Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The L.A. Times says the spec script is dead. This guy begs to differ, and I hope he's right.

Ken Miyamoto at Screencraft on why the LAT is wrong about the spec script market.

From the article:

Hollywood gets bored. Trends come and go. Once hot franchises cool down. Spec scripts and the screenwriters that write them push the industry forward into the near future.
Without spec scripts, new writers aren’t discovered. The article offers one misleading “fact” — that Hollywood is making fewer movies than they have in the past. The truth of the matter is that there are more movies being made than there ever has been…just in a different way.
Sure, the major studios are making less overall, but then you have to take into account what HBO, Netflix, and Amazon are doing. Not to mention the dozens upon dozens of major production companies that are producing amazing films outside of the major studio system — most of which often eventually buy them up for the distribution rights.
And because so many more movies are being made, the industry needs more writers to write them. Spec scripts that are discovered through the creative marketing of unknown screenwriters through queries, networking, contests, and fellowships introduce the powers that be to new talent. If the spec scripts aren’t bought and produced (most are not), the screenwriters that wrote them are being assigned to write projects already in open development.
So it doesn’t take a big spec script sale to make that screenwriter’s career. Those scripts work as keys that open doors into the film and television industry.
So no, spec scripts are not dead. Far from it.
There's a lot more, do check it out.

He makes a lot of good points about how the market isn't dead, but that it's simply evolved. I've heard one of the things that makes breaking into Hollywood with a spec hard these days is that the major studios are so stuck on tentpoles and superhero series, the scripts for which are assigned to established writers. This has created an atmosphere that doesn't seem to embrace new writers, but Miyamoto disagrees.

One reason I hope he's right is that although I've been concentrating on TV specs and short stories for the past year or so, I just signed up for an online feature rewrite class that starts next month. I'm using a rough draft of a feature I worked on years ago, then abandoned because I got stuck. I've wanted to have a good completed feature script for competitions, so I'm hoping that by the time this class is completed, that's exactly what I'll end up with. Funny thing, I haven't even thought of the script (entitled Catfight) for ages until my Mom mentioned it about a week ago. I dragged it out and looked at it with fresh eyes, and it was really illuminating. I'd forgotten so much about it, and now I'm excited about it again.

I'm taking the class through ScreenwritingU, which offers a variety of online screenwriting classes as well as an ongoing alumni community. I like the approach they use to promote their classes - they offer free webinars in which they go over the basics of their approach to various aspects of screenwriting, then offer a discount for the corresponding course. The rewrite class is $350 and they gave it to us for $250. Even if you don't sign up for the class, you still get a lot of helpful info via the webinar. I like what I've seen so far and am really looking forward to getting Catfight finally done. It's been neglected so long. Back in the day when I started it, I got very positive responses to the idea, so it seems a shame not to get it finished and out there.

I had a bad experience with my most recent UCLA Extension Class for writing an original pilot (a different instructor from my spec classes) so I was happy to find a class that will hopefully give me something I can use for submissions (like the Better Call Saul spec from my earlier UCLA Extension classes) for a lot less money - the UCLA classes are in the high $600's per 10-week class - totally worth it if you get results, a big waste of money if you don't. I'll let you know how the ScreenwritingU class works out. If it's good, they're going to be getting a lot more of my money.

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