This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 032: An Interview With Screenwriter Brian D Young.
Welcome to episode thirty-two of the SellingYourScreenplay podcast. I am Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over SellingYourScreenplay.com. In this episode’s main segment, I’m gonna to be interviewing screenwriter Bryan Dyan. Bryan started a great career by himself, he lives in Canada. His career started without the benefit of agent or manager. In the interview, he goes into details about exactly what he did to get his career going & how he keeps it going decade or later.
I’d like to thank this episode’s sponsor, screen craft. Screen craft is dedicated to helping screen writers master the craft of screenwriting and succeed in a business of Hollywood. Sign up for free education inspiration at Screencraft.org. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me review in iTunes or leaving a comment on YouTube or retweeting the episode on Twitter or liking it on Facebook. This social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast. If you have any questions or comments about anything feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]. I want to improve this podcast so some honest, constructive feedback is very much appreciated. I’d like to thank Kreg Mac, Brot Cacus, Mark Badard, Hipo Krediks, Branden Rym ,Tracy Mill , & Jason Spalmin for tweeting about episode 31. Thank you guys for that! And I wanna thank Camfort Kran, Brday , Shirll Kana & Jazz Dinotinks who left me some nice reviews over on youtube. Thank you for those comments.
A couple of quick notes – any websites or links that I mentioned in a podcast can be found on my blog in a show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you would rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast’s show notes at www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/podcasts. Just look for eposide 32. Also if you want my free guide “Have a sell screenplay in 5 weeks”, you can pick that up by going to www.SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide. It is completely free, you just put in your email address and I will send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screen play in that guide, how to write a professional log line occurring letter, how to find agent, manager or producers who are looking for material. It really is everything you need to know about how to sell your screenplay. Just go to SellingYourScreenplay.com/guide.
A quick few word about what I am working on; I am just finished with limited locations Sci-Fi thriller script that I have mentioned on the podcast a few times before. I should be ready to post that by the end of August. I am really motivated by talking to Joe Gazam in episode 30 & hearing how he will come up with 80 or 90 blog lines before he begins a new script. So I am trying to ramp by blog line production as soon as I get this spec , I am going to spend a lot of time a bunch of blog lines. Hopefully by the end of August a hundred or so, we will see. I really do believe that making sure your causeup is rock or it is the smartest thing you can do having in your script. Also a film I wrote last year Ninja paclips was realsed this past week. It’s a low budget so it’s available hunt demand channels , Amazon.com & also available on WallMark . I would say definely check this.
So now let’s get into the main segment. This week I’m interviewing Bryan D Young, a screenwriter; here’s the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Bryan to the SellingYourScreenplay podcast! I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Bryan: Hey, thanks for having me, it’s great to chat with you!
Ashley: So to start out, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your carrier in the entertainment industry. Tell me how you got to where you are today.
Bryan: Alright, not going too far back in the past. I was in the university. And as you know being there not sure of what to take. It ended up with a degree & a wife & a couple of kids. I thought I needed to start a career to make some money so I entered law school .It went on & ended up by a degree & practicing law .But through all of that I was writing it was in my blood as they say. Even going back to elementary school grade six I did the newspaper. It was full of tapes ,so badly full of tapes & they had to run a contest so you could find all the tapes . But it was ok when you were in grade 6.But when I think back there were always course that had to do with writing. I liked to do acting, short stories & that kind of stuff. Through university & even law school I avoided exams & tried to get a course instead of the exam. One I finished law school; I focused on practicing law, the criminal law & navigation stuff. Then I had a vision as many lawyers do that I would write a novel. So I started a novel & still in the drawer about 50 percent done. Every now & then I see it & say wow I did that. And I was taking with a friend of mine on day & she said that she wrote a screen play. I never had written screen play, I have never seen one. I wondered how they looked like &using Microsoft word I tabbed my way to screen play & got some interested in it. The problem was that I picked a screen play that was a true story based on a fascinating event that happened.
Being a lawyer I thought we should tell them the story that’s their right. All of sudden I thought I can do this .I continue to practice law, working on different scripts & all that stuff. Then a film called love for rent and put that on line on etip it’s script network or something like that and somebody phoned me like a & told me I want to value your script. He offered me 35,000$ my script & I thought wow I could be a script writer . So I was still practicing at this time & I sold the script. It was still in preproduction but it was a good start. I realized that I could get into screen writing & be able to leave law. So I did the called tricky thing I quit practicing law & shocked everybody including my wife. Because I decide I am gonna do this. I reached a point where I loved every minute of screen write . So I quit & focused on writing . This is the reality of a business, you can have a great & then all of sudden there’s nothing .
Ashey: Let’s stop there for a minute & let me dig into some few things so when you are practicing law & you said you were always writing . What were you writing at that point, just short stories ,just fiction or non-fiction or novels? What is the stuff that you were writing.
Bryan: Short stories, working on a novel but not even thinking about screen plays.
Ashey: You weren’t even thinking , were you trying to sell some of this short stories or at least get them into some publication or market them in any way ?
Bryan: No, & I think that’s why it was a shock to everybody when I decided to get into the screen play & had that quick sale because I hadn’t done any of that before. It’s not I was doubling my toes into trying different things in the writing world. I latterly went to it & the spark that grow was that big .
Ashey: You mentioned that in your first script you didn’t have the rights to. And you said that you get interested. Who did you get this interest from?
Bryan: I was able to do that through my friends. I was able to contact a couple of producers. I showed it to them. They liked the idea of the story & they took a look at the script. When they go back & look at the script they realize how bad it was. It was written on Microsoft word and I tried all the tabs the best I could .I couldn’t believe how people looked to that. But it just tell me one thing since then that producers like to say that it is a cooler script, & there better be not any types. What I had captured in that script is that the phenomenal story very badly told in my writing & in the formatting of my screen play. But it was the story that was drawing people. It was a good lesson for me to realize that you could have a good story that you gonna be dropped to it.
Ashey: So let’s talk about your transition. I think that this a thing that a lot of people struggle with. They have a full time job. You mentioned that your wife was surprised. Was your wife supportive? How did you tell her? How did all of that go down?
Bryan: It was really a shock to the system because you got really good career & lawyers do well. I wasn’t enrolled in big campus but I did well. So to jump from that was even more surprising. But I just really believed that I could do it & it took a little convincing my family to get to that point. And you got some kind of you left that job & you are going to be what . That reality wasn’t easy. I talked to many writers to guide to write blog lines, outlines & scripts. I think when you get to the point when you believe in yourself & you’ve got that passion, you make the jump. I don’t think you need to move to allay. I go down in the allay & spend a lot of time down. I live in the West Coast of Canada then just outside Land-louver. I went to allay on a day trip then go home. You don’t need to be there. You can live where you live & still act with that stuff. Doing that allowed me to have the security of family because my kids were young at that time; 10 or 12 years ago when I did it. So it was a bit of a risk but in a long term it is paid very well.
Ashey: Did you have some money save? I mean you knew you could go with thatpaid check for a month or year or 2 years. Did you have some saved up to support things?
Bryan: No, that’s the ideas. I got close friend of mine & I remember the exact the night that I sold my first play the one that I got phone call for from the guy that offered me 35,000$. I remember this long silence when I told my friend that I doing that. That kind of look at me, my wife & family. Seriously where is t coming from? you got that first event, you got the money & you celebrate a little bit . Then you think it is just getting rolling from here . They gonna phone me from here & there but they didn’t! My phone didn’t ring . So you take the financial hit . Again I persevered & I know may be I was stupid. It worked very well for me. I totally understand that when people are in . I really wanted to be a writer. It is harder & I think at the end because I had a supportive family was able to do it. But I took the jump. I really thought I could do it. I ended up in US costumes in LandCover . My passport had a lot of stamps on it . So the customs guys you are going down to work. I said no, I have some meetings down there. I am looking then at my wife who is firing questions at me. A few trips, they sent me into the glass room where you have to sit till you here a voice that you are free. They told me what do you do. I said home business a writer. He looks at me & he says I got a friend who is writer. As soon as he says that I realize this is my ticket to catch my plane. I wrote on a paper my email address. Let your friend send me the script & I will take a look at it. That brought me that I am smarter than that guy in security & after 2 hours I had an e-mail on my phone with the script attached to it from a costumes officer in Florida. He wrote such a good script , I bought it , sold it a month later.
Ashey: Really!! Wow!
Bryan: I tell that story for a couple of reasons. First, it is the start. Second to introduce the guy who was working a night & really wanted to be a writer.
Ashey: Did you read the story & you realized that you had producer contacts that could go bananas through this type of a story or what was the sort of attraction that you thought you could sell it?
Bryan: I was in that transition status. I wasn’t a producer, I was given producer credit &the producers gave me that taste. But I am not a producer in any strategy or imagination I am writer. What I do I buy a script that I really like & cut a deal with the writer that I guarantee the credit but I will rewrite them because I think because I think I can set it up or work something up when I try to set it up. Because over the years I have developed such phenomenally good contacts that I can help them & helps me, I can get this movie. In this particular script at the time I was in the heavy life time where there will be the weak mode. I was selling over the phone. The life time a couple of years ago was through fantasy of buying stuff. You could think of any possible scenario to buy things. At that time that costumes guy sent me the script who had a wife & a couple of kids. It ended up very quickly.
Ashey: And it was supportive house & rapdy script ?
Bryan: Yeah, it was & he wrote it as a feature . There is a perception that it is the best way to go & absolutely getting to studio film is great . That tales happen but they are far between things that are moving quick on TV . That what I said to the guy it is 65 pages but needs a few pages ; but the story is great. I think with some kind of rewrite & set up it is TV movie & he agreed.
Ashey: Let’s talk about ‘Love for rent’ ; the process of how you got that once sold.
Bryan: yeah sure, ‘Love for rent’ I came with that idea that it would be really interesting for women to be a servant for a family. So I wrote the script as a kind of romatic comedy . The producers that I had met consider the drama before that. I didn’t think it was a good fit then I found what script would be. I still use that tip till today in projects. It is a phenomenal resource & I say that not because I am paid but it really is. Like the people in allay they do a great job . There was a guy in allay who read it & phoned me .
Ashey: Tell me how many scripts though over your career have you sold through n-tip?
Bryan: Well over 30, that I wouldn’t hesitate even to say 40.
Ashey: We are talking about sales here not options. Then say how many options ?
Bryan: I am sorry I got them all together. I would say 40 different deals whether options or sales or commission work through n-tip. I wrote one comedy script that I though it was a writing a sample but I put it on n-tip and people liked the story like so much things in this business. I used to give a long a option, I learned that. I had an agent in allay, a manager I got through n-tip. There are other online ways of doing it blacklist has one & couple of others. I used blacklist but I don’t think it is as good as n-tip for whatever reasons producers would run to n-tip mode & it works. I also as a producer I access n-tip from the producers side as well & it is good the way it works & the access it gives you.
Ashey: Let’s talk about the options through n-tip. What could someone expect. I had someone misses up on n-tip & there is generally not a lot of money for options. I would really be curious even for my own sake just to hear what could you expect from the option. May be give us some tips how you negotiate these options & what you realistically expect?
Bryan: Let’s say you started up, when I started up a couple of years I did the free option. Every producer would want the option for free & I totally get that. I understand that it is hard for a writer to do a free option. When I did that a couple of years with my agent, I said ok I will give you 3 months but after you give 300 boxes & after 6 500. If you have that kind of option it pushes the producer to keep going. They have no intention to do anything expect after until 1 year 11 months & 29 days.
Ashey: I think that’s an excellent tip, I have experienced that too. The other thing about that is most of the time the producers in the early stages; they think they gonna raise in the money for this thing a lot quicker than they do. They are reasonably happy about how they are agreeable to doing it. Generally, when you talk to them they think they gonna have the money quicker than reality.
Bryan: They are.. they have to as writers have to appreciate that business. If you are starting up take the free option, if were around for a while you understand how it works. You wanna make sure that the producer does something with it & the step option deal is good. But it also a kind of coward to say no. That kind of producer who says I really wanna do this, we are gonna do all this stuff but I want them for free. .no when you say no , you feel wow I am good player here. If one producer likes it doesn’t mean others will it depends where you are & your career because you wanna get notice, you wanna get stuff movie.
Ashey: What kind of budget are most of these films on n-tip that you have been involved with ? In that sort of screen, how can screen writer can expect to earn?
Bryan: It varies, so I have budget from 750,000$ live time stuff that’s what they but we know it is more than that up to 50 million but it really depends. I have got everything from big action; multiple actions deals to smaller movie to weak stuff to series to network drama so it differs. Where you go negotiate & keep in mind that producer gonna keep trying. For the sake of argument let’s say you sell lifetime movie & the producer is gonna tell you what you look here is probably a budget750,000 to 1.5 there is no reason that’s not a guild deal but you are prepared to do a nominal deal as you aren’t member which is all good to make money. They gonna offer you from 10,000 to 25,000 & they gonna lower as they can. Again it depends on where you are. You know I had this script 5 years, I never optioned that some would swing at it that might be worth it because there is a value in what it brings you & what you catch.
Ashley: Are you in the writers guild ?
Ashley: Have you found that it hurts you with some of these deals? when some producers say forget it. I am not going to do a guild deal.
Bryan: Sometime & it really depends. From what I heard lots of writers are in the guild & do non guild project; because the reality is there more non guild than guild jobs. And as a writer it depends if you want to make a living at it or be .. I only do guild work . You might be unemployed or employed guild writer who doesn’t work. I don’t want the guild writers get made mad at me but that’s just the reality. I know writer who have done stuff not guild because they want the money & the guilds know that that happens
Ashley: Have you ever heard that the guild going after writers that didn’t guild work?
Ashley: And what do they do they do? They get kicked of the guild or they got payfied?
Bryan: No that’s a trap. The problem is because so many writers do it they know what happens & they wanna keep their members happy. Ideally every writer is guild member that’s good for everybody other than the producer so either the guild come back. They don’t go after the producers. For 6 months I had no work, I accepted non guild deal. I had good relation with the producer, I have no issue with what is happening. The other alternative is pseudonymun & its problem is to justify the credit.
Ashley: A part of why you are doing this movies for is the credit so doing under pseudonym..
Bryan: It does , there are different means on how you work it, it is a top issue. I wish that I was guild from the start because guild projects are great projects so many different ways all the benefits, that it is much best way to go but it is much bigger budget project .
Ashley: Let’s talk more about n-tip. You said obviously you had a great success as a writer & you also logged in as a producer. As someone who had a lot of success, could you give us some tips on how we could potentially use n-tip & may be sell some of our scripts. Things that you see that writers are doing wrong when you log as a producer.
Bryan: Oh yeah, a thing to keep in mind that there are a thousand scripts on n-tip & it’s a great business model because there a lot of people that keep their news letter whether it is the pages letter or non there a lot . When you put a request & your responses is unbelievable. You could have 500 script in your inbox the next day. I have seen when I requested scripts & talked to producers about this. They say I got 250 responses to my request & 225 of the250 won’t finish I have seen that. And as a writer your creditability is so imp . It needs to be 100 pages 65 doesn’t cut it . I have seen a 65 script they turn the page & see write the rest of the script if you like the story .Seriously, even if it is good story. It is got be a finished script & got be typed. I had 140 page comedy , people don’t buy more than 100 pages. To long scripts, too long blog lines all this kind of things that send a signal to the producer that you don’t quite get this. With the blog line if you have it for few weeks & you got nothing beyond reuse. Hundreds of people have seen it & it is not working for any body . I have spent a week at log line there is so key & you know when you got good log line. I keep a file of different log lines, different scripts, log lines that worked. There is way , home down your log line make sure your script is polished so when you put stuff online it is good & free. Everybody says that but I cant tell you how true it is but I am online & I am looking at the script where a new writer sends me a script & says hey take a look at this for me & if the first couple of pages full of errors & formatting issues I stop & know that everybody else reading it will too because that shows you aren’t there yet.
Ashley: Those are great tips for sure. So you mentioned that you used the black list a little bit. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about it better. I know right now that’s big site that writers are experimenting. I hadn’t a success with it myself so I wonder if you could talk about what you have done, the writings you’ve got & if you have seen anything from it.
Bryan: Well, I played around it with producers well for example if I am working with a producer that wants to get another producer on board or kind of trap studio and my agent for any reason cant get the script. I have experimented black list, I paid the 50 of the reader review & tried to see what happens. And I don’t know if black list is quite well, I think there is a problem in lasting good reader & readers that happens to readers across the border. I think you got to do a little bit to get a reader report & I think with black list to get a good reader report it would help with the reviews without the random news that you got in n-tip. In black list home page they got over 4,000 scripts that’s where you are up again so it is numbers game.
Ashley: Have you ever tried to mention that you are working with a producer, have you ever to tried to get to that producer to log in as producer & read your script highly because that people have talked a lot in forums & that kind of stuff. If your agent is a member of black list she could potentially log in. Have you experimented anything like that ?
Bryan: We have talked about it, yes it is cheating. Lots of people cheat but as soon as someone reads the script they gonna check & as I said that I don’t know format of black list as this risk isn’t there in n-tip. To limit that having a reader review is good but also people can stack it , it is the same as IMDB it can be hacked.
Ashley: Let’s talk a minute about your experience with agents & managers. I think you have a common main conception with new writers that one you get an agent, the agent will bring you lots of work & you continued to beat pavement. May you tell us your experience with agents & managers. Have they helped me sold new work ?
Bryan: That’s a very good question. Agents are deal makers, they aren’t necessary work gathers. Yes I had I couple of agents & different ma nagers. I think you need to use them as negotiaters but you still have to work as hard as not harder as they do. They have writers that they need to keep super happy. You got to work hard got some meetings set up do what you need to keep your career going with your agent & manager. I had an agent who ran after project deal really nice guy, wasn’t super productive in getting me work but he was there to negotiate. I got a manager, a pretty good management. Agents work for you if you don’t want but everybody does.
Ashley: Aside from n-type is there any channels or successful stories that you did to sell an option or right assignments ?
Bryan: It is Contacts, it really is. I am not going to go to a cocktail party, but I do find this situation isn’t not the best thing to meet people. I’ve seen people say which I am like that but I am not. But if you do need someday call with an e-mail. It’s amazing how to get an email to introduce you haven’t heard from 5 years & offer you a guild in project. Every person you meet could be somebody on the road to give you work. I sold a pitch in Canada & the woman who bought the pitch was the receptionist & producer to the office that I met 8 years ago. She is now the head of development in this network & she got really well.. when I saw her it was amazing . So outside n-tip & even through n-tip, if they gonna drag script & say this is not for me that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Just say you read my script if you need anything let me know & you will shocked how often people come back to you because of that contacts.
Ashley: I am gonna be a little curious so where do you like the receptionist that you met who eventually move up & buy this pitch. How did you manage to meet her & get friendly with her ?
Bryan: As a particular producer that I got into in a project years ago & that producer in Allay hired a producer in LandCover . I had to go for lunch & pass by the receptionist & talk to her & that’s just a name that you pull out when you need to. Then afterwards she was head of development I sent her email hey do you remember that producer you worked for we must get back together & see that pitch. She emails you back & she knows you.
Ashley: yeah, quick tip. Let’s go back to the macro view, what’s the highest point of your career you know so far?
Bryan: Today, the podcast!
Ashley: Aside from the podcast
Bryan: There have been a lot, knowing that you are moving. There is nothing like it. For that, after speaking words of the person beside you to go. Just seeing that happening & seeing the first time I thought it was magical even to this day. It is really fantasy. Those are always highlights also when you know it can be the middle of the day or the middle of the night & you are working & you have written those characters & dialogue & you just know that’s it. You have that moment where you go wow that’s a great scene. I absolutely love that.
Ashley: So again we will take the flip side, this is a tough business & everyone has lots of worse stories so what’s some of the law point you know of your career?
Bryan: Month of no work & you are kind of like may be I made a big bad decision , those came up because psychologically you are thinking that you are a failure but you aren’t. You just have to keep going . You know the month of not getting any paid work , I keep writing scripts on my own, pitching on my own, taking to my agent just trying to keep stuff going. Those could be hard. Those emotionally really be hard, you think this isn’t right & never is gonna hire you again. Low points can be being chosen by a producer & unfortunately redo. 99% of producers in Allay are amazing. There are few producers that are just horrible people & those can frustrating sometimes but you just keep going & as a writer your reputation is really a key.
Ashley: So what is the best way for people to keep up with what you are doing & potentially may be contact you?
Bryan: There is an email address on Imdb which is nice to people who listen to the podcast the one I check every now & then.
Ashley: Are you on twitter or do you have a website or blogger or anything?
Bryan: No, I don’t. I used to be on Facebook but it turned to be weird so I removed it. I am on Instgram I love it. I feel I have been so fortunate that I had such a great career & I am not a half through it I thought. I love helping people & chat about it how I think of the business.
Ashley: Perfect, you have been so generous for time. I have learned a lot so I think You have given such great tips for screen writing.
Bryan: I have really enjoyed it & your website, blog is great stuff, really enjoyed looking at them.
Ashley: Thank you thank you.
I am going to run another online class called writing a great ending to your screen play. If you have great ending for your play & you need a lasting impression to the reader that your screen play is good. But if you don’t deliver a good ending. The readers are gonna finish with the rendering doubts about the quality of the play. I am gonna diving into the third one with bunch of movies including the Miarge fiction top finto 6 cents citzen can suspects & many other. If you are having trouble with you handy or simply wanna learn what it takes to write a great ending check out this class, live class will be Saturday 23 August 10 am PC time . Go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com/classes . If you cant make it to the live class don’t worry it will be recorded to view later on. In fact all the classes that I have done are recored & available for members to watch any time. You can complete the screen classes. I have done classes on how to choose the marketable concept, all the way through to write the opening pages , the first act the second act and the third act too.
Again just go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com to learn more.
Once again, I want to thank Screen craft for sponsoring this episode. They are currently accepting submissions for their drama screenplay contest. So if you have written a great play for TV this is a great chance to get some attention on it. They have a great lineup of judges, who all have many years of experience in television. The deadline for entry is September the first. Check out screencraft.org if you have a drama screen play that you would like to enter.
If you are listening to this after September first deadline, don’t worry. They run different genre contests all the time and they will be doing another contest like this next year. So do check out the site to see what’s their latest offering are.
On the next episode of sellingyourscreenplay.com podcast I’m going to be interviewing Kallen Brown. Kallen is actually an open coming screen writed. I want to get her on the show becuase she had some real success in the contest & I wanna to hear from her how that helped her career. I am always getting people asking me if they should enter a contest so I want to her from someone who actually had a succes with contest. That would be the best answer I could offer so stay tuned episode next week.
In the eposide writing section I would like to talk about a few things bryan touched. I got a lot of emails from people who dont live in allay & cant move to allay. I still mantaion that it is very helpful to move to allay if you can but Bryan has proved that you can succed with it. Hopefully this is inspiring to people who are trying to break it from outside of Hollywood. Bryan showed that it defiently can be done. I wanna point something that Bryan said too the professional credits. I would highly advise you to see how many great credits he has & it was very itersing that he said even to this day when things get slow he always goes back to n-tip & tries to get new projects. I feel a lot of screen writers have this misconception that once they get a credit or two everything would just be smoothe but it doesnt work like that. It is unfornately not that simple you always have to be husling in marketing your material. This is the situation I found myself in , I have bunch of credits but those credits have opened doors for me but I still have to market like mad. This is the reality of industry if you are gonna be successful, you have to keep marketing. Also listen closely to what Bryan said about networking . The lawyer assistant who eventually become someone who could hire Bryan into write a script this is not something quick. But it is how networking matters, it doesnt matter whoare dealing with, you get to know everyone because you never know who gonna be the head of development in the years to come.
So, that’s our show, thanks for listening!