This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 378: With Writer Richard Pierce.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #378 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Myers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Las Vegas screenwriter, Richard Pierce. If you follow my podcast, you may remember Richard was last year’s winner of the SYS Six-Figure Screenplay Contest. He won with his screenplay, Friend Request, which has been retitled to Killer Profile. The script was read by one of our industry judges, a fellow named Ted Campbell, who had a relationship with MarVista Entertainment. MarVista does a lot of Lifetime, Hallmark-type feature films, basically made-for-TV type feature films.
So Ted walked it over to MarVista, got the project set up and they actually shot this movie probably a month ago. It’s now in post-production. Ted actually brought Richard onto another project that he had set up at MarVista as well. Richard did a rewrite on that and they are actually shooting that one probably as this thing is released, this podcast episode is released. So I’m gonna actually have Ted on in a few weeks. Again, he’s our industry judge, so keep an eye out for that episode, but today we have Richard Pierce. So stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode valuable, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube, or re-tweeting 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 in case 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 #378. 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 logline and query letter and how to find agents, managers, and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. So just a quick few words about what I am working on, and then we’ll get into the interview with Richard. So the last couple of weeks have been a lot of phone meetings with distributors for our film, The Rideshare Killer, which we have finished. I think we’re starting to get a feel for the landscape and where our film might fit in. Needless to say, this is the hardest part of the process. As hard as it is to raise money to shoot a film, it’s actually even harder to make that money back from a film. So we know we’ve got a real steep hill to climb ahead of us.
My producing partner, Tony, and I have started to think about what’s next for us. We did the full read last week of my film noir screenplay that I’ve been talking about. And I think that one is kind of being moved back just on the back burner. We’re not giving up on it, we’re still doing a lot of script development, but that’s kind of what came out of the reading, was it felt like the script still needed a lot of script development. It’s quite a bit more expensive than The Rideshare Killer, and given how tough the marketplace really is and what we’re finding with these types of films, we’re actually thinking of going the other direction and trying to do something even lower budget.
Our main goal here is really to figure out like an actual working business model, where we can make a movie that makes more money than we spend, obviously. This seems so obvious, but it’s very difficult to actually get this to work. So we’re just trying to figure out what we could do next that could potentially see some actual profit. Anyway, hopefully in a few more weeks, we’ll have a little bit better idea. We’re just starting our festival run with The Rideshare Killer. So we’re not in a huge rush to sign with a distributor and get the movie out there. I think we’re just gonna take our time, have a bunch of meetings, continue these meetings. We’ve got more meetings set up for next week.
And just hear from as many distributors as we can, because as I said, our real goal is to try and figure out a business model here. I think the more distributors we talk to, even if we don’t sign with them, every distributor meeting we have, we do seem to learn a little bit. We just get a little bit better feel for sort of how that end of the business works. Anyways, that’s the main thing I am working on over the last couple of weeks. Now let’s get into the main segment. As mentioned, today I’m interviewing screenwriter Richard Pierce, but before the interview, I just wanna say a few things. This is really an incredible success story. I’m really proud that our first year out we were able to help facilitate the screenplay actually getting produced.
I think it helps us make a strong case that we’re onto something with this contest and there really is a need for it. So that’s exciting and fulfilling, but even by the most optimistic estimates, this is an incredible timeline. It can take years to get a script produced. Even under the best of circumstances. I had a script that I optioned, literally for 10 years. This producer had this thing optioned. He would send me a small option payment every year, kept it optioned for 10 years, eventually bought the script after 10 years, still took him another three years to actually get through post-production and get the film finished. This is not gonna be like that. They’re gonna have this film finished this year. MarVista works very, very quickly.
So my point is that these things typically can take a lot more time than what we’re seeing here. My original plan with the contest really was that once the contest ended, I would spend the next year really trying to promote the scripts from the previous year, get some of those scripts optioned and produced. So then I’d be basically running the current contest while I’m trying to promote the scripts from the last year’s contest. So I’m still hard at work with the other screenplays that placed highly in the contest, really the quarter finalists and above, certainly the semi-finalists and above, I really try and push those scripts to producers. In fact, just last week, I had two producers ask for some of the scripts from the contest last year.
So I’m still very much trying to get those scripts out there and hopefully we’ll have some success stories with those as well. Anyways, all this to say that I’m very proud of this and it’s a great success story, but yeah, the results, unfortunately may not be typical. But this is a great story and Richard is a super nice guy as you’ll see from this interview. So really couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. So without further ado here is the interview with Richard.
Ashley: Welcome Richard, to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Richard: No problem. Thanks for having me.
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?
Richard: I’m born and raised and still live in Las Vegas. And I’ve been interested in this for basically as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I used to draw comics and cartoons a lot. I was not a very gifted artist, so I spent more time on the dialogue bubbles than I ever did on the actual drawing. So in like elementary school, I realized, oh, it’s kinda like a play, because we would do plays in elementary school and I started writing my own stuff. Then in high school I took a playwriting class and then I realized screenwriting is kinda where I wanted to be and that’s what my undergrad was in, and that’s what I like to do and I still do that to this day.
Ashley: Got you. Got you. So let’s talk about that. It sounds like you’ve just always been writing, trying to sort of put plays, screenplays together. What were some of your first steps into turning this into an actual career?
Richard: Out of film school, a lot of kids, we had very different business plans it seemed. Post film school, a lot of kids went straight… I’m from again, Las Vegas. They went straight out to LA and most of them wound up coming right on back when they realized how hard it was and how difficult it was. I had a really different strategy and that was to kinda focus on like… I’ve always been a fan of genre stuff which I think has worked to my advantage because a lot of the lower budget stuff is more genre material. So I started just writing a lot of low budget things. I grew up loving low budget action movies, direct to video action movies of the ‘90s, and so I wrote a lot of scripts like that.
It took a few years, but I wound up getting hooked up with a former… I shouldn’t say former action star. An action star whose career may have kind of gone down a little bit, and he was looking for some material and I kinda met him at the right time and I wound up writing a screenplay for him. And that was my first produced movie. Since then there’s been lots of hills and valleys, but I’ve been kinda doing stuff somewhat consistently ever since.
Ashley: Yeah. So let’s talk about that. That was Sector 4, is the film you’re talking about?
Richard: Yes, Sector 4: Extraction, is the title that Lionsgate gave it. Lionsgate wound up picking it up and releasing it. It’s not a very good movie, but it got out there and it was a real fun experience to write that.
Ashley: Yeah. So how did you meet this action star, this actor? What was your process in that?
Richard: So it’s about as embarrassing a story as can be. I was working at a retail electronic store. I think I can say it, it was a Best Buy. I was working at Best Buy in college paying my way through college that way. It was my senior year. I literally just ran into him. I used to rent this guy’s movies when I was younger, and so it was like meeting a celebrity. Well, it was meeting a celebrity. He is.
Ashley: And this was in Las Vegas?
Ashley: Did you know that he lived around there, so there was some like expectation you might run into him?
Richard: No, literally one day he just walked into the store. I introduced myself, I’m sure I was a total nerd about it. But we exchanged emails and I kept in touch with him over the years. So that was, I guess kind of the process, was I met him, he probably thought I was just a casual dorky fan, but I kept in touch and I kinda probably annoyed him I’m sure at certain points, but, and when the opportunity came up that he was… he had financing for a project, his comeback movie, he said, and he had a premise and it was a very loose premise and he kinda gave me the reins to turn it into a screenplay and I did, and it became a movie.
Ashley: Perfect. So let’s dig into your latest film Friend Request, I guess, it’s been retitled to Killer Profile. Maybe to start out, you can give us a quick pitch or a logline. What is that film all about?
Richard: I have the logline right here that I workshopped on your message boards actually, Ashley. So the log line is, after a bitter high school journalist creates a fake social media profile using racy photographs of a girl found online, to bait and expose cheating guys in her class, she struggles to keep her life from being picked apart by a mysterious new transfer student who looks suspiciously like the girl from the profile. So it’s a little verbose on there. I should have done a better job of trimming that one down.
Ashley: Well, it’s a very… it’s a long logline, but it also is pretty high concept. It’s also very, it’s very in vogue. I mean that whole social media and this fake profiles, that’s very much in sort of our collective conscious. So it seems like it’s tapping into some of that stuff too, but maybe you can tell us where did this idea come from? What was sort of the genesis of this?
Richard: My wife watches Catfish all the time and I kind of was like, I’ve never seen like the horror version or the thriller version of what happens on Catfish, people making fake profiles. Me and my wife watch way too many Lifetime channel thrillers. It’s kind of appointment television for us. So after watching dozens and dozens of those, you kind of pick up on the formula because there definitely is one. And my goal in writing that script, I wrote it very early in quarantine when everything was kinda first shutting down. I actually wrote the first draft of it in nine days because it’s a concept I have had for a long time, but I just blah-blah-blah vomited it out.
My goal going into it was to write the most marketable thing. Like from your lead service, or if you look on InkTip, you kinda start to see patterns of what people are looking for, especially in the low budget world. So like, you know, low budget, minimal locations, small cast, female-led thrillers are kind of, I kept seeing that pop up. So I said, well, I kinda know the genre and why don’t I try my best to write the most Lifetime-y Lifetime thriller there is. So I definitely went into it with that intention of making it that.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. So, perfect. Well, that sounds like it’s exactly what you did. So maybe we can talk about your writing process a little bit. Where do you typically write, when do you typically write? Are you someone who has a home office, do you go to Starbucks, you need the ambient noise? Do you write in the middle of the night, do you write in the morning? Maybe talk a little bit about your writing process. It sounds like for this was nine days, so maybe you were home fully for nine days and were able to just crank it out.
Richard: For the first time in my life, I was a full-time writer for, during quarantine. I just, you know, that’s what I was doing all day. I have a two-year-old, so most of my writing’s done after bedtime. So a lot of it’s done in the middle of the night and I’m a big, I hear a lot of people pooh-pooh it, but I’m a big fan of like… I’m just talking about the vomit draft, just getting it down, even if it’s awful, just getting it down as quickly as possible. I got a little lucky with this one because the first draft wound up being pretty decent, it didn’t need too much work. I think the version that wound up going into the contest which I guess we’ll talk about in a minute was my second draft.
So I did rework it a little bit, but usually my first drafts come out super quick and I write in the middle of the night when the kid’s sleeping. It’s kind of a nice little fever dream, just…
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a big fan of the vomit draft as well. It’s easier to rewrite a vomit draft than it is to just create pages out of whole cloth. So I’m totally, yeah, totally with you on that. How much time do you spend with outlining versus how much time do you spend doing this vomit draft? Because if you’re gonna get that first draft out quickly, it sounds like maybe you can cut down a little bit on your outlining, but what do you do? What is sort of the balance? Nine days to write the script, how much time did you spend outlining it?
Richard: Well, that one was really, again, this one was like such a rare exception. It’s usually not this quick at all. I’m learning the value of outlining because I’m working on another project now where there’s no such thing as not having a detailed outline. They need the most detailed outline possible. And that’s kinda been difficult for me because I usually go with a, like a beat sheet, and I don’t outline too thoroughly. Because I always find, I think, good stuff while you’re in the moment, while you’re writing. You find these little bits of gold in there that you weren’t, you couldn’t have foreseen in the outline process. So I do outline, but I usually don’t get too structured with it, more of just a beat sheet and then kinda find some nice stuff while you’re writing.
Ashley: Got you. So what was your development process on this? It sounds like it was all pretty quick. You went into quarantine, you wrote this. Do you have some other writer friends that you send it to, do you have… it sounds like your wife is very much in this, watches a lot of these movies with you. Did you get her opinion on it? What does your development process look like? Once you had that first draft, how did you get notes, and then how did you create that second draft?
Richard: I’ve used your service before for notes, which is great. And I do have kind of a small network of writer friends here locally and online through Twitter and stuff that I send stuff to. So that’s usually what it is. I have like four or five folks who I really trust, because they’ll… You wanna find the people who will tell you, you suck because anyone can just say, “Oh, it’s great,” and then it’s not gonna get any better, but you wanna find the friends who can tell you it sucks. It’s tough to get notes because a lot of times I find with notes, people just say, “Here’s what I would have done.” Well, that’s not really helping me. Just say is what I tried to do effective or not? Did it land for you or not? Was it effective or not?
Whereas people just say, “Oh, I would have gone this route.” Sometimes it’s helpful, but a lot of times it’s just, you wanna find people who will tell you whether it was successful or not what you’re intending to do and then they’ll let you find your own way.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good advice. I’m curious, you mentioned at the top of the interview, some things that you went into, like a female-led thriller, was low budget, few characters. What are some other genre requirements did you kinda look at? Were there any other things maybe that you were thinking about in addition to those things you mentioned? Because I think that’s real good advice. I mean, and we’ll get into more of this in a minute, but one of the things that I definitely noticed about your script coming through the contest, everybody liked it, but a lot of the scripts that made it to the later rounds, the producers I could tell they liked the script, but they weren’t super excited to option them and go get them made.
That was really the difference with your script and why ultimately I awarded it the first prize, was because so many of the producers actually liked it and wanted to option it. So what are some other things, maybe some other advice you would have that would take the script from being something that people like to something that people like and wanna produce?
Richard: If it’s rooted in a genre. Really like watch the genre and see, there are certain tropes that you can follow. Like in a lot of these made-for-cable thrillers, there’s a cold open where it’s not really a part of the story, or maybe it’s a flashback or flash forward, but there’s like a cold open where in the first minute or two, you get this really cool thriller beat. I don’t like that. I think it’s kinda hokey, but you can bet it was in my script because I’m like, they all have this, so I may as well do it too. So yeah, just look for elements, whether you like them or not, and whether or not it’s… Through the development process after the script was, while I was going through the development process and on the way to being produced, you learn really quick that like, you’re, gonna take notes that you don’t agree with, obviously, but they know, a lot of times these producers know exactly what they need to make it sell.
So try to figure out as much of that as you can prior to getting it to a producer. So that way it’s not as much work for them to say, “No, we need a cold open. We need them to have a best friend who’s wise-cracking and we need a mother-daughter relationship,” which again, those are all things I made sure was in my script because all these movies have the fun best friend, the mother-daughter relationship and stuff like that. So just do a lot of the heavy lifting for them just by watching the stuff that they’ve made or stuff in the genre.
Ashley: And that’s interesting. You mentioned that too, you mentioned InkTip and my own SYS leads. I see that quite often there, where producers are looking for that mother-daughter dynamic in a thriller. So that’s another thing, you’re totally right. I’ve seen that as well. So, okay. So you’re done with the script, let’s talk about sort of some of those next steps. Obviously you entered the SYS Six-Figure Screenplay Contest, so we’ll definitely get into that in a minute, but what else did you do with the script? Did you enter some contests, did you send it to some of your producer contacts, or was this, you got it done, you entered the contest and the rest is history?
Richard: I’m not saying this to like blow smoke, but like seriously, the first thing I did after I got some notes and I got that second little pass done on it, I think I posted it on InkTip and God, I think InkTip was kind of dry during that period. I don’t think many people were optioning stuff. So usually I get some pretty good responses on InkTip with other scripts, this one I didn’t, at all. Then I entered it in your contest and that was really it. Because it happened so quick. It was pretty quick between submitting it and then hearing from some folks who were kinda interested in it. So that was honestly… Usually I’m better at marketing myself. This one it just kinda, everything kinda fell into place.
Ashley: Yeah, that’s fantastic. So let’s talk about your story here. You’ve entered into the contest, as I said, as we were going along, I could tell my first round readers were liking the script. I started to send it to the producers. Many of the producers were very interested in it. And at that point, I think it was probably around maybe last August, I probably introduced you to Ted and just, and I just made an introduction. I knew Ted really liked your script, and then you guys were introduced and sort of went from there. Maybe you can kinda take us through the story from that. Ted Campbell, who’s also gonna appear on the podcast here in a couple of weeks as well, is one of our industry judges, and I think he directed the film. Correct? Ultimately directed it?
Ashley: Yes. Yes, he did.
Richard: So yeah, so maybe you can kinda take it that, he is an industry judge, he found your script. I think he read three or four of our scripts. He liked yours, obviously the most and took it to his contacts, but maybe you can kinda take us where I sort of left off. I made the introduction probably August, September-ish and then you guys started to develop the script and ultimately got it produced.
Richard: Yeah. So Ted’s been working in the industry for a long time and he had just last year gotten a, I guess, a deal to direct some movies for MarVista Entertainment, which is ultimately the company that wound up producing the movie. He had a script for one, which he directed prior to this which is finishing up post now. And while they were waiting for that to happen he found my script and thought it would be great from MarVista. It’s a slow process, they take awhile to get back to you, but he sent it off to them and waited to hear a little bit, then they asked for a two-pager to send it up the ladder there to get approval from the higher-ups, and got to…
Ashley: Did you have this two-pager written or did you have to write up a two-page synopsis?
Richard: I had like a one-pager that I had it for InkTip, so I just kinda beefed it up a little bit because they wanted a two-pager and then you wait and wait and wait, and then they say they like it, and then you wait and wait and wait, and then you get notes, and then ultimately… It got bumped up to, I think there was another movie that I was supposed to shoot before mine in their slate of movies. Because MarVista, if you know anything about them, they make a lot of made-for-cable movies. Ultimately I don’t know for sure where Killer Profile is gonna wind up, but if you look at their library, they make a lot of Hallmark and Lifetime and made-for-cable things.
So I think that may be the goal, but right now, I don’t know if it’s a hundred percent, but the movie, I believe there was supposed to be something shot prior to it and it wasn’t ready in time. So mine got bumped up. So again, just everything fell into place for this movie to happen super quick.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. I’m curious, when we were emailing at some point over the last six months you mentioned that MarVista was on your radar before you entered the contest. So talk about that a little bit. How did they get on your radar and how did you research them and how many of these types of companies are on your radar, like MarVista?
Richard: Totally. They were, watching as many of these movies as I said I do with my wife, there’s like three or four companies, and like the major leagues is MarVista. They always make the better-than-average ones, I would say. They look great and they have the little bit of a higher budget. There’s a few other companies out there that you just see over and over again. So I kinda just said MarVista seems like the kinda place I would want this script to be. So when I’m writing it, I’m thinking, I wonder how I can get this to MarVista. And somehow Ted had his connection there and he was the one who read the script in the contest. So I don’t know how I would have been able to get it to MarVista without that connection to Ted. I probably would have queried, but who knows if they would have read.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I’m curious too, it seemed like as we were going through this process, there was at least another producer too that I introduced you to. How did you decide to go with Ted versus these other producers? I’m curious, just so writers understand sort of what this looks like. At what point was there some kind of an official option? Because that was one thing that worried me. As we were emailing back and forth, it seemed like you were going up the ladder, but there wasn’t an official option on the script. And it worried me a little bit, because it seemed like you were maybe pushing off some of these other potential deals. But let’s talk through that.
Because I think this is part of the tricky issues that can come up with independent film because this is not, it’s not something that’s big enough budget where you’re gonna get like a high powered agent interested in helping you on this deal. So you’re gonna, as a writer, you’re probably gonna have to negotiate these types of things and really look out for yourself and these types of things. So maybe walk through that process. At what point was this optioned and did Ted option it, did MarVista option it? What did that actually look like? Did you make a few bucks from the option? At what point did it get optioned through this process of doing the two-pager going up the ladder?
Richard: So the difficult part of it was juggling the, because there were two other producers, I think, one who I didn’t hear much back from, but there was another guy who was really great and he had a unique take on the script and what he thought he could bring to it. He was thinking of it more, it could be a little bit of a bigger movie. Like, “Why would you wanna do a made-for-cable movie when it could be something a little bit bigger?” He saw like a Blumhouse type thing. And that seemed more like a long shot to me. Like I said, I wrote it with the intention of honestly, like sitting there on my keyboard I was thinking like, this seems like the perfect movie for a company like MarVista and when Ted had that connection, I said, I think that’s the safer bet.
Because the other guy, he wanted to do a lot of work and he wanted to like maybe change the script, make it more of a horror and do a lot of things. Not that I didn’t agree with his take on the story, I just thought I wrote it with this intention. I really think I should go with that. So it was difficult for a while, juggling both these producers interested in it and you don’t wanna blow either one off, but also with there’s no official option, it has no rights to anybody. I can do, you know, take it to whoever I want. So that was really tough because you don’t wanna ruin either relationship. And I’m still, I still talk to the other producer often. He’s a great guy. But yeah, the whole optioning thing came kinda late in the game.
But it was after it was kind of in their slate of things they were gonna be making, so I felt very confident that… when it started moving into like preproduction, which happened again, a movie kinda, I think, fell through so mine got bumped up. When they were like doing pre-production I’m like, okay, I think this is a safe bet. So the option did come kinda late, but it happened and it all worked out.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. Let’s talk a little bit about the rewrites you went through with Ted and you got notes. Again, just so screenwriters can kind of understand how something like this works. Did you negotiate the rewrites before you signed the option? Did you get paid for the rewrites? How did the rewrites work? I’m not pooh-poohing any of this, I’ve done millions of rewrites on scripts for no money. A lot of times that’s just part of the process is that before the script gets optioned, sometimes the producer will say, “Hey, well, we got to change this, that, and the other thing before we take it ultimately to the head of…” you know what I’m saying? There’s always those things. And how do you feel about that, and then how did you navigate that?
Richard: Well, I think it was definitely closer to what you’re saying about how, you know, we got to make these changes to make it… Again, the script was honestly really close. And now that I’m working on another thing for them, I’m seeing how that first script was kind of a breeze with Friend Request. They didn’t have many… they had one subplot that they really wanted added that at first I was against, but again, I’m not the one who’s gonna foot the bill to make the movie. So I was like, okay, I’ll do it. But they… it’s the first time… like I did, like with Sector 4, you get notes, crazy producer notes, and sometimes they’re just awful. This is my first time dealing with good notes and like stuff that even if I disagree with I’m like, oh, I see why you want it there, because now it’s marketable in this region and take out the… remove some of the violence.
We got to have this number of killings, or no killings, or no blood, stuff like that. So there was a lot of, I wanna say a lot of…
Ashley: Practical. Yeah, just sort of practical…
Richard: Yeah. It was their note saying, this is what we need to do to get it made, which we’re planning on doing in a month, so do it, or don’t do it, but we’re making this thing. So I did it and it turned out, I do think the script turned out really good with their notes. I think it actually made it a little bit better.
Ashley: Okay. Well good, good. And Ted was very complimentary. It sounds like you were able to turn around the rewrite in just a few days. So he was very complimentary, just about how quickly you were able to do it as well as the quality of it.
Richard: Yeah, no, he was awesome to deal with through. He had notes too, and they were all great. So it was, this was a great collaboration, for sure.
Ashley: So let’s talk about your next project that you’re working on with Ted. How did that come about? It sounds like from our pre-interview, it’s almost in production as well, and frankly, by the time this interview airs, it will probably be in production.
Richard: Yeah, I think that’s the plan as of right now, that’s the plan for sure. It just kinda led directly from one into the other. Again, MarVista makes, I don’t know, 50, 60 movies a year and Ted has this deal with them to keep directing. So he had another one lined up. This was his concept though. He had a draft and he had a… well, he had an outline and he had started a draft, and since me and him collaborated and got to be kind of buddies, he just was like,” Hey, you wanna step in and take this?” Because he’s, directing a movie is a killer. So he’s dealing with post of his first movie, shooting mine, now we’re in post on my, the Killer Profile and now he’s starting prep on the third. So he didn’t have time to write it.
So, and I think that was the initial plan was for him to write and direct these, and he just said, “Hey man, can you step in?” So I did and really close collaboration because again, it was his story, his outline and just kinda knocking it out and it’s getting ready to go.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s fantastic. Really is just fantastic to hear. I’m curious if you’ve started to do some marketing for yourself in terms of finding an agent or manager. Have you started to think about that stuff now that you’ve got a few projects that are gonna be completed?
Richard: No, but I’d like to. No. But I think it may be something that I’m gonna be looking into real soon. I think it may be getting close to that time. Because if it keeps snowballing like this, I would love to keep doing projects for MarVista if they’ll have me, and if I’m still, you know, if there’s people there who still like me, and Ted, who’s still there directing and they wanna keep me around, I would definitely like to be a part of it. I’d like to use this to do other stuff in the genre. I really, I mean, it’s a big genre and there’s a lot of these kinda low budget genre movies being made and I’d like to keep doing it. So I do think that’s something I’m probably gonna be looking into soon.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. I’m curious how you found living in Vegas with this experience? I assume MarVista is here in Los Angeles. Was there any problem being remote, did you ever have to come to LA? Where did they shoot the film, did they shoot in LA? I’m just curious sort of how all that worked out, being remote away from LA.
Richard: I think it partly worked out because of COVID, not saying it worked out because of COVID, but it was because…
Ashley: People are used to remote…
Richard: Yeah. Everything’s so remote right now. I don’t think it, no one even blinked an eye at it. Normally, I mean, it was a little heartbreaking I didn’t get to go to set. I would’ve loved to have done that, but it hasn’t been an issue so far. I went out to LA quite a bit when Sector 4 was shooting. They shot at Blue Cloud Ranch in Santa Clarita. So I was going out a lot for that. I like living in Vegas and so far it hasn’t been a detriment yet. I’m sure one day it’s gonna be a pain when the world gets back to normal and I can’t go to lunch meetings or anything like that if someone ever wanted to meet in person. But being in Vegas hasn’t been a big detriment. There is a pretty big community here, but it’s not, you’re not gonna make a living.
I’ve done some stuff locally and there’s some, guys make short films and stuff like that, but you’re not gonna make a living at it, but…
Ashley: Yeah. I’m curious, why wouldn’t you ever consider moving to LA? Especially from Vegas. You’re not even that far. It wouldn’t be a huge upheaval. But why not move to LA?
Richard: If it became my career, I’d be happy to do it, but right now it kinda, I’m a real play-it-safe kind of guy, I guess. So until I know for sure it would be really beneficial to my career, but I would be open to it at a certain point. I just don’t like LA, that’s my honest answer.
Ashley: Okay. Got you. So just as we wrap things up, I’m curious, what advice do you have for people that are looking to break in? Especially people that are watching some of these low budget genre films. Do you have any advice for them, how they could potentially get their scripts out there and maybe get their scripts made? Now you’ve got, obviously from the contest with Friend Request, but even Sector 4. I mean, you’ve been able to get some movies made living far from Hollywood. You have any just advice for people that are like yourself working at Best Buy and trying to get that first script off the ground?
Richard: Sure. I don’t work at Best Buy anymore. I wanna be clear about that though. Don’t write what you want, write what they want, but if you can make it a little bit what you want, that’s great, but you really ought to write something that’s marketable. I think that’s the biggest flaw I saw with a lot of kids I went to film school with who haven’t been able to get anything produced. A lot of them like, they’ll, they’re film students. So they’ll look at Sector 4 and pooh-pooh it because it’s just a little garbage action movie, and it is, but I have a movie made and now I have this one going. So it’s like, you got to write what they’re looking for. And you got to do your homework and market yourself like crazy. The amount of query letters I send out.
I’ve done your blasts before and met people through that. And InkTip. I I’m a big advocate for InkTip as well. Look at their leads, look at the lead service like that what you have and just look what people are looking for, and write that.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. And you made this comment about the InkTip leads, my own SYS leads. You do start to see patterns in those things and that’s, I highly advise people, just if they look at the InkTip leads for that, even if they don’t actually subscribe to them, if they just can see kind of what their producers are looking for, that’s very much a valuable thing for writers to be checking out. I’d like to end the interviews just by asking the guests what they’ve seen recently. Is there anything you’ve seen recently that you thought maybe was a little below the radar, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, anything that’s out there that you might recommend to screenwriters?
Richard: I’ve seen a lot of good Lifetime movies lately.
Ashley: We’ll recommend a really good one because I don’t watch a lot of Lifetime movies. So is there one in particular that I could find on Hulu or Netflix that is actually a really good example, shining example?
Richard: I mean, honestly I’ve been watching them, it sounds so terrible, but yeah, I’m just, now I’m just watching for research at this point. Like as I’m writing, I’ll have one on. I like the ones that are kind of maybe aware that it’s a little hokey maybe, or they’re aware that it’s a little silly. There’s a series called Stalked By My Doctor starring Eric Roberts, who actually was in Sector 4. So that was cool.
Ashley: And in my movie. Yeah. He’s everywhere.
Richard: He’s in everything now. But he plays the doctor in Stalked By My Doctor. He’s just a crazy doctor who stalks his patients. And they’re so fun. They’re unbelievably fun. They’re goofy, they’re, you know, you get some thrills and they’re a little spooky, but they’re just goofy, and they’re a lot of fun. I kinda think a little bit of that tone wound up in Friend Request where… because there’s always a psycho in those movies. I think the psycho in Friend Request is a little more fun than the average psycho. You wanna make them a little fun psycho and that’s kinda what differentiates them. So I like those movies like Stalked By My Doctor and stuff like that. So that’s [inaudible 00:33:09] for the Oscars this year, Stalked By…
Ashley: Yeah. Exactly. I’ll have to check them out. So I’ll be sure and let everyone know, we’ll stay in touch. I’ll let everyone know when this, when Friend Request or Killer Profile is officially finished and out, we can let people check it out. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up for the show notes.
Richard: Yeah, you can find me on Twitter. I don’t use it too much anymore, but it’s @Rich_Pierce12. So that’s it.
Ashley: Well, got you. Got you. Well, Richard, I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me today. Congratulations on this. As the guy who started the contest, I never could have imagined that it would work out this well on the first year. So it really has just, it’s been great to hear your story. I’m excited for you. Congratulations on this, congratulations on the second film and hopefully you can come back on here in another six months or a year and talk about all your successes.
Richard: Absolutely, man. Thank you again for running a great contest. I owe you a big thanks.
Ashley: Hey, well thank you Richard. Take care.
Richard: Take care, man. 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 logline, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre, and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they wanna produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories come out of this service, you can find out about all the SYS Select successes by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also on SYS Podcast Episode #222, I talk with Steve Deering who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select database.
When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. These services include the newsletter, the monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premiere paid screenwriting leads services, 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 10 high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut.
There’s producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series, pilots, all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also, you get access to the SYS Select forum where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS Select forum. These are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want once you join.
The classes cover every part of writing your screenplay 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’d like to learn more about, please go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com. On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing Ann Marie Allison and Jenna Milly, who just wrote a movie called Golden Arm about a woman arm wrestler. They’ll be talking about their journey with this project and how they were ultimately able to get it produced. So keep an eye out for that episode next week.
Obviously this episode was really all about Richard and his success in our screenplay contest. So if you do have any interest in signing up for a screenplay contest or just learning more about it, maybe seeing who some of the other industry judges are definitely check it out. Again, It’s www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/contest. The regular deadline ends May 31st, after that, it does go up by $10. So if your script is ready, definitely do submit. Anyway, that’s our show. Thank you for listening.