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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Screenwriting Expo Pt. 4

Philippa Burgess began with:

"Who here has the goal of selling a script this weekend?...Who has the goal of getting representation? ... Who has the goal of ... the goal of ... goal ... goal ... goal ..."

With each utterance of the hideous word, a voice from the back of the room sounded: "Ouch! ... Shit! ... Ow! ... Quit it! ... Ouch! ... Ow! ... Stop it! ... Yeow!..."

My voice, that would be.


Creative Convergence's Philippa Burgess, in her Friday seminar, Million Dollar Screenwriting Career, gave my own screenwriting career an overdue bitch-slapping. I've told my hench-people that I'll have a draft of the new horror spec by Valentine's Day - maybe, probably. There's no reason why it couldn't be done by Valentine's Day. No reason at all. But, you know, we'll see. Or not.


I have been taught - but have not thoroughly retained - the knowledge that goals must be measurable, must be time sensitive, must be actions that can be executed, and other stuff like that - all of which make my skin crawl - all of which are very helpful, vital even, in getting my crap done, but things which make my skin crawl nonetheneverless. I don't like my skin crawling. Makes me feel like a snake.

But on the other hand, have you seen a snake after it's crawled out of its skin? Shiny.

Anyway ...

I suppose I attended Expo 4 with a vague notion that I wanted to meet other writers. That's a goal, isn't it? Yes, I'm counting that as a goal. I also went with a determination to take Philippa's marketing class, of which I'd heard much praise.

I've been stuffed like a Siberian pepper with education on the screenwriting craft - much of it completely useless when the time comes to put words on the page, but necessary in order to get to the page in the first place - but, for years, I've avoided - evaded, more like - acquiring good skills in marketing myself, selling my work, negotiating the whip-lashing rope-ladder of success. In fact, I - as have too many writers before me - even taken the position that as a writer I am not allowed to attempt to manage and navigate my own career path. "You are not qualified, son." It's part that destructive infantilization of writers that David Milch has bemoaned, and I have bought into it hook, line, and other fishing tackle items. For my career thus far, I have taken what I like to call - or will like to call in the future, having just thought of it now - the "Bastard Astronaut" approach. That is: "Put me in a silver suit. Strap me in. Wake me when we blast off. I'll be available for autographs later."

I seemed to gush in my Friday post when I said that Philippa's marketing seminars were a "revelation", but that is an accurate assessment. The first seminar was anyway, then her second one, in the evening, which was virtually the same, was just confirmation of the revelation (you have to be careful about these things - there's nothing worse than a nut running around shouting about a half-baked revelation).

My representation has always been mui laissez faire - often frustratingly mui. Laissez faire can be wonderful when you're an agressive little self-promoting pit bull. But I'm usually more of a passive little self-deprecating alley cat, which does not always insure the jobs keep rolling in. When baffled as to why I haven't been lining up job after job after job, I have blamed my agent, because...well, that's what we do. We blame our agents. Laymen suppose that an agent's most important function is to secure work and negotiate deals. No, no. It is to absorb blame.

If I took action along Philippa's helpful guidelines, I'm thinking it would be very difficult, might be impossible to blame my representation again. And if you don't need representation to blame, then...well, do you need representation at all? I wouldn't know. I'll keep you posted.

At the Expo, I bought Philippa's book("Secrets Of A Million Dollar Screenwriting Career"), which delves into her seminar material in greater depth. It's available at The Writer's Store. Check it out. Most of the information is - like all good teaching - simple with the effect of reminding you what you already know but have forgotten to apply.

Still, it's hard not to feel like the Australopithecus in "2001", utterly baffled by something too, too simple.

For example: Networking is apparently the continued maintenance of friendly contact with the people in your community.

Cue the Monolith.


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