We guarantee to pitch ALL our winners’ scripts to industry, and with two new competitions now open – the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award 2020 and the Summer 2020 Screenwriting Contest – we already can’t wait to get more great scripts into the hands of top producers! To give you an idea of how we do that, we’ve been giving you an inside look at Ian’s LA Pitching Diary. Here’s the final instalment – featuring more conversations with key decision-makers and a request for scripts from our slate…
Late last night, as a result of other discussions and links made this week, Oscar-winning producers responded to the access we’d given them to the whole of our slate’s pitch documents, and asked to receive three of our winners’ scripts. Getting your script read by the people who really can, and know they might want to, make it happen: that’s the goal of nearly everything we do with our winners – so three requests in one is a great sign. Delighted to oblige: that’s why we’re here! We’ll enjoy hearing the producers’ thoughts and doing whatever we can to get a great deal and exposure for our clients for their excellent work.
So yes, that was definitely a good way to start the day.
Next up, after making new arrangements for the media assets of our film THE LIST which we’ve now inherited back from Warner Brothers after a decade of distribution there, this morning I met a key member of staff from one of the big feature film production companies, who have produced many successful, household name movies. We met because she had expressed an interest in working with us, and as we talked it over she asked to see all of our slate, potentially with a view to assembling funding and production packages like she has often done before, with notable success stories.
So naturally I was delighted to give her a look: these opportunities are what we’re here for!
Everything I’ve talked about this week is just the beginning of those conversations and the relationships and partnerships that can lead from all of our interactions throughout our decades working in the business. It’s a long game and you have to be committed to that in order to succeed. We’ve been playing that game for our clients for over 20 years: if we didn’t make that work, we wouldn’t still be here.
So yeah, things are shaping up really well for us and our winners at WriteMovies and TalentScout International Management right now. We’d love to make you a successful part of that journey too. Submit your script or book to WriteMovies to know that your project is being judged against the real needs, preferences and requests of the market, and that if we believe we can take you forward, we will get your pitch and script in front of people who are looking to make great things happen for projects like yours. Whatever level you’re at, whatever project you’ve got, we believe we can take you to the next level. And the next, and the next. That’s our calling as an organization. Let us help you to the top!
To submit to WriteMovies:
- Enter one of our Screenwriting Contests, with entry from just $39
- Buy one of our script report services to get expert, professional feedback on your work – and free entry to our current contest!
- Studio Coverage will give you a page of comments similar to those producers and executives get
- Development Notes offer a comprehensive analysis of your script, focusing on topics such as concept, structure, characters, and commercial viability
- Get Elite Mentoring, either face-to-face or over the phone from industry professionals including writers, producers, and executives
And that’s a wrap for this first series of our L.A. diary! As you can imagine, behind the scenes there’s a lot more to our work than high-profile meetings and industry liaising – just this week of meetings alone occupied weeks of preparation for several of our team – and we can’t always make enough time to write a series of articles like this about those meetings either! But. As this week was so packed with interesting meetings to talk about, we wanted to share that with you to show you what we’re doing for all our winners and clients, and the value we can add for everyone who submits their work to us.
This is our daily work at WriteMovies. Taking you to the top, by whatever mix of means are the ones that will work. Keep us and our proven industry connections at the heart of your plans and goals for your work. Let’s make great things happen for you, together!
Good luck everybody. Looking forward to hearing from you.
See the rest of Ian’s diary here! Find out how he prepared for pitching on Monday HERE, and how he got on with meeting Shaun Redick (GET OUT, BLACKKKLANSMAN) and Yvette Yates of Impossible Dream Entertainment HERE! And find out about his trip to Warner Brothers and Digital Monarch Media HERE and to BAFTA Los Angeles HERE.
Last week we announced the launch of our Summer Screenwriting Contest… and now it’s time for our latest genre prize! Last year we had a great time with this one, so it’s back once again – ladies and gentlemen, our Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award 2020 is now open!
Our Summer 2020 Screenwriting Contest is now LIVE! One of the big prizes for our top three scripts is pitching them to industry – and here’s a sneak peek into how we do just that. See the latest instalment of Ian’s LA Diary below, featuring a trip to BAFTA LA and a meeting with SCARFACE co-producer Peter Saphier…
My first meeting today was a first chance for me to meet BAFTA LA and get to know their services and initiatives first-hand. Our founder Alex Ross is a BAFTA member, and recommended I reach out to them about how we’re increasing both our presence on the ground in LA and our transatlantic partnerships with the UK industry at the same time. Good call.
So this morning I met BAFTA LA’s Head of Partnerships Wayne Watkins at their 12th floor office, with great views across LA in all directions, from the sea to the Hollywood Sign and far beyond. Wayne gave me nearly two hours of his time and was great company. It was really satisfying to hear about the value that BAFTA LA add to the whole industry in LA and its future talent pipeline, especially for outsiders and those who wouldn’t have had the chance to get into the industry there otherwise. I’m really looking forward to taking discussions forward and finding further synergies: thanks very much to Wayne for being so generous with his time and thinking.
So from there I moved to the famous Musso & Frank Grill – Hollywood’s oldest (established over a century ago!) and fresh from its latest big-screen appearance, in Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. There I was hosting Peter Saphier, the producer of SCARFACE (with Al Pacino), EDDIE MACON’S RUN (with Kirk Douglas) and BLACK DOG (with Patrick Swayze) among many other achievements. Peter passed on traditions of visiting Musso’s and what to order, which he had inherited from the passing generation of filmmakers who first brought him here, and which I will now continue and pass on too – such as the tradition of ordering their excellent Flannel Cakes. It was also one of the best-value meals I’ve had in LA, and a beautiful venue. What’s not to like?
It was fascinating to hear Peter’s stories about oldtime stars of the postwar years and subsequent decades. His stories from SCARFACE were particularly eye-opening – and made me all the more aware that sometimes we have to take big creative and reputational risks in order to achieve works that will really break through and resonate down the generations. In that spirit we both later began to talk about our own current slates and consultancy services, and it was great to be able to share some industry insights and approaches that can help even someone at his experience level (transatlantic industry knowledge again!).
Peter also offered to host a lunch for our winners in Hollywood in the future, like he and Alex used to do for them at Warner Brothers – an offer I’ll be delighted to take up. It’s another great example of the kind of industry access and expertise we aim to open up for all our winners at WriteMovies, and anyone else who we come to partner with.
After lunch with Peter discussing about a wide and very enjoyable range of subjects, we got into a final conversation about the filming equipment I’ve been walking round with lately, to be able to film and photograph at instant industry quality wherever I go: the audio recorder, monopod and 4K DSLR camera I walk around with, to be able to shoot spontaneous useable footage, audio and stills at a few moments’ notice. I explained that the DSLR had already recorded tens of hours of primetime UK series, produced by a Director-Producer-DP friend of mine. It’s remarkable how far our technology and potential has come, in the space of our careers, and it’s fun to be able to show an experienced hand like Peter something new!
The DSLR came to good use straight after the meeting with Peter too, because I stepped out of Musso and Frank’s straight onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As I ambled back, I took dozens of new stills of the famous names there in the space of a few minutes, which can help to illustrate our future WriteMovies articles for many years to come. Though I can’t say the nameplates themselves are all that exciting, they’re a great token of how the work of Hollywood is kept alive and gets to resonate down the ages like so few other works.
I only photographed the names that meant the most to me, and maybe half of those were for stars who died before I was even born. Truly, great cinema is a global gift for the ages. My meetings this week have really invigorated me with that sense of purpose once again: to continue to champion great global storytelling through WriteMovies. It’s a great position to hold in the industry.
And something else amused me too. At one crossroads on Hollywood Boulevard, the Walk of Fame comes to an end while the Boulevard continues on ahead. Once you cross the road and continue along Hollywood Boulevard, straight away, the next sidewalk is just a messy patchwork, without pretences or tourist traps, yet still at the heart of the action. Yeah, there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
My last meeting of the day was with the creator of an online LA industry network that now has over 30,000 members. I don’t think there will ever be over 30,000 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but considering the length of the credits on any major movie, there’s definitely enough work to be had supporting the ones who do get one. It’s great to know that so many established industry players we’ve met this week can recognize the difference we try to make for those writers and storytellers looking to move up to the next rung in their own journey in the industry, wherever they’re starting from.
I, and our founder Alex, both got separate emails from Peter after my meeting with him, telling us hugely complementary things about how the meeting with me had gone. I replied that if I could print and frame an email, that would be the one! Moments like that make all the hard work worthwhile…
NEXT TIME, IN FRIDAY’S L.A. DIARY… Producers of many huge movies look at ALL of our slate and clients!
If you’d like to see more of Ian’s diary, you can check out how he prepared for pitching on Monday HERE and how his meeting went with Shaun Redick (GET OUT, BLACKKKLANSMAN) and Yvette Yates of Impossible Dream Entertainment HERE! And find out about his trip to Warner Brothers and Digital Monarch Media HERE.
The coronavirus crisis is making life hard for everyone right now – today, all Californians were ordered today to stay home. Here at WriteMovies, though, it’s business as usual thanks to an established business model we developed several years ago, enabling us to continue our work around the world from our own homes where necessary! We’ve got big plans coming up to help support our followers and clients during this pandemic, too – we’ll be telling you more about that next week…
But before that, we promised to share a week of Ian’s L.A. Diary from the beginning of March – and here’s Part 3! We GUARANTEE to get our winners’ scripts in front of top producers with the power to say yes and make things happen, and this sneak peek gives you an idea how. Here’s what Ian got up to on Wednesday March 4th…
So today I had two long crosstown trips to make. First was to Warner Brothers, where I had to check and collect the movie assets they had distributed for a decade from the film WriteMovies produced in 2006 – THE LIST. It’ll be really exciting to open new doors for one of our greatest success stories – a charming New York rom-com written by our winner Marcus Folmar and starring Wayne Brady, Sydney Tamia Poitier and Jane Lynch among others – but at this moment the focus was purely on the nuts and bolts: cross-checking the inventory, ensuring all the assets are present and indexed and in good condition, packed and ready for shipping.
Visiting the media archive at Warner Bros!
I took my time to check that all of the details were right, because you can’t expect to be able to go back after the fact, to argue that something should have been there but wasn’t. I videoed the contents of the pack and inventory too, in case we ever need that for reference. Some things you only ever get one chance to do right, and this was one. Thanks to WB staff for their help throughout the process! As you can imagine, their media archive is a vast and (as far as I could tell at this point!) meticulously indexed warehouse facility, and was a fascinating place to visit and spend time.
So, one big box heavier, I set off from Burbank to Marina Del Rey, an hour away, to meet double Oscar-nominated and double BAFTA-winning VFX expert Habib Zargarpour (THE JUNGLE BOOK, BLADE RUNNER 2049, and much much more including Tom Hanks’ imminent GREYHOUND). Habib is now Head of Film Development at Digital Monarch Media, a division of Unity Technologies, and welcomed me to meet his groundbreaking team managing film for a company within Unity Technologies. I spent time getting to know the team, and catching up about the latest filming for THE SQUADRON (directed by Habib and produced by our founder Alex Ross).
Ian (right) getting to grips with amazing real-time VFX capture equipment, with Habib Zargarpour (left) and his colleagues at Head of Film Development at Digital Monarch Media, a division of Unity Technologies.
Then they took me along as a visitor to a demo they were doing for a fascinating film school, who it was great to meet and get to know as well. Then we all came back to the company office where Habib and his team showed how their latest equipment enables directors to generate – and customize – their VFX in real time. This technique proved extremely effective when they produced the VFX for THE JUNGLE BOOK live-action/CGI remake and we look forward to sharing much more about their unique work and tools with you in future. In the meantime, massive thanks to Habib for his team’s hospitality and help with our media assets from Warner Bros!
Next, another lengthy cross-town trip later, I liaised with further candidates for the new role we’re looking to add to our team, and caught up on emails – with so many exciting meetings happening, it’s vital to follow up what’s been agreed and discussed thoroughly. Emails are important to confirm them and start to make things happen and take industry interest in us to the next level every time: vital details are easily missed or forgotten in the rush of other work if not, and could come back to bite you if you can’t show a trail of substantive evidencing for them. And meanwhile, not forget to check in for the next meetings and confirm any extra details.
The logistics of a week like this in LA are vital to its success, and agreeing the wrong number of meetings or times that don’t work with each other can undo all your good work getting this far.
NEXT TIME, IN THURSDAY’S L.A. DIARY… BAFTA LA, and Hollywood traditions with an iconic film role producer!
Want to see more of Ian’s diary? Check out how he prepared for pitching on Monday HERE and how his meeting went with Shaun Redick (GET OUT, BLACKKKLANSMAN) and Yvette Yates of Impossible Dream Entertainment HERE!
To give a picture of how we engage with industry and pitch our winners’ scripts, our Director Ian Kennedy is sharing a week of his L.A. diary with us. He’s got meetings with major producers, organisations and other industry professionals to share with us, plus images from the scene.
So, you know that moment where you’ve done a LOT of preparation for something, but you know that even more could turn out to have been necessary. Do you know all your script storylines inside out? Their focal characters, dynamics, loglines, suggested directors and leads casting? Their USPs and their writers’ credentials? Not easy with a slate as big and varied as ours. And what about the people you’re meeting? Have you seen all their work and press? Not easy when it’s a big company who make a lot of productions and have been doing it for many years.
So, you can do all the preparation you can, and still never feel like it’s quite enough. So you get up early and you practice your pitches some more, because you might need to fall back on one you weren’t expecting to, if they like or don’t like something for reasons your research could never have told you.
And then your meeting starts and everyone’s great with you and you realise that you and your team already got everything important in place by going about things the way you did long before the meeting was confirmed.
So that’s how today’s meetings have felt.
Doing our best over many years to be the best we can and do the most we can for our clients means that there are great people out there with goodwill for us, who help us in return, and the mutual trust we build up means that people you’ve never met who are successful and in demand are still ready and game for you to meet them and chat about what you do, because a mutual friend already vouched for you so they trust you not to waste their time.
Of course you’re also there to help them with their own priorities, they’re not going to indulge you and if you make a false step it’ll still count against you. But if you approach things positively, helpfully, professionally and try to always add value, then everyone can win at the same time.
That’s the backdrop to this morning’s meeting with Impossible Dream Entertainment, where Yvette Yates and Shaun Redick (pictured with me here, among the posters of their triumphant recent productions BLACKKKLANSMAN and GET OUT) and we spent an hour finding synergies between their slate and what we do at WriteMovies and TalentScout International Management, discussing our projects and theirs, and where we and they could potentially add the most value for each other.
I want all writers who submit to WriteMovies to know that we not only have the means to, but we actually promise to, put our winners’ scripts to producers who can make these scripts happen, and to do everything we can to make your script and pitch ready to get the result you’re looking for, when that happens. Sure, nothing happens instantly – I believe it takes a lifetime’s work to be an overnight success – but if you succeed with us, you will get exposure to successful industry producers who really are looking seriously at your pitch.
And who knows, I might have even better news for you soon. Thanks hugely to Yvette, Shaun, and Kathryn Nawrocki for vouching for us to them, and our founder Alex Ross for making this business and still putting us into the right conversations with the right mix of enthusiasm, readiness and wariness. It’s a challenge we relish and enjoy every day. Thanks also to everyone who entrusts us with their script so that, if we believe we can take it forward, we get to pursue that with everything we can.
Another string to this bow is my goal of growing our LA team this week to increase our presence on the ground here. Adding another seasoned head who knows how to get things done around here is never a bad idea in a business like ours. So I also really enjoyed today meeting another producer with a track record of getting things done, who’d expressed an interest in that. We’ve all got war stories from the ups and downs of our line of work. It’s great to grow our network with people who’ve made things happen, and if we can find that synergy and start making things happen together, then everyone can win. That’s how I like to do business, and the more contexts I do business in, the more I recognize that it’s really all about people finding the people they most want to work with to achieve their goals.
A final word about today goes to my Uber driver as I left the first meeting, who had just come from auditioning for Nickelodeon where he said his audition got a standing ovation. He told me he and his brother had already made a successful indie movie and were underway with another that has a strong social conscience and some powerful substance. Sure, that was just talk and anybody here can be full of it, but he was great company and I’d like to think he’ll go places (that don’t need him to keep an Uber job). We exchanged contact details because hey, who knows where the next great opportunity is coming from.
Here’s to making people’s dreams happen.
To give a picture of how we engage with industry and pitch our winners’ scripts, our Director Ian Kennedy is sharing a week of his L.A. diary with us. He’s got meetings with major producers, organisations and other industry professionals to share with us, plus images from the scene.
With Kathryn Nawrocki at the historic Culver Hotel
A lovely warmer to our week began over the weekend with a meal at the historic Culver Hotel (lots of fun industry connections, especially from THE WIZARD OF OZ, Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne) with Kathryn Nawrocki, a former WriteMovies winner who has been a great support for us over the years. As well as setting us up for a meeting with producers of acclaimed recent hits, she gave some really thoughtful contributions to our slate of scripts and how we’re currently presenting them. Huge thanks to her for her kindness, connections and positivity!
The start of the week is a great chance to check in on upcoming meetings, firm up the details and logistics, and rearrange any that need it – people are busy here so confirmed meetings often still get reshuffled! Amazing how much time that can take up when you’ve got a lot of other appointments and locations to juggle with, but it’s the info you need first so you can know your schedule and what else is going to be possible. Learning to keep communications brief and clear is key, and it’s what everyone expects from you as well.
Next up, a check on where we’re at with our planning and preparations. First bit of that is reaffirming our goals for the week, our priorities and focus. It’s way too easy to be a head-down worker, get straight into the little jobs that are ongoing or waiting in your inbox, and lose the bigger picture. For me, this week is about affirming an ongoing presence here in L.A. that is highly visible to the industry and to achieve the kind of conversations that will lead to our scripts getting optioned and produced. To make that happen, it goes without saying we should go into all meetings prepared and crystal clear about the people we’re meeting and their work, us and our relevant scripts, and what we’re looking to achieve.
It’s easy to only look at things in terms of yourself and what you’re trying to achieve – but nearly always, it’s only by helping someone else achieve what they’re trying to, that you’ll achieve a deal that works. So you have to get a feel for the slate, priorities and values of the people you’re talking to, and use your human intelligence and networks to get the info you need. Of course, we’ve been pooling our team knowledge and colleagues and networks to do just that for a long time before any of this week’s meetings were confirmed.
So while I’m doing the above I’m liaising with our team to firm up the sharpest, clearest pitches possible as we confirm the most suitable of our scripts for the upcoming meetings. Every new thought or bit of research can change our approach to this and the reference points that will be the best to use, so this kind of thing I like to manage as an ongoing conversation, keeping a short summary of the things I need to memorize in an accessible location as I do.
Many Hollywood hotels have varied spaces that can be great for meetings, like The Standard’s pool area here. The lobby and restaurant there both have good spaces to bring people as well – we were one of several industry meetings taking place casually in those spaces today.
We’ve been given huge amounts of great tips and insights over the years so it’s important to process that into easy-to-access summaries and checklists too. So easy to miss the one crucial thing that could make or break an opportunity. For example: “So what’s your ‘big trailer moment’ in this story?”
Meanwhile, a top priority early this week is interviewing candidates to be a new voice on the ground in LA for us. Today that process started very promisingly. Quietly optimistic that we can get someone with the right skills and credentials in place by the end of this week – watch this space!
IN TUESDAY’S L.A. DIARY…
Find out how Ian gets on in his next meeting with acclaimed producers, and further interviews to join the WriteMovies team!
To give a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at WriteMovies and TalentScout International Management, our Director of World Wide Development Ian Kennedy is sharing a week of his Hollywood/L.A. Diary with us at the start of March.
Expect news of meetings at major studios and with Elite producers, screenwriters and other adventures in Hollywood, plus a string of fresh images of iconic Hollywood locations.
In the meantime, we’ve brought together two of our Elite Mentors and a former WriteMovies winner living in Los Angeles to share their L.A. industry pitching tips. Here’s what they had to say… first, about staying there and getting around town.
ALEX ROSS, WriteMovies founder, film producer and former LA agent
BOBBY LEE DARBY, Screenwriter and WriteMovies Elite Mentor
KATHRYN NAWROCKI, Screenwriter and former WriteMovies Award Winner
HOTELS, BARS AND PLACES TO MEET
KATHRYN: “The funny thing is that often tourists from abroad come to LA and imagine that downtown is hub OR that Hollywood Blvd is it. They don’t know the “outsider’s INSIDE guide”… Sunset Strip has some amazing places and you will be RIGHT In the mix. You have to walk to Sunset Towers nearby which is phenomenal.”
ALEX: “I like the area near Sunset Plaza. Lots of great little outdoor restaurants: http://www.lepetitfour.com great for celebrity spotting. There is great hotel within walking distance: https://www.standardhotels.com/la/properties/hollywood.
If you are on a budget, the best hotels are near the airport: Hilton etc. Also, when there, you need to watch REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE with James Dean, then go to the Hollywood observatory. Eat at C&O Trattoria on Venice Beach and Barney’s Beanery.”
KATHRYN: “The Standard is actually a terrific choice. They have a lovely pool, casual bar. There is one of my favorite bars EVER within walking distance that is relaxed, unpretentious, with fantastic apps/drink specials when it opens at 6. The TROCADERO. No need to book. They have these amazing Happy Hours deals 6-8 on drinks and FANTASTIC apps from filet mignon tips to shrimp cocktail etc. I usually just order a ton of those and a drink or two but I do believe they have dinner.
Sunset Strip is fun. Make sure you go to CHATEAU MARMONT and even propose a meeting there if someone wants to come to you. This spot, along with THE MONDRIAN are amazing and just fun, iconic, central spots… PINCHES TACOS (not PINK Taco which is fun but not yummy food) for a meal. Authentic and fun and a walk away.
Also THE DEN is a very unpretentious pub/bar with apps too you could do for informal meetings. Jason Segel and Jon Hamm routinely hung out there. It is kinda a local gem. WALK Sunset Strip and enjoy. Greenblatt’s deli isn’t far and has genuine NYC Jewish deli food and vibe. A ridiculous silly but MUST see is SADDLE RANCH which you can walk to. Great food, mechanical bull, bottomless Bloody Marys with brunch And SUNSET TOWERS is iconic as well!”
ALEX: “Traffic [is a big problem]… So, the car hire is the cheapest part. The insurance can be more. Use a CC that covers insurance. The place has some of the highest petrol prices in the country.
If you are staying in central LA for a few days use Lyft or Uber. Drivers are really aggressive, if you use your indicator they will speed up at you to cut you off…
Parking is really expensive. Avoid valet parking… Hotels love to charge you $30+ for over night parking. Take a Lyft from the airport. And everyone wants a tip… the waiters in restaurants like to get about 20%. Natives usually double the tax. Whatever you see on the menu, add 30%.”
BOBBY: “The most meetings we ever had was 4 in a day, and that was a rough day – the logistics across LA get exhausting. Arrive really early. The studio lots are massive – Warner Bros is huge – it can take you half an hour to walk to your meeting even once you’re inside. If you’re meeting at a bar at say a hotel, make sure it’s the right one! There’s often another one at the pool level at the top of the building, and finding the right lift and the way there can make you late. So book a maximum of 4 meetings a day; Uber drivers may know the best routes, if you’re not driving yourself, but you should leave plenty of time to get between things.”
BOBBY: “The dress code for these meetings is very relaxed – jeans and any shirt.”
ALEX: “Also, LA is about sunglasses! Look into some fashion mags and get yourself the coolest you can afford. The rest is all about jeans (designer) you can literally get away with a T-shirt (as long as it is cool!)”
See Bobby’s other L.A. industry pitching tips – and tips for Europe and the UK – HERE! And find out more about what he can do for you as an Elite Mentor HERE.
Find out more about Alex Ross HERE and about our other Elite Mentors HERE.