Tag Archives: aspiring screenwriter

THR Classic: Failed screenwriter becomes successful script consultant

Now charging $250 for advice she herself never followed

Pasadena native Sally Trenton recently transformed herself into “one of Hollywood’s top script consultants,” despite having been one of Hollywood’s worst screenwriters for the past six years.

“I’ve found that it’s much easier to critique other people’s work than actually create quality material of my own,” said Trenton. “Plus I’ve written so many bad scripts, I know how to spot what’s wrong with them.”

Despite never having secured representation or any discernible level of interest from Hollywood producers, Trenton, who has written 14 screenplays, claims she has the insight to help aspiring screenwriters get their scripts ready for the market.

“The last thing you want to do is send someone a script that isn’t ready,” she said. “Unless that someone is me, because how else would I make a living! But seriously, send me $250 and a PDF of your script, and I’ll send you back some extremely subjective notes that may improve your script up to 5%. I’ve read all the best screenwriting books so you don’t have to.”

In the two months since Trenton began marketing her services, she has already helped dozens of amateur writers take their scripts to the next level.

“Two of them made the first cut at Scriptapalooza,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting helping make dreams come true!”

** This THR Classic was first posted in October 2008 **

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Aspiring screenwriter extremely receptive to positive feedback

Not so into constructive criticism

Successful screenwriters must be adept at handling feedback, a fact not lost on 32-year-old Bob Feldman, an aspiring scribe from Tennessee who’s completely open to positive reactions to his scripts.

“A guy in my writing group said my script was really funny, especially the parts with the two teenagers talking about sex,” said Feldman. “That’s really useful, because it means my writing is great.”

But that doesn’t mean Feldman is open to all feedback. When a friend suggested he develop a stronger arc for the main character, Feldman balked.

“Look, I can’t address every single note I get. I’m not a stenographer,” he said, before listing off all the reasons why the note made no sense whatsoever. “I do agree with what [his friend] said about the ending being hilarious, though.”

Feldman is currently unrepped.

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Honorable mention in obscure screenplay contest confirms writer’s belief that she’s the exception

Dubious accomplishment ‘extremely validating’

Lisa Straud moved to Los Angeles six years ago to pursue a career in screenwriting. Now, a mere 12 scripts later, her belief that she’s a special talent has been proven true, she claims.

“How else would I have almost made the top three in the San Fernando Golden Cup Scriptathon?” she asked. “I was one of just four people that almost took third place. It’s what I’ve been saying all along: I was born to write movies.”

According to Straud, the accomplishment is even more telling considering how much time she spent on the script.

“Less than a month,” she said. “I just banged that sucker out. It’s like how John Hughes used to write movies in two days or whatever. It’s in my blood.”

Straud, a waitress at a Chinese restaurant in Hollywood, also believes she’ll be a great director someday.

“Most writers don’t have the skill set required to helm a film. I’m not like most writers, though, am I?” she asked, holding up the honorable mention certificate she printed out from her congratulatory email. “Finally, some validation I can share with my friends and family.”

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Writer working for free can’t figure out why pro scribes hate him

‘Those hacks are just jealous’ he claims

Aspiring screenwriter Josh Wellmeyer recently took a break from five different unpaid “assignments” to address allegations that his free work is hurting other scribes, as well as the screenwriting community as a whole.

“Bullshit,” he said. “We’re all on an even playing field. I just happen to be a hundred thousand dollars less expensive than many of the pros, most of whom are hacks anyway.”

Added Wellmeyer: “Once you get past the huge money gap, it’s all about talent.”

Wellmeyer has even gone so far as to contend his actions are helping other writers.

“Those established guys are lazy as hell,” he said. “I’ve got like six assignments lined up and I haven’t had to pitch hardly anything. In some ways, I’m pushing those older writers to work harder for their money. I sure am!”

Producers couldn’t be happier with writers like Wellmeyer.

“It’s awesome. They totally devalue writers, making the process cheaper for us,” said an AMPTP spokesperson. “Sure, their work is kinda terrible, but we can always bring in a talented writer to fix it later. And since they’re so desperate, we can pay them a lot less than before. Thank you Josh Wellmeyer. Thank you.”

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Writer finds way to mention free prodco assignment while ordering at Burger King

‘Better make it a double…I’ll be up late writing under contract’

48-year-old screenwriter Mark Slidell continues to work mentions of his unpaid writing assignment into nearly every conversation he has, as evidenced by a recent order at a Burger King drive-thru.

“Yeah, give me a cheeseburger and a large fry, please,” said Slidell. “You know what? Better make it a double. I’ll be up late writing under contract for a script that will go straight to studios next week.”

Slidell, who teaches fifth grade math for a living, has mentioned his assignment 342 times in the past month. Almost 300 mentions have come on writing message boards, but many have occurred in odd locations.

“Mr. Slidell was in the middle of a geometry lesson, when suddenly he showed us a pie chart showing the number of writers who ever get an assignment, even if it is completely unpaid,” said Jimmy Percival, 10. “Plus, every time he opens a laptop, he says someday we could be watching one of his movies on there. It’s kinda creepy.”

Slidell doesn’t see anything wrong with constantly bringing up his near-accomplishment.

“I was at a funeral the other day, and someone got mad because I said I would personally never die without achieving success in film,” said Slidell. “I only mentioned it because the deceased never even had a manager. I’ve had four.”

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Producer offers screenwriter $0 in exchange for services

Scribe jumps at ‘great opportunity’

Despite making nearly $100,000 a year as an accountant, aspiring screenwriter Josh Pendleton has agreed to write a script for producer Kevin Dernier in exchange for absolutely nothing.

“It’s all about getting a foot in the door. At least that’s what Kevin tells me,” said Pendleton, eager to start work on his first free draft. “The nice thing is that it’s Kevin’s idea, so he’s got a lot of passion for it, and I don’t have to worry about ‘creative rights’ or any of those annoying details.”

Dernier, who was an associate producer on The Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2002, claims this particular project will be a great learning experience for Pendleton.

“I’m guessing I’ll put Josh through the ringer for like 14 months,” he said. “After that, he’ll get angry, realize the rights belong to me, and now I’ve got a nice rough draft I can get some other newbie to polish for me.”

Pendleton has already taken off three days of work to get a head start on the outline.

“Projects like this tend to move quick, from what I hear on screenwriting message boards,” he said. “The sooner I get this script written, the sooner Kevin can show it to his vast array of studio contacts.”

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Wannabe scribe positive he could make a sale if he just had a new MacBook Pro

Current PC desktop not nearly ‘screenwritery’ enough

apple-macbook-proAspiring screenwriter Joe Johnson is stuck working a dead-end job at a Starbucks in Burbank, but with fall enrollment at the local community college approaching, Johnson is instead shooting for a brand new MacBook Pro.

“Sure I can register for college and have something to fall back on,” he said. “But how would I write on demand whenever I get the inspiration?”

When asked whether it made sense to allocate so much of his 9.50-per-hour salary to a new laptop, as opposed to using it for rent or a possible college education, Johnson was defiant.

“Opportunities like this only come along once in a lifetime. I have to go for it. Nobody remembers a loser,” he said. “Plus, everyone knows screenwriting is easier inside LA city limits and on a cool MacBook with the new glass screen. I hear you can see your own reflection while you’re writing the next Hollywood blockbuster!”

Given his tight budget, one might expect Johnson to wait until Black Friday for a better deal – and just use his PC in the meantime.

“No way,” he said, looking at his desktop with disdain. “I’m going to need this Mac right now, as I have a lot of sure-fire ideas that I need to get down really quickly, whether I’m at work, home, on the bus, visiting my parole officer…or whatever. Time is money.”

The Hollywood Roaster would like to thank Steven M. for submitting this article.

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Writer who can’t wait to sell a script forced to do just that

His hope to erode slowly and painfully over time

For more than eight years, aspiring screenwriter Ben Simons has been looking forward to the day he sells his first feature script. That day will never come, according to most industry experts.

“Oh, I read one of Ben’s scripts last year,” said ICM agent Paula Barker. “Well I guess I read like five pages of it, to be more accurate. I think it was about killer hamsters or something…pretty awful.”

That script, Hamsterphobia, did not ultimately sell or garner interest from any reps in Hollywood, much to Simons’ confusion.

“I really thought I had something with Hamsterphobia,” he said. “No worries, though. My structure has improved so much since then. I’m sure this new script is the one that will kick off my career. It’s super-high concept and totally commercial.”

Benderspink’s Todd Larouche disagrees.

“A script about a guy who loses his virginity to a nun?” said Larouche. “That’s neither high concept nor commercial. This guy should just give up.”

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The Top 50 Reasons You Won’t Make It As A Screenwriter

50. The only manager willing to rep you is based in a suburb of Phoenix.

49. Even Uwe Boll thinks your material is uninspired.

48. It’s not you. It’s the 99% of people on Earth that write better than you.

47. When you receive polite passes from managers, the encouraging part of the email is a different font size, indicating they’ve simply pasted boilerplate niceties after the personalized intro.

46. People mistake your dramas for comedies.

45. People mistake your comedies for dramas.

44. You’ve ever compared one of your scripts to a movie that won an Academy Award.

43. Hollywood discriminates against female writers, even though your name is Jerry and most people assume you’re a guy when they delete your queries.

42. You use vacation time to fly to LA for meetings, but don’t have any meetings set up ahead of time.

41. You agonize over whether to use card stock for the title page.

40. A rep has never claimed to become erect after something you’ve written or said.

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Screenwriter’s message board handle much more successful than him

Alter ego wise beyond actual writer’s years

Aspiring screenwriter John Brenner last visited Hollywood seven years ago, during which time he had coffee with a guy who was one of 14 associate producers on Home Alone 3. Brenner’s online alter ego ‘AListerGuy’, however, is much more accomplished.

“I’ve been in countless meetings with top producers,” AListerGuy recently posted on Done Deal Pro. “Gather round, children, for I am about to dispense precious wisdom gleaned from years of developing material with producers, studios, actors and reps.”

Never shy about offering advice to newbies, AListerGuy has also driven four actual, working screenwriters away from the boards.

“No offense, but your movies are crap,” AListerGuy posted in January of 2007 in a thread about production costs. “They shouldn’t spend another dime on one of your scripts. I mean, I respect your work ethic, but the only reason you’re successful is because of your connections. Well guess what? I have connections too, and they all say you’re a shitty writer. These are TOP studio executives, my friend. So maybe it’s time you get off your high horse.”

Brenner is currently seeking representation with his spec script ‘Blazing Paddles.’

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