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How To Create Interest In Your Screenplay - Before You Even Write It!
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Do you have to know somebody in Hollywood to get started writing or producing your own films? Not necessarily. There are many roads to follow, including making your trailer before you write or make your film. That's what Vernon Lott did.
Most writers wouldn't want to make a film about their failings but when Vernon Lott looked back at some of the pretentious poetry he wrote when he was young, it inspired him to make a joke trailer for a film called Bad Writing.
He never intended to actually make the film, but the trailer got to much attention from a few major online sites that people started asking him when the film was coming out.
Lott and his wife, Jennifer Anderson, decided to go ahead and make a film that would be about good writing as well as bad writing. They raised $80,000 and spent the best part of a year touring the United States, interviewing writers including Margaret Atwood and poet Billy Collins as well as agents and publishers and editors.
Luck did play some role: $12,000 of it came from a sixty-cent bet Anderson made at a casino!
The film has shown at some festivals and had limited runs in a few cities and is available on DVD.
Lott and Anderson's experience offers several lessons to aspiring film-makers:
Making a trailer for the film you'd like to make could be a good way to get attention and attract funding;
If you want the glory you have to be ready to make the sacrifices. The year of travelling and interviewing probably wasn't all fun and games;
Expect rejection and move on. Several big-name writers turned down Lott and Anderson's requests for interviews. Half the people they e-mailed didn't even answer. Undaunted, they kept asking until they had enough people saying yes. The ones who agreed include Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, and Nick Flynn;
Success is not assured. I don't know how close they are to recouping the $80,000 cost of the film, much less to making a profit, but they did what they set out to do and I have no doubt they learned a lot in the process. If this one doesn't make money, there's a good chance their next one will;
Don't stop. Lott and Anderson have already made another film, this one about five unsolved homicides that all have the same suspect. They're also working on a feature film screenplay.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door. Remember, Lott and Anderson never intended to make a feature-length film. When their short got press, they could have laughed it off. Instead they took the cue and went for it.
The moral of the story is that it's not only Hollywood that gives you the chance to write or make films, the opportunities are all around you.
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