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Writer's... Learn To Be A Producer's Asset...

April 27, 2018 at 8:18pm

I was standing in a line at a coffee shop in Hollywood 20 years ago with a writer friend who was an AWESOME writer. He really hadn't been discovered yet but his work was amazing. Everyone who read it thought so. I was a newer actor who aspired to be a good writer... just like him. Our friendship was often in helping each other. To mentor... etc.

I always like to talk to people and often do wherever I go. The coffeeshop was no acceptation. I started talking to the guy in line in front of me who turned out to be a Producer. I immediately intro'd my buddy and he agreed to read his script. This was years ago when writers carried hard copy(s) wherever they went.

We got our coffee and sat down at a table. The Producer opened my buddy's script, who was on total edge. The Producer read the first page. He flipped it and read the second. He flipped that and read the third. After that, he closed the cover and slid it back across the table to my buddy and said, "I can't do nothin' for ya."

We were both stunned. My buddy asked, "Why?" He said, "On page one, you have an actor that could only convincingly be played by one or two actors in town. And I don't have the budget for him. On the second page, you have a 186 story office building being blown up. I don't have the money for that. Or, even the effect. On page 3, you have our hero, being whisked off the roof of the office building just in time by a hybrid, jet-powered helicopter. I'm not sure where to get one of those, but I'm pretty sure I don't have the budget for that either.

He went on to say, that my buddy spent the budgets for 3 of his films on the first 3 pages of his screenplay. That was a lesson to me... at my buddy's expense. So what is the moral of this story???

You as a writer have a responsibility to your own career. You can't help someone else... if you can't even help yourself. A new writer is not likely going to sell a blockbusting big budget film to a major studio. That said... you need to be more realistic. Whenever I write something I think about the Producer. Costs are first and foremost. If you want something spectacular (and most Producers do) figure out how to accomplish it on a budget. Do the research (your do diligence) This is what I do. Be prepared and ready with an answer or explanation for any concern or objection. That way you can keep the Producer from closing your script... and handing it back to you!

You also need to learn how to work with Producers. If they want re-writes... give it to them. If not, give them REASONS (not excuses) why this or that won't work. If you're a good enough writer you should not only know how to do the re-writes but should be quick at doing them. There's a saying in the industry that I have found to be mostly true... The Greener They Are... The Harder They Fight!

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Apr 27, 2018 at 7:14pm




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