Thursday, March 22, 2012

Working in the Screenwriter Fast Lane

-Written by Kelly Anelons

If the internet is a superhighway, then social media is that weird HOV lane. I used to drive alongside that luxuriously wide lane with its own toll booth and wonder, "How do I get over there? And where will it take me?" One night, many, many tweets ago, a good friend of mine, who is a best-selling author and a social media sorceress, coaxed me into turning my quirky emails into a blog about my screenwriting adventures. I hired a website designer, who asked me a simple yet career-changing question, "Do you want coordinated Facebook and Twitter pages for the blog?" I hit my indicator, happily honked my horn and swerved into the virtual HOV lane. It was luxurious. It did move faster, but where did I want it to take me?

The next goal on my business plan was to find a Next Level Person, that mythical being who would help me to prepare my scripts for the Hollywood mosh pit. If you don't yet have a business plan, make one today. I wasn't sure how social media would help me achieve that goal. Like any lost driver, I simply followed another car that seemed to know where it was going. The 3 AM Screenwriter (@justinwhedges) was a great example of how to navigate Twitter. From him and the venerable @jeannevb, I quickly learned the rules of the road and made a few of my own:

On Twitter:
1. I choose a few new voices in my TL that I really enjoy and introduce them properly on #FollowFriday.

2. I always use good manners, especially when discussing people I hope to work with someday.

3. #followback is for lazy Sunday drivers and I can't stand Sunday drivers!

4. I never confuse effusive tweeting with entertaining tweeting.

On Facebook:
1. I protect my FB friends with all the levels of security that The Zuck allows me.

2. I am a very picky friend...see On Twitter #3.

A very busy producer told me that, after a long day, it's tough to read one more script from yet another unknown writer, but it's a piece of cake to Google the writer's name. If he likes what he sees, he'll crack the pages. I've set strict rules for everything I write online in order to keep my online identity consistent whether on my own blog, Twitter, Facebook, the 3 AM Screenwriter, or SMWriters. For the savvy screenwriter, social media is more than a toy or a way to create buzz; it's a virtual portfolio that's accessible to every producer, studio, director and actor you could ever dream of reaching.

Kelly Anelons is an American screenwriter and social media whiz, whose recent project "Master's Key" took fifth place in Final Draft’s 2010 International Screenwriting Competition and was named to the “Top 25 Comedies” in the 2010 PAGE Awards. You can find her on Twitter HERE

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Social Media Takes the Stage

Despite how quiet our site has been the past year, Rachel Langer and I have been hustling at our own careers, using every social media platform you can imagine... and some new ones unexplored.

I urge you to check out Stage 32, an amazing platform for everyone in the film community, from makeup artists to editors. Follow them on Twitter too: @stage32online.

Speaking of Twitter, the tried and true blue bird still needs exploring. 

Today, Debbie Ohi @inkyelbows tweeted out a link to her amazing post The Writer's Guide to Twitter


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh Crap...

"She thinks we know what we're doing." Those words flashed through our heads when Jeanne asked us to guest post for SM Writers. True story. We kind of panicked. But, given that we're used to dealing with frightening situations, we said, "sure!"

Taking the Plunge

A little over a year ago, we had zero social media presence. Google Joke and Biagio and there was nothing. Zippo. As much as the term "social media" scared us, living as producers, writers, and directors without registering on Google was even more horrific. We jumped on Twitter, started our blog, and got a Facebook page.

No Idea What to do Next

We were still scared. Would we say something dumb? Would social media take all of our time? It all seemed like more trouble than it was worth. So we created these rules for ourselves and have tried to stick to them ever since:

                Have fun
                Tell the truth
                Never be afraid to "unplug" for a few weeks

Those three rules keep us sane. They take the pressure off trying to be too perfect or feeling obligated to "Tweet this" or "Facebook that." We still have no idea what we're doing, but following the above has lead to five "social media victories" even while we're stumbling our way through it all.

1. We Hired Nate Orloff

Crossed paths with Nate on Twitter. He was tweeting up a storm about Final Cut Pro, the editing software we use. We took a shot and asked him if he wanted to interview for a job. He's now our lead assistant editor, working on our projects like Dying to do Letterman, and even performing in this commercial we wrote and directed for the VH1 Scream Queens iPhone app (he's wearing glasses.)

2. Paris Hilton Tweeted About Our Movie

The tweet that crashed our sites was probably the turning point in public awareness for Dying to do Letterman. You can still see the original tweet here.

3. Actor Michael Rooker Works With Us

We bonded with Michael over Twitter, after he appeared on Scream Queens, and are now working with him on a scripted project you'll be hearing more about soon. Eventually, Michael's tweets will play a major role in the project.

4. We've Made Amazing Friends "In Real Life"

Since we've been "social media-ing" many of our new cyber-friends have visited our offices, including Julie Keck and Jessica King, Justin Hedges, Dan Gaud, Travis Legge, Amanda Lin Costa, Paul Barrett, and Casey McKinnon, just to name a few. All people we would have never known otherwise...and all people we may end up working with some day.

5. You're Reading Our Post Right Now!

Yes, super-pimp Jeanne has done it again...turned the spotlight on someone you might not have known about otherwise. Of course, she wouldn't have discovered us if we hadn't taken the leap.

We Still Don't Know What We're Doing...
...but boy are we having fun!

Connect with Joke and Biagio
Since they're no longer afraid of social media, you can find Joke and Biagio on Twitter, at their Facebook Page, over at the Joke and Biagio blog, at their Youtube Channel, hanging at the Dying to do Letterman Facebook Fan Page, or their brand new Vimeo Page.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We're Out of Excuses by Justin W. Hedges

Bio:  Justin W. Hedges is a husband, father, grandfather, blogger, and screenwriter from Queen Creek, Arizona with every excuse in the book for not being successful:  no time to write, doesn’t live in LA, knew absolutely no one in the film community when he got started, wasn’t a 20-something up-and-comer, etc.  Despite these circumstances, Justin has two options under his belt, a large network of film community contacts, and even more on the horizon in 2011.
“If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another.” – Yiddish Proverb
I am the king of Excuses, Procrastination, and Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda.  Let’s call them the Three Kingdoms of Failure.
That pretty much sums up the first thirty-six years of my life or so.  I’d done just fine up until that point (good job, good wife, good kids, etc.) in a general sense, but accomplished very little in regards to the one career dream that had stuck with me for all that time:  to write.  Hopefully, I can help you break out of the same funk that I was in and realize that WE’RE OUT OF EXCUSES.
I can nip two of the Three Kingdoms in the bud in this one paragraph.  Procrastination?  Don’t.  It’s as simple as that.  Don’t.  Today’s working writers have one thing in common:  they make time to write everyday.  Make the time.  Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda?  Don’t.  Focusing on what you should, could, or would have done in the past serves no purpose.  Time machines don’t exist.  Deciding now, today, what you’re going to do now and in the future to achieve your writing dreams, THAT is going to accomplish something.
Excuses?  We all have them, in abundance.  Here are just a few of mine.
I’m about to turn thirty-nine years old, and “Hollywood is a young person’s game,” or so they say.  DEBUNKED:  I’ve optioned two screenplays in the past year, with excellent prospects for continued success in 2011.  Sam Rami tapped a seventy-year-old unproduced screenwriter to write his uber-successful Spider Man franchise.
Husband, father, grandfather, day job, when am I supposed to find time to write?  DEBUNKED:  I accomplish all the above AND I write every day, whether it’s getting up at 3 a.m. (as I do most days) or even if it’s just fifteen minutes in my car before work.  It’s something.  If your dream is a true passion, you’ll find the time.
I don’t know where to start.  DEBUNKED:  You start with Page One and move forward from there.  Not sure how to do that?  There are literally hundreds of books on writing everything from freelance magazine articles to novels to TV, film, and stage plays.  THEN start at Page One.
Finally, I didn’t know anyone in the filmmaking business, Hollywood, or live in LA.  DEBUNKED:  say it with me… ‘Social Media.’  The optioning of my two screenplays were opportunities created using technology and social media, without stepping one foot in LA.
I use Twitter and Facebook to network online, and what I’ve found is that the filmmaking community online is fun, friendly, and most importantly HELPFUL.
Joining the online social network at the Independent Feature Project – Phoenix led me to Inktip, a site that facilitates connections between screenwriters and producers anywhere in the world.  This led me to a Tom Malloy of Trickcandle Productions, who optioned my first screenplay, The Brickhouse.
Two key notes on this first success.  One, I have yet to meet Tom Malloy face-to-face.  Social media, not living in LA, led me to this connection.  All documents we exchanged, from the various versions of the script we went through right down to the option agreement, was via email and online fax.
The Takeaway from this:  technology and social media leveled the playing field.  I could have lived in Australia or Timbuktu, and it wouldn’t have mattered, not with the way it happened and how we made it work.
I don’t want it to sound too easy, though.  Like any success, you’re going to have to work at it.  My second option is the TRUE lesson in social media for writing success.  This is how it happened (condensed version):
I joined the Business of Show Institute’s Mentoring Program.  This is an awesome and powerful program for inexperienced screenwriters to learn the business side of screenwriting, by the way.  I asked Marvin Acuna, BOSI’s top dog, who I should be networking with on Twitter as far as other program members.  He suggested three names, including Karen Quah.
Following Karen and her blog, Modern Day Storyteller, led me to-
Julie Keck and Jessica King, the awesome screenwriting duo behind Tilt, a small budget thriller they were writing for Phil Holbrook to direct (and THAT connection was also made through social media BTW).  I donated to their Tilt crowd-funding campaign and earned myself a fake bio in Tilt the Town, an awesome little fake Brainerd, MN Google map with fake bios and locations from the movie AND from those backers who donated at the writer level, including myself and-
Tilt the Town ‘mayor’ Paul Barrett, a film producer from the east coast.  Let’s connect the dots here:  Marvin Acuna in LA to Karen Quah in I-Don’t-Know-Where to Julie and Jessica in Chicago, IL to Phil Holbrook in Brainerd, MN to me in Queen Creek, AZ and finally Paul Barrett in North Carolina.  All connected via social media.
Paul Barrett and I took the fun aspect of Tilt the Town and ran with it, igniting a ‘war’ between us over GARDEN GNOMES of all things and whether they should be ‘allowed’ in town.  This little fake war of words led to a friendship and Paul requesting to read some of my work.  He loved the script I sent, Brutal Planet, and decided he wanted to option it and market it to his contacts in the film community who produce these kinds of high-budget movies.
The Takeaway:  uh, duh, Social Media not only levels the playing field, it shrinks the entire damn planet down to the size of your computer screen.  The connections that led to my second option LITERALLY span the continental US from coast to coast, and I didn’t have to leave the house to do it.
I’ve had other social media successes, too, like building relationships with Joke and Biagio, the producing team behind VH1’s Scream Queens and the coming Dying To Do Letterman documentary, and filmmaker Angelo Bell, writer/director/producer of Resurrection of Serious Rogers.  These relationships have led to mutually expressed desires to work together and active pursuits of projects to accomplish that.
Bottom line, we’re out of excuses.  Too old, no time, don’t know how, don’t live in the right place, they’re ALL gone.  No more excuses, people.  It’s the 21st century and the sky is the limit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twitter Cheat Sheet for Writers by Robert Lee Brewer

If you're new to Twitter, it can be difficult to grasp all the lingo and etiquette.  Robert Lee Brewer, a gifted poet, father, husband and editor at Writer's Digest, wrote a post offering Twitter advice to share with the Writer's Digest Community and generously allowed us to link it here.

Twitter Cheat Sheet for Writers

Robert has mastered the Twitter world, often leading chats ranging from how to get published to the intricacies of writing poetry.

Check out his blog, My Name is Not Bob, and show your support for his tips.

Thanks, Robert!

Friday, October 15, 2010

No Room for Selfishness in Networking

Today, I wrote a post for my blog entitled Succeed by Giving.  

The message: You'll get much farther in life by giving than taking.... offline as well as online.

Read the full post here.  

Now go forth and GIVE! 


Sunday, September 5, 2010

How Social Media Saved My Life (and other wild claims) by Jonathan Peace

NOTE: this article assumes a small understanding of how these things work to save me (and word space) having to explain them. If you don't understand the social media forms mentioned, take time to find out. They could save YOUR life!

When that bastard with the cigar and the magic dust hadn't come to sprinkle it over my latest creative exercise there were only two things to do. However, I'd already drunk all the Stella Artois in the house so I did the other instead. I turned on the Internet, and what captured my attention weren't cute videos of kittens licking mirrors, hot lesbians licking other hot lesbians or even moronic skateboard surfers crushing their nuts on stepped railings.

What saved my life was a blue bird.

I call him Maurice, but you all know him better as simply Twitter and let me tell you that without his pre-Avatar blueness shining through every day for the last year I would have either: A) Gone stir crazy B) Become a Drunk C) Become a stir crazy Drunk or worse still D) Given up on my dream of being a screenwriter.

Every day I could jump on to Hootsuite (not a novelty sofa but a sort of command and control centre for Twitter streams) and throw the shit with fellow writers. Some were rookies like me, some had a little experience and some were fucking famous.

Lesson #1: Everyone was a rookie at some point. This was apparent almost immediately by the sharing of stories. The similarity to my own circumstance was dazzling: a decision made to go for it, the ridicule of others who don't understand the burning need to write stories. The highs of finishing a draft, the lows of rejection. The mistakes made and the lessons learnt. All of these stories were swopped by new and old alike with no ego, no arrogance. Just a willingness to 'pass it on'.

Lesson #2: Writers seem to be a very generous, open bunch of crazy people. I found the perfect community in #scriptchat. Said bunch of generous, open crazy people all pushing each other to achieve a common goal: a produced script or two. No ego, no competition, no “better not tell them that in case they rip me off” paranoia. I've read peoples scripts, they've read mine and never once have I worried that they might stab me in the back.

And why? Because that's not what Twitter is about. At least not with the folks I met. And I've met a load. My current Follower count is nearing 800, while I follow nearly 200 screenwriters, film producers, studios and various writers guilds. Each one has given me some great advice, and I hope I've given something back too whether it be advice, a friendly 'ear' or just plain entertainment. It's a social site after all. Not just about the work.

But it is this spirit of openness and support that has opened many a door for me. I got my first paid writing assignment thanks to the network of friends all under Maurice's giant wing span. I had help in writing my query letters which got me requests to read my scripts every time I sent one out. I learnt the importance of being WGA registered and now “Deadline” has that little number (#1455873 in case you wondered).

But it has taken time and that is an important lesson to realise as soon as possible. Even before your first Tweet is launched from the nest. You can't – you mustn't – expect to start generating a great network overnight. You have to engage. Be more than just a random voice. The best advice I can give: be yourself. Don't Tweet what you hope people want. Don't self censor. People pick up quickly if you're being fake. If you curse, so fucking what? You're not shooting anyone or selling crack. Welcome to the real world folks. People occasionally swear. It doesn't make them a bad person, it also doesn't mean their work might be tainted. If you're a producer looking for scripts and are put off by vibrant language then obviously my work is not for you. Great! Saved some postage there.

My Twitter birthday was 16 August 2009. I am now 1 in Twitter years, and doing pretty well. I've made some good friends. I found my soulmate through Twitter, a woman who shares my dreams, both creative and personal. I got a paid writing gig. I got Tom Cruise following me (Ok, he also follows another 23'000+ people but it's Tom fucking Cruise!). I have been asked to write two online articles. Only yesterday I got an email from a major film studio asking if my scripts were suitable for low budget independent film. Things are starting to happen for my screenwriting career thanks in no small part to that little blue bird.

I call him Maurice, but I think he might be God.


HOW SOCIAL MEDIA SAVED MY LIFE (and other wild claims)