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How To Hire A Screenwriter If You Are An Independent Producer

By Author: Douglas Walker
Total Articles: 40

How to Hire the Right Screenwriter
An inside Look At Deal Making
Welcome to the world of screenplay writing and producing. I have divided my information on linked web pages so that you can focus on one aspect of hiring a writer to reach your goals and be produced, then move on to the other aspect. There is no one "right way" to hire the best screenwriter, but there are hundreds of "wrong ways" warnings. You want your investment of time, money, and trust to be honored and result in a winning script. While paranoia is not helpful, awareness and realism is most beneficial.
The following pages cover an abundance of useful and sometimes deal-making secret information. I wrote it for one reason: to give you a better chance at not only hiring the best writer you can afford, but also in selling your script. The topic headings might help you navigate to whatever you most urgently need answered.
The Entertainment Marketing Arena
It is hard enough within "Hollywood" to hire the right screenwriter when you have all the connections. For someone that does not make the Entertainment Industry the center of his or her universe, the challenge might seem at times ludicrous, other times frustrating and intimidating. And of course we all hear stories of people being flat out ripped off! While films on Hollywood and the various TMZ type news media could make you think the Industry is nothing but con men, sycophants, and egotists, there are actually fewer instances of betrayal (especially related to writing) than you think. The various Guilds, legal limits put on producers and agencies, and believe it or not "reputations" make most screenplay deals very standardized and simple to complete without being totally taken advantage of... well, in 95% of the deals. But that percentage is just when focusing on whether or not a story is stolen or a writer is truly "chumped" or "rolled" for his investment money. The WGA investigated only 10 script in one year out of 70,000. That puts the odds of your story being ripped off at.012%. Protect yourself by registering it with the WGA, of course, but also realize that there are plenty of stories out there that producers don't need to steal. Your greater threat is really just ending up with a mediocre-to-bad script, or a script with no marketing value.
The various degrees of your potential frustration possibly comes from not knowing how to navigate the usual Hollywood system. It's like any unfamiliar business world (like stock investment or the court system.) There are procedures, and ways to lose your investment. Better reps and worse reps. Agents and lawyers provide a valuable service to protect the clients - yet can turn that against newcomers or the "desperate" to structure deals that favor their other clients, and not the screenwriter or original team. Remember, they will make far more money off so being loyal to a studio or exec than to their writer, and so on a small percentage of deals there is a conflict of interest. But that is just competition and survival of the fittest. At its core, a producer's job is to increase the value of his deal at the expense of others. He grinds costs down then splits the profits with the networks, studios, theaters, and distributors. That is why it is important to know someone who can guide you, co-write with this person if possible, and learn while you strive for a real deal.
The system by which screenplays are written, formatted, promoted, rewritten, repped, protected, and compensated formed into what it is today for a reason: each film launch is no different than opening up the biggest restaurant in town. The chef (director) and owner (producer) must please a fickle pubic with an opening night equal to building a theme park in 180 days. There is so much at stake that the system must respect the writer while protecting the investor and rewarding the public. It's a tricky cocktail of goals, to say the least. For this reason, as many variables as possible need to be taken out of the formula. That is why contracts and screenplay format are standardized. It is also why contracts and script submissions favor the producer or studio, for they are risking the money.
In the last year, two factors materialized that changed script submissions dramatically: the Internet became a source of creative initiative and power, and Studios and banks lost their collective asses in the economic collapse. The Internet makes it possible to connect with audiences on a level that can make them part of the movie and marketing, and it enables a producer to hire crews for low budget films or television. If you plan to go it on your own, there are ways to hire your own people. Craig's List is a hub for the Entertainment community. And searches allow producers to find locations, local actors, and also script writers that do not always go through their reps to be hired.
On a completely different level, the digital camera has made the job of filming cheaper, but also the competition ten times greater. This last year, there were almost exactly 10 times as many Indie films going after a limited number of distributors. The quality of films are down, because the audiences don't need the beauty of Witness or Silence of the Lambs. And some micro-budget hits like Paranormal make every think they can release a super hit. These are exceptions, not the rule. You still need a script worthy of bankable actors and directors.
The producer in this case when you are hiring a writer is YOU. What follows are general factors and facts to consider when seeking a writer for hire for your screenplay or television series. While I do admit that there are exceptions to these examples, and that I do make mistakes, overall what I write will hold up as true.

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