Friday, October 12, 2012

The Way Things Work

Years ago I felt I was close to becoming a paid screenwriter. I had good reason to feel that way, for a working and successful director was interested in one of my scripts. Things fell apart, but I continued to write screenplays. As time went on, however, I grew depressed and desperate. No one in the film industry was interested in what I was selling anymore. Where, I wondered, was I going wrong? The answer to that question may have come to me last weekend.

My nephew, whose Dad is serving his second tour of the Afghan War, went to the movies with my sister in law to see Tim Burton's Frankenweenie. My nephew, who's all of six, loved it. That night I actually sent a tweet to the film's writer, John August, thanking him for entertaining a boy whose dad was away with such a fun, heartfelt film. He actually wrote back, tweeting his appreciation. Needless to say, this brief online encounter led me to Mr. August's webpage - and that's when things may have taken a new turn.

Mr. August is nothing if not a successful screenwriter. He's written several very popular films and also writes television programs. In other words, he knows what he's talking about. You can imagine how surprised I was then when, while visiting his site, I learned that he doesn't put much stock in all the books, seminars and contests that most of us struggling screenwriters rely on. In other words, my methods for screenwriting have been, according to Mr. August, inadequate. Taking Mr. August at his word, I'm going to therefore start following his advice. Will the marketability of my screenplays now rise from the dead like Sparky, Tim Burton's friendly, fortunate dog? Or will they, well, you know...

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