Advice for 2010 Grads Coming to LA; 15 things

The Bitter Script Reader posted some advice about how to survive to move to LA.  I tried to comment over there and it won’t let me, but this is what I said.

1) Get settled so that you’re as comfortable as possible — living out of boxes makes everything seem transient. Have roommates or whatever, but make sure that you’ve got a space, however small, that is yours. Spend some time driving around the city and getting to know places. Find the studios. (Have a car!)

2) I really love Glendale, it’s safe and cheapish. Frogtown is super cheap. North Hollywood is becoming a lot safer, the parts closer to the 134 are totally fine for a single girl to live in.

2) I would say you probably need at least 7k in the bank before coming out here and at least two finished scripts and some outlines for more. Basically, you need enough money that you can go several months without making much money at all and enough written that if you’re too discombobulated to write, you’ve got something to work with. I applied for internships and jobs for 6 months before I moved out and it still took me 3 months to land a part time paid gig, though I did have an internship lined up.

3) Apply to every job you can find, do things for free, take an internship in the industry if you can afford it and then work at whatever you can in the rest of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s an industry job, making contacts of all sorts is important, life experience, all that jazz. I’m not super social and I don’t like to drink, but working on other people’s projects is a great way to meet people and learn useful skills.

4) Find something else you can do in the industry besides writing. Can you edit? Can you gaff? Find a way to make yourself useful. Pursue every avenue. Learn to script supe, that’s easy and low impact.  Find something you like to do that isn’t writing.

5) A lot of people would say find a writing group. I personally am not in one, but I have a large group of friends who I can get advice from. Writing groups are pretty useful if you don’t have that.

6) Apply selectively to contests, but do apply. I’ve definitely gotten contacts from agents and managers and earned some street cred by placing in contests people had heard of.

7) Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, and craigslist are your new friends. I personally don’t really like the UTA job list, but it’s out there too.

8) Figure out a way to make your commute worthwhile. A voice recorder is great if you can think outloud for writing purposes. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

9) Do things that have nothing to do with film because people who only talk about film are boring. Read books, magazines, go do stuff that’s got seriously zero to do with film and then you’ll have something interesting to talk about. The reason Hollywood loves young blood is because they have experience outside of the Hollywood system and they haven’t quite yet been turned into normal LA people who can only talk about themselves and movies.

10) Write genre scripts that can be produced cheaply if you’re really out to make a sell.

11) Don’t ever be a douchebag. Don’t have a temper. If you talk shit online, don’t use names.  (Unless revealing scam artists!)

12) Conversely, if you’re working for free, you have the right to be treated well and to learn something from the experience. Don’t be afraid of anyone. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, just don’t be aggressive. Along these lines, know how much you should be getting paid, even if you’re not being paid that. This is useful info.

13) Be on the look out for scams. Not all competitions are worthwhile. Not all agents are legit. If someone asks you for money upfront to be your agent, that guy is a scam artist. (google Eddie Kritzer)

14) If you’re a lady writer with a girly name, I’d recommend using your initials. That sounds terrible, but there’s genuine gender bias out here and I’m super lucky that all the other Ashleys out here are guys. This is especially true if you’re replying to internet ad, because internet people are super creepy.

15) Give yourself deadlines so that you’re not constantly second guessing yourself and make sure they’re reasonable. I, for example, haven’t always been totally sure LA is the place for me, but I’m only allowed to seriously think about moving during the month of August. So I don’t dwell on it in general.

(I never had a problem with the tap water, don’t know what people are talking about)

Weekend Recap: Nominate me for Awards!

I am still sick, I have been sick for so so long.  I mean, I’m 87% better.  Which is to say I’m not totally exhausted but I’m still coughing and my nose is still icky.  I finished my course of antibiotics, so I’m guessing there’s nothing to do now but hope.

My posting is probably going to be erratic at best starting Tuesday — I’m going to be in South Carolina for a week.  I’m hoping to start getting some feelers for raising money there.

I was on set all weekend, shooting two different things.  I was script supervising the pilot for Alice and the Monster, which is from the same creative team as Gold: The Series, and then I “starred” in a makeover shoot from which I got a super cute dress that I wore to my company’s holiday party.  So, huzzah.

Also, you can nominate Gold: The Series and/or my editing of Gold for the Streamys.  They’re pushing for Gold to get Best Comedy and Best Ensemble.  Under individuals, you can nominate me for Best Editing, and you can nominate the super awesome Frederick Snyder for Best Director.  The site address is www.goldtheseries.com

That’s all for now!

PitchQ: Highest rated of November; A winner is me

So, I guess I won this contest of the highest rated pitch of November on Pitch Q.  They didn’t alert me or anything, nor did I know I had comments, I just happened to go to the page and see my face all huge and pink on the front.  So… yay for me!

http://www.pitchq.com/?pitch/&4490

I also got a note that I cannot decipher.  I’ll assume it was useless.

3 weeks to Christmas

I wanted to have my rewrite of Bible Con and first draft of Dyke for a Day done by Thanksgiving.  I also wanted to have a business plan for the former ready for my trip to SC at Christmas.  You know, so I could sort of test the waters for raising the money there.  So new deadline, Dec. 22.  Except I’m working days, nights and weekends.

It would help if my health wasn’t undermining my energy and I was less easily distracted by QI, which is my new favorite thing in the universe.

In other news, I got my feedback from ScriptSavvy, and for the most part the notes are very good.  If you really want decent notes on your script, I would send off to them long before I did to Zoetrope or any other script contest.  My only complaint is that the notes have a tendency to talk down to the writer, as though they aren’t terribly bright and don’t know anything about screenwriting.  I’m sure this comes from an attempt to guess what you can assume the author knows.  They don’t appear to have a terribly high opinion.

I got a 48, which is about 5 points off an honorable mention score, and 7 off a win.  I guess that means a strong rewrite could be a winner.  One thing I really don’t like about the Nicholl is the complete lack of notes, even for the people who advance.  That’s true of many contests, but it’s definitely a flaw in the Nicholl and a strength of ScriptSavvy.

Go to 47:55 of this YouTube video to be incredibly impressed by Senator Parker of NY.

ScriptSavvy: Delay

I submitted my script to ScriptSavvy way way back in October.  Like October 2nd.  It didn’t really occur to me that it could be 2 months before I heard anything from this monthly contest.  But they say worst case scenario, you find out by the last day of the month after you submit (Nov 30) and you should get your feedback/analysis before that.  Which meant that today I should have already have gotten my feedback and would hear the results.

Dear Ashley,

We had hoped that we could announce contest results on time in spite of the holiday, but it looks like Thanksgiving has put us a bit behind.

Those of you who ordered feedback or analysis will be receiving it in the next couple of days.

Results will be announced on the website before midnight on Wednesday December 2nd.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the delay. We are working very hard to make the announcement as soon as possible.
Sincerely,
Donna White, Coordinator
www.ScriptSavvy.net

No real worries, but dern.  You know?  It’s fine, it’s a two day delay.  But still.  It’s not like they didn’t know Thanksgiving was going to happen.

Nicholl: Anyone heard of Script Funnel?

The ScriptFunnel team would like to congratulate you on your Nichols Fellowship achievement. You are undoubtedly being contacted by managers and development execs alike and we wish you all the best during this exciting time.

We’d also like to ask for a small moment of your time so we may introduce you to our service. ScriptFunnel’s mission is to bridge the gap between entertainment professionals and writers like you. What does this mean? Look, we know that your achievements have garnered you and your project some attention, and let’s face it, you deserve it! That being said, wouldn’t it be great to reach an even wider audience of agents, managers and execs? ScriptFunnel is home to over 800 working industry professionals who listen to what we have to say about the material that is funneled (aka vetted) through out site.

Working with ScriptFunnel is a no-lose situation. You join our writer community, submit your film or television script, and we vet it through our coverage services (you receive back two pieces of coverage from two different Industry Analysts). If your project receives a “consider” grade or higher (averaged between the two pieces of coverage) we alert our professional contacts and they can immediately request your material. Furthermore, if your script receives a “consider” or higher grade, we will refund the cost of submitting your script. ScriptFunnel isn’t here to make money off of coverage services…that’s just our vetting process. The reality is, ScriptFunnel is a budding eManagement company whose services are two fold – working with you to develop your script, and getting your script in front of the eyeballs that matter.

I’m going to do their logline competition because it’s free.  But to submit your script is 125 dollars.  Way, way more than it cost to submit to the Nicholl…

Nicholl: Google, it’s a manager not spam!

This one went to my Spam Inbox.  Oops!  Good thing I watch that thing like a crazy person hawk.

So, I like the e-mails that ask for more information about me, because that implies more real interest.  I don’t understand why they want me to make a special pdf of 20 pages when they could just read the first 20 pages.  But whatevs.

9th: Congratulations on being selected as a Nicholl Semi-finalist!

I’d be delighted for the opportunity to consider your work for representation.  Have a look at my company website, ***, and if you like, I ask you submit the following:

First 20 pages of your Nicholl script, in .pdf  (because if after reading 20, I’m begging you to send me the rest, I may be the manager for you).
A short bio.
A list of your other completed scripts (titles, genres and loglines).

I look forward to your response, and wish you a long, productive, prosperous screenwriting career!

Nicholl: OMFG! please SEND via email! thx!

4th:
Congrats on your achievement in the Nicholl Fellowship Competition!

Formerly a producer with *** and lit manager with ***, I now run my own mgmt/prod co. Currently, I have client specs with *** and others attached/packaging them. Representing writers from every top contest, I discovered former Nicholl’s quaterfinalist *** and set his project *** up at ***.

I would love to learn more about you. Has your material already been exposed to the industry? Please also let me know if your repped or looking? I’d love to hear about your fellowship script…as well as the loglines to any others you have.

I sent my logline, as well as the loglines for other things I have.  I explained that I’d sent out the script to a couple managers, agents and productions.

Hey Ashley,

Good to hear from you and congrats again. Wow — how did those other people get the list so early? It just came out today. Would love to see the script. Can you send me a pdf.

5th:
First, I would like to say huge congrats on your Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist placement!

My name is ***. I am a producer:*** I own a new production company by the name of ***. I was mentored by ***, who produced *** and *** among other films. I am simply seeking out great, well-executed scripts to option/purchase, attach elements to (directors and actors) and set up at the studios.

My company recently received the Nicholl semi-finalist contact list as we do every year and we would love to take a look at a logline or short description of your script. If it is something that is up our alley, we will request the script and read it for our consideration.

About *** Prods:
*** Prods has several projects in development and pre-production and one film in post-production, ***: ***. Three of our projects were discovered through The Nicholl Fellowships. *** and *** are attached to star in our quirky comedy, Academy Award-winning director of *** and the *** franchise, *** is directing our biopic based on the life of ***, *** is attached to play the lead in our horror/thriller and three other projects we are producing with *** at *** Films.

We are looking forward to taking a look! Please send loglines or short descriptions in the body of the e-mail; no attachments please.

I sent my logline

OMFG!
please SEND via email!
thx!

6th:
Congrats on placing in the Semifinals! We’d love to read your script. Our company has found a lot of clients in the Nicholls and we’ve helped them achieve great success.

If you’re not familiar with us, please go to our website (***) and check us out. You’ll find our submission form attached so please feel free to reply with a PDF.

Congratulations again and look forward to hearing from you.

7th:
Hi Ashley,

I’m sure you’re getting bombarded with email, so I hope this finds you well. I’m with ***, a writer-driven company based at *** Pictures.

We’ve heard great things about your script ‘Bible Con’ and would love to read it – we’re always interested in finding new material to produce and discovering new voices to work with.

Who knows if they heard anything at all, but it’s a classy touch to put my name and the script’s name in there.

I’ve also gotten an e-mail that I have yet to respond to because I can’t find any reputable info on the company and their contract makes me nervous.  Has anyone heard anything on Abbot Management?

8th:
Hey Ashley F. Miller,

Congratulations on being a Semifinalist in 2009 Nicholl Fellowships.  As you know, this is quite an accomplishment.

My name is Tim Lambert and I am writing from Abbot Management, a Literary Management company.

It is our hope that if you do not already have representation that you will send us ‘Bible Con or another one of your scripts via our submission form. www.abbotmanagement.com/screenplaysubmission.php.

We offer traditional representation and are also launching our “Buyers Login” which is further discussed on our website.

We never charge a writer a penny unless we are 100% directly responsible for the sale and welcome all of our writers to pursue alternate routes of selling their material. We also share our coverage with the screenwriter free of cost regardless of our decision.

If you decide to submit, please let me know so I can skip the queue and move your material directly into the needing coverage basket.

Nicholl: Another Apology for the False Congrats

Hi Ashley,

As many of you already are well aware, we sent two e-mails to you this morning. The first was a regret e-mail telling you that you did not advance to the Nicholl finals. Sadly, that was the correct e-mail.

We’re not sure why our e-mail data base system decided to add your group of semifinalists to the group of ten finalists to whom we were sending the congratulations again e-mail. We can only apologize for the error and ask your forgiveness for the confusion.

All of the Nicholl finalists received phone calls yesterday alerting them of their status. If you only received an e-mail from us, that means that you did not advance to the Nicholl finals.

After the Nicholl finalist press release is distributed early next week, we’ll begin distributing the contact lists for Nicholl quarterfinalists and semifinalists. Those will be sent to agents, managers, producers and executives who request them. We hold off on distributing the finalist list for another week or so, which means that those folks only have your information and not that of the finalists during this period. Typically, a number of phone calls or e-mails will be received by the Nicholl semifinalists.

Best of luck with your writing. Again, we apologize heartily for the confusion engendered by the congratulatory e-mail.

Best wishes,

Greg Beal
Director
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting