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Does every screenplay have a place in Hollywood? And if not, what criteria do studios, production companies, management companies, and agencies use to decide which scripts make it, and which don’t?

There’s a common misconception amongst screenwriters that struggle with rejection — that success in seeing their scripts optioned, purchased, and produced is merely a matter of the script getting into the right hands.

This notion centers on the belief that personal opinion of the initial script reader — including their own likes, dislikes, and cinematic turn-ons and turn-offs — are the sole reason why the screenplay was passed on.

For example, the belief is that maybe the screenwriter didn’t like the genre the script was in. Maybe they hated zombie stories and reading one, no matter how “good” it was, annoyed them to the point that they passed on the script. Or maybe the script reader was an action guy or a thriller girl, and the melodrama they were reading was boring them to death, so they passed on the script.

This negative perception is compounded by the many examples within Hollywood of eventual successful movies being passed on by other studios. Iconic movies like Star Wars, Back to the Future, and E.T. (as well as a majority of iconic classics that broke box office records) were all passed on by all of the major studios. Yet the scripts were somehow discovered by the “right” people that were wise enough to gamble on them.

Often-rejected screenwriters seem to use these stories for the hope that one day their scripts will fall into the hands of that right person. That it’s not the script that is to blame — nor the writer’s writing — but the people reading the scripts.

This is a very negative pattern of belief for a screenwriter.

While, yes, getting your screenplay to the right person at the right time in the right set of circumstances is a huge part of the Hollywood machine, that doesn’t mean that ALL screenplays have a place somewhere in Hollywood. Quite the contrary.

Ask any script reader, development executive, producer, manager, or agent, and they’ll tell you that a majority of the screenplays that they read are either outright terrible or just aren’t ready. And when many screenwriters read that statement, they’ll point to the belief that “terrible” is entirely subjective.

Well, it’s not. At least most of the time.

To try and clear this often-debated subject up, here we will detail the big-picture levels of Hollywood criteria — spoken or unspoken — that forces industry insiders to pass on a screenplay.

1. It’s Not Written Well

Let’s tackle the most debated criteria first.

“‘It’s not written well??’ Isn’t that subjective?” 

There’s no escaping a subjective viewpoint. When you give a script to someone with the intention of considering it for option, acquisition, or as a sample of writing ability for possible paid writing assignments, there’s always going to be some form of subjective opinion.

One proven producer could hate it, and another proven producer could love it.

But that in no way, shape, or form implies that all screenplays have a place in the option, acquisition, or consideration pile of any major studio, production company, management company, or agency.

A majority of screenplays just aren’t written that well.

Some have a complete lack of format awareness, which drastically affects the communication of a cinematic story or lack thereof.

Read ScreenCraft’s Does Correct Screenplay Format REALLY Matter?

Some have a complete lack of structure awareness, which usually entails cobbled sequences of scenes that have no rhyme or reason or just don’t make sense.

Learn the best way to structure your screenplay with this free guide.

Some have a complete lack of characterization, which means that the characters within the story aren’t consistent in their actions, beliefs, and dialogue.

Some have a complete lack of dialogue merit, which often points to the use of on-the-nose dialogue and terrible exposition lines.

Read ScreenCraft’s How to Avoid Writing On-The-Nose Dialogue and Three Easy Ways to Write GOOD Exposition in Your Scripts!

Those are just a few of the ways that a script may not be written that well. And they are very objective.

95% or more of the scripts that come through the system just aren’t written well. It’s not that the script reader didn’t understand them, didn’t like the genre or writing style. The writer clearly submitted either a lackluster effort or a draft that wasn’t ready to be submitted.

The best thing screenwriters can do is embrace rejection and try to learn from it.

If you truly believe that you’ve done all that you can to write a great script, then maybe…

2. It’s Not for the Company

Subjective issues certainly come into play within the read of the script, but most professional readers are tasked with pushing aside most of their subjective viewpoints. Screenwriters may be surprised to hear that major studio and production company readers are required to dial down their subjective reaction and instead focus on the needs of the company.

A compelling drama that the script reader loves may not be right for the production companies current production agenda. An action-packed rollercoaster ride of a script may not be the reader’s cup of tea, but if the company is looking for a box office hit and the script has many of the ingredients of an entertaining romp, that reader is required to think of the company first.

Maybe there are a handful of scripts in the market that are tackling the same concept? Maybe those other scripts are better? Or maybe some of those scripts are further down the pipe?

Maybe the script market has been saturated with similar concepts, many of which are already being produced?

Maybe the required budget of your screenplay is astronomical compared to the current budgetary constraints of the company or the studio they are partnered with?

Or maybe the company doesn’t produce that type of concept or genre for any hundreds of other reasons?

Just because a script is written very well doesn’t mean that it’s going to get purchased. Film and television are business industries. Cinema is not just art for art’s sake. Never has been and never will be. The first and clear intention is to make the investments back and turn a profit. And that fact causes companies to turn away otherwise well-written scripts.

If you, the screenwriter, scoff at that and believe that cinema should be a pure art form, then go direct the movie yourself or partner with a like-minded artist that can. But if you’re trying to sell a script, you need to remember that it’s a business.

The thing that you can control is who you send the script to. If you’re sending your melodrama to Michael Bay’s production company because you found an email address or know someone within the company that you can namedrop, you’re not doing yourself (or them) any favors.

Market your script to the right companies that are making movies similar to your cinematic stories. Utilize IMdBPro to help create a solid marketing plan.

Read ScreenCraft’s 7 Marketing Strategy Hacks for Screenwriters!

Either way, understand that sometimes it’s not your script. Sometimes it’s just not the right place. Sometimes…

3. It’s Bad Timing

When a particular concept or genre explodes, many screenwriters look to emulate that success by writing their own version or variation. This is called trend chasing.

The problem is that Hollywood is already doing this. And because they have the power and money to get things moving faster, by the time you’ve written your trend chaser and managed to market it somehow, Hollywood is months or years ahead of you. They already have scripts written and packages all wrapped up nicely with a director, stars, and financing. They are more than likely to have projects produced by the time you get to the final draft of your version.

So when they read your script, they see that it’s just bad timing. No matter how good the script may or may not be.

And sometimes you have no control over that lousy timing.

Sometimes you’re not chasing a trend. Sometimes fate is cruel, and X number of other writers wrote scripts similar to yours and managed to get them into the hands of industry insiders before you could.

Or maybe…

4. It’s Because Your Script Didn’t WOO Them

Maybe your script was written well. Maybe you marketed it to the right company. Maybe it’s perfect timing. But maybe your screenplay didn’t make the lasting impression that it needed to make for them to take it to the next level.

If 95% (give or take) of the scripts in the market are terrible, or just not ready, then 4% (give or take) are the ones that are written well but don’t blow the socks off of the reader or their bosses.

That’s what it takes to get a script purchased. It has to blow them away.

Why? Because it takes a lot of passion to get a film made. And if they aren’t passionate about your script, they’re not going to be able to convince directors, stars, investors, and studios to make it.

This is where subjectivity does come into play. This is why Star Wars, Back to the Future, and E.T. had to wait until the right producer and studio executive were attached.

But that doesn’t mean every screenplay has a chance for this to happen. If you are blind to the lack of objective quality of your own work, you can’t fall into the trap of blaming others or live with your heads in the clouds thinking that your work is the next iconic hit that others just aren’t seeing.

When you’re writing the script, you need to make sure that you’re firing on all cylinders.

If you’re writing a comedy, make it the funniest possible comedy.

If you’re writing an action flick, make it the most action-packed script imaginable.

If you’re writing a horror flick, make it the scariest piece you possibly can.

And remember that you have to do all of that in an original way. Show us different takes, different angles, and different methods so that we are truly wooed.

What’s the secret to doing that?

There’s no easy answer or formula. You can’t capture lightning in a bottle. Just focus on wooing yourself and then get that script out to as many industry insiders as possible.

But wait, there’s another extended branch of Hollywood that you should be aware when it comes to the judgment of your script…

5. Contests, Competitions, and Fellowships, Oh My!

All right, screenwriters. Here’s some truth. The most subjective reads you’ll receive are from contest, competition, and fellowship readers and judges.

While the major contests, competitions, and fellowships do impose specific objective criteria on the readers and judges, as far as how they are supposed to judge a script, this is where a subjective viewpoint really comes into play in regards to if a screenplay is passed on or not.

There are no company directives to worry about. The reader doesn’t need to worry about timing or any other outside factors.

If the reader loves the script, it will get the coveted RECOMMEND or at least a CONSIDER. If they don’t respond to it, they’ll PASS. And yes, once a script moves up to the next level of judging, those judges will apply their own subjective viewpoint.

While that may turn off some screenwriters, the strength of having those readers and judges not having to abide by 100% of the aforementioned criteria only increases screenwriters’ chances of placing high or winning contests, competitions, or fellowships.

And if you choose the right ones to submit to — the ones with the best and most proven Hollywood contacts — you can parlay those wins into career-making relationships.

But you need to understand that this enhanced subjectivity factor entails that you submit to many contests, competitions, and fellowships. The more you “play”, the better your odds of succeeding will be.

The most critical factor to your success is that you hone your craft.

Submitting screenplays too soon after you’ve completed them usually means you’re presenting unfinished work. You need to take a vacation from that draft for a couple of weeks to a month, come back to it, read it cover-to-cover, and make it better. You can even use peers and mentors to help you through this process — without relying too heavily upon them. The pinnacle of a screenwriter’s growth is being able to be objective about your own work and not immediately blame the Hollywood machine for your rejections.

Read ScreenCraft’s 3 Ways to Be Objective About Your Own Screenwriting!

Hollywood isn’t perfect. But neither are screenwriters. Not every script is ready. Not every script has a place in Hollywood. So many of them just aren’t written well, aren’t submitted to the right company, aren’t submitted during the right time, or aren’t as impacting as they should be.

Keep positive. Keep writing. Keeping evolving as a writer. Keep trying to better yourself. And just keep getting your work out there when you’ve done all of that.

The rest is up to the fates.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The post What Criteria Does Hollywood Use to Pass on a Screenplay? appeared first on ScreenCraft.

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Listed below are the finalists of the 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition, selected from roughly 1,200 submissions. We’re excited to be exploring these excellent stories and to have received a slate of compelling works.

This year’s jury is comprised of editors from The Paris Review, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Granta Magazine, as well as an O. Henry Award-winning novelist and short story writer.

Stay tuned for the upcoming announcement of grand prize winner here and on our Twitter and Facebook pages within the next few weeks!

If you’d like to receive a notification when this contest re-opens for entries in 2019, you can subscribe for updates via Coverfly here.

Here are the top 25 finalists:

A Seat at The Window Herb Jordan
Adelaide Amy Lambert
Blonde Noir DC Diamondopolous
Butterfly Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
By the Light of the Fireflies Marjorie Florestal
Conference of the Birds Huda Razzak
Freeway of Love Alida Thacher
Marion’s Marseilles Jack Mayer
My Double Dutch Girl Gila K. Berryman
On the Properties of Things Mary Barnes Jenkins
One Star Tim O’Leary
Panopticon Kevin Kneupper
Pink Like Candy Floss Janet Ritchie
Quality of Life Christine Sneed
Restricted Fantasies Kevin Kneupper
Sick Robot D.C. Lozar
Spiral Bound Tracy Schumer
Split Key John Rosenberg
Swamp Girl Ruth Knafo Setton
The Caregiver Jim Gourley
The Third Woman (Revision) Miriam Kuznets
The Witch of Burgess Ave. J. Patrick Henry
Unthinkable John David Taylor
Waiting For The Big One Catherine Shorr
Yagruma Rosa Soy

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The post 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Competition Finalists Announced appeared first on ScreenCraft.

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Jeff Bower’s spec script Halycon Falls won the ScreenCraft TV Pilot Launch Screenplay Competition. Already represented by Abrams Artists Agency, ScreenCraft introduced him to manager Alex Creasia at Pathfinder Entertainment, who signed him as a client. He was also a runner-up in the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship.

Read about more ScreenCraft success stories here.

We recently had a chance to chat with Jeff about his ongoing success. His answers are below.

1. Congratulations on signing with your manager! Can you tell us how that came to be and what that process was like? 

Thanks so much. I’m ecstatic. I’ve been repped by Abrams Artist Agency for a couple of years and I wanted to add a manager my team to have another set of eyes to help develop my work. So I reached out to a few people (my agents, Cameron at ScreenCraft) and asked if they would pass along my material to managers they thought would be a great fit. I met with a few people and then Tom Dever at ScreenCraft introduced me to Alex Creasia at Pathfinder Media. The meeting was a blast and we connected on shows we love and why they speak to us. After that, Alex read my most recent pilot, gave me notes, and asked me to do a re-write. I nailed the re-write for him and I thought his notes improved the script immensely. So it was a no brainer that we should start working together.

2. How did you get your start and how did you get your first break in the industry to draw the attention of reps?

When I first arrived in LA, my primary focus was comedy. I finished the improv program at UCB and was on a mainstage sketch and improv team at iO West for over two years. I garnered some interest with my comedy pilots (a general meeting at Amazon based solely on a cold submission) and had done well in several competitions. Then, inspired by my years of running active shooter drills as a teacher, I wrote an hour-long drama about a town recovering from a school shooting, Halcyon Falls. Everything changed. The script placed in several contests and I won the ScreenCraft TV Pilot Launch Competition. After repeatedly seeing my name on the competition lists, I was approached by several agencies and eventually signed with Abrams.

3. How did you find contests such as ScreenCraft to be a valuable resource in the process?

When you ask most people in the industry how they got their careers started they can’t give you a simple, concrete answer. I can. It’s because of contests like ScreenCraft’s. When I moved to LA I had ZERO contacts in the industry. I used the competitions to gain confidence, get reps to read my scripts, and find my way into rooms. It’s why I have representation.  It’s why I have a career. ScreenCraft has always been especially kind to me as I’ve have had about a half a dozen different scripts make the semifinals or beyond. Halcyon Falls had advanced in a few other ScreenCraft competitions before winning.

4. How many years have you been writing and how many scripts have your written? 

Before I moved to LA, I was a playwright and artistic director of a theatre company (along with teaching). So, I had been writing plays for about five years and had one of my works published by Samuel French. I’ve been writing television scripts for the last six years. I’ve written seven comedy pilots and eight hour-long dramas I’d be willing to share with people. Then I’ve got a whole bunch of first drafts, false starts, and semi-completed material I horde away like J.D. Salinger. I wrote two screenplays last year that not even my wife has read. I like to get my stories out and onto the page, even if it is only for me.

Learn how to train yourself to be ready for screenwriting success with this free guide.

5. From a craft standpoint, what do you feel is the hardest part about getting a screenplay ready to share with industry professionals?

I am not sure if I ever feel like something is ready to share. It’s the scariest part. I write it, read it, edit it, rinse and repeat, think it’s done and give it to my wife. After she reads it I’ll end up editing it a ton more. I’ll think it’s absolute garbage one minute and the best thing I’ve ever written an hour later. At some point, you have to let go and tell yourself (and more importantly your reps) that you’ll send what you’ve been working on by such and such date. Luckily, I trust Paul and Manal at Abrams and Alex at Pathfinder and they always have outstanding notes and ideas to share with me. So I probably shouldn’t let it stress me out as much as it does. But I think it always will.

6. From a career standpoint, were there any challenges that were much harder than you anticipated? Anything that was easier?

The most difficult thing is the waiting. It will drive you insane if you let it. You wait to hear what people think of the script. You wait to hear if you’re getting staffed. You wait, wait, wait, wait… and you can’t control it. The only thing you can control is what you do during that waiting time period. I fill it with writing other things and spending time with my wife. It’s the only thing you can do. But it still drives me a little nutso.

The thing I find easier than I expected was performing well in meetings/pitches. I love going to my first general meeting at a production company. I love trying to impress them and using my improv training to handle any and all questions thrown my way. I always try and find a natural moment in the conversation to drop the info that I have a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and an MFA in Theatre because it’s such a weird part of who I am as an artist. Meetings are a fun little dance, one that’s nearly impossible to replicate and practice. You just have to do it and luckily, I love it.

7. What do you think you were you doing around 10 years ago today, and if you could give your past self one piece of career or craft advice, what would it be? 

Ten years ago I was teaching high school theatre, working to make other people’s dreams come true. And although I did enjoy my time as a teacher, I’d tell myself to get the hell out of that classroom ASAP and start writing all the time. Accumulate scripts and hours spent writing like it’s currency, because it truly is. Honestly, I think all writers would tell themselves to start writing more at a younger age. But you can’t get too mad at yourself. After all, what’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. What’s the second-best time? Today.

8. What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I am over the moon excited about my current pilot The Line. The script is a blue-collar Mad Men set in the 80’s, inspired by my father and uncle who worked 30 years on an auto assembly line so that their children wouldn’t have to. I worked two summers on the line myself and it was brutally destructive to your mental and physical health. It’s an investigation into a world of middle-class jobs that no longer exist in this country and the greed and incompetence that saw them destroyed. We’re going to be sending it out to production companies soon and I can’t wait to get into rooms and pitch it.

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

The post ScreenCraft TV Pilot Launch Contest Winner Jeff Bower Signs With Pathfinder Entertainment appeared first on ScreenCraft.

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What can screenwriters learn from film editing secrets that can make their screenplays more cinematic and powerful?

We’ve covered the notion that screenwriters should think like editors when they’re writing.

Read ScreenCraft’s Why Screenwriters Should Think Like Film Editors!

Now, thanks to YouTube Channel This Guy Edits and their Ten Lessons From the Top Film Editors, we’ve learned ten editing secrets of the trade that can be applied to how you write your screenplays.

Read the above link to realize why you should be doing this. Then read below to learn secrets on how you can apply editing lessons to your cinematic writing.

1. When NOT to Cut

Screenwriters have been told not to direct the camera in their scene description. This is very true and it is a directive that should be abided by a majority of the time.

However, every steadfast “rule” can certainly be bent. And you can accomplish this by how you write your scene description. The video describes the power behind the visual of staying with an image.

The heartbreaking hanging scene in 12 Years a Slave holds on an image of the protagonist hanging from a tree branch with only the tip of his toes saving him from dying.

12 Years a Slave - tiptoeing with a rope on a neck - YouTube

The shot doesn’t cut for around ninety seconds, which, in editing, is a lifetime. But the image is so powerful and cathartic.

You can accomplish this in your scene description — staying with the image — by adding a few lines of scene description to offer subtle details. Now, you never want to get too specific in your scene description. If you get into that habit, you’ll have a 130-plus page screenplay. But if you have an image that you want to stay on, and you don’t want to cut away from it by moving on to the next scene, offer some more specific details of the image.

In the case of the above scene, you would be writing about the way the slaves in the background are going about their business, ignoring this horrible visual of one of their own on the brink of death. You would write about the sounds coming from the fields. You would detail the beauty of the setting, compounded by this man hanging from a noose.

If you have a visual that you want to not cut away from in order to impact the audience for just a few more seconds, use a few more lines of scene description to keep us there.

2. Keep Your Ego in Check

The video talks about the fact that an editor can’t let ego get in between their work and what is right for the overall collaboration — and the story — of the project.

As a screenwriter, you can’t let your ego get in the way of the story you are trying to tell.  And once you sign on for rewrites under contract or tackle a writing assignment, you always have to check your ego at the door and do what is necessary for the project.

Even when you’re writing on spec, you have to set aside your ego to avoid writing big, flashy scenes that you think are brilliant and will impress anyone that reads your script. If those elements don’t serve the story, you’re getting in the way of the project.

3. Trust the Process

Film is a collaborative medium. It only starts with the screenwriter.

The process of developing, writing, packaging, selling, casting, filming, editing, and marketing a movie isn’t going to change anytime soon. There are variances to be sure, but for screenwriters, the process of collaborating with producers, development executives, directors, and talent will always be there.

Sometimes you’ll have more freedom. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll have to apply studio notes to your pages. Sometimes your notes to them will prevail.

Collaboration is a process. You have to trust it. That even applies to working with managers and agents on the script before it’s even taken out.

Trust the process.

4. Bad Ideas Lead to Good Ideas

Editing is a huge collaboration effort. Editors are doing the bidding of the director. While they certainly have their own input, in the end, the director is going to make the call. That call may seem idiotic and counterintuitive at the time, but editors have to trust the process and play it out.

The same can be said with screenwriters. Once a script is shared and feedback or notes come about, you’re going to get some whoppers. Especially if you’re writing within the studio system. You may even get a note or two from a manager or agent that just doesn’t jive with your vision.

But you need to be sure to put your preconceived notions in check and have the ability to take a counterintuitive note and put it into the context of how it could serve the story well. It’s your job to make those notes work within the narrative.

Bad ideas can lead to some good ones.

5. Writing Is Editing

For editors, this secret would be Editing Is Editing. For screenwriting, it means the same thing in the context of writing. In the video, there’s a quote mentioned that we’ll paraphrase as saying that every scene is a delicious course. And when you put them together, you can’t eat them all so you have to choose the best ones.

No untouched first draft is finished. Far from it. The real process of writing occurs in the editing phase because you’re designing the screenplay by what you cut out and by what you leave in. You’re crafting the story and the characterization by those choices.

So edit away. And while you’re doing that, you’re writing.

6. Organization Is Editing

Since we’ve proven that editing is writing, we also have to understand that the way you organize your scenes and moments is all about your organization skills.

You need to understand the material. You need to understand the story. You need to understand the characters arcs. When you look deeper into those elements, you’ll be able to organize what moments should happen when and where. That helps your editing.

Learn the best way to structure your screenplay with this free guide.

7. Just Write

For editors, this secret would read as Just Edit. The video mentions an editor that had previously worked on the short film version of Whiplash. This was before they were a known editor within the ranks of Hollywood. Once the feature version was edited by them, their IMDB page showcases the explosion of their career as they go on to edit some of the biggest movies out there.

Everyone wants to know how they can become the next big screenwriter. What are the secrets to success? Well, the secret is to just write. That’s all that you can do.

If you want to become a screenwriter, you need to write. And to learn to write, you have to just do it. If you need to start with a single scene and figure out the ins and outs of accomplishing that, just write a scene. If you need to start with a short script to see a story through to the end without having the pressure of writing a feature-length script, just do it.

There’s no doubt that what you write in those first few attempts will be lackluster, but your brain will slowly begin to figure out how a scene works. And that knowledge will grow every time you challenge yourself to do the next step.

And then every script that you write will be a learning lesson. You’ll see your craft mature.

Just write. Everything else will take care of itself as destined. But the writing has to be there first.

8. Storytelling Is a Muscle

Editors are storytellers, just like any screenwriter. And any storyteller knows that you get better with practice.

A muscle isn’t fully developed, strong, and lean from the get-go. You have to work that muscle for it to grow. You have to train yourself.

The same can be said for writing. You get better the more you write. And as you write, you need to explore different ways to develop your storytelling skillset into something bigger and stronger. You want to push the limits and of what you think you are capable of. You want to try your best to impact the audience even more.

That’s working out that muscle. And that’s how you grow as a writer.

9. Study the Process

The video brings up a common question with novice editors, “Should I be watching YouTube videos to learn the different ways to edit.” 

For screenwriters, the common thought or posed question is, “Should I be watching videos and reading screenwriting books to learn how to write screenplays.”

As a screenwriter, even if you’re a veteran, you always have to be studying the process. You always need to be feeding your brain with different perspectives, different techniques, and different processes. There is no right or wrong answer when you’re intaking all of this information.

The only right answer, in the end, is how you apply what you’ve learned about. You take what you like and leave the rest behind — as it applies to your writing.

But you have to intake those lessons. You need to consider everything. That’s how you’ll grow. That’s how your own process will evolve.

10. Utilize Reactions

Reaction shots are often utilized in editing. They showcase the emotions of the characters as they react to the information that is being shared.

Screenwriting is all about showing, not telling. Now, you can certainly utilize the telling through dialogue. But it’s the showing of emotion in reaction to the information being shared where you truly capture your characterization within your screenplays.

Interstellar - Years of Messages Scene 1080p HD - YouTube

Too many screenwriters focus on the verbal reveals and how that information is shared. They’ll have the scene description focus on who is delivering that information, as opposed to who they are telling it to.

Focus on the reactions in your writing. It’s not about directing the camera and telling the reader that they should envision a CLOSE UP of a character. It’s about using the scene description to subtly describe how that shared information is affecting them emotionally. Are they crying? Are they angry? Are they confused? Do they attack the deliverer of the information? Do they embrace them?

Showing us reactions is an excellent way to showcase characterization and depth.

These ten editing secrets can help your screenwriting. Since editing deals with visuals and film is a visual medium, the same lessons can be applied to those conjuring those visuals and editing them through the mind’s eye. It’s all connected.

Watch the full video for more elaboration and stunning visual examples.

10 Lessons from the Top Film Editors - YouTube

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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How can you master the art of pitching your novels, short stories, screenplays, or TV series as quickly as possible — a technique known as The Elevator Pitch?

The Elevator Pitch has been around for decades and is utilized in many forms within many different industries. In publishing, film, and television, it refers to a brief description of a project that explains the concept in a way that any listener can understand it in a short period of time.

The reference to an elevator relates to the time it generally takes to ride an elevator between floors — usually ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes.

While pitching a story in an actual elevator is an event that will happen few and far between, the point is that writers need to learn how to pitch their stories in moments of opportunity presented in small amounts of time — usually at writers conferences, film festivals, pitch fests, bars, restaurants, offices, and studios.

Publishing, film, and television executives — and power players — are usually in a hurry. They have little time for unscheduled pitches. But some opportunities present themselves. And writers need to be ready for them.

Here are four elements of elevator pitching that you need to master, be it in an elevator, hallway, conference room, or whatever location you find yourself in during a chance moment of opportunity — followed by advice on how and when not to perform an elevator pitch.

1. Know Your Hook

“Imagine a world where dangerous creatures have killed most of the human race, leaving a just a small percentage of the population left in hiding, struggling to survive — only these survivors can’t make a single sound because the quietest noise instantly attracts the creatures.” (A Quiet Place)

“Imagine a tourist island that is ravaged by an unstoppable great white shark that nobody can catch.” (Jaws)

“Imagine a group of college professors that gather to say goodbye to a colleague, only to listen as he confides in them about a secret he’s been keeping — he’s an immortal man that has been walking the Earth for 14,000 years.” (The Man From Earth)

This is what gets the publisher, producer, development, executive, agent, or manager invested.

The thing about elevator pitches is that they often need to have the luster of an engaging and compelling concept or subject matter. That is what forces them to keep listening.

If you try to pitch your quirky drama about four stoners hanging out in an apartment, they’re going to tune out right away and wait for you to stop talking so they can move on to bigger and more important things.

That hook doesn’t have to be an original genre concept, mind you. You can hook them with a compelling true story or true crime concept. The fact that your hook is based on a true story will pique the interest of any publishing, film, or television power player.

2. Craft an Extended Logline Pitch

“My script is called A Quiet Place and tells the story about a post-apocalyptic world where a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.”

“My book is called Jaws and tells the story of a killer shark that unleashes chaos on an island resort — and it’s up to a local police chief, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down before it kills again.”

“My screenplay is called The Man From Earth, and tells the story of an impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman that becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine as he implies that he is 14,000 years old.”

An extended logline could be anywhere from two to three sentences. Less is more. But it offers just a little bit more information about the story and the characters involved.

This gives them the context of your concept and allows more elaboration on where you are taking the concept that hopefully hooked them.

3. Craft a Great Finish

“It all builds to the final moment of the wife having to give birth while her family has left her alone. And she has to do it in silence to avoid triggering the creature’s sensitive hearing. And the father has to sacrifice his own life to save his children by drawing the creatures away from them with a scream!”

“It all builds to the final moment of the police chief — remember that he’s afraid of water — alone on the end of a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean with a rifle pointed at this gigantic and menacing great white shark that is swimming towards him with a barrel of compressed air stuck in its jaws. Smile you son of a bitch. Boom!”

“It all builds to the final moment of one of the professor’s friends — suffering from a mental breakdown after listening to the constant debate and rationalization of this unbelievable claim — pointing a gun at him to test his friend’s claim that he’s immortal. He doesn’t shoot him in the end, but the professor leaves his friends wondering if he’s really what he claimed to be. Immortal.”

Some will scoff at the notion of giving away the ending to your script, but that’s part of the pitch. You don’t want to leave them hanging. It’s part of the package.

4. It’s This Meets That

The sales concept behind the it’s this meets that approach is all about offering more immediate context for the industry insider to latch on to.

When you reference previous movies, they already know the scope, the demographics, the marketing, and the genre. They can also get an idea of the character types involved, as well as the themes explored. And if you’re pitching a cross-genre project, that can often work as an excellent additional hook of intrigue.

“It’s War of the Worlds meets Hush.”

“It’s 12 Angry Men meets The Twilight Zone.”

And it doesn’t have to always entail merging two specific movies, TV shows, or novels. You can reference a particular property and then meld it with a different type of genre, which gives the industry insider an idea of the potential that this concept has.

“It’s slasher flick meets Moby Dick.”

Some writers may look down upon this process as oversimplifying their projects, but that’s not the point. The point is to give the people you’re pitching to an instant frame of reference without the need for elaboration.

You’re not saying that your novel or script is a copy of those projects that you mention. You’re saying that they share similar elements — themes, settings, character types, plot types, and genre elements.

That’s Your Elevator Pitch

“Imagine a world where dangerous creatures have killed most of the human race, leaving a just a small percentage of the population left in hiding, struggling to survive — only these survivors can’t make a single sound because the quietest noise instantly attracts the creatures. My script is called A Quiet Place and tells the story about a post-apocalyptic world where a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. It all builds to the final moment of the wife having to give birth while her family has left her alone. And she has to do it in silence to avoid triggering the creature’s sensitive hearing. And the father has to sacrifice his own life to save his children by drawing the creatures away from them with a scream! It’s War of the Worlds meets Hush.”

“Imagine a tourist island that is ravaged by an unstoppable great white shark that nobody can catch. My book is called Jaws and tells the story of a killer shark that unleashes chaos on an island resort — and it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down before it kills again. It all builds to the final moment of the police chief — remember that he’s afraid of water — alone on the end of a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean with a rifle pointed at this gigantic and menacing great white shark that is swimming towards him with a barrel of compressed air stuck in its jaws. Smile you son of a bitch. Boom! It’s slasher flick meets Moby Dick.”

“Imagine a group of college professors that gather to say goodbye to a colleague, only to listen to his claims of being an immortal man. My screenplay is called The Man From Earth, and tells the story of an impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman that becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues that he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine — he has been walking the earth for 14,000 years. It’s 12 Angry Men meets The Twilight Zone.”

These examples are oversimplified to be sure, but they represent the core of what an elevator pitch needs to accomplish.

You need to know your hook, know your extended logline, have a great finish, and offer them some context that they can instantly grab hold of and make visual reference to.

That’s your elevator pitch. That is all you need to convey the necessary information that those publishes, producers, development executives, agents, and managers need to know.

The rest is out of your control. They’re either going to respond to it or not, depending on their own tastes, needs, and wants.

You need to make it engaging. You need to deliver it with the excitement that propelled you to write it in the first place. And you need to deliver it with confidence and control.

Practice it while you pace around in your living room, pretending that you’re at the event. Practice it in front of the mirror. Practice it in front of family members, friends, and peers.

The more you know it, the more natural it will feel in the moment. And despite having done all of this preparation, you need to make sure that it comes out as organically as possible.

But Don’t Be a Pest

The final step to mastering the art of the elevator pitch is knowing when you should and shouldn’t be attempting them.

You have to respect boundaries. You have to respect privacy. You have to respect their time. Be sure to give them their space. Trying to corner industry insiders in between screenings or panels is the worst time and place to attempt a conversation.

These people are busy during film festivals and writing conferences. There may be opportunities between events, but you need to remember that they may be rushing to get something to eat, heading to the bathroom, meeting with a peer of their own, making some calls, checking their emails, or heading to their next event. Don’t be the one to prevent them from doing that.

Bars and the designated mingling areas are the places to be.

And then mingle. Be social. But do not, in any way, shape, or form tell them that you are a screenwriter. If you mention that to any of them, the conversation instantly turns superficial. Wait for them to ask you what you do.

If they’ve finally asked — or you’ve found a subtle way to make that segue — don’t forget to remain humble when that happens. Don’t go into the pitch.

Just say, “Oh, I’m trying to shop a couple of projects. Specs.” Then wait and see if they seem interested and want to know more. Use what you’ve learned in the conversation before that and ascertain what may be the best script of yours for them.

And then take it from there. If they react and want to know more, great. If not, no problem.

Read ScreenCraft’s Three Achievable Networking Goals Screenwriters Can Accomplish!

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

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Leading development consultancy and screenplay discovery platform ScreenCraft and Santa Monica-based media financier BondIt Media Capital have announced two recipients of the Fall 2018 ScreenCraft Film Fund backed by BondIt Media Capital

The first recipient is 90291: Venice Unzipped, a provocative feature documentary about income inequality in America told through one community’s struggle with the growing income divide. Venice, CA, the once gritty, artistic, and working-class beach city, is now the epicenter of gentrification and LA’s growing homelessness crisis. The film will follow three families — one homeless, one middle class and one wealthy — living in almost unimaginably different circumstances, while putting a human face on Venice’s vanishing working & middle class.

The project is helmed by Colin Gray, his sister, Megan, and their company, GRAiNEY Pictures, an award-winning content creation studio who has previously worked with HBO, Showtime, Amazon, and other major studios and platforms.

The second recipient is the narrative short, A Mother. As a town copes with the disappearance of a little girl, a young mother must come to terms with her own decision to abort an unexpected pregnancy. The exceptionally well-written piece is an exploration of conflict and character driven by the social relevance of the central question.

The project is helmed by Natasha Ngaiza, a writer/director and professor of Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.

Congratulations to these filmmakers and to all who submitted. Let’s give a warm round of congratulations to them via Facebook here. And on Twitter here.

The ScreenCraft Film Fund is administered biannually in amounts up to $30,000 to talented filmmakers with projects that display singular talent, originality, vision, impact and development potential. The program accepts documentary and feature submissions in addition to short films and online series.

ScreenCraft provides ongoing creative development and BondIt (with sister company Buffalo 8 Productions) offer guidance and resources throughout the project’s production. Previous ScreenCraft Fund recipients include filmmakers Samira Shackle, Jonathan Machado, Mary McGuckian, Owen Kean, Haya Fatima Iqbal, Alex LanipekunNatasja FourieTom Botchii & Sam Kozel and Dani Bailes and Alexis KorycinskiDanny MaddenChris Osborn, Matthew Thorne, and Farraz Khan.

The regular deadline for the 2019 Spring Film Fund is March 31st. Applications can be submitted on this page here.

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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We are excited to announce the winners of the 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book competition. Selected from over 1,200 entries, Picaro: Psychopaths, Warlords, and a Rogue Journalist on the Dark Side of History by Jeff Harmon has been named the winner and The Heart of a Tiger by S.R. Kuy has been named the runner-up. The Golem of Venice Beach by Chanan Beizer has been named the winner of the graphic novel category.

Picaro, inspired by a true story, follows a gay war correspondent as he covers both sides of political events in the late 20th century while hiding his own secretive ties. The judges responded to the authenticity of the writing and the manner in which it humanized otherwise controversial figures by providing new perspectives on historical events.

The Heart of a Tiger is the true story of a woman who escaped the Cambodian Genocide in the 1970s. It follows three generations of women struggling against the boundaries placed upon them, each ultimately emerging triumphant to achieve their dreams. The author struck judges by capturing the experiences of her and her family in an emotionally resonating way.

The Golem of Venice Beach follows an immortal Golem, living among the homeless in Venice Beach, as it gets caught in a war between a narco-gang and the police. Bolstered by visually-stimulating action sequences, the story brings a fascinating mythology to life around an already-unique premise.

In addition to the ScreenCraft Team, the judges included: Manal Hammad, a literary agent from Abrams Artists Agency, Hannah Vaughn, the publishing coordinator from The Gersh AgencyKate Gale, the founder and editor of Red Hen PressTracy Kopulsky, manager and producer at MXN Entertainment, and Tommy Wallach, a New York Times best-selling author.

Both the Grand Prize winner, Harmon, and runner-up, Kuy, will each receive cash prizes and have their material circulated to ScreenCraft’s network of agents, managers, and producers. Beizer will also receive consultation from the ScreenCraft team and have his material circulated and developed.

If you’d like to receive a notification when this contest re-opens for entries in 2019, you can subscribe for updates via Coverfly here.

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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“There are going to be showrunners in TV that are more talented than me and less talented than me… and I can’t care about them. All I can care about is my work and how hard I do it,” TV creator and showrunner Michael Rauch says while sitting down for a recent interview with Yale Podcast Network’s To Live and Dialogue in LA.

Rauch has been around the industry block, having written for the successful Royal Pains and most recently creating Instinct, based on a James Patterson novel. He took time out of his hectic writing schedule to talk with Aaron Tracy in front of a live audience on the campus of Yale University. Below are some snippets from the insightful conversation.

1. Taking Advantage of Constructive Criticism

The first season of Royal Pains had ended and Rauch and the rest of the writer’s room were feeling pretty good about themselves. But they were hit with a reality check: a key character was pretty much universally despised. (Really no other way to put it, as Rauch admits.)

“After season one… everyone hated a character. And it was a very important character. Men, women, old, young, you name it, no one liked this guy,” Rauch remembers. “And so, it was very important to kind of get smacked in the face with that because what we did was spent the first week or two in the writer’s room in season two just working on dimensionalizing that character, making him a real person. Clearly, we hadn’t done our job in season one and it wasn’t the actor’s fault, it was our fault.”

2. Adapting (and Reshaping) the Work of a Very Successful Author

James Patterson is arguably more machine than author. The man publishes multiple books a year for both adults and children and has sold over 300 million of them to boot. He has a gigantic fanbase that eagerly awaits the next read. To say that this was intimidating to Rauch as he embarked on adapting Patterson’s work for TV (for the show Instinct) would be an understatement.

“I felt a very strong responsibility [to James Patterson’s massive fanbase] in the pilot because they were using his name to sell the show… I didn’t want to completely corrupt it with hacky-ness,” Rauch says. But he also didn’t want to feel bound and tied down. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and to make the show his own. Rauch explains, “At this point, now, the show is the show… there are characters that came out of his books so clearly, he’s still a part of it but people are going to watch the show based on the stories we’re telling not based on whether it’s going to be Patterson-esque or not.”

3. All That Matters is the Quality

Rauch was asked his thoughts on writing for the season versus writing for the episode — basically an argument that has turned into writing for streaming versus writing for a network (in a way). Rauch finds merits in both outlooks, but at the end of the day, all that matters is if it’s good. Which may seem obvious but… harder than you think.

“On CBS, every episode has to be close-ended and one of the reasons why is because it’s much easier to sell shows like that internationally because they can run out of order,” Rauch explains. “But at the same time, when we start the writer’s room each year, we have our overarching story for each character and our big story we want to tell throughout the season.”

Rauch elaborates, “To me, if the episode of the show is funny and captivating and draws me in, I couldn’t care less if it’s one unit or part of a much bigger piece. Whether it’s The Crown or Mindhunter or really anything that is good, to me, I want to watch it.”

4. What You Can Control: Your Work Ethic

Rauch’s advice for anyone aspiring to a similar job as his (or any job, really, he says, whether it’s acting or you name it), is to simply work for it. As Rauch puts it, “The things that you can control are how hard you work, how much you care, your attitude and being on time.”

He goes on to say, “No matter how much time you have to practice your craft or how little time because you’re paying student loans and you’re waiting tables, and you’ve got six kids at home… everyone has different things we have to manage… Some people are born with a ton of talent and they waste it, and some with little talent and they figure out a way to nurture it… but those are things that are out of our control. But the things that we can control are the things I mentioned.”

Learn how to train yourself to be ready for screenwriting success with this free guide.

5. To Film School or Not To Film School? That is the Question.

Film school’s expensive. No doubt about it. Expensive enough for some people to give up on a dream — or, rather, find their own way to do it. But if one is willing to take out loans (or has the money to pay for it), is it still worth it? Rauch, a Columbia film school alum, says the answer to that question is subjective. But he definitely doesn’t regret his own experiences in film school. It was there he had experiences he never would have gotten anywhere else.

“I found film school incredibly helpful,” he admits. “You had to take an acting class. So, you know, I’m a horrible actor but it taught me how difficult acting is, it taught me how to approach words from an actor’s point of view, and it taught me how to communicate with actors. As a showrunner and as a director, that’s invaluable…”

“You can act with friends for free and you can write for free — it’s really hard to direct for free… so to have the opportunities to make movies, whether they’re thirty-second movies or a thesis for fifteen minutes, it’s very hard to get that experience anywhere [other than film school],” he says. But Rauch is also realistic. He’s not promising film school is the golden ticket into the industry. “I don’t think it’s going to make a difference in terms of getting a job — no one’s going to say, you went to film school, I’ll hire you.” But to Rauch, that shouldn’t be the main reason a person goes to film school. It’s about the experience. “It might make you better at what you’re doing, you’ll definitely meet people there. I went to film school with people who have been very successful in the film industry and I know them and we’re friends because we went through that together.”

Listen to the podcast on iTunes here.

Travis Maiuro is a screenwriter and freelance film writer whose work has appeared in Cineaste Magazine, among other publications.

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From breakout cable television hits like The Walking Dead and Atlanta to mega-blockbuster films Black Panther and The Avengers: Infinity War or streaming sensations like Stranger Things and Ozark, some of the industry’s finest production work is currently being done in Georgia.

As an independent filmmaker, working in close proximity to projects like these is always exciting, but there are also more substantive benefits to living and working as a filmmaker in Atlanta today; here are five reasons I believe Atlanta is currently the best place to make films.

1. An Exceptionally Supportive Creative Community

The professional network of filmmakers in Atlanta is more enthusiastic and sophisticated now than ever before, and as a result, the opportunities for education, training and collaboration have become some of the best in the world.

First and foremost is the incredible community of artists and technicians that has sprung up as a result of the growth of the entertainment industry in Atlanta. If you are an independent filmmaker, there are a number of local organizations here to provide their support along with an ever-increasing pool of talent to draw collaborators from.

The Atlanta Film Festival is an incredible source of knowledge and community, and last year, the festival opened with the first annual ScreenCraft Writer’s Summit, a marquee lineup of panels, pitches, workshops and mixers during the first three days of the festival. For an indie filmmaker living outside of Los Angeles, the summit was an incredible opportunity to meet and discuss the craft of screenwriting with Oscar-nominated writers like Eric Heisserer and Diana Ossana, and will be returning to Atlanta this year with another stellar lineup of guest speakers.

Learn more about the ScreenCraft Writers Summit and reserve your badge here.

I’ve met some of my closest collaborators while attending the festival’s screenings, workshops and mixers throughout the year, and serving as a guest liaison during the festival, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and spend time with some of my filmmaking heroes, many of whom continue to provide me with support and guidance.

In 2016, I was offered the opportunity to establish a brand-new film industry outreach program for The Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Open to the public and affordable to attend, SCADFILM hosts an incredible lineup of mentors and speakers every month like Writer/Directors, Richard Donner and Amy Heckerling, Actor and Filmmaker, Edward James Olmos, and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Kim Krizan as well as highly-acclaimed development and acquisitions executives.

New film degree programs in Atlanta from The Savannah College of Art and Design and Georgia State University, as well as professional certificate courses like the state-sponsored Georgia Film Academy, have also stimulated incredible growth in the filmmaking community, giving rise to new meet-ups and industry mixers every month where young filmmakers are building strong creative networks.

2. World-Class Infrastructure & Crew Base

Since it opened in February 2014, Pinewood Studios Atlanta has grown to become the largest studio complex in the United States, outside of Los Angeles, and the last five years have seen studios, stages and production facilities pop up all over metropolitan Atlanta. 

With the steady influx of production that these facilities and other production support companies have enticed to come and shoot in Atlanta, there’s been explosive growth of skilled crew. That means when production slows down in the off-season there experienced crew members are often sitting around, looking for interesting side projects. 

I also have to give a huge shout-out to the vendors in Atlanta. I’ve worked with a number of remarkably generous rental houses, sound stages and post houses on local projects that would have been impossible were it not for the generosity of these businesses. If you have a strong, homegrown project in need of support, they are always willing to help. 

I’ve had equipment and facility rentals discounted to ridiculously affordable levels, traded for the use of my own gear or my services, or donated entirely, just because folks in the Atlanta filmmaking community are eager to support local projects.

3. Southern Metropolitan Culture

Atlanta is home to a uniquely diverse cross-section of artists that is truly inspiring to be a part of. The city feels young, tenacious and situated at an exciting crossroads of art, culture, technology and industry.

From the highest echelon’s of black entertainment like Tyler Perry Studios or Will Packer Entertainment to upstart indie production companies like Fake Wood Wallpaper, whose quirky festival darling The Arbalest recently won the SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Atlanta has become a place where unique artistic voices can find the support for work that represents their singular, oftentimes under-represented points of view.

Working with the general public is also still a joyful experience in Atlanta. Unlike larger production markets where much of the general public has become accustomed to (or even disenchanted with) film productions working in their neighborhoods, the community in Atlanta still possesses an undiminished enthusiasm for the art of filmmaking.

Need a location for your next film? Researching a script? Need a shooting permit? Whatever the needs of your project are, Atlantans are always excited to be a part of the filmmaking process and lend their support.

4. The Cost of Living

With a cost of living average 40% lower than Los Angeles and 50% lower than New York, you’d be hard pressed to find another city on the planet that offers independent filmmakers the same level of access to talent and resources at Atlanta’s price point.

With rent prices an average of 35% lower and income levels roughly on par with LA, the ability to live and work in the film industry is much more attainable in Atlanta than in New York or Los Angeles, providing Atlanta’s filmmakers with greater access to the culture, resources and amenities of a large city.

5. Tremendous Growth Potential

Finally, Atlanta’s film industry is uniquely poised to continue growing for years to come, thanks to an aggressive tax incentive with no sunset, cutting-edge facilities and a world-class crew base. 

As the local film industry continues to expand, new post-production and animation houses are opening their doors and expanding their client bases, film degree programs like SCAD and GSU are rapidly expanding enrollment year to year, and thousands of professional transplants are making the move to Atlanta.

As a writer/director what excites me most is this city’s future. Development houses are beginning to open shop in Atlanta. Focus is beginning to shift to above-the-line talent. Local writers, producers and directors are finding paths to market for their work. A soup-to-nuts independent film industry is taking root in the “Hollywood of the South”, and as a filmmaker, there’s no place I’d rather be.

Brandon Osterman has served as a writer, producer and director of feature films, commercials, music videos and short films seen by millions of viewers around the globe. His short films have been selected by some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and exhibitions, including the Cannes International Film Festival: Director’s Fortnight Exhibition and The National Gallery in London. His projects include work for large international clients like Wix.com, “Sol De Inverno” (one of the highest-rated television dramas in the world), concert videos for international recording artists Nico Vega and The Naked and Famous, and a diverse catalogue of competition shorts and independent feature films. Mr. Osterman earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation from The Savannah College of Art and Design, as well as a Master of Arts degree in filmmaking from The London Film School, where he studied directly under seven-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh. In 2016 he founded the SCADFILM training initiative for the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, Georgia, where he programmed world-class training programs attended by more than 2000 filmmakers, led by an esteemed lineup of guest instructors including Edward James Olmos, Amy Heckerling and Richard Donner. He now serves as a writer and producing partner at Nimble Giant Studios in Atlanta, where he is currently developing the comedy series “Zombie Raygun” and the indie sci-fi feature “Dragon Flowers” with studio partners in Los Angeles and the United Kingdom.

For all the latest ScreenCraft news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote the opinion for the unanimous decision that overturns circuit courts’ previous rulings on whether a copyright registrant can file suit before the registration is fully processed by the US Copyright Office. Previous rulings allowed for lawsuits to be brought if the copyright registration had merely been filed. The law now requires that a copyright registration be fully processed and accepted by the US Copyright Office, which can take several months. The ruling in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com will undoubtedly influence future and existing copyright lawsuits in the entertainment industry.

What does this mean for writers?

It’s more important than ever to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office in a timely manner, because it often takes several months before you’ll receive your notification of copyright registration.

Do writers have to file copyright registration for their work?

The short answer is no. If your work is written or published in the United States, your work is automatically protected by United States Copyright Law. All you have to do is prove your authorship to claim your copyright. That said, if you want to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, then you must first register your screenplay with the US Copyright Office.

ScreenCraft offers a fast, secure and easy copyright registration service. Each registration application is carefully reviewed by a licensed entertainment attorney before being submitted to the US Copyright Office. The cost for this service is $99 plus applicable government filing fees. Click here to learn more.

The reason why Congress requires registration before litigation is to ensure a public record of ownership of copyrighted works. Are there other ways to prove ownership? Yes, of course. But in order to bring a lawsuit, a US copyright registration is required.

Is there a high risk that my screenplay will be stolen?

There is not a high risk that a reputable producer or executive will outright steal a screenplay because it is much more costly for them to expose themselves to copyright lawsuits than to simply acquire a screenplay via purchase or option agreement. Most industry professionals are fully aware of copyright protections and they would not risk their career by brazenly stealing and producing a screenplay that does not belong to them. Instances of this happening are extremely rare. A more serious risk is that a sneaky producer will dupe a writer into signing an unfavorable contract agreement – so be careful and be sure to hire an entertainment attorney before signing your work away to anyone.

Can you copyright work in the public domain?

While you may not copyright work that already exists in the public domain, you may certainly copyright a derivative work – such as a screenplay or novel that is a fresh take on a Shakespeare play or a Charles Dickens character. This can be a valuable way to leverage pre-awareness of intellectual property in the public domain in your own work. In fact, ScreenCraft has a screenplay competition for film and TV scripts that is tailored specifically for scripts based on public domain works. Learn more about the ScreenCraft Public Domain Screenplay Competition here.

Is a WGA registration as good as a US Copyright registration?

No. They are different in that a U.S. Copyright registration is prerequisite for litigation. Learn more about US Copyright vs. WGA Registration here.

The material provided here is extremely general in application and therefore should never be taken as legal advice for a specific need. Always consult a knowledgeable attorney for your own legal issues.

The post What the Supreme Court’s Recent Copyright Registration Ruling Means for Writers appeared first on ScreenCraft.

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