This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 140: Screenwriter Dan Benamor Talks About His New Film, Initiation.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #140 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, Screenwriter and Blogger over here at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Dan Benamor who was on the show before on episode #103. An action film he wrote, called, “Initiation” was recently completed. So, we’re going to talk about that project. And how the film came together. He’s worked as a Development Executive for many years. And now he’s a professional screenwriter. So, he has a very unique perspective, both as a writer and as a Development Executive, who understands the business side of things as well. So, stay tuned for that.
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Alright now, let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing the Screenwriter,
Dan Benamor, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Dan to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me again.
Dan: Thanks for having me.
Ashley: So, I’m just going to refer people to episode #103. That’s the previous interview that you did on my show. And we go through a lot of your background. You know going through college and your first couple of jobs in the business. And I think that’s a great way for people to kinda get to know you, though. I’ll put that in the show notes, again that’s episode #103.
But let’s talk about kind of what’s happened to you, and your writing career since that last Podcast episode. So, which now I think is probably eight or even ten months ago? Maybe you could kind of bring us up to speed on the in’s and outs of your career are?
Dan: Yeah, it’s changed pretty dramatically actually. So, when we spoke, I had sold a script through your “Blast” called, “No Rave.” And that seems like a lifetime ago. Now, so, what happened now like, not that long after that, I got engaged. And then I kinda basically, psychologically started sweating bullet because. I had experienced what it was like to work as a writer, unrepresented and basically hitting up on all my contacts and film to get work. And I had made a living doing that for a year. But, I sort of saw that there was a little bit of a ceiling on that. I had been working as hard as I was, I kind saw that this is where I think the ceiling for that is? So, I find myself now, writing something that you know, at least has a chance to kind of scale up to that next level. And at the same time I thought, okay, I’ll write something that I think is really cool. But, worse come to worse, I could always set it up to become a movie. Because this is my first background. So, I had this idea, about this movie about a hit man. And I wanted to set it somewhere interesting, and I decide on Detroit. And I think pretty much that decision is what changed it all for me. Because once I started researching Detroit and the history of Detroit. It was such a rich piece of material, in terms of a source. That I think it made the script much more elevated than maybe it would have been otherwise. Because it ended up being script wise, almost, kind of a metaphor for the collapse of Detroit, and the scars it left from the city. Both physical and psychological. And the impact it had on the people in Detroit. And I sort of filtered all that through and action movie. And that script ended up getting a “Recommend” from “Tracking Board.” And as a result of that, I got now, my team of representatives that. My manager, agents, and a lawyer. And then they, I’m pretty sure I can talk about this, because it’s on the “Tracking Board” site. They got it set-up with anonymous content. And then “Role Mark” is also synching. So, we have two pretty good production companies involved. And yeah, so, that, really was my entre into sort of to a chance to have a higher ceiling as a writer. And Ironically, a lot them said, you know, one of the things that’s cool about it, was that it’s mid-budget. So, it’s kinda like realistically makeable. So, that fact that I consciously thought? Oh, man, I better not, I should make like a huge giant. That actually wound up being kind of a bonus, even at the higher level. Because even at the “C” level it was kind of a plus. Because it’s a
mid-level budget action. So, it’s a lot more palatable to a lot of different companies.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, that’s great. I wonder if you want to talk even in generalities? About what the re-write process, on that has been like? I think a lot of new, especially new writers they have this fantasy. That they are going write this spec. script. Submit it, you know, everyone’s going to love it. It’s going to get made. And then this is a script that you wrote. And you know, by all accounts was an excellent script. And a lot of other people did like it. But you still had to do a lot of changes. And maybe you could just talk about that sort of situation. Even just psychologically what that’s done to you. And how that process has been.
Dan: I think it has actually been really good. I mean, yeah, obviously you know,
“The Tracking Board” recommend there’s only like 16 of us, I think, that had gotten that. So, clearly the material’s working. You know, doing relatively well at that point. But, getting with the producers that we’ve gotten with? They, you know, obviously and with anonymous content, has done, like actually literally right before we did this call. I was watching, “Mr. Robot.” Which anonymous content, it was amazing, it was so good. But, anyway, that speaks to the bar on the quality of the material. So, it’s actually been really cool. Like the stuff that was important to me about it, in terms of making it like, elevated. And not, sort of like exploitation, just like,
“B movies.” They really helped me develop that even more. So, I’m really happy that it worked out the way it did. And it’s actually, I think it’s good psychological thinking for me to push myself even further in terms of good hard on the script. And good hard on the and everything about it. And it’s a different bar than some of the star than independent film. Which is not to denigrate that stuff, but it’s just different. And in an independent film, I think it’s more like, you know, the script is the kind of script. And then you know, we sort of, it’s a more-loose type of vibe. I think in a, in this sort of studio-ish realm. It’s just, the script has to be so damn good. You know, and so, I think it’s been a cool process for me in that way.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, one of the other things we’ve talked about? And I’d just be curious, kind of get your thoughts on this? Obviously you, you’re really hustling sort of these, you know, fairly low-budget scripts. Before you got your reps. And basically scratching out a living, you know, you had some sales, some options, and some deals in the works. And now that you have these reps. That are operating at a higher level. They are kind of telling you not to work in that realm again. Even though, that was kind of your bread and butter. And so I just wonder how you’re balancing that? Does that ever get frustrating now? When now there is this higher bar. But, it a sort of all or nothing bar, where “Yes” you’ll make a ton of money if it goes? But, then if it doesn’t go, then you make no money. As opposed to these lower-budget films that much. You can actually charge them out and get them produced.
Dan: Yeah, it’s one of those things that yeah, I think right. It’s an interesting thing. I mean, once you’re sort of trying to play the outer field. It’s definitely free, it’s a definitely sort of deliberate thing. But I actually think that it’s a positive really. I think for me, it’s in terms of like I certainly, in the past. Have probably done some deals that would be considered somewhat dodgy. For, you know, for write, in terms of slight, you know. I think that what’s good about going into the next kind of tier, hopefully in my career. Is that, you really don’t have to do it, those deals. But, it’s about valuing yourself, right? I mean, and I think that’s actually one of those things where, you value yourself and other people value you. So, I actually experienced that in small ways throughout my career. I mean, I started as an intern, then I was an assistant, then I was an executive, then obviously I went off to be a writer.
And kind of everywhere along the way. There was definitely in a moment in something or other. I was doing, whether I was a deal, or something like that. I mean, even something, with the deals I did, I was not represented. I would value myself, sort of higher than what the deal initially called for. And a lot of time I deal with to push that through. So, think, it’s all about thinking of yourself and no will kind of look at the leverage you have. And see now, I have a little bit more leverage than I had in the past. But I think it’s definitely in that positive for me.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, well that’s fantastic. So, let’s talk about your latest film that’s being released. A film called, “Intiation.” I guess it’s being released right now on video on demand and those types of platforms. Maybe we can just talk through some of the steps and that. And maybe to start out you can give us a quick log-line for it. And I’ll link to the trailer and stuff in the show notes, people can get that. But maybe pitch us with a quick log-line.
Dan: A, yes, “Initiation” is about six strangers, they are kidnapped. And they are basically taken to this weird creepy house. And they realize that they are going to participate in the initiation ritual of this cult. And to be initiated into this cult, you have to fight a stranger to the death. And so, these people are literally random strangers. Nobody knows each other. And kind of thrown into this crazy situation and it basically goes from there.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. So, where did this idea come from?
Dan: You know, it’s funny. My cousin. So, this my cousin, directed the movie, co-wrote it with me, edited the film. So, he had a script basically. And then I read the script and came in and co-wrote. So, he actually had the idea that was pretty much his idea. God knows what he came up with it. I never really had asked him. I mean, I know, my cousin was in a fraternity when he was in college. And it was something that we talked about. Was that, this idea of like fraternities are very much about this sort of hyper masculinity. And the idea that, oh you’d do anything for your brother and that type of thing. And I think that, that sort of psyche was something that we sort of integrated to the story. And then once we were in the process of writing it. We also brought in para-military you know, analog to that. So, it was just sort of that exploring those ideas of brotherhood, things like that.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, maybe you could just kind of describe what he brought to you in this script form. And then what changes you made. Maybe that will give us some sort of insight into their creative process there.
Dan: Yes, I got a script, and you know, we I basically I’m a writer. I sat down and kind of thought to myself, okay, what’s it about emotionally? You know, and that sort how I always work, trying to figure out. And at the time, I had been, for some reason. I was obsessed with the shows, like “Surviving the Cut.” Which is basically shows you, where they show you Navy Seals training. And it shows you how hard it is pretty much. And I had been watching those, on a loop, for some reason? And it occurred to me that the story line that we had. Which is about this guy. Who, kind of with this group of strangers. And he is ultimately able to find a strength within himself that he didn’t realize he had. And that’s pretty much the whole ethos of you know, the military. But specifically for us, it’s the Marine Corp. And so, once I realized that, you know, I had done a bunch of projects. When I was a Development Executive.
Where we would keep doing this thing, where we said, “Oh yeah, well do, we won’t do like flashbacks. But we’ll do like a parallel narrative.” And it was sort of a way of doing flashbacks. Because nobody likes flashbacks. And so, I had been thinking about that a lot as well. And so, I basically, realized, that you could do a parallel narrative. That was about the military training. And it would have a lot of dialog with it occurring in the present tense of our story. Which was fighting and strength, and strategy and different things like that. And once I kind of figured that part out, to me it all kind of clicked in emotionally. And then at that point you know, the events in one time pay-off events. The other time line, and it also helped out obviously, with my cousin. He’s an extremely brilliant editor. Like he has worked as an editor for a while and he knows how to edit really well. So, I knew that he would even find additional stuff. Having that tool of cutting back and forth. And the visuals. There’s a lot of kind of fun in editing and cutting that goes on.
Ashley: A-huh. So, now when he brought this to you. Did you guys have a plan, did he bring it to you? And say, “Dan, I’m going to go and shoot this on a relatively low budget? Or was it, hey, let’s write this script and see what we can do with it?” And that he eventually ended up directing it? Where were, what was the sort of proposition he came to you?
Dan: Well he definitely was saying that. I’m going to go shoot it. And I had done a movie in Vancouver. That we also had also, you know, came up with together basically. Like a couple of years prior. And so, I had the mood for like almost no money. And so, I knew that he could do it. And so, for me, it was I actually approached it, psychologically, like I’m pretty sure of it, that he will find a way to make this. And so, knowing that, in a weird way that it makes you try and up your game prior. Because you’re thinking, man this is actually probably will go. And that’s just because of my belief in his hustle. And obviously we were fortunate that you know, we made a movie.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, how much does that play into it? And really what I’m getting at, is, maybe you can talk about writing something that you know is going to be shot on kind of a modest budget. And what considerations you guys had to take? I mean, one of the things I noticed about the film, for a low-budget film. There was a lot of actors. I mean, you must have had 20 or 30 speaking roles, in this movie.
Dan: Yeah, yes that’s right.
Ashley: And I think, I don’t know you necessarily needed that? I think you probably could have weened it up. So, maybe you could just talk about some of those challenges in writing this. Knowing that you didn’t have $100 million dollars to make this movie.
Dan: Yeah, I mean, one of the things, God bless you know, actors, I love them. There’s in L.A. there is so many good actors that just have not had that moment where they break through yet? And I know, because, you know, having in addition to doing my own film, for like $6.00. And having many friends who have just gone on and made a movie. And also when I was a Development Executive. We would try to develop screenplays that were, you know, limited location, and low-budget. So, I’ve sort of seen the creative development process with where you have two words. And I know, not only from watching the finished product of those movies. But developed those movies that can be really claustrophobic.
So, it was, you know, for me, it was a conscious thing that, let’s not be scared, let’s not restrict the scope to such a degree that the movie is two people looking at each other for an hour and a half. And I’m glad we did that. It was definitely ambitious. I’m really, I think the movie feel is big, even though it is a low-budget movie. Partially because of what you’re talking about. Because it is a huge cast. Like much bigger than I think the average low-budget movie of this type. And you know, I think that the movie has more to say. Because of it, because you can have so many different characters, different viewpoints, and stuff like that.
Ashley: Yeah, I think that’s a valid point. And I would give that tip. Actors, at least in L.A. Good actors are a dime a dozen. So, even if you have a hundred speaking roles. You’ll be able to find some people that do them. So, you’re probably right that’s not something you need to cut up. Did you guys have the location? And we’ve talked about this. I just did my own
micro-budget film. And you know, locations were a big thing. And I’m curious, did you guys have this location set when you got, when you guys were dong this?
Dan: Yeah, no. Part of the reason that we even did it in the first place? Was, my cousin had a line on this location that is one of the primary locations of the film. Which is this creepy basically has this area that looks like a cage, like a prison cell. And so, we knew that we should get access to that location. And knowing that, then we came up with a story, I think for him. When he wrote the script initially. He knew he had that location, and wrote a story that incorporated that location. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that was smart. So, lets talk about just sort of the process of writing this. So, he brings in kind of a rough draft or a first draft of this script. And you take a pass at it. Did you guys like, just describe sort of like what that process was like. To sit in the same room and kind of talk about what changes you were going to make. And you went off and made the changes. Do you sit in the same room actually type into, “Final Draft.” What is that process actually like for you guys?
Dan: So, we did this, oh man, it’s like three years ago. What happened was, if I remember right. We talked about it. And I think I probably just did my pass. Like I was obviously talking over the strokes of it? But, I mean, we’ve always been creative collaborators on it for a long time. But also related by blood. We sort of have a deep trust with each other. So, I think he just trusted me to go do my thing. And then I give it back to him. I’m sure he did other rewrites on top of my re-write, and then probably did other polishes. We had a table reading at one point. So, when we had the table reading with the actors. I was able to go back and mess with some of the dialog. Yeah, I’m pretty sure, that also changed after that. And he was, you know, he was involved. Obviously he sat in on the casting sessions, and I didn’t. And so, I think after casting, we probably had some conversations. Also, like tailor it to some of the actors that we had seen, stuff like that. So, it was sort of an evolving process. Pretty much right up until they started filming.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, okay. So, then you guys were done with this script. What were your couple of steps? I mean, you talk about doing the table read. Maybe you could just talk through those steps of taking it from script to actually producing.
Dan: Yeah. I mean, that is all credit to my cousin. And then our producers. We had a great team of producers, Mike Cupara, Adam Renny, who also stars in the movie. John Chavis. So, we really strong team of producers. God bless them, I have no idea, how they did it?
I mean, I pretty much literally what happened? Let me tell you. At the table read, and I was off doing my thing. And if honestly, my memory of it? If my cousin would just call me one day. And he’s just like, hey, we’re starting shooting like next week. And I came, I was on set for a couple of days. And you know, I basically gave my creative input. I pretty much came in the picture after they had already finished filming and had to edit. And I sat and watched the editing, we talked about it and stuff. I was really pleased with what they got. So, yeah, this was one where once the script was done, the kind of grunt work of getting it to be a movie, that’s all on the producers.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Is this something you would recommend to film makers. I mean, now you said, the movie you made, let’s say five or six years ago. Up in Vancouver, was maybe a first step towards something like this, or would you recommend this to writers? To go out and shoot a micro-budget film. Just to get some sort of on the boards. What’s your thought take on that? I would say, even as a Development Executive. You’re working as a Development Executive, did, when writers came in and you were potentially hiring them. Did you sort of a low-budget films actually make you take them more seriously, or potentially less serious? Because there is a lot of them turn out terrible. And so then that can actually hurt you.
Dan: Yeah. I think the secret is also, it’s just got to seem legit, you know? I mean, my first movie, I probably made it for too little money, to make it like, even though I very proud of the film. We, I didn’t have enough money for E and O. I didn’t have enough money for
proper post-production, I did all the post-production by myself. On that movie, so this was something where we had, a little bit more money. And also you know, just regular producers and so, we, you know, this movie looks like a real movie. And I’m really proud of that part. Like it totally looks polished, a legit sound mix, legit color correction, it’s made with a great score. I think it’s well acted, script shot. So, and it has a very legit distributor. Which is,
“Gravity House Ventures.” You know, one thing for me as a Development Executive, is somebody brought me a writer or a director, or whatever? And they said, “Oh, yeah, that’s just his first movie.” The first thing I would do, I would go onto “Online Pro, and I would see who distributed it? And then who distributed it, would dictate my perception of how much movie, if this was a real movie, or not a real movie. I think in our case, it’s the fact that we have a very well-known and well respected distributor that took on the film. And actually now, we’re starting to get some international territories also. So, you know, that doesn’t add to the movie is sort of not real. And I think that’s the only way with the micro-budget movies. If you make them and the look kind of cheap and amateurish. That’s going to hurt you because, what will happen is? People will go, they will watch the trailer. If the trailer looks kind of crappy. Then they’ll be like, ah, this is some kind of joke thing that he did. It’s sort of half-assed, said it looks like shit! Like you don’t wanna be that person, and that’s when it can hurt you.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, what’s next for you, Dan?
Dan: Well, you know, I mean, In addition to this movie, we also pretty much, right before I got represented. Right around that time, another script I had written a couple of years ago. Went into production. That’s a western called, “Stage Coach.” And that was produced with the company where I used to be a Developmental Executive. And that’s going to come out next year, through “Cinagone.” And that’s another really cool thing. Significantly higher budget than “Initiation.” But still definitely independent movie, definitely low-budget.
But you know, it has, Kim Coach of “Anarchy” is in it, Chet Nelson is in it, Trace Adkins is in it, so that’s a pretty cool thing. And that will be out next year. And then, yeah, then apart from that, pursuing in terms of now, this other tier of my career, hopefully, in terms of being represented. Then in the studio realm? Obviously “I Work Through the Night.” Is one of one of those projects, I have a couple of other projects that we are trying to get off the ground. And then, yeah, I guess I’ll be chasing gigs like everyone else you know?
Ashley: Yeah. And is there any tips I wonder, you can give to our listeners? You know your reps. Are definitely guiding you, a lot of these conversations we’ve had over the last few months. About you working with your reps. You know, you’re sending ideas to them, and they are saying, “Yes, that looks good.” “No, that doesn’t look good.” I wonder if you could kind of comment on? Maybe just that process in general, or even if there is some tips for writers? Like, what are agents telling, your agents and managers are telling at a high level? What kind of stuff are they telling you to write? And what kind of stuff are they telling you to bring to them?
Dan: Well, I mean, I think you know, I know a lot of writers who have reps. And it’s sort of a different thing for ever writer. I know a lot of guys that you know, I talk to, who have decided that the idea of vetting process is not for them. And they just pump out a script. And they just send it to their reps. And just cross their fingers. And you know, I mean, different strategies work for different people. For me, personally, I think it makes sense. And it also comes from my background in development. That there’s no point in me writing something that they are not going to be able to sell, or have a, or have a lesser chance than being able to sell. And they know that way better than me. Like when I was in/a Development Executive making movies sort of $10 million and under, and $5 million and under range. If, you know, somebody sends me a script as a writer and says, “Hey, would you like me to send you an option to purchasing the script?” I could look at a script and say, okay, I know that we have a decent chance of making this. Or we have no chance in hell of making this. And so, I’m basically relying on their know it knowledge of the market and what is likely to go and what is not likely to go. And to me it’s just a more efficient process that way. But obviously there is a process, right? And that’s, I think that can be tough for writers because we get excited about an idea. And sometimes that idea that we are excited about is just not a commercial idea. And when that happens? I think you got to have the shortest memory possible and just forge ahead and find another idea. So, the stuff that we as a team have talked about, and are excited about. You know, they are excited about, honest are excited about are happens. Then you are in the best position. Because everybody’s kinda on the same page. I mean, if you just write something and the reps are a little bit weary of the idea? And you’re hoping, oh, maybe I’ll just re-write it and it’ll be so good, that it will over-come that? I think that’s a scary. I would be scared to do that. I just think you could potentially write a script, and then, they are just like, “Nah.” And you’re like, “Awe, sweet.” And so, I think it’s always, for me personally. Better to have it be a conversation and all that stuff. But, I just rely on their honor and knowledge. It’s not, and sort of in a weird way, similar to when I was young executive. There was still enough people that would pitch me. That you would think just like, intuitively, okay, this is commercial. But then, from my specific company. I would go and talk to the producer. And he would be like, “Nah, that’s not going to work. Because of X,Y, Z ” Stuff that’s not necessarily intuitive. And I think that’s still the case.
I think that the guys like, that my reps. Who are in it, every single day and talking to the, you know, producers, studios and all that stuff. They are going to have an inside to it that I just don’t have.
So, there’s definitely stuff where you’re kind of surprised, kind of like, hey, oh, yeah. But, there’s a reason that they are doing their job. When I’m doing my job. And so, I basically try and trust their know-how about, rather than just trying to come up with ideas and stuff.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, are there anything, any tips like specifically, like, are they pushing you to write some TV pilots, verses features. Are they trying to keep you writing, I mean, this one script that is with anonymous contract. It sounds like that’s kind of an action thriller, type of script. Are they pushing you to write in that same genre. Or branch out to other genres, TV verses features. Any sort of just general patterns of what they seem to want you to write.
Dan: Well, I think, you know, like “Once a Night” is a mid-budget action. And hopefully elevated. And it’s an entire thing that I wanted to like to write. And I figured out, you know, a long time ago. That it makes sense from just a pure business economics stand point. To in fact have a clear brand. So, I’m the guy you call to write X,Y,Z. Like that’s ideally what you want to be, and then people have a reason to call you, pretty much right? If you write, if I was writing like, romantic comedies, next to my dark super violent action movies. That would be pretty weird. And I think people wouldn’t know how to pin me down. So, just on my own I want to continue writing stuff. TV 100% for sure, everybody should be writing TV. It’s so, I mean, it’s just getting, it’s getting ridiculous, I mean, that’s why I want just watching “Robot” right. All the best stuff is on TV. So, and all the money is in TV. It’s so much more lucrative for a writer. And it’s creatively a lot more, it’s just kind of a richer area to play in. So, absolutely TV. And yeah, just trying to do stuff that is different. But still in the same voice. And still in the same sort of general brand as my feature work.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, maybe you could just tell us about “Initiation” and the release schedule and how people can see it specifically and when will it be released?
Dan: So, “Initiation” is on and out right now, as you are listening to this. Please, for the love of God, go rent it. No, I’m really proud of the film honestly. I mean, as writers think that you know, even if I was proud of the film. I would still do interviews with you. But I would probably not be nearly as enthusiastic. I think we as writers know when our stuff is produced and it’s not very good. This is not one of those situations. I genuinely think the movie is good. And I think that the fact that we have gotten really good reviews from a lot of the horror websites. It speaks to I’m not just, you know, it’s not just me saying it, because my thing. I think the movie is genuinely good and I definitely encourage people who like, you know, violent action movies, to check it out. It’s on ITunes, it’s on Voodoo, you can buy or rent it on YouTube. I believe it’s going to be on Amazon, soon, if it’s not already. It’s on most ONDEMAND cable providers. I was at home in Baltimore and I was able to find it on the Verizon@home. So, I think it’s widely available everywhere you can order stuff on DOD.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. So, I hope I just like to close the interview by asking the guest how people can keep up with you? Twitter, web page, blog, Facebook, anything like that to kinda put information out to the world. If someone wants to follow along with you.
Dan: Yeah, I’m horrible at that. No one knows what the hell is going on? But, “Initiation” you can check out the Facebook page for that. I think it’s just, you know, on Facebook, Initiation film, something like that.
Ashley: I’ll track that down, I’ll put it in the show notes.
Ashley: So, perfect. So, Dan, this has been a great interview and you and I are good friends so, it’s going to be interesting to have you on over the years and watch your career progress. And get your different thoughts as it does progress. So, I look forward to the next interview and thanks for coming onto this one.
Dan: Thank you sir.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things I am doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers that are looking for new material.
First I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. I went and Emailed my large database of Industry contacts and asked them if they would like to receive this newsletter of monthly pitches. So far I have well over 350 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and are happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you would like to participate in this pitch newsletter and get your script into the hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
And secondly I’ve contacted one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites. So I can syndicate their leads onto SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently I’ve been getting about ten to twelve high quality paid screenwriting leads per week. These are producers and production companies who are actively looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you
sign-up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads Emailed to you directly several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots, it’s a huge aray of different types of projects that these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and
On the next episode of the Podcast I’m going to be interviewing Tom Newnam, who was an Executive Producer on such projects as the Academy Award winning film, “Crash.” So, keep an eye out for that episode next week. We really dive into, sort of from the producer’s angle. How he found material. How he found the, specifically we talk about “Crash.” How he got involved with that project? How he found that script.
And ultimately it was a big help in getting it produced. So, it’s a real interesting insight, inside look at how production companies find material. 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
Dan Benamor. If you enjoyed this interview today, I highly recommend you go back and listen to episode #103. Again that’s the first episode that Dan was on the Podcast. In that episode we really dig into the early part of Dan’s career. And I think it’s a great template for anyone who’s looking to become a successful screenwriter. I’ve mentioned this numerous times on my blog post on the Podcast. I wrote a blog post probably a year ago now. But I still think it’s a pretty valuable blog post. I basically took the first 75 episodes of the Podcast and I broke those, all the people that appeared on the Podcast. I broke it all down as to how they broke into the business as screenwriters. And basically made like a little statistical analysis of how most people from those first 75 episodes, screenwriters and how they broke into the business. Almost every Podcast guest episode I ask the person, “Hey, how did you break in?” And we get a sense of how they break in. So, obviously you can go listen to all those episodes as well, if you want to learn more. But, the bottom line was, when you really looked at how people were breaking in. What Dan’s experience is probably the most common experience successful screenwriting experience writers have. Again, you talk to one hundred screenwriters. You might get versions of how they broke in. But the number one way was networking. And when you break networking down. The number one way was working in the business. Doing exactly what Dan did, working as a Develop Executive. Getting to understand the business side of things. Understand why certain movies get made. That was bar-none the single biggest way people went on to become screenwriters, just as Dan has done. He worked in that job for a few years. He really got to know the in’s and outs of development. And how scripts get chosen for production. Why certain scripts make it into production. Why potentially certain scripts don’t make it into production? Understanding these things, and there is really nothing, I mean, you can read books and you can learn about it. You can watch what production companies are making. But just being in some of those meetings, and talking to producers and distributors. And understanding kind of the logistics of those things is just invaluable information for anybody who wants to work in the entertainment business. But for especially for screenwriters. Understanding what type of material actually has a chance in the marketplace. So, I would encourage you to check out that blog post that I wrote. There is obviously a lot of people who are not in a position to just move to Hollywood and take a low entry level job at a production company or distribution company. So, you know, there are other ways to break in as well. But if you on that, in that position where you know, you don’t have a lot of family ties really. You haven’t quite established another career. Or even if you have an established career. If you don’t have a lot of family ties. You can move out to L.A. pick-up your career. Maybe in another pursuit, and maybe start to network a little bit there in L.A. But, I think it’s a great template. What I do believe that, that is the same single biggest way. And again, I certainly sell a lot of screenplay services with my Email and Fax Blast Service with SYS Select. And I think those are all great ways to do. Obviously, contests and get on the “Black List.” I definitely think those things are viable. But, go check out this blog post that I wrote. It really breaks down, you know, percentage wise. How many of those first 75 guests that I had on the Podcast. How many of them broke in using something like, “Ink Tip.” Used something like low-budget film as sort of their launch pad, or contests. Or just working in the industry and networking. The vast majority worked in the industry and made contacts. And got that education on the job training of what works and what doesn’t work. So, I’ll link to that in the show notes. Definitely follow along with Dan’s story.
And kind of keep up with what he’s doing. He’s a real hustler, he’s a great writer and a real hustler. And I think his career is going to be really interesting to watch.
Anyway, that is the show, thank for listening.