Debunking Screenwriting Myths, Part I
by Geno Scala
Each week, I hope to introduce a different “myth” that many of us screenwriters have heard, and try to present the real facts behind these claims.
As an avid networker, I can tell you that there are many charlatans posing as script consultants or call themselves “former agents” or some other non-descript title, and many of them share their advice- for a price- on some of the more active social media networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Unfortunately, I find much of the advice to be common misconceptions, deceit, and even arrogant, self-serving mistruths.
One of the more common myths is the necessity of a screenwriter to live in Los Angeles in order to be successful. Many of these quacks make no bones about it; they flat out tell you that you HAVE to move there in order to have a screenwriting career.
The fact is this is pure nonsense.
Not only is it not necessary, but many producers are somewhat envious of the fact that you can produce great work and remain active within the filmmaking community and not have to deal with the traffic, State budget cuts, and the occasional earthquake.
With networking tools such as the Internet, Skype, emails and such, many companies are not only accepting pitches via these methods, but conduct pitches by these methods exclusively. There are countless of websites dedicated to the posting and promoting one of one’s screenplay (Ink Tip, Triggerstreet, Talentville, Amazon Studios, and many others), despite claims that “studio executives worthy of their title do not check these sites”; just another fallacious statement. The number of screenplays sold or optioned over the Internet, over Skype, and over the phone is countless; anyone who says otherwise is simply lying, and anyone who believes otherwise is ignorant of the world around them.
This is not to say there aren’t valid advantages to living in Los Angeles- or New York, or Japan, or Brazil, or Toronto, or anyone of the thousands of locations around the world where movies are bought, sold, pitched and made (funny, it always seem to be imperative to these frauds that you have to live ONLY in CA, as if movies aren’t made elsewhere). It would be just as advantageous to be seven feet tall if you are want to play in the NBA, but many others have made it standing considerable less than six feet tall.
It all depends on what YOU are looking for in YOUR career. Some write to sell spec scripts, others want writing assignments. Others still want to be hired as staff writers or work on a production staff. As a spec script writer, there is nothing prohibiting one from doing well and selling scripts whether you reside in Alaska, Maine or Florida or in any other country on any other continent.
Don’t be fooled by some of these “professional consultants”. They are not interested in helping you in YOUR career. They are only interested in taking your money to subsidize their own career.
Geno Scala has been writing for over twenty years, and was one of the Executive Directors for the 1999-2000 Academy Awards presentation. He is an optioned screenwriter with nine screenplays to his credit, and is an alumnus of ScreenwritingU. He maintains a business in Hollywood, and resides in beautiful Huntsville, Alabama with his rocket-scientist wife, a daughter in grad school, another daughter in college in CA, and two teen-aged sons.
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