A Cautionary Tale for Hollywood Writers

Repeat after us:

“We don’t pay to be produced. The producers pay us.”

Again. Again…

Here’s why:

zeroandgene

Screenwriters’ hard lessons of doing business in Hollywood
by John Horn

After toiling for years in a series of unsatisfying jobs, Robert Rossil finally hit on an idea that he believed could turn everything around: He would become a Hollywood screenwriter.

“I had some downfalls. I thought I had to do something big,” said Rossil, 41, of Palmdale, who has delivered flowers, worked as a care-giver and sold homes. “I always wanted to grow up to be rich.”

Having played soccer as a teen, Rossil thought a script about Uruguay’s stunning upset of Brazil in the 1950 World Cup could be his ticket.

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Through a Facebook friend, Rossil stumbled upon a company called Little Studio Films that said it could help people break into show business. He contacted one of its principals, Alexia Melocchi, who he said advised him to find a writing partner and reset the period story into the present day.

Over many months and countless revisions, Rossil whipped “Maracanazo” into a professional-looking,103-page script. But his Hollywood education was only just beginning.

By his accounting, Rossil ended up paying the firm nearly $7,000 to promote “Maracanazo,” borrowing money from a friend and at times sleeping in his car to make ends meet. Nearly three years later, Rossil says he has learned a valuable lesson about how to do business in Hollywood.

“I do believe I have a great story to tell. I believe she believed in the story, but the way she was presenting it was not the way to go,” Rossil said of Melocchi.

Hollywood veterans say Rossil’s experience illustrates the risk of paying anyone in Hollywood upfront fees to get work produced. Professional screenwriters are typically represented by talent agents and managers who get paid only if they sell a script or engage a client for a rewrite of someone else’s screenplay.

“If they’re representing the client, any money that comes to them comes as a commission,” said Richard Walter, an author and co-chair of UCLA’s graduate program in screenwriting. “Never pay anybody to represent you.”

Read it all

“We don’t pay to be produced. The producers pay us.”

Again…!

2 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale for Hollywood Writers

  1. ChilltownTV says:

    Great read. And for me, timely. My blog post this week (it’s going up later today), in part, discusses this.

  2. TVWriter™ says:

    Speaking of that ChilltownTV blog post – we’ll be reprinting it Monday for those who couldn’t get enough of it here: http://chilltowntv.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/adventures-of-a-web-series-newbie-chapter-24-good-news-and-bad-news/

    LB

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