Ashley: Welcome to Episode #222 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Steve Deering. Steve reads screenplays for the SYS Script Analysis Service and he just optioned a screenplay through the new SYS Select data base. He’s been reading screenplays for various companies for many, many years, so he’s got some great insight into what works and what doesn’t work in a screenplay. And of course we also talk about how he got this optioned through the new SYS Select data base. Stay tuned for that interview.
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If you want my free guide- How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks, you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional log line and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
And now I have a special segment. You may have noticed over the last couple of years this podcast has been getting published over www.la-screenwriter.com which is run by Angela Bourassa. LA Screenwriter is co-sponsoring a new screenwriting competition and I wanted to have Angela on to give us a quick overview of what that is all about. So here she is with a quick description of the LA Screenwriter and the new screenplay competition called Write LA. Here is Angela.
Ashley: Welcome Angela to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. Thanks for coming on the show and talking with me today.
Angela: Thanks for having me Ashley.
Ashley: So maybe you can just give us a quick overview of your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get started in the entertainment industry?
Angela: Sure. I grew up in Orange County [inaudible 00:02:25] so cow girl, and then I went to USLA. That was my entry to the film world obviously. That’s the center of everything. Yeah, I got interested in screenwriting way back in middle school, I did a play writing, a little program in my middle school and that’s when I fell in love with writing dialogue which was my connection to screenwriting. I thought that was the best part of it and I still do honestly. But yeah, I started writing in college and I’ve been writing ever since.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. I’m sure many of my listeners are familiar with your blog which is www.la-screenwriter.com. Maybe you can just quickly tell us what your blog is all about.
Angela: Sure, yeah. I started that seven years ago now and it really started as a way for me to start really focusing my screenwriting craft and trying to learn from people out there. So I just started collecting articles that I found useful and scripts that I wanted to read and put them in this central location and it’s just grown and grown and grown over the years and now I get between like 3,000 or 4,000 hits a day. People seem to have really taken to it, so I’m definitely very proud of it.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. And I’m curious with your goals. It sounds like part of your idea for starting was really just your own self-education and hopefully other people can benefit from that too. Have you found that that’s to be true, have you been able to network with people? Have you been able to be more educated, work on your own craft? Maybe you can talk about some of the benefits you’ve gotten out of running LA Screenwriters.
Angela: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a great way for me, one to just focus myself and make sure that I’m reading scripts regularly and seeing what’s out there. But two it’s been a great way to connect with working writers. I otherwise wouldn’t have really had a good opportunity to be resourceful, like they connect with me because they wanna mainly write something for the site or do an interview. So it’s made me someone that people want to connect with which has been really great for me to make myself someone that these people want to talk to. So it’s helped me really build my network but it’s also been really great just seeing other writers like myself benefit from just the resources that we’ve brought together on the site. It’s really rewarding seeing how people really enjoy what’s out there and you feel like they’re becoming better writers based on what they’re reading.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So you’re now involved in a new screenwriting contest called Write LA and that’s at www.write-la.com. And I will link to all of these stuff in the show notes so people can easily find it. Maybe you can tell us what that’s all about. What is that screenwriting contest?
Angela: Sure, so this is a new contest that we have launched in partnership with Live Read LA and that’s www.livereadla.com. They do a six-week, every six weeks contests that’s kind of a smaller version of what we’re now doing as an annual competition. And then there’re smaller contests you can enter 30 pages and the big price at the end of this contest is two winners get to hear those three pages read live on stage in LA with professional actors reading the parts. So what we’ve done is just taken that idea and kind of blown it up. So now we’re offering a price to three grand prize winners, we’re gonna fly them out to LA, give them kind of the industry experience, but also do a private screenwriting lab with those writers where they’re gonna get private classes for two days led by Tim Schildberger who is the person behind Live Read LA.
We will bring in actors, we’ll do writing exercises, we’ll just really try and help them hone their writing scripts but also just their craft in general. And then at the end of the whole experience we’re doing a live read event where we’re doing a private invite only gala where people will get to hear these winning scripts read live on stage. So we’re really trying to one, celebrate these writers, but also give them the tools that they need to really launch a career, which I think is something that lots of contests are kind of missing these days. They claim, “Oh, we have your big break,” but they don’t really give you the tools to help you get there yourself, so that’s what we’re trying to do.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And is there any specific type of screenwriter that you think is a perfect fit for this? Like some contests have a rule that you can’t have sold a script, so you can’t be a produced writer or something. Maybe others concentrate on a particular genre or something like that. Is there anything like that that you’re looking for in the scripts and in the writers?
Angela: Sure, we don’t have any genre restrictions, you just can’t have sold or optioned the script that you enter, but you can be a produced writer, that’s fine. Really we just want stand out stories. We’re looking for great characters and great plots. We want things that we feel like show a lot of skill for a writer who isn’t just a one hit wonder but has a chance to have a real career. That’s what we’re looking for. It doesn’t matter TV, film, both are welcome. We just want great stories really.
Ashley: Okay. Well, perfect Angela. I appreciate you coming on and telling the listeners all about that. As I said I’ll definitely round up those links and put them in the show notes and I wish you well with the website and the contest.
Angela: Thanks. Just to mention our first deadline is April 30th. That’s the early birds, so get in by then if you can.
Ashley: Perfect, yeah. And this will be published before April 30th, so yeah, definitely get in. You can save a little bit of money with that early bird deadline. So thank you very much Angela.
Angela: Thank you Ashley.
Ashley: So I will link to all of that in the show notes, both LA Screenwriter and Write LA. Definitely check it out, I mean, www.la-screenwriter.com, it’s a free blog. There’s lots of useful information and lots of great articles. Obviously my own podcast is published there but there’s a lot of other contributors to the site so I would highly encourage you to check that out if you have some time. So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing screenwriter Steve Deering. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Steve to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Steve: Thank you, it’s great to be here.
Ashley: So let’s start out by talking about the recent option you had through the new SYS Select screenplay database. First, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that project. What’s the log line for that script?
Steve: Sure thing. The log line, and it’s a fantasy adventure called Otherworld and the log line is on Halloween night, a troubled young woman slips through the cracks of reality and finds herself in a mystical realm inspired by the missing legends of the Celtic Otherworld. Teaming up with an unlikely group of companions including a fairy man, a trickster and a headless horseman she struggles to find her way home and evade the clutches of the [inaudible 00:08:50] Otherworld’s terrifying ruler that’s determined to cross over to the real world no matter the cost.
Ashley: Perfect. I’m curious with a pitch like this, do you try and compare to some successful movies, Lord Of The Rings or something like that. I mean, it has that sort of fantasy quest element. How do you go about pitching something like this?
Steve: Oh, definitely. I call it a fantastical adventure highly reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, but with a contemporary twist mostly through dialogue. I’m definitely taking the archetypal idea of a journey through a magical land and it very much adheres to that kind of archetypal journey that I was trying to differentiate through just modern dialogue, snappy dialogue, relatable characterization even if these are like mythological figures.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And where did this idea come from? What was the genesis of it?
Steve: A form of research. I like to watch a lot of documentaries on religions, theology, mythology, even cryptozoology. Just all those kind of odd documentaries. I watch them a lot before going to bed. I was watching one one night and it was just a documentary on the Celtic underworld and to be honest the title is the first thing that struck me. I was just like, “Oh, underworld! That’s just a great title and just a great conceptereHere of this realm of like forgotten gods and creatures because the Celtic mythology is not as well preserved as others. It’s very ancient and it’s kind of a lot of the exact characterizations of these figures has fallen away. So I just thought it was something that was right for exploration. I just like to keep my eye open. Anytime you’re watching a show it’s good to just think like, “Oh, is this a good idea, is this a movie, could this be something?”
Ashley: Yeah, so let’s talk about the practical aspects of this new database that I’ve created. First off, how many scripts do you have listed in the database? Obviously this one is optioned. How many other scripts did you list?
Steve: I just have two in there at the moment but I’m working on polishing some additional ones because my experiences so far with the system has been fantastic. So I’m trying to bring some of my other works up to a similar level of quality and get them ready to enter in the system as well. But as of now just two.
Ashley: Okay, and how do you decide that these other scripts are not up to the same quality standards as these two that are listed?
Steve: It mostly just comes down to how much time I’ve spent with them, you know. Every writer I think should fill out their rewrite process and exactly what point they feel like it’s ready for other people to read. The script Otherworld kind of has a Halloween kind of aspect to it. I’ve actually worked on it the past like two or three years every time around Halloween as a fun little tradition for myself, turning the writing process into like a fun little routine. I’ve kind of hit that one a couple of times and sent it in to various companies for feedback, knocked out the feedback and the more that I get it reviewed and looked at, and when it comes back to me the less criticisms there are the more I start to realize that I’ve ironed out those wrinkles. With some of my older scripts I haven’t given them that attention. I’ve kind of written it one time through, looked at it, called it a complete story and happily shelved it away for the time. Once somethings written that’s just the first draft. I suppose I’ve given these version more drafts and some of the other scripts I feel just don’t need that additional attention.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. That all makes sense. So I’ curious, what did you put down as the budget? That’s one of the things when you upload the script to the Selling Your Screenplay Script database. You choose like a genre and you choose a budget range. What kind of budget range did you give this script?
Steve: Oh gosh, I kind of forget what I marked down the budget as, but it was…
Ashley: I think the highest budget it 10 million or more. I think it’s the highest one that we have in there.
Steve: I think I put in between 5 to 10 million as my own kind of budget estimation because it is kind of a huge spectacle field story, but the producer that optioned the script is looking to kind of package and finance it around three million. So I’ve seen some of the special effects companies he has in mind for this and I think he absolutely has the right approach, so I might even have over-estimated the complexity of it. I’m happy to see that a producer has been able to look at it objectively and grained in the budget to something that sounds very doable.
Ashley: So you’ve had these two scripts listed now for coming up on probably two months since last when we launched the database. Do you know how many log line views you’ve gotten for these two scripts?
Steve: I believe I’ve gotten 20 and then just one singular downloaded sale for Otherworld, but the singular download resulted in an option, so no complains there.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. And what are the differences between the two scripts? Is the other one also a sort of fantasy adventure or higher budget fantasy adventure or is the other script something different?
Steve: The other script is widely different. It’s one of the first things I wrote although I’ve given it some layers of polish. It’s basically a fat camp full of kids who are working to get in shape and it’s basically Disney’s Heavyweights meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where it’s kind of an alien invasion story taking place at a fat camp. The log line sounds a little kind of jarring where you’re like, “Oh, is it mean spirited?” But I’ve actually tried to like infuse it with a lot of themes about what identity means, what it means to be a hero, you don’t have to look or be a certain way to be a good person or a hero. And so I find it kind of like a charming little story even though its’s kind of a splatter fest horror comedy.
Ashley: Okay. And what other services have you tried, contests, any of the other services? Have you tried promoting these scripts using any of these other services or contests or anything?
Steve: I haven’t dug too deeply into the realms of contests as of yet just because of my own budgetary limitations and financial things, but I have been looking more and more into it because I have a writer I’ve worked with in the past that has recently had great success winning a contest. And so I’m kind of just familiarizing myself with all these contests and what I consider the best ones. I’m mostly just digging and perform kind of just manual marketing where I research companies that might be a good fit for the projects I’ve written and kind of approach them through email with a professionally formatted query letter and hope for the best. But the Selling Your Screenplay System has definitely been the most effective system I’ve used so far.
Ashley: Yeah, and I’m curious, have you had some options or sales through any other means which I guess would include these query letters that you’re sending out?
Steve: Yes, I actually have two other scripts. One’s a horror comedy and the other is kind of a fantasy but not along these kind of Wonderland [inaudible 00:16:15] more of something where fantasy invades the real world. I have two scripts like that and just kind of through digging into the world and putting myself out there I came in contact with a group of financers who were working to kind of get those projects packaged and produced and they seemed really dedicated. So just to hit in the pavement so to speak but digitally through emails and on the internet, I do have two other scripts that are floating out there but may hopefully go into production one day.
Ashley: Okay perfect. And how do you typically track down the email addresses of these companies or just straight forward as going to IMDb Pro?
Steve: Yeah, I look at films that have been made that are similar to what I’m writing and I look at companies that might have a certain preference towards that who have produced multiple versions of these films. But I definitely use IMDb Pro. I try to see if there’s contact information to reach them. Another great resource is the Writers Guild of America website where they actually have a list of companies that might be interested in seeing submitted scripts. I have kind of gone through all that list multiple times for different scripts. You will also find forums out there, just screenwriting forums of writers who’re putting their heads together and sharing lists with each other of companies that will accept unsolicited scripts or scripts that are not represented yet and will review them.
So I’ve just kind of been compiling my own lists and little databases of companies that might be interested in whatever. I have a project that might suit them I consult my little list and send it off to the prospective person that may hopefully be interested.
Ashley: Let’s talk a little bit about your background. Where are you originally from and where did you grow up and where did you go to college and when did you move to LA?
Steve: Okay, I actually live in Orange County currently at the moment, but I go to LA constantly for meetings or just things of that nature. I grew up in Orange County as well and I went to college at the Cal State Dominguez Hills School. I studied Digital Media production there and we were require to take an internship and luckily I was able to land an internship at the Robert Evan Company at Paramount Pictures. It was there that I started to realize that my personal interests aligned more with the world of development and writing than actual production. I would do short films and things like that.
I’d enjoy seeing production in general because I think it’s important to see how the script operates on all sides of the industry, like how it’s written, how it’s gonna be interpreted by a director. But once I was at The Robert Evans Company they started to put me to work doing script coverage, they let me sit in on a couple of development meetings. I created look-books and promotional material for some of their projects and I really just kind of fell in love with the whole process of just development.
Ashley: How long were you there and how many scripts do you think you read over that period?
Steve: How many scripts, probably not a 100 but definitely in the tens. It’s was actually really a great experience because the internships only go for three months but even when mine was complete they kept me on for a good long time. I believe I was there for eight months just like learning the entire process because they just enjoyed having me around and there was even a period where some of the producers went off to a business meeting for a good amount of time over in Japan and just kind of let me hold down the fort so well. So those were all very good learning experiences and I would have stayed there forever if they let me but at one point we all realized, “Look hey, we’ve stretched these three months internship to a very large point. We need to cut it off.” But it was a fantastic experience that pretty much put me on the path I am today.
Ashley: So you read screenplays for the Selling Your Screenplay Script Analysis Service. Maybe we can talk a little bit about that. I guess first how long have you been reading scripts for Selling Your Screenplay?
Steve: For roughly about three years now.
Ashley: Okay, let’s talk about what we’re trying to provide because I think that’s a little bit…I think that’s an interesting thing to talk about and it’s definitely not what I would call typical coverage. And so maybe you can talk about what you’re trying to provide to the writer when you’re approaching one of these analyses.
Steve: Yea, great. I really admire the company Selling Your Screenplay. I worked for a bunch of different companies but I find that with this one I’m able to provide really accurate, helpful feedback without being urged to soften my approach or hold the writer’s hand. This company definitely has a focus on the services screenplay analysis and improvement, not just providing hollow praise and false self-confidence to get repeat customers. It really digs in and kind of with a professionalism will straight up tell the writer what needs to be fixed and very straight forward and I really admire that approach.
Ashley: Yeah, and then what’s funny is me and a buddy, as I was getting ready to launch this service we sort of half-jokingly thought that through like, “Gee, I wonder if we should just create a service that just gives praise to people. More people maybe would come back and continue to use that even if they didn’t necessarily get a lot of value out of it.” But no, I definitely took the opposite approach and I can tell there definitely have been some feathers ruffled. Sometimes people are coming to our service expecting as you say hollow praise but they’re expecting their scripts to just get praised and that’s definitely not what we’re trying to do here.
Steve: Oh yeah. I think you absolutely took the right approach because if you went the direction of urging the readers in the analysis to just give hollow praise, that would make them feel good for that week or something but then they would take their script, feel that it’s ready for marketing, put it out there and not get any results. I feel like even just having a few ruffled feathers, the long term benefits of what the writers are getting out of the service greatly outweigh any kind of like quick gratification that really doesn’t have much substance.
Ashley: Yeah: For sure. So maybe you can just talk briefly, are there some common mistakes that you see writers make over and over again. Maybe just two or three things that you see that you just wish writers wouldn’t do.
Steve: Sure, here’s a big one I’ve noticed recently. A big trend of it and I don’t know why. I see a lot of writers where they have a really compelling premise and idea and I read it but their story they don’t embrace the premise and really kick the story bin a high gear until the mid-point. A lot of scripts I’ve read recently have been plagued by this issue. Writers will spend the first half of the script kind of introducing the premise and then embrace it and execute it around the mid-point. It’s really important to let the audience have insight into the core defining elements and conflicts to your script early on. If your story doesn’t start until after the mid-point then there’s some structure issues you need to tackle. You can’t turn what you want to be your defining premise into a mid-point twist.
Ashley: Yeah, sound advice for sure.
Steve: Yeah, if you tell a producer that your script is about say a protagonist travelling back in time and the producer reads the script, reaches the mid-point and this promised event has not yet occurred they’ll feel misled and they’ll most likely pass up on your script. It’s important to kind of review the concept of narrative bits for a beginning writer, particularly the bit that sometimes is not at the big event or if you’re a Blake Snyder Save The Cat fan the bits known as the break in [inaudible 00:23:49] and the promise to the premise. If you can lock down and nail those bits at the correct position then your premise will feel fully explored and it will be the premise and not just a twist.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. Sound advice.
Steve: And another issue I see is writers, particularly or exclusively those of spec scripts stepping on the toes of cinematographers and directors a little too often, mostly done through the writer including unnecessary camera editing directions in an effort to make their script feel more immersive and complete. And it’s important to remember that the screenwriter’s job is to provide like a rough road map but not to actually drive the car. You always wanna leave room in your work for future creative interpretation and input by potential future collaborators. This will make the script way more attractive if a director can look at it and find the room in the script to put their own voice and perspective on it.
Ashley: Yeah, I know. I think that’s excellent advice too.
Steve: I got one more if you want it.
Ashley: Yeah, fire away.
Ashley: Restraint…just learning restraint in general. This can apply to character count or just the event itself. In terms of character count I see a lot of scripts beginning with a large ensemble scene in which five or more characters are simultaneously introduced. This makes the protagonist and their personal journey difficult to identify. Excessive character counts often result in characters having underdeveloped voices. There’re just too many characters rotating through and sharing the spotlight where you can’t really identify their niches in a good amount of time or characters become character luggage when they’re carried from scene to scene and don’t have much to do.
And in terms of just structure and timeline I see the lack of restraint really affecting biographical stories or dramas. Scripts attempting to cover 40 years of the characters life can come off as being somewhat episodic and disconnected. You could always win it in and try to find if there’s a particular time period in the character’s life that can serve as a microcosm of their overall life. And focus on that time period instead. A lot of writers are very passionate about their stories but the passion sometimes causes the stories to become bloated and ineffective. So finding ways to apply restraint to using the phrase [inaudible 00:26:13] and just boiling the script down to a lean, mean, functional story is always preferable to just kind of elaborating on every detail and just indulging oneself as you write.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. And so let’s flip that question on its head. Are there some things that you see that you really like and you think writers should do more of? Maybe even using like a recent example of a film to kind of illustrate this might be helpful for people.
Steve: Sure. I love genre films so let’s take a look at the recent film Adaptation of Steven Kings and the concept of plot versus story, which is something I find a lot of new writers have difficulty wrapping their heads around. This leads to many characters lacking a sense of evolution or an identifiable character arc if there’s not a good story to complement the plot. So looking at it, the plot is about a bunch of young children fighting for survival against the murderous love crafty identity that takes the form of a clown. What’s the story? The story is simple but very effective. It’s the story of a young boy, in this case Bill, learning to accept the death of his brother. It’s a story about growth and letting go.
At the beginning when the other characters discuss Georgie’s death Bill was quick to correct them by saying that Georgie isn’t dead, he’s only missing. Throughout the events Bill grows as a person. He becomes braver, wiser. During his final face to face encounter with Pennywise, Pennywise assumes the form of Georgie, intends on using Bill’s weaknesses and character flaws to make Bill vulnerable. But Bill overcomes his character issues and fulfils his arc as he tells Pennywise who’s in the form of Georgie that he can’t be Georgie because Georgie is dead. This allows Bill to gain the upper hand. It’s a simple but highly effective character arc revolving around Bill moving past denial.
It’s consistently and progressively handled through the film. It’s one of the things I noticed amongst all the spectacle and horror in there. And you always have to make sure that your protagonist learns to grow somehow. When writing your script determine their starting point. What’s their flaws, do they have a skewed perspective on life? Then look at the plot. How can this plot help them overcome this flaws? A character can also fail to fulfil a character arc. Tragedy and irony are often options provided the protagonist highlights some sort of cautionary sematic message to the audience.
Ashley: Yeah, I think that’s all excellent stuff and maybe we’ll have you back on. We can do even a deep dive into something like it. I’m curious, you said you love these genre films. Are there some specific types of films that you like? Do you gravitate more towards horror than say action or something like that?
Steve: I do but that also I gravitate towards horror because like I said I kind of as a side thing my main passion is writing and development but me and a group of my college friends, we like to make short films here and there. I like horror because for a beginning writer or a beginning filmmaker, horror is a very forgivable genre. If you make a horror film and there’s some flaws in it you can see the theme or the zipper on the monster so to speak. It makes the audience feel brave and it’s kind of fun. Horror audiences are very forgiving towards flaws whereas other genres they send out and they can ruin the impression of the work as a whole a bit more. So just for myself as a beginning filmmaker I really gravitate towards horror because I find it’s a great place to experiment.
The community is really good…Whenever a horror film has some flaws it actually interjects a little bit of just extra fun and the audience feels a little braver and smarter than the story. And so it’s just a great genre to cut ones teeth on. That’s something else to remember. You might be just starting off and you might have an idea that’s a bit of a silly horror idea and then an incredibly deep affecting drama. It might be good to work on that horror film first because there’s a little bit more wiggle room in that genre.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. Okay, so now you have this recent option through the Selling Your Screenplay database. What is next for you? What are you kind of strategizing in terms of advancing your own career as a writer?
Steve: More writing, writing, writing. The option was fantastic and a bit unexpected and it made me sit back and I consider that kind of the best script I’ve written. Like I said I’ve given it polish throughout the years, I’ve made a little routine of revisiting it around Halloween. And so once that one is currently spoken for I kind of sat back and went, “Oh well, someone picked up what I considered my best script, I better make a new best script.” So it was actually very creatively invigorating. Ever since it’s happened I’ve just been brainstorming more and working on new projects so…I guess that also ties in the idea of like don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I’m not gonna completely rely on this and call this a victory and just sit back and say, “Oh, I’m done.
Time to just wait and hope for good things to happen.” It’s time to set up the next option and just try to put more things out there in the world and the more things you have out there floating around the more your chance increase that one of them will potentially go into production.
Ashley: Yeah, sound advice for sure. I always like to wrap up the questions just by asking the guest how people can keep up with what you’re doing. Anything you’re comfortable sharing, a twitter handle, Facebook page, blog, whatever you don’t mind sharing with the audience maybe people will just follow that and learn more about you.
Steve: Me and my college friend we have a little YouTube page that’s called Gargoyle Media, that’s the name of the channel, like the creature Gargoyle Media. Like I said, we’re just kind of cutting our teeth on the horror genre. A lot of the stuff on there is very rough around the edges but everything is a learning experience and every little silly project we’ve done from the ones where we try really hard to the ones where like it’s been very casual and relaxed, there’s always something new to learn. Every project has taught us something different about writing, about lighting on the production side, about just everything. So people are free to check that out. It’s a little rough, it’s just kind of some things we’ve just done on the side to further our own various crafts. They are more into production and more into development.
Ashley: Yeah, and I’ll link to that in the show notes. So last question, what have you been watching recently that you felt was really great. And I’d like to just keep that maybe something on Netflix or a movie that’s currently out. Something that people could potentially go and easily see. What have you seen lately that you really liked?
Steve: One again touching on genre stuff, I actually just started The Punisher on Netflix and I am only on episode two, so my opinion of the series as a whole could change, but I am a [inaudible 00:33:18] fan so probably won’t. But I really like what I’m seeing so far especially in episode two. I won’t include any spoilers but there’s some great kind of appending of expectations in regards to hero and villain and how you would expect their interactions to go and I really like how they’ve taken what people would expect like an encounter between a hero and villain, turned it on it’s head and used that kind of appending of expectations to really kind of solidify the defining factors of the hero himself. I really like what I see so far, it’s kind of the second episode kind of set me far a loop. I was like, “Oh, I didn’t expect it to go this way so quickly, that’s interesting.” So everybody should check that out.
Ashley: Perfect. Well Steve, as always I just appreciate talking with you and I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me on the podcast episode.
Steve: Thank you, this was a very awesome experience for me. I very much appreciate being here.
Ashley: Perfect. Steve, we’ll talk to you later.
Steve: Thank you.
Ashley: Thank you, bye.
A quick plug for the SYS screenwriting analysis service. It’s a really economical way to get high quality professional evaluation on your screenplay. When you buy our three pack you get evaluations at just $67 per script for feature films and just $55 for teleplays. 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 who you think is the best fit for your script. So for instance if you think Steve, who you just heard me interview would be a good fit for your screenplay you can choose him as your reader. Turnaround time is usually just a few days, but rarely more than a week.
The readers will evaluate your script on six key factors- concept, character, structure, marketability, tone and overall craft, which includes formatting, spelling and grammar. Every script will get a grade of pass, consider or recommend, which should help you roughly understand where your script might rank if you were to submit it to a production company or agency. We can provide an analysis on features or television scripts. We also do proofreading without any analysis. We will also look at a treatment or outline and give you the same analysis on it. So if you’re looking to vet some of your project ideas, this is a great way to do it. We will also write a log line and synopsis for you.
You can add this log line and synopsis service to an analysis, or you can simply purchase this as standalone product. As a bonus, if your screenplay gets a recommend or gets a consider from one of our readers, you get to list the screenplay in the new SYS Select database which is a database for producers to find screenplays and a big part of our SYS Select program is all about. Again you just heard Steve talk about his experience optioning a script through it. As a further bonus, if your screenplay gets a recommend or consider from one of our readers, your screenplay will get included in our monthly best of newsletter. Each month we send out a newsletter that highlights the best screenplays that have come through our service.
This monthly newsletter goes out to our list of over 400 producers who are actively looking for material. These producers are hungry for material and getting recommendations from us is something that they really enjoy getting because the scripts have already been vetted. So most of the time when a script gets on this list it will get at least a handful of downloads and a handful of reads from qualified producers. So again, it’s just another great way to get your material out there. So if you want a professional evaluation of your screenplay at a very reasonable price, check out www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants. Just a quick shout out to screenwriter Christian Lactus who used the SYS email in Facts Plus Service a few months back.
He met a producer through this blast and optioned a script to him. He is a Canadian writer so it’s nice to see some people far from Hollywood having some success in the business. So congratulations Christian, this is fantastic. I added a little blurb about his option to the SYS Select success page. If you wanna learn a little bit more about that, just check that out and that’s at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. In the next episode of the podcast I’m going to be interviewing writer, director Susan Walter who recently did a film called All I Wish, starring Sharon Stone. We get into great detail about how she made this movie come together, how she got everything going, how she was able to raise money, how she wrote the script and also we talk a little bit about how she was able to land Sharon Stone for the lead in the film. So keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just wanna touch on a few things from today’s interview with Steve. He gave some great tactical tips as a reader, so really listen to those. Steve is on the frontlines of reviewing screenplays from screenwriters trying to break into the business, so he sees a lot of scripts that have sort of the same problems over and over again, so I’d really encourage you to listen to his tips and see if they might be something that could help you with your writing. I also really like Steve’s answer to my question “now that you got an optioned screenplay what’s next?”. His answer was spot on and it was something to the effect of, “I’m just gonna keep writing more material.” I mean, this is the correct answer in this situation.
I remember when I first moved to Hollywood I started working at a tennis club in Toluca and me and tons of other writers and actors and stuff working there and I was just getting to know some of these people. So many of them had these stories of, “Oh, my screenplay is at such and such an agent,” or, “Such and such an actor is looking at it,” or, “Such and such a director,” and I was always like, “Wow, that’s fantastic.” I was new to town and so this was really impressive to me where they had an option or they had an actor looking at it or whatever the case. Some sort of very small little bit of success. And again just being new to town this was very impressive to me.
But then as time went on I’d ask follow up questions, “So how is it going with such and such an actor,” and they’d just always be like, “Oh, I haven’t quite heard back yet but any day now.” This would go on pretty much forever and the worst part about all of these was that these writers for the most part, they were simply waiting to hear back from such and such a director or such and such an actor and they were using this potential option or I guess potential even a sale as a way of avoiding having to write more material. They weren’t really doing anything, they were just waiting. I think that’s the worst thing you can do for your career. I mean, it’s only human to get excited when you get some success and having a sale or a read or getting an option.
Any kind of minor success, you definitely wanna celebrate those moments and those are exciting. But the fact of the matter is a lot of them, the vast majority of these small successes aren’t gonna turn into anything. So by all means, get excited but then get back to work as quickly as you can and I think Steve pretty much summed it up in this interview. So hopefully you really listen to that and as you progress in your own career and start to get some of these options you will realize that you really need to keep moving forward because there’s a good chance the option isn’t gonna turn into anything. So once again if you wanna have your screenplays read by Steve, check out www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/consultants. You can find him there on that page. Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.