Friday, November 19, 2010
Access Hollywood? I Don't Think So ...
The never-ending debate over whether or not screenwriting consultants are useful or just snake-oil salesmen with leased Maseratis won't be resolved anytime soon. As was mentioned here in previous columns, there are many willing to read your screenplay, give notes, and even, so they claim, provide access to producers, agents and stars who get movies made.
Getting notes on your script is fine. A knowledgeable story editor can help shape up a script, find weak points and zero in on places where character development and conflict can be punched up.
Those who offer access for a handsome fee, however, should be viewed with skepticism--even if a story editor does have access to some Hollywood power players, she can hardly offer to present your script, sight-unseen, to the movie-making elite. Here's the reason: The business's upper echelon only has time for the best of the best scripts. So, say your story editor presents your good, but not great, script to one of those Gods of the industry, who can green light a script, package it with a star and a director and secure funding. The script goes to one of the mucky-muck's underpaid assistants, who reads it and writes coverage. And when the coverage come back the likely verdict is: "Stink bomb." Well, both you and your story editor buddy are henceforth pariahs in that producer's office. You won't necessarily be banished from Tinsel Town, but a couple more stunts like that and you'll be asked to move to the Valley. So, a consultant couldn't possibly offer unconditional access without burning out his friendships in short order.
And in this town, friendships are more important than a few ill-gotten dollars swindled from some unsuspecting novice screenwriters.