove it. But the original, I guess, the original next, the idea of this script came from my own experiences. My mother passed away from cancer when I was younger. And during those last stages of her illness. She had already been through all the traditional methods of Chimo. And surgery and various other things. And nothing was really working. So, I was looking at various other medicines. And I think that’s kinda what sparked the whole idea for this film. Was that it is quite well known in the Pharmaceutical companies aren’t looking really at the natural remedies. Because they can’t Patton them. Unless they can Patton them, they can’t make money. So therefore, these are not avenues of research they are interested in. So, having gone through that process, with my mom and she passed away. You know, you always ask yourself, was there a stone I didn’t lift up. That I didn’t over turn that I could have found something, you know? You always ask that question, what is? So I think that’s where the core idea of the film came from. What if they had the cure? What would happen if they’d released it? And why would they stop from it being released? In this case, my film, that premise, is it? They are making so much money from Chimo drugs. Why would they want an actual cure? Why would they want to give you a needle in your arm. In fact a vaccine, for example, not for cancer. But they are on that same similar idea. When they can be selling you pro-acts that could make you, or maintain you, or keep it at bay for years to come. So, it’s a commercial verses your humanitarian battle there I guess?
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I guess, interesting. So, let’s talk just a minute about your writing process? It’s, when you’re writing a feature film. We can talk about that specifically. How much time do you spend preparing, outlining, verses how much time do you spend actually in
“Final Draft” writing the script?
David: Yeah, I think for me it’s a bit of a balance. What was interesting, in the initial stages of this film. It was like, you know, taking so many different roads. I felt like it was really important now looking back, not so much a great idea. To spend a lot of time on the scientific aspect of it. Like I felt like I needed to find some credible justification for having had to develop this cure. And what it was, to be, and so on and so on. So, I spent a lot of time may be because I felt like the film had to be that level of lividity. But then, as time went on, I realized, because the story’s really not about that, the story’s not about the technical aspects of the actual cure. But it’s about her. And her reaction, and her drive for why it is she. Because in the story, her father dies from cancer. And that’s what made her become a biochemist. So that’s what drove her, so it’s like me, that search for, is there an alternative-methods out there? So, I kind of went off on that track for quite a while. And that was interesting in and of itself. Because you know, the scientific aspect, you know, I really had to bring it back, I had to bring the story back to why would this cure? Hopefully, holding this USB key with the formula on it, matter to different people for different reasons? And I think that’s where it kinda drove me back to what was a cool story. So, the aspect of why, and how and all that is or isn’t so important. The initial part of it.
And then for me, the process of writing is, I have Word, so I use, I do that for outlines and bulleted lists, and so, okay this happens, this happens, this happens. No, dialog basically, just the plot points. And then I use “Screenwriter” and in that I, what’s great about that, I actually allows you to have notes and create also additional notes and things. And so, it’s a case of writing an outline then going into screenwriter, and then actually writing the script. That’s where I do dialog, chuck in some really ugly rough dialog. Just so there’s some people saying, “Hi” “Bye” and various other things. And then once I’ve done that. I either review it myself, I have my own notes about stuff I know needs to be going into the next draft. Like already, this is a problem I need to solve. Or how are we going to answer this question? Or how can I make this, this character needs to be more interesting. A little bit more back story on it, on them, and so on and so on. I really as I am writing I really know what I need to do for the next draft. And then I just continue that process on.
Ashley: And how long does this process take, typically, when you are writing a feature? Even specifically with it, “The Cure.” Specifically how long did that take?
David: Yeah, well. It was essentially because it was sort of on and off that these things happen. I think it was if I worked it out? It was about 15 months from where I sat down to write, to when the script was done. And of course you have a shooting script. Which varies and changes as you have the chance to rehearse with the actors. So, that varies, so the length of time from start to end? Is about 15 months. That was including up until we started shooting. So, we, yeah, I went through many drafts. I sent it to lots of people. Really a strong, getting script analysis in. I had script analyst working behind from Australia, America, and Europe, looking at it, and giving me feedback. And that was really helpful. Because you know, as a writer, you’re very close to it. It’s a personal story I guess, it means well. And that was a pretty good to get a critical eye. And you know, you think something some people always say, is that, as writers we know what’s wrong with it, the script. And we kind of push it under the blanket, sweep it under the carpet. Keep it under and no one will notice. And then, you know, three script analysts pick it out. And you go, “Oh, shit, okay.” Yeah, okay, I’d better deal with that. So, we all try to hide, but, you know, it comes out. It and we go, okay we face that, we need to solve that problem. And then get in and do the hard work of pressing that delete key and fixing it.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And do you have a network of people that you send the script to? Or do you just hire script analyst and get their notes like that?
David: Yeah. Mainly script analysts, you know. I don’t Yes, it’s an interesting point. I know some people subscribe to various groups and things. I haven’t necessarily done that with my own stuff. I guess I sort of write it, and then work with a script analyst mainly. That’s the process back and forth, back and forth. Of course as you send it to people when you looking at that financing stage as well. We’ve been working with sales agents as well, giving us some feedback. Like for example I had a project, just a series of franchise films. And they’d come back with notes like, we really need this to be a stand-alone film. So, if it doesn’t break out after the first one? It needs to work on it’s own.
But, you know, each person comes at it from different angle. They come in from a commercial, how can we sell this? What will get people to come in and sit in cinemas and that sort of thing. So,
Ashley: Yeah. So, how do you know, so you’re doing these re-writes on the script. How do you know when it’s time to start getting the opinions of these analysts? And start sending it out? Where is that point, I mean, you’re talking about “First Draft” you have notes. You know from the first or second draft. But, at what point do you say, “This is as good as I can get it. I need to get feedback.”
David: I think I said, really based on your own experience where you feel like you’ve nailed all the major items that you want, in the script. In terms of what you feel that what you want to be in there. In terms of the characters and actors and the action they’re various things that you don’t feel like there’s any points which need resolving. You know, and I also send it to a few people to take a look at and they can give you some, not just merchants and friends have a look at it. And then it’s really, and then I give it to the analysts. Because at that point I want them to be really critical. I want them to start ripping it apart. Giving it to me, giving me feedback. And then from that I can, what I typically do is? I, 3 or 4 of them, done, and then from then on I build a consensus, people go off in a different direction from maybe where I want to be. And I think it really important to stay true to the story you want to tell. That is, 3 people are saying, the same thing. Well, this character really is, has an issue with this character. Or this popcorn doesn’t make sense to me. That’s where I start the work of re-writing. Go back to the internet and start re-writing again. And once I done that, I ask to send the script back to analyst to take a look at again, so.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. That’s excellent advice, I think you are getting a consensus from them all, multiple people is smart. So, let’s just talk for a minute of some of the sort of genre requirements? This is sort of “The Cure” is kind of a genre movie, It’s a low-budget sort of thriller movie. And how aware were you, like you talked about talking to sales agencies, and distributors and stuff. And they’ll come back with notes. But how aware were you of these sorts of genre requirements as you were writing this and conceiving of the idea.
David: Well, that was really important because, as I mentioned in the beginning. My film was sort of going on from the sort of scientific documentary tangent. And because you can’t get caught up in it, as these details, it’s pacing. I think the biggest part in what I think in a
James Cameron is a master at is? Pacing in a film, and particularly this film was okay, it’s an action thriller, we don’t need it to be a lot of money. How can we make this work? And a big part of that was, in knowing, okay, we got to keep the story moving along. We can’t have it stop and have a little talk about what I’m going to do within this, I’m going to do that. We just got to keep moving along. And that was something that was worth being aware of. Because I had seen other films where for example. That I wanted to do a comedy, splatter film. Well, there wasn’t enough gore in it to satisfy the splatter fans. And there wasn’t enough comedy to satisfy the comedy fans, and it kinda got stuck in the middle. And I really think you’ve got to know as you said in the beginning, it’s important to know the genre. Because the sales agent is going to go and sell it. If you think your film is so different from everything else, and it sort of can’t be categorized?
That’s not true, someone somewhere has got to categorize and put it in a box and say, “It’s a this!” So, mine being an action thriller, I knew it was really important to sort of tick those box. So, keep the movement moving along, keeping the action, keeping the tempo, keeping the action and suspense. Now, that being said, as I was writing it I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of a large budget. So, I didn’t have a large-helicopter-shots. I didn’t have an amazing number of crazy action scenes. I kinda tried to do it more through the drama of can I trust the person next to me? Are they going to screw me over? As we all need to work together to get out of this building. So, it was more about the psychological tension. Then necessarily the action on it. So, that was kind of what drove me, instead of looking and knowing. I hadn’t seen enough other films to know what we needed to do. To kind of dial that genre, and I think that’s a really important point.
Ashley: And in addition to this stuff you just mentioned. Which is all great stuff. Were there some other notes from the distributors, sales agents and finance people as you’re trying to raise, get funding? Were there any other notes that you can recall that come to mind that maybe some of them can be counter intuitive?
David: Yeah, no I think at first, why would they, one good thing was? Was it, everyone really got the premise of those. Is that the truth, a true story? So, I think that was good. So, I think that was a really strong start to it. I think, well, the feedback is always the same thing. It’s like, who’s in it, ya know? It’s like, just to a certain degree their interest will always be driven by who’s the lead actor? You know, and various other things. So, that unfortunately goes secondary to story, secondary to script and various other things. So, I don’t think necessarily, they read the script they liked it. I think they may have wanted maybe a bit more action. Or more things that would happen in the film by it was all constrained by budget. So, it was going, okay, sand pit is this big? We need to work within that, what can we actually achieve? The other, if I’m sure is me, who are you, what have you done? You have done short films, you’ve never done a feature. And I think that was always hurt a little. I always had to overcome by doing this.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. I mean, and as an example, I mean one of the things I always hear when writing an action movie. Like they always come back to you, like, when they need an action scene every ten pages. So, you know, that’s 9 out of actions scenes in 90 pages of script. Did you run into some of those kinds of things? Like sort of hard and fast rules that distributors were like saying, like you need another action scene. Or you need another, you know, suspense scene.
David: Yeah, they were obviously things that were brought up. But at the same time. You’re going, this is the budget, how can we make this work. I guess if you’re, if you look at the film, it’s more thriller than action. And with that being said, I with my next project, I’m trying to work, to reverse that a little bit. I knew what the film would be, you know, I knew what we could achieve on the budget we were looking at. So, for that reason, it was what it was. You know, it would be silly for me to go to them and say, look I’m going to give you this guys. I’m going to have balls-to-the-walls action every 10 minutes. And then not deliver on that. It really was a case of finding a sales agent who for example we ended up with. We interviewed several, we had about 5 sales agents that were interested. It was like, hey guys, here’s what you’re getting. The pizza is this big, not this big. And, as long as you are up front and honest about it. Then their expectations are matching what they end up getting, as art will be.
So, of course I would have loved to have had every 10 minutes, ya know. And then turn style every 10 minutes something crazy happens to the protagonist. A that was not going to happen with this film. So, it was about being honest with them, I think.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. I’m curious, too about your decision to have the protagonist be a woman. You know, it’s a kind of double edged sword. There’s not as many of those scripts out. So, sometimes you can attract a really great actress, with a great protagonist. You know, when the female protagonist, but I still hear from a lot of distributors and sales agents that those movies are tougher to sell, when you have a woman protagonist. Did you get any push back on that?
David: Actually no, there wasn’t any of that. Oh, well, you know, can we sort of change this to a guy thing really. I think it was the premise of the film was why what made it, sort of driving it. You know, because I wasn’t necessarily looking for big actors. I could afford that, you know, the well established actor. It never was really going to be an issue. If it was, if it came down to between an, let’s say for arguments sake, I had the budget. I listed actor – male “A-List Actor” Alias Female “A-List Actor.” Then at that point I might have gone, well, can you push it towards a male actor. I really, I think it would have compromised to a certain degree because of what I wanted to do with it. Is to have the action in the film was driven by him. The knowledge of chemistry, strictly, an example of the various things that she creates in her knowledge and how she over comes these guys. Not by brute force, but by her intelligence. So, it didn’t need a guy you know, big muscles and all and shooting people up. It needed someone like McGyver who is clever about, these guys have got guns and we don’t. Now what are we going to do? We are scientist, chemists, we’re going to try and work out ways to stop them. So, we really liked that aspect. That she was had to use her brains rather than her brauns, it really tied in well with a female role. And you know, I think it’s, if you look at aliens right. The alien, when I first wrote the script, you know, they wrote it as a male character. And I just flipped it and made it a female character. And I think that’s why Ripley’s character is so strong. I am aware of the push in the market to say, that there should be a male-lead-roles. And that’s going to make it even more easier and so on and so forth. But, I think it’s well directed well shot. I don’t believe that such is the case here. It makes maybe the case for really, really large projects. But I think in sort of the independent area is, as long as the film holds up, and the actors do a great job, and you’re really into it? It really shouldn’t matter so much.
Ashley: So, how did you get educated on these low budget genre films? These are not like, a lot of film makers come into film making, you know, when you say, independent film. They’re thinking Sun Dance Film. And that’s not what most of these sort of independent genre films are. How did you just sort of get up to speed? Are these films you like, and watch? How did you find them? And kind of learn about all this whole market?
David: Yeah, that’s it. The film I made, some of them I watch. And so, I know a lot of people make, yeah okay, I’ve got to go and make these commercial films. Ideally, I want to sort of makes these low-budget art film that you know, just to get around on the board. This is the type of film I like doing, action thriller, action adventure, that sort of stuff. The films are that I am really interested in. So, and after looking at my DVD collection, you know, Die Hard, Terminator, Alien, similar to all of those kinds of films, are the ones I really love. And really want to continue making. In my career. So, it’s kind of a natural process of going, okay alright.
I want to make something like that. Then I’ll need a large budget, make a container, I guess. One inspirational film for me was, “Die Hard.” A contained thriller, it happens in a building, it certainly is not Die Hard. You know, it’s not that level of action and so on. But, that idea, the whole premise of what can we do, we’re in a building. What can we do with a bunch of people trying to get out? And so, that kind of drove a lot of where, okay it can work, they made it work. How can I make it work on a low-budget? So, within the escape of all genres, in genre films, it was that going, action thriller. But then within action thriller, a contained action thriller. And then really targeting that particular aspect.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk about, now you’ve got the script finished. And you’re going out to try and raise the money for this project. Let’s talk about that. What were your steps to raise money and get investors? And then ultimately how did you do it?
David: Yeah, so a once I had this script in place. We did, you know, concept trial, like a concept in various other things. And put a little book together, with various actors that we would like to have in those roles. And it was the case of take it to AFM. Going and meeting with people, getting us sales agents. They’ll, the first question I’ll ask, what’s the budget, who’s in it? And what’s the genre? Not asking necessarily what the story is about? And really drove it from there. Except for me, it was, oh okay, I see how this sort of works, and what their motivation was. And what they needed. And then that kind of helped drive a lot of what went on from that. I contacted lots of people, and I contacted producers. And you know, while it was interesting there was no other real particular, okay, yeah we absolutely want to make this film. I mean, it’s really tough, as you know, it’s really, really tough to get a fil across to someone. I obviously have a strong visual effects background. Which people are really appreciative of. But, I hadn’t directed a feature before. So, that I think was the question mark for some people. Unless I was bringing a big actor on board. That I had in my back pocket, or that I had a personal relationship with. It was always going to be a struggle. And so, yeah, it was quite difficult.
Ashley: And so, is there any tips for anyone, people that are going on this journey. Ultimately, how did you find people to invest for this? Well actually I ended up still funding a portion of this, yes. So I think it’s, for me, like many people in the industry. You have to be self-motivated. And kind of put yourself out there. Not, no one knows what you can do, unless you show them, right? So, if I hadn’t sort of make this move forward on my own, it would have never happened. I wouldn’t have this film. I would have had all of the other films I’ve made. So, what I’m basically saying is that, you’ve got to kind of prove yourself. You’ve got to go out and put the runs on the board, so to speak. So, what I did was, at that point, we really didn’t get a whole lot of, I went out, and then you see our Film Commission here. We don’t have Film Commissions in the states. And I approached them with the objective, they said it was really good, really interesting. Nearly at that point actually, I got a lot of people on board. Including Liz Malane who is Casting Director of “Lord of the Rings” whom I really love the script. And we got some amazing actors who we were strongly looking at. They liked it, they said, it was really good but, we are not going to fund it. So, I thought, well, momentum here. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s a tip for anybody. If your film has momentum at the beginning, the production stage. You’ve got some key elements on-board, just keep going. Ir-respective of what happens? Just keep going, because you’ll be surprised you know, that those problems will soon get sold. Or you’ll figure out how to work around them.
The worst thing you can do, for a film that has momentum, is stop. And say, “Sorry everybody, we’re going to stop right now. Just going to go off and get this, get that.” And then you kill it, and you have to start the train up all over again. And it makes it very, very hard to continue on. It’s hard to bring the people back, that you originally had on there. They have probably gone on to other projects. I think that’s really important to keep the momentum going. So, for me, it was the case of at that point, okay, all these people that believe in it? That want to do it? I’m betting on myself, I’m really believe in it, and I’ll find a way and did it. So, the process was to go, we had 5 weeks here in New Zealand, we shot it. After that I didn’t have any money. I had enough money to basically shoot the film. So, I have hard drives full of footage, and audio, and great. And the next stage was then going, okay, captain, I’ll look for post-production financing. So, again, back to AFM, met with a bunch of people who do Post-Production Financing and funding, and various things. I tried to put a rough cut together at that stage. They really liked it, but it was really hard. I thought my strategy to be like. If I can get it to the point where they can see it? Even in a rough cut stage. Then there’s no question about, well, how can it be executed? Is it good, will the script be transformed into the film the right way. Because effectively, you are showing them the end result. Where as there was a lot of interest? Again, it was really hard to say, let’s put the money in, let’s get the money to do the post-production. And so, I went back to New Zealand, the film commissioner asked for them, for some money. And they said, “Amazing production values, it’s well done.” Had a back, but they wouldn’t give any money. So, I was kinda at that crossroads going, well, this project can sit on a shelf, nothing can happen to it. But, I can keep going out there and beating the bushes trying to find the money. And what I basically did, okay, like I did with my last two shorts. I’m just going to push on ahead. So, what I ended up doing was the editing, I did the visual effects, I did grading, I did all the administrative aspects of it. Some deliverables and everything. I had a friend back in Australia, who helped me with the sound design, account editing. And a composer out of the states who, basically did all of the music. So, the three of us, did the whole post-production for the feature film. So, it was a labor of love, a lot, a lot of hours, a lot, a lot of time and energy. But, in the end we got it across line and we finished it a film. So, it was a case of every road block that comes along, you just put on another hat and keep pushing forward.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that’s a fantastic story, and very inspiring. And there’s a of lessons for people in there, I hope they are listening. So, let’s talk about American Film Market (AFM)? You’ve mentioned it a couple of times. I just finished a film and in July. And actually Burnie was who was came out and shot that, that film. And so, I’m going to go, we’re still in Post-Production. But, I’m going to go down there to AFM as well. I have had some other writers on here, that have talked about it? Hopefully, people listening to this, at least have some vague idea what AFM is? But, maybe you could just give us some tips to people? Talk about your strategy, like okay, now you’ve got one feature film under your belt that you can show people. And hopefully that will clear up some of the question marks. What about what you are going to do? I mean, I just went online the other day and passed, I think it was $390.00 or something? It was basically a four-day pass for like October 5th 2016, through the 8th. And I know, I’m going to be storming in there, basically. With as much of my film as I can. And try and find some distributors. But, maybe you could just give me, but for my own personal benefit. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving you some tips? But maybe you can tell some other screenwriters out there that they are trying to find some funding for their movies.
What you’re going to do. And what has worked in the past, and not worked to get me. With just your whole strategy for would be interesting?
David: So, I guess is two people, two aspects. One is you, as a producer having a film at AFM, and as a screenwriter, trying to get a film up. So, to cover yours first, so the first, I’ve been to 4 of them now. So, the first one is in 2009. Which is, I mentioned is when we were over there, “The Cure” That was somewhat difficult because again, kinda like trying to learn and understand what’s going on? And how the whole process works. But interestingly enough, one tough. As I said, basically as I got the film finished of my own, through my own steam. At that point, I had a trailer, I cut a trailer together. I think it was in October? I took that to a whole bunch of sales agents, just to get their interest. See if we could meet. I said, hey guys we’re going to meet at AFM. We got the trailer, I want to have them work out. Pick-out a particular sales agent and see their interest. Synitol came back to me, almost immediately and said, “Hey look, you know, Nick comes in, in a couple of weeks-time. Would you mind us having a go at selling the film?” We haven’t really actually had a chance to meet, or sit down and stuff. I said, “Here’s a couple of territories you might be able to sell?” They went to Nick, come with it the trailer and were able to actually sell it. So, at that point, we were able to kind of on the road together. And then by the time I got to AFM. That we basically saw a nod, and that was starting to sell the film. So, that was a little bit of a different story that we typically have. But to give you a bit of a background, for example. I’ve got another film sold since we can talk about. My strategies for going to this year is? It’s really important to get some visuals in front of them, you know, in advanced as well, was the other aspect as well. At AFM, it’s crazy, there’s 7 floors, I think 4 floors above, 3 floors below. They take out all the beds and cupboards and set-up these suites as offices for all the sales agents. And it is 5000 or more films, plus the back catalogue of the films on display, just selling, buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell. Very brutal, very straight up, very how do you feel want it, don’t want it. Not a lot of negotiation going on. Not a lot of chance for you to say, you sold your grandmother to make your film. But you don’t really care. You sell it, your films and they want to get it, as many sold as possible. So, it’s really important as a strategies. Not necessarily to walk up and knock on doors. Is to get those meetings in a day. Their calendar will fill out. Their agenda will fill out very quickly. Get a trailer, get some material to them as soon as possible, right now would be ideal. So, then they can start looking at setting up meetings. What they typically do is? The first three days of the event, at AFM, purely buying and selling. They really want to meet with the producers who got new projects. There will be looking more at a Saturday, Sunday coming into Monday. Is when they will meet with producers, or people who are looking to pitch projects. And I’ve got to say, to be honest, by that stage their burgeoning out. They’re long days working, big nights partying, combination. By the time they try to get to Sunday. And they’ve got this stream of people coming in pitching them ideas. But, the glazed eye look. The eye, I can’t wait to get high kind of moment. I need to sleep, I’m really hung-over. Is very much a reality. So, if you can get to the, those first three potentially full days, when they are fresh, by all means go for it. A better connection to them, via a friend or something, try to get there then. Some of them are willing to meet then. But, then I’ve had opportunities to meet during that period. Others have just got this policy, we’ll talk to you, afterwards. So, I would suggest you try to get those connections. Now you’ve got my AFM which is a site you can go to, go to start to connect to other people that are going to AFM. You’ve Synandom as well. Which is another great way to, once you have subscribed to AFM. Up from there, have all the people going to AFM.
You can click the box and it shows up everybody going, including – buyers, sellers,
film producers, screenwriters, and go through that, look them up. My film looks like it would be good for them, and make that connection, connect to them.
Ashley: Is the connection made via Email, or do you cold call them, you can call them on the phone?
David: It details are on Synandie. So, their Email’s there, you can I think via AFM and also in Synandie you can message them. I would just try and keep it brief. Maybe if you have a trailer or something? Keep it really simple, hey I’ve got this film, take a look at it. This is a genre, not too much, just write a few, they’re not going to read it. They will look at it if they think ideally it’s got some visuals. Something, a concept trailer, some art, that type of thing. I think would be the ideal way to go. And they will assess it really quickly. They will pass it to an assistant potentially to take a look at it, and get back to you, yeah we’re interested. And at that point you try to line up a meeting. Try as best you can to line-up a time and a place for a meeting. That may change, but at least it gives you some degree of certainty that they are interested. And then at AFM, you’re traveling times around as they have to move schedules and do the nearest thing. So, make sure you have your phone on all the time, as those sorts of things go on.
Ashley: And do you get the pass for the full seven days? Or do you get the pass for the last four days like I was talking about? Or do you not even get a pass? Or just try to meet them at a coffee shop down the road?
David: Yeah, okay, so like, it depends, like when I had finished “The Cure” and had the sales agent on-board. I got the 4-day pass, because I wasn’t out there hard selling. What I’ve done this year, because I’m going in pitching off of a concept trailer, that we shot for my next feature. To which I’m going to take the whole 7 days. Because I want to have those opportunities early on, as I said, while everyone’s fresh and excited. Also there’s those chance meetings, the nights you’re going out meeting various people. To just have more opportunities. Because I’m out actively selling a concept for a film. So, I would suggest for you, yeah, if you could do the full 7 days. Get people in early, get in there while everyone is arriving and fresh. Because you will be fighting, not fighting, you will be in the cube. With other people waiting to get into certain sales agents to pitch their project. And everybody’s there, I mean, people will be standing up in the hall ways, standing up in the entrances. And you’ve got this sales agent who sitting back getting blasted with pitch art, pitch after pitch, after pitch. You know, whether they even remember yours or not? Is a whole different ball game. So, you want to have those opportunities early on. That’s what I say, you’re giving yourself a much better chance. There’s also the conferences going on, a little bit earlier in the week. But there’s also functions and parties and various things where you can meet people socially. So, I would suggest depending on, if you’re comfortable coming in as you are? By just doing the 7 days, if you got something already finished and you got some strong sales connections. Or you got a sales agent, maybe just the last 4 days.
Now, getting onto script or screenwriters. It’s a tough market for screenwriters. Because it’s a market for buying and selling finished films. Now, that’s not to say people aren’t interested? There’s two way in which to screen write, well three ways. Of which a screenwriter can make use of AFM. First of all, they pay nothing, go down to the lobby, which they call, “Lobbyist.” Because in that area, everyone has access, even a walk-in off the street, you don’t need a badge. A, the problem with that is? That a lot of people can go and do the same. And so, on our badges it tells you, you know, you’re a producer, distributor, sales agent. So, people can immediately pick-out also it’s based on color, you can tell, who’s who. So, as you’re going to the bar to get a drink, or a coffee just sitting there. Aside, a lot of people come up, “Hi, I’m an actor.” “Hi I’m a screenwriter.” “Hi I’m a this or a that.” And you know, you get a lot of people pitching. Or you all the time, which is fine. But, just remember that everyone, there’s going to be a lot of people doing that. I try to recommend doing it, because there’s a chance meeting, that you might meet somebody at a party. You know, a function after. You know, because a lot of people go there to drink that you might connect with. And it is again, a people person using this. You have to make this visual-connections with people. If I’m going to work with you, for example, I want to know that you can get on, you know? We’re about to spend 3-4 years of our life making a film together from start to end, that is important. So, by all means go there. So, that’s one level that a screenwriter can come in at. It’s basically free, and basically go. And don’t be too pushy, don’t be too hard, you know. People have got meetings, they’re running around. The other aspect is? You get the 40-day pass, so they can go up and meet with the sales agents. I would ideally try again, to organize meetings in advanced. Make a connection with them, so when they meet with you, they know you, they know a little bit about you, a little bit about the material. There you will be coming in, the pitching based off of an idea. Maybe a bit trickier than this? Then because mainly directors and producers, actors are coming in pitching ideas. So, their expectation of a sales agent is, you going to be actually able to lead to complete the film. And they will either come on-board to sell the film for you? Or may help potentially finance it. But what’s always good about it, from my point of view? The screenwriters do, deal with all of my projects. As you can pitch them ideas. And they will tell you whether it sucks. They will be honest, they have no reason or nothing to lose. Do this, change that, no that sort of genre doesn’t or isn’t selling. If you change it, maybe you could take these aspects. So, it’s always good to market test your ideas. And that’s what I think is really good with. So, we’ll wait at least, take in like 3 or 4 different projects and pitch them. And just find out which one is more interest? Which ones seem to get more buzz, which one opened their eyes, or would talk more about? And that would drive my decision on which project I’m going to move forward with, or which one I’m going to spend energy on? The other aspect is, by being there, screenwriters will meet with directors and producers, like can also ask them and talk to them and pitch. One big caviar I got to say that at AFM and all markets their honest is a lot of people come there with big ideas, big aspiration. And what goes with that is? Maybe not everybody necessarily tells the truth. Tells the truth about what they have done, what they are capable of. What kind of money they can get you and stuff. And everyone is yes, yes, yes, today. And there’s one that can do everything, everybody comes out of it with everything, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Let’s go make our film, yes I’ve got the money it’s in the bank. It’s coming next week, this guy from, you know, slyvinia promised it to me, it’s all happening. Do your due diligence, look him up on IMDb, ask around. Just, I guess what I’m trying to say, mitigate a little bit of that enthusiasm with the economic reality, it’s still very hard, even after leaving during AFM to make these films. So, the network by all these networks as much as possible, you just never know? And in the example I gave, with Mario. He wasn’t interested in the project that I was pitching. But, by looking at my reel, he was able to look at another project and see the potential there. So, never discount anybody, ya know? Everybody knows everybody. And I think that is as an important lesson as well as,
“Be prepared.” Be knowledgeable and be respectful, if you feel like someone’s not really done a natural film, or you think they’ve done you a disservice.
It’s not necessarily a good idea to go around and bad mouth them. Because it’s a very tight knit community, and everybody knows. But, visa-versa, you can also find out about other people pretty quickly. Did the film go through, was it, did the sales agent sell? Did the money get to the film makers? You can quickly develop a picture. The best way to find out about a sales agent? Is ask other sales agents.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I think there’s a lot of great information there. And I do think it’s important to know or note that AFM is for really buying and selling films. So, I don’t want a bunch of screenwriters to buy a pass and to think that these people are just waiting to pitch their films. I would think it would be very tough, if you were just a screenwriter I would think it would be very tough to get a lot of meetings. I’m not even sure they would even want to meet with you, if you’re just a screenwriter with a script. Because the people at AFM are not looking to finance films. If you are a producer and you have access to funding, or potentially raise some funding. I think, and if you are a screenwriter, I think if you are just a screenwriter. You should potentially, you should partner with a producer, and go in that way. I did have a guy who was a screenwriter on the Podcast. I will link to that in the show notes. He bought the pass and went in there. And what he did was? He went in there and said, “Hey, what kind of scripts are you looking for?” He wasn’t pitching his project. But, he basically went in there and I will write some of your ideas on spec. And then you can potentially go and produce those films. And that actually worked pretty well. It gave him a lot of meetings. And it actually got him some projects that actually got optioned and stuff. But, I don’t want people to go out and buy their. Because at least expensive passes, I think they are going to be able to pitch their script. Because I don’t know if that would really work?
David: Yeah, I think another approach would be, for example, not necessarily buy the AFM 7 day pass. Do buy a subscription to Synadie and then click on the AFM criteria. And then list all the people that are going AFM. And then contact those people. And then, you know, arrange to have meetings. Because there’s in the back of it there’s the tail, there’s the pool area, all kinds of ways that you can organize meetings. Is, the Marriot Hotel makes, next door where you can have meetings. There’s all kinds of places around town where people have meetings. So, you can pitch the ideas. You can send them the script or synapsis, or whatever you want to do? And just organize meetings while they happen to be there. You know what I mean? And then maybe they be willing to do that? So, you’re not necessarily offer them the sales agent, or distributors. But you can certainly meet. Because all of the directors and producers are there, that’s your market. You’re not going there for the sales. You’re going there to meet with directors, potential directors, potential producers who might be interested in your project. And then as you said, once you have that connection made. Merge with those people, and then those are the ones who will go pitch to the sales agent on your behalf of course.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, perfect David. This has been a great interview. Lots of great valuable, actionable advice. I always like to end the Podcast, just by asking the guest? How can people follow along and kind of keep up with what you are doing? If you are comfortable sharing a Facebook page or a blog, anything, your Twitter account? I will link to it all in the show notes. But, you can just maybe give it to us right now? And then people can kind of just to know you better in the future.
David: Yeah. I think the best way to keep up on a lot of projects is to go to Facebook. We also have it on the website as well, it’s – www.davidgouldstudios.com, so, my full name,
David Gould Studios dot com. And we keep that up to date, on all the different project we’re working on. As I said, I’m going to AFM, in six weeks-time. So, if anyone wants to connect and reach out to me and we’ll meet there. So, do so.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. So, great David, I really appreciate you coming on show and talking with me, excellent, excellent interview! I really appreciate it.
David: Yeah, thanks Ashley I appreciate it.
Ashley: I just want to mention a couple of things I’m doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers who are looking for new material. First, I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. I went and Emailed my large database of producers and asked them if they would like to receive this monthly newsletter of pitches. So far I have well over 350 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for material and are happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you would like to participate in this monthly pitch newsletter? And get your script into the hands of lots of producers, sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
And secondly, I’ve partnered up with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites, so I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select Members. There are lots of great paid screenwriting leads coming in each week from our partner. We usually get between 10 to 12 high quality leads per week. These are producers and production companies that are actively looking to produce material. Or they are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you sign-up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads Emailed directly to you several times per week. These leads run 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 ideas. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots. It’s a huge aray of different types of projects that these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and SYS Select Members. Again, to sign-up, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.
I just want to mention a couple of recent success stories. I think this is a great way, to excite and motivate people. So, I’m just going to try and start sharing success stories when they come in. I want to congratulate Steve Feld, Steve Feld found representation through one of the leads from a new management company who was looking for writers. This is kind of typical of the types of leads we get. We do get agents, managers submitting leads when they are looking for new writers. Steve submitted to them. They liked his screenplays and they are now representing him. So, well done! And good luck to Stevie Feld.
We had another success story, from another lead, “Smash Media” has optioned a new lead, “Ramble House Christmas.” Which is a children’s book, from author C.J CarMichael. Again, this is another lead that came through our service. The author was submitted, and Smash Media, liked this submission. And now has optioned the book. And so again, there’s a whole huge aray of different types of leads that are coming in through this.
I recently set-up a success stories page for people who have had success through various SYS Select Services. You want to check that out? Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success, again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success.
On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing David Patterson. David is a writer, who his new movie, “The Great Gilly Hopkins” Is going to be released soon. Many of his films have been adaptations of novels. Or in the case of one of his very first feature films. It was actually an adaptation of one of his plays. So, we talk about his early career, we talk about how he broke in? But, a big part of the interview is, also talking about adaptations of active novels, about adapting plays. What concessions you make, what you go about purchasing that material. How you work with the original author? You know, a lot of cases you will get a novel and then he would have to work with the original author. And you know, what you cut out, how you talk to the original author, and kinda make the best screenplay out of a book that you are given. So, if you’ve ever done any adaptations or are looking to getting into adaptions, this is a great interview to listen to. Keep an eye out for that next week.
To wrap things up I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with David. So, if you don’t know about the American Film Market? You should check out episode #21 of the
SYS Podcast, I’ll link to it in the show notes. In that episode I talk with screenwriter
Andrew McCole. He had recently gone to AFM, specifically to network. He is just a screenwriter, not a producer or a director. He didn’t have any finished films. Just as a writer, he was trying to get his career going so, he bought a pass and went to AFM, and started networking. AFM, is not a pitch fest. There are not a lot of producers there that go to meet screenwriters that are looking to find scripts. So, keep that in mind. The people who are attending AFM are for the most part distributors, who have a bunch of types of films that are looking for distribution for. And then there’s the other half of that equation, which is the film buyers from around the world. They come into town, they talk to the distributors. And potentially license the material for whatever channels or networks they represent. So, as I said, in the interview, with David. If you are just try and waltz into AFM? You’re probably not going to have a lot of luck. However, I do think AFM can be a great resource for screenwriters. Again, I would reference episode #21. You just have to do your research and find distributors who, produce their own material. Or somehow find producers who are going to be there. The thing that Andrew McCole did, again, you should really listen to the whole Podcast episode. Because I’m just going through a quick review. And I’m probably skipping a lot of the important details that Andrew lays out in that original Podcast episode. But, basically what he did was, he did his research, he found some distributors, who produce their own material. He would walk into their booth at this market and basically ask them, “Hey, do you guys have some ideas you are looking to write. But don’t have a writer to write on them? I would be willing to do that, and write them for specs. You know, almost every production country has tons of ideas floating around. But the don’t necessarily have a big budget to hire a writer. So, if you approach it that way, it’s a kind of a win/win. Production company can protect a potential script that they might want to produce. And you can start to network with some producers. It is a difficult thing, to make work. You’re going to have to write a lot of scripts on spec. And their scripts are going to be very much tied to the production company that came up with the idea. So, there’s some legal things you probably want to work out, like who loans the material if you don’t, if they don’t end up producing it? Again, this is kind of outside the scope of what I am talking about here. And those are important legal considerations you probably want to make sure you had a good contractor in place. Make sure you talk to a lawyer before that. But that, is what Andrew was able to do. I think he said, in the Podcast interview. I think he was able to network, and basically get meetings with like 20 companies.
So, he went in, he introduced himself, he sort of told them, “Hey, I’m looking to write up some ideas?” And from that he picked up a bunch of business cards and was able to set-up meetings down the road. So, this is also sort of outside the scope of what I am talking about here. And those are important legal considerations. You probably want to make sure you had a good contract in place. Make sure you talk to a lawyer before all that. But that’s what Andrew was able to do. And I think he said, in the interview, I think he was able to network and basically get meetings with like 20 companies. He went in, he introduced himself, he sort of told them, “Hey I’m just looking to write up some ideas.” And from that he picked up a bunch of business cards. And was able to set-up meetings down the road. So, he didn’t necessarily have a big wait after meeting at AFM. But he was able to introduce himself and meetings later. And the time of the Podcast interview, there was at least one script that had made it through the rounds, and it looked like it might get produced from his efforts going to AMF. And so again, check-out episode #21. If you are thinking that, you might want to try it to go to AFM? The pass is I think $400.00, you get the 4-day-pass, it’s the last 4 days of AFM. I think again, it’s around $400.00. So, it’s not nothing. Plus you don’t live in L.A. obviously, you’ve got to get a hotel. Potentially even buy an airplane ticket. So, it’s not an inexpensive thing to do as a screenwriter. So, you really want to do your research. AFM, also has a lot of great resources for screenwriters, aspiring screenwriters, and people who are trying to break in. There’s classes, there’s meetings, this $400.00 pass I think will get you into some of the events as well. So, again, do your research, and try and really maximize your money spent. Because it’s not going to be nothing. It’s definitely going to cost some bucks to go to. But, if you book your pair and make the most of it? I think you can get something out of it.
Anyway, that is the show, thank you for listening.