#ScreenPit sends screenwriters, Twitter into a fabulous frenzy!

by G. Robert Frazier

Regular readers of this blog will recall my earlier entry touting my love of #Screenwriting Twitter. Yesterday, there was an abundance of love – and a bit of drama — over on the platform: Hundreds of writers pushing their screenplays upon an unsuspecting world!

In case you missed it, it was an event called #ScreenPit.

The idea was simple: Post tweets containing the title and a one-sentence description of your screenplay with the hope that a director, producer, agent, or manager would see it and want to read the completed screenplay. Or even better, they might actually want to buy your script or hire you to write a script.

Each tweet would include a set of hashtags to help further identify the screenplay you were tweeting about, from its genre to the type of production itself (whether it was a for a full-length feature movie, a limited series, TV pilot, or short film).

The screenwriting world answered the challenge.

Throughout the twelve-hour challenge, tweet after tweet scrolled by advertising everything from action-adventures to horror to serious dramas and hilarious comedies. Whether it was a haunting story about witches or an emotionally moving story about aging parents, you could find a logline for that screenplay.

The ideas were virtually limitless.

Some of the ideas, admittedly, were not particularly original. Some of the loglines were a bit rough and failed to convey exactly what the story was about (hey, it’s hard to condense 100 pages of screenplay into one sentence!). But some were incredible in both their descriptions and originality.

In reading them, you couldn’t help but sit up and imagine the screenplay flashing across the silver screen as a movie someday.

All of them represented the boundless pool of talent across the world and stories begging to be told.

Taking the plunge

I was initially a bit hesitant about joining in.

In the first place, there was no guarantee that anybody in a position of filmmaking power would even see it. If you have ever been on Twitter, you know how quickly your Twitter feed flashes by. If you blink, you’ve missed it. Even a hashtag search resulted in an endless sea of scrolling tweets.

The organizers invited a slew of top agencies, managers, and other movers and shakers in the industry to participate, but there were no clear commitments.

Instead, many warned against the idea.

Hollywood, you see, is afraid to look at unsolicited loglines or ideas because they fear it could lead to lawsuits from those claiming their ideas were stolen. Since you cannot copyright an idea, doing so is akin to giving away your fantastic movie idea to anyone else who wants to use it.

So, the whole idea of posting loglines would possibly fall on deaf ears.

Despite all of that, hundreds of screenwriters posted their loglines anyway. One after another after another.

I jumped in and posted a few of my own.

Why not? I thought. There are few paths into Hollywood as it is.

You can write your scripts, enter them into contests and hope against all odds that a reader likes it enough to send it up the ladder to the next level; you can cold query managers, agents, and producers in hopes that someone might give in and say, “OK, send it to me and I’ll take a look;” or you can network back and forth at social events and through social media in search of that one elusive person that will even look at your script.

Or you can post your logline to Twitter and cross your fingers. Who’s to say one method is more effective than the other? And, believe it or not, there have been Twitter success stories.

Writing a screenplay is a risky venture regardless. You put hours and hours of your life, your blood, sweat, tears, and every emotion you have into the product. Why? Because you have a story to tell and a story that only you can tell.

It’s a passion. It’s a curse. It’s a fool’s game.

So, why not play it? Why not take a chance? Try a new thing. Try something different.

#ScreenPit was that thing, and hundreds of screenwriters agreed to take the leap.

I posted a tweet commending the screenwriters on their trove of ideas and imploring Hollywood to take a chance on something or someone new. With the constant parade of reboots, remakes, and rehashes flooding the screen (big and small), and with the plethora of streamers in need of content, it is clear Hollywood needs people, ideas, and scripts, and I am not the only one that feels that way. My tweet obviously resonated, drawing more than 350 “likes” and nearly retweets over the next 24 hours!

The drama begins

By mid-afternoon, the naysayers in the screenwriting world began to grow more vocal. They began lashing out at those posting their loglines as foolish and amateurs.

The drama had begun.

Organizers of the event point out that authors have a similar Twitter day four times a year called #PitMad, in which they post the premise to their novels or books in hopes of attracting publishers or agents.

Proponents counter that book publishing and screenwriting are two distinct things, two vastly different industries. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the other.

Organizers say the event presents an even playing field for those who may not have the money or resources to enter the countless screenwriting contests or paid pitch events out there.

Proponents counter that contests, in the least, help sort through the riffraff and highlight the standout scripts and writers without having to wade through an endless slush pile.

As @TheZeusJuice put it in his Twitter HOT TAKE: “If all these execs were SO willing to read our stuff, we wouldn’t NEED to #ScreenPit anything.” His thread includes a few more choice statements worth reading if you want to check it out.

Jessica Kane @jesskane31 also has an interesting take on the controversy.

For better or worse

Now that the dust has settled, we are left to wonder if it was all worth it. I picked up dozens of new Twitter followers and followed dozens of others. That’s all part of that old networking thing, right?

Did #ScriptPit get anyone interest from the powers that be? The organizers are trying to audit its success now, as well as consider ways to improve on future events.

At the very least, I got a few “likes” on a couple of my loglines and a bunch of new followers. No one’s been knocking down the door to option my scripts or sign me as a writer. Not yet, anyway.

But my tweets are out there. My scripts are out there. I’m putting myself out there.

Maybe that counts for something, I don’t know.

WIP Update: Webisode, spec script see progress; NaNoWriMo on tap

by G. Robert Frazier

It’s Saturday, and it’s late, but I just realized I did not post an update on my works in progress Wednesday. It’s an idea borrowed (nay, stolen) from another blogger. The purpose being to help hold myself accountable for how I spend my time and as inspiration to actually get something written.

The good news is I did actually get some writing done. Not as much as I would like, mind you, but progress nonetheless. For starters, I churned out a one-page intro to a web series I’m writing. The intro piece, or title sequence, will precede all of the webisodes. I followed that up by writing a seven-page first draft script for the first episode. I can’t tell you what the webisode will be about at this point, other than to say that it will be fun. I can also probably share the title of the first webisode: “Pizza and the Pomeranian.”

It is a first draft at this point. Might be a bit too long for a webisode at seven pages, or roughly seven minutes if one page equals one minute of screen time. So there may be some trimming in order before all is said and done. But it is a start. As the webisodes will all be fairly short, I hope to churn out a couple more of these this week.

Speaking of scripts, I plan to spend the day Sunday tweaking and making some minor revisions to the feature spec script I wrote with my brother. We’ve made a number of notes since finishing the initial draft of the script and now it’s time to incorporate those notes into the script as needed. I’ll then print the script out again in full to read more intently. Then, it will be back to the computer to make additional changes. Ah, the joys of rewriting!

I’ve also got another script in its infant stage. I have an idea and a broad outline, which I shared with my fellow writers at a recent Tennessee Screenwriters Association meeting. They noted a few holes and areas in which to concentrate to make it a more viable script. But perhaps most encouraging was our fearless leader’s words that my idea was timely and has loads of potential! This past week I did some additional research for it by, get this, watching and re-watching an episode of Nancy Grace. Now tell me that doesn’t pique your curiosity.

As if that’s not enough to keep me busy, I also had another idea brainstorm for a possible spec TV pilot/series. I did some preliminary online research. And, I reached out to someone I know from my previous journalism career. He supplied me with some initial information on my subject and expressed a willingness to talk further on the subject. He also gave me the name of another possible resource. So, I am extremely excited for this series as well.

Next month is another matter, as I plan to finish my novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. I’ve already vomited out the first 30,000 words or so and hope to finish the novel by the end of November. One thing I may do this week is reread and tweak the first couple of pages. I have an opportunity to present those pages to an agent/editor roundtable at the Killer Nashville writers conference next week, so I want to make them shine.

I also have my sights set on submitting items to a couple of short story contests in the next couple of weeks. But more on that another time.

Obviously I have a full plate. But after several weeks of stagnation and a lack of motivation, I couldn’t be happier. Stay tuned for more Adventures in Writing…

Review: Fourth Doctor romps in wild, fun adventure of The Drosten’s Curse

Thanks to the proliferation of Doctor Who novels on the market, old school fans of early doctors like Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and Peter Davison are still able to revel in new adventures. The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy (Broadway Books, $9.99) captures the zany fun of Tom Baker’s Doctor to perfection.

the Drosten's CurseBaker’s Doctor—he of the floppy fedora, multi-colored be-careful-you-don’t-trip-over-it scarf, and long overcoat whose pockets are stuffed with jelly babies—is often regarded by legions of fans as the best Doctor for his fun, over-the-top adventures. And with The Drosten’s Curse, Kennedy takes readers back to that sense of fun and adventure. The end result is a novel that plays like a four-part Baker episode in your mind.

The adventure begins when golfers at a country club start disappearing, thanks to an unseen beasty that has made its home under the greens and the sandpits. It doesn’t take long before The Doctor, who is attracted to unusual events, happens upon the scene. Along with new companions Byrony Mailer, the golf spa’s junior receptionist, and Putta Pattershaun 5, a rather inept bounty hunter, the Doctor is promptly sucked into the madcap melee besetting the club and surrounding town of Arbroath.

Unlike the more commonplace Daleks, Cybermen, and Sontarans in the Who rogue’s gallery, the beasty responsible for the Doctor’s latest woes is a more difficult to define entity. Eventually exposed as a Bah-Sokhar, the creature thrives on the emotions of its victims, especially fear, hate, and depression. Even the Doctor and his companions are lost, their minds hopelessly adrift in negative emotions when the Bah-Sokhar sucks them into its psychological maelstrom.

The Doctor ultimately recognizes things for what they are and rebounds in his usual hyperactive way, babbling nonstop to anyone who will listen—in particular Byrony, who plays a key role in helping aid in the Doctor’s escape from the Bah-Sokhar’s clutches. Putta, meanwhile, provides the comic relief as he stumbles and trips into one misadventure after another while trying to avoid the Bah-Sokhar’s minions, a pair of spooky twins and a twisted grandma who owns the golf course.

The adventure soars from outright humor to startling peril, and Kennedy’s writing style perfectly captures the chaotic action of any Tom Baker Who episode.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

G. Robert Frazier’s Best of List

With the Grammys behind us and the Oscars ahead, I thought I’d present my own Best of… roundup as well. Consider this, though, more of a people’s choice awards list. I haven’t seen all the Oscar contenders so I can’t rate the high-brow emotional stuff, and I’m not into pop music, so this is just me, the common man, listing my own personal faves. I’ll include a few “worst of’s” as well. Kudos to all the writers who collectively entertained me in 2014 with their originality, wit and fun stories on screens big and small.

Movies:

BEST: Guardians of the Galaxy

While it was a bit goofy at times, especially with Star-Lord’s “dance off” toward the end, I found this movie to be refreshingly fun and entertaining. The characters were unique, the action was top-notch, and the film never got bogged down in the weighty seriousness of other super-hero movies.

RUNNER-UP: The Lego Movie

A kid’s movie? Maybe. But it was just so hilarious and that tune, well, it was awesome. Face it, everything was awesome. Batman and Green Lantern and Superman were awesome. Did I mention this was awesome?

SLEEPER OF THE YEAR: John Wick

Keanu Reeves picked a perfect flick to make his return in a big way. This movie was intense, action-packed, and just plain fun to watch. Of course, the studios are going to try to repeat their success with a sequel. Sigh.

WORST: A Million Ways to Die in the West

This movie was just a flat-out miss. The story was practically non-existent, the jokes – if you can call them that – were bombs, and the acting just tired. Comedies are hard. Maybe one of the most difficult forms of movies to pull off. But this one missed on so many levels.

TV:

BEST: Fargo

How do you take a great movie like Fargo and translate it to the small screen? Like this. This series was so quirky and enjoyable. The performances were first rate and it was full of surprises. No formulaic tv drama here.

RUNNER-UP: The Walking Dead

Some people didn’t like the direction this series took in 2014 with its episodes that singled out individuals or small groups rather than including the whole ensemble, or more specifically, Rick Grimes. I thought it was a great change of pace from the prison/governor episodes and allowed us to get to know each character a bit better. It did seem at times that the storyline sort of forgot people, such as when Beth went missing, but as evidenced by the current season, the writers have atoned for that quite well.

SURPRISE: Last Comic Standing

I don’t really like stand-up comics, but this competition series provided quick laughs when I needed it most.

WORST: Z-Nation

A SyFy Walking Dead ripoff of the worst variety. I think I managed to watch about ten minutes before deleting it from my viewing que forever.

SECOND WORST: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

Boring. That’s the only way I can describe what should have been an exciting, action-packed series. This is how you take a Marvel franchise and dumb it down for TV. Ugh.

Books

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Concerts

Best: KISS

Forty years and still the best band in the world, KISS! Def Leppard came along for the ride, but just proved that no one can open for KISS.

Surprise: Arcade Fire

They may not be a surprise to those who were already fans, but their act/songs took me by storm in 2014. I got to see them live in Nashville and that only cemented the deal. My favorite best new group, even if I did discover them a bit late.

Social media:

TWITTER

More and more I find myself turning to social media, particularly Twitter, for quick news. By just scrolling through tweets, I can get a quick assessment of what is the hot topic of the day and what everyone is talking about. Makes me wonder, if no one is tweeting about it, is it really happening?

What were your favorite TV, movies and books of 2014? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Just comment in the box below. 

PS…I follow back.