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Screenplays: FREE Download 2021-2022 Oscar Contenders UPDATED

UPDATED January 2022: If you want to be a screenwriter you need to read a lot of screenplays. And if you are going to read film scripts might as well read some of this year’s best. Below is an active running list of 2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays. I’ll be adding new screenplays as they become available so check back often.

PLEASE NOTE: These Screenplays Are FREE And LEGAL To Download For Educational Purposes. The Studios Will Only Keep Them Online Throughout The Awards Season So The Clock Is Ticking. Enjoy. 

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guests like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.

2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays


2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

The Father – (Sony Classics) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Promising Young Woman – (Focus Features) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

WEBINAR INSTRUCTOR - DIALOGUE1

Want To Learn From Oscar® Winning & Blockbuster Screenwriters?

Learn from some the best screenwriters working in Hollywood today in this FREE three day video series.

2020 Oscar-Winning Screenplays

Parasite – (NEON) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Jo Jo Rabbit – (Fox Searchlight) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2019 Oscar Contending Screenplays

Netflix has removed its scripts, though some of the links work. I will keep you updated…

2018 Oscar Contending Screenplays

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

Screenwriter’s Screenplay Collections

We started a new weekly series where we highlight a screenwriter and post a collection of most if not all of their work in one online resource. Sign up for our weekly newsletter above to get weekly updates sent to your inbox. Here are a few recent screenwriter collections:

I also decided to include a bonus area where you can download some of the best screenplays of the last few years. Over 175 screenplays in all. Happy reading!

Best of 2016 Screenplays

Best of 2015 Screenplays

Best of 2014 Screenplays

Best of 2013 Screenplays


BONUS: Oscar Nominated and Winning Screenplays

Ridley Scott Film’s Screenplay PDF Collection (Download)

Take a listen to the legendary Ridley Scott as he discusses his screenwriting and filmmaking process. The screenplays below are the only ones that are available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


THE DUELISTS (1977)

Screenplay by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes  – Read the transcript!

ALIEN (1979)

Screenplay by Dan O’Bannen – Read the screenplay!

BLADE RUNNER (1982)

Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples – Read the screenplay!

LEGEND (1985)

Screenplay by William Hjortsberg – Read the screenplay!

BLACK RAIN (1989)

Screenplay by Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis – Read the screenplay!

THELMA AND LOUISE (1991)

Screenplay by Calle Khouri – Read the screenplay!

1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE (1992)

Screenplay by Rose Bosch – Read the screenplay!

WHITE SQUALL  (1996)

Screenplay by Todd Robinson – Read the screenplay!

G.I. JANE (1997)

Screenplay by David Twohy and Danielle Alexandra – Read the Screenplay!

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

GLADIATOR (2001)

Screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson – Read the screenplay!

HANNIBAL (2001)

Screenplay by Steven Zallian – Read the screenplay!

BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)

Screenplay by Todd Robinson – Read the transcript!

MATCHSTICK MAN (2003)

Screenplay by David Twohy and Danielle Alexandra – Read the Screenplay!

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005)

Screenplay by William Monahan – Read the screenplay!

A GOOD YEAR (2006)

Screenplay by Marc Klein – Read the screenplay!

AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007)

Screenplay by Steven Zallian – Read the screenplay!

BODY OF LIES (2008)

Screenplay by William Monahan – Read the Screenplay!

PROMETHEUS (2012)

Screenplay by Jon Spahts and Damon Lindelof  – Read the screenplay!

THE COUNSELLOR (2013)

Screenplay by Cormac McCarthy – Read the transcript!

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (2014)

Screenplay by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zallian – Read the transcript!

THE MARTIAN (2015)

Screenplay by William Monahan – Read the Screenplay!

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)

Screenplay by John Logan, Dante Harper,  – Read the screenplay!

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (2015)

Screenplay by David Scarpa  – Read the Screenplay!

IFH 324: What Makes a Great Screenplay with Stephen Follows (CROSSOVER EVENT)

Right-click here to download the MP3

What if someone could read over 12,000 scripts that were read by professional script readers, who gave the scripts an overall score as well as scores for specific factors including plot, dialogue, characterization, theme, and voice. Then looked for connections and correlations to discover what professional script readers think a good screenplay looks like. Well, today on the show I have that man, Stephen Follows.

It’s a monster of a report — 65 pages to be exact — that examines data from over 12,000 screenplays – mostly written by amateurs, but some of them written by professionals and major Hollywood actors.  Using rigorous data analysis methodologies, Stephen and his team found some fascinating correlations.

Click here to read the report: Judging Screenplays By Their Coverage Report

What They Found

Here’s just a taste of this amazing report. Later sections go into more detail and more topics, but below are nine tips screenwriters should take on board to help improve their chances of impressing script readers.

    1. Know thy genre. Your priorities should rest on the particular nature of your chosen genre. For example, Family films place the highest premium on catharsis, while for Action films it’s plot.
    2. Some stories work better than others. The vast majority of scripts can be summarized using just six basic emotional plot arcs – and some perform better than others.
    3. If you’re happy and you know it, redraft your script. Film is about conflict and drama and for almost all genres, the happier the scripts were, the worse they performed. The one notable exception was comedy, where the reverse is true.
    4. Swearing is big and it is clever. There is a positive correlation between the level of swearing in a script and how well it scored, for all but the sweariest screenplays.
    5. It’s not about length, it’s what you do with it. The exact length doesn’t matter too much, so long as your script is between 90 and 130 pages. Outside of those approximate boundaries scores drop precipitously.
    6. Don’t rush your script for a competition. The closer to the deadline a script was finished, the worse it performed.
    7. Use flashbacks responsibly. Scripts with more than fifteen flashbacks perform worse than those with few to no flashbacks.
    8. VO is A-OK. Some in the industry believe that frequent use of voiceover is an indicator of a bad movie, however, we found no such correlation. We suggest that any complaints on the topic should be sent to editors, rather than writers.
    9. Don’t worry if you’re underrepresented within your genre – it’s your superpower. Female writers outperform male writers in male-dominated genres (such as Action) and the reverse is true in female-dominated genres (such as Family).

Stephen Follows is an established data researcher in the film industry whose work has been featured in the New York Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Mirror, The Evening Standard, Newsweek, The New Statesman, AV Club, and Indiewire.

He acted as an industry consultant and guest on the BBC Radio 4 series The Business of Film, which was topped the iTunes podcast chart, and has consulted for a wide variety of clients, including the Smithsonian in Washington.

I just love Stephen and his amazing ability to crunch numbers for the benefit of the filmmaking community. He’s truly doing God’s work. Get ready to go down the rabbit hole and see what makes a great screenplay.

Enjoy my conversation with Stephen Follows.

Alex Ferrari 1:52
Now today on the show, we have a unique human being by the name of Steven Follows Steven is by far one of the best analytical film data guys ever. He is kind of like Rain Man, but with film data. And he's probably the best research film research guy I've ever even seen or heard of. A lot of big studios go to him for this information because he just is one of those guys can break through it all. And that information that he's doing through his website, and through his report is mind boggling. And today's episode, we're going to talk about what makes a good screenplay. So this man went through 12,000 screenplays and all of their coverage that were covered by professional script coverage people and then analyzed all the data from all of these script readers and put a report together on what makes a good screenplay what readers what Hollywood what you know, what passes, what doesn't pass, what you know, gets produced what doesn't get produced. This by far is one of the most just mind boggling things I've ever heard of, and he is the man to do it. So without any further ado, please enjoy my insane conversation with Steven Follows. I'd like to welcome to the show Steven Follows man, thank you so much for your busy insane schedule, sir to come on the show and, and share your knowledge bombs with the tribe today.

Steven Follows 3:31
Hey, my pleasure. I'm really delighted to be here. And it's really nice to connect up and hopefully, you know, help your audience as much as the work you're doing already helps them.

Alex Ferrari 3:40
Absolutely, man. I mean, before we get started, I have to tell everybody in the tribe that you I am a huge fan of what you do. Steven is easily the best, like film researcher, film data guy on the planet with without question, the stuff that he does is absolutely insane. And we're going to talk about one of those insane projects in this episode without question. But we were just talking about

Steven Follows 4:08
It helps him there aren't many of us right there. So im making it well in a small category. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
But the point is the work that you do, which is you know, obscene amounts of data crunching for the film industry, and then you put that kind of information out, you don't hide it behind. You know, $1,000 paywall you give it away, or give it or you know, or you know, pay as you go or whatever it is, you really are trying to help the community. So I'm excited to talk about your latest project and we're also going to talk about some of your past projects as well. But before we get into it, why? Like I what point did what did you have like data like charts on your wall when you were a child? How did this How did you become the world like the film data guy and what made you want to Get into this side of the business. And I know you have other you are in other parts of your business. But first of all, how did you get into the business and then we'll talk about your film data stuff.

Steven Follows 5:07
Well, I've always been into film, as a kid, that's been always my thing, that's always the medium and the power of it, and you know, everything from your, you know, the temple, you know, popcorn blockbusters, I love them, and right down to sort of write down right across to kind of really heartfelt indie films and make you think and cry. And, you know, that's always been my thing. So film is always been there as a constant. And then I used to write a little bit as a kid, but mostly, I always wanted to be a producer. And I went to film school, and I was in a class of like, 100 people, and everyone wanted to be a director, or, you know, camera person, and I just want to produce, so I just produced and produced loads and loads of terrible short films. And just, you know, producing was my thing, I can organize stuff. And I like to bring things to reality. And I also like working with other people. So it's, I never want to go away and just do something by myself. I kind of like the idea of a team and what that means. And then set up a production company and working away at that writing and producing stuff. And my business partner ed is a director and a really good one at that. And so we sort of built a company that was a video company, and now focuses on storytelling. So we still make videos, we do TV commercials, we all our stuff is for charities in the third sector. And so that that kind of that part of my life is that sort of 15 year journey, which was always driven about, you know, wanting to get films made and wanting to move people. And then with the charity thing, wanting to do it for the good guys and get people to change them. And then on the side of all of that, is that I, when I was before I went to college, I had to decide, did I want to study film, and then do the kind of academic intellectual stuff that I enjoyed on the side or the other way around? Did I want to go and study, I don't know, politics or economics, and then do film on the side. And I decided that it was more interesting to study film, and to keep the intellectual stuff as a hobby, and not try and do it as something useful. And you know, it's just curiosity, you know, this more than anything else. It's not, it's just about wanting to understand how the world works. And so then I did that, and I sort of made a commitment to myself, you know, what, I will make sure that I do some stuff that uses my brain, you know, my running a production company definitely uses many parts of who I am. But the creativity, and the people skills and things like that none of its using the just the logical part. You know, it's, there's so many more things going on. And so I sort of used to do little projects and stuff. And I quite often if I had a debate with a friend in the pub about film, they'd be like, Oh, yeah, there are more comedies and nights. I don't know, I don't think so. Or whatever. And I go, I was the one that would go home and try and find out not to win the argument. But because it's frustrating to have people in the feminists who just chatting to each other without the information. And if they knew they could do it, they're far better for their audience for themselves for their projects. And the, the industry is not very good at sharing that information. So it was always a hobby, and I just started putting it out on the blog, because I felt that it was a good place to do it. And why not share it? You know, there's two cool things about this one is discovering something and going, Oh, my God, look how cool that is. The second half is just as interesting, which is, Hey, guys, come look at this, you know, because then people go off and use it in a way you never thought. And then they come back. And they're like, oh, that thing you show me I used it like this. And you're like, Oh, that's really cool. You know, so sharing the information has been as essential as doing it for me all along. And, yeah, so then I started in a blog, and then somebody told me that it was good to try and have some structure to it. So I decided to publish every Monday, I just, you know, it's one of those things where, when you have loads of different things in your life that are all different shapes, it's very hard to work out what to do today. And so by having these self imposed deadlines, it really helped. And I just kept looking for stuff. And the more I look for something, and the more I find something else to think of and things build on other things. And, you know, sometimes I'll someone will tell me about a cool technique like I was a couple of years ago, someone told me about this API, where you could send it a picture of a human face, and it would tell you all the emotions in it. And I'm like, Oh, cool. I wonder if it worked with the posters. And I sent a few movie posters, and it worked. And then I'm like, wow, I could send all movie posters. And so you

Alex Ferrari 9:10
You see, that's, that's where this is where you are different than most human beings. One or two. That's kind of cute. But then you go straight to all movie posters.

Steven Follows 9:19
What are the steps I'm missing in the middle? Because the thing is, the hard things are, you know, conceiving in there, and then building it, but then said like, it's like building a whole printers and printing one magazine, one copy. Now I'm gonna do a print run for everyone. And so and then once you have all this data, what's really fun is that you tend to get really clear patterns and stories and you say, I always knew that, or I knew that as a film fan. But now I've got the proof, or actually, everything in the industry says about x is just wrong. It just doesn't work like that. And the people at the very top or the people who've been in for a very long time, they know this, but they let everyone else think the other thing because it makes it easier for them or whatever. And so it's really nice to come I can go, Hey, no, guys, this is something that you can do to help the work you're doing. You know. And I think this is awesome. Like, that's really a fun thing to do, because people are going off and using it, like if someone's going to make a movie, and they're going to make it like this, but I know that that at that choice they've made is not going to be great for their success, if I can nip in and help them and give them a little bit of advice. They're still doing all the hard work, but then their film will be, you know, much more successful or whatever it will be. I feel like, if you can do that, you kind of got it. You don't, it's not really a choice. It's kind of I got a small part I can play along the journey. And I if I don't, then I'm being a bit lazy and not really playing my part to the community. You know,

Alex Ferrari 10:40
That's it. Yeah, it again, like we've said off air is like, that's just so not in my wheelhouse. I'm so impressed with that mentality, and how the mind your mind works. And and you were telling me like, marketing, I'm like, well, that's me. I could do that. That's my, that's in my wheelhouse. Without question, but your work is, is doing an insane amount of good for for a lot of filmmakers, and a lot of people in the business. And your latest project, which I'm going to read the cover which one it was approached when I was approached by the to about this, I my mouth dropped. I couldn't believe that someone did this. But then I saw your name on and I was like, Well, of course that makes perfect sense. Only a psychopath would do this like oh, let's see what follows. Okay, that's perfectly makes perfect sense. The the new report is called judging screenplays by their coverage, you analyze 12,000 plus unproduced feature film screenplays and the scores they received and revealed. And this analysis reveals what professional script readers think make a good screenplay. And that's what this entire report is about. And it gives you a real like this is a this is an interesting report, because it's about 12,000 unproduced feature films that produced feature films. So please tell me how this came to be. And and how did you go about putting this together? And then we'll get into some of the nitty gritty of the report?

Steven Follows 12:10
Yeah, that sounds great. I mean, there is there's not the main reason I do it. But there is a real side, side pleasure in doing something that it's like, it's like a magician, where they spend years training how to do this thing. And then they got all this equipment and a team. And then they go, Oh, yeah, like this. It was like, magic. And as any screenwriter will tell you, nothing is magic. It's just hard work. You know, like you watch Ocean's 11. And like, I had to get out of that situation you like, well, the screenwriter writers worked on it for like a year, and then made it look easy. So yeah. So what happened was, I was talking over a year ago, with the guys at screencraft. And they manage all sorts of competitions and things like that. And they have really good guys that are really interested in helping screenwriters is one of those businesses, that's a proper business that's come out of wanting to support screenwriters. And I can I can tell theater in the sense that I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people suggest things and you can tell which people are just saying, Hey, can we just get some value out of this or whatever? And then there are other people who really want to sort of say, Yeah, but how does this help writers. And so we were chatting, and both of us had seen years ago, there was an infographic that was still doing the rounds, like it's a big one page infographic. And it was from one particular script reader who had kept loads of notes of all the scripts I've ever read. And they and there was an interesting things like, what country or what state the characters were from, or whatever. But then on the right hand side was this list that was about why they thought the scripts were bad, or why are we held back, you know, wasn't didn't have a strong protagonist didn't have a strong plot, and they'd rank them based on how many times that came up. And john screencraft, and I were both independently saying to each other, could there's that thing I saw years ago, that was really cool. And I was like, Can we do that at scale? You know, can we and we can't find the exact things like that, you know, like, protagonist is a bit weak in the third act, because that is nuanced that the data would struggle to really understand. But there is loads of stuff we can do. So we spend some time talking about, okay, but how do we do this, like, in this modern world of privacy, how do we do this without it being a problem, we don't want to be taking people's private work and doing all sorts of things with it. And, and so that was that was back a little bit to figure out how we do this without causing any problems. We don't want to be the next, like Facebook or whatever. But at the same time, I think we can help screenwriters. And so in the end, we worked out a kind of complicated but good system that anonymized all the data, or the scores that the readers got, but still allowed us to have a look on that. So it's not it wasn't a case of us sitting there reading every script and all that kind of stuff. It was more turning into data. And as I said, as scores, what they get from readers was not just the overall score, but also all sorts of things like catharsis plot structure, you know, voice things like that, taking all of those anonymizing them, but still being able To sort of link data points, and then Okay, great. So we got over that hurdle. And then it took longer than I thought he was going to on a data slide. point of view, shocking, so much information. Shocking. Yeah. Well, it's just, you know, and also, it's one of those things where you start and you think, okay, I'll just do ABC, and then you're like doing that you're like, oh, look D exists. Oh, yeah, he exists f. G. And then you know, so it really was a discovery thing, where as soon as we can act, one thing, we discovered two more things. And in the end, we had to go, okay, you know, there's some things we put to one side and said, You know what, I'm not going to do anything on this. Because we can do this in the future. And it's just too much now. And we should say, I keep saying we, so I let the I let the process and I certainly something that Jonathan Groff and I set up, but also, there was a few great people that really helped me Josh cockcroft. And Laura mentioned, and we're both of them really helped me with the coding and the thought process and the writing up and, you know, it was a team effort. And so yeah, we there's a few things we left on the table. But then we left, we ended up with this 50 page report that looks. I mean, it looks at three different things. Fundamentally, the main thing is it looks at what script professional script readers think of good script looks like. And we can talk more about what that is in a bit. So that's the main, that's the main purpose of the report. But then, the next bit was about well, what does the average screenplay look like? You know, like, what, what's normal, not even good or bad, but like, how many characters scenes pages dialogue locations. And then finally, there's little bits we could do about screenwriters. Again, we don't know, like, individually there, who they are or how old they are. And, but there are some things we can figure out with gender and genre and which bits of software they use as well, because you know, which program do you write with? and stuff like that? So that's the bits that we decided to lend in. So you may be telling me you think it's long. I think it's short.

Alex Ferrari 16:55
You're psychotic. You're psychotic. That's that and that's fine. Fine. Thank you. No, but you're psychotic in a wonderful way, sir. In a wonderful, wonderful way. I just as you're talking, I just realized what who you are you are your money balling screenwriting?

Steven Follows 17:11
Yeah, it's so funny, because that's come up a few times. And we thought about like, Okay, do we lean into that, or you know, that and ultimately, I think the really important thing to remember with this is that we are judging what's what script readers think a good script is, we're not saying what audiences do and not saying rainwork what we're in. And we're also not. There's no formula for it, you know, the more data I get into the more I appreciate the value and importance of human creativity and ingenuity. And so it's not like I can just generate a script now. So you're absolutely right, but have a very narrow thing. You know, this is the gatekeepers, you know, as you know, the people who get you in the room, you know, the get you place you win a competition or whatever, I'll give you validation to show what you can do. That's what we're focusing on this really narrow gatekeeper role.

Alex Ferrari 17:57
Right, exactly. So I mean, the difference between Moneyball is they were literally just looking at stats. So there is a different thing there, there was no creativity in involved. But this is a money balling of script readers and what will get what betters your chance of getting a screenplay through the gatekeeper, which is a massive Head Start above everybody else, if you don't, if you know this information, you've just changed your odds of writing something or creating something with your creativity and with your skill and your craft, to actually be able to break through the door much faster, and get more attention quicker, just based on this on this research. And as as I've skimming through the the, the report, I just came across that what matters most to script readers. And on the most important side, it is characterization plot, style, the voice of the of the writer, and then the things that matter the least theme hook originality format, which is opposite of what a lot of people talk about. A lot of people talk about, oh, it has to be completely original Oh, it has to have be perfect format. You've got to have a good hook. And the themes got to be really great structures down there as well. But they really care about characters. They care about plot and they care about style and the voice. So it's more of the almost the less of the, the the technical and more of the creative is what they're looking for, at least from just looking at it. Yeah, quick glance.

Steven Follows 19:34
No, no, I think you're absolutely right. And I think the important things to sum this up with is that if you get the technical stuff wrong, you can fail, but you can't win without the other stuff. So it's almost like the reason that you do the technical stuff is so that you don't get you know, so that you don't get thrown out. It's the foundation. The organism exactly is the foundation. Exactly. That's a great way of putting it. But if you're going to excel, if you're really going to make something incredible, then your voice as a writer is the most Important thing that people are after. And it's fascinating to see this in the data because I see this in other places as well. When you look at what movies are successful and things like that, it's you can't say that this is always the case in every place, but being good or working hard, come out very, very often, as amongst the number one things, and here is a writer, it's not about tricking them with a clever line, or like a good title or like it's formatted, you know, all beautifully. It's or, you know, or that it's so different just for the sake of being different. What we can see here, is it what matters is, can you write something? Can you can you do you have a voice? Do you have a lot of integrity, you know, the idea of a rang a really good spec script in Hollywood to get yourself noticed. They're not going to pick up your script, they're not going to make it. But the fact that you could write it a certain voice is what will open doors. And you see the same thing here. And because these are all spec scripts, you can see Actually, yeah, this is what you should be doing. Don't worry too much about how viable it actually is to be made tomorrow, you know, don't spend forever just focusing on the formatting. That's not to say it's not something But fundamentally, who are you What have you got to say, you know, how would you describe these events? Not what are these events, you know, and that's what these people want. And I love that because I think and I hope that's what writers want to do. They want to see the world. Think about it and express it. And I find that really pleasing and reassuring that that's what the script readers are after too.

Alex Ferrari 21:23
If you if you take a list of the Top 20 screenwriters who've worked in Hollywood, dead or alive, but let's say alive, I'm going to say that all of them have a very unique voice, you know, the Sorkin's the Shane Black's the Kaufman's, you know, these kind of that know, Christopher Nolan, these guys have very specific styles, and have a very unique voice. Sure, there's always going to be technicians always going to be craftsmen who could just get in there, knock out a script, be kind of, you know, straight down the middle. But the ones that stand out the ones that really, really that that we know the name of the writers off the top, like I say Sorkin everybody should know who Sorkin is. Everyone should know who Kaufman is, or black. You know, these are, these are screenwriters whose style is so significant Tarantino so significant that their last name is enough to to you know, create that. And I think people forget about the voice because they're always so caught up with trying to do something that's going to impress or what's hot now, or all this kind of stuff. And this, this obviously proves there's one thing that I find interesting is we're going to talk about genre next is that a lot of things are Oh, what's hot and what's not hot. There's certain things that just stay hot, and certain things that just don't stay hot for a long time. And and they stay consistent over time. Just sure they'll have a little peaks and valleys of horror is really hot right now, or this is really hot right now. But do you agree with that?

Steven Follows 23:00
Yeah, totally. And I couldn't agree more. I think, personally, right. What's interesting is that, because we are film fans, you know, we're cinephiles, we go and see movies. And then we are film professionals. We sometimes overthink the film professional side of things and ignore the film fans side of it, you know? And so sometimes you go through this big data process, you write it all up, and then you're like, Oh, yeah, I kind of knew that. But that's okay, because you've got validation. But I'll give you an example. You know, you're talking about genre. With all of those things that we talked about, we correlated the success of the overall script based on their scores, all these things, which exactly as you said, says, basically, the shorthand of this is how important each of these things and like you said, formatting comes out, as the least important across all genres. It's still it's not it is not irrelevant. But it's just not the most important thing. But what is the most important thing changes depending on different genres? So the ones you talked about the characterization of voice then the number one for most of the genres, but then if you think about a family film, right, so the most single most important thing for a family film is catharsis. Yes. Which makes perfect sense as a film fan, you know, I'm not sure I would have sitting there and guessed if I was before we did this work, I would have written it like this. But now I see it. I'm like, of course, because you need a family film to be safe. You need it to be something you can put the kids in front of the you can watch, and you need the journey. And, and it needs to end satisfactory, you know. I'll give you an example. So I there's a viral video from like, I don't know, five, six years ago. And what it is is Toy Story three had just come out on DVD and blu ray, and for a Christmas prank, a family had taken it to two kids and taken it and cut out the bit so the card the very ending so that what happens is the move that they're all going into the incinerator they're all about to die, they say their goodbyes, and then the credits roll, right. And they showed it to them that their mom right and they had a hidden camera, and she's watching it like a big fan of Toy Story seeing once he watches three, she thinks they're all going to their death and then the credits roll and then she's like What, what, and she looks like she's devastated. Like, not just sad, but like her world is falling apart. And like it goes on, it's very funny. And then they own up and they tell it what they did. But, but what's so funny about that is, is saying the same thing as this data, which is, you don't expect a family film to leave you hanging, it has to close up. But you think about a thriller, or a good drama, like a really good drama, maybe the characters have a resolution, maybe they don't, but the themes never resolved really, because you, these are questions about what it is to be a human being. And so it makes sense that, you know, you wouldn't necessarily use this data to go and craft the perfect plot for a family film. But if you've written the first few drafts, and you're like, Okay, how can I improve this? You go? Okay, well, is my catharsis, you know, how cathartic is this? How much does it actually close at the end of the journey? And whereas if you're doing some other genres, it becomes far less important adventure films, it becomes less important than that sense.

Alex Ferrari 25:55
Right? Like, if you l No, no, like, you look, if you if you look, if you listen to or you watch Free Willy, like, if if Willie doesn't get free at the end of that movie, they don't have for other movies.

Steven Follows 26:11
No, exactly. In needs closure, you know, and catharsis and closure are slightly different things, but they're in the same wheelhouse. And it makes such sense

Alex Ferrari 26:19
For a family film. But you don't need that for a horror movie. I mean, that the killer could get away and then that sequels. Yeah, it's just different by genre. But based on on the report, the advice per genre, which I find a little fascinating, but once you start thinking about it makes perfect sense. The genres that are scored the highest, I'm just gonna do the top three in the top and the top bottom three, the top is thriller, then goes animated goes adventure, which makes perfect sense because those films kind of cross over tastes, meaning that almost everybody can enjoy a good thriller. almost anybody can enjoy a good adventure film. almost anybody can enjoy a good animated film because you know what you're expecting with that. But then, on the other end of the spectrum, you've got comedy is the worst reviewed fantasy and sci fi. So then if you start thinking about I'm like, well, comedy, not everyone's gonna get certain jokes. And then if you don't like it, if you don't like fantasy, it's probably just it's a riskier. It's a riskier genre. Same thing for sci fi. If you're not a sci fi or fantasy fan, not everyone's going to enjoy it. Everyone's going to generally enjoy a really good thriller, or a really good adventure film, like Raiders of the Lost Ark. almost anybody could enjoy Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know, you don't have to be a fan of archaeology. Yeah. But you have to be a fan a fan of Lord of the Rings to enjoy Lord of the Rings.

Steven Follows 27:47
I couldn't. Yeah, I totally agree. And I think there are other things as well, when you when you think about it, like comedy is the only genre where you can really fail at like, No, no, if you've got a horror film, and it's not very scary. It's still a horror film. It's just a bad one, or a draw. Everything is drama. Like, as talking as drama. It's not very dramatic, but it's drama. But if we don't make jokes, it's not a comedy. So the answer can be no. And then for fantasy and sci fi, my theory on this one, which is just my theory of the same data that you've got in front of you, but my theory is that if you get some of the details wrong in a fantasy or sci fi, when you're writing the script, it's confusing. And humans don't mind mystery. mystery is intriguing. But confusion is, is feels horrible. Yes. And something's confusing. It's genuinely painful in an emotional sense. Whereas a thriller, if it's confusing, it doesn't matter as much as it's about the unknown fantasy, like you want to know the world. You know, I saw Fantastic Beasts, too. Not long ago, I won't spoil anything about JK Rowling's.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
I've never heard of her she could.

Steven Follows 28:51
I think she's amazing. But in this film is a bit confusing. But the my main point with this is that every now and then there's a situation that the characters are in, and then it turns out, there's a magic way of getting them out, like literally magic. And that's fine. But it's a bit of a, it's a bit of a frustrating as an audience, because you you feel disempowered to be able to figure out what's going on, because she can't explain the volume of stuff that she knows about that world. And so when you get a fantasy or sci fi wrong, you're not expanding enough for the audience. And so the ones that are bad tend to be quite bad, you know, and not very good sci fi, not very good fantasy, and not very good comedy, actually feel pretty shitty, whereas a not very good thriller, still a thriller. So my guess is that this is about whether you can fail at genre or leave people completely confused, or when you actually can just make them think it's average and fine. But yeah, who knows? We know one of the things we can't tell here, is that when there is no and we certainly don't have access to any objective measure of quality. So it could well be that over these 12,000 scripts that maybe the comedies were bad, you know, and but uh, maybe that or maybe the script readers were biased. I mean, I don't know I don't think so.

Alex Ferrari 29:57
It is just comedy is extremely difficult. It's, it's probably one of the most difficult things to write to direct to, to make a movie of, because I still remember airplane, when that the worst test screening ever in Paramount's history, the worst test reading ever. And the reason why they went back and analyzed why, because it was obviously a classic and one of the biggest hits Paramount ever had at the time. And I could still watch it now and piss myself because it's one of the best comedies ever. But don't get me started because all the lines are starting to come back in my head. So I don't want to go down the airplane road. But they figured that people at that time in history did not feel comfortable enough to admit that they liked it. So when they wrote it down on the cards, they just wrote down bad reviews because they didn't want to say, I really liked this lowbrow slapstick stuff. And that was fascinating to me. That's the

Steven Follows 30:57
same. It's the same with horror, though. Like horror has always been a genre where in the 80s and 90s people denied it. They're like Fangoria magazine in the UK aimed at like, fantasy and horror. They used to have a column that was entitled something like it's not a horror, but all of that. And it was people who promote movies that were like, it's not a horror. It's like a dark psychological thriller. And people will basically use all of these words to say it's not. And then that generation that grew up on those horror films actually grew up into positions of power. And when no, I like horror, and horror kind of exploded, and then people's became less ashamed of liking horror. But horror has the has the least connection when it comes to horror movies, the least connection between what critics and audiences say they think about it, and whether they make money or not, you know, if you make a lot of money with the drama and documentary, they need to be good by both audiences and critic standards. with horror, it's irrelevant. You know, the purge is made so much money, no, officially, no one likes it. You know, it's got terrible audience reviews, terrible ones, critics reviews, and it does just fine. And there are other horror films that are like, Oh, this is a work of art, and they just don't make very much money. And it's not that they have to be bad, it's that they're disconnected. So you're right, there's this everything we're looking at is a lens through a lens or a lens. And if the lens is, tell me what you think, well, then suddenly I'm thinking, well, who are you? How do I want to be seen, you know, when when you've got things like, these are anonymous script reports, in a sense that no one's gonna know who wrote them, you can actually say what you think you don't have to stand up there and defend it. You know, or if you're a critic, you're thinking, what do people think of me? What do they think they My name my photos next to this, you know, like, well, I don't like this schlocky horror. Of course, I like the really important foreign film or whatever. But when you look at what people pay to see or what they rent or whatever, you see a different story.

Alex Ferrari 32:43
Yeah, when you when Silence of the Lambs won, the Oscar was in nominated, and that during that time, it is still the first and only horror movie to ever win the Oscar, to my knowledge, at least. Because because they told everyone it wasn't a horror, it was a thriller. That's how you got away with it was it was a psychological thriller. You never once heard anyone call it a horror film, ever. But But when you watch it, it's an effin horn film. It's really what you want. Terrifying play. It is terrifying. And by the way, do you know the Hannibal Lecter is on screen for like, 12 minutes? Really? And the entire movie like 12 to 15 minutes it but all you can remember is him? In that movie? Yeah. It's fascinating. Now, one of the this is this is another bit of data that I just everyone always asks about, what is the key amount of pages? What's the number? What is the sweet spot for page count? Because I mean, we've all we've all seen the 200 page script, written by a first timer saying, This is so good that Hollywood is going to take notice. And professionals, we're going to go look at them and go, look, dude, it's just not going to work out for you. You need to stop. Well,

Steven Follows 34:03
it's like that joke of a producer picking up a long script and going I don't like it. It feels expensive.

Alex Ferrari 34:09
Exactly. It does. It's, it doesn't make financial sense. Even George Lucas had to break up Star Wars into three movies, because his first script was like 258. But I felt it's I'm looking at the numbers right now. Of what it's it's kind of where I was a couple surprises, though. I didn't because normally, I always thought it was like 90 to 95 was a good sweet spot. But it seems to be 95 to 99 is a good sweet spot, but then it jumps right to 105 to 109 and 110 to 140. Yeah,

Steven Follows 34:46
I wouldn't worry about that, you know, on any chart, there's going to be a little bumpiness you know, and so 95 to 99 seems to be ever, you know, marginally higher than 100 204. But I wouldn't worry about those kind of details. Because that is that's not you know, Significant in a data sense. But what is significant is on either end, you know, under about 85 pages, yeah, over about 130. And it falls off a cliff. And what, there is a pleasing bell curve around here. And like we said, 95 to 115 is about the highest. But ultimately, the biggest piece of news from this is, as long as it's not too long or too short, doesn't matter.

Alex Ferrari 35:24
You're right. So they're very, they're very close to very

Steven Follows 35:27
close, very close. And it's certainly not enough like that you should go and add in a couple of pages, and it will make a big difference to you. It depends what's on those pages, right? Except, I think, as short as you can be to get your get your whole thing across. But also, once you start crossing below 90 pages, it's not really it's less and less like a feature film, you know, right? And less than the edit and stuff. And we found that in a few different things where I had exactly the same as you, when I started this, I was like, right, I got some stuff I want to test, you know, talking about how I started doing all of this data stuff in the first place. I'm thinking right, I want to test whether there is a sweet spot for pages. And I also want to test if voiceover is a good or bad thing, because my theory has always been well, the theory I was educated on really, you know, was the voiceover is a bad thing when it comes right as my next thing. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like it's it's novels, right? It's a literary format. It's a way where you say what the character is thinking internally. But that's not how movies work movies a show, don't tell. So I'm thinking great, we'll be able to test that we'll be able to see if voiceover does home movies, because the argument against voiceover is that's a literary thing it's internal monologue. You should show this stuff if you have to say the character things you know a voiceover I was feeling sad at this point then you're not doing a good you're writing the counter argument is usually just good fellas

Alex Ferrari 36:48
were on No I'll throw out throw one even better Shawshank is a great example. It's like the best movie it's still my top two movies ever. It's like one of the greatest and it's wall to wall. Voiceover and Goodfellas is to him Goodfellas is also an amazing film. But Shawshank really you know because it's considered arguably one of the best movies ever made. At least by IMDb at least by IMDb ratings.

Steven Follows 37:16
Yeah, and by the way, for every every group, old young male female like this, this isn't a movie that's being swamped. Like the matrix has been swamped by younger male people. No, no, no. Children is universal. And let's remember it's a three hour brutal racist prison drama. It's not like

Alex Ferrari 37:32
written on it. And it's called the worst idol ever. The Shawshank Redemption. I don't understand two of those three words. Yeah, exactly. It's right VA I get but the rest of them like really? No, it's it's fascinating. And I don't want to go on a tangent on Shawshank because I can talk for hours about Shashank. But that movie is such an anomaly. And I always I've analyzed that movie a million times of Why? Why it is so why it's so loved and beloved. I always tell people if you don't like Shawshank you're dead inside. I'm sorry, I kind of talked to you. You something went wrong along the way. You You're dead inside, I'm sorry.

Steven Follows 38:12
But when I give, I can talk from time to time and when I use Shawshank as an example. I do say how many of you have seen it? And there's always like, sometimes it'd be one person if there's a room of like 50 people, and everyone else tends to them. And the main question is like how how have you not seen this movie? Like this is an essentially and what's funny is that the next movie they made the the Green Mile I have a three hour brutal racist prison. I don't know if I'm Stephen King, I love it. But anyway, so not this is not a tangent but my theory on Shawshank is that that movie is essentially, it's got a fun plot in the sense that it's got fun and

Alex Ferrari 38:50
fun. You're fun. Is that a word?

Steven Follows 38:52
No, sorry. No, no. But what I'm saying is that the twists, you know, are we we're we're in it for you. But the main reason that's that's distraction. I don't think that's the reason it's a successful film. I think that's fun. But I think that's what it gives people in their front of their mind to be distracted. The reason it's so successful is for three hours, it asks one basic question, which is can these two be friends, and then the most unfriendly people in the world? You know, one is a wrongly convicted quiet accountant, who's in an incredibly brutal place. The other guy is in prison. He's black in a place that's in a time that's incredibly racist. It's unfair. And throughout the whole movie, you're saying, Are they friends? Are they friends? Are they friends? And the final? final hour focus shop says, Yes, they are. And then your heart explodes because you're like, Oh, my God, they were friends. And that's what that movie does. It asks one question repeatedly, for three hours, and then gives you a satisfying answer. Now,

Alex Ferrari 39:44
I'm going to give you my theory, because now we're gonna, we're gonna do I'm sorry, audience, this is going to happen. So just settle in for a second because we're gonna we're gonna do this. I agree with that. I think that is one of the multi layers of this film. I always found it to be and I'm sorry to spoil alert for anyone who's not seen Shawshank Redemption, I'm going to talk a little bit about the ending. So please fast forward. But I always saw it as an as a allegory of our existence. And I'm going to go deep here, as our existence as human beings, because I feel that many of us feel like any refrain, that life has put us in boxes that we do not belong in, that we've been wrongly accused of, whether that be our life circumstances, our family life, our jobs, whatever it is, and then that the beating that he gets throughout the movie, and, you know, getting the ratings and all the other things that happened to him, his life doing that to us on a daily, weekly, monthly yearly basis, again, and again and again. And it is a life sentence just like him, it's a life sentence. So when he figures out a way to over not overpower but with his mind, break free, and that he has to go through, you know, three football fields worth of crap to get out of that. And when he's so finally exposed, it's almost like he's being birthed, again, at the end, he rips off his closing, and that he's been able to outsmart the thing that put him there. It is the ultimate cathartic feeling for us, like, Oh, my God, what if I could do that to my boss? What if I could do that to a family member, that that's been pounding you all these years, emotionally, verbally, or whatever, or, you know, whatever situation in life has been doing that to you. And that is why I feel that it is, it cuts through every genre, age, male, female, it doesn't matter. I remember watching that movie out, it was in 94, it was released. And that year, I'll never forget it. I was I was fresh out of high school. And my high school, you know, friends at the time, who we all thought john Claude Van Damme was a greatest actor of all time. We all said Holy cow, is that a great movie, it cut through even maturity level. And only after you get older, do you realize a lot of other levels of it, but even at that basic level it cut through. That's my interpretation.

Steven Follows 42:15
I love that that is such a good point. And you know, the interesting thing about read is that the Morgan Freeman character is that I can understand everybody identifying with the frame. But nobody is really identifying with read. And I read something a while ago that was talking about the TV show entourage. And it said, the reason the TV entourage works is not because men have a fantasy about being Vince, then it's not that they want to fuck movie stars, and they want to be rich, is that they want to be best friends with Vince. So they get to fuck movie stars. Like, they don't want the responsibility or the pressure or the expectation of being Vince, they want to be turtle. They want to be he you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:50
They want drama. Yeah.

Steven Follows 42:52
Yeah, exactly. That's what men want. They want that kind of access, access, but without the responsibility. And so everybody wants to have a friend like read, but nobody actually wants to be read. And because here's a guy that can get you everything, but you can still be quiet, Andy, you know what, I find that that's, uh, I like your theory on that one. We, um,

Alex Ferrari 43:10
I think I like your theory as well, I think the I think they're both valid. And they both work in the same way. It's just I think that that movie has so many layers and levels of things that are going on that it just it is it is as perfect of a film as I've ever seen. On a set.

Steven Follows 43:27
You know, and it proves to me that you like I'm joking about it being a brutal in a prison drawer. But it is, and it isn't like about that is that teaches you that there's no story that can't it's impossible for it to be something that can connect with people. And if you can have that movie that the static stream connecting with so many people in such an extreme way, and I think is possible. It's not that everything is possible with anything.

Alex Ferrari 43:47
No stories, good stories, it will cut through all of this if the story is exactly well executed and directed in the I mean, it's just amazing. But back to voiceover. Sorry, guys. Sorry. We went on Shark shake.

Steven Follows 44:00
You can come back now we finished it. Yeah, no. So So anyway, so one of my first theories I had I really wanted to test when I when we started on this data was voiceover and and is it correlate with bad scripts? And I can tell you now that the answer is it doesn't matter. It does it. If you have a huge amount, then obviously, it's a problem. But a huge amount of anything, you know, and there's a, I can assure you that a huge amount of exclamation marks don't help, you know, huge amount of anything doesn't help. But fundamentally, it doesn't matter. And so I've updated my understanding of this. And I now think that that I still believe that there is a loose correlation between voiceover and bad movies. But now I'm putting the blame on editors and producers who are doing hack jobs to quote unquote, save a movie, or to make it shorter or or to you know, whatever. You know, like Blade Runner.

Alex Ferrari 44:46
You were you were I was about to just cough up Blade Runner. I mean, yeah.

Steven Follows 44:52
And so that's my theory is now now is that actually writing? voiceover is fine. It's how you use it. It doesn't it's not a good thing. It's not a bad thing. It's a tool. You know, and you as an artist needs to think with that and what you paint matters. But it's not a bad thing. It's not something to. One of the things I hope I can do with this project is, if you are a writer who is currently being told to cut voice over you believe is important. And you're being told, because it's a fact of voiceover is bad. I can tell you for a fact, act. It's not. It's what you do with it.

Alex Ferrari 45:22
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Yeah, I know Robert McKee yells at people for using voiceover. But like everything, it's a tool, it can be used right or not?

Steven Follows 45:41
Well, so he might not be, he might not be wrong as well, that it's correlated with bad movies. But that's different to bad screenplays, you know, really important that we understand that because movies go through so many processes with so many people between the screenplay and the beat and the big screen. And that's why this data stuff is so interesting. We need to chop all these different stages down and analyze them separately, so that we're not confusing one thing and doing something else, you know, we're not just thinking I saw a bad movie with voiceover therefore, I'll never write it. No, no, don't do what that movie did that made it bad. It's not, you know, you're focusing on the wrong thing.

Alex Ferrari 46:14
Now, I love the next part I want to talk about and for everyone listening in a car with a child, this is the part where you might want to skip or pause and listen to privately we're going to talk about swearing in scripts. And that is, I just loved that there was somebody who counted how many shits there were in 12,000. Scripts? How many folks that were in 12,000 scripts and other words, and I just love that you are that person? Steven?

Steven Follows 46:43
I do. Well, can I just take the record? I did not read every script. Of course. There's one.

Alex Ferrari 46:47
No, no, obviously not used to be doing it. But that there was a there without that was that was one of the data points that we needed to discover. That was it, he can

Steven Follows 46:57
tell you that I built a machine into, you know, a little algorithm to discuss these, which means I'm one of the few people who can say I have built a buck machine.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
No, but like so the word that's most uses shit. swear word. Yeah, and followed quickly by fuck. And then the C word. I never like saying the C word. But the C word drops down to like, five, less than 10% of all scripts had this word because it's a harsh word. It's harsher than shitter. Fuck, but it's fascinating. Like, and then also in genre, which genre uses the most swear words? Comedy, Action and horror.

Steven Follows 47:39
And the thing is, I think they're all doing different things in the sense that action, it's about exclamations of like, surprise, I think horror. It's about you know, pain and, and frustration Where's comedy. It's, they're using it in a different way. And in another part of the report, we found that there's a strong correlation between sexual words, words to do with sex that are in comedy. So if you look at most words to do with, whether it's, you know, genitalia, or different sex, or whatever sexual acts, they're much more likely to be found in comedy. So people because they don't tend to thrillers don't tend to be fundamentally about sex, whereas comedies can be or are more likely to be. So it's interesting. They've all got different reasons for being, you know, on that top part of the script, top part of the chart

Alex Ferrari 48:22
that I'm looking at the report right now, Steven and I, I'm giggling because there's a graph and a graphic with like, fuck 63.3% fuck Kant 9%. It's like, and it's like throwing it. I'm like, Oh, my God, this is brilliant.

Steven Follows 48:41
You know what? The Venn diagram with three circles showing the overlap of that this caused me this graph caused me the biggest problem of all of the report. And as I said, as I said before, it's a lot of this song was a problem, because every time I sent notes to my graphic designer, it went to his spam folder, because all the words in the email, were the three worst words in the English language. And so, this was a problem for moderation, more than anything else, and I was trying to, you know, point out then this is academic. It's not like we're children, you know, but, um, but what was interesting is that there is a correlation. Earlier in the report, we looked at the correlation between the amount of swearing and the scores it got. And we found that actually, across all the films, as they got swearing, they got higher, higher and higher scores not insignificantly, apart from the most of the top 20% of you know, in the 20%, that I've got the most swearing us in it. They're the ones they didn't perform that well. But the ones that had some swearing or what we call a lot of swearing, so this is the sort of third and fourth, you know, fifth of all the scripts, they actually scored the highest and when we try to look into why this was obviously you should know how But across all the scripts, it was like this. And when we need to drill down to try and work out why we discovered a pattern where the swearing of the script was, the higher the score was for voice, which is one of the things that we can measure like we were talking about before with catharsis and things like that. So what's happening is that a lot of times script readers are correlating the use of swearing with how good the writers voices, or, you know, good writers swear a lot, we can't, we don't know the difference between the two, they both show up the same. But this is a really good example of this is true. And this is very useful, but at the same time, just putting more swear words in there is misreading the results. It just says the kinds of people who have the strong, strongest writing voice are more likely to wear than the ones that don't. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 50:46
It is actually quite fascinating. But again, you know, given Tarantino or Shane Black, the power of cursing, they use it as an art form. It's it's a paintbrush for them. They don't lean on it as a crutch. where a lot of screenwriters I find in scripts that I've read, lean on it as a crutch as like, I have nothing cool to say here. So I'm just gonna say the F word. You know, as opposed to something that really makes sense. You know, like, it's an art like when Tarantino curses, it's an art form?

Steven Follows 51:18
Yeah, well, yeah. And you say that he's writing voices coming out of that? You're absolutely right. And so yeah, kind of kind of interesting. I'm not sure this is there's a few things in here where I don't really want people to take this as literal advice to do tomorrow. It's more as a route to understand how things work. But yeah, if suddenly the, you know, spec script world becomes a lot scarier than I thought it's your fault.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
Yeah, it's your fault. And then age, age of characters, I found. Not surprising, but interesting, where basically 30s is the sweet spot. That's that? Well, that's

Steven Follows 51:54
your right, that's the most common and so we don't have individual data on the actual screenwriters. So I can't tell you like whether people who are over 60 write characters that are over 60, I'd love to, but I think that's a bit like we'd have that, you know, people have to give us that data. And it's just a bit too much private data. But what we do know is across all our writers, the average age is about 3132. And so unsurprisingly, the most common age for characters is in their 30s. But what you find is if you look at the age of the characters, and then you look at how often they speak, you find that as characters get older, they speak less, which is just typical of like someone in their early 30s, or late 30s, or late 20s, thinking, the older they get, yeah, the less relevant they are, the less, you know, they drive the story, which I thought was kind of fun. And also the idea that, you know, there are things in here that I think one of the things that good writer will always be thinking about, is how will this show on screen? How will people see this? So for example, the most common final digit in an age was characters was zero. So the characters were 2030 4050 that makes sense, right? But then the next most common was 525 3540. But after that, it was eight. So 2838, you know, 48. And I think that's because the writers think that when you write somebody 28 you're saying something about their character. You know, they are older, but maybe they've got regrets. They've got time to try to achieve things, you know, people midlife crisis, you know, maybe hits people around 38, or whatever. And so there's information that the writers are trying to convey that is probably never going to be shown on screen. You know, if the characters are having a midlife crisis, then you have to show them saying it living in driving a new car, whatever it is, but just saying their age won't do it. So it's kind of interesting about as that one of those things as a writer is, are you conveying that information in a way that will make it through to the big screen and into the minds of your audience?

Alex Ferrari 53:46
Well, I mean, we've we've talked a lot about this report, and believe it or not, everyone, there is a lot more information in this report than what we've discussed that we haven't given away all the goodies. And are you giving this away? Are you doing it a Pay As You Can what is going on with this?

Steven Follows 54:00
Now we're giving it away, actually, and the last report, I did a whole report, I did it as a pay what you want, because it costs it took a lot of time to put together the horror report. And I thought, if I can make a sustaining business out of people paying for these reports that I can then put the money into the next report, that would be great. And so that was a minimum of $1 and anything else more you wanted. This time around. We're doing it entirely for free, because we figured that what we really want to do here screencraft and I got together to help screenwriters, they've given us loads of that. And they've given me access in various ways to their data. But it's fundamentally something that you really want doing not as a commercial thing and they're not paying me and you know, what it is just to help people. It might make it a little harder for the people who really could get some. So it's gonna be a free download, but time you listen. Really free if you go to Steven follows calm as s t e PHMF, ll o Ws, you'll be able to find it and download the whole thing as a PDF for free And I do want to say a big thank you to the people who bought the horror report in the past, whether you paid $1, whether you pay $20, whether you paid $50. Thank you, because some of the things we had to do for this report, we had to pay for services or like the graphic designer or the eye level costs, but they their costs. And the money that people paid donating for the horror report went into this one. So the fact that is free is thanks to the people who chose anything last time, but also especially the people who chose to give more than the minimum and love that, you know, the community can give what they can everyone gives what they want to give and what they think it will help them. And yet, together, we can all move ourselves forward, then that's a that's a happy outcome.

Alex Ferrari 55:42
And we are going to put links to to the report and to all of Stephens insane work in the show notes, as well. And then we are also going to talk I might have you back for the whole report, honestly. Yeah, I might have you back for the horror report. Because the horror report, let's just just tease everybody listening. It went through how many films, all of them. So basically, every horror film ever created. You actually

Steven Follows 56:15
I think he's ever released ever released in US cinemas ever so I think it's top 10,000 films. So it's not like if you made a feature with your mates, and no one saw it, it's ones that made it to some form of distribution. At some point throughout the last 100 years. Yeah, I just spent a year and a half looking at them in every possible way. And it was really enjoyable. You know, funnily enough, I'm not actually much of a horror fan. I don't really watch horror films. It's not what I want as a fan. But as a, as someone who wants to understand the industry, it was really exciting because, as I said, there's there's the lowest correlation between the quality of the film and the success, which immediately suggests the question, Well, what does matter, and also because it's the most accessible genre for low budget filmmakers, and it can, in theory, you could be the next paranormal activity or next Blair Witch, whereas you're not going to be the next Jurassic Park. So it's an accessible genre that's fun to make, that actually has, you can affect it more than just get good. And so for me, that was like, Okay, I can do something here, I can help people who want to make horror films, by helping them show what kind of things but you're right, it's like 200 pages, it took a year and a half. It's gonna It's a whole new podcast, I think

Alex Ferrari 57:26
we're gonna we're gonna have you back seat. And we're going to talk about the whole report, because I think that's going to be extremely beneficial to, to the tribe. And I just want to read it to because it's, it sounds fascinating, you know. So, Steven, I want to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today or a filmmaker?

Steven Follows 57:48
I'd say it's, there's two things which sound like they're the opposite, but they're not one is is about you, which is, you know, just get good, you know, and they get good, really, really slowly. And it's really, really hard. You just keep working at it. And you keep writing and writing. And everyone says Write, write, write. And actually, that is the right thing to do. You just keep producing the work. And so that's a sort of inward note. But then the second thing is you got to get out there and you've got to meet people, not because you're going to meet the next hobby ones in or have a studio boss and a lift, God that has a completely different meaning nowadays.

Alex Ferrari 58:21
It does it does scratch out, yes, yes.

Steven Follows 58:25
You're not because you're going to meet the next studio boss in a left pitch them and then and then she's going to hire you, that might happen. But that's not the reason you go out and meet people is because you meet people who are in the same position as you. And they're on the same pub journey. And, and, you know, everyone says networking, networking is its people, it's people standing in the corner of a industry event, clinging on to their drink, hating it, standing next to somebody else. Hey, I'm Steven, I hate this. And so when I was going, Hey, I'm Alex, I think there's two Oh, cool. You know, and then talking, that's what networking is. And the more you can do that, the more you'll meet people who are in the same position as you but they're a producer, or director or a writer, whatever you need. Someone who's been there before who can help you. Or there's someone who can work for you or work, you know, you can bring them on your team. And you just you keep adding you keep turning up. And you look at the people who are successful. They are very talented, but they've also turned up a huge amount. And the most of the people that come in at the same time as you the first year you're in film, loads of people coming in the same year. Most of those people are lazy. Most of them are flaky, most of them have got other things to do. And that's great, like good luck to them. It's great that they leave in the industry to do other things that make them happy. And if they haven't got the stamina for it, it's better they find out now. But the more years you keep turning up the key producing work, keep showing it to people keep talking to people, you just get good by turning up because people will see you they give you advice, you see patterns. And then very quickly, you realize that the person that you met at that party five years ago, they're now actually got a film that did well and they're looking for another script and they know you and suddenly seems a bit easier. So after like 567 years, maybe 10 years depending on where you are and what you do. And suddenly, things almost become easier out of nowhere. But what's really happened is it took you 10 years without any feedback of success to build those roots. And the last thing I say is that when I was a kid, I am British and I grew up in Britain, when I'm watching one of these comedies in the 90s, everybody seemed to be on this comedy TV shows, everybody seemed to be in each other's shows. And I always used to think, how do I break into that circle? How do I bring it full circle? And now as an adult, and as someone who understands the industry, I realize you don't break into their circle? You make your own circle? Yes. And do it when nobody else is anybody else. And everybody else is unemployed has never done anything isn't good. Yeah. And you connect your work together. And then suddenly, one day you wake up and you realize you're in a circle, and you're in your own club, and no one can break in really, like, it's not that you're pushing them away. It's just given the first choice. Why would you not work with these people that you've worked with, for 10 years, who also were there for you when there was no money and no fame and they still showed up course, you're going to hire them first, which means there's no space for anyone to break in. But there should be people making their own circle in another room somewhere. And in the future, they will be the people that were in the same position you are now. And I think that's really important to realize is that you all of the work is done before the light gets shine on you, you know, get shone on you. And you have to work hard when no one's watching, because eventually that does pay off. It just isn't sexy. It isn't fun. It isn't easy. It doesn't pay. And it's it's not the sexy kind of montage you see in a movie if people just writing and then being angry and then suddenly being happy. And then they've got it. And then it's the next morning. It's far less sexy than that.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:34
That's so great, great advice. And I've had I've answered, I've asked that question hundreds of times on the show. That was that's the first time that's ever been answered that way. So it's a really great piece of advice. Oh, thank you. Now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Steven Follows 1:01:52
Ah, interesting. I read a lot. And I read a lot of nonfiction to try to understand different people's worlds. And I'd say I had to say the one but I'd say one that is incredibly powerful that really ticked a lot of boxes was creativity, Inc.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:06
Oh, what a great book. Oh,

Steven Follows 1:02:08
Such a great book. It's so nice to have an entertaining story with with a person's life story. But also it's a business book. And it's a book about how to be a creative, creative person. Yes. But the other thing, just I'm going to cheat and give you a second book is entirely different. There's a book called the Golden theme. And it's a short book, and it's by a story theorists called Brian McDonald. And he also wrote invisible ink and a few others. He is a genius and is totally, I wouldn't say underappreciated, because lots of people know how good he is. But he's, I don't understand why he's not, you know, bigger than Mickey or, you know, talking more on I just, his stuff is amazing. And the golden theme is a fairly short little book, it's not sort of whole book like an invisible ink is a whole book about screenwriting. The Golden theme is about one idea that he's seen throughout many different forms, in the history of stories and art and things like that, that there is one theme that seems to be seems to come up a lot and the work that's really successful. And it's this idea that we're all the same. And he talks about it, and he doesn't, he doesn't even make it a long book, he doesn't need to, he makes it gives some examples, talks about it, and says that when that comes up, it tends to be really powerful. And when soon as you read this, you're like, yeah, I can see it. And you and you walk around the world going, Oh, my God is there. Oh, my God is there. And then you realize you can put it into your work. And so yeah, anything written by Brian McDonald, but specifically golden theme, it was out of print for a while, but I think it's come back into print. And if anyone if brilliant will then get it, read it. It's it'll take you an hour to read it. And it will transform your writing, I think.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:39
Yeah, it's actually I'm on Amazon right now as we speak. So it's been a mess. It's been put in my cart, sir. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Steven Follows 1:03:52
Well, obviously, the only honest answer is I don't know yet. But I won't give you that one. I think I think I can. Okay, so I wouldn't say it took me a long time to get to the same answer. Everyone always told me. So I used to read lots of books about internet startups and things like that, because I was because I always thought there's a strong correlation between running a production company or being an independent producer or direct director and having a startup, it's a very similar model. It's just you don't have the bit where you turn it into a multi trillion pound enterprise, and you get to be floating on the stock market. But the first few bits are very similar. And they all say things like he talked to serial investors in Silicon Valley. And they always say, we're investing in the people, not the product. And when there's one investor, when one creator, we're less keen to invest, but when there's a team of two or three people, then it really matters. You know, that's, you know, a team of two or three great people who work together. That's the most investable combination. And so you hear that but you think, Well, yeah, but how can I find my kind of partnerships or whatever. And so you kind of forget it, and but then when I look back on the things that have really mattered, it is partnerships and I've ended up working with lots of different people and some people I've worked with once. And that's been fine. And other times, I've wanted to work people again and again, and for a small number of people who I have ongoing work with where it's in a limited company, like an actual commercial business, or whether it's someone I just I've got a shared lexicon with. And looking at the people that really I work with and have ongoing relationships with, I can see how they bring the best out in me, I bring the best out, and then they catch the worst of me and I catch the worst of them. And and as we were Alex and I were talking about beforehand, it's about sometimes there are things that I hate to I think it's just the worst thing in the world. And for someone else, it's the best thing they could possibly do. And like we you know, you and I are talking about you loving, promotion and marketing and me, I can't stand it can't do it. And yet with the film, data, stuff, this stuff is not a sweat. For me, it's hard work, but it's not impossible. Whereas for other people, it can be hard to imagine what it is. And if you find someone who you truly understand you share a worldview, you share a view of how the world should be, but your interests and desires are fundamentally opposed. That's a really good model. So I'd say don't try and find people who want to do what you're doing. Find people who believe what you believe, and then do a little project with them. And if that works, do another one, do another one. And you don't have to, you know, meet somebody and propose to them, you can just keep working with them. And then you'll find the people who keep showing up. And that is the most wonderful supportive thing where you have someone who gets you to work with you catch the worst of you, like unhinge, you know, unclip you so you can run to the best of you. And it's just immense fun. So, yeah, be open to that and try and find those people as hard as that might sound.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:40
And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Steven Follows 1:06:43
Oh, Jesus, I think Shawshank Redemption we talked about that is, um, you know, I wish I wish I had the balls to say, you know, Jurassic Park, for the fallen kingdom and the fallen kingdom to whatever it was called. I don't I think inside out is an amazing model about just what it is to be human. And I still I've watched that movie so many times, I still don't know how they did it. And I just in a story basis, I just don't understand what that is. And I also think I think what a movie called I can't remember the name now. I think it won the Oscar. And it's about kind of our complete mind. Like, it's an Austrian film about the secret police in the 80s. And hold on my worst in the lives of others. That's That's why I got married to my wife. Okay. Same here. Same. Remember what I said about finding a partner who understands the shares your worldview, but has different skills? Yes, he can remember like, you know, names and stuff, and the lives of others. Like, again, another movie where you watch it, and you're just like, how, what, what, that's amazing. How did you do? How did you do that? And yeah, it's so clear. Like, it's just great work on every level. Yeah, the movies that seem to really move me.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:01
And where can people find you and your amazing work, sir.

Steven Follows 1:08:05
So all my works is stevenfollows.com. Occasionally I do I don't tend to do work, publish in other places, just time more than the US. But some of the work I've done with Bruce Nash, who runs the numbers is on the AFM website. I think there's copies of it on my site as well. And I would actually, I'm gonna use this opportunity. If you've spent the last hour, hour and a half, maybe 10 minutes with Alex, they've been editing and listening to me and Alex, I know you're already on listen to his podcast. I know you've got one or two amazing questions for me to research. I know that there's some stuff are like, is that always the case? When does that work? Was this I don't care how stupid it sounds how everyone tells you No one knows. Maybe you maybe this is your question. Maybe no one can know. But I, I would love to have any question you can send me to research because the best stuff I've ever looked at, is when people have said, You know what, I probably not meant to do this, or, you know, everyone always says this. And it suggests something I never thought of I go and look at and come back. And it's really pleasing because I can actually help. And I, you know, this is me, I'm not going to I'm not going to reply with one ad a question go away. You know, even the the questions which sound the most kind of strange or straightforward, are speaking to a wider truth. So, go to my site, go on the contact page. So stephenfollows.com, go to contact page, send me fill in the form, it comes straight to me it goes to my inbox, I will happily respond to everything as if I have the answer. I sent you the link if I think it's impossible, I'll say so. But probably I say that's a great question. I'll put it on my list. And then one day, when I have the data at a time, I'll look at it and it'll become an article. Not only will you get closure, but also so many other people have shared a guarantee you share your question, and it'd be really nice to be able to help so if you guys can help me go on my site send me questions, ideas, things I should research in the film industry. And I'd really appreciate that.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:54
Oh, well, Pete where what you wish for sir. That's all I'm gonna say at that for that right now. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it

Steven Follows 1:10:02
Put a message that Alex sent me. I'm from I'm part of the tribe.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:07
I'm part of ifh tribe. Yeah, I've done this before. And I've warned people not to do something stuff like this, because they get inundated with emails and conference. So I'm curious to see what will happen. But, of course, thank you so much for being so generous, not only with your time today, but your constant work in helping filmmakers and screenwriters. And people in the business try to succeed. So I truly from the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate all the hard work you do. And you do an immense amount of hard work, you know, almost selfless in many ways to, to help the industry. So thank you again, for that and for being on the show, sir.

Steven Follows 1:10:46
Thank you so much. Thank you for your time, and I'm not gonna I'm too British to start talking about all the great work you do, but likewise to you. But also thanks for having the time to chat about these things. This is how we get the word out there. This is how we realize we are all the same. And we all have the same challenges. So if I can be part of this, I feel honored. So thanks again.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:04
I do want to thank Steven for coming on the show and sharing his ridiculous information, amazing information about his new report. And if you want to get links to read that report and other stuff that Steven's doing, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/324. I'll also have links to his amazing crowdfunding for filmmakers course on Udemy. So definitely check that out. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave the show a good review on iTunes. It really really helps us out a lot. And if you'd like what we're doing at indie film hustle and you're a fan of what I do, please share this with every filmmaker every friend every associate in the business you can spread this information far and wide. I want this info to get out to as many filmmakers screenwriters out there as humanly possible. Thanks again for listening guys. And as always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 185: How Screenwriters Can Navigate the Hollywood System with Scott Myers

Right-click here to download the MP3

For screenwriters, navigating the shark-infested waters of the Hollywood system can be a daunting task. You never know what the producer or studio is looking for. How do you pitch your story properly? So many questions. I hope today’s guest can help guide you a bit through those waters.

Scott Myers has been a professional Hollywood screenwriter for over 30 years. Since selling his spec script K-9 in 1987, Scott has written 30 projects for every major Hollywood studio and broadcast network. His film writing credits include K-9 starring Jim Belushi, Alaska starring Vincent Kartheiser, and Trojan War starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

From 2002–2010, Scott was an executive producer at Trailblazer Studios, a television production company. In 2002, he began teaching screenwriting in his spare time. He won the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Outstanding Instructor Award in 2005 and for eight years taught in the Writing for Screen and Stage program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

He has hosted Go Into The Story, an amazing screenwriting website, since its launch on May 16, 2008, and is partnered with the Black List as its official screenwriting blog.

Scott breaks down the Hollywood system, talks about story and structure and just tells it how it really is in the business. Enjoy my conversation with Scott Myers.

Alex Ferrari 1:19
So today on the show, guys, we've got screenwriter Scott Meyers, who has been writing in Hollywood as a professional screenwriter for better part of 30 years now. And he wrote one of my favorite movies, growing up called canine with James Belushi back in 89, but has written many other things and worked on multiple projects over the years. But even more impressive to me is a hurons go into the story.com, which is an insane treasure trove of screenwriting, information resources, and the man is crazier than I am. Because you guys know I put out a lot of content on any film hustle. This man has been putting out daily posts, for I think now like 10 years or something like that. It's insane. He literally puts out new posts, new resources, new articles every single day. He is a maniac and a machine. And I love him for it. And also he is the official screenwriting blog for the blacklist. And if you guys don't know what the blacklist is, you will after this interview is over and it's it's pretty amazing what the blacklist is done for screenwriters and for Hollywood in general. But I wanted to get Scott on because He is an educator. He loves teaching and loves sharing his craft and his knowledge about what it really is like in the film business. And I just wanted to get some real raw knowledge bombs thrown on you guys about screenwriting. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Scott Meyers. I'd like to welcome to the show Scott Meyers, man, thank you so much for being on the show.

Scott Myers 3:39
Great to be here, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 3:40
I appreciate it, man. So how did you get into this crazy business we call the film industry.

Scott Myers 3:46
Circuitous route. I was, I was going to be an academic. I went to UVA undergraduate and Yale graduate school and got a Master's of divinity degree at Yale, I was going to become a PhD and teach but my parents at the age of 14 ill advisedly, bought me a guitar. And I started playing music. And by the time I got done with Yale, I talked to my friends and the dean and I said, you know, if I don't pursue this creative thing, and just become an academic, I think I'm going to really regret it. So they said, take a year off and that became the rest of my life. I played music for seven years, I did stand up comedy for two years. Along the way, I discovered screenwriting, I wrote a script called canine that sold as a spec script in 1987, to Universal and that's where it all started. Wow. And you've never looked back since? Well, I've had various incarnations, I was in LA for 15 years wrote 30 projects for every major studio and every broadcast network except for ABC. Were my family we decided for family reasons to move back East where it was from, and I took a position as a television producer basically heading up the creative development company and part part of the company for free was a studio And then I then I started teaching as an side thing because people kept saying every time I do presentations, how are you really good at this I started teaching at junk through university, North Carolina and Chapel Hill where we were living and also UCLA extension writers program. And then I started my own online company with Tom benedek. Rocha Kuhn is the first screenwriter. I met in LA. I called screenwriting masterclass. So I continue to do that. But now, I'm in Chicago at the School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul University and full time faculty here. And so I've transitioned into teaching I still write and still because of my blog and whatnot, actively involved in things in Hollywood, the entertainment business, but yeah, you know, just wearing a number of hats along the way,

Alex Ferrari 5:47
And eating a lot of great pizza in Chicago, I'm assuming. Yeah, pizza, and everything else. So good, man, the food there is amazing. It really is amazing. So um, one of my favorite films, gras going, one of my favorite films from the video store days when I worked at a video store was canine. And I want you to discuss a little bit about how that script was made, and what it did for your career.

Scott Myers 6:11
Well, I had one of those odd circumstances in life. I'm a big Joseph Campbell fan. I discovered him in college and studied him in there at the University of Virginia and then later on at Yale and have read a bunch of stuff over the years. And this idea about follow your bliss, find that which, you know, excites you and enlivens you that you have talent for pursue that. And I'd always been a movie fan, my dad was in the Air Force, we moved around all over the place when you're living in mine at Air Force Base, North Dakota, and there's nothing to do. And you can go spend 50 cents at the movie theater and you know, watch movies all day long. That's what I did. So I was a huge movie fan. And as it happened one night I was doing stand up comedy and a club in Ventura, California. I'd gotten to know the owner, and one of the owners there. And he was going to the USC Peter start producing program. And the script that he had, that he was going to use for his master's thesis had dropped out and actually got optioned. And it just happened that day. And we were talking that night. And he said, Well, I need a script. And he jokingly said to me, can you write a screenplay? I said, I can do that. Which has always been my attitude about creative things that I connect with. And I didn't know anything. He gave me three scripts, witness Back to the Future and breaking away. And Sid fields book, screenplay foundations of screenwriting. And so I wrote a script. And then I wrote another one. And then we wrote one together called canine, and that's based on actually a story we heard about a Ventura policeman, a canine policeman, who had been had a police dog partner who had been killed in the line of duty. And we met with this guy, and he was just like, weeping as he's showing us pictures of this. And we thought, well, that's an interesting idea for a movie, we wrote the script. And as I say, it's sold to Universal actually, a pre pre emptive buy for quick money. And that's where it all started. Got. We didn't have representation. It just

Alex Ferrari 8:13
Really, you don't have any reps at the time you just were able to how did the universal find you?

Scott Myers 8:18
My partner was working as an assistant at 20th Century Fox. And this slipped the script in there and I went in for the weekend read and Scott Reuben was the head of production. And evidently, I've heard this from several people. You know, at the end of all these scripts he didn't like he slapped his hand on the table and said, I love this one. And it wound its way around town. That That night, I didn't have an agent that day that night, I met Dan Halstead, Steven I my partner, and Dan was just a junior agent at Bower Benedick, which later became UTA Dan's got his own management company called management but he was our first agent along with Peter Benedict and Marty Bower fan so that's how it started and we just ran it took a lot of meetings and often

Alex Ferrari 9:04
Now there was another dog cop movie around that time. Is there is there any connection

Scott Myers 9:10
Yeah Turner and hooch at Disney I you know we were players of the week we were in around a met everybody including the some an executive at Disney who said hey, we were thinking about suing you guys. And we had no idea what he was talking about. But there was this project Turner which was sitting in development hell there and you know, very typical I learned a good lesson in Hollywood how they operate this similar but different which is the the business ethos. They're so afraid to make anything Hmm. That they look for something that's similar to something that you know, was successful. Well, we went around and people were telling us guy you guys were genius. Men read 1010 was the biggest star in the history of Hollywood near your resurrect him and thought about that at all, but I just nod my head and go Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So they looked at our script, Disney looked at our script that sold for a lot of money. And they said, Well, hey, if universal thinks that a cop in a dog movie a comedy is a good idea, we should resurrect this thing Turner and hooch which they did. And so, there was this little competition between the two films, which would come up first and ours did and both movies you know, did well. canine spawned two sequels and turned on which business as well?

Alex Ferrari 10:21
Yes, it were both I used to recommend both of them at the video store at the if I were if one rented one. I'm like, you gotta watch canine as well.

Scott Myers 10:28
Or device. And then I probably made, I don't know, 25 cents or residual. So thanks, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 10:34
Not at any time, or any time I'm sure. Well, I've watched that movie a ton of times. I love that movie. I love James Belushi. He was in his the top of his power back then, during that time of of his career. So thank you for making the movie sir. Made and you can't say that about a lot of projects. I mean, seriously. And I remember that hit the theater. It was a theatrical release. And it made if I remember was it did very well. Both of them did very well. For the time, that's when the Hollywood was making, you know, $8 million movies $10 million movies.

Scott Myers 11:09
You know, they don't do that. They don't do that much anymore. That whole the middle areas dropped out. They do those big, big budget franchise things in the lower budget things, but it's up to the financers and other production companies make those you know, 10 million movies. Exactly, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 11:25
Now, how do you how much research do you do when you when you're writing a script?

Scott Myers 11:30
Well, for example, a canine I actually spent time with the Ventura canine police. Then once the project got set up, went on some ride alongs with some of the LAPD. I did a lot of research. So yeah, I do a lot of research.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
Do you suggest that screenwriters when they're writing something to do as much research as humanly possible?

Scott Myers 11:51
Yes, up to a point it can it can become an excuse not to write? You know, I can't tell you my times i've you know, was when I was living in LA because you see screenwriters all the time and aspiring screenwriters as well. And you say, Hey, are you doing Oh, yeah, I'm working on the scrape project is we're we're to thing in a setting Korea. Oh, great. So you have six months later? How are you doing? Yeah, I'm researching this project. And we're, we're to create Well, we need to start reading. I do think it's important to do research, you know, be smart about it. But you can get a lot of anecdotes, a lot of character development, a lot of inspirational things that can inspire scenes and whatnot, you need to hit that mark, that big, 25 cent word, the script has to have a sense of verisimilitude. It's got to feel real, it's not a documentary. But it's got to come across as authentic, you have to gain the confidence of the reader that you know what you're talking about. So to the degree that you you know, I have to do the research to get to that point, then, yeah, it's research to support that. Yeah. And

Alex Ferrari 12:49
If you walk into any Starbucks here in LA, everybody, you cannot walk cannot see a laptop without final draft on it.

Scott Myers 12:57
I came I when I left LA, I flew back there for a TV production thing we were doing. And I came in really late at night. And I was walking up the courtyard to my hotel room. And I saw this, you know, the light of a computer shining on some guy's face, alone out there in the corner, and I said, I guarantee this guy's got final draft open, I just know it. And I walk past and sure enough, it's like, can't escape it. You know, it's like,

Alex Ferrari 13:26
When I got here, when I got here, almost 10 years ago, I was I was shocked that there's not one coffee bean, not one Starbucks anywhere in Los Angeles at any time there is someone writing a script.

Scott Myers 13:39
And you know, that can be both good old hating emotionally because you realize, Oh, my gosh, everybody's like out there trying to do this or doing it. But it can also be inspiring in a wicked sort of way. And that you realize that when you're not writing someone else is and so that that can put that sort of negative reinforcement to get your butt in the chair to actually write?

Alex Ferrari 14:01
Yeah, it's in writing is a screenwriting is an extremely competitive sport, especially here in Hollywood. Yes, it's extremely competitive. Now, can you talk a little bit about the blacklist?

Scott Myers 14:15
Yes, the blacklist is to me and I think this would probably not be countered by many people. It's the most significant brand screenwriting brand in Hollywood. And I don't say this because I'm my blog go into the story is the official screenwriting blog of the blacklist, though I I love those people and Franklin Leonard is a friend and I've followed what they've done for years. But you know, Franklin started this like 12 years ago when he was an exact at Universal and just send around notes to people, you know, emails to friends, and going away for you know, that December break, you know, that everybody does for about a month, saying hey, Can you recommend some of the best scripts that are out there right now that are not being produced. And he simply got their feedback, totaled up the numbers, created a PDF and send it out. And it became like this thing, it's evolved now to the point where in December, it's basically I think, the second Monday in December, they come out with the annual blacklist. That's a big deal. You know, for that two to three hour period of time, the entire development community in Hollywood is focused on what makes the blacklist that I've interviewed dozens of blacklist screenwriters, with their script makes the blacklist, if you're not represented, you can get represented most of the scripts are, you know, with writers who are represented, if if the project has been sitting and not moving forward, well, oftentimes it gets it moved forward. There's talent now, that will only read material. If it's on the blacklist, for example, The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch read that script because it was a top blacklist script. I've read several actors who talk about how that essentially it's an imprimatur. The Blacklist is a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that the community, the relevant community saying this is a script, you know, worthy of your attention. So the blacklist is an important important brand, for screenwriters in Hollywood. And I can tell you that with every writer that I've interviewed, who's made the blacklist, it's been a big boost to their career, as well as getting helping to get movies made.

Alex Ferrari 16:40
And a lot of a lot of the scripts on the blacklist sometimes are from what I've known, and from what I've read over the years, it's like some scripts are just they're not producible some topics, they're so good, or they're so out there, that they're wonderful scripts, but the Hollywood would just not take the chance on them. Is that happen often to that?

Scott Myers 16:56
I don't know. Often. I mean, it's, you know, just getting anything made as in Hollywood, even if it comes with the, you know, the the kudos from the blacklist? Yeah, there have been certain projects, like there was a project about a comedy about ronald reagan being president who was, you know, suffering from essentially early, you know, dementia. And that was looked like that was going to go forward. But then, you know, some people thought that was insensitive or whatnot, so that that got pulled. Ironically, you know, some of the more bizarre scripts. The bit I think the blacklist helps, for example, there was the script. That, gosh, the one about Michael Jackson's monkey, yes. Yeah. Isaac Adams, I think wrote that up Portland and it, you know, it's now it's getting made as a stop action, stop motion picture match of some of your What do we call it, that technology with Dan Harmon as an executive producer. So bubbles was the name of the scratch. That was like a Nexus, like, literally told from the perspective of bubbles during the crucial year and Michael Jackson's life so

Alex Ferrari 18:08
Ching, it's actually quite genius concept

Scott Myers 18:11
Was fantastic. And of course, Isaac said, there was no way that he thought anything would happen with it, he just thought it was a funny idea. But there you go.

Alex Ferrari 18:18
It's kind of like what Charlie Kaufman does with his scripts, like, you know, being john malkovich, who, in the right mind thought that that would ever get made. Right. But it was it was genius. It was absolutely a brilliant script. Can you talk a little bit about from your perspective, your feeling on the way Hollywood is going today, and how it's so dramatically changed from the days of canine to the days of today. And obviously, a lot of big problems are happening at the box office, this year's one of the worst box offices in decades, if I'm not mistaken, I know this Labor Day. Coming up, they said that this is going to be the worst Labor Day weekend in 25 years. So I want to hear your perspective on that, if you can,

Scott Myers 19:01
Well, it has changed considerably. The underlying ethos of similar but different that we talked about earlier, that I think is still pretty much in place. In fact, in some respects worse, it's almost like they Yeah, it's almost worse than that they're looking for things that are more similar than more different. Because that fear factor, the main changes, you know, some of them for the positive, the digital technologies, which, in some respects, at least, if you're a filmmaker is a major boon because, you know, you don't need to buy film stock, you know, you can literally go out with a digital camera or even your iPhone, we saw that with tangerine, that movie, where you can go out and make a movie for next to nothing, you know, they these micro budget films, ever burns makes them whatnot that you know, for $25,000 or even less, you can do that nowadays. On the other hand, because of digital technology, you've got CGI phenomena. On, so that, you know, you can make these incredible spectacle movies. Unfortunately, that has tended to suck the air out of what used to be a mainstay of Hollywood filmmaking, which was a mid budget dramas mid budget to action thrillers and whatnot. And so the studio's for whatever reason, I think they have some numbers to bear this out, though, that may be changing with this summer, because so many of the franchise movies have underperformed the box office, you know, they put their, their, their money into these franchise films. You know, I have this, you know, the, you've heard that theory of the four quadrant film, which is adult child, male, female, and my theory is that there's a new four quadrant theory franchise. See franchise, spectacle, nostalgia, and international. Those four things are really driving the marketplace right now. And so you've got this bifurcated approach that the studio of the major studios have, which is expensive, 250 200 200 million, $250 million franchise movies. And then lower budget, genre type things, very middle, whatever is left to the middle, is really being handled by these financers and production companies. There's probably still as many movies being made, maybe if maybe not as many necessarily as back in the 80s. But the major studios are not making anywhere Disney used to make like 3540 films a year. Yeah, exactly. Now they make you know, maybe 15.

Alex Ferrari 21:31
That's a lot. And that's a lot. And this, I mean, they they're probably the leader, I don't think because a lot of the big studios, like paramount for God's sakes, they make like 234 you know, big, big movies a year. So it's it's changed dramatically.

Scott Myers 21:44
Yeah, well, it changes with each regime like Warner Brothers for many years. Like I tracked spec scripts, deals. I've been tracking them since 1991. on my blog, I've got a database of over 2000 spec script deals. Since 1991.

Alex Ferrari 21:58
Warner Brothers, you're crazy, man.

Scott Myers 22:00
I just, you know, I started doing it. Because that's when you're a screenwriter, you got to know what's selling, you know, and you got to if only to cover your ass to say, Oh, well, that project sold that was just like when I got into this, I can't be doing that anymore. But just to also follow the trends. If you're looking at like what's in the movie theaters right now as being an example of what the buyers are buying your two to five years behind the trends. You know, you follow the spec script deals now in order to find out what the development community is interested in. Anyhow, so I don't know where I was going with that forgot my train of thought. But how crazy

Alex Ferrari 22:35
Yeah, how crazy. The mid the mid range things are. Oh, God.

Scott Myers 22:39
Yeah, the mid range. So so that, yeah, the financier is so called finance ears. You know, many of them. sons and daughters are billionaires like Megan Ellison and David Ellison. Annapurna productions, you know, they will step in and they'll make some of these movies, you know, that we would typically see in the past, the studio's would have been doing, but the studio's aren't. But we'll see, it'll be interesting. I'm not sure where they're, you know, maybe there's a bit of franchise fatigue. And the idea that they can just throw spectacle on the screen, by the way, Aristotle, that was the lowest, that was the least important thing in his list of things and poetic spectacles at the very bottom. And, you know, it's like, you have all the stuff on the screen, if there's no emotional resonance with the characters. You know, what's, what does it mean? Well, that is tended to play out, okay, some of these movies that have done poorly domestically, I've done okay, internationally, which now is basically 70% of box office revenues. But you know, they're getting more savvy about this, they say, Hey, wait a minute, we want a good story, too. So I'm not so sure that we might see a little bit of a retrenchment, where they start to make a few more movies and lower budget movies, major studios, but we'll see.

Alex Ferrari 23:53
I mean, look at look at a movie like Deadpool, which is an anomaly. But that is a big studio movie, but it was made for $40 million. And did not, it was it was completely against everything that the studio's normally do. It's an R rated movie was a second tier third tier character. And Ryan Reynolds is you know, he's a star, but he's not like, he wasn't a monster monster star, either, you know, that he's not a Tom Cruise or any of these kind of bigger stars. That would justify a big, big movie like that. So it was really wonderful to see a movie like that not only get made, but the shake up the industry because it outperformed. Pretty much. I think almost every comic book movies out here, they came out.

Scott Myers 24:38
Yeah, those writers that, you know, that took them 10 years. Yeah, you know, because the thing Ryan Reynolds basically, you know, kept not stringing them along but supporting that project, because people were saying who's going to go see an R rated superhero movie that's basically kind of winking at the genre,

Alex Ferrari 24:57
Right? And then the way they finally got it done is Ryan Reynolds leaked, leaked some footage onto the internet and everyone went crazy.

Scott Myers 25:05
Yeah, same thing. Similar thing with a rival. You know, Eric Kaiser I know, you know, he would go around town when he was having all these meetings and I said, Well, what you know, after the end of the meeting, hey, what's your passion project? They whip out the short story by Ted Chang. story of your life. And so I'd like to do this and then say, Oh, great. What is it? Well, it's about these aliens that you know, oh, aliens, so that's great. So yeah. And so the hero you know, it's like the big accident a well, no, not really, the heroes a woman and she's a linguist. But she's language. So there's still a big action you're blowing up and no, actually the aliens just leave. You know, it's a language insult. And they were just, you know, nobody was gonna make this movie until, you know, some, some producers finally saw it. And now you see it. It's a fantastic movie. And it's done really well. It always takes there's, it takes one person to say yes. One person who's got cloud. Yeah. And you just try to find as a screenwriter, you try and find those people.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
Yes, it's Yeah. Okay. Yeah. On paper that doesn't look, you know, it doesn't fit in all the boxes that a studio would be looking for.

Scott Myers 26:07
That's it, like, none of the boxes. Not even one. Not even science fiction, but you know, a female lead drama linguist.

Alex Ferrari 26:20
Yeah, I know. I know. It's, it's, it's no one no action. What? What didn't make any sense? Um, you know, do you ever think that Hollywood is going to come around to original ideas and really start focusing on them because they might be riskier, but they, but these franchises that they keep bringing up, they're all from 80s 90s and even 2000s. And that's what they keep recycling and they're even going deeper now into television and, and you know, anything that's, you know, but there's a certain point we're going to run out. They're gonna run out. I mean, like they're redoing fantastic for again, they're rebooting it again, like Kai's just original. What do you think?

Scott Myers 27:04
Look, if you talk to, you know, most working screenwriters. Yeah, they all we all say the same thing, you know, which is, we'd love to see more original movies made. But the reality is, again, it's a fear based business. And right now, frankly, this nostalgia element is just huge.

Alex Ferrari 27:23
Yeah, Stranger Things and that kind of Yeah,

Scott Myers 27:26
It's and so I mean, like the perfect you know, what really drove this home to me was when I saw Jurassic World, you remember that the Spielberg gaze, you know, when they look up again, right, in Jurassic Park, when you first saw that, that was when they saw the dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic World when you first saw that it's when they saw the park for the first time. So the Jurassic World was was a was a wash in the stallion about the movie Jurassic Park is exhibited in the actual park itself. So I think we see that right now. And that's a major driver, frankly, even some, many blacklist scripts that do well have a nostalgic element. Last year, the top script was on Madonna, that she the year that she was blonde ambition, which she was going to break out that year, the year before that was bubbles on Michael Jackson. Yesterday, a spec script sold. That was called jack and Dec about the friendship the odd friendship between jack kennedy and Dick Nixon. We know so that's Yeah. So you see a lot of these blacklist scripts that dramas are historically based dramas that evoke something of our past. And so I you know, you can still do original movies, you know, and all beingness Alger but this franchise type thing. Yeah, that's just completely all about repeating the same thing. Look, I have a running bet with some writers. How soon will Warner Brothers reboot Harry Potter?

Alex Ferrari 28:57
Yeah, I was wondering that myself, like, at a certain point, like, when are they going to do it again?

Scott Myers 29:02
You know, if they continue to have problems, you know, which they are. It just shrinks the time before you because you know, they're gonna do that. But I mean, well, I

Alex Ferrari 29:11
Mean, they did it with the Hobbit, which was just God, like, why, you know, they did learn that basically, the, it's close to a reboot of Lord of the Rings as they could have made. But, you know, what, I was wondering, like, how long is it going to take my Can they do it? Like, you know, it's Harry Potter. I mean, this is something that's never been done in the history of cinema.

Scott Myers 29:32
We'll say I look it's a it's an IP, they own it. It's, you know, universally loved. They'll have another generation that will come up and, and have their version of Emma Watson and, you know, all the rest. I wouldn't I wouldn't put Parliament you know, they they're driven by obviously trying to make money. But these things are all run in cycles. You know, I you know, I remember I was a musician for many years and living in a house. Spin Colorado in, which was great at the time, because there are all these clubs where we could play, but then disco came along. And so in a lot of these clubs turned, you know, turned into disco. And it was very depressing for, you know, the actual musicians because we wouldn't make as much money that way. But then what came along, you know, punk music came along, and the watch band, the Dire Straits came a lot with Sultans of swing. And so that, you know, letting the whole Nirvana and all this. So these things run in cycles. And it's the same thing with movies. You know, there will always be filmmakers out there doing original content and with the digital technologies, you know, it's not that expensive to go out and, and do things like the duplass brothers and whatnot, you know, we can just make these movies that are character based, and they'll find their, you know, they'll find their mark, the big sick, perfect example, the big sick, no, I have terrific, terrific movie, it's got like a 98 rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And it's an original film, and it's just touching and human, and then great business. And so there's always room for that type of thing.

Alex Ferrari 31:07
Now, where agents and managers, how and when do you need to get one?

Scott Myers 31:14
How to Win? Well, obviously, it's a benefit to get represented. You can't typically get material to producers and studios without being represented. Some people can have an entertainment lawyer and do it that way. How do you get a manager basically, or an agent? First of all, I think my advice to people is you focus on managers, managers, are a different breed than agents agents are, you know, this is a real generalization, and it varies from agency to agency and management company management company. But as it was explained to me once by a manager, he said agents were suits and managers were bluejay, which is an aggressive way to think about it agents are dealmakers largely, you know, that's their primary thing. Managers are more about nurturing the careers of, of writers. And so they can spend a lot more time with writers, you know, actually developing material and whatnot. Again, it varies from manager to manager, they're much more likely to be open to unsolicited material, just email them do it very briefly. Like Seth blockhead. He wrote, he wrote Hannah, and he was in Vancouver. And he's just sent out an email to like 500 managers, new spec script, girl trying to be an assassin interested. And he got like two responses, and one of them became his manager. And then that led to the handle Well, you can be a lot more targeted on that. You know, whatever project you've got, find, go to IMDb pro find 10 to 15 movies that are like yours in the you know, same genre space. Identify the producers who are also managers. That's one of the reasons why agents become managers, because they can also be producers. And then find out their email addresses. Oftentimes, you can find them online or through Done deal pro Twitter, that's Twitter, whatever. Yeah. And then they'll do a very simple thing, say, you know, I've got a spec script, like your movie. And then that's it that's in your subject line. And then you go into your tax. And just very briefly, here's a logline Are you interested, but I know people who've gotten I know a lot of people actually gotten into the door that way, more traditional ways. You can go use the nickel fellowships in screenwriting, which is the most prestigious of those contests. There are other ones, but that's the one that I've interviewed every new winner since 2012. And so again, like the blacklist, that's one of those things that can change your life, you can get representation off and get a lot of work. The Blacklist has its website, by the way, I don't get paid by the blacklist. So I'm not getting a kickback here. But that but that's been very successful is like real time Hollywood, I think they're like over 3000 members of the Hollywood development community, that track it's probably their their assistants who do this, like on Monday morning and go through and to see what's up there. But you can, from anywhere in the world upload a script, there, obviously have to pay money to have it hosted. You get it evaluated by their readers. But they've had, I think five movies made off of scripts discovered off the blacklist website at this point five, and they've had hundreds of people get representation that way. So so there are you know, this is as difficult as it is, and challenging as it is and in some ways it's more competitive than ever. It's actually got more access to Hollywood, I think nowadays than it used to be it used to be you had to know someone who was sisters with someone who slept with someone who worked in the business to get your material to someone who could actually read it and do something about it nowadays. There are these conduits into the system. You know, that you don't require you to move to LA and become an assistant though that's a certainly a, you know, an intelligent thing to do if you're young and, and have the wherewithal to do that. But in terms of getting a manager, that's one way of doing it, you know, is literally, you do your research, find some movies that were like your script, and then source those, those manager producers and just email them. And the best of all worlds, you'd have three scripts in the same genre. And say, because that shows that you're, you've got an approach, you've got passion, you're persistent, you've got three projects, which they could potentially set up, or try and get, you know, writing assignments, for writing assignments or even get them optioned or sold. But but generally speaking, that's that's one way to do it.

Alex Ferrari 35:49
Now, can you talk a little bit about what writing assignments are open writing assignments

Scott Myers 35:52
Are a ways that used to be a staple of the business. I mean, I did of the 30 projects that I have done in Hollywood, you know, when I was when I was out there actually buying for open writing asides? I don't know now, I just wrote on spec. And if they like it, great, if not, then that used to be a staple of the business. I mean, I'd say that probably 20 to 22 of the projects I've written have been open writing assignments. The rest were pitches, respects, it's all open writing assignment is what it sounds like. It's a project that's at a studio or a production company, where they've either got a draft that was written by like a first writer, and they feel that it needs to work, or a draft that's been rewritten by a bunch of writers, which is often the case. And and they need someone to come in and fix it, you know, at a very fundamental way, a screenwriter in Hollywood is a problem solver. And so, executives and production executives will meet with you and say, Look, we know the script has problems, we don't know how to fix it. So your job as a screenwriter is to identify the problems, and then come in with suggestions. Here's how I would approach this. And in solving this, here's the story I would tell. And, you know, I'm reminded of the story of Forrest Gump. How, cuz I'd done some work with the producer discovered the book, when you find them, and she told the story about how Tom Hanks is his passion project for Tom Hanks. And they'd had three als writers writing, adapting that that book, and had not nailed it. And then they finally brought in Eric Roth, and Eric read the scripts and read the book. And he said, I think I know what the problem is. There's no love story, Jenny, I guess it's not that big of a deal in the book. But what Eric identified was a problem. There's no emotional through line for that project. So that's a perfect example of an overriding aside where we came in and identify a problem. And then I mean, can you imagine Forrest Gump without the the forest Jenny? Love Story? No, of

Alex Ferrari 38:00
Course not.

Scott Myers 38:01
So it's just amazing. The three a list writers didn't identify that but Eric did. So overriding inside of the problem is that there's just fewer projects getting made now. So there's fewer open writing assignments. And that's why you see something interesting nowadays, that working screenwriters, these are people who are like, maybe not a list, but a minus list or B list, screenwriters will spec scripts, you know, at least one a year will write a spec script, you know, at least one maybe even two a year, even while they're you know, they're actively involved in the business in getting work. Because the overriding assignment arena, you chase those things. I know a writer who for a year, chased over writing assignments, didn't land one thing and just said, screw it, and then he SPECT something, and then, you know, and that next set up so that that needs to be the case, you would write a spec script. And that was it. It was just to get you into the business nowadays, that you know that there are so few writing assignments available, and that that market has shrunk, that you see a lot of working screenwriters who are continuing to write spec scripts. So

Alex Ferrari 39:06
Do you find that a lot of screenwriters that normally did feature work are now going towards television and streaming platforms?

Scott Myers 39:14
Yes, that's absolutely the case. And there's an upside and the downside of that. Some upsides are its its employment. So that's one thing. The downside of that is it's not as much money and particularly the streaming services, the stats are smaller the time pressure, the budgets are less. So you're doing a lot more work in some respects for a lot less money than if you were writing a screenplay that, you know, can vary from project to project but but it is employment. And it also offers writers an opportunity to do these 10 you know, episode chunks, eight episodes 1213 episodes, these limited run series, they can just go in and knock out a mini what we used to call a mini series and they're done with it. You know, it's like a long story, or they can, you know, do like no Holly did with Fargo, and you know, have a three series, three season series, you know, which means that he can go off and do the series and then go off and direct a movie to in the same year because you know, it's only 10 episodes or whatnot. So that market has blown up, as you know, they talk about the second golden age of TV or TV, you know, supposedly there were over 500 TV series on broadcast, basic cable, pay cable and streaming right now 500, which I think is like quadruple the amount that maybe there were like 10 years ago. Interesting thing is that there's a it again, it's just like this, there's so many things changing right now. On the one hand, you've got feature writers going over working in TV and bringing this feature sensibilities to TV and in many respects, what we call TV now does feel like long movies and does have the cinematic quality of movies. On the other hand, we're seeing the flow of ideas from the TV side, entering into the film side, where you've got these writers rooms, you know, working on Transformers of paramount are working on the horror movies at Universal or working on DC Comics or Marvel. So there's this really interesting interplay. And frankly, I don't know that in 10 to 15 years, because everybody's, you know, people are actually watching Mad Max Fury Road on their iPhone, which of course, I would think is insane. But you know, young people, you know, whatever, in 10 or 15 years, we made a column movies, we made a column TV, I mean, I asked my students in the beginning every quarter say, so what are you watching? And they tell me what shows you're watching, say how many are watching on TV, and no one raises their hand. So why even call it TV if we're not even watching it on TV?

Alex Ferrari 41:48
So I call it film, if you're not shooting on film,

Scott Myers 41:51
Not shooting on film? You know, if you you know, what is it about, you know, the two hours maybe there will be we're seeing growth by the way of short films, the short film festivals are expanding. And short films is another way that you can break into Hollywood, you know, go out and make a five to 10 minute film, show your chops as a writer and as a filmmaker. So there's a lot of things in flux, it's a great time to be a content creator. That's one thing.

Alex Ferrari 42:17
Yeah, there's no doubt there's a lot more opportunity. But there's you got to put the work in. And that's something I always preach about, to everybody in the business, they got to work. And this is not going to be a one year thing. It's a 10 year plan, and you got to get ready for the long haul.

Scott Myers 42:31
Would you agree that? That's exactly right. I that's what I tell my university students here at DePaul, you know, who have interest in going out to Hollywood, we have a very, very successful program here. And in the LA quarter where they go out and typically their spring quarter last year as an undergraduate. You know, 90% of the people that come from our program, are actually working in the business. This is after several years out there. Now. Some of them are in lower level, you know, assistant type positions or pa type things, but many of them are now working as writers and segwayed into production, executive positions and whatnot. But yeah, that's why I tell him, you've got to be able to put things seven to 10 years, you know, and really, and part of that is not just about finding work. It's about growing up as a human being. You want to be a storyteller, you got to have stories to tell. And so you're living life as a big part of it. As a guy, that's right, that's like gold to my ears.

Alex Ferrari 43:31
It's It's so good to hear somebody else say stuff like this, because I preach it all the time. You're right, you can't be a writer, you can't be a filmmaker unless you live, if not, your stuff becomes hacky. And it just, it's regurgitated stuff from what you've seen already, as opposed to trying to tell original stories of your experience on the planet.

Scott Myers 43:50
You know, that's one thing that we pride ourselves here at DePaul because we have a very diverse community of students and faculty administration. We we encourage our students to tell stories that come from their respective backgrounds, the world right now, perhaps never more than ever need stories about diverse, diverse people, amen. Different different cultures, different sub cultures, to put a human face on the other, so that we move past this sort of demonization and fear base about who the other is, but just need to recognize our shared humanity. And so that's something we're very, very much in favor of, and encourage your DePaul.

Alex Ferrari 44:32
Now, can you just discuss a little bit about what the anatomy of a screenwriting deal in Hollywood looks like? Well, it's changing everything else.

Scott Myers 44:44
It used to be you would, you know, you'd get a deal, like I did with canine where you, they require it, they've an acquisition price, then they give you a fee for you know, first draft, and then you'd get a built in second draft or rewrite that was built Under the contract, after the last Writers Guild strike 2007 2008, I think the studios have probably had this in line before, but they use that to then do these single term deals. No, no guaranteed rewrite, which is a real problem. Because what happens is this, you're only gonna get one shot at a project, right? To go forward with it, you're gonna, you know, you get a call, well, you know, they like the draft, but if you could just make a couple of changes on it, you know, then then they, they bump it up, you know, to the, to the food chain, you know, it's okay, if you go away, and now you're doing an unpaid rewrite, you hand it back at a, you know, got just this one thing, if you can do this one thing. So now, because in your agents in, you know, we're gonna say the same, pretty much the same thing to you? Well, it's your choice. But you want to go in with your best foot forward, you know, wink, wink, nod nod. So that's been a problem.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Myers 46:11
But the deal is, the deal is structured look, you can, you know, you can make, you know, you can make a goodly amount of money from project to project, a lot of them a lot of these deals you see trumpeted as a sale or actually options, which can be for as little as 10,000, or $5,000, or even less, so, it's not a lot of money. You know, I'd say maybe the typical deal, it's hard to say, you know, you get maybe 75,000, against 175,000. What that means is you're gonna get $75,000 compensation for the script in your writing services. versus if it's 175,000, another $100,000. Should the movie get made? That's reducible by if you you're, you share credit, right and credit with someone else. But like, you know, in the old days, like canine sold for $750,000, you know, and there are scripts that do sell for that much money, but it's just very rare. But so when you see somebody say, Oh, it's a six figure deal, you have to be very careful about that. Because that six figures is almost assuredly talking about the back end stuff. It's like that, you know, that $80,000 against 200,000. So they're saying it's a six figure deal. They say no to that, but you're not guaranteed that money, you only guaranteed the $80,000 you'll also get net profit participation, which translates into $0 there's like hardly any movie that ever gets done that because the studio's have various sets of accounting books.

Alex Ferrari 47:36
And then Forrest Gump still hasn't made any money.

Scott Myers 47:39
Yeah, I will. Yeah. So well, you know, when they have gross profit, you know, like, Tom Hanks gets dollar one, you know, gross.

Alex Ferrari 47:47
What? Can you talk a little bit about the difference between net and gross profit for the audience?

Scott Myers 47:51
Okay, well, gross. And there's a bunch of different definitions of gross. And this is a little bit beyond my purview. I just know, this is, you know, from my screen, right. I'm not an accountant or anything. There's these various definitions of gross, you know, dollar one, which is, I think, you know, the one where basically every penny, from the, you know, that's being spent, that whoever that talent is, they're going to get a percentage of that from dollar one, then there's reduced gross and various definitions of gross. But basically, that's what you want, you want to get a gross profit participation deal, if you can get it. There are writers get that I would imagine, like, probably Sorkin gets it and some of the other a list writers who are very, very well established. But that's more along the lines of directors. And you know, top talent, top acting talent. net is where they say, Okay, if we get the net profit, then you're going to get, you know, your percentage, two and a half, four, or 5%, or whatever it is. But you never reached that, because the studios will assign all sorts of costs to the production, see, they'll create a production company for the production, then they lend the money to the production to produce the thing. And they charge interest on that loan. That interest goes back to the studio. And it's also it's also a cost to the production. So it's like really, really hard to get to net. I think perhaps, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a movie like that, which costs $5 million, and, you know, grossed upwards to 300 million. Nia Vardalos probably, you know, saw some net dollars on that, but

Alex Ferrari 49:24
Yeah, so can you can you list off a few of the do's and the don'ts on the business side of screenwriting? Because I know that's a very mysterious thing, the business of screenwriting for screenwriters, everyone's always talking about the craft, but the business is not talked about that much.

Scott Myers 49:40
Well, on my blog, you know, I've got like 200 blog posts called the business of screenwriting. So yes, you go, go into the story.com and and read that I've got a whole slew of things there. Well, first thing is learn the craft and and you know that that's super important. You've got to quiet my mind. Write watch movies, read scripts write pages, you know, it's possible to learn what you need to do just by doing that. And reading scripts is the one area that people tend to fall down on, it's incredibly important to read scripts, not just the classic scripts, but current script scripts within the last five years that no movie scripts and or blacklist scripts or nickel scripts, because you're you're learning the style sensibilities and, and just getting into the mindset of what people are responding to in Hollywood, but you need to learn your craft, you need to find your voice, you need to have an approach to story prep, and how you get through so that you're confident enough to know that when you sign that contract, you know, for $200,000, to write this project, you're going to a and you turn the page and says script do in 10 weeks, and you know, your specter doesn't go up through your mouth, you know, you got to have the confidence to be able to do that. And so learning the craft is critical. But there's some basic don'ts, you know, don't be an asshole. And that's the people that it's a big one. People in Hollywood like to work with the people they like to work with, you know, I mean, it sounds kind of silly, but it's absolutely true. If it comes down to writer a or writer B, and writer B's and asshole a writer a is not. And they're both equal talents, you know, then they'll probably go with writer a, you know, everybody you meet is a potential networking opportunity. And I, I don't like the word networking so much. But I mean, it really is true, you've got to develop a network, don't expect your agents and managers to land, you know, gigs, a lot of times you'll land them just through the relationships you develop with production executives. So you know, nurture those, you know, follow up with an email or a call to Hey, I really enjoyed meeting, I thought that was great and drop in, you know, every so often like two, three months and say, Hey, what's going on, you know, nurture those relationships, be kind to assistance. People, they are human beings just like you, you know, don't overlook them, when you're excited to go see that manager, that agent, that studio executive, the assistants are human beings, more over, they go up the food chain, and the person who has been assistant today will be a studio executive and could hire you tomorrow. But you know, just as a human being, you know, be kind to them, because they have very, very difficult jobs. And, you know, they they're worthy of respect. Do some research, you know, track down, who is who, in the studio, at the executive level with production companies know a certain amount about the business, you don't have to let it dictate what you write, but to know, and track via the trades, you know, a variety Hollywood Reporter deadline, the wrap, and stay in conversation with other writers about what's going on. That's that can be helpful. You have to determine what kind of writer you are. There are some writers who are very successful at chasing the market. You know, I mean, there's a lot of writers who say, don't do that. But there are some writers who are like, their action writers are the thriller writers and the science fiction writers. And they, they know what's out there, they know what's being developed, they try and forecast what will be the next thing that will sell. You know, so they're very, very specifically trying to write to a genre space. There are other writers who are exactly the opposite. They just follow their creative instincts. And and, you know, some writers can do both, but you need to think about what writer you want to be. Here's another tip, which is find a genre space that you love, and are good at that to say you can't write across genres. But if you write three scripts in one genre, and have two treatments in that same genre, and you do what I told you to do earlier about reaching out to a manager, I don't know a manager alive, who would look at your material given that, particularly if you have a good logline for that first project you sent to them. Because if you're in a genre, like this is your thing, I'm an action, right? I'm a thriller writer, you know, I'm a comedy, then that's how they put you up for writing assignments. That's how they market do they brand you frankly, need to be well, sorry, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 54:15
Yeah, they have to put you in the box. They have a it's a it's an easier sell, as opposed to someone who'd like he's a comedy writer, but he also does drama, but he does his one action script and he does sci fi. But you're right. If you can be a specialist. That's what they're looking for. That you get put on lists.

Scott Myers 54:30
You know, I got put on lists. I got put on animal lists. comedy. I wrote a movie while after I wrote the dog movie. I wrote a movie about called was about about a pig and a witness relocation program. Hamlet was another one about frogs. There was a lot of a frog. So I joke that I did I did movie I wrote movies about dogs, rotten hogs, I mean, you know they put you they they assign these things to And if you're willing to do that, right, then that's your brand. And so you can do that for like seven years and make some good money, you know, that that that person isn't you know, is a comedy guy or That woman is great with, you know, with drama, we're not. Now you can always write a spec and bust out of that. And it's not to say you can't write across your honors. I know, like Brian Duffield is very, very successful. And he writes just all sorts of different things. Sure. But generally speaking, when I talk to managers, they they prefer to have clients who settle on one genre. So those are some words of advice, I hope.

Alex Ferrari 55:31
Hope you found that helpful. Now, why hasn't Hamlet been made?

Scott Myers 55:36
Well, that was easy. We were set that was dawn steel, and we had a director attached. And we were going we were in pre production. And then babe came out, just completely blew up. Alright, it was like nobody anticipated at that movie. And then that studio just got cold feet, you know that you think well, similar, but different. But I guess in that case,

Alex Ferrari 56:01
It was too different. It was too similar or too difficult. Because that sounds genius. I would have loved to watch that. That and canine as a double feature, I think would be good.

Scott Myers 56:11
A peg and witness reel. I mean, that's so classic, late 80s, early 90s. Right?

Alex Ferrari 56:14
Very much. So yeah, I don't know. I don't know. sure if that's that story flies today. But back then, oh, my God, it would have been brilliant. Now, what should screenwriters do? How should screenwriters deal with getting rewritten, which happens almost all the time? And it's

Scott Myers 56:31
Almost all Yeah, I have a business a screenwriting post that I did, where we went up for a write my writing partner, I went out for a writing assignment to rewrite a script that had been written by Ron bass of cheese. Okay. Rob, what are the most successful screenwriters in the history of Hollywood? Yes, yes. And so I sort of my partners will look up, we're up to rewrite him, you know, yeah, everybody gets rewritten. Everybody gets rewritten. You know, there was that story of Moneyball, where Steve Zaillian had written a draft of it and you know, that that story's amazing how that movie got made, you know, considering the sort of birds turning in a draft and, and the different than what the studio expected. And Brad Pitt's said, No, there's a movie here and I see it and since alien wrote a draft, as I remember the story, he was in Rome with his family on vacation, his cell phone chirps and answers it says, Steve, this is Aaron Sorkin. I just wanted to call you to let you know that I'm rewriting you on on Moneyball? Well, they ended up actually working parallel, but to get on that project, basically rewriting each other. And then when the ball came out, and it was a successful movie, everybody gets read well how to deal with it. Well, it hurts. You know, you don't want to get rewritten. You're the person being rewritten. You don't mind a little off color story, do you?

Alex Ferrari 58:01
Off color is fine.

Scott Myers 58:03
Okay. So because we got rewritten on canine and when they when they said that we're gonna bring somebody else in, of course, they tell you this is how much competence we have in the project, we're actually bringing in someone to rewrite you.

Alex Ferrari 58:18
That's, that's so Hollywood. It can't even tell you how follies actually

Scott Myers 58:21
A compliment to your talent that we're bringing somebody to rewrite you, you know. So anyhow, my agent Marty Bowers said, Well, guys, you got f but you got F with a golden dick. So you know, that's kind of the mindset, you just you know, you that's why you have multiple projects, going stack projects. That's what you could do as a writer. So you're writing this, you're rewriting another thing, you're developing another thing. So you give yourself 24 hours to go Taiwan on, you know, get hammered, go talk to your friends, then wake up the next day and start on the next project.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
Do you know the story of the pretty women rewrite? Well, it was very dark draw. Yeah, yeah, it was Yeah, I'm assuming you would that the sixth out, it was called six grand or something like that. And, and the writer was super upset about him being rewritten. This is not my story. And then of course, after I made, you know, a gazillion dollars, just like yeah, that was my I did that.

Scott Myers 59:15
And he ended up with sole credit. So yeah. On the other side, if you are rewriting someone, it's become I think, I think writers have become more human nowadays. about that. It's a good thing to contact the person who rewriting and Eric heizer. I talked to him about this and he's his, his way of approaching it is look, they've handed me the keys to your car. And so I'm going to drive it for a while, but it's still your car. And I just wanted you to know and then you haven't given them an opportunity to talk about, you know, what their vision for it was and just be a decent human being, you know, that does take a certain amount of humanity I guess, you know, courage. encouraged to call up a writer and say, you know, look, I'm rewriting you and I just want you to reach out to you. But I think that's a decent thing to do. And writers should be decent to each other. You know, if other people aren't going to be decent to us, at least writers can be

Alex Ferrari 1:00:15
Right, because writers are historically one of the most beaten down professions in the business.

Scott Myers 1:00:22
Yeah, ironically enough, and I think part of it is, frankly, you know, beyond everything else that they can get away with it that writers tend to be, you know, kind of, can be cantankerous characters and whatnot. Part of it is frankly, they, they can't do what we do. Right? And that, that bothers them. They can't create something out of nothing, they can't problem solve like we can. And so there's there's that some of the psychological subtext going on there. Historically,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:53
I've never heard I've never heard it put that way before. That makes perfect sense actually.

Scott Myers 1:00:57
Maybe it's like if it goes back to that old line, I think Thalberg, you know, Irving Thalberg, the first great Hollywood producer is meeting with the writers and his, you know, a love hate relationship with the writers. But he said, you know, what is it with you writers, you know, you think you're so special. It's just, you know, it's just a matter of putting down words. One of the writers looked at him and said, Yeah, but to know which words

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
Brilliant. Now, another question that I get asked a lot by screenwriters what's what should be a page copy of a standard Hollywood script?

Scott Myers 1:01:33
Well, you know, I'm not a big one for this is the so called screenwriting rules. In fact, on my blog, you can see, I actually have eight free ebooks now. blocked stuff, I'm going to end up with 12 this year, nice, thanks to clay Mitchell and Trish curtain for helping me edit those things. But one of them is so called screenwriting rules. And one of them is about, you know, page count. You know, stories are organic. And yeah, there are conventions and expectations, but there's no real rules. You know, you can actually have an act that goes into like, page 35. Yeah, you know, you've got to make sure that that needs 35 pages, but generally speaking, you're looking at 2025. Okay, page count, I think that there's been some shrinkage, frankly, you know, because people like things to move more quickly nowadays, because of YouTube and whatever. So what used to be like 120 page script, but say now, maybe, you know, we tend to see scripts, 100 510 pages. What used to be the end of Act One is now oftentimes the middle of Act One, you know, so I would say, you know, again, if you this is just a rule of thumb, and I hate to use that word, no, it just says a ballpark touchstone. You know, you want to write 100 page script, basically, there are certain readers that will think that the script maybe is under bait undercooked, if it comes in at 90 pages or not, something around like that. Now, that's not always the case. Because you may work with a production company that's very specifically working on a low budget movie, in which case, you know, 85 pages, or 90 pages for a horror film or whatever, comedy perfect, that could be fine. But if it's a studio thing, you know, it's science fiction, you got it a lot of world building, so maybe it's a little longer. It's an action movie with a lot of scene description and not much dialogue, maybe it's a little shorter. So I you know, 100 pages is probably a good, you know, page count.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:23
You know, I like 105. But, you know, everybody's got their thing. Got it. And then our screenwriting contest worth it.

Scott Myers 1:03:32
Well, to the people whose careers have been benefited, they would probably say yes, I mean, there's a bunch of them out there. There's the Austin Film Festival. There's tracking B's tracking board, there's Nicolas. Well, the nickel is legit. I mean, that's the Academy of Motion Pictures arts and sciences. I mean, that's been around for I mean, that's like, got major people involved, you know, on that on that board and and, you know, there's just a track record of those people who, you know, when the nickel going on and doing well,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:06
Or even placing in the nickel, it gets you

Scott Myers 1:04:08
Yeah, you they send out email blasts. I think from quarterfinals up, maybe semifinals up I don't exactly the top 10 Absolutely. I know people who finished in the top 10 In fact, we had a DePaul student finish and a top 10 and, you know, God representation of that he's currently working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. So yeah, you know, I you have to understand bottom line, these contests are about them making money. You have to understand that, you know, they don't do this because they're, they're, you know, generous. This is a money making operation. That's why they charge those fees. Okay. So just understand that. You know, do your due diligence. If you make sure you see you know, some check the results. You know, have people actually translate into getting gigs. Now you have to be careful. There's some really kind of hinky things got there. You know, people will say, you know, this deal, you know, so and so was a graduate of this, you know, online educational outfit or who is, who is, they'll say, an alumnus, alumnus of you know, what the minister they submitted their script to the competition, right? You know, they didn't actually learn anything or this educational out that maybe they just gave him a bunch of PDFs, and the peer review of their kind of, but they'll say, this deal that they say, Well, what the deal is, is simply they just got representation, they get their management, no, there was no money, there's no deal. Don't even sign with a manager, you know, there's no contracts with managers. So you have to be very careful about what they, they, they claim, you know, their success rate is but you know, if you do due diligence, you'll find great interviews with writers, you know, a lot of them will talk about their experiences, you know, having tried contests and, but if you really want to be safe, the nickel is the safest one, I think, probably the Austin Film Festival, you know, maybe not as much cachet as the nickel, it definitely doesn't have as much cachet. But then the other ones, you know, just be buyer beware, they are out to make money. You know, and, and some of them, I guess, are more successful than others. But just the best thing you can do is just write the best script possible. And if you really want an honest, like, you know, unfiltered thing is the is the blacklist website because then that's the ultimate contest. You're actually having people who are in the business, you know, reading material based on, you know, your logline and some evaluations as a direct line to to the buyer.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:42
Great, great advice. Now, I wanted you to I wanted to go into your insane blog, go into the story. I want you to talk a little bit about that blog and in what an insane resource it is for screenwriters.

Scott Myers 1:06:56
Well, it started on May 16 2008. And I blogged every day since so it's like 3300 consecutive days Jesus the the inspiration for it was simply this, you know, back then. There weren't as many resources as there are now. And a lot of the stuff that was being trumpeted as you know, back then you'd see actually people saying, you'll learn the secrets to writing a million dollar spec script, you know, from people who had never worked in Hollywood, had a movie made shysters Yeah. And and that was upsetting. You know, I mean, I had people in my online classes saying, I just feel completely ripped off and, or they'd show me notes that they got from a script consultant. And the notes were just complete, you know, Bs. And so I felt like, well, I worked in the business, I, you know, I've had movies made, I've written dozens of projects, I've done TV and film, I've taught, you know, john August, had a great, you know, has had, he's like the grandfather of all this stuff. You know, he started his blog, I believe, in 2004. And it's an incredible resource. But what I didn't see was someone doing it every day. You know, like, someone who was following the news. It's someone who's tracking spec script deals, someone who's providing inspiration and information on a daily basis. It's just, it's an extension of what I do naturally, as a writer, where I would just go through and look at the trades, follow the news, and I wouldn't read, I read poems, and I read writing quotes for inspiration. And, you know, so I, that's how I started, it is like a free resource, no advertising, I never had an advertisement on my blog. So they don't have to feel like they're being you know, uploaded or trying to be perfect that phrase, but upsold. And to have this resort, and then ultimately, to build this, this mass of content, so that people could go and just, you know, look through it and find stuff on like every different subject. So there are now 23,000 posts on the blog. You know, I have six posts a day, you can get a daily summary. And as soon as it comes in your email,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
You do six posts a day.

Scott Myers 1:09:03
Yeah, it's like, again, I type really fast, I think really fast I've gotten used to doing I'm like the perfect blogger for this type of thing. Like, for example, here's a here's a great example of something that emerged out of the blog. In November 2015, I'd had a project I was writing and something in the news happened that blew it up, just completely blew it up. I could no longer write that project because of what happened to the news. And I'd had a comedy that I've been sitting on for some time. And I got so frustrated. I said, Well, NaNoWriMo was no longer doing the script frenzy, which they did, up until 2013, which was a script version of NaNoWriMo, where you're writing a novel in a month, just would be writing a script in a month. So it just invited people via my blog to join me. In November, I was going to write a zero draft. I said, I'm just going to write this thing from fade into fade out. You know it's going to be it's going to suck, but I've just put the words out and I normally don't do that I normally work from an outline. But I just wanted to try it. Well, I had over 1000 people respond to that. In fact, it created this thing called zero draft 30 challenge, zero draft 30 challenge, which we now run twice a year. So starting on September 1, which is tomorrow, we're going to be running the zero draft 32,017, September challenged. Every day on the blog, I'm going to post something there along with my other posts, about the challenge where people come and they talk about, you know, what they're writing, they'll provide some inspirational quotes or videos or whatnot. There's a Facebook group, the zero draft 30 Facebook group, which has got 2300 members of terrific group of people very supportive, positive minded. We have a Twitter feed, hashtag Zd, 30 script. And so this is something that's emerged now that twice a year, we did to get people writing, to write to spec scripts a year, you know, which is what you shouldn't be doing. And so that's something that's emerged from the blog blog has created all sorts of initiatives and community outreach type of things. And it's versus I had more traffic now than I've ever had site traffic.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:08
That's, that's amazing. Oh, well, I mean, I've, I've known about your site for a long time. And I before I ever opened up any film, hustle, I used to visit it all the time. And, and you just have such a wealth of information. It's it's there's, I don't know of another resource out there that has so much for free.

Scott Myers 1:11:29
There's all for you. Lately, just one little anecdote about this. You know, I had a friend who's a writer, he said, Scott, why are you doing this? This is insane. Why are you giving away all this content for free? Basically, every almost every night, almost every good thing that's happened to me professionally, has been because of that blog. Yeah, I am now more well connected in Hollywood than I ever was, when I lived two miles from 20th Century Fox. No more managers, more agents, more producers, more talent, more writers than I ever did when I was out there. And I was, I would say the exact same thing has happened to me ever since I

Alex Ferrari 1:12:06
Launched indie film, hustle, the amount of connections, relationships, being able to sit down and talk to you for an hour, you know, without a blog, that's very difficult to to reach out to people of your caliber and, and just the relationships you've built over the time. It it is. everything that's happened to me since I opened up any film hustle has been directly it's been generally directly because of the blog. So I understand 110%

Scott Myers 1:12:31
Yeah, your site is, you know, one of those sites that that provides quality content, and those resources are great. You know, I think film school is not for everybody, I think, you know, at a school like DePaul where they can literally go out and they're making movies in their freshman year because we've got three soundstages that's in a space where they shoot all the Chicago Fire Chicago men and all that stuff. They've got an incredible gear. But But film school is not for everybody. So you can put it together a version of it, you know, by using places like go into the story or your site and other sites. There's just a ton of free quality content. Just make sure you vet things and are looking for the quality sites out there.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:11
Now I'm going to ask I'm gonna ask you the last few questions which asked all of my guests. So be prepared for your Oprah questions. I call these the Oprah questions. Okay. What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to sell their first screenplay?

Scott Myers 1:13:28
Well, if it's only their first screenplay, they've written their first screenplay. I would say write two more. You know, don't try and sell your first screenplay. You, I can almost guarantee you that. After you've written three screenplays, you'll look at your first screenplay and go, Wow, I thought I'd written a really great script, but it's got some issues. So So, you know, and moreover, again, are you going to when you're signing the contract and the lawyers office, it says this script is doing 10 weeks. I tell this to my university students, you can just see them tense up. So you got to note you've got to have a confidence that you can do this. Now maybe after one script, like Diablo Cody did what you know, you know, but she'd written she'd been a blogger for years. And she Britain, you know, a memoir. She was a writer. She's a blown writer. You know, maybe some people can do it with one script, but my advice would be write two more scripts.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:28
The best advice I've ever heard about screenwriting was given to me by Jim rules. Do you know Jim? Yeah. Jim said when you get sit down, write a screenplay. When you're done with that screenplay. Write a straight, don't edit it. Don't do anything. Just just write it straight. When you're done, put it in your dress and in a drawer, start another screenplay. Do the exact same process, put it in the drawer. Do the third time, put in the drawer now take that first script out and start rewriting it because now you're a better writer. That's great advice. Is that amazing? I thought that was neat. Brilliant, and he has a number three like me to know, um, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or your career?

Scott Myers 1:15:11
Oh, that's, that's pretty easy. It's the hero with 1000 faces by Joseph Campbell.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:16
Great book.

Scott Myers 1:15:18
It's an academic book. I was shocked when I came to Hollywood and I saw it on the bookshelves of, you know, studio executives and producers like what is this academic book doing? And of course, and I found out about George Lucas and Star Wars. But, um, you know, I there, you know, because of Chris Vogler, his book, The writers journey, which is an excellent book, and that has, you know, the hero's journey, and he reduced the 17 aspects of narrative that Campbell talked about and hiromasa faces to 12 to make it more amenable for screenwriting, you know, it's become a thing. And it makes me kind of sad in a way because I've heard producers say this, in fact, I blogged about it, because I, somebody did this on a message board, a manager said, I hate the hero's journey. Why? Well, because it's all just this formulaic crap. Well, that's not what Joseph Campbell intended at all. And I'm sure that's not what Chris Vogler intended, it's what happened, you know, people tend to reduce this thing, trying to find some sort of paradigm, you know, Hatter and magic bullet, you know, that's not what Campbell had in mind at all. So I tend to approach the hero's journey, for more of a medic view, you know, the three the three stages of separation initiation return, the idea of transformation, that the whole point of the hero's journey is transformation, and that the message of the hero's journey is follow your bliss. And so, it works for me on two levels, as a writer, and storyteller, and as even being as there's, there is no more important message for a creative person and follow your bliss. guides. I think it's the first thing I tell my students every quarter, and it's the last thing I tell them as we in every quarter, if you get nothing else from having worked with me in class, live with this idea. You know, it's it's a scary way to live. It's a it has ups and downs. But it is the most authentic way to live. If you're if you are aligned with what turns you on creatively, and you choose to pursue that with passion, and you have talent, and you have a voice and you think that you've got something you can say of worth to the greatest society in the world at large. Then you are set on a path that's going to bring you great satisfaction. Yes. ups and downs. Yes, trials and tribulations, your own hero's journey that way, but at least you have aligned yourself with something that you know, as your as Campbell had to say saying a paraphrase he said nothing more. There's nothing sadder than for someone to be spend their lives climbing the ladder to success, only to discover they've been on the wrong wall. Oh, wow. What an amazing quote. And that's the that's the antithesis of follow your bliss that someone did not follow. They followed somebody else's.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:12
Not their own, whether it be their parents or what society told them. Absolutely.

Scott Myers 1:18:16
Yeah, find out what you want to do. Find out what your pet find out what your rapture is your bliss. He was.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:23
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, but he was more of a philosopher as well as an academic and a spiritualist.

Scott Myers 1:18:29
Yes. Yes. You know, he created his own. No, he taught at Sarah Lawrence University for 43 years. So it's college. So it was Yeah, I have a picture of the doorknob for his door from Sarah Lawrence College. It's my desk. I had someone who put the school there and found the door to his office he had for a few years.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:49
That's amazing. But

Scott Myers 1:18:50
Yeah, he created it. He didn't get a PhD. There was no PhD and what he did he just read people ask them, Do you praise that? No, I read 10 hours a day. He read stories from all around the world. And he noticed these similar dynamics, separation, initiation return, Hero gets transformed. And now I've got people with 1000 faces. That's the most inspirational book.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:14
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Scott Myers 1:19:25
That's a good question. I'm, I guess I'm still learning it, you know. You know, I for a long time, I looked at my life and I thought, I've never failed. You know, I never even got like all the colleges and graduate schools I applied to I never got rejected by any of them. And so for the longest time, I was just living this life, you know, and then selling a spec script for you know, a lot of money and Yeah, all right. Everything I did music, comedy, academics, screenwriting successful. You know, you learn The most about yourself, I think in life in general, when you fail, yes. And that has been a lesson, you know, that, I think, is something that I've had to learn. And, and you have to have that understanding, ending to work in Hollywood, because you will, you are absolutely going to fail. And you're going to fail multiple times. And so you've got to be able to live with that and learn from that. So that's probably the most important lesson that I've struggled to come to grips with. It's not fun, obviously failing. And it's hard to determine from time to time, like, what lessons you can learn from it. But the one thing is universal, you just get up and you go back at it, you know, persistence. That's, you know, writer. Absolutely. If you fail, just get back up and go on to the next story.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:55
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Scott Myers 1:20:58
Oh, that's easy. The apartment is absolutely my favorite movie of all time, personally. Well, it's my is my favorite Billy Wilder. And as he diamond, those are my favorite. Billy was my favorite filmmaker. But I also love the Coen brothers. And I also love Pixar. And I'm a huge those three, it will keep our tech astute, but

Alex Ferrari 1:21:22
Yeah, well, I'm,

Scott Myers 1:21:23
I can talk for hours on Kubrick. You know, I'd be tempted to put up in there because I thought that was just brilliant. I be tempted to put there's a handful of, you know, condors moving on they're great Inside llewyn Davis is an incredible movie, but, but I'll go with a couple more traditional ones. Dr. Strangelove, which is just the greatest satire ever, ever created, I think. And then I've got to include a, maybe more of a, okay. Silence of the Lambs. The Silence of lamps is like the perfect for what I teach. It's like the perfect movie. It really is. And it's one of three movies to win all five of the major Academy Awards.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:06
I know it was insane. It's a horror. It's a horror movie. And that was, was it the wasn't the first one. I think the exorcist

Scott Myers 1:22:18
Or the exorcist? I think it might have won something. Yeah. But yeah, it was. I think back then in 1991 a qualified as a horror movie. I don't know if it would necessarily Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:22:28
Right. Oh, but it was it was one of the it was the third film ever to win the five. Best Picture Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay. Wow. It was an amazing film. Amazing. So now where can people find you sir? Well, if they're in Chicago, no, no, no, your personal home address online online.

Scott Myers 1:22:52
I can tell you a bar that I hang out. But no, they can find me go into the story.com that's you know, it's actually go into the story black dot blacklist. BLC k LST l dot LST calm but just go into the story. Which is the my blog. And then screenwriting masterclass, which is my online educational resource that I teach online. I've been doing it for years, I've had great success with my students, many of them have gone on to do very, very well with themselves. So there's that there's the zero draft 30 Facebook group, which I host, but basically that just as those people, they're just great. And they constantly doing stuff. So those are three, three ways you can reach me.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:39
Scott, thank you so much for taking the time out. It's been a lengthy conversation. But I could ask, I could ask you another 100 questions. But I know you're a busy man, you've got 15 blog posts to put out today. I have another call right now. So it's a good time to Scott, thank you again, so much, my friend.

Scott Myers 1:23:55
Okay, great talking with you. Good luck with your your blogging.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:59
And Scott really did drop some great knowledge bombs on you guys. I really hope you got a lot out of that episode. I know I did. And I want to thank Scott again for doing the show and really just sharing so much great information with the tribe. So thank you, Scott, once again. Now if you want to get links to anything we talked about in the show, just head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 185. You'll get all of Scott's contact information there. Guys. Don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a good review, please. It really helps us out a lot with the rankings in iTunes and getting more and more people to hear us. So if you have not left a review for the show, please go leave a review for the show. I really, really appreciate it. And guys with the continued series that I'm doing of gathering some of the best screenwriters, scripts and collections of their scripts for you guys to download and learn from this week's is the Coen brothers and if you want to just go to the show notes at the end you monster.com forward slash 25. I'll have links to it there. Or you could just go to indie film, hustle, calm and download all of their amazing screenplays. I read I just read The Big Lebowski again the other day, and oh, my God, it's just so brilliant. But anyway, I got a bunch of new collections that I'm working on and just trying to curate screenplays from all of these amazing screenwriters for all of us to learn and essentially just make better films. So as always, keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

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