In a fiendishly clever move to promote his imminent Blue Cat screenwriting workshops in London, Hollywood script guru Gordy Hoffman has been contributing guest-posts to the UK's finest screenwriting blogs. Luckily, he's also decided to write one for mine.
As with his other posts, Gordy invited me to ask him a question to kick-start his article. Here it is:
Even in this age of super-fast global communication, it's true to say that UK screenwriters often feel quite isolated from the Hollywood system. What, in your view, are the best ways for them to go about invading Hollywood with their spec masterpieces?
And here are Gordy's thoughts...
This is a question I get often, and it comes from writers all over the world. I guess everyone feels like they are isolated from the Hollywood system, simply because they don’t live in Los Angeles. Trust me, many writers right here in Hollywood feel quite isolated, thank you very much. So if the writer in London is isolated, and the writer in New York feels the same way, along with the one in Phoenix, what about the one in Studio City? Where does this feeling of isolation come from? Isn’t this a perception? There are writers being discovered who do not live in Los Angeles all the time. It can’t be a problem with geography. It must be something else.
We have a choice in our professional attitudes. We can characterize ourselves as being isolated because we live thousands of miles away from the Hollywood sign. Or we can believe we can get our material in front of any person in the world. It’s correct you’re not going to bump into many industry people at your local coffee shop if you don’t live in LA. That’s a fact. But what does that do for the people here? They have access, by sheer proximity. Does that ensure success? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.
The answer to your question is in your question. You need a masterpiece. Um, well, maybe not a masterpiece. But you need something that everyone who lives on your street thinks is wonderful. Right? Why would you think it would be any other way? Why do writers focus on how to break into the Hollywood system, how to land an agent or manager, etc., while they continue to get notes and comments from their fellow writers encouraging them to rewrite their work?
The wall of isolation is in the quality of your work. It’s not a very sexy answer. But it’s true. The barrier is the story’s problems. This is the path of invasion. Opening your ears to the issues of your screenplay and continuing to work, wherever you sleep.
If you do have something that everyone loves in your home town, send emails out to the agencies and managers of writers you’d admire, and see if anyone, even the intern, will read it. If you can get the person who runs the copier to read your script, and they become a fan, this is a great thing. As they will be promoted. And promoted. Any connections you do make have value. Don’t worry if it’s not the principal of the company reading your work.
But more importantly, keep the focus on improving your screenplay and making it better. If you do finally write a gem, trust me, it will find it’s way out of the woods, be it Cardiff or Encino.
Thanks Gordy - and please forgive me for illustrating this post with a Chuck Norris poster. Any excuse, and I'll grab it with both hands.
It's hopefully not too late to bag a seat at one of the man's forthcoming Blue Cat workshops. The one-day Ten Page Workshop sessions run on August 12, 13 and 14, while the Art Of Screenwriting two-dayer shakes the capital on August 16 and 17.
THE BLUECAT SCREENWRITING WORKSHOPS
LONDON - August 12-17, 2008
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street, Bloomsbury
London WC1E 7HX
SEE ALL DETAILS HERE.