Monday, May 28, 2012


There are neither shortcuts nor substitutes for having a GREAT writing sample, preferably more than one. To be a successful screenwriter, you must have great samples of your work. The most successful writers and filmmakers in the entertainment industry got to where they are by developing a strong body of writing material, their success did not happen overnight.

Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Matthew Weiner all worked diligently at their craft for years, continuing to hone their talents before they became famous. Fame only came about as a result of hard work and consistently turning out quality material. In the case of Matthew Weiner, he had written an amazing spec pilot called "Mad Men" over six years before it got made. While no networks were interested in doing period pieces at the time, the quality of the writing was so outstanding that it captured the attention of David Chase (the executive producer and creator of "The Sopranos"). Matthew went on staff of "The Sopranos" and became one of the show's top writers.

For years there was still no market for a period piece about the ad men of Madison Avenue during the the 50's and early 60's. However, Weiner's great piece of writing which contained fantastic dialogue, rich characters, conflict and subtext continued to be a cornerstone of his career which brought him more work, which in turn led to even more and more work.

Six years after Matthew wrote the pilot for "Mad Men", an executive at F/X who had always been a fan of the script was hired by AMC to head up their original programming. AMC did not have a specific mandate, and the exec. was given great latitude to put whatever she wanted into development. She remembered "Mad Men" and put it into production. Through Matthew's experiences, working with David Chase, he learned how to become a show runner himself. The rest, as they say, is history.

The moral of the story...

Every great career is built on a cornerstone of great writing. I hear aspiring writers frequently comment about the number of movies and series that are made which are poorly written. There are myriad reasons why that might happen, such as a movie being based on an enormous, pre-existing brand like "Transformers" where the players involved are well-established, and wherein special effects are the dominant concern. While other reasons might abound, no executive intends to buy a script that is poorly written.

Great writing is a process. Every great writer I know always says that he or she is continually learning to be a better writer. Rarely is a script ready after a first draft. It often requires several drafts. Sometimes a script is a stepping stone to the next one.

What do Michael Hazanivicius, Paul Haggis, and David Seidler have in common? When these writers sat down to write the scripts for "The Artist", "Million Dollar Baby", and "The King's Speech", it's unlikely they did so thinking they were going to win an Oscar. All of these films were great underdogs. Who would have thought in the age of Hollywood's love affair with special effects and high octane excitement that the film to take home gold would be a silent one? Or that a movie about a young female boxer who dies after losing her legs would be another contender? Or that David Seidler who wrote a small play and began the story forty years prior would also be taking home gold? All these writers knew at the time was that they had stories to tell, and went about telling them exceedingly well.

The take-away...

While it's good to be eager and want to get your script into production right away, it is also important to be patient with yourselves; put in the time to take the necessary steps that will make your scripts outstanding, and enjoy the process.


For tips and feedback on elevating your writing, feel free to give me a call and visit:

Wendy Kram, Owner/Producer

WK Productions & L.A. FOR HIRE, Inc.

Ranked by Creative Screenwriting Magazine as the Industry's Top 3 Picks for "Best Script Consultants"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Screenwriters: "How Do I Get A Manager?!"

Screenwriters often ask, "How do I get an agent or a manager!?"

On the one hand, if you get one of your projects going, it is easier to get representation because you will be a "produced" writer, or a writer whose works have been optioned. At the same time, if you're a screenwriter, I know you want to have a manager who will take your work out for you. It's a Catch 22. But there is one steadfast rule, and it is probably not a secret to you--

You must have a great script that demonstrates not only a good concept, but one that is well-executed in terms of plot, structure, character development, action and dialogue. Agents and executives pay attention to material that distinguishes itself by showing the writer has a unique and masterful voice.

The truth is that great work has a way of getting found. And for screenwriters, it is important to have more than one solid writing sample as agents, managers and executives need to know that you are not a one-trick pony. You need to show that you can consistently hit the mark.

Making sure your scripts are at the best writing level they can be is the key to finding representation and/or getting produced.

Do you know how to tell if your project is market-ready? Show your script to respected industry colleagues and other screenwriters whose works you admire for feedback. You might also hire a professional script consultant, and make sure to do your due diligence when deciding who to use.

InkTip can also be a good resource for screenwriters, as production company executives use the site to look for material by genre. Attend prestigious Pitch Fests and Film Festivals that attract A-list Hollywood executives. In addition to the biggies such as Tribeca, Sundance, Berlin, and Venice, other prestigious festivals that are smaller but provide opportunities to make excellent contacts and network include the Austin, Palm Springs, Slamdance, and Toronto Film Festivals, among others. For more information on Academy qualifying festivals, go to Top Pitch Fests include InkTip Writers Pitching and Networking Summit and The Great American Pitch Fest.

I hope you find the above helpful. If I can assist you or someone you know, please visit: or email for more details

Wendy Kram, Producer/Owner

WK Productions & L.A. FOR HIRE, Inc.

Ranked by Creative Screenwriting Magazine as the Industry's Top 3 Picks for "Best Script Consultants"