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It seems, when you need an agent, you can't get one, but when you can get one, you don't need one (because you have sold your work and begun to build your name). Panelists at the Northampton Independent Film Festival indicated this was very much the case. Thus, their advice, your first sale will likely come solely from your efforts, so focus your queries and networking on production company contacts, not on attempts at representation.
Here's something to consider. At a panel on screenwriting during the Northampton Independent Film Festival—held November 6 through November 10, 2002—one of the industry panelists said that anyone who goes into screenwriting to make tons of money is nuts.
Keep that in mind when weighing whether you really want to chase this dream. Only about 1% of screenwriters get rich writing screenplays.
Paul Thomas Anderson, critically acclaimed director and writer of Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love, said on the IFC (cable network) show Independent Focus that he does not outline. And he is not sure where a story will end when he starts writing it. This is clearly contrary to the philosophy of outlining a story and knowing its ending before typing FADE IN. Which method should you employ? Only you can answer. Write and find out what works for you.
At a panel on screenwriting in Northampton, Mass., panelists praised the writing on dramatic television. Per one, “Writers rule television,” so television stories are generally better than what Hollywood distributes to cineplexes. Watch shows like Law & Order (and spin-offs), CSI (and spin-offs), and Monk. See if you agree that the best writing is on TV. See what you can garner from the shows to aid your own writing.
If the best Hollywood industry writing is on television, one panelist speaking at the Northampton Independent Film Festival believed it was because of how frequently and quickly TV writers get to see their words turned into pictures—mere weeks! Writers for the big screen sometimes have to wait years to see if their words translate. Consider this when weighing the Hollywood opportunities you wish to pursue.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|