Film Jobs to Screenwriting Tips
Talking Over a Cup of Coffee
David Freeman offers sound screenwriting tips on the business of film and working in film as a writer. He's delved into writing episodes for the Internet, which is another avenue for writers.
David and I have that in common because I was hired to write outlines, treatments, and scripts for an episodic Internet series.
David and I chatted over a cup of coffee discussing what screenwriting is and I asked him about screenwriting in general.
Development of a Script
Kenna: Do you believe that there are very few great scripts just waiting to be purchased by a production company? If so, how does one find a great script?
David: Every Development Executive in Hollywood would like to know how to find great scripts. I've found a few from my students and helped them sell their work. One guy got $200,000, with $200,000 more coming if and when the script gets produced. I'm working very actively with one of my students right now. I've got his script out all over town. Keep your fingers crossed.
Kenna: How did you know the $200,000 script was great?
David: I've got a mental checklist of about 40 things that contribute to a great script. Few scripts, including my own, are close to having all 40. But when a script starts having about 20 of them, it starts looking pretty good. They're not mysterious elements – you know, like natural sounding dialogue, unexpected plot twists, etc.
Kenna: That's interesting. How often do you write and what is a typical day like for you?
David: I have no typical day. I just sold a TV series to an Internet network so I'm writing the "webisodes" for that. An important manager/producer in town has me busy doing script notes on his next cable movie. I'm outlining my next feature spec. And I'm always adding new techniques to "Beyond Structure." This year I've had a lot of requests for script consulting as well. Of all these activities, my favorite is writing. But, I think I like the variety.
I've got a mental checklist of about 40 things that contribute to a great script. Few scripts, including my own, are close to having all 40. But when a script starts having about 20 of them, it starts looking pretty good.
Kenna: You are busy. What is your schedule like? Do you work early in the morning? Late at night?
David: I'm more alert at night, and seem to do my best work then. I wish I were a morning person.
Kenna: You write for all media, which one do you prefer?
David: Features and the Internet.
Kenna: Do you think it is wise for a screenwriter to branch off into other fields of writing?
David: I'm having a great time with the Internet stuff. I can do things that are way off the map for traditional media.
Pitching a Script
Kenna: What is your batting average on pitching scripts?
David: The projects I set up at Columbia Pictures, Castle Rock, Paramount, Allies Stars (at Sony Pictures), Atlas Entertainment, David Kirschner Productions, and many other places were sold off pitches. I'm very comfortable in a pitch room, and I teach pitching on a somewhat regular basis. Writers have to realize that pitching has less to do with writing than it does to perform. I try and teach them how to make that transition.
Kenna: I am sure acting classes help. How has your education influenced your writing career?
David: I studied cultural anthropology at U.C. Berkeley and even spent a year living in Africa. I think it all helped me hone my observational skills. For instance, the questions you've chosen to ask me...it says a lot about you.
Kenna: The coffee helps, too.
Writers have to realize that pitching has less to do with writing than it does to perform. I try and teach them how to make that transition.
Sitting down and having a cup of coffee with David was an accelerating experience because his creative energy hyped me up. I went home and wrote several articles and a short story.
In all, I look forward to attending one of his classes because I learned so much from David just by sitting down and having a cup of coffee with him.
© 2007 Kenna McHugh