Ashley: Welcome to episode #161 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing screenwriter Jack Sekowski. He was recently hired to write a Hallmark movie. Which was an assignment from a producer he met through the SYS Email and Fax Blast Service. So we talk about that project. And we also talk about his early days of his career. How he got his first agent, how he sold his first script. And how he got his first writing assignments. So, stay tuned for that.
If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in ITunes. Or leaving a comment on YouTube, or retweeting the Podcast on Twitter. Or liking us on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the Podcast and are very much appreciated.
Any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with each episode. In case you would rather read the show or look up something else up later-on. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and look for episode #161.
I would just like to mention a free webinar I’m doing on Wednesday March 3rd 2017, at 10:00a.m.pst. It’s called, “How to Effectively Market Your Screenplay and Sell it.” I’m going to go over all the various online channels that are available to screenwriters. And give you my unfiltered opinion of them. I get questions all the time about, “The Black List” “Ink Tip” and various other contests. So, in this free webinar I’m going to talk about my experiences using the various services. Again, this webinar is completely free. Don’t worry if you can’t make the live event. I will be recording the event. So, sign-up, you’ll get a link to the recorded event after it happens. Even if you don’t attend the live event. To sign-up, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. And the words “Free webinar” are all lowercase letters and all one words. So it’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. I of course will link to this in the show notes to, so you can just click even if you go to the blog and just click over to it. Also, if you are already on my Email list. You’re already getting Emails from me. You don’t need to register for this webinar. I will send everybody on that list information on how they can attend the webinar as well. Once again, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in listening to? Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar.
A quick few words about what I’m working on this week? Once again, the main thing I’m working on is? Post production of my crime/action/thriller movie, “The Pinch.” I had a few, I had a day of re-shoot yesterday. Which was mainly just establishing shots, and some inserts. Everything went well, we got all the shots we needed to get. I’m going to be working with the editor this week to get those shots laid into the film. And then hopefully I can Lock Picture in the next week or two. I’ve also started work on a horror/thriller spec. script. Once I Lock Picture up on “The Pinch” I should be able to devote some of my creative energy to something new. So, this is kind of what I’m going to be looking to be doing. I’m still in the early process of with this project. But, the plan with the script is something similar to the pinch. I’m going to write it in such a way that it can be shot on a super low budget.
One of the people I met through, “The Pinch” is an actor and a producer. He wants to do something together. So, assuming I can write a half way decent script. This will quite likely be my next project as a writer and producer. I’m just at the outlining stages of the script. For me that’s the most fun part. So, I’m excited to sort of dig into this. But, obviously I still have a lot more work to do to get this thing in shape. I’m thinking it’s probably going to take “The Pinch” about, once I Lock Picture the whole thing is probably going to take about 3 months to finish everything up, all the different sound, special effects, color correction, all that stuff will probably take a couple of months. In the mean time as I said, a lot of that work is, worth it. I personally will be doing. I will be hiring, you know, a composer, and an effects guy, a color correction, you know all of these various positions. They are not things I have the technical skills to solve. So, I’m relying on others, other people to do that. So, I will have some sort of free time during that thing while other people go to work on “The Pinch” and I’m thinking just creatively I’ll have some energy. And I can put this into this new spec. script. And that’s the plan, and as I said, it’ll probably take another three months to finish up, “The Pinch” and the goal is to have the screenplay done, pretty much done once
“The Pinch” is finished. And then we can really start to work on and ramp up on this. If that’s the direction I decide to go with it. So, that’s the plan. As I said, Lock Picture on “The Pinch” So writing the spec. script. And then hopefully in 3 or 4 months “The Pinch” will be done. And then this spec. script will also be done about the same time. Anyway, that’s what I’m working on.
So, now let’s get into the main segment of the Podcast. Today I’m interviewing screenwriters and director Jack Sekowski. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Jack, to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Jack: Thanks a lot Ashley, it’s a pleasure.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can take us back to your early childhood. Kind of how you got interested in film. And just bring us up through those first couple of steps. To actually turning this into a career.
Jack: Right, it’s one of those classical types of situations that I was always interested in stories. I was an only child, I read a lot. And so, I started writing these short stories when I was little, as soon as I learned how to write. And then I became interested in photography. So, I started taking pictures. And then I decided to mix the two together. So, I started making short Super-8 movies. Which were fun, and it’s that creative outlet. And you have ideas, and you put words to them. And it’s just like telling little stories. Which is great. And ultimately going to Ohio State university to study photography and Cinema, which was really good. After Ohio State I came out to California. Where the mecka of the movie world. And got into the American Film Institute. Where I studied screenwriting. Which was also a great experience. Just like one of the people, very talented people. People went onto much bigger newer things that I have so far. Like
Yammish Kominski, who won a few Oscars shooting Spielberg movies, who was one of my classmates. Oh, it’s just fascinating to see, who went far, who didn’t, who was going far now they are in jail. There’s stories like that. But, you know, it’s been a few years.
So, you know, my first big break, well actually let me re-phrase, it actually wasn’t a big break. But, it was a pat on the back. At the time they had a screenplay competition called, “Focus.” Which was an acronym for – Films of College and University Students. And it was like a national thing of course. And it was pretty cool, and they brought people to Los Angeles who were the finalist. And they put them up in a fancy hotel in downtown Los Angeles. And we did fun things. Going to fancy restaurant meetings, meeting producers and managers. So, spending a few days like that. I ended up with second place in a gala celebration of the Writers Guilds. But, packed with people. Like everybody and their brother invited. So, this is like a pretty big thing at the time. So, I won second place for my first screenplay called, “Shooting Star.” And, nothing happens. Ya know,
Ashley: You were still at Ohio State, this was before.
Jack: No, no, this was after I came to California, after I graduated from AFI.
Ashley: Okay, okay.
Jack: Yeah so. You know, I win this award. And then nothing happens. Even though, I’m assured by this sponsor, “Oh yeah, you’ll have your screenplay optioned in two or three weeks.” It’s like, okay, great! It was like, this was easy. You hear all these stories of people’s swirling around here for years. I had graduated from AFI, fine. And I win a screenwriting contest. And suddenly, everything’s wonderful, and like, it wasn’t. So, what do you do? You write another screenplay. And you get an agent. And the first agent hunt, was terribly challenging. But, it was a primitive era, of before Emails. And a lot of information I have the internet did not exist at the time. So, what I did was, some sort of, I thought it was clever at the time. Was find out who, what writers wrote in my genre. Of course getting the movie, getting their names from some credits of movies. Then I called the Writers Guild. And found out who represented them. Using the logic that if this agents represents this writer than most likely he is possibly opened to that specific genre. It was a neurotic sci-fi thriller. Which, you know, which won the award of course. And so, I sent letters out to these twelve agents. Basically saying, “Hi, I just graduated from The American Film Institute and I just finished this screenplay that’s hotter than the presses. And this is basically what it’s about. Looking for representation, would love to send it to you.”
And low-and-behold, people respond, I guess AFI gave it some clout. And people said they would see it. Unfortunately nobody offered representation. Although, I do have a few conversations with a few people. But, it wasn’t encouraging.
Ashley: How many letters do you think you sent out?
Jack: Oh, for agents? I would say 20-30.
Ashley: Okay, and you got how many? Meetings out of that? Phone conversations?
Jack: A, 20 or 30. I think most of them requested the screenplay. And out of that, I would say, you know, a handful of conversations with. And so, it wasn’t a very good experience, ultimately, really. But, it did actually, it did lead to, well, to an agent who serves. Hey, this isn’t right for me, however, next thing you have, let me know.
So, I did. And the next day I wrote to my girlfriend at the time. We started collaborating on this screenplay. Her name is Maria. And so, we wrote a screenplay. And actually there was a big, big agent, his name was Stu Robinson, who has since passed away. And he liked it, and he hip-pocketed us for a year. Again, he did not manage to sell the screenplay. We did get some meetings out of it, more encouragement, but still nothing. So, we switched agents. We wrote more screenplays.
Ashley: Talk about that relationship. So, number one, maybe just define “Hip-Pocket” for people who don’t know. And then also, talk about how that relationship kind of went. You know, to the end and how you decided to move on. And visa-versa, and him passing on.
Jack: Yeah. it was very simple. We had an agreement where we gave him permission to shop the screenplay around, for a year. And once it ended, it never ended. We, he didn’t, obviously. If he could have sold, or set-up some other option, whatever. Or it led to some writing assignment somewhere behind. He would have signed-up, as we were a client. But, since that wasn’t the case. We just had a kind of shopping agreement with him. So, it was pretty straight forward. We, this was in the days of early paper screenplays. So we brought a box of 2000 of a huge box filled with 200 screenplays. And we started sending them out. And as far as Emails from, or letters from people both who were like, responsive to the screenplay, to encourage us. Eventually we had a few meetings. Which ultimately didn’t lead to anything. And in many of these meetings in Hollywood are water, which was general meetings where you simply, get to know. Meaning, simply, meet and greet us, or “Water bottle tour.” Where you meet people, you get bottled water. You tell your life story. They ask you what else you’re working on? They can, you know, on the calendar when they report to their boss what they did that week. They can say, well we met some very talented writers for us. Wonderful things that we hope to get them in the future. And developing a relationship with them sort of thing. So, a lot of that. But a, ultimately the relationship ended. And there was no hard feelings. And we moved on to another agent. And
Ashley: How did you meet that next agent?
Jack: The next agent, we got him because, through a friend. This, the guy was on a assistant at ICM to a huge agent at the time. And somehow? Through somebody I met, and we ate and had lunch. The agent, then, actually the assistant then, became an agent. Ironically, at the same time, the same company, our first agent was that. So, it was like some kind of in-house meet. He was there, and then we moved to him. But it was almost like starting from fresh because we sent him the material, and he really liked it. And then started representing us. And so, it was you know, started writing more screenplays. As you go to these water bottle tours and get to know people. You tell them when you see them. You develop relationships. What about these relationships, they like you, they trust you, they see that you’re a good writer. You know, they are not always eager to take a chance on you. It’s because you never done anything. You have no credits. So, it’s a big risk for them. Eh, they want someone else to take the big risk to see if you deliver. However, in the relationship development process. You’re in a situation where you need to use a reference to get another agent. Or many times, they’re more than happy to do so. So, I ended up getting another one.
Ashley: You’re talking about executives, if you need an agent.
Ashley: You can say to them, the executive, “Hey, I’m looking for an agent. Do you know anybody?” And sometimes these executives will pass you to another agent.
Ashley: And that’s the second agent, or you’re getting ready.
Jack: That’s most likely the third. There were a few along the way. We finally reached a point where we were represented by these two agents of this boutique agency. And one decided to become a production executive. Then the other one went to William Morris. And she did not take us with her because we had hardly made any money. Just cans really. An argument for us would have been the William Morris big wigs. Hey, despite being on not having sold anything yet. Made us some money. And ultimately as you know, a lot of it is about the money. And so, we end up in the situation where. We’re finding out, this is different, we left the agent this time, the agent was leaving us. So, this time, I had a clever way, slightly more clever than my previous approach, which was, put together a list of five to ten literary agents who really have good reputations for selling spec. material. This is like, we’re talking the ‘90’s which wasn’t even considered spec. time. And so, I put together this list. And then we went to, we met with all the executives over the years we met with, that we had met before. And we told them, we’re finishing up a screenplay, we’re going to be searching for new representation. Oh, by the way here’s a list of people who were referred to us as good representatives. What do you think of them? Of course by and large they said, “Oh, yes, they’re great agents.” And then I asked, well, would it be alright to use your name? You know, when we contact them. Oh yeah, absolutely. And, do you know any other agents who are not on the list who you think might be a good match for us. And they say sometimes dropping a name or two. Can I use your name? Absolutely? So, by the time we met with these ten to twenty executives. I had a list of I think, about twenty five different agents. And so when I wrote to them, again, and this is before Email thought. Paper, paper letters. When I wrote to them. They basically saying, you’re looking for representation, this is what the screenplay is about. And so and so, and so and so, and so, and so and so, and so, and so. thought you’d be a great agent for us. And low-and-behold, people responded. And people responded like they were very quickly. So, I sent another batch, the first batch was like on a Wednesday. They received the letter on a Thursday. A number of a caller on Thursday’s. They said they received it on a Friday. Come Monday morning I’m getting calls from a fairly reputable mid-level literary agency. From a literary guy for our screenplay, let’s meet, let’s talk. Wow! I just can’t, this is so easy. You just write the letter, write a good pitch, a good log-line. And, they want you. So, we go to Century City, Marie and myself, and we meet with this head of literary department of the agency, and we meet a mid-level agent. And a new agent, and a fresh young agent. And we start talking. And it becomes a very, very, weird meeting. Like a bizarre Hollywood stories. It becomes a weird meeting because they’re talking to us. This tone and attitude, as if they give us a million dollars. To write a screenplay, thought we totally screw it up. And we’re like, why are we here? And I asked him?
What do you like about it, the screenplay? And the head guy says, “Oh I loved the first section, it’s a beautiful set-up, you know, just fantastic.” But here on the second act, it doesn’t really work very well. It just needs a lot, lot more work. But then, the mid-level agent pipes in, “Oh no, I loved the second act. The second act was fabulous! I’m not crazy about the first, the set-up just doesn’t work for me.” And before us, he just starts arguing about this screenplay. It’s just like, wow! So bizarre. And at one point, they turn to the third guy. Because there was Jim. So, hey Jim, you’re awfully quiet. What do you think about the screenplay? And Jim says, “Well, no, I think it’s a really good idea. And they did a really good job of executing it. You know what I would do? Sell!” and they all just look at him like, trader. And they start arguing with each other again. Just like, it was really, really, bizarre. Obviously he didn’t go with them? And so, out of these twenty four agents we submitted to, 17 wound up saying “No! We don’t like it. We don’t get it.” I have clients who are writing similar kinds of stuff. And I haven’t been able to make any traction with them, so sorry. Six of them, I couldn’t get an answer out of them, you know, one way or the other. I just ended up calling them, I wrote them letters. Hey, just checking to see if you’ve had a chance to read the script I sent you three months ago. And, two said, “Yes!” So, yeah, this is great. I think I can do something with this.
Ashley: Two, in addition to this one crazy meeting that you had?
Jack: Yeah. Well, I mean, we had, yeah, exactly. We had one crazy meeting. Which ultimately became a “No.” This was a part of the 17 who said, “No.” Six we couldn’t get an answer out of. And then the two out of twenty-five that we sold the screenplay to, they said, they liked it, and they want to represent us. I went, “A yeah, great.” So, we met with them. And this time, this is a process. Which actually took about four months.
And we met with them, and, we liked them both. We wanted one, but they were so different. One was a very sweet reputable, I call it earth mother type. Because she felt like a former hippie. Her name was, Karen Boweman. She has since passed away. I’m sorry to sound like all my agents have passed away. No, but she was like, she felt real. She was, she felt human. She didn’t feel very Hollywoodish.
The other guy, was very Hollywoodish, but he was involved in selling some big-time screenplays. And so, hummm… Who shall we go with? The shark, or the earth mother? Shark, or earth mother. And since we had, had sharks in the past. I thought, hum, let’s try the earth mother this time. It’s sort of like flipping a coin ultimately. We went with the earth mother. She set-up at Universal a week later. And just like, how does this happen? You know, why did it happen? What did she see, what did she say to these producers, who also got excited by the screenplay. And they got different territory, throughout studios. They got this studio, another producer has another studio. It depends where their deals are at? And they loved the screenplay. But these 17 agents, didn’t? I’m assuming that they all read the same screenplay. But you never know? Maybe an assistant read it? Actually, the funny part is, one of the assistants, who did read the screenplay. Who tried to convince her boss to take us on. Became our agent a few years later. So, it became this really small bizarre world. Yeah.
Ashley: So, what does the point where “Earth Mother” agent. How many scripts had you guys written? From the time that you wrote that erotic syfy, you won the contest? How many scripts do you here?
Jack: I would say, like, half a dozen, maybe 6 to 8? I can’t say it was a ton of them, a ton of material. But, we’re talking over the course of about 7 years?
Jack: Maybe like, one a year. One and a half years or so? Somewhere around there?
Ashley: Okay. So then maybe, she gets this thing set-up at Universal. What does that actually look like?
Jack: It’s a classic options sales agreement. So, basically they give you money to have their rights to the screenplay for a year. And then they give you money to re-write the screenplay. And then if they should make it, they give you a bigger check of cash. You know, it’s like the classic thing you always hear about. Low six figures against, mid-six figures. Because the deal is actually with Larry Gordon, he was actually the producer on the screenplay. And Larry Gordon is, for those of us who have never heard of him? He’s a big time producer. He used to run
20th Century Fox. And I believe he was a producer, on everything from “Die Hard” to
“Water World.” He was really big in the ‘80’s, and ‘90’s. They were action movies in which this isn’t, it’s comedy. So, it was like really weird. Like, Larry wants to do this movie? Yes! It’s like, alright, cool, who are we to argue with Larry Gordon? And so, we developed further, we worked with one of his executives closely to do the re-writes. And his name was Michael Levy. Michael was amazing! I mean, he was amazing. Just, he was a genius. I mean he, I’ll give you an example. There was a scene in the screenplay, that we couldn’t crack. We re-wrote it a dozen times. And it just kind of like tried to make it work, which was, just couldn’t figure out how to make it work, how to do it? I mean, it wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t perfect. And we reached a point where it just, you give up. I don’t know, what else to do? Let’s hope nobody notices it. And hope they like the rest of it good enough. And so, Michael read the screenplay of course. And he said, like, it screams this scene here, it said something wrong here? I’m not sure what it is? And he starts talking about it? And talking about it. And we’re listening, and we’re listening. And suddenly he gets called away. I guess Larry’s on location and wants to talk to him? And, while he’s away out of the office. Within like, we talk. And within we finally solve the problem. It was like driving us crazy when we were writing the screenplay. It was like, how do you do this? How, what do you say, it’s like, you don’t know? It’s just one of those things that the things he said. It sparked our imaginations in such a way that it helped us to solve the problem that of that scene. So, it was, you hear stories about development how and develop-nomics was pretty amazing.
Ashley: Okay. It was good. You liked all the notes. Were there ever notes that came to you that you didn’t like or didn’t agree with?
Jack: The big part about being a writer is solving problems. I mean, there might have been somethings there, I believe, I mean, this was a while back. I’m sure there was something. And our argument was, we always present argument. It sort of becomes like, you present the reason. The reason the way it is, is this. If we cut it out, that would change it, this little this that and the other thing. And then, there like, “Oh, right okay, I get it. Never mind.” So, I mean, sometimes we can be like, yeah, we, okay, you want it? Let us figure a way to do it?
We do it, we make it work, and make them happy. Ultimately, just remember, they are the ones signing the checks, you want to make them happy. So, otherwise.
Ashley: So, what happened to this script? Did it end up getting produced?
Jack: Unfortunately, no. Larry, ended his deal with Universal. And I also believe there was a change in the administration. And so, it was one of those things where it sort of goes in a
turn-around on. Because this is a movie with a producer who’s no longer with us. And, you know, you can shop every so often, one day change administrations. So, it was never made. But, it was funny, for like years after that, like out of the blue. It was like a phone call or an Email from like strangers tracked me down. And they say like now, “Before Billy”, which was the name of the screenplay of course. You know, “Before Billy” I liked this screenplay. I liked, has anyone seen it? I want to do something with it. Yeah, a few people have seen it. But, it’s been like years, a couple of times a year. Out of the blue, so, who knows what happened? And it interested the Universal world of Hollywood. And people respond to it. And they want to be in business with you, for better or for worse. We say, “Sure!” You know, go for it! And they realize, oh yeah, to work at it. You know, people I discovered many times, what a slam-dunk. It’s easy, they think this screenplay will be easy sale. And then, many times it isn’t. And they always have to work, we always recommend that get some attachments. You know, get some attachments to it. And over the years we did try and get some attachments. Like Morrow Wilson, if you recall her, from like ‘90’s movies when she was a little girl. She was interested in, and we met with her. Unfortunately she’s not big enough to make it a go project. We had,
Dakota Fanning when she was little. As a side story, I produced a short film that Dakota Fanning starred in. That was one of her early movies when she was just six years old. And so, after that I made this movie. Oh, maybe talk to her mother, have a good relationship with her. Gave her “Before Billy.” And she read it and she loved it. It would be great forward Dakota. Nice to have an 11 year old girl. So, I thought it might be a situation where, If I get her interested? By the time the movie is ready to go, she’ll be the right age for it. And of course what does Dakota’s mother do? Does the most sensible thing she can do. She gives the screenplay to Dakota’s agent. And says, “Hey, I found this script, a wonderful screenplay. And I think it might be right for Dakota in a couple of years. Well, what do you think?” And so, what does Dakota’s agent do? She calls my agent and says like, “Why are you sending pre-offers to my client with nobody attached?” She’s booked for the next 2 years.” So, it’s like, Ah! And so, she became a big movie star very quickly. But, over the years you’ve made a big effort to push these things, tried to get going. But a…
Ashley: Yeah. Okay. Take us through your next couple of, I know you’ve sold some pitches and gotten some writing assignments. So, maybe we can talk about some of those. How you were able to land those?
Jack: Yeah, right. So, basically once you sell something, you get more credibility. And somebody will actually take a chance on you, once they write a check. And so, you end up on like a big water bottle tour, meet everybody in town. And they want to know what else you got working on? So, basically they take you out to lunch. Those people who take you out to lunch. Are the people you remember and like the most because, hey, they took you out to lunch, it’s something. It makes them stand out from just another water bottle.
And so, you meet a lot of people. And we end up developing a pitch with of which nobody bought. But, the process of that. We ended up pitching it to this one executive and small company. And he couldn’t convince his boss to go for it. But, he liked the pitch, he liked us, he liked the way we pitched, he liked the way the story went. He liked everything about us. So, he said to us, “So, tell me what ideas you have?” This developed some of the other in-house and try and get it made. He said, “Alright.” So, we met with him. And we had a list of like 20 ideas. They were like log-lines. With in retrospect, they were like vary log-lines. Some of these were frightening ideas, see what we could work out, make out with this. And in a second he says, “STOP!! Have you told this idea to anybody else?” “No.” “Well don’t, we’re going to do this movie!” “Really?” “Yes.” So, what I pitched to him? In my two or three little lines was? It was a teen comedy, and it was, I told him that every teenage boy growing-up. Has 2 ideas pass through his mind. First idea, my parents are so weird, so bizarre, there’s no way they could be my biological parents, I must have been adopted. The second idea, that every teenage boy thinks through is? You know what? I’d be so cool to grow-up in the Playboy Mansion and have Hugh Heffner as a dad. You know, those bunny’s around, Oh, My God! It’s got to be the best! So, imagine a movie with these two concepts. Where a teenage boy, middle America went in on the same day discovers he was adopted. And two, his biological father was a Hugh Heffner type of character. And Hugh Heffner has just died and our hero has inherited an entire Playboy empire. So, it’s like a kid in a candy store type of story where, ultimately he gets corrupted. And then learns a lesson about life, friends and love.
Ashley: And that movie became, “Who’s Your Daddy?” correct?
Jack: That is correct. The original title was, “Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free” which totally licensed long from of course the Dire Straights song. Unfortunately they own the rights to use of title, it became messy. So, it became, “Who’s Your Daddy?”
Ashley: Okay, I was flipping somewhere just recently, and I saw it playing. I can’t remember? NetFlix or Time Warner ONDEMAND. Do you know if it’s available to watch for anybody?
Jack: I believe it is. I believe it’s available on NetFlix, probably on Amazon as well. I think it’s, I should qualify, by saying that, if a few words were changed. In the re-writes of the screenplay, which we weren’t involved. And I think I’d say like, all the words were changed. So, it’s the same story that we wrote, with the same characters. That were going through the same structural story arc. Just different things happen, and different things were said. And so, since the director re-wrote us, we ended up sharing one writing credit with him. He did change it, a lot of stuff. However, the course of he did not change. So, unfortunately, or fortunately we managed to get credit, some credit for the movie.
Ashley: Okay, and maybe just talk about that experience. I have talked about my own experience, where some of my scripts have been re-written. And how gut wrenching it can be. And I don’t think people coming into the industry really, fully understand just how prevalent this is? It is the norm. Unless you’re a guy like Quinton Tarantino. That can basically write and direct your own stuff. Pretty much as a writer. You’re going to always be getting re-written. Maybe you can tell, about emotionally how that felt, you know, what do you do to cope with that?
Jack: Well. Not a whole lot usually, just accept it. You understand it’s a work for hire. So, we’re work for hire type of agreement. They own everything you wrote. And they can do what ever they want with it. They can cut it up and put it in the cat’s litter box, it says if they want to. But, any you see a yeah, you know, this moment is a little bit better than our screenplay, this one isn’t. You wonder? Is it worth changing? And in just like disappointing ultimately. But, that point it comes out. You’ve moved on to other things. And it almost becomes like a memory from the past. We did something a couple of years ago. And it’s like, oh yeah, they made a movie out of it, okay, cool, how does it look? Yes, wide world. Well, I hope it does look, that my credit is all there. But a, just separate, I mean, it really is, if you truly emotionally attach yourself to the product. In the screenwriting world, you will be disappointed, it’s like a guarantee. If you just accept it as being still like an approach to it. And think like, oh I did my best. I hope my best is prettier, I hope it makes the movie, I’m onto bigger and better things, I learn things. I became a better writer. I became better at dealing with if pitching or story developed in dealing with things. Dealings with things more diplomatically. You just become stronger in many ways. Say, you find the positive in it. And you just focus on that. And then truly by the time it came out, we had moved onto other things. And it was just like, Eh, cool, we understand, we’ll have good experiences, we’ll have bad experiences.
Ashley: So, then you’ve done some work for Disney in feature animation. Maybe you can talk about that for just a little bit. How did you segue into that?
Jack: It was before, “Billy” it was like a weird situation where we were interviewing for managers. And this was, it was like around actually 2000. We were interview for a managers. Because managers became more involved in the writers lives at that time. Before that, agents were the ones who read the screenplays, sent the screenplays out, negotiated the deals, did everything. But, starting in the 2000’s it was more managers involved. So, their jobs became more split. So, we met a number of managers, that are each and of the time introduced us to. And one of them, liked, “Before Billy.” And he just took it upon himself to send out to Disney animation. Because they were looking for somebody who could write the way we did. I believe the term they use, like the emotionally the real way. And the Animation Executives read it and they all liked it, let’s being them in. So, we met with them. We met with, let’s see, there were two directors, three executives. I believe the head of the story, the artist,
the head of the story, or the guy who managed all of the people who draw all day, the images. And they pitched us the project. Which was called, “Wild Life.” Ever thought it was going to be a quick gig, like a two-month gig, to do re-write on this project. And it turned into six months. And they’re just, pitching you this project. And you’re looking at them like. Oh this project is going to be interesting, it’s going to be fun. And I’m like, Wow! It’s Disney movie. It was like, very, very, different Disney movie than any other kind of Disney that were made. A color a little bit darker. They had a tone, it was like set against a night club world. Which is, night clubs are many times are for sex, drugs, and rock and roll. When you focus on a singer, of the night club. And like an elephant. Imagine an elephant who magically develops the ability to talk and sing. And it becomes a relationship between the elephant who is selfish, anger, versus the one who is pure and full of life and love. And this can be fun, this can be interesting. So, we hit it off with them. It’s one of the things I’ve discovered. One of the reasons you get hired is, people like you. It’s like, if the, it’s because you’re going to be spending time in rooms with you. They just want to work with people that are interesting and fun. Easy to work with ultimately.
But, I remember during that interview process. Which is often very casual, just hang out, chat about stuff. And they ask us? No, we read the screenplay, and these scenes are wonderful. How do you make the characters so emotionally real. They were like, “Du, I don’t know, we just do it.” How do you answer a question like that? I don’t know how I do this stuff, I just do it. Ideas come to mind and we try to get them out, and we re-write it, we make it better. And suddenly it becomes better than this, and the sum of its parts. So, we end up six months on that project. Which was great, it’s a whole different world of animation. And we can write a sentence. If you don’t work in sequence, and you know, work scenes, like we want to work on this part here, we’ll print this part here. We invent this, and this isn’t working. And really en-truly. You know, if you heard this about future animation. It’s things like they try every single approach possible to tell the story. So, that is why the take, you know, many years. They say 3-5 years to get a movie made. But this movie’s actually in production, they’ve spent millions on it already. And, they just need to make it better. And they had models and they put, they filmed story boards. They call it “Putting it on reels.” Where they film, you know, the voice over of the actors. They put sound effects and piece a few seconds. And when you watch it, sometimes it’s slides it’s sometimes only in black and white sketches. Sometimes they are black and white sketches, Sometimes, they are very colorful and elaborate. There’s no real like, true animation. But, it certainly gives just a sense of the flow of the narrative. Which was like a known, really fascinating experience to go through that. Unfortunately, ultimately, the powers that be, saw the movie and thought, yeah, not sure if we want to make this movie after all? It’s like, I mean, really? We just spent millions of dollars, you know, have you thought about this decision earlier? It’s like, no, because this thing keeps evolving and changing, and stuff. It does one thing, but in time the powers that be see a couple of different things. They’re not sure they want to spend more money on it? And it just became something that they didn’t want to make, unfortunately.
Ashley: Yeah. So, let’s jump ahead. I think we probably met about seven years ago? And I talk about my writer’s group on the Podcast quite often. And that’s how you and I met.
Ashley: And I was doing the Email and Fax Blast Service. And you started to use that service a little bit. But, maybe we could talk through that a little bit. I think probably over the years you’ve been, and you can quote me on this? I’ve never been, kept careful track? But, I would say, you’ve probably done a dozen blasts with me.
Jack: I would say, very easily. It doesn’t, a blast perhaps 3 or 4 different screenplays.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
Jack: With vary results, you know, with results that led to options, results led to meetings. All too many results led to, that lead up to Hallmark movie. Which brought me on this show.
Ashley: Yeah. Which maybe we can talk about some of those options. I get questions? People asking me, and you can correct me if I’m wrong about this. But my recollection is? At least one of the options you told me about was a Canadian company, a fairly big project. It was not just like a micro-budget type of a movie. And people are always asking?
Can you option movies that have bigger budgets? And I thought that you had? Maybe you can talk about some of these options, and the scope of those scripts.
Jack: Right. I mean, my cinematic sensibilities, I like to write big-budget movies. Not as big as “Temple” movies. Not those kind of, type of comic book stuff. I certainly studio type of films, with “A-List” actors. That would cost anywhere between $20 to $60 million dollars to make. I mean, that’s ultimate, even though the below the line costs would be substantially less. So, like one of the movies was an action comedy out of an organ courier and his misadventures. In trying to deliver donor heart to the biggest K-9 movie star in the world. Fortunately he looses the cooler holding that heart. And spends the entire movie trying to retrieve it. And given time to the hospital to save this poor dog. Before he stars barking at the pearly gates. And so, one of the producers said. Yeah, I like this, we can make it, we can make it. And they option it and you know, like, they try. They try to raise some money and sometimes it works? Sometimes it doesn’t. So, I think maybe had, like one how it’s called a “Low-budget.” Which could be done for a couple of million dollars. Worth maybe not major movie stars. But, how perhaps, TV actress who want to do a feature sort of thing. But, most of them are on the higher budget. And a lot of people want to do that. And as a result of the Fax Blast, that’s how I got the Hallmark movie.
Ashley: Let’s talk specifically this Hallmark movie you were just hired to write. And kinda take us through that story. I think it’s really important for people to hear your story because again, I get a lot of people that say, well how many scripts have been sold through the Email and Fax Blast? And a lot of times, it’s not just about the sale? It’s about cultivating these relationships. And sometimes these cultivating these relationships can take many, many years. And I think this is a prime example of that. So, maybe you can talk us through that whole process?
Jack: This is so prime, basically I was seeing that, when did we do this Blast on this to this specific producer. And it was exactly four years ago, late January, early February. And I sent this screenplay. And months later he like calls me and says, “Hey, I like the screenplay. Let’s meet him and talk.” So, I sat down and talked with him. We hit it off, sometimes you just have a good chemistry with people and you like them. You think they are decent. And hit a lot of credits to his name, mostly action type of movies. Because it turned out, his company has studio called, in Bulgaria, right outside the capital of Sofia. And so, he was looking to do more movies for television. And the main source of those main places that make those kinds of movies. He was targeting more Lifetime and Hallmark. So, his basic question for me, do you do Hallmark movies, or Lifetime movies? So, we start discussing ideas. And I would write them out for him. And he liked them. And then he pitched them to Hallmark or Lifetime. And sometimes they liked them, oh, they’re sort of like this idea, can you expand on this, 2 or 3 sentences that you originally gave me. So, I explain a couple of pages. And you know, this went over for a number of years. And you reach a point where, yeah, whatever, you know. Will it go somewhere, who knows? But, you give it a try. So, last June, actually mid-June, last year, this year. I recently went through the time line of how things occurred. Mid-June, he calls me, and says, “Hey, I’ve got a pitch of one of my own ideas for Hallmark. Because I met you and the executive there. He liked it, can you write me up a couple of pages? Well, I haven’t talked to this producer, his name is Jef. I haven’t talked to John in for like a year. I just sort of like given up. I can’t really pursue it, doesn’t pursue it. But, if nothing’s happening then what’s the point?
So, I said, sure. So, I wrote up a couple of pages, got it done in a couple of weeks. Which is just a general outline, I talk about characters. Their emotional challenges, you know, the plot twists that happens. What happens in the second act, and how it gets resolved. So, fit it on two pages and full feeling of nailing the tone by the narrative flow of the story. And he liked it, he passed it onto Hallmark. And then of course I move on with my life. And I don’t expect to hear from them back, like before. But then, early August, he gives me a call and says, “You know what? Hallmark, I think they are going to go for this movie?” I say, “Really?” “Yeah, I think they’re going to make it.” “Alright.” “You know what? But they also, are making a lot of movies, they’re making like
70-80 movies a year. So, they’re a bit busy.” Jeff expressed a concern that unless we started moving of this right away, it will not get done in time for Valentines Day. It was very specifically a Valentines Day movie. So, what Jeff decided to do? Is hire me directly. So, in June, I’m sorry in August. I had my agent negotiate a deal with Jeff and by August 20th I started writing his screenplay. And started writing it, I was hoping, and he asked me a question. And it was a funny question too. And he goes, “So, how quickly can you write the screenplay? Well, I said, I said, 10-12 weeks. And he says, “Can ya do it in 6? And it’s like, um, noooo… How about 8, it’s like, alright, let’s shoot for 8? So, I started August 20th. And interestingly enough, I did finished the first draft by October 20th. What I mean, first draft, that is a first draft, that I’m okay with submitting to him. Because ultimately, I think he wants it in, honestly, I cannot spend all the time in the world trying to make it perfect. In fact, I will get feedback on it. And I know, if I make it perfect, they’ll change stuff and that will have wasted a lot of time. So, it took about 4 weeks to get the first words on paper. And then another 4 weeks to massage it into something that is, that I’m not embarrassed about. Of course the first time I read it, I was visiting family in North Carolina. And the first time I read it was on my computer flying back, the long flight back from North Carolina. That is, you can get a lot done. Read it for the first time as a whole screenplay. It’s like, okay, this is going to work, there’s some good stuff in here. And it was a really good experience. I mean, I’ve never looked at a screenplay that quickly. It was just, on some levels, this is another a subject of discussion, perhaps we can touch upon. It, we entered the spiritual realm, the God, universe. Used realm of things. Where there is moments where ideas were coming to me at such a pace, that I had no idea where they were coming from? I mean, to the level of I’m writing the simple eye of description. And as I’m hearing a voice. Telling me like, “Don’t write that line, write this way instead. It’s like alright, alright, I’ll write this line instead, oh yeah, that is a good line, thank you. These moments of scenes, of pieces of valid. My God, I mean, it just came to me, they are so perfectly. It’s like very tiny changes made the scene work even better. It’s like really, really, freaky. So, you know, still have my muses. So, my muses hang around me, and I thank them for their efforts. It’s not the idea I have these chicks in togas hanging around me, god inside me to write the screenplay. So, truly it was like, I also heard by the stuff happening to writers, where they just become channels for forces from beyond, who feed you stuff. And like I truly, truly experienced it for the first time in this trip on such a level.
Ashley: Just let me go back on a couple of things. Now you’re talking about these treatments. You’re pitching them ideas. You’re turning some of them into 2 or 3 pages for them. How many of those do you think you wrote over the course of those couple of years.
Jack: Not too many. I would say, four or five. But, I did pitch them many ideas. Probably I would say, Lifetime and Hallmark, maybe 2-3 dozen ideas.
Ashley: Okay. And then, is he paying you to turn these into 2-3 page outlines? Or were you just doing those on your own, hoping to get the job? If it’s turned into something?
Jack: It’s that, on your own, it’s sort of an audition, you’re a part of the process. And ultimately he has money, he could have hired me. But, it’s just not the way the system really works. Because, you want to make sure that, you know, he gets money back.
Ashley: Yeah, and one of the things that I definitely run into over the years is? I’ve gotten a lot of producers saying, “Hey, I’ve got this idea, can you write up a 2-page treatment?” And how do you distinguish you know, the real producers, the people who you want to work with. Verse people, you know what? I don’t think this guy’s ever actually going to make a movie. Because there’s plenty of people out there, that would love to have writers write up their ideas. I get producers Emailing me, through “Selling Your Screenplay.” Hey, I need someone to write up this idea into a script, or into a treatment. I don’t have any money to do it. And how do you sort of vet those people. And why did you decide to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. And write up five treatments, for him, over the course of the season.
Jack: Some of the reasons, I liked him, I trusted him, he has significant credits. Significant in a sense that like $100 million dollars, or Hollywood blockbuster. But, movies that were made over the years on a consistent basis. And on top of that, his studio called. It’s not like he had trouble making movies. So, he felt very real, he felt very real. Also, just go through feelings. You know, it’s like, do you trust this person? Because I’ve dealt with other people, like where, for instance, the options on for the Blast. Where they wanted changes to the screenplay, and as I listened to their approach, of what they want changed? They’re talking about a complete re-write. And I’m looking at them like, do I want to do this? And the answer is like, “NO! No, I don’t like your ideas. You’re not paying me any money. You have no credits to your name? The connections yu do have, that you’re try to impress me with, you’re not succeeding. So, try to do something with this script the way it is. If you happen to get interest in it, than we will talk about re-writing it.” But, a, I had a few situations like that. But, ultimately making decisions. You connect to yourself, you know, we’re all writers, and artists. We’re supposed to be gooder than the average bear. And then listen to that voice inside, that says, “Go with this, or not.” And ultimately it’s something I’ve learned over the years. Which is something inwardly challenging to actually execute, and that is? Work with people who have the same cinematics sensibility that you do. Which comes to play when you first meet with them. Talk about movies, movies that you like, movies too that you have seen recently. What are your favorite movies? And the more interesting ones, like, the ones that avoid the cliché answers of, you know, classic movies, you know, from “Raiders” to “Citizen Cane.” Okay, you know, some quickie, movies that you people heard. You’re like, wow, you like that movie, I like that movie too. Wow, that’s amazing, okay, you realize you have a certain similar taste, we have similar taste becomes easier to work with them. Oh, I learned this the hard way. Of course, I did get hired on for this other project a few years ago. Where I discovered producers, I haven’t seen very many movies. And, part of my deal with them was to educate them more, at least on how movies work. But, it became really difficult because we got to the point where they’re talking about movies they saw.
And they’re hating the ones that I love. It’s like, really? How can you hate this movie? It’s brilliant. And they love movies that I thought, eh, whatever? So, I think it’s very important to try to have that sensibility. It’s ultimately for future reference. Even for myself, or anybody else if you go on one of those water bottle tours. Have those conversations with those executives, It will help you know or realize this person’s smart, they know movies. They love movies, they love the same movies that I do. I think they might be good to work with on things in the future. As compared to like, yeah, I don’t think they know anything about movies. I don’t know how you got this job in the movie industry? It’s just, there’s some bright talented people. And there’s people whom, I would put them in the clueless category. Personally, there’s a very few of those in Cali. I think overall I’ve been very lucky.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, what’s the name of this movie? It’s called, “Valentines Inn?”
Jack: Yes. So what ended up happening is? I turned it in October 20th. And he passed it onto Hallmark. And then on November 5th, it’s a Saturday. I get an Email, and the Email says, “It looks like we have a deal. Well, we shoot in 3 weeks. I’d like your 10 pages of notes from Hallmark for what a change in the screenplay.” And so, I get the notes and I’d say, they’re pretty good. I mean, it’s many of the things I would have done myself if I had, had more time. Things like, some that are very specific Hallmark type of stuff. Because they are very, very, specific, and making a very specific type of movie. So, very specific type of audience. So, for instance, no we cannot harm any animals in our movies. Or appear that they might get hurt during the filming of the movies. There was a scene early on in the script. Where a dog, a little dog gets loose on a leash. And our heroine jumps in the street and saved this dog. Which of course you know, is a little chow to film that to begin with. So, I change it to the dog’s running down the street loose. Our heroine see it. And she grabs the dog off the sidewalk. Right before it leaps off the curb and into traffic. And they said, “No, it still won’t work because the dog is potentially in danger. We can’t have that. Alright so, the end solution was the dog runs up to her. She hears a bark and just looking up at her. Which was real weird, but, a little dramatically weak. So, I was trying to do like “Save the cat” kind of or “Save the dog” kind of moment. But, ultimately when you see the entire movie. This little moment has meaning to it. Because the dog’s owner, has a big role in this story. And so, it becomes influenced in our heroine on a certain path in her own life. It’s almost does it, this dog picked her to be picked for this adventure, our heroine goes on.
Ashley: Perfect. And when does is the movie going to be airing?
Jack: It’s going to be airing, unofficially, it’s going to be airing, April, I’m sorry,
February 12 2017 at 9:00p.m. on the Hallmark Channel. Now, that’s not official yet, because the film is not finished yet. So, I did all the re-writes and we started filming it right after Thanksgiving. And they filmed it until Christmas. And they’ve been doing post. I should say, the producer on Monday, they were doing some AVR in London. And they needed some gala for a phone call conversation. Because I wrote what we see on the screen. But we didn’t write the dialog for what happens, of course who she’s talking to. So, to write some dialog. Send it to them and have it to record some stuff. So, they’re still finishing up my stuff. Saying it’s supposed to be done by then, the end of the month. Then once it’s done then Hallmark says, “Okay, we finished the movie, and we’re going to put it officially on the schedule. So, at the moment it’s not on the official schedule. But, a press release to set those official dates, day and time.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect. Do those types of movies, do they end up on places like NetFlix and Hulu, after. Just after they had a run on Hallmark.
Jack: You know, that’s an excellent question? I would hope so. I don’t, I cannot say? I really don’t know?
Ashley: Perfect, okay. I just like to wrap up the interviews by asking the guest to tell us. Where people can find you? And follow along with what you’re doing. Anything you feel comfortable sharing: A Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, anything like that we can add to the show notes?
Jack: A yeah, you can follow me through my website, which is – www.jacksekowski.com, alright. I haven’t done a blog on there yet. It is on my list of things to do. But in time there’s anything big happening we list it on there. Of course, I use Facebook, so if you want to find me on Facebook, I’m very opened to that. But, please send a message saying, you listened to the Podcast because if we aren’t friends in common I will probably not friend you back. So, if you can, just a quick note saying, “Hey, I listened to you on Ashley’s Podcast, friend me back kind of thing. Yeah, great, no problem. Oh, I do want to tell you a Hollywood story.
Jack: Sort of like one of those like a, since we’re reaching the end of our interview. One of those, one of my favorite Hollywood stories, the Duff before Billy, so, when Maria and I first got to California. We did what everybody does. Which is take the Universal tour, and take the tram ride on the back lot. And, as we’re on the tram ride. I was looking at those bungalows. And like watching these people, you know, walk in and out of bungalows like that. Wondering who the heck are those people? And how did they get those jobs in and how can I be one of them? So, of course most important. And then you know, it’s like ten years later. We saw this movie from Universal. And Larry’s office is in one of those bungalows. So, we have those meetings there. And one day, we’re leaving the meeting for the parking lots. Sliding on our cool sun glasses, very bright California sun. And as we were about to cross the street, a tram crosses our path, right in front of us. And everybody at the track was just like looking at us. And they are like, “Are they anybody famous? Do ya think?” It was like, WoW! Like 10 years ago we were those people on the tram, and ten years later. We are gazing back at them.
Ashley: It comes full circle. Yep. So, Jack I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me. Congratulations on the Hallmark movie. And I look forward to watching it.
Jack: Thank you Ashley it was a pleasure to be on and good luck to you. And I hope to be on again sometime in the future. I have some more films.
Jack: Alright, take care. Bye-bye.
Ashley: Perfect. Alright see ya later Jack.
Ashley: A quick plug for the SYS Screenwriting Analysis Service. It’s a really economical way to get a high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy a 3-Pack, you get evaluations for just $67.00 per script for feature films, and just $55.00 for tele-plays.
All the readers have professional experience reading for: Studios, production companies, contests, and agencies. You can read a short bio on each reader on our website. And you can pick the reader you think best fits your script.
Turn-around-time is usually just a few days but rarely more than a week. The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors.
- Over All Craft – Which includes – Formatting, spelling, and Grammar.
Every script will receive a grade of – Pass, Consider, or Recommend, which should help you roughly understand where you script might rank if you were to submit it to a production company or agency.
We can provide an analysis on feature films or television scripts. We also do proof reading without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give you an analysis, or give you the same analysis that I just talked about on the treatment or synapsis. So, if you are looking to vet some of your projects. This is a great way to do it.
We will also write a log-line and synapsis for you. You can add this service to an analysis or you can simply purchase service as a stand-alone product.
As a bonus, if your script gets a Recommend, from one of our readers? You get a free Email and Fax Blast to my list of industry contacts. This is the exact same Blast Service I use myself to promote my own scripts. And it is the same service I sell on the website. It’s a great way to get your script into the hands of producers who are looking for new material. So, if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, check out- www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants, that’s www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants.
On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Writer/Director and Producer Aaron Duelly. She just did a documentary which she shot and edited herself. And she’s done a ton of short films over the years too. So, we talked through all of that as well. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Jack. I’ve talked about this quite a bit on the Podcast. The people who have the most success with my Email and Fax Blast Service, are people like Jack who come to it with a bit of screenwriting service. Now this is not to say that you shouldn’t use my service. Or any number of the other services out there, “Ink Tip” “The Black List” screenwriting contests.
If you don’t have any experience using these services. Is one way that you can start to gain some of that experience. So, It’s a part of the process. But, I do think it’s worth it. Jack didn’t have any experience when he started sending me out that original batch of quarry letters to agents way back at the beginning of his career. So, everybody needs to start somewhere? And everybody needs to start to get that experience. But, I think it’s worth noting, that all of these services, again including my own service. They work better, the more experience you have. And I think, you know, it’s probably common sense the experience you have presumably the better your script is, the stronger the script, the stronger your script is. Obviously, the stronger your script is the stronger your material is. Obviously, these services will work better, and you’ll have a better script. So, to me, that sort of leads us down that path. And the reason the question becomes, how can I gain that experience? And one of the answers is, to write and produce short films, even low-budget feature films. And I talk about that a lot on the Podcast. The next couple of weeks, on the Podcast, I’m going to have some people like Aaron who’s next week. Who has really done a lot with a lot of short films. And we really talk through some of the beginning stages of her short films. It was just, it was like $100.00, she just, she very first short film was just something her and her sister went out and did it. That’s sort of the first steps. But, those steps lead to gaining valuable experience. Feel like a lot of new writers. They come into this, and they just want to get that big spec. studio sale. And that’s fantastic, and I hope that works out for you. But, to make that work, there’s going to be an element of luck. It’s going to be a big part of that equation, is just going to be luck. Obviously, you’re going to need to write a script. And you’re going to have to meet the right people. But, there’s going to be a lot of things that have to go right for you to just out of nowhere to write that spec. script. It’s happened, it’s definitely been writers that’s happened to. But, I don’t think that’s definite necessarily been the norm. And again, I talk about this a lot on the Podcast. I wrote an article, where I took the first 75 Podcast episodes. And charted how all these screenwriters had got their first break and sold their first script. And very, very, rare, I don’t even remember out of the 75? How many people, just out of nowhere, got, and sold a spec. script. And launched their career. I don’t know, thinking back, I don’t know anybody. Networking, doing short films, doing low-budget feature films. Those were the kinds of things that work. And again, we focus on these big, sort of, out of nowhere stories. This person just, you know, wrote a script and sent it to this producer. And he was off to the races, and made a big sale. And we celebrate these things, because these are interesting stories, and those are great stories. But, I don’t know there’s a lot that is. I know there’s a lot you can learn from those stories. Taking and building on them and making them your own career. But, I think if we concentrate more on the small incremental steps to building a career. I think you will start to remove that element of luck that you need. And you will start to move your career ahead. And again, really think about how you can gain experience, even modest experience doing short films in your own apartment or in your own house, with your friends as actors, editing on your computer. That stuff will start to really help you as a writer. And you’ll start to get it out. You’ll start to send us some festivals, you’ll put it out on YouTube. You’ll start to meet people. That’s all part of the process. And I’d say, don’t under estimate it. Obviously Jack has a great Fax Blast Service. Just really listen to though. What his experience was. Jack, one of the important things. Trust me about Jack, Jack is a really good writer too. He as I mentioned, he was in my writers group. And always brought scripts in there. And they were very, well, a lot of family and friendly films too. And good concepts, and good writer. So, he has that going for him. But, the other thing that always amazed me about Jack is, he was very aggressive on the marketing.
He, obviously has used my Email and Fax Blast Service probably more than any other person than myself. I don’t remember if anybody has done that many blasts. I don’t think so, I think Jack is my second. But, to myself obviously, I’ve done more than a dozen for myself. But, Jack, as I said, has always been aggressive on the market. And it’s not just my Email and Fax Blast Service. He’s always out there trying to market stuff. And listen to what I was doing during the early part of his career. Sending out quarry letters, he was following up. He was making lists, he was always trying to find angles to market his script. And those little things add up. I think that’s really important to realize. He didn’t just come to do one blast. And then he got this Hallmark movie. It’s a long process. And gaining that experience, just takes that long time. I mean there’s no way of just you know, getting that experience. You can’t get it quickly. You got to like earn that stuff. I’ve had a few other people on the Podcast, over the years that have had success with my Email and Fax Blast Service. Just want to point those out. Because again, I think if it’s really worth listening to those people’s stories. And understanding what they did. In episode #57. I had Jordon Eola on. He has optioned a couple of scripts, and has gotten some paid writing assignments, through my writing Email and Fax Blast Service. Go back and listen to that episode. Jordon is a prime example of, he had a lot of experience coming to the Email and Fax Blast Service. But, a lot of it was self-made experience. He’s done a lot of short films. He went and wrote and produced a half-hour comedy pilot. He just does a lot of stuff. And that’s his body of work, and that’s his experience. And again, all that stuff helps, meet people, get feedback, and makes you a better writer. On episode #79, I had, Jan Orado on, and on that whole episode, she used the Email and Fax Blast Service. And actually got an option deal. And we talk through that option deal on that. But, we talk a little bit about this script. She was not somebody that had a great deal of screenwriting experience prior to the Email and Fax Blast Service. So, again, I think it’s worth looking at that episode as well. But there’s some important take a-ways from what her script was. And it was kind of a low budget sort of a thriller type of a script. And those are the type of scripts that work well with these types of services, like my Email and Fax Blast Service. Certainly like an “Ink Tip” where the budget is not so sorted. It’s not going to take a studio and $100 million studio, you know financing to get that movie made. So, again, it’s worth listening to that episode. Especially if you don’t have a ton of experience. And you can kind of hear what her story is? And learn hopefully from that. Episode #103 had Dan Benemore on. And he had just sold a spec. script. Again, just flat out sold it to the producer just bought it from him. Then again, that was from the Fax Blast Service. That was another person, he worked in development, he got a job. And I think we talk about this on the Podcast. But, he just got a job like a low-level job at a production company. But I think he was just an unpaid intern. If he was paid, honestly, don’t remember. But, the bottom line is, it got his foot in the door as a sort of low-level intern. And he worked his way up. He worked there for a few years, and did a good job. He read a lot of scripts, did a lot of coverage. Helped in the development, a lot of projects. This production company was doing. And slowly moved up the ranks. And by the time he left that company, he was actually helping to develop and even write some of the scripts that this company was doing. Now, he has since left that job and he’s a full-time writer. And again, he used my Email and Fax Blast Service, after all of this years in development. And again, those are the kinds of things that can really, really make you a better writer. You understand the business side of things. Again, I understand everyone is not in a position to just get a low level job at a production company. And work their way up. I certainly understand that. But all these people, those are good examples. The episode #103, with Dan, episode #79 with Ann, and episode #57 with Stewart. I think those are good examples of different people taking different approaches.
And even Jack who we just heard and talked about. Different people taking different approaches to gain some experience. And there was no like, “Flash in the pan.” There was no huge moment break through moment for these people. It’s just slow incremental steps. Getting projects done, doing shorts, doing
low-budget features, working in development, you know, optioning scripts. All of these things, are so, they are not as sexy as that big, you know, $500,000.00 spec. sale to Universal. Those are like sexy and they are big, and everyone wants to talk about those. But, those are not the norm. I think these smaller incremental steps. I think is what most of us should be concentrating on. And that’s what I try and concentrate on with my own career. Is as I try and progress myself. I try to go and each time try and do a little better, and slowly go up the ranks. And hopefully you can learn something from these episodes. I will gather up all these episodes and put them in the show notes so you can click over to them again. If you haven’t listened to any of those episodes? You might consider checking them out, and really listening to what their stories are.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.