Interview: Adam Kolbrenner (Madhouse Entertainment) — Part 5

January 25th, 2013 by

This week, we are fortunate to have as our guest manager-producer Adam Kolbrenner from Madhouse Entertainment, an L.A.-based production and literary management company that works with screenwriters and writer/directors in the areas of film, television and new media.

I will be posting the whole interview over the course of the week. Today in Part 5, Adam discusses some of the issues facing working screenwriters nowadays and shares inside information on one of the more notable deals in the last several years.

Movie revenues now break down to about 70/30%, international vs. domestic, a complete flip from where things were 25 years ago. How much do you advise your clients to be mindful of the international market when writing scripts? What ways might the internationalization of films be reflected in a scripted project?

For the most part international films don’t favor comedy or horror films.  So being mindful of this information can cut through some of the clutter.  Again, its about writing movie star roles for audiences around the globe but always write what you love or it will show on the page.

Over the decade or so you’ve been a manager, what are some of the key changes you’ve seen in terms of screenwriters plying their trade in Hollywood? Plusses, minuses, and how have you and your clients had to adapt?

Again, original screenplays that you write.  We do not advise clients to sit and wait for the next big job to show up, because, we assume they will not be showing up.  The key is to always be writing.  Today, more and more new writers are headed into scripted television which has undoubtedly been experiencing a golden age of some of the best writing on the planet.  Madhouse takes it’s time through development on both film and television.  If we don’t, who will?

Let’s talk about two vexing issues that face working writers: Sweepstakes pitching and one-step deals. Where the former has been around for a long time, the latter is something that has developed over the last several years. What’s your take on both and do you think there is a chance either of these will change for the better?

These will be a factor for years to come, unfortunately.  This coincides with my theory about continuing to write original screenplays while all this is happening.  For Madhouse clients, we only chase the “real” jobs of movies that have a chance of being made, I don’t believe in having writers compete…. because….they are only competing for those one step deals.  It’s a flawed business practice for a writer to chase these things.

Adam has been kind enough to agree to answer follow-up questions. Here is one connected to another Madhouse Entertainment deal:

@GoIntoTheStory Did you talk to Adam about his discovery of Reddit sensation @jlerwin and the sale of ROME SWEET ROME? @madhouse_ent

Here is Adam’s response:

Madhouse looks for ideas and stories for clients all day, everyday. Its important to dig under every rock for great film or TV ideas and have the mindset to determine when you hear a good one and further delineate a proper screenwriter for the idea.

The day this particular story began to “upvote” on Reddit.com, just like any other redditor, I was captivated by 2 things: the potential in the concept and the voice of Prufrock (aka James Erwin – @jlerwin ) — Warner Bros quickly responded to the “big and unique” idea in the concept: marine battalion sent back in time and forced to battle a Roman legion. Its a great “what if?” question.

I was able to convince Warner Bros that James Erwin could write the first draft (and a treatment), and a few days after the initial posts began, was able to call Erwin in Iowa and let him know he sold his first pitch to Warner Bros studios.

As studio development goes, James did an excellent job for a first time writer working on an epic tale like this one, and the studio wanted to bring in another point of view on how to tell this story from a different angle. As you can imagine, this is NOT an easy story to tell for even the most experienced screenwriter. Erwin is hard at work on a new spec screenplay and a high concept sci-fi novel as well

Tomorrow in Part 6, Adam reveals what he is looking for when he reads a script and in a prospective writer client.

Please stop by comments to thank Adam for taking the time for the interview and post any follow-up questions you may have as he has agreed to answer them.

2 thoughts on “Interview: Adam Kolbrenner (Madhouse Entertainment) — Part 5

  1. Adam, this interview is extremely helpful, thank you for doing this.

    MY QUESTION: Minority writers often hear “Black films don’t sell well abroad.” One of 2012’s top romantic comedies, “Think Like A Man,” earned $93M domestically & prompted a sequel, but did nothing abroad. Would Madhouse have represented that film or even dramas with large minority casts?

  2. Ken Glover says:

    Wow…this whole series is an eye opener. I was tempted to drop a logline over at Mad House…but IT’S NOT READY YET…you’ll hear from me soon.

    If I may answer the question above, people say we (newbies) have to write a great script. Yes, it must be great, but if it doesn’t fit in with what a production company is doing, it will not sell. Therefore, we have to write the RIGHT script. In part 6 of the interview, it stated Madhouse does EVERYTHING. Write the right script!

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