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Success stories that went down the drain

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  • Success stories that went down the drain

    I had my big chance in 1998, just after I started writing screenplays. Iíve always been heavy into writing, starting with books, short stories, novels, and then psychological self-help books. The last was my first real break into the writing industry. I got picked up by a major publisher and started working with an editor to make it more saleable (give it more pop). It was a sure thing. Three months later after a lot of work, the editor wrote back to me and said the company had been taken over by another major production company that didnít want self-help books. Could I right a cookbook? No, thank you. That was the first time my world crashed around me.

    I got disgusted and didnít write for a while. The fact is Iím a writer and I canít be held down for long. After researching the industry, I found out that screenplays were where the money is. So I started writing scripts. I was still down on myself at the time, but my husband sent out a query on one of my script to an independent producer with an Academy backer. He got an instant hit. When he told me, I was mad he did this behind my back, but not mad enough to talk on the phone with the producer.
    He loved my vampire comedy, ďBlood of the Blood,Ē and wanted me to send him the produced musical theme song, too. I didnít know it at the time, but after he got it, he went into pre-production and wanted to use the music as is. Not long after that, he called to say heíd formed a merger with two other indies, one with a Warner first-look for distribution. The second money for financing was already in. He asked if Iíd written anything else? By that time, Iíd completed eight more scripts, so I asked how many he wanted. He said ALL OF THEM! I think my head exploded.
    Not to be crazy about it, I sent him six scripts. He wanted to do them all! A short time after that, the ball dropped. My main guy had a nervous breakdown when his mother died. He dropped out of the merger. The other two still intended to go along with the projects. When first-look sued the other guy for sexual harassment, he dropped out of the merger. First-look still moved on with the second money. A few months later, she got some herbal medicine in TJ and her lungs collapsed . . . and so did my writing aspirations.

    It took me years to recover, but here I am now, still trying to make my scripts better and sell them. Iíve had hits from a few producers, but they didnít pan out. The point is you have to keep trying. It ainít over Ďtil itís over, and I donít hear any fat lady singing.
    L A Morgan
    Novels, Screenplays, Short Scripts, and Music
    http://lamorganwriter.com

  • #2
    LA Morgan, I have always been a big fan of your posts here, Keep up the good work and I know that you will be the next biggest writer!

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    • #3
      Thank you, Charles, and good luck to you!
      L A Morgan
      Novels, Screenplays, Short Scripts, and Music
      http://lamorganwriter.com

      Comment


      • #4
        You are by no means alone, LA Morgan. Often, it seems like this business is akin to pursuing a rainbow. No matter how fast you run toward it, it never seems to get any closer. Don't know if you've read my blogs about working with a manager, but even with that kind of foot in the door I haven't managed to push my way through.

        Your last paragraph says it all.
        2001 Productions Web Site

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        • #5
          You have to be leary about getting a manager or agent. Check them out first. Several years ago, I picked up a West Coast book agent. She said my novel, Suburbia, was excellent and needed no editting. She was very supportive and had a good website, so I paid her something like $365. When I didn't hear from her for a month, I wrote to her. She sent me a long list of publishers she had supposedly contacted and she said none of them were interested. I wrote back and asked to see the rejection letters. As you might have guessed, she never contacted me again. There's a book out called The Writer Got Screwed. I recommend it.
          L A Morgan
          Novels, Screenplays, Short Scripts, and Music
          http://lamorganwriter.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Sorry to hear about your experience. As you probably have since learned - and to anyone else out there who may not know - you should NEVER pay an agent. That's a big, red flag. A legitimate agent keeps a percentage (typically 10-15%) of your earnings.

            I do not blame my manager in the least. He has gotten me opportunities I otherwise could only have dreamed of. He's repped me for over 10 years and has yet to earn a dime for his troubles. The fact that the opportunities have not paid off (yet) is just a matter of timing and the fickleness inherent in the business.
            2001 Productions Web Site

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            • #7
              If you don't have a foot hold in with someone reputable and well-connected that can be verified, its like beating your head against a wall for enjoyment.

              Some guy bought one of my scripts to turn into a book a while ago. I know it's going to take time, and I'm not even going to make any money off it. But, if he sells the book into movie rights I'll get half or 3/4 of the sale price. I seriously doubt it's ever going to happen (the story is good though). I just want to see my script turned into a book. So, I emailed him 4 - 6 months later and asked how it was going. He wrote back that he had sent the script to a second writer to see if they wanted to take on the project.

              This is just my opinion. But, I do believe there's a reason the absolute majority of struggling screenwriters never make it. I've been a member of numerous screenwriting sites, and I've read a lot of screenplays. 95% of them are pretty bad. Not that the stories are poor, because any story can work. John meets Mary craps happens they get married is a story. It's how the story is told, how the screenplay is written that's so poor it can't sell.

              I have ten screenplays I'd like to sell, and I've had screenwriting teachers push me to submit them, that they're ready to be shopped, and I can't. I don't feel they're ready. Until I have three that I think I've taken them as far as I can go will I even think about submitting them to whoever.

              If you enjoy writing, write. Books can be on-line published for free. The market for writers and film makers is wide open, you just have to do all the work.

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              • #8
                You should always get a firm contract before you hand your script off in an open-ended deal like that. At least, try to get an option. As I've mentioned, I've learned the hard way, too. It hurts when you get screwed over like that. If you know someone reliable and knowledgable in the writing field, maybe he'll read one of your scripts (or a portion of it) and give you some good advice. Don't give up, and don't just write what you know about. You have dreams, don't you? That's what put Steven King on the best seller list. Think up new interesting twists for your plot. Maybe throw in some wild humor, something to make your work stand out above the rest. Think of it this way; it only takes one good script deal to put you on easy street.
                L A Morgan
                Novels, Screenplays, Short Scripts, and Music
                http://lamorganwriter.com

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                • #9
                  Not sure if you've already done it, LA Morgan, but why don't you write a script about a struggling screenwriter?

                  Your experiences, especially as described above, would give it a lot of depth to the story, plus I can't actually think of any movies that are about a screenwriter that are already out there. I imagine that you might want to fictionalize it and end it with your main character finally getting her/his big break to keep it "theatre friendly", but who knows where you could go with it.

                  It's interesting that Stephen King includes a writer in almost all of his stories (with some exceptions of course), and I think it's what helps him bring some of the depth to his stories that make his writing what it is.

                  This got me thinking about the movie "Speed" (1994). I remember an interview with Graham Yost where he was recounting the fight he had to put up to get credited on the movie and how Hollywood up to that point generally treated screenwriters as the lowest of the low. I can't recall the full story at the moment, but screenwriting strikes me as being a very unexplored theme just waiting for someone to articulate. LOL. If Eminem and Katie Perry can get movies made about their careers, why can't a screenwriter?

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                  • #10
                    First of all, you can call me L A. To address the issue of selling my books, I've been doing for years on Kindle and Smashwords. If you want to purchase any of my books, please get them on Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LAMorgan
                    They give me a better cut on the royalties. For my friends here on the forum that have money problems, I could arrange to give you a discount.

                    As to my writing a script about a screenwriter's struggles, I think it would be best if I waited until I actually make it to the big time. Then I can give you my full autobiography. LOL I just dropped in here for a moment. Now I'm off to finish the final draft on another script I wrote a while back. After a couple more oldies, I'm going to pick up work on the two new scripts I haven't finished and a new novel with 300 pages already completed. When I said I'm a lifelong writer, I wasn't kidding. Good luck, guys!
                    L A Morgan
                    Novels, Screenplays, Short Scripts, and Music
                    http://lamorganwriter.com

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