Bad Advice

Bad Advice

Happy Friday!

So… I admit that I’ve been in a tailspin since I made my decision last week. My brain immediately thought of all my feature ideas that I’ve been kicking around for a while. But there is a big difference between my new ideas versus my old ones… And I mean this literally.

My newer ideas are for much bigger budgets. Okay. They are for much bigger budgets as in the millions of dollars budgets. Several million dollar range of budgets if I’m honest. One example is my own version of Star Wars since I’m pissed about the last six movies. But the last three really put me over the top.

And it’s gotten me to think about the “advice” that I’ve gotten over the years about how to best approach the big studios if you’re an unknown writer. The most consistent advice that I’ve heard is that they’re not going to spend much on you if this is the case. Their advice is to then write something smaller for the bigger studios to make. Here’s the thing about that advice: It sucks. Why? The bigger studios rarely do smaller films regardless of the writer and/or their fame. ‘Sides these studios’ idea of a smaller film is one that still costs over a million or more to make.

How is this significant? My idea of a “small film” is a microbudget. Could you imagine Universal making a film for under $50,000? (Some would think that this is too high for a microbudget.) This is no doubt a fraction of their location budget if they shoot at their own studio. Their day rate was about $4,000/day ten years ago. I can only imagine what it is now. If anyone can give me an example to break this belief, please do so. I also mean ones that they start from their inception rather than Universal buying smaller ones to distribute.

And in what ways did this impact me? I tried writing microbudget films in hopes of being noticed. Did it work? Hell no. Part of it is that it’s been a grueling process for me to learn how to write. And I still question if I know how to do it on some days. Okay. Most days. Would they have bought my scripts if my writing was better? The answer is probably no since they’re not in the market for microbudget films. They want bigger ones that can appeal to a mass audience. And why not? They have resources to do them.

It’s also considering what they want. I once saw a memo from someone back in the day that pitched the original Men in Black movie franchise to Director Oliver Stone. Does this seem like a good fit? A big fat no. The advice to write a smaller film for those not interested in smaller films is just as bad.

So… Shame on me for not questioning this “pearl of wisdom” that drove my writing for the last many years. Who knows? Maybe the people giving this advice were looking to get rid of the competition.

My bigger point is to write a story that makes the most sense for you. And write big films if you want the Universals of the world to make it. They can just buy it and pay someone else to rewrite it. A bigger named someone. Sorry. It’s nothing personal. But you’ll always get a “story by” credit unless there is some weird fluke. This could surely help your career a lot more than a drawer full of scripts that are squeezed to fit some theory some random people said.

My other reason for “shame” on me? I was lazy in not questioning what I thought was gospel. But it’s just like everything else in life… One idea may hold true for some people at certain times except they may also evolve over time.

Okay. I’m going to sign off today with one question:


Have you held onto screenwriting advice only to find out that it’s bunk?

And one piece of advice:

Well written scripts targeted to the correct buyer will always do better than ones that are Frankensteins stitched together with bad advice.

Have a great day!

Have a great night!H

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