Ashley: Welcome to episode #145 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing, Edward – Ricourt, he wrote the feature film, “Now You See Me.” As well as working on several television shows. We dig into his early career and how he broke into the business, so stay tuned for that.
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I continually build out the SYS Script Library. I just want to thank Gary Maken who sent in the screenplays for “Permethius” “Predators” and the 2009 version of “Star Trek” If you have screenplay you do not see listed in the SYS Script Library, please Email it to me. The SYS Script Library is completely free, it’s all been created by people sending me scripts and uploading them into the library. So, it’s completely user generated. And just kind of a community effort, to get as many scripts into it as we possibly can. Right now, we have well over a thousand scripts in the library. There’s many hit moves, there’s award winning television shows. All kinds of different scripts are in library. We have different versions of the same script, sometimes if you want to compare the different versions, a shooting script, to an early draft of a script. Sometimes we are able to obtain more than one version of a specific script. Again, all the scripts are available there. It’s completely free, they are all in PDF Format. So, you can just click them and download them, and click and read them on whatever device you use, your IPhone, your IPad, your tablet, whatever device you have should be able to pretty nicely display PDF documents. And as I said, all these scripts are in PDF format. To visit the SYS Script Library just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/library, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/library.
If you want me free guide, “How to Sell Your Screenplay in 5 Weeks?” You can pick that up going to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free you just enter your Email address, and I’ll send you another new lesson each week for 5 weeks. Along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional log-line and quarry letter? How to find agents, managers, and producers who are looking for new material. It really is everything you need to successfully sell your screenplay, again just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So, a quick few words about what I am working this week? Once again, the main thing I’m doing is, my feature film that we shot in July. It’s a crime, action, thriller film called,
“The Pinch.” We are in post-production, been working with my editor, trying to get a rough cut done. My editor is still working away, I’m planning on going up and seeing what he has tomorrow. And I’m thinking he should be well past the half-way mark with the rough cut.
So, I’m excited to see that. It’s definitely, moving slowly but, I like what I am seeing so far. So, I think we are doing a good job. I think my editor is doing a good job putting it together. Just taking a little bit more time than I would have liked. But you know, there’s no real deadline for the film, it’s really a matter of trying to make it as good as possible. I have started to listen to music, I mentioned in the last Email, that I sent out to the SYS community, and in this Podcast. That I was looking for musicians with songs that might want their songs in the film. And also musicians that can possibly score the film. Also, we are looking for color graders, dialog editors, all the sort of post-production, real technical post-production sound mixer. We’re looking for all of those production positions, to fill all of those positions. I did have a ton of people reach out to me with names of friends and musicians, screenwriters and musicians themselves who potentially can help with all of these things. So, a big thanks to everyone who got that Email and that listen to this Podcast. And got me in touch with some of their friends and family who are musicians and various other fellow musicians. Thank you guys, very much for that. I’ve got a lot of people that seem to be interested in that, and are willing to help, this is very, very low budget. So, there’s not going to be a lot of money for any of these positions. But, I do have quite a number of them for people to start working. A lot of people sent in like, links to their music, that’s very helpful and say hey, you’re welcome to use any of our music. You know, you just got to give us credit, so that’s fantastic. So, I’ve been listening to a lot of different types of music. Once I have the fu
ll rough-cut, I will really be able to dig into this in earnest. A lot of the people whom are musicians, and this is a great question for them to ask was? You know, what’s the tone, what’s the mood and music you are looking for? And even whether it be the score or even be just individual songs that we are going to use during the opening credits and stuff. I’m billing this as a thriller, there’s quite a bit of dark humor in it, in the script. So, you know, it’s a kind of a weird tone, and I want to see that rough cut and kind of see, if the comedy isn’t working? Then we might go back in and try and cut the comedy out. Maybe kind of narrow it down. If the comedy is working well, in this first rough cut. We might try and beef it up. And that will definitely change sort of the direction of the score, and the direction of the various songs that we might use in this. So, again, I want to kind of get a look at that rough-cut, get the full film, pretty close to a locked picture probably. Before I really start digging into a lot of the music stuff. But again, I’ve just been listening to a lot of sound and try and figure out what might work with this film?
On the writing front, I did put up my romantic comedy script in my writers group last week. Got a lot of great notes. So that’s kind of what I am working on now. I’m going to take another pass at the opening section. I basically put up the first act of the script, which I think is about 25 pages? So, now I’m going to go back in and really doing some re-write on that. A couple of big notes that I need to address. And I want to make sure that, and this is pretty typical of my writers group. The way I usually work is, I will present the opening act, at least usually twice, maybe three times. But, usually, let’s say twice. Because I want to make sure I get the first act right. And then I can just start really unloading the second act. And I’ll visit the third act, and without putting them up too many times. But this one may take, I’m definitely going to put up the first act again. And it might even take a third pass after that. Because I did get some pretty big notes, and I think they were good notes. And I think it seemed pretty consistent. A lot of the people that listened to this, were giving me the same sorts of notes. And that’s to me, an indication that there is some work to be done. And when you’re getting a lot of the same sorts of notes from all or a bunch of different people?
So, that’s what I’m doing on the writing front, I’m going to keep working away on that. And keep plugging away on, “The Pinch” as well, push it that forward. So, that’s what I am working on now.
Let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing Edward – Ricourt, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Edward to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Edward: Thank you, thank you.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you could take us way back and kinda get us back to the early stages of sort of why you wanted to be a screenwriter? And then take us through some of those first steps to actually becoming a professional screenwriter.
Edward: Gosh, I remember out of college working at, “The Ricki Lake Show” and
“Maury Povich.” And I thought, okay, I’m in the entertainment industry. But it’s a very different animal all together. And I would day dream about what I really wanted to do? Which is what I had started in college which is/was writing scripts. And I felt like, it felt like being married to the wrong woman, you know. What I loved was outside those doors doing something different. And so, I quit “Maury Povich” I went into NYU, did my Masters, my MFA in Dramatic Writing, and moved out to L.A. the next day. And hit and walked right into the writer’s strike. But, during the writer’s strike, I wrote a spec. called, “Year 12.” Met an agent at CAA, who Matt Rosen at CAA, who was my agent at the time, and said, “I know how to sell this.” And I believed him, and he did, and I was sort of true running from there.
Ashley: Okay, let’s dive back into that, so you’re in college, you get out of college, and then you go to work essentially. You’re probably doing Production Assistant work on “Ricki Lake” “Maury Povich.” Just like working your way up. Are you thinking at that point you want to be more in production? And that’s why you took those original jobs? Or was it just?
Edward: Well, you know, when I was at “Maury” They said, they asked me what I wanted to do? And I said, be a screenwriter. And so they gave me a first deal with USA, and that worked. Which meant that they were, you know, they weren’t in the movie making business right then. And they were like the first people to pass. So, it really didn’t do anything. And it really was an all consuming 80-hour week grind. Did not love Ricki, like she’s political, and we’re both season ticket holders. But Maury was not, like my cup of tea at all. Didn’t like the atmosphere, didn’t like any of the other of it. And I knew that I would have to leave everything. And it was a very, I was paid well, and I had to leave that, tell my parents, you know. I said, “Hell, I just don’t love it, I’m not happy. I want to do what I love.” And my parents were very supportive and said, “You do what makes you happy.” And I applied to NYU the first time I applied, the year before I didn’t get in. The second time I just rushed this draft, and dropped it off at the office. Because I literally did not have postage, for the application fee. It did include the application fee was it. I walked it in and they accepted me on the first draft of the script I wrote. So,
Ashley: I see. So, what were you doing full for “Rick Lake” and “Maury Povich?” In which how many years have you been doing it?
Edward: It was, a few years it was a season at “Ricki Lake” where I was a Key-A. And moved up to an Associate Producer. And the same Associate Producer at “Maury Povich,”
Ashley: Okay, okay. And I think this is a great lesson. Because I get a lot of people Emailing me, sort of asking the same sort of questioning? Should I quit my job, should I pursue my dream of screenwriting? So, here’s someone here that found and did just that, and it worked out well. But that is, is there some risk there? You know, walking away from your job. Would, were you writing scripts at night? Or were these the hour a week jobs that just didn’t have the time to do it?
Edward: I did write scripts on like, weekends, and literally sometimes I would come home at midnight and write for a half hour, go to sleep and wake-up in five hours or whatever? So, it was a really tough, and it was really emotionally draining too. And I have a lot of friends who are still doing, “The grind” you know. Working full time jobs, or two jobs and trying to write, that’s a difficult process. I knew when I went to NYU, I would be immersed in nothing but writing. I would be in debt, but I would be doing nothing but writing, and that appealed to me. And I thought, after two years I could have some samples to show, some scripts to show. And that was the vote, the risk that I took.
Ashley: Okay. So, you’re done with school, talk about this agent that you showed this,
“Year Twelve” script to? How did you meet that agent, originally?
Edward: I back in those days, well, back in the NYU days, and a little before that. I was playing basketball. And met a guy named Boaz Yakin, who directed Sun Dance movies, “Fresh”, he did, “Remember the Titans.” He hadn’t done “Remember the Titans” yet. But I remember him from “Fresh” and I said, “if I shoot this 3-point shot, will you read my script?” And he said, “Ah, I know you, I’ll read it anyway.” So I said, “Okay, I won’t shoot the shots.” He read it, he liked it, we stayed friends, we wrote something together, and it almost had happened, at Green Street Films. And we stayed connected. So, when I graduated from NYU, I was at another agency that read “Year Twelve” and did think, they thought it was a nice sample. But I got a, I sold a power script, while I was at NYU. And as it happens, when you sell something? They want you to write the same kind of genre over and over and over again, they want you to keep doing that end of it. For me, they wanted to keep me in the hollow box. And I felt like, I had more ideas that I wanted to explore off of that hollow box. The agency didn’t like you, I wrote this sci-fi film. And I asked Boaz, who was at CAA, can you show this to your agent? And his agent at the time, was
Matt Rosen. He said, “Yeah, you can show it but, you know, good luck? You know, you’re fresh out of college. And CAA is this big behemoth, but go ahead.” And he sent it to Matt, and Matt responded to the script, and I met him. And he said, “You do these three things, and I think I could sell it.” It was like, you know, shifting the time of this script, shorten the narrative, you know, ticky, put more of a ticking time clock. Those screenwriter-ee kind of things? And that’s how it happened. You know, so, it was one of those stories of you know, ask a friend who knows somebody. And was lucky enough to Boaz help me out with that.
Ashley: Okay. Let’s talk about the first script, just for second. How did you happen to sell that horror script?
Edward: Oh, back when I had met Boaz, we wrote something. This script called, “Abraham’s Daughter” that I think a, we optioned for like $2000.00. Put between the both of us, before taxes, to Green Street. Something like that, but it didn’t happen. But, I think Boaz had, had confidence in me, I wrote the first draft. He loved what I had shown him. So, a little bit after that, he had
set-up a company called, “Raw Nerve” with Eli Nerve and Scott Spegal. And one of the first projects, was, “Hostel” they were developing. And, he came to me and said, “Would you like to write a script for our company?” And he had a couple of ideas on, I had a couple of ideas. I don’t re member exactly how it came together? It was called, “Dead By Daylight.” But, I wrote it, and it had sold to Dimension Films. And Eli Roth, who had presented, “Hostel” presented a film, I don’t know exactly what it means, to present. But he had his name on “The Hostel” And he was going to do the same thing with the, “Dead By Daylight.” Something happened along the way with Dimension, I think those were a couple of bad years for them with “Grinding House” not performing. And with that Tarantino just appeared for a second and then nothing really happened with it. But that was the birth of how that script all came together.
Ashley: Okay, okay. And I’m curious I always like to just ask my guests, just to get a sort of sense of the scope. You know, it’s easy to just kind of concentrate on the successes. But, did you have a bunch of other places you know, you were sending these same scripts to. That weren’t buying them? One of the things I always get from people is that you know. They send their scripts out to, two or three places and they don’t respond and they think, oh well, maybe the script is not good. I always find a lot of the success, they send their script out very, very broadly. And yes, there’s one person that does respond. But usually there’s a lot of failures in that formula too. Where you sending out other scripts and those scripts not having success?
Edward: A, you mean before the day?
Ashley: Yeah, before, or after, just, you know, with this deal, with this the horror script. I would just be curious if there were other things that sort of were in the works, maybe didn’t materialize.
Edward: Well, I remember when I was an under-grad I got one of those guide books that were a list of production companies, that you could send quarry letters to. And I would line up on my desk, 25 quarry letters that I would send out a week. And for the next few years, literally 3 years later I would get passes on quarry letters I had sent. It did introduce me to a few people. In the quarry letters I would I would try to personalize it. I would try to figure out what movie they produced, or what they had done? Or sort of chat about that, before I would launch into that. Hey, I have this script and bla, bla, bla. But, it didn’t bare a whole lot of fruit. But, you know, I did, all the things that they tell you to do. Which, I sent quarry letters, I asked friends. But, what I also did, was, I didn’t ship my first script to anybody. I showed my fourth script, because I really wanted to work and make sure, that when I did have those opportunities to show it to people. That I didn’t come off too raw, and too much like a novice. And so, I did rely on writer friends and I joined writer’s groups, and did all those things. And those writer’s groups would note people. And that’s how I slowly began to sort of expand as a writer.
Ashley: Okay. So, let’s talk about, “Year Twelve” maybe you can kind of just give us a log-line on that script.
Edward: A, “Year Twelve” is a script about, well I only see a horror movie as, sci-fi movies where the aliens come? I want to do a sci-fi movie where the aliens had been here and enslaved us and it’s 12 years later. And what does that world look like, and what happens if we could do something now that would turn the tide. So, I really, really wanted to see what the face of the world looked like twelve years after this? That way, that was a jumping off point.
Ashley: Now is there, any, when you were coming up with this idea, was there like any idea that sci-fi is a good genre to write in? Was it just purely an idea that you thought was cool. Where you trying to steer your career away from horror. What was sort of the motive for the notion behind this, writing this particular script?
Edward: I remember, there was some assignment that wrote while I was feeling a little burnt out. And I shut the computer down. You know, I said, I don’t want to write until I feel something really comes to mind. And I was watching Tom Cruise’s “War of the World.” And literally that movie inspired me. Funny, I watched it, I know it sounds bad, I really love that movie. But one thing that I saw was? Tom Cruise ran the whole entire movie. And then, the aliens, you know, nature takes care of it. And I thought technically, he isn’t really the hero, he survived. And then I started thinking of “Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark.” That’s another one of my favorite movies. And I thought, if Indiana, just sat down and ate sandwich. The Nazi’s opened up the crypt and God just destroys them all, you know. And I thought well, Indiana, you know, he just survived too. You know, he’s a hero. But, he didn’t really save the day at the end of this. So now I, what was happening. And highly unlikely guy literally saves the day. And that was sort of a jumping off point in writing this science fiction thing. But, I had been a big fan of science fiction. And really wanted to break out of this, he just writes horror scripts model.
Ashley: So, by this point, it sounds like you had an agent. And was that, you basically got the script done and you got it to your agent. And then this agent was able to sell it?
Edward: Yeah. I was at another agency, and I wrote, “Year Twelve.” And showed it to a former agent. And he said, “Why did you write this? It’s a good sample, but you know, you should write horror scripts.” And I said, “Because I don’t want to. Already did that. I would like to break out and expand.” And then he said, “I’ll send it to him, to a few places.” And I could tell he just didn’t care, and he dropped me. You know, which is a really, it’s weird. He dropped me, he called my manager and said, “This is going to be too much work, forget it.” Okay, I said, and I called, Boaz, and he introduced me to CAA. And one guy’s headache was another guy’s, I guess assignment. And he said, “Oh, I love this script! I’ll sell it.” And he did. You know, so that’s how that worked, I am grateful to him, that agent. For letting me go, because it helped my career.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk about the “Marvels Writing Program.” Which is something you participate in that. First, maybe you can just describe kind of what that program looked like. And what you did in terms of writing.
Edward: Yeah, one thing about “Year Twelve” it is, that script made, “The Black List.” That was the gift that kept on giving. You know, it had sold to Paramount. But it was also a sample that had gotten me into a lot of rooms, and had gotten me jobs. That was the case, with “The Marvels Writing Program.” My manager at the time had sent a sample into Marvel. They were in their first year of the program. And they selected 4 of us. So, I came into a room, with 3 executives. Remember Jeremy Latchum, who’s still there, is one of them. Brusard, Chris Brusard is one of them. And they put three comics in front of me. And said, one of them was Luke Cage. And they said, we really want to make Luke Cage. Me being a Black male, why you trying to make the black male, Luke Cage? You know, but they said, we really want to make this, we really want to make this. I said, Alright, I had some ideas for it. And they called me and said, “Welcome to the program.” Yeah, which was really cool. So, they gave us all offices down, they were located at Manhattan Beach. There was a few of us there. And my next door neighbor, the office next door was Niccole Pearlman. So, she was writing “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I was writing Luke Cage. And basically it, there wasn’t a whole lot of over site that first year. Because the executives were really spread thin. And they were, you know, one executive is working on Ironman, another executive is working on Thor. So, I would say, the negative down side of the program was, they couldn’t give you enough to do, you know. Because of everything was so scattered. But, at the end of the program, this guy Nate Moore came in. And then the program sort of had a leader. But, in those first years’, it was nice, it was a nice pay check. But, I could have written a lot more from them, if there was a lot more structure. Yeah, they did come aways with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which wasn’t bad.
Ashley: So, what’s happened to your project? A well, Luke Cage, I didn’t want to do a $40. Million dollar version of that. And I think me and other people are taking cracks at it. And it just wasn’t working, for what ever reason for that model. But, luckily Luke Cage came about five years later, ends up part of the Marvel Universe on NetFlix. So, I have a random, sort of general media meeting with Melissa Rosenberg. And she’s telling me about Jessica Jones. The show she’s doing. And I said, just off the top of my head, oh, Luke Cage’s wife. Because I had known Luke Cage’s world. Because of that I knew Jessica Jones. And I think a light went off. Because she said, “Well, we should bring him in. So, Luke Cage, who I wrote for five years earlier at Marvel. Now I’m in a writers room working with him on the TV side. Which was pretty cool. So, I kinda got to complete the chapter and see Luke Cage on the screen, on the small screen.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk a minute. About “Now You See Me.” I’d be curious to get the inside scoop on that. First maybe, you can just tell us just were that idea came from?
Edward: Well, I had worked like a summer begin at I had worked in high school at 5 World Trade Center. And you know, I’d seen, I was in New York when the towers fell. And all that, then I moved out. And summer 2008, I had come back and it was right around that time, where. Howard Sterns and employees working out with boxes and you had the economic collapse. And I was down there with, looking at, you know, the museum being built. Then the occupy WallStreet moved in, and they started to grow, and thought. This would be interesting tale? What if, and I guess maybe because I was in that super hero state of mind. Maybe got me into the Marvel Writers Program. But, what if he got the 5 biggest magicians of their time. And they played Robin Hood? They started to attack the sort of corporate figure heads. To rob from these people give the money back, to give the money back to them. What it did was two things. ]
I didn’t want to write a conventional heist film. I wanted to write a film. Where It wasn’t about the money, you think it’s about heist. And then you sprinkle however many millions of heroes into the audience. And you’re like, wow, this is about something else. And I had written 60 pages of that. I didn’t know what the title was, so I called it, “Poof!” (Laughing) like some weird magician’s a thing. So, I told Boaz about it, he laughed at me he said, he didn’t want to read any script called, “Poof.” Okay, I’m going to keep on writing it, this by myself. And then about 16 pages later, either I stop. He asked me what I was doing? This time I said, “I was at CAA, I’m going into a meeting in CAA. I’m sending you this script, I’m not telling you what it is?” And by the time we came out of that CAA meeting Boaz said, “Go to Century City Mall, I’m meeting you right there. And I know that script, “Poof” you were writing.” I said, “Yes, it is.” But it is now, “You See Me.” And he got it, he wanted to write it with me. And I felt like he’s the guy who helped me get my career started I told your story. He introduced me to my agent and CAA. He’s the first person who believed in me. I said, that would be perfect, if we come back again, 5-6 years later. To write this. And he introduced the eye to the story. And a lot of different elements. We just paced around this house he was staying at. And we wrote it like, finished it off in a month. And it was just a dream scenario, it sold pretty quickly.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s just talk about your writing process in general. And maybe we could talk specifically about this. But just in general, I’m curious, how much time, especially a movie like, “Now You See Me” is very plot heavy. There’s a lot of like set-ups and pay-offs. How much time do you spend preparing, doing your outline? Verses how much time you actually spend in “Final Draft” writing the script?
Edward: That? That particular script is a whole different type of animal because I wrote it by myself, about half way. And then I wrote with Boaz. And then writing it by myself, I tried two different things, I did the cork board thing, where I put cards up. Then I found I was putting too much work into it, the cards itself. And so, I started, what I do now, what I started around then is? I outline in Microsoft Word, I just write all my details in a document. And when I have sort of all my beats and beads lined up. I cut and paste it in “Final Draft.” And then I start to build around that. I sort of fill all of it into that folder. And then I start to put my EXT’s and my INT’s and I start to create sequences from all of my beats. And that’s how it worked past like, “Now You See Me.” But like Boaz came in, it was really taking the material and having long conversations about it. And we met, two three times a week for a month. And at first it was the “Paris Heist” we talked about that. That was there in my original draft. And then the truck heist. The second heist and the third heist, we really reconsidered and figured about four hours, till basketball came on. So, we would watch basketball and we would go and write our own different versions of it. We would split up the work and we would write from there.
Ashley: I see, I see. So, how time wise, how much time would you say is spent just in this outline stage in this document?
Edward: I would say, a few months, coming up with the first 2 heists. And then another month working with Boaz, writing that. And it happens fast, and in my experience, at times when groups are really super hard to break. There can be warning signs there. But, and this one was easy for a reason. We were just creatively in sych. with that, things went really fast. But we showed it to Curt Smith and ORC.
The day Michael Jackson died, because all I cared was, Michael Jackson died and not the fact that they were ends of script. But, and it went out to a couple of places, it happened fast. And I wish that happens every time, but it doesn’t, on that one.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, how do you know when it’s time to show us a script to other people? And get feedback. And maybe this is a little bit of a unique situation, since you brought Boaz on as a Co-Writer. But, just in general, you know, you’re working on a draft, when is it time to get that feed back from your agent, your manager? Maybe some trusted friend? Writer friends? How do you know when it’s time for that?
Edward: A, you know, with this one, it was a little bit of pressure on. Because I would, sometimes I would pitch, the idea before I write it, you know, on general meeting. And everybody was saying, it’s a term I hate is? “Oh, that idea is execution dependent.” You know? I thought, good idea, but, you know, can you write it? Can you write the shit out of it? I don’t know if I can curse, you know? And so, I felt like, now I’ve got to prove, no one was going to buy a heist as a pitch, 5 magicians, we’re thinking Doug Henning, or like, the flared pants, or cheesy ‘70’s magician. They weren’t thinking cool. So, I had to really land on the best version of what that could be? I don’t know what the thing is that makes a writer say, it’s ready? Because I never think anything is ready, you know. It’s I think, you know, I think my child is grown enough go out into the world with a minimal amount of notes. Because I’m always going to expect notes, you know. That have, have I made the script enough, is it as bullet proof as possible, for on the studios. Have I made it, have I made this script into it could be a movie, you know? I mean, I haven’t written a $400. Million-dollar exodus. I have written something that actors will gravitate and take to. I’ve written something and that directors would gravitate to. For “Now You See Me” which was for me, built to sell and get made. I wanted to check all those boxes.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, I think that’s an excellent point. And something a lot of, especially new writers miss. What you just said, writing something that actors gravitate to, and directors gravitate to. Because ultimately these scripts have to get those attachments to get made. So, maybe you could just talk about that. What was it about this, and maybe even in more in general. What is it about the script and other scripts that other actors do gravitate towards. What actors do see in a script. And so in question for directors.
Edward: A, I think, for a director, you know, Lou Aterriair who had read, who, a great director, really good friend. I think he could see how he could, the set-ups for the magic, and the illusionist, the slight of hand, there’s action, theirs some care actor. But there’s an action movie. And I think he gravitated to the visual of how am I going to pull off shooting this? For the actors, I think magicians are always interesting to me? Because as an actor, and I took some acting classes. I think it’s always cool when actors have the secret. And their character has a secret that no body else has and knows. And sitting with Jesse Eisenberg on Saturday, he was really curious, about where the characters came from? Was he poor? Did he build this illusion, because he wanted to impress a girl? Like, who becomes a magician, where does that come from? And I think that gravitated to him. And Jessie and I think up, because all of the magicians were different. And had backgrounds and back stories. And I think that would be interesting too. Am I answering that right?
Ashley: No, no. I think that good, just, I think it’s an excellent thing for writers to think about. I think just hearing sort of your thoughts on it is very valuable. Are there any other check-boxes that you look at like that, when you’re writing something like this and handing it into your agent. You know this is going to be a studio movie. It’s going to be in the cost of a boat-load of money to make. Are there any other things you’ve feel strongly that you’ve, that your script needs to have to merit that kind of a budget?
Edward: I think a that, while I was at NYU, I remember writing this one script. And my professor, Richard Westly, who wrote, “Uptown Saturday Night” with Bill Cosby and Sydney Poitier, he said, this is a good script, but anybody could have written it. Like, what makes it yours? What makes this your script? And I thought about that? And I was answering him. And it was really about a voice. And I realized I need to create my own voice. And part of that was telling the characters a way that was interesting. And tell the visual in a way, that was certainly interesting. I felt like I wrote it and not somebody else. I, I’m stammering for a second. I love popcorn movies, I grew-up with the Indiana Jones, and the E.T.’s, and all those other things. So, when I write a script, I think about what is it that I loved about those movies? That I want to see in my own script. What pulled at my heart strings what made the hairs on my arms raise up? And if I read it, and don’t feel that? Then I feel like I got to keep going. And I write as purely as a fan of the genre, and what I would love to see. Go back and see and forget for a second I wrote it. And then I hope the exact same and see that too.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk just briefly about your transition to television? I’m just curious how you made that transition? Did you go out and write a bunch of spec. TV pilot episodes? And as a feature writer how were you able to kind of crack into, from the TV world?
Edward: Well, when I graduated from NYU. I had pitched a TV thing first. When I first started out in TV, I read a “Greys Anatomy” spec, which got me going. But then I started thinking I wanted to do TV. And so, I sold a pilot the day after I graduated at NYU. To this thing called, “Noggin’”. Where the TV show didn’t get picked up that should have gotten my feet in the door. And I had written things for MTV, and other things. And I had worked on specs. But, TV had always seemed a lot harder for me to break into than film. And the first big break was
“Jessica Jones” and I think it was the film thing. And me sort of climbing alike,
“Now You See Me” and other stuff got me my TV break. But, I didn’t come into TV until I started off as a writer’s assistant. I didn’t start off as a PA, I kind of leap frogged over that. Because of the big screen stuff. So, my way in was a little bit more unconventional than other. But, that said, I will say it, I love working and writing in TV. It is a lot more grueling to me, mentally, than working on film. Like today, it’s, what is it, almost like twelve o’clock? I, you know, this day maybe I’ll go see a movie, or maybe I’ll write, you know? It’s a more of a different life style as a screenwriter, which I love. Which I hated being a suit and tie guy. And having to get to work at 9:00a.m. And then getting back at 5:00p.m. and dealing with the rush hour traffic. I didn’t like that, in the screenwriter’s life. Which I liked for many reasons. Aside from being creative appealed to me. And a TV writer does feel like you’re taking your lunch box and you’re going to work, and you’re there, 8 or 10 hours a day. And it does feel more like a job. But on the creative side, you can explore that world so much farther than the 2 hours given in a movie. And I love that part.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk briefly about the Austin Film Festival. That’s how you and I met, it was through some folks, over at the Austin Film Festival. I just wanted to give them a plug. It sounds like you’re going to be there in a couple of weeks. Speaking on a panel. So, maybe you could talk a little bit about what panel you’re going to be doing? And how people can find that?
Edward: A, I am going to be at the Austin Film Festival, coming up in a couple of weeks. I started off as a contestant, over at the “Grey’s Anatomy” spec. And now I’m going back to do a couple of panels. The one that’s my favorite is? The 8, The Writer/Manager relationship. So, I get to be on a panel with my manager, Adam Colbrenner. And that is a panel where I get to harass him in front of a live audience. And I get to give his Email address out to everybody. And all that stuff. But, I think it’s a good panel to go to because a lot of writer’s want to know what can you expect from your, what are the expectations of your manager? What is the difference between your managers and your agent? So I think that’s important to go to. And I think another one, is? They have a pitch competition that goes one through out it. And I am the judge on finale. That takes place, they’ll take the time and top ten or whatever pitches. And you get to go home with an awesome picture of the Austin Film Festival. And it’s a fun night. But, during that you get see, it’s kind of all, it’s almost like “American Idol” style. You get this, see life, get live feedback from me, Craig Mason, and I don’t know who the other third person is? But, I think it’s fun, there’s a bar there. And you get to get live feedback, also that could help you strengthen your pitch down the line.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. And also Austin Film Festival has given me a nice coupon code that I will put in the show notes as well. If anybody is still thinking of attending the Austin Film Festival?
Edward, the last question, I always like to finish up the interviews by asking? How people can follow along with what you are doing? If you have Twitter, maybe a Twitter handle? Facebook, blog, whatever you are comfortable sharing? I will round that stuff up in the show notes. But you can just tell it here now.
Edward: Yes, I am on InstaGram. I think it’s EdwardRicourt@instaGram. And I think the same for Twitter? I think it’s just, my name – EdwardRicourt, all together, no space, I think it’s that? And yeah, come follow me on InstaGram and Twitter [email protected]
Ashley: Perfect, perfect.
Edward: So, hopefully I will feed you more information on that, that I did here.
Ashley: No, yeah, lots of good information. So, no this has been a great information. Lots of great information. It’s, there’s a lot of fascinating facts, just hearing your story, and hearing how things work for you. So, I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me today.
Edward: I appreciate it too, Thank you so much, and thanks everybody for sticking with us and listening to this, it has been fun.
Ashley: Thank you, we’ll talk to ya later.
Edward: Thank you, have a good day.
Ashley: You too, bye.
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On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing David Guild. David is a film maker from New Zealand. He started out raising money for his next project. So, we talk quite a bit about that, and how he’s going about doing that? Especially as it relates to American Film Market, which a large independent film market that takes place in Santa Monica, in November. He’s going to AFM, with his new project. So, we dig into his strategy taking it there. And how he’s trying to go about financing for this project. 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 Edward. It was just a lot of great information that we just got from Edward. One thing that always strikes me when interview a successful screenwriter. Is, how easy going they are about doing a re-writes, and working with others. You know, you really listen to that story of,
“Now You See Me.” Is, Edward had, after the script, he had gotten it to his friend Boaz, and then they started doing the re-writes. There was no even hesitation in his voice when he started to talk about. Like, there wasn’t even, like, well, I didn’t know if Boaz’s notes were right? Or if, did I really want to do this? There is just a very seamless process. That Edward was even at home to work. And to just start doing the re-writes on this. And this is such an important skill for a screenwriter to have. But, frankly I think it’s a skill I could use a lot more of myself. I get Emails quite often from people, often asking me stuff, like, how can I make sure the producers and the director don’t change my screenplay. And there is really only one answer for that. And the only answer it really is? If you, is, you have to go out and raise the money yourself. If you go out and raise the money? Then you get to make all of the creative decisions. And you can protect the script and make sure that it turns out the way you want it to. But, if you don’t raise the money, than you don’t have any of those financial decisions. You’re not going to have any final creative decision making power. You can plead your case, and depending on what kind of relationship you have with the producer and director. That may, or may not be heard. But, certainly when you get into the cut of the film, you’re not going to have any creative say on that. I mean, the director is probably going to have some say, certainly the producers. But they, again, it’s basically whoever raises the money, which is as it should be. I mean, the person who raises the money, that’s the person who has the most stakes in the film. They are risking the most. And so ultimately they should have all of the say and be the ones who decides how this film was/is going to turn out. Not the writer, not cinematographer, not even the director. It’s the one who raises the money. They are the ones who are putting this minor risk. And they are the ones that need to protect their money, and try to make a return on that and the investment for the investors. So, they got to be the one who ultimately makes those types of decisions. Because they have to live and die by those decisions. I mean, this is one of the big reasons why I just decided to go out and raise the money for “The Pinch.” I’ve been talking about that on the Podcast for the past year now. And ultimately that was one of the decisions, was being on the big factors to one of the decision was? My career as a screenwriter, I always had trouble just selling scripts and watching them get produced and then my opinion changed for the worst. So, “The Pinch” for better or worse, I’m going to be the one who makes all of those screen decisions. Because I’m the one who raised the money. And I’m the one who is producing it. So, keep that in mind if you are just starting out? Working well with others is an invaluable skill to have as a screenwriter. I think a lot of people go into the industry thinking it’s all about the ideas. It’s all about the creativity,
it’s all about the writing talent. But, believe me, being able to work well with others is probably. You know, you’ve got to be a talented writer. But, working well with others is a skill and a talent that is right up there. Because if you don’t have it, you’re going to have a tough time being a professional screenwriter.
The other thing we talked about is, in the interview is, The Austin Film Festival. This is a fantastic film festival for screenwriters. I would highly encourage everyone and everybody to go, if they think they can swing it. There’s, if you are able to schedule your finances will allow is definitely worth attending. There really is no event that I know of that’s quite like it? It’s a very much film screenwriters centric event. They have these contests for screenwriter’s scripts. And lots of just, events.
Just like the ones at the ones Edward mentioned that he is going to be running. So, if you are thinking about going to the Austin Film Festival, I highly recommend it. They were generous enough to give us coupon code to the listeners of this,
“Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I will put that in the show notes. But if you just want to try and remember it? It’s – SYSP – As in “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” “P” as in “Peter” than 2, the number #2, SYSP2 is our coupon code, again, you’ll get a $25.00 off the conference cost when checking out. Again, I’m going to link to it in the show notes, if you can’t remember it? But, I can’t really recommend the Austin Film Festival highly enough! It’s just a great place for screenwriters to go, and then lean back and just learn.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.