Inside the Spec Script Market with Agent David Boxerbaum
We all have heard about screenwriter selling a spec script for seven figures (see Max Landis) but who are the power brokers who are helping that process along? Enter Verve Literary Agent David Boxerbaum.
David is a senior agent at VERVE Talent & Literary Agency, and his impressive client roster includes the likes of David Guggenheim, writer of Safehouse; Ken Marino, writer/producer of Wanderlust and writer of Role Models; Maria Maggenti, writer of MTV’s Finding Carter; and Ransom Riggs, writer/co-executive producer of the upcoming supernatural horror thriller, Black River.
At the age of 26, David was listed as one of the Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Generation 35 Under 35,” making him one of the youngest people ever to make the list. He is known for his impeccable taste and his strong industry relationships which help him garner six- and seven-figure sales for his clients in a shrinking spec marketplace.
What is an agent like David Boxerbaum looking for in a screenwriter? How does an agent work with a client to build a career? How do you approach a Literary Agent? All will be answered in this episode. Enjoy!
This Sundance Series episode will be co-hosted by Sebastian Twardosz from Circus Road Films and a co-production with Media Circus PR.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- David Boxerbaum – Twitter
- VERVE Talent & Literary Agency
- Veteran Lit Agent David Boxerbaum Joins Verve Talent and Literary Agency
- Sebastian Twardosz
- Circus Road Films
- Media Circus PR
- Bulletproof Screenplay Script Coverage Service – Get Your Screenplay Covered by Industry Pros
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Screenwriting Audio Book)
- Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker or via RSS. Additionally, you can also subscribe to the blog and get all of my material (blog posts and podcast) by clicking here.
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Welcome to the bulletproof screenplay podcast episode number 11. All writing is a discipline but screenwriting is a Drill Sergeant Robert McKee broadcasting from a dark windowless room in Hollywood when we really should be working on that next round. It’s the bulletproof screenplay cast showing you the craft and business of screenwriting while teaching you how to make your screenplay bulletproof.
And here’s your host Alex Ferrari. Welcome to the bulletproof screenplay podcast. I am your humble host Alex Ferrari. Now Today’s Show is sponsored by bulletproof script coverage now unlike other script coverage Services bulletproof script coverage actually focuses on the kind of project you are in the goals of the project you are so we actually break it down by three categories micro-budget.
Indie film market and Studio film there’s no reason to get coverage from a reader that used to reading Temple movies when your movie is going to be done for $100,000. And we wanted to focus on that at bulletproof script coverage. Our readers have worked with Marvel Studios C WM NBC HBO Disney scot-free Warner Brothers, The Blacklist and many many more.
So if you need your screenplay or TV script covered by professional readers. Head on over to cover my screenplay now today. This is another Sundance special edition episode we have today David boxer bomb. He is a superstar a literary agent over at Paradigm and he has been known to sell many many spec scripts, uh in Hollywood in the millions of dollars at least six figured a seven-figure.
A sales and he’s known uh known for doing that for quite some time. He’s built a hell of a reputation for himself and I had an opportunity to sit down with him. Uh, and my co-host Sebastian toward us, uh to discuss the spec script Market how to approach an agent of his caliber how to get representation, uh what they’re looking for.
And how to get it out into the world and and how how do you work how screenwriter or filmmaker should work with an agent and what that process is. So it’s a lot of knowledge bombs tossed out in this episode guys. So enjoy my conversation with David boxer bomb. All right. Well, um David is an agent, um, your talent agent and a literary agent now more literary agent than Town agent.
I do have clients that are actors actresses that actually write as well but more than town. Okay, got it. And did you always want to be an agent man? I don’t know if anybody after she ever wanted to be an agent like a kid. I want to go re-up on the head of the Ari Gold. No, I don’t think I actually knew I wanted to be an agent.
Um it all started when I was one of those kids like most kids who love film I saw went to my first movie was like that looks amazing. I want to do that someday a movie that did it. Um, we’ll listen I was in love with Frank Capra. So my dad sent me It’s a Wonderful Life early on I just became a huge fan fan.
And as I went on, you know, anyting and would wise ET in that world, you know world I grew up and was like unbelievable Back to the Future and all that. So, um, I became in love with movies and um I said, I want to go to film school at this point. I had no cord agent does no quitter agent when deals are what someone scripts all that stuff.
Um, I went to film school and where did you go to film school went to NYU film school. Did you apply? Anywhere else was unlikely the place you wanted to go. So growing up in California San Francisco. So in California, I kind of wanted to go to USC. Yeah, you would think like USC like that. I mean I was the kid that wanted to leave home and like go far away or right even though even though Hollywood was here.
I know by the way, you look back and go that’s where the Hub of it. All is right. Um, but I wanted to leave home and I wanted to go to the east coast and experience that and see what it was like to be on the east coast and be a part of that. So I went to NYU Film School, um and truly loved I mean I was I was in love with what was all about making movies and Screen Marty and all of that.
Wait. I just have to know did you really love it? Because a lot of people who go to film School actually don’t like from there. I’d love to love ya. I hear ya but Tish Tish was very much more geared towards what like Sundance is a more independent more. Artist we forgot to say we’re actually here at Sundance.
Yes. I think everybody will know by the end of the went a long time ago. Uh, just like the filmmakers that were around was time was it was Spike Lee was teaching there. Okay did not have a class like an undergrad. They only was teaching there. Um, so guys like that. Um, but it was no I didn’t have classes likely but um, We’re still cutting movies too.
By the way, of course. Yes movie. Yeah movie always hear all that. Um, so I graduate I graduate film school now, I’m gonna come back to California because I can’t afford to live with your did you want to be when you were in so in terms I wanted to be a director. That’s my I want to be a filmmaker.
I guess. I’m just a writer so director. That’s all I really wanted to focus my attention in my I felt like I had the creative, uh, love and passion for so when did you graduate so I graduated in. 98 graduate 98. Um, so came out to LA and New no, I mean only think about my you didn’t really prepare me for what La was about to write how you yeah, because it’s very like it’s very Sundance in the base so you don’t really get to the.
UCLA USC, which is like. Hey, you just now getting your car and drive down to Beverly Hills and get a job at one of the members whatever it is or one of those jobs in the production offices. I had no clue. Um, so I came out here and was just sending out resumes got like some odd jobs just to make ends meet and um, I got a call from Jerry Bruckheimer films and um the mental command now, I didn’t know him personally but the time but command get a call from one of the many assistants there when interviewed, um, at least I love the story.
This is the only time I feel NYU helped me, um, when I was there, um, I go into interview and listen there was a laundry list people interviewing for this job. It was to be like Jerry’s I don’t know assistant. So, you know literally walk the dog fix the script Library. Yeah. The guy is I just time I’m 40 now, but the time was like eight or nine assistance and like number nine.
Come on. Come on, let me walk that dog. Um, and but it was obviously you’re working for. A time during when uh Conair was imposed. Uh, no con a Conner was with coming out. Um, Enemy of the State was in Pre and the best was Armageddon was in production. So Michael was rolling around the building. Oh day.
Um, and uh, I. So I so I interviewed and I had honestly no qualifications of the job as much as you have to have qualification to walk. Let me tell you so they do background checks on the woman who interviewed me went to NYU and that’s that’s where that connection helped and I told that story to the NYU kids months ago.
And uh, it was 22 got a big laugh at the class because you never know what NYU connection while or film school or us. We’ll help so did that um was there for about seven eight months was an amazing experience to see that but I wasn’t really integrated that much. Um, and you actually do so you’re doing more like P type stuff.
Yeah, totally I’m getting lunch whatever but you know answering phones occasionally and I’d answer the phone a couple times and Joey would call and you put it through the number four. Number two number one. Um, so. Uh, I did that kind of stuff and then um, you know, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be still in the business.
I didn’t understand. I knew now Kato was production it was producers and it was all executive and all that but I didn’t quite understand what I want to be. I knew coming out of films who I didn’t want to be the kid that ran around town broke with a film camera in my hand nothing but there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s an amazing creative passion if you have that you want to do that and it’s a great journey, but for me, I wanted to kind of learn the business.
I just don’t. Nowhere to be in the business. Um, so why was there sometimes like if you really want to learn it, you should go to work in an agency. That’s where the Hub of it. All is. That’s where you learn everything. So, um, I went from there and got dropped away more room. How did you end up getting a job?
I applied I came in I went for an interview you have like the UTA jobless. Yeah. Sounds like here here’s what you do apply to all of them. I think. Honestly all them turn me down William Mars that place one for for least. I was one fourth one of the best places, right? Um, so I went there and this was during an old regime that has now obviously since changed many times.
But uh and I got job they’re working for a guy named Lee Rosenberg who was one of these old school types who had created him. She called Triad have merged it with William Morris and uh, which is really legendary agent. The good thing about it good or bad. But anyway, look at it was he was on his way out last year in theory and he was going to retire.
So he was in he was indefinitely in a place of his life that he was ready to Mentor somebody. So I was at last person to be mentors instead. He had she had some of the greatest TV creators. Yeah big deviation of our time so. I made a lot of money and of course of his career putting TV packages on the air.
So that was my first introduction to agency and I was there for a year and unfortunately, he did retire and then I was a kind of an odd place there. I always think were going a little bit too fast. Can you tell us what it was like working at Willie more time? Like people who get that first assistant job or do you have any advice?
Sure? It was you know, honestly it was it was a really remember it was a really fantastic time. It was the place was definitely going through a change. It was it was regime change and that’s kind of also helped push my unfortunate boss out of the building. Um, but it was amazing to see such heavy weights in our business and to be around them.
I was in the first floor there and that’s where all the real heavyweights were on the first floor the be around them and see the kind of success. They had built as a young 22 23 year old kid I was. I was nuts. Yeah, you’re working, you know all day you’re you’re doing on to then jobs as assistant that you know, normally you think you and to get everyone to do and you’re just but you’re literally trying to learn as much as you can you lasted a year.
I mean because I you know, I worked at ICM for 18 months like most people don’t even last year. Totally. Why is it that you why do you think you lasted that long and did that actually loved it when I once I got in there and I saw literally what everybody said was true The Hub of information it was all there and I.
Like you when you walk into an agency, you feel like you’ve been immersed in the action in it, right? You know, there’s there’s points in the business for sometimes you feel like somebody’s on the outside looking in like and you want to be involved in the middle of it and I felt like at William Morris and obviously place I work now and other agencies you feel like you’re in the middle of it you’re immersed in and I felt like that was what was so exciting to meet got my blood going.
It was really exciting to come to work every day. Okay, so I left because uh, my boss retired and I was in an odd. Like I was in no man’s land. Um, and I got it was really shy got a call whether to this day. I still know how why they call me goes an odd call. I got a call from um to that endeavor.
Um and said, hey, I hear your boss too tired, uh area was Airy Greenberg and Richard White’s needed a good assistant during Staffing season that time area was on the rise to become now what he is arguably on the best TV agent in town. Um, and he needed someone to come. Him, so he said which come work for me?
I was like great I and what’s Endeavor? Basically I didn’t really know what the kind of start up so to speak so I went over there. Um. Was that what they were above Islands know they had just moved? Okay, they were in their building violence the crazy. Um, so I was I I spent about two and half years there working there and this is amazing time because that place was growing.
So I was at a place I was a monolith took place that was now starting up and really expanding and finding itself and really becoming a real, you know factor in the business. Um, and these agencies young agents who are now. Kind of legendary agents of our time. Um Partners, you know owners of agencies were all young and coming up in a business and was really great to see that and Steve there Rise of that kind of learned soak it all in.
Oh, you can’t so one question. I’ve always had about agencies. You know, I know there’s a lot of politics sure. How is it like is it basically like what they see on Entourage was it that kind of like because you were saying like I was in a weird place sure like because your your boss is gone. So now who’s like, what’s the following?
I mean, there’s always politics in any in any off in any surrounding business, especially in agent team because. I mean, it’s interesting. You know, it’s only the only the few survive right to get an agent, right you put so many years into and you can put three four five years in assistant and then realized one day that you’re not going to make it, you know, and you spend all that time making little note little no money, you know busting ass every day for 14 13 14 hours sometimes a day to make no money literally not make it so is there a politics?
Yeah, because you’re trying to become the guy that gets noticed guy really gets notice. The one that best the other and the one. That gets the bump to the next level the deal Secret Sauce to that or just honestly what I always tell in there’s not jumping to have in my hotel. My assistants now is that blinders on and focus like everything else is great and there to be a lot of things that are gonna be distractions, but the miners on a focus these this is a time if you want this you have to focus and just go for it and literally you can’t let any distraction getting away.
So is there a secret sauce? It’s. The distraction of the outside world the social scene’s the the things that will take you away from their part of it. I mean sure sure but like I mean are you in there in the morning or last one to leave? Are you reading? Yeah another person. Are you on the weekend doing more than you have to do to to impress your boss.
Are you at night going out for a drink, but are you back, you know at one at 12 o’clock at night still reading the script before you go to the end up at seven o’clock in the morning now, so it’s just are you going extra effort to do it? You know, well, actually I think. Now is I should ask you about this because we’re at this point sure because burnouts a big thing in the business.
Do you have any sure I mean can anybody what do you have to do? You have any notes or comments on that? Because that I mean that’s a hell of a actually I think I think you hit a wall and like everybody’s career you there’s points where you hit a wall and you say wow, you know, what is what’s next and can I can I get over that wall just professionally and mentally and physically right.
Um, but if you’re passionate, I inform me speaking for myself only here if you’re passionate and love what you do and to me it’s different every day because there’s so many nose in our business right all we hear 99% right? Not good enough didn’t like it. I didn’t do well at the box office. No, no, no.
That one yes, when you get it, it makes everything else feel like it never had never happened never existed and that one yes is what gets you to the next day and I think for me the passion of that yes, a passion of success of senior clients grow is why I wake up in the morning come to work, you know, and I think you know, obviously.
My family, you know, uh trying to build a career all that is so much part of it as well. But in purely about agent that get that yes is such a gratifying part of of the business and part of the job that you live for it a lot of people because people just look at it from their own point of view, you know, so if you’re a writer or director and used to getting know all the time, what’s interesting is Agents get more knows probably than anybody because all the time from like, I’m 25, I think about.
But also as an agent what you deal with the negativity the know the all of the things that you Shield the client from, you know, people always say, oh you’re like a therapist, you know deal with clients issues their own personal issues as long as a career issues. There’s some truth to that of course, but you think about if you add all that up and then on daily basis, it’s no no no and you’re taking all that in to answer your questions or burnout sure because you’re dealing with so much negativity on daily basis.
But the positive things that confirmation team the wonderful experience of getting a yes and building careers and breaking careers and seeing clients grow and movies open and do well and being on sets. It’s so much offsets the other stuff that’s all worth it to me. So when so let’s say you have more literary now, right sure, uh known for selling a lot of high inspect Scripts.
I’ve had some success you’ve had some success spec script. So what would you suggest? Well, first of all, what do you do with a client when they first come you’ve just signed a new guy sure or new guy or girl and they’ve got a spec script that you like. What’s the next step? So I’ll just I’ll tell you where just you know, where how I got to where she says.
Yes. Yes, so and ever and ever I worked for arrogant bring Richard weitz and uh, Um, Ferrari Ferrari was working for because we’re gonna leave we’re definitely gonna get to to just ask but I want to hear like when he gets made agent 2 because it’s gonna be cool. Uh, you’re in a part of society.
Yes. I’ll show you a secret handshake appreciate that manual like. Uh, I mean, this is where he’s like self-censor. I have I am as concert the best, you know, he doesn’t know yet. Okay, honestly, I’m as confident like her ever been and I’m confident who I am and I’d be the first one to admit if I thought anybody did think did you uh short time?
Okay, would you Endeavor of a truly? Unbelievable to watch the way he he does his because about his business the way he conducts his business and his business in general, you know, the man is is true the best of the best when he does so it’s very it’s very, um, just the time the effort to calling everyone back the effort the passion the drive.
I mean, that’s that talk about burnout. I mean you think. I think he doesn’t run out to drive to want more and succeed. Um and all the hurdles that one may face along the way to get over them. Oh, I really love about back. So um, uh, so then I took a little detour so Endeavor, why is a good question?
So at the top you working for re and re like, Didn’t know where my place wasn’t in the company then understanding of it. Yes young and down realize how good you had it. Did you did you was that part of it to you? Did you realize how could you or did or did you have a good? I don’t think you’re not have I think I had a good I don’t think I.
You know, it’s like if if I had the the Christmas Carol and I can look at you know, that part of my life, right? Um sure I would tell my tell young boxer bomb that I had a really good in that just to focus and stay I think the different things have worked out unbelievably amazing career and I always think the path I took let me meet My Wife and Kids beautiful family all of that.
Right? So all that path was made was great for all that. Having said that I think there was an element of naivete in the way. I just happens. So, um, I important to have mentors or people that right sure. Absolutely the new that can say to you, you know, absolutely but I actually don’t regret that what I did is and what I did was I took a small detour from agent and went into the production executive ranks.
Yes, and I worked for a company called RKO pictures, which has been around for years and many many years. And this great library of titles sure someday owns and they didn’t um that you know the hurdles you face that every day. But um, I spent a year trying to put a title remix together and all of that and you know, it was exciting experience was also I quickly learned that what I missed from the ancient world was that.
Every day excitement the you know that Rush the things are moving things are shaking and I feel like in the past but any broken the pursuer world, it’s a slow down to a halt right? It’s a big different development and I lived it and lived it into the looking back. It’s amazing because we had this really wonderful library of great titles that now is probably even more enticing to many many filmmakers, but.
A time you had a lot of great filmmakers who want to be a part of our key because they they grew up in love these old Idols. So we had some fantastic opportunities and meet people and and kind of become, you know, uh contacts and friends and work with people. But again, I quickly learned after a year that I wasn’t for me.
I went back into agency, but kind of had to start. Kind of takes that step back but I had to kind of start a different size agency and went to a place called Metropolitan where I worked for four years there. Um, and it was a great four years agent. Was it Metro was Metropolitan? Yeah. I went right from assistant there beside went right from executive to agent major me back to me from being whatever and I knew I’d in background to be an assistant other places and they needed a young covering agent.
They could pay no. Money to and just come in and hustle and guys let you first I remember your office there. I like guys. Let me tell you what I had when I tell you I had to come in and I had nothing in my corner, you know, nothing in my corner, but pure drive and and and a little naivete which was good.
By the way. I remember you it was good. Yeah, because it was. It was all an uphill battle and it was a really amazing experience because that point nothing was given we were smaller agency not a huge literary Department. Um, and we Face hurdles trying to compete with the big boys, right? I’d come to Sundance.
This is got 16 17 years ago and try to sign directors and all that and writers and I mean no one ever heard of Metropolitan. We were small place and sure and know somebody great ages that came out of there and have blossomed into really fantastic careers, but it’s a small little place and so after four years.
First specs remember. Uh, I don’t I don’t yeah guys should probably prepared. I don’t remember there’s been so many I’ll just play my old age and I know we have four scripts just on the other side of the room sold by Monday. I’m kidding. Uh, but I um, but you’re selling scripts there. I mean it was alive doing TV and features who that was mostly training TV at that point.
I went in there as a real a TV agent, but I quickly kind of started to also learn the feature business. I was doing both by the way to this day that has been a huge asset in my career as I knew both Fields. I do much more feature film now on TV, but I had success putting recently Queen TV shows on the air and all of that but that having both those assets in my repertoire has.
Done so many great things in my career because it gives clients kind of the comfortability that they can come to me know that I have the knowledge and werethe all I mean, I hope I do. Well, I believe I do to understand both mediums and that’s a rarity. I think so with the actual because I know a lot of people listening would love to know what’s the inside.
Look at like selling a spec like you’ve got a client sure. You’ve got a script that you believe in. How do they find the first place? But sure I mean we can go back to like, okay, how do you how do you even get? How does that script get to you? Sure. I mean listen, I always say and there’s so many different ways that great script and get to in my hands but I always say great material Rises to the top.
It’s like frame to somehow find this way the top and it can be in so many various ways from you know, relationships to you know, friends who give it to you. To you contest you read to other agencies, they leave from and you trying to be that guy that poaches mother but sometimes circumstances arise that stuff like that does happen.
Um, and um, so it’s different ways it comes. Um, but, you know selling selling aspect which. You know, I’m very proud to say it had some success in um is there’s no secret science to it. Having said that I think I have to my own end have kind of found the formula that works and found a formula that has has allowed me to have the accessibility to people that I wouldn’t have had before.
Um, but most importantly it comes down to the material itself and I just feel like for me personally, I trust my taste. And trusts my um, my what I’m reading if I love the project itself, um, and I feel like take it out. I feel like my track record of taking out usually leads to what you’ve been you’ve built already a real reputation lecture.
I mean David bring it must be. At a certain level sure. I mean listen I and I’ve always told this anybody I speak to that be film schools or conferences whatever that you know, all agents have in this town. I think is uh taste and their respect right? Um, and I think respect Integrity, um, once you lose one of them you’re in trouble once you lose both your done and um for me, I’ve always prided myself on keeping those intact.
The best way possible. Um, and I pride myself on just having great taste and there’s no magic to that. It’s the old saying, you know, when you see it know when you read it is so true. Um, I just know what I respond to and I love and what I’ve respond to and I love and take out the marketplace.
That’s just had some lot of success. Well, do you what’s your process of actually doing this back here that set it up like with your client like you have a new client. You have a spectre you believe in. What’s the next step? Sure. So let’s seize a recent example. Okay, so, um as recent as last weekend, um, so uh clients had given me a spec that was a in theory.
A small drama but not really when you look at what the story was about historico drama. Um, and it was about um Otto Frank who and Frank’s father who in his journey to after his daughter obviously his parish and he’s now escaped the camps or left the camps in the war’s over to get his diary published, um in the same.
Kind of timeframe or your different timeframe, but they do meet up at the end was this, um amazing editor named Barbara determine which Doubleday and she had found the diary in like a past in down at the at her office and it was her journey to get that that diary published as well. So the story of these two people’s Journeys to get this what now is obviously marked one of the you know, most well-known Diary books of our time published.
Um, Right works. So um trip was phenomenal. So I read this you think yourself in an era where Transformers DC Marvel movies. How is that moving to find its place in the marketplace? But I knew a Not only was the writing superb like this is a universal story of Hope of of the will to succeed that perseverance.
Everybody knows the book. I thought like this definitely definitely would specially what’s going on in the world today. This would find its place. Might not be the big Studio not be it’s gonna find its place somewhere. So I tested it out there and why test it out when I do my test things out in the marketplace, I’ll give it to a few tastemakers that I love if I get any wind of interest, um, and I’ll be very honest with them up front and say listen, this is the plan just so, you know, I’m very upfront about it.
And once I caught interest from the few tation, like I gave it to I knew I had something so you’re slipping it to him. Do you do you slip it like a day in advance a couple days? Depends if I’m focused on maybe that taste Maker Works for a director that’s of High Caliber that needs more than a day.
I’ll get more than a day, but they’re usually is a 24 to 48 hour window in my process that I give somebody to read. The tastemakers are these other age? No, these are these are producers Executives in town. Okay, so listen and also an era now where I think specs have gone from they go out one day takes like a few days people to read it and you find out really where you are in a place of selling or not selling it within like a week or two.
I’ve been thankfully blessed that still might go out and I’ll know within. 24 to 48 hours, you know, I’ll know pretty fast based on again my reputation of selling them and having takes on ever so this thing went out on a Friday, um by Friday night there was heads of Studios. All over us because because a producer had given to we had allowed them to go to their certain territories their Studios and we had heads of states and it went so fast that night that I didn’t even have time to happen to me numerous times.
But this one really took one Optical light zone. I didn’t even have time to get certain Studios involved the to bid because it was going so fast. Um, and in hindsight, I probably should just gave it to them, but it’s just it was moving invites Pita Friday night. Um, And uh, you know the script to go like that zone these had two Studios by Saturday morning.
We started the offer started coming in and by Saturday evening, we had six to seven offers they had offered up to where they were and Fox Searchlight one the day in it. So within 24 hours, I want Jordan just a little bit if I can’t because this is Evan script who yeah is a friend of mine. The difference is this one is they’re not they weren’t totally new writers that you had sold a speck of theirs last year too.
Wasn’t it? Actually I did not sell that’s back then all the other agency that they had been at had sold it. Um, they had unfortunately, Felt like the agency they were at right they can’t funny story. They came in they met with me and to my colleagues. Um, and uh, they didn’t end up signing with uh-uh shame on them.
They came back, right? Um, so myself and my said my colleagues and I kept in contact with them over the course of a year allow the other to do their thing didn’t like wasn’t like trying to really make them make them uncomfortable or not happy but unfortunately, Just didn’t do what that guess there was promising them they came to us.
Um cut to that’s what in their defense, uh, one of them worked that agencies one of them worked there too. Oh, yeah over the rock whatever again the way Escape it, you know, okay because that was gonna ask like how did that first one happened? Because that was also a it was also her first one the first one now that first I know the story the first went out and it went to a bunch of places in the probably Shoulda gotten a better reception than it did.
In a sense of sound to a bigger place. It’s all to an amazing producer Basile wanna just get the financial sell that they wanted this one. Uh, this one did very very well. So one question that has this one but this one was so just summing up so that cells that night. Um, One of them had just came to see me and I don’t think I’m out of him by telling the story.
It’s just I think you’re wonderful story about you know, why we do what we do when I’m just come to see myself, uh, Dave a couple days before that, maybe Wednesday and had had said basically listen. I need to need to figure out what I’m doing here. We need to like just get going financially for my family for everything.
I just there’s a little bit of anxiety. There’s a little bit of concern, um, you know, and so when you. Those things you kind of read through the lines, you know, what’s going on? And you know, you feel like you’re sitting there man timeö somebody who has children whenever you’re like, you know you want to do what you can do so that actually because I was by no means using you go up to spec before there’s a whole thing before Sundance Theory whatever because sundance’s the kind of absent and start kind of kick off of the new spec season, whatever it is, um, but hearing that I just was like man the man I have a family of my own.
I’m just felt a real um, like, you know responsibility to myself and to him to really see what I could do quickly, um to then call him and tell him that we had accomplished this right money was money life-changing for sure. Um was an amazing experience, but then to hear later on. When he told his wife and his wife is in tears, he told his mom and his mom validated for his mom that he could be a writer and he could have success.
This is not his first script as first script. I don’t want again sold for this one was significantly bigger than his first is high six figures. Yeah. The first one was not even the same Stratosphere in the same Stratosphere as that, you know? Yeah, no not life-changing money. No. No. Um, so um, and again, it’s.
What about the money? It’s about what this did about it his career as a writer’s all of that again was was on a Saturday afternoon, which doesn’t really use to happen on Saturday was really a very defining. Again moment of why we do what we do and if it was ever a point up to that point if I had felt burnt out or was having a tough time.
The last one that gets you your vitalized again. So how often I know this is Authority that here all the time when you sell a spec script for a million or high six figures or whatever. Uh, how many get produced because there’s so many that being our bought constantly. Yeah, but they just sit on a shelf.
I never understand that. So do you have any insight on that? Yeah. I mean, it’s just so hard to get movies made these days with you know, original content doesn’t necessarily make it to the screen these days as much as we wanted to be since you know, since the years like like years past, um, I would say and of ten one or two will make it to the big screen, which is really really bad.
A big they’re blanks. I mean the transaction is they have to have that opportunity to lease have it on their shelf and the property under shelf. But if it comes down to a numbers game, it’s that or make the next Marvel or Batman whenever you go for the sure bet right? Um, because how many yeah how many of the it is business how many of these.
Original content kind of projects. Have we seen that come out and didn’t do well how many I mean I look at the list every year. These are Acquisitions at a sun Dance all that movies Carson’s and then what they do at the box office and you’re looking to go you just gotta head shaking the last year.
Yeah, and your before wasn’t very good. I mean, it’s just really head shaking and um, so so it’s good agents selling movies a lot of money here. Yeah, you know, that’s what you do. It was so impressive to even see something like the avatar. I’m such a huge risk on a brand new property with nothing.
They spent what? 400 500 million dollars and I yeah, I mean that but that point you’re betting on a filmmaker and saying well obviously they go down with the ship on with him. Yeah, exactly. Um, like, you know, I think in that point but yes, you’re right. I mean, it’s just I mean film or not. I mean filmmaker or not.
I’m Avatar. There’s no IP build in there and nothing, you know, no major major star nothing, you know rolled it rolled it, but but but to be able to say from the guy who brought you. It brings you enter Avatar. Yeah. Yeah, of course. I mean that set right there, you know, so sadly not as many as we like to see but I still hold hope that Studios realize that this is a business of original content in an original creativity original voices and that there still is a one in need in a passion for Deadpool.
I still based on a Marvel it was a product but very obscure Mark right and it was done for a 35 or 40 minutes. A very shoot and in theory a shoestring for that and they change and they change the genre. Yeah sure because it took a risk totally. I wanna switch it up a little bit. Um talk a lot about writers.
How do you break a director? Yes, please or right here to director or just a straight director. You know, what do you look for the director really going to be about the vision of what you see the product? Um for me again, it’s similar to writing is that when he see something’s very Visionary when you see a movie that you say that.
That to me. There’s there’s a point of view. There’s a vision the way they deal with their shot selection the actors all of that to me. That’s what has to stand out these days. How do you break it director? See they’re going to be from a film. They’ve already done that Garnet that gets, you know rave reviews in town.
You kind of obviously have to get them in front of everybody could possibly can that movie genre matter. No, not at all because I’ve seen some great dramas. Like I always go back to spider. It’s a really great Yeah Yeah from you can find it on Vimeo. I think yeah, which is that’s just the way they they directed the actors.
Yeah, I mean no darn is a genre isn’t matter matters only in short films. I believe that’s where genres stand out and you look at a short film like we were involved with like lights out for example, right? I mean a simple little short. You know wasn’t unbelievably a Visionary but it had a really great hook to it.
That’s now led David Sandberg to have a very illustrious career and built and growing. Um, so in short to me I feel tend to feel comedy and horror are the ones that really stand out unless you do something very visual visual effects down stimulating, you know, um, Tron or one of those guys. There’s a film called ruin, right?
Yeah. Um, but yeah, yeah. Yeah West ball that ruin West boltzmann years, you know just hustle and trying to get things made in everything and find us ruined ruined. Yeah, but I mean I think bacon director is even that much harder because in your asking Studio to give a new in theory filmmaker XML millions of dollars to make a movie and put in their hands extremely hard, but it’s.
Just as rewarding have to audition now too, right they have to go together at the put together rip reels have to put together. What does that mean? Every director have to do this. Now? I would say every director. I would say people not the not the directors. I would say that most new directors are breaking into the scene.
Unless they were pinpointed by the executives or by the studio by the producers that there’s the person they saw they saw something they already steamed. They already seen something that that told him that they knew understood the vision of the movie would have to least put something on on film on screen that would show their vision of what they can do.
I look something that shows so some by the way. I told my directors to do any of that no matter what when they go into a room to audition for but like a lot I’ve noticed that Marvel specifically has been using a lot of. New directors. Yeah lately, especially one that does our Chum cheap car. Yeah Spider-Man.
Yeah, but like how to go from 500 Days of Summer. Yeah. Oh all the time like the old days. I would never have like because this is what the system is set up to do is because if you look at what Marvel Marvel wants to be known for is is giving your characters depth and giving your character something that layered much more than just blowing up buildings and all of that and you look at what those movies at.
This gets people have broken out and there’s movies. All those movies are presented is is just real actors type pieces. And I think that’s what Marvel look for Marble everyone’s I mean everybody. Trouble everybody get your Sundance movie and then what they’ll do. So just surround you buy, you know, excellent DPS, excellent other filmmakers that are tastic and they want your point of view.
And so honestly a breath of fresh air to see these filmmakers breaking out. I think it’s great. Yeah because you know, there’s a new vision for all his movies is wonderful, you know, um, so I’m all for it. You know, I mean, sometimes it’s risky, but there will be so what would be um, Advice you would give someone just starting out as a screenwriter.
Trying to break it. Well, so, uh forestry matter, I mean simple thing but great writers write which is first and foremost. So if you were screaming continue to hone your Craft, um, I I always say, you know, I’m I’m I’m a film school kid that came out here and became an agent right? I don’t think I had the fortitude and I guess I didn’t maybe did or didn’t to like put in a time after to be a director do all that.
But so I commend anybody that puts in the effort to be a. Sit down and put pen to paper and all of that. I think it’s an amazing amazing, um job and I think it’s amazing passion and unbelievable. Unbelievable. Creative Outlet having said that so many writers think they’re writers and say they’re writers yet.
Don’t write they’ll actually put do the right. They talk they talk a lot now she’d do it. So first thing first is to write. Secondly is just to get immersed in this world as much as possible doesn’t mean you have to live out in La sure it helps to be around the business and be not hate to say bubble of Hollywood, but just be immersed understand it enter contests reena’s much as you can about the world of screenwriting and their craft and just understanding know your craft know what it’s all about, you know understand the business that we work in.
I think it only makes you that much more I would just say, um ready when the 60s hopefully comes, you know, no, is it a prerequisite to write your first script in a Starbucks in La every time I go Starbucks now, you can do coffee bean repeats its one of those three happy one. Anybody was not in La get that when I first moved here, I was like.
Everyone’s writing a script. I don’t know. See I was a writer. I don’t think I could do that because I’d want to make too much noise. I way too easily distracted like it’s just maybe it’s like the Jewish thing in me. I don’t know. I’m just like right away. I’m like, wait what’s going on over here, you know, uh, like a dog in a up.
I mean right away girl. So, um breaking the director like what director is I would say just go out and shoot some shoot whatever you can there’s so many many opportunities now, Be to have your I talked about that when I was talkin to the kids from NYU students in my you have your stuff now uploaded on YouTube.
I mean formally buying obviously all these places where people can see your stuff in I think you just have to go out and shoot get a camera, you know, invest in something whatever is on iPhone. I don’t care. What is to shoot something do it and just start to build again on your craft and build your resume do suggest features or shorts.
Well, I mean listen either oars fine, but it’s it’s hard. I mean it’s hard to go out into the whole feature. You know, I mean, you know, I’m not saying max out our credit cards and go I mean that but like if that’s where your passion and love is do whichever you like somebody and just a short sure absolutely it’s good enough and smart enough.
Absolutely. It’s harder, but you can of course, I think studios are a little bit more resistance to giving somebody is this into giving somebody a shot just off of short film, but it’s done for sure, but just you know to break. To get your start in directing. I always think film school is great, but most importantly just go out and shoot do it and do it again.
I come in anybody that does it just go ahead and do it. Um a couple, um, what you mentioned contest so like Nicholl Fellowship Austin has to comes to mind you actually I mean attention to them. Absolutely. I mean, obviously the film’s go on pay attention all of that same old gold and we pay attention to that anything in The Blacklist.
I think Franklin Leonard is such a is very connected to the Hollywood scene and very in touch the Hollywood scene. We’ve had great success The Blacklist. Um, but you know, I can’t I mean it’s it’s so there’s not one way. It’s just continued to write and hone the most of your clients usually have a manager before they get to you or does it matter.
That’s a matter. I mean say now I’d say a good I’d say a high percentage of my clients have managers. Um, but at some but not its changes Sometimes they come to me no, man something to do with a manager. It comes to lawyer. So chain, it’s different every time and you work together with them as a team.
Yeah, the client. Yeah, the best thing can happen to a client’s that everybody is Unified in the approach to the career. Right? We’re all in sync never if there’s if there’s a crack in that system then something’s not working. Right and do you normally you sit down and strategize like I would like career path like you I you know get this script then from here we’re going to do this.
I mean, I’m much more Hands-On the approach of agency than most I’d say most agents are much more transactional and. And there’s not knocking weather agencies. A lot of them are transactional. It’s like just getting the job done and selling it on to next I’m very I get very immersed into note to process and making sure again that everything has my stamp of approval when it leaves the office because again, it’s my taste in my integrity and respect out there.
So. And by the way, not to be on end for script. So I mean as long as the script is really good, even if a spec doesn’t sound absolutely but you also do the rounds you get to keep of course, but you know a great piece of Ronnie, even if it doesn’t sell still a great piece of writing that’s going to get to garnish a lot of interest in different areas for you.
Of course, you know, whether it be film or TV whatever it is, so it’s doesn’t always have to Stalin someone is back isn’t necessarily a high percentage these days. Um again, they’ve had some good. Yes, but um, the percentages aren’t necessarily there. Nothing 90s. Anyway now let me tell you um, but like someone like MAX Line This who’s been doing the same specs eels lately.
I mean, he’s kind of a rights like incredibly fast rights ridiculous just completely put that but he’s kind of like like from what I read. He starting to bring back a little bit at this the Shane black days, you know when he’s so Lethal Weapon and lonk has been done really well for himself. I mean to see the but you see a turn do you see.
You’re starting to go down like hey, let’s pay big money. I can only speak for myself. I can’t speak for you know, Max or anybody else. I could picture me and Mike and my clients. I have seen a great boom in aspect Market. Most people would say you’re out of your fucking mind for saying that right?
You have Market, you know, it’s all about perspective keeping the blinders on it. What’s going on over here? I don’t care where all the noise is cut to keep noise out, you know, but now I have to have seen a great great success in that world. Great. Okay. I think that’s it. Very cool man. Thank you so much for thank you guys.
Thank you a lot of fun. Thank you for having. Me here course now if they go out and brave the crazy blizzard of to be outside nothing like a little Blizzard or Sundance, but thank you guys and obviously continued success to the everything you guys are doing to thank you very much. Thank you for being thanks everyone for listening.
It was amazing talking to David. He was a wealth of information. Uh, and it’s it’s an Avenue that I really have never gone down. I’ve never talked to anybody of his caliber, uh, and really getting inside information on what. It’s like to sell spec scripts how it changes people’s lives is this clients lives and also looking at it from an agent’s perspective not only from the screenwriters perspective and what they’re looking for and what he’s looking for and how he works with his clients and that whole mentality.
So I was really excited to have him on the show. Uh, and uh David if you’re listening thank you my friend so much for being on the show and helping, uh, drop some knowledge bombs. And of course, thank you to my co-host Sebastian Tortas from circus Road films and. Bowman from media circus, uh, the who are co-host and co-production on these special Sundance episodes.
And if you want links to anything we talked about in this episode just head over to indie film hustle BPS, and there have put a David’s contact information. So if you want to reach out to them you can and if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the podcast it really helps us out a lot and gets helps get the word out on what we’re trying to do at the Bulletproof.
Mean play just head over to screenwriting podcast and as always keep writing no matter what talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the bulletproof screenplay podcast at bulletproof screenplay.