Monday, November 01, 2010

First, Let's Kill All Of The Consultants!

Over on The Artful Writer, Craig Mazin came home from the Austin Festival with a bug up his butt and wrote a pretty strong piece against Script Consultants and People Who Write Screenwriting Books. John August came back from Austin with a similar though more level headed) blog entry.

I came back from Santa Fe and wrote this:
Act 2: Conflict!(Mentor Panel)

And have a Script Tip in circulation with this advice:
Should I Pay For Notes?

But I think we are all adults, here - except for that danged 12 year old girl working on her screenplay - and we can make our own decisions. I understand wanting to protect writers from scams and scammers, but over reactions always make me wonder if there are other motivations involved. When the reaction seems *personal* instead of informative, I wonder what those motivations are. Also, when someone hits too hard, I feel like hitting back - even if I don't have a dog in the race. You just want to *react!* even if you more-or-less agree with the comments.

I think most of you people are going to think twice before spending $2,500 on some consultant who has never sold a screenplay and isn't currently part of the film biz. That's a lot of money! I think $20 for a book is fine, I buy and read screenwriting books every once in a while to see if there's some technique I can use. But, I also expect you to be smart enough to compare whatever a book says to the actual screenplays you have read - and not just do whatever the book says to do. Especially if it seems weird.

There is a difference between helping people and punishing people - let's try not to give in to the dark side of the force.

* And Speaking Of The Dark Side Of The Force...

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is election day, so go out and vote. I'm not going to tell you who or what to vote for, that is not my place. But if you don't vote, you will not be heard. It always seems like the extremists on either side get all charged up and vote, and those regular folks in the middle just aren't angry enough to stop by the polls and cast their votes. Hey, vote even if you are not angry. The regular people in the middle are usually the majority, so make sure your voice is heard. We have to live in this country, so we might as well see if we can make it the kind of place where we are comfortable. So - VOTE TOMORROW!

* Comments Section?

Any comments on the whole Script Consultant & Book thing are welcome in the comments section, any political stuff will be deleted.

** BIG PS: So, why are there folks who are so anti Screenwriting Book and Script Consultant and Screenwriting Teacher? What causes that knee-jerk reaction? What causes that in a character?

- Bill
IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Theme & Emotional Conflict - and why even silly summer popcorn films need to be well written.
Dinner: Salad.
Pages: Finished an online interview, but not the big 2 day project I had planned to do.
Bicycle: Saturday - no, rain. Sunday - yes, but not far.

6 comments:

Chris Pluchar said...

Isn't election day Tuesday?

wcmartell said...

Yes - this was supposed to go up tomorrow, but I screwed up.

Leif said...

should informational be informative?

yyyyyyyyy said...

From Baby Bones

I completely agree with your advice Bill.

I think an aspiring screenwriter can benefit from coverage provided by a professional reader. Fees run from $60 to a few hundred dollars. My feeling is that Scott the Reader would probably never steer anyone wrong in his coverage. That said, every reader has his or her own tastes.

My feeling about consultations that run into the thousands of dollars is buyer beware. The consultant should have credentials: if not as a screenwriter, then as someone who is paid to know movies inside out, a film scholar or movie critic.

Why bother with a consultant? There are two clear reasons.

1. You believe fervently in the current project but you know something is missing or failing to connect.

2. You are worried that you are not cut out as a writer, and you need to be relieved of any illusions.

Regarding 2, you need to hear the bad news about how much you suck. If that convinces you to quit, you are better off for it. You tried to do something very hard that is beyond your capabilities and now it's time to stop. Because few people will outright tell you to quit and it is your decision to make, you ought not tell the consultant you plan to use them for this purpose.

Todd said...

If I had the big bucks to spend on script consultation I think choosing someone who has sold a few would be a better first choice... like if Joe Schmo from Elkhart, IN is charging $1000 vs $1200 from Tony Gilroy...

A good cheap way to learn writing, if you must do the book journey, is to go to your local library and search on the computer for SCREENWRITING or MOTION PICTURE AUTHORSHIP

Jamie's Foggy Musings said...

I retweeted the Mazin post, as well as August's and was pretty much stoned on the public square. I just thought it was interesting. I have more books on writing than anyone should be allowed to own. (great for procrastinating)I haven't used a consultant yet, but I would if I felt the need and I wasn't getting feedback from fellow writers, or I didn't have that well to draw from. I'd spend the money. There are great consultants out there, with experience, who charge less than $400 for extensive service.
And if you decide to use one, do your homework, as $300 well spent is better than $100 for pure crap.
Thanks for the post Mr. Martell. Luckily I'm getting my feedback from a producer at the moment.

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