Almost nine years ago I started writing my first screenplay, and almost nine years ago I stopped. Then I started up again, only to stop again once I reached 140 pages and realized I had to start from scratch.
About a year after that I started writing another screenplay and it sucked slightly less than the first.
In 2004 I finished the first screenplay I ever wrote that had some sort of cohesive plot and structure to it. I entered it into the third season of Project Greenlight and made the Top 100 semifinals. I was never more excited, more proud and more just amazed. The Top 100 was the top 2.5% of scripts entered. My writing partner and I had to shoot a short video showing our personality and had to sign contracts and agreements. It seemed so real. After almost two months of waiting, we didn’t advance any further.
I spent the next several years putting aside the dream of screenwriting and focusing on my more easily attainable career of becoming a software developer. I would often come back to my still unfinished and mostly unpolished work and dabble from time to time, but I never really tried to sell any of them. I never felt they were ready enough to waste someone’s time. I never sent any query letters and every so often I would sign up for InkTip, only to never receive any requests.
In 2008 I submitted one of my specs to ScriptShark and they gave it a CONSIDER. They say only 3% of work submitted receives that score, or the coveted RECOMMEND. This was probably the turning point for me as it was some sort of validation that I wasn’t a hack. That while screenwriting was a pipe dream, it was a pipe dream I had a sliver of a chance of attaining.
The following three years I started to notice something with any project I started. My first drafts sucked a lot less. That’s not saying I’m good at this, but I think it means I’ve progressed. When they asked Tony Hawk why he became a professional skateboarder he said it was “the only thing he got better at.” I think with anything if you don’t improve over time you might want to try something else. But anyway I’ll step down from the soap box.
My scripts got better. Were they masterpieces? Were they Pulp Fiction? Not at all, but they weren’t pieces of garbage either. With the help of books like “Save the Cat” and “Your Screenplay Sucks” and most importantly “How NOT to Write a Screenplay” you learn what not to do which sometimes is more important than learning what you should do.
So back to the point of me bothering anyone with this massive sea of self-righteous words: On November 19th 2011 I optioned my first screenplay. It’s a Christmas script which I helped rewrite. It’s not my favorite script by any means. I like writing crime dramas, or theoretical 8 mile sequels. I like guns, nudity, swearing and gambling. I never thought my first sale/option would be for a holiday themed Christmas movie which is headed towards ABC Family next year – god willing.
I think back to something 50 Cent said which Kanye West quoted – “Switch the style up and if they hate then let em hate and watch the money pile up”.
Money hasn’t piled up yet, but hopefully this is the start.
I'm now drawn to the fact of how many more of these things I have to write to make this an actual career.
FADE IN: indeed.