GITS: The Twitter Conversations — Script Readers (Part 14)

April 25th, 2013 by

On Wednesday, April 10th at 7PM Pacific, we had the 3rd GITS Twitter Conversation with industry insiders whose jobs involve reading scripts: Amanda Pendolino [@amandapendo], Nate Winslow [@nate_winslow], and The Bitter Script Reader [@BittrScrptReadr].

I will be posting an edited transcript of the conversation every day this week.

AP [Amanda Pendolino]
BSR [Bitter Script Reader]
GITS [Me]
NW [Nate Winslow]

Here is Part 14 of GITS: The Twitter Conversations — Script Readers:

GITS: What contemporary screenwriters would you recommend to read in terms of style, voice, and quality of writing?

BSR: I’m just gonna plug the usual suspects here: @JohnSwetnam @ScreenWritten @TravisBeacham. Lot of others too

Kremsicles: @gaghan, Terrio, and Kajganich are three great ones that come to mind.

BSR: THIS. Also that kid who wrote the biopic about MCCARTHY.

MCouvs: Chris Terrio brings a contemporary edge to old school stories just look at Argo for example

14Shari: Are there currently some great women screenwriters ?

NW: Tons! Liz Meriwether, Leslie Dixon, Hillary Seitz, Kay Cannon, Lorene Scafaria, Nancy Oliver, Shauna Cross, Stacey Menear

NW: Sarah Haskins. Jaylynn Bailey. Emily Halpern. Laeta Kalogridis.

14Shari: how is the market for family films set around Christmas?

BSR: I worked for a manager who never read a holiday script from a new writer because it would be too hard to sell

AP: I’ve actually asked in generals about xmas movies and most companies say “sure, we’d consider that”

AP: they’re 4-quadrant, which is always good, &I don’t think a ton of writers are writing them so there may be less competish

BSR: I’d also add.. remember that only so many holiday films can be released in a year

GITS: Better to think of scene description as poetry, not prose: lean writing, strong verbs, vivid descriptors?

BSR: I’d say that’s one approach (so long as one doesn’t get TOO abstract.) But yeah, brevity is your friend

AP: yeah, verbs and vivid descriptions always good. and just be concise. don’t say it in 10 words if 2 will do

NW: Whatever it does, don’t let it get in the way. It’s not why I’m reading the script.

davidproenza: Thoughts on screenwriting contests and pitchfests, or is @theblcklst the way to go now?

BSR: I’m SO pro-Black List after the last several months. Also Nicholl and a a few other fellowships.

AP: some r better than others. @theblcklst has been helpful for people who get high ratings.contests alone aren’t enough

AP: you can’t just have 1 method to get your stuff out there. you need to be trying multiple things at once.

BSR: Agreed. Try a multi-prong approach. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Takeaway:

I asked that question about contemporary screenwriters in part because of this observation by screenwriter Justin Kremer in an interview I did with him in February this year:

Justin:  You don’t even need to know exactly what you want to do next, because that’s what everyone will ask you when you’re on that first round of generals, “What’s next? What are you working on?”

It’s great to have ideas. That certainly helps, but you also just need to give them, I think, a sense of who you are from a writer’s stance, who you admire and what kind of stuff you want to do.

There were a bunch of guys I talked about — guys that I admire so much — like Chris Terrio, Steve Zaillian, and John Logan. That gives people a tangible sense of what you’re aspiring to do as much as any idea might.

Scott:  That’s a really good point because that’s what they traffic in: scripts and movies by these other writers. So if you’re well versed in the content and material that screenwriters are producing nowadays, that’s a really good shorthand for the people you meet with on the other side, producers and studio execs, for them to be able to grasp your sensibilities.

Justin:  Exactly. There’s no one who knows those guys’ work better than these execs, and so to give them a really concrete example of what you’re striving to do, it really helps.

Scott:  Well, I’ve got to thank you for that because it gives me yet another way I can promote the importance of reading scripts. You can become familiar with current screenwriters, and that provides you not only with their talent, and how they write their various styles, their approaches, their voices or whatnot, but also enables you to have more of a base of communication with the people you’ll be meeting with at these general meetings and whatnot.

Justin:  Yeah.

Scott:  Thank you.

Justin:  I actually ended up sending execs writers’ scripts… writers that I’ve never met in my life and would have no idea who they were if I walked by them on the street — scripts that I loved, that we kind of connected about. The more you know about what’s out there, what the marketplace is like, the better. It only serves you well.

There are many reasons to read scripts and Justin makes an interesting point: By reading contemporary screenwriters, that gives you a frame of reference for any discussions you may have with the Hollywood film community how know all of these writers.

By the way, @kremsicles who participated in the Tweet Chat is none other than Justin Kremer who wrote the 2012 Black List script “McCarthy.”

Some background info:

The Bitter Script Reader (@BittrScrptReadr) has spent many years – “perhaps too many,” he says – working in development and as a reader at production companies and agencies.  For over three years, he’s blogged regularly about the missteps he’s seen writers both young and professional make, and implored his audience to avoid those same writing pitfalls.  You can find him at his blog and check out his videos on his YouTube Channel.

After working for a motion picture literary agent at a major talent agency, Amanda Pendolino (@amandapendo) went on to become a professional script reader for a few different production companies. She is also developing some feature comedies, in addition to an original sitcom. Her blog is here. You should bookmark it.

Nate Winslow (@Nate_Winslow) moved to Los Angeles last year and spent the majority of his time reading scripts and writing coverage for a production company and an A-list director. He’s currently working at the production company Defender Entertainment.

For Part 11, go here.

For Part 12, go here.

For Part 13, go here.

For Parts 1-10 from our 2012 Twitter Conversations, go here.

One thought on “GITS: The Twitter Conversations — Script Readers (Part 14)

  1. dw says:

    This has been a great series, but one minor correction: Stacey Menear is a great writer, but he is also a male.

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