John August is taking some heat on his blog for a rather frivolous post about how to write a script. People are getting all bent out of shape that he didn’t help out a ‘noob’ with the ‘basics’ (even though he has two sites and a podcast dedicated to that). Anyway, if this so-called screenwriter won’t come down from his ivory tower long enough to help out, then I’ll just have to pick up the slack. My credentials? I’ve been reviewed Scriptshadow! Can John August boast the same? I think not.

Here’s the incendiary message in full. I’ll break it down line by line:

Dear John August,
or whomever will read this,

That’s me. Hello.

I have a few questions, I have come up with a great idea for a movie and I am wondering how to get the idea out there.

Congratulations on your great idea. Getting it out there isn’t as easy. The right person (in Hollywood) has to hear about it. They also need to have lots of money, lots of power, like you as a person and be in a good mood when the hear it. So, persistence is absolutely the key. And being super cool.

I want to write a script for the movie. I can vision it so perfectly in my mind. How much do I need to type up? 

All of it. Do not write less than 90 pages or more than 110 pages. This is important. Some poor bastard has to read it at the end of a long day, so try for under 100.

How can I get it copyrighted?

You can do it online at the Library of Congress or the WGA. But don’t worry too much about this. Just by writing it, you’re the author, so it’s yours. No one will steal it.

Where do I go from there?

You have two choices, either rewrite your first script, or start your second script.

My idea is to send it straight to the movie companies but is that the best choice? I need some info on it.

You mean like the Majors? Unfortunately, they won’t be available as they are very busy. They won’t read your script for a number of reasons. Firstly, it opens them up to getting sued if they make a film even remotely like yours. Secondly, there’s just too much material out there. They use agents, producers and actors as a kind of filter for what’s good – before it gets to the Studios, someone, somewhere has thought highly of that project. Thirdly, they have a very large pool of established professionals that they can draw upon for projects. A better scenario is to use what contacts you have in the entertainment industry and ask them to read your script. If they like it, they might in turn pass it on to someone they know who can help you, and so on. Lastly, you can submit it blindly to a couple of management/production companies. This is like farting in the wind, but you never know, if it’s strong enough, someone might smell it.

If something could be set up how long would it take and how fast would this screenplay/script need to be written.

What, you haven’t written the script yet? This is all backwards. You have to write the script first, otherwise no one will be able to judge if the story is strong enough to invest millions of dollars in making it. You can’t just show up with a piece of paper. I wish you could, I have at least 175 great ideas for movies. But ideas are easy, what people love and what studios pay big bucks for is the execution of that idea.

If you are lucky enough for something to be set up, be patient. It will likely take about three years before the movie is released.

As for how fast a script needs to be written, it varies. For spec scripts, expect to have your first draft done in about 8 weeks, then give it as long as it takes to do the rewrite. Heck, spend a year and make it perfect. You’ll learn a ton. If you’re a professional who’s writing on assignment, I think you get less time, like six weeks for a first draft. I can’t remember. Check John August site for the exact info– oh wait, scratch that.

I am looking forward to a response.

You’re welcome. And hey, don’t be discouraged. Writing a script is a lot of work, it’s a thousand decisions and a hundred problems that all have to be solved, but it’s the most creatively rewarding and satisfying thing there is. Good luck with it.

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