Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Screenwriter: "I Just Don't Want to Answer Phones at a Place I used to pitch."

The Wrap has an excellent article focusing on a screenwriter who's been so hard up for work, he's had to turn to temp assignments to pay the bills.  It's a sad tale of how the industry has changed to make it difficult for even B-list writers to cultivate their careers the way they used to.  This particular writer saw his first film gross $80 million dollars and he sold a second script.  Yet that money runs out quickly in today's world.

"I was doing fine for a while, and then it seemed like after the writers strike, studios and production companies used that as an excuse to cut in-house deals and use that as an excuse not to pay writers for anything."

He suddenly found himself competing with A-list writers for B-list jobs. 

"A lot of the jobs I used to go up for, A-list, like super A-list writers are going for those jobs right now," he said. "In the past, they wouldn't have. There was enough of every level to go around." 

Now, he said, with studios cutting back on the number of movies they make, it's a tougher world. "They used to make films in the 5-to-10 million dollar range," he said. "Now everybody wants to do either the super micro-budget stuff, they want to make remakes or sequels, or they want to make tentpoles. A lot of those middle-ground movies that filled the marketplace, those assignments are gone now."

He goes on to say that studios used to develop projects more - but now it's expected that you'll have the project ready to go - developed and packaged - before they'll pick it up.

And he said studios have used the economy as a justifaction for their own greed. "The studios aren't hurting," he said. "They're just trying to keep as much money as possible." In addition, he said, "Studios used to buy and develop projects a lot more. Now, you almost have to have the project developed and packaged to get it picked up."

Though he's turned to temp work, he says he won't take an assignment in an entertainment company.

"You don't want to answer phones in an office you've pitched to in the past," he said. "It's a little humiliating."

Agreed.  You can read the whole article here.


  1. Great reasons for new writers not to focus on feature film. TV is still a tough road, but at least there's some work out there to be had.

  2. i needed to get more depressed today. this did the trick. thanks!