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Articles
Ten Things Every Producer and Director Should Know
Ten More Things Every Producer and Director Should Know
Making the Tin Man: How I Made My First Feature Film
It’s Just Some Extra Zeros...
All About Completion Bonding Companies
Money Savers!
The Strange Tale of Peter Borg
An honest look at film festivals
The Death of the Hollywood Dream Factory
Nice script. Where is the budget?
The TRUTH about the SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement
Screenplay Structure the PROPPER Way (NEW!)

How I Made My First Feature Film

CHAPTER TWO - The Playís the Thing

So there I was, Mister Big Time director/producer and I had no script. I didnít have the Armani suit either, but thatís another subject. I had a 747-sized desire, but no destination in mind. By this time Iíd rented a small office, turned the phones on and printed up some letterhead and cards. Nice office, but no script. I figured Iíd go outside and look for another matchbook. Only this time the smiling big rig driver would be holding a screenplay out the window and the copy would read, ďIíve got your screenplay right here!Ē

Of course that didnít happen - Iíd never be that lucky. But the answer was out on the street on top of a newspaper dispenser. It said, ďIt pays to advertise.Ē

So, I did. I placed these tiny ads, (thatís all I could afford) in the Hollywood trade papers - Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The ads ran only once or twice, (and again later on) but the results were incredible. During the next year I read almost one thousand scripts! Of course things are different now with the Internet and all, but I didn't have that luxury back then.

By now I'd heard that all the really great scripts were already in the greedy hands of a few powerful talent agencies. But they couldnít have scooped up all the good scripts?. Odds are theyíd missed one or two. The Writerís Guild says that only five out of a thousand scripts are ever optioned, and only one out of a thousand is ever produced, (thatís why I read so many!). Iím not a fast reader, so about three a day was my max. I also wanted to make sure that the writers remembered me later on. What I did was send all of them a detailed letter after Iíd read their script. I would write the letters immediately after I finished reading their script so the characters and story were still fresh in my mind. They liked this - someone out there was giving them feedback about their script. Much different than the attitude from an arrogant agency or pretentious producer.

This extra work paid off for me in later years. Those same writers would send me their new screenplays before they sent them to an agent. Soon, I had a constant stream of scripts flowing in. The stacks of unread scripts grew and grew until I had almost 600 in the office. And more came everyday! But most of them were terrible. A veritable Pikeís Peak of putrid prose! I was beginning to think those nasty agents did have all the good scripts. But there were a couple of nuggets in those mountains of manure! In fact, one of them was a new script from a writer whoís earlier script had been a stinker. Iíve made seven features to date, and three of them were from this original group. Lessonl: Be nice to writers.

Out of the thousand scripts I read, there were two I zeroed in on. And one in particular: ďA Heart for the Tin ManĒ by a writer named Bishop Holiday.

Next Article:   How I Made My First Feature Film - Chapter Three (Getting Started)

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