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Hi Barry, aspiring screenwriter here. I've spent years trying to sell my fiction novels, with little success. Recently I've gotten interested in writing spec scripts, but I'm unsure about how and where to get them noticed.

Right now I'm writing B-horror movie spec scripts and trying to get them sold--think films like "Sharknado" and "Evil Dead". Are you familiar with Amazon Studios and their business practices? Is this a good place to begin, or should I look elsewhere? Is it necessary to register my scripts, or should I stay focused on pumping out the work at this point?

Also: I've been reading that producers favor "microbudget" films--in other words, they prefer scripts with very few special effects or CGI, and that they like films that run about 85-90 minutes. I've been told that following these guidelines greatly improves scriptwriters' chances of selling their work. Is this true? As a spec script writer, I'm trying to get an idea about how much special effects/CGI is permissible in my scripts in order to have a shot at actually selling them.

Any further advice you can give regarding this subject, as well as advice for any aspiring spec script writer, would be much appreciated. I'd also love to ask a follow-up question later, if you're amicable with that. Thanks!

Bobby

Answer
Hi Bobby,
Your situation is the most intriguing I've received in a long while.

I was a writer/producer in the film and television business for over twenty years. Recently I've dedicated my writing time to historical fiction (see www.citizenofamerica.net).

It's possible that I could suggest a strategy that would help you in your writing career. The singular important thing I could provide is to steer you away from the dead alleys.

In addition to my novel I am rewriting two of my screenplay writing non-fiction books. In the past, these books were sold online.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I will send you the two e-books, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY, and WRITE DIALOGUE LIKE A PRO.
No charge, except that I would be interested to get your opinion on them before I publish them.

E-mail me at barry@barrypearson.com and I will e-mail the books to you by attachment.

Now, the succinct response to your questions:

----I've spent years trying to sell my fiction novels, with little success. Recently I've gotten interested in writing spec scripts, but I'm unsure about how and where to get them noticed.

I strongly believe that you will have a better chance at success if you continue to improve and dedicate yourself to your novels with an aim to get them published, no matter how small the publisher (but no vanity publishers). Note that a large number of movies are adaptations from novels, or other similar sources, stage plays, short stories, etc.

----Right now I'm writing B-horror movie spec scripts and trying to get them sold--think films like "Sharknado" and "Evil Dead".

Please ask yourself, why are these stories better in screenplay form than in novel form?

----Are you familiar with Amazon Studios and their business practices?

I have not used Amazon Studios, even though I am a professional writer, and I also publish on Amazon.

----Is this a good place to begin, or should I look elsewhere?

This route is probably not one that would yield results for you.

----Is it necessary to register my scripts,

No. Your work is "copyright in manuscript," meaning that everything you put on paper is automatically copyrighted by law. Registering the work proves that it existed at a certain point in time. You can not copyright an idea. Only the words you write can be copyrighted.

----or should I stay focused on pumping out the work at this point?

I'm sure you realize that it's quality that counts, not necessarily quantity. Your novels may be just short of publication quality. The most important element is the storytelling. My book IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY may help you to improve your storytelling. Dialogue is the next important element. That's why I wrote a book about it.

----Also: I've been reading that producers favor "microbudget" films--in other words, they prefer scripts with very few special effects or CGI, and that they like films that run about 85-90 minutes. I've been told that following these guidelines greatly improves scriptwriters' chances of selling their work. Is this true?

These "guidelines" may help but in many situations they may not be true. Sometimes a production can save a lot of money by using CGI elements.

Another downside is that more writers try to write low budget scripts thinking that they'll be easier to sell. Not true, because the competition is fierce.

----As a spec script writer, I'm trying to get an idea about how much special effects/CGI is permissible in my scripts in order to have a shot at actually selling them.

This is one of those "it depends" situations. Don't waste your precious writing time thinking about CGI etc.

----Any further advice you can give regarding this subject, as well as advice for any aspiring spec script writer, would be much appreciated.

The best advice I can give you is that it's easier to publish a novel than to sell a spec script. At any one point in time, I'm told that there are approximately over a million scripts available in the Hollywood script pool. And Hollywood buyers prefer scripts that have been proven in another medium. Novels are high on the list. If you get a novel published, you get to go to the upper part of the pool.

----I'd also love to ask a follow-up question later, if you're amicable with that. Thanks!

e-mail me anytime at the address I gave you above. You'll get a quicker answer that way.

Cheers,
Barry  

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Barry Pearson

Expertise

I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. www.ironroadthemovie.com) I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!

Experience

I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL http://www.createyourscreenplay.com/aboutbp.htm

Publications
You can find my books on Amazon. See DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR STORY (http://tinyurl.com/StoryStealers)which is a stripped-down readable summary of copyright, full of entertaining anecdotes and real-life examples. Read about the true horror stories that clearly show you what you need to do to avoid the misfortune of having your literary material stolen. Find out: * How to take simple inexpensive steps to protect yourself, before, during, and after you write your literary work. * How copyright law applies to writers of literary works. * How literary works enter public domain, and how you can use it to your advantage. * What aspects of literary works are protected by copyright, and what aspects are not protected. * How to create documentation that will prove your copyright entitlement in the event of an infringement on your rights. * How you can protect yourself if you are contracted to write for television. You’ll also get a FREE sample of an Option and Purchase Agreement, a contract used in the acquisition of rights in a literary property—a contract that you and your lawyer can customize for your property. Written by a writer, for writers, Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Story will help you protect yourself against plagiarists and anyone else who might infringe your right of sole ownership. ------------- Also on Amazon, my book of four short stories, THE TWENTY-BUSHEL RACER. A man’s redemption from bitterness enables him to become a loving father. A teenager discovers the importance of his attachment to the people in his life and the place where he is growing up. A man, who has for years considered himself a coward and a betrayer of his comrades, musters the courage to stand up against a pair of would-be assassins. Two young men, who grew up in the same town, meet unexpectedly, reminisce about a girl they both loved when they were boys, and unveil a truth that changes both their lives.

Education/Credentials
Master of Arts degree (Drama)

Awards and Honors
Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

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