On the heels of Mike Le’s story in the previous post, how about this per Variety:
Warner Bros. has preemptively purchased the high-concept pitch “Rome, Sweet Rome” from first-time scribe James Erwin, an author and two-time “Jeopardy!” champion from Des Moines, Iowa.
Erwin’s pitch sale came about as a result of several postings on the website Reddit.com, an online community and social news aggregator where users vote to determine which posts land on the site’s home page.
Erwin set out to answer the question: “What if a unit of current U.S. Marines are suddenly transported back to ancient Rome and forced to do battle with the Roman legions?” Pic will follow the Marines as they’re flung into the past where they encounter one of the world’s most legendary villains and disrupt history. To return home, they have to set history back on the track they altered.
Madhouse Entertainment’s Adam Kolbrenner spotted Erwin’s “Rome, Sweet Rome” posts once they reached the top of Reddit and moved quickly to contact the writer and begin working with him to develop the concept. When it came time to find a home for the project, Kolbrenner brought it to WB’s Chris Gary, a young exec who encouraged the studio move aggressively to acquire it.
You can move to L.A., work at a Blockbuster and become Owen Wilson’s assistant. Or you can live in Des Moines, post an original idea on Reddit where it’s discovered by a Hollywood manager, then sold as a pitch to a major movie studio.
As the saying goes, “All roads lead to… uh, ‘Rome, Sweet Rome.'”
Seriously move to L.A., don’t move to L.A., that is not necessarily what dictates your success as a screenwriter. As always it is the ideas you come up with and how well you translate them into stories.
As a wise old fart once wrote, “If you write a great script, Hollywood will find you.”
UPDATE: How about an interview with “Rome, Sweet Rome” author James Erwin, described as a “technical writer, reference author and two-time Jeopardy champion.”
It’s tough to work on a project that’s as hush-hush and high-stakes as this one, but it’s also very exciting. There’s a lot of collaboration and brainstorming, which is definitely different from encyclopedia writing, but it’s a style of work I’m used to through my time with Fortune 500 clients and companies. We’re still building a map for the plot and the characters, so there’s a lot of work left. Everyone I’m working with is very smart, very excited, and very committed. It’s really humbling.
This from the Screen Rant article sums up Erwin’s story succinctly: “Altogether, it took a month and a half for Erwin to go from being an unrepresented screenwriter to selling a major action project to one of the biggest studios in Hollywood.”
Final note: The manager who discovered Erwin is Adam Kolbrenner at Madhouse Entertainment. Tom Benedek interviewed Adam in a Screenwriting Master Class course called Network Hollywood. Here are excerpts from that class including Adam:
Tom is leading another session of that class featuring interviews with 6 more industry insiders. One great feature of the course is participants get to do a live-chat with each of the Hollywood players. Talk about access! For more information, go here.