Ashley: Welcome to Episode #255 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing British filmmaker Jim Hosking. He just did a film called An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, starring Aubrey Plaza. We talk about this film and how he got himself into a position to write and direct it, so stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode viable please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook.
These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode incase you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #254. If you want my free guide- How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons.
I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional log line and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Again just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So a quick few words about what I’m working on, on The Pinch, the crime thriller feature film which I am finishing up on. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago we do have our release dates. The official release dates will begin in December. On December first The Pinch will be available on all the various Amazon platforms which includes Amazon Prime. The Amazon Video on Demand subscription service is Amazon Prime and there’s also the transactional video on the [inaudible 00:02:04] where you can pay I think it’s 3.99 or 4.99 to download the movie or rent the movie. On December 6th we’ll be available on iTunes and on Google Play and on January 19th we will be available on Vudu. Keep an eye out for those dates and if you use any of those platforms please do check out The Pinch.
You can also buy The Pinch through Selling Your Screenplay through my blog and podcast if you’re interested in seeing the film before the release date or even after the release date. I have released it through my website www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch. I’ve also given you the option of buying the three hour webinar I did on the making of The Pinch where I go through every aspect of how I made this film, from the script to raising money through pre-production, production and post-production. So if you’re looking to try to do your own micro-budget film I think this would be incredibly helpful to you. Again, you can make that purchase or learn more about it by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/thepinch.
Even after I’ve released on all these other platforms selling directly from the website would be the best method at least for me as the money then obviously comes directly back to me as the filmmaker as opposed to slicing it up with iTunes or Amazon. But if any of the other platforms are more convenient to you by all means please buy them then and once the film starts to get released I’m hoping people can go on and leave me some nice reviews especially on iTunes, especially on Amazon getting good reviews is part of how those services decide if they should recommend your film to other people as they’re watching other similar films. So again, if you do watch the film on any of those platforms please do give me a fair and honest review.
In terms of what I’m actually working on, I’m still trudging through the rewrite on my horror, thriller script which I’m hoping to produce early next year. I’ve had a few bumps in the road lately, nothing related to this project or screenwriting, just you know life, other things getting in the way. So I’m definitely a lot behind where I’d like to be with this rewrite but sometimes life just gets in the way, and sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it no matter how much you plan or how careful you are. Sometimes things just happen. So I’m trying to just keep my head down, stay focused on the task in front of me and slowly move things along. I get a lot of emails from people too who often have family issues or things come up in their life that make working on the screenwriting careers very difficult.
We all face those times and we all have those struggles, so just know if you’re going through some things it’s perfectly okay to take some time off the screenwriting and work on those other aspects of your life. You know it happens to all of us and sometimes there are definitely things that are more important that screenwriting and sometimes we need to focus on those things. Last week too I actually did a few minutes of standup comedy in Hollywood at an open mic, so that took some time as well to write up the three or four minutes bit and then obviously I had to practice it a good bit. I’ve always wanted to do standup comedy but I just never had the courage.
Finally a bunch of my friends, these friends from my writers group, my Tuesday night writers group, a bunch of them were going to do it so I joined them and ended being a lot of my friends in the crowd. So it was a very friendly crowd, everybody kind of laughed at my jokes no matter how lame they might have been [laugh]. But it was a lot of fun. It was all very supportive because we all knew each other, we all kind of laughed at each other’s jokes and there was just good energy, so it was a really good first experience. And I wanna be really clear here too. I was mortified of doing this for years. Again, it’s something that I always thought would be fun to try but I just didn’t have the courage and I was just absolutely mortified.
I am not a performer at all, so you can probably tell from listening to this podcast, but sometimes it’s just really important to go and push yourself in directions that make you uncomfortable and maybe force you out of your comfort zone. So for me that’s really what this was. As I said, this was a super friendly crowd because I knew so many people in the crowd, but on the next one I’ll try and do maybe an open mic. There was a couple of the other writers there that they wanted to go back and we’ll try and do one with not so many friends in the crowd. That will make it tougher, the room will be tougher and it will be tougher getting laughs and it will be a little bit more of a true test of what we’re actually doing up there on stage.
Anyways again, I just really highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself a little bit. That’s how you’re gonna find interesting things and new things and learn about yourself. So that’s the main things that I’ve been working on last couple of weeks, now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer, director Jim Hosking. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Jim to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Jim: Yeah, no of course. No problem, thanks for having me here.
Ashley: So to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Jim: I grew up in London in England and I didn’t about get interest in the entertainment business but I was always being a very young child sort of obsessed with film and music and anything that didn’t feel like real life. So I think that’s probably what drew me into it.
Ashley: Sure. So what were some of the first steps you took to actually turn this into a career?
Jim: After I left college I was a copywriter briefly in advertising and I didn’t like that, and then I went to work at MTV in New York where I started directing my little promos and things and then I went into directing TV commercials and then making short films and then gradually feature films.
Ashley: I see. I noticed on IMDb your show Renegade’s got into Sundance. That seems like kind of a watershed moment for anybody who’s breaking into this business. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that. How did you get that film into Sundance and what sort of impact did that have on your career?
Jim: Yeah, I mean that was…I made Renegade when I was living in LA actually and it was just at the end of my 10 year in LA before I moved back to London and I was feeling kind of frustrated. I think I hadn’t really got myself an agent or tried that hard to sort of make things happen for me in the film world and I was making commercials and feeling very…so with that short film Renegade, that was really a sort of cathartic experiment for me where I just made something purely for my own gratification over two days. I brought a lot of [inaudible 00:08:57] and got some friends to help me film this thing. I had no concern whatsoever for there being an audience for it and I didn’t even really think that I would be entering in festivals or anything.
But I did make this film and then I submitted it three months later then I was just kind of amazed that they accepted it and then I was lucky that people think that it worked. Some people probably really didn’t like it and then some other people really did. Some people really liked it and then through that actually I ended up meeting probably the most instrumental producer in my career so far. Her name is [inaudible 00:09:42] who produces for Ben Wheatley and also for Peter Strickland. And yeah, I was kind of lucky that…I think that when I decided to just sort of make stuff for myself without really worrying about how my career might sort of play out or turn out then things started to sort of come together a bit for me.
Ashley: Yeah, perfect. So let’s dig into your latest film An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn starring Aubrey Plaza and a number of other great cast members. Maybe you can just give us a quick logline or pitch for that film. What is that film all about?
Jim: It’s basically a…it’s like a love story where everybody is kind of in love with each other and there’s a mysterious man who comes to this small town to perform some kind of mysterious events [inaudible 00:10:36] impersonated by him. Yeah, it’s really just about sort of [inaudible 00:10:43]. Hopefully it’s funny as well.
Ashley: Hopefully. And where did this idea come from, what’s sort of the genesis of this story?
Jim: Well, I don’t know really where the idea came from other than David Wike who wrote the script with me. He sent me a scene with three characters in it and the scene is no longer in the film but the characters are in the film. He just sent me the scene and said, “Look, I’ve written this scene, I don’t really know who these characters are or where it’s going but if you write something that sort of carries on from here and we could just see where it goes.” I enjoyed the scene and I started writing some other scenes sort of to continue on from that and sent him some more stuff the next day with some other characters who are now in the film. It was just a very spontaneous process where we were creating this world and not even really knowing quite what the world was yet or what it was all about but that’s kind of what fascinated us I think, was that we were feeling quite free.
Ashley: Did you ever take a step back, like once you had a bunch of these scenes and started to structure it or start to put it in some sort of bigger context that would fit into a movie or a screenplay with the beginning, middle and end?
Jim: So did I structure…Yeah, I mean I don’t know that we did actually. I think that really what we did was we just kept writing the story and then we sort of…obviously it was important for us that certain characters might blossom in a particular way or there might be some trajectory that these characters felt that they needed to go on. But it was really just like we could just tell when the story sort of felt like it was complete and it was there. It was just we just talking about it and kept writing it until it felt we had something that we were really in love with.
Ashley: And how long did this process take of just bouncing these scenes back and forth between you and David?
Jim: It was like probably over about nine months. We probably got together for about three or four two week sessions where we’d work in a room together and then we’d go off and I’d go back to England and he was living in New York and we’d email each other and sort of think of things but we’d really delay the writing until we got back in a room together and then we’d go at it again. But it was kind of months and concentrated periods over a few months.
Ashley: Okay. What does your rewriting process look like, do you have a bunch of trusted friends? Once you and David had a draft of this that you felt like was ready to show people, what are those next steps, do you have a bunch of trusted friends, do you have an agent, a manager that you send material to? What does that look like for you?
Jim: Agents…so I do send scripts to them but I suppose like I have a producer- Andy Starke who will read it and then he will give my opinion and he’s always like, “You know, you don’t have to do this but this is what I think or whatever.” Often he’s got a very good point, but I don’t tend to share scripts with a lot of people. I kind of know what I think about them to a certain extent. It’s more like [inaudible 00:14:36] I trust that person too. We would definitely show it to a producer or to our agents and get a bit of feedback.
Ashley: Yeah. Okay, so now you guys have a draft on. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that process of getting some cast attached and then raising the money.
Jim: Yeah, I suppose I’ve been kind of lucky. I make stuff that’s kind of people’s work so people either wanna get behind it or they don’t. The ones who wanna get behind it seem very committed to it, and so that might be the financiers or the actors or producers. But I haven’t really ever had to kind of pitch a film to anybody or even really pitch that hard to actors or kind of just [inaudible 00:15:30] in the scripts. I was lucky with this film that generally they all wanted to do it. I’d have a quick Skype or a quick meeting and talk about it and then they would kind of commit to it. So yeah, I think that I have a bit of a slightly unusual position because my work is quite distinctive, so then it’s kind of thought out to interest the people you want, you know what I mean?
Ashley: Yeah sure, no, absolutely. So maybe that leads to my next question. What advice would you have for people that are looking to break into TVs and features? And I’m curious about the comment that you made that you feel like you’re work is kind of very specific to you. Would that maybe be some advice that you would give the young writer that’s up and coming?
Jim: Well, there’s all different kinds of a filmmakers. Like I’m a certain kind of filmmaker and I write my own stuff and I like to be in charge of that world. And then there’re other filmmakers who are great storytellers and great technical but they like to direct other people’s scripts. I think you just have to work out why it is you’re getting into this career and what it is that you wanna do and like if you wanna tell your own stories and whether you’re someone like me or if you’re someone like [inaudible 00:16:57] or Woody Allen or whoever. The kind of filmmakers who…someone like Martin Scorsese or…It’s just different. I could think you have to just try and please yourself because at the end of the day that’s really…it’s a pretty tough competitive business.
I don’t know, I’m not doing it because I wanna earn loads of money and I wanna be famous. I’m doing it because I like working with people who excite me and I get on with. I like collaborating and I like coming up with characters and writing stories. That is the main thing for me, I just think everybody’s different, but if you’re at all like me then you just wanna try and make sure you’re doing your own work, you’re not trying to like mimic other people or you’re not trying to second guess what will make you successful or what will get you a nice, long career and a rectangular swimming pool.
Ashley: Yeah, sure. So now that you have your career kind of established do you get screenplays coming through you agent like that people want you to direct them? Does that ever happen or you’re just strictly one who directs stuff that that you did?
Jim: No I do get stuff sent to me which I so read them. So far I’ve wanted to do my own scripts but yeah, it just feels like time is precious and I’m sort of quite keen to kind of investigate my own stories I suppose. But yeah, I do get scripts. So I don’t really any hard enforced rules about what I will or won’t do.
Ashley: How can people see an evening with Beverly Luff Linn? Do you know what the release schedule is gonna be like?
Jim: Yea, it’s being released on the 19th of October in the US.
Ashley: And what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing, Twitter, Facebook, blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing I’ll round up for the show notes.
Jim: Oh God, I’ve got an Instagram account, I’m not very good at using it. I mean, they can sport me at the airport and get in the same plane or follow me all the way home. They can buy me dinner.
Ashley: [laughs] Perfect. Yeah, just post your schedule, I’m sure you’ll have some people take you up on that.
Jim: Yeah, they tend to be quite strange people.
Ashley: Alright. Well Jim, I appreciate your coming on and talking with me today. Good luck with this film.
Jim: Thank you.
Ashley: Thank you, will talk to you later.
I just wanna talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays along with a log line, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays that they wanna produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. I launched this service at the beginning of this year and we’ve already started to see some success stories. You can check out SYS Podcast Episode #222 with Steve Deering. He was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select database. You can learn about all of this by going to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database that I just mentioned along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. Those services include the monthly newsletter that goes out to our list of 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also have partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites so I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently we’ve been getting five to ten high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the game, there’s producers looking for specific types of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties.
They’re are looking for shots, they’re looking for features, TVs and web series pilots, all types of different projects. If you sign up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also you can get access to the SYS Select forum where we will help you with your log line and query letter and answer any screen writing related questions that you might have. Also in the forum are all the recorded screenwriting classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to all of those as well. The classes cover every part of the writing process from concept to outlining to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like writing short films and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you would like to learn more about please go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
On the next episode of the podcast I’m gonna be interviewing producer Mark Stolaroff who just did a film called Driver X. Mark is a very experienced producer in the low budget arena. He’s got a lot of great advice for screenwriters, how to go about writing these script, how to go about getting these movies produced. Really fascinating interview. We really dig into his latest film, as I said it’s called Driver X. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show, thank you for listening.