***NOTE: MONDAY REVIEW IS BELOW!***
***NOTE: AMATEUR OFFERINGS POST IS UP – SCROLL DOWN!***

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 5.03.58 PM
Hey guys, wanted to divert your attention to something really cool. My friends over at The Tracking Board just came out with a full 300 page book tracking all the spec scripts from last year. Not only that, but the book goes into which managers sold the most scripts, which agents, which studios bought the most scripts, which genres were the highest sellers. If you want to know what’s selling, who’s repping what, and who’s buying, you need to download this book now. The best part about it is it’s FREE.

Also, for those of you who aren’t yet members of The Tracking Board, they’ve agreed to give a 25% discount to all Scriptshadow readers, bringing the yearly membership down to $59.25. Here, you’ll be able to get all this information in real time, allowing you to track trends, and more importantly, figure out who’s selling and buying what, so you can target your query letters to the agents and producers who make the kinds of movies you write. This is the site I use every day to track the industry. So I highly recommend it. The offer is good through Sunday!

  • Tailmonsterfriend

    Holy crap, thanks Carson! Downloaded the book, and it looks like it’s finally time to sign up for TTB.

    Fiendishly good deal.

    • Nate

      ”This is such a treasure trove of information for numbers geeks like me.”

      Unfortunately for idiots like me it’s hieroglyphics. I can’t make head nor tail of it.

      • Linkthis83

        I think it’s more Dharma Initiative propaganda.

  • Ken

    It’s a cool-looking tome.
    Two of my scripts are in here: THE SHADOWED (Launch Pad competition) and ZERO OUT.

  • Randy Williams

    One word —

    Scrumdidilyumptious!

  • ElectricDreamer

    Thanks for the helpful reading material, Carson.
    Is using The Tracking Board pretty simple?

    • Jaco

      Very simple to use.

      In addition to what Carson lists above – the site also has a supportive community of writers (all levels – from newb to seasoned pro). These past twelve months have been kind of cool watching several of the writers I know over there “break through”.

      The contests they run have proved very successful as well. A lot of the writers who placed in their feature competition have gone on to sign with reps, option their work, and even have deals in place to have their movies made. They’ve just announced to the top 25 of their pilot competition – will be interesting to see if anyone gets traction out of that.

      Does becoming a member over there guaranty success? Absolutely NOT. But, it is certainly worth looking into. It’s a site that’s certainly helped me.

  • tobban

    So much fantastic information ! Great book. It reads like a who’s who in Hollywood.
    Amazing numbers and graphs. The top agent had FIVE scripts set up !
    No more need for books like: ” a guide to agents and managers” – all the current and relevant people are in this book.
    Thanks a million Carson and TTB !
    Great insight to see what genres are selling today. The drama is not dead yet, thank goodness.
    Time to join The Tracking Board, they have made an art form out of tracking scripts.
    (xx) Impressive !!!!

  • kenglo

    All that being said, just browsing the first few pages, maybe we should
    have that review mentioned in your newsletter for Thursday –
    REMINISCENCE ??? 1.75M sale. I wanna see what a 1.75 M sale reads like!!

    Thanks for the book, add to my collection of things to read while I’m floundering at writing a story days!

    • walker

      I found Reminiscence to be very derivative and disappointing. I think that the sale price was more to do with its lineage than its lines.

      • kenglo

        Oh wow, really? Hmmm…..I’m looking at it now. What do you mean lineage? (without googling Lisa Joy)

        • ElectricDreamer

          Lisa Joy = Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law. Married to Jonathan.

          • walker

            In addition to her marital achievements, she is with UTA and has been a staff writer on two successful television series. Although Reminiscence is accurately called a spec sale, I think most of us could sell something with those kinds of connections. Bottom line, that script may have sold if it was by an unknown, but not for 1.75m.

          • kenglo

            LOL…..wow….pays to be connected huh? LOL

          • walker

            It is funny, but it is also very frustrating to know that there are only about 120 spec deals a year in HW and a significant amount of them are like this. Well-connected or even well-known writers with top agents and previous credits. I have definitely read superior scripts that went nowhere while inferior work is sold. I am sorry to say this mitigates against the old saw that if you write a great script it will get noticed. I know writers want to believe it–hey I want to believe it– but I am increasingly skeptical.

          • kenglo

            ur makin’ me depressed dude….STOP IT!!

          • walker

            sorry kenglo I didn’t realize it was contagious

          • Jaco

            This does not at all mitigate against “if you write a great script, it will get noticed.”

            The reason amateur writers are not getting noticed is because they can’t write a great script!

            The first step is writing a great script. That is HARD.

            Second step is getting someone to notice it who wants to champion you and your script? If the script truly is great – that is EASY. Problem is that a lot of writers have a self-inflated idea of how good their script is and can’t objectively see that the reason they are getting passed on time and time again is just because the writing and/or the concept isn’t good enough.

            As far as optioning/selling the script – well, that returns the task to ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

          • walker

            Jaco I agree that the main reason amateurs find it difficult to get noticed is that they seldom have the goods and frequently overestimate their work. But it is not the only reason. Another perhaps secondary or minor reason is that the attention is sucked up by undeserving friends and relatives of successful industry players. This happens. With only 120 spec sales a year it is a shame if any portion of those are for crappy reasons. But my main rejoinder to you would be that Ms. Joy herself did not write a great script.

          • Jaco

            With 120 spec sales – if there’s a crappy reason for the sale – then amateurs and pros alike would have reason to complain.

            I can see why the script sold, independent of who she knows. But, I’ve been in your boat and scratched my head on a sale or two. End of the day, I choose to be happy for the writer’s success. Keeps the bitterness out of my scripts. ;)

          • walker

            And I actually said that several hours ago: “that script may have sold if it was by an unknown, but not for 1.75m.” I really don’t mind Lisa Joy and Skippy Reitman and Frances Ford Coppola all getting careers, I just think it sucks that we are supposed to compete with them–it is certainly not a level playing field– and I think it really sucks when we have to pretend that they are actually good.

          • Malibo Jackk

            It’s been drummed into everybody’s head that if you write a great script, Hollywood will beat a path to you door. And sometimes that happens.
            It becomes a hot property or a writing sample.
            That’s the Cinderella story.

            But my guess is — there are still a number of writers with great scripts driving pumpkins around town.

            I tend to think that a great concept will trump a great script.
            But here’s the thing:
            Even Harold Ramus once commented that studios have a difficult time recognizing a great idea when they hear it.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            I totally agree with this :/
            Right now, I’m nearing the end of the script I’m working on and which the producer will then send off to his investor contacts at Canal+ (a French private TV channel and one of the major movie investors here in France). But knowing that they mainly trust directors they’ve already worked with or who are personal friends, well…
            It definitely pays to have connections but wouldn’t we all rather “get there” on the basis of what we can do ?
            It’s terribly frustrating especially when you read really good scripts that get rejected, knowing also that they don’t stand much of a chance on the international market (I also work as a translator for a French prod co and I still have to hear about a French-written script rejected here but accepted elsewhere).

          • Jaco

            “I think most of us could sell something with those kinds of connections.”

            Now, that is funny. That is, if you truly think that.

            Anyone curious about Ms. Joy and her journey, there’s a nice interview piece on GITS: http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2014/03/interview-lisa-joy.html

            Do connections help? Absolutely. Do they mean 100% success? NO.

          • walker

            Oh come on Jaco. Have you read Reminiscence? Are you telling me that the sale price doesn’t include a substantial connections premium?

          • Jaco

            What I’m telling you is that most of us could not sell something for $1.75 mil with Ms. Joy’s kind of connections.

            Was there a “connections’ premium” as you put it? Fuck if I know. But, my guess is that Thomas Tull and Legendary don’t really play that game. They’re a ruthless company and more than willing to eat their own (see, e.g., Gozilla lawsuit).

            I suppose a true cynic would just see the bidding war that happened over this script by the studios as just a chance for them to throw money at Ms. Joy in hopes of curating favor with her famous brother in law – but I don’t see it that way at all.

          • walker

            I guess I am pretty cynical, because I think that it is a very derivative, slow moving, and hackneyed script, and yet it sold. I did read the puff piece on Get Into The Superficiality and it only hardened my assessment. This is a script about a disaffected private eye who is double-crossed by a femme fatale, set it the future with some very lame and cursory futuristic window-dressing. I mean, private eyes, femme fatales? I guess it can still be done well, but Lisa Joy did not pull it off. I stand by my statement that I have definitely seen superior scripts go nowhere while this one not only sold, but was the biggest spec deal of the year. The sale price is not a reflection of its quality.

          • Jaco

            Fair enough. Just on opposite sides of this one. May not agree with your assessment, but can appreciate where you are coming from.

          • mulesandmud

            If I may…walker, you’re absolutely right that nepotism guides the eyes and hands of the industry, and spec sales are no different. Lisa Joy’s combo of family connections and prior credits will get her read (and seriously considered) just about anywhere.

            However, hate it or not, the script is competently written and commercially minded, so it’s certainly buyable. That the material is derivative is practically mandatory for a big money project (see White House Down). Sale price is almost never a reflection of quality.

            The primary factor in this and most big sales is that the script was taken out by reps who know how to build excitement and choreograph a bidding war. The reason unknowns rarely command such numbers is because they rarely have a seasoned team of professional dealmakers in their corner.

          • walker

            See m&m, that sums up my issue here. You call the script “competently written and commercially minded”. That is pretty faint praise. Unknown writers don’t receive large paydays when their scripts are only competently written. I don’t mind the connection-based reality of HW, that is now and ever the way it is. But I do wonder why some feel compelled to retroactively excuse a script’s faults once a big deal is consummated.

          • mulesandmud

            Can’t speak for the excusers, but let’s also note that nepotism is way more complicated than just “oh, her husband’s famous, we should buy her script”. Whether through personal connections or not, at the time of her sale Lisa Joy had:

            1. Produced credits.
            2. Killer reps.
            3. A rolodex of feedbackers/collaborators whose word is gold.

            So, when Lisa Joy walks into a room and says “I’ve got an idea that will make money,” then yes, studio heads are more likely to believe that person that a random amateur who comes in off the street with a script that is arguably better. Why? Because who says the new guy knows anything. He hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.

            We can debate whether Reminiscence is cliche or subverting cliche all day long, it’s still clear on every page that a grown-up wrote this, and that plus the above is all an exec ever needs to know.

            The film industry ain’t fair, but there is definitely a logic to it. Learn it well, use it well, and win.

          • walker

            Not that it is a worthwhile activity, but if you go through my comments you will see that I never reduced it to her husband. But let me ask you, how did LJ get those three giant leg-ups to begin with? I agree that the industry is not fair, and that doesn’t bother me in the least. I have been dealing with that reality for a few years now. It is what it is. Just like Reminiscence is what it is. What I see is a reflexive desire to overstate the script’s quality to match its sale price. I think it speaks to a reluctance on the part of some writers to face the facts.

          • Matthew Garry

            The sale price is usually related to the budget. The budget for Reminiscence is likely to be high, hence the high price. So it’s not a quality->price relationship, but a budget->percentage one.

          • walker

            Good point Matthew, but first-timers usually don’t see those kinds of paydays, and they usually are not allowed near anything with that kind of a budget.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Got to believe — good looks had something to do with it.

          • walker

            Wow, MJ, I didn’t even go there and yet I am getting killed because I am insisting that the sale price was not totally merit-based.

          • garrett_h

            Lisa Joy’s interview was IMO the best GITS interview ever, with maybe the exception of the screenwriter roundtable. I was literally craving every installment each day. She seems like an awesome person, extremely smart and hard working, and she deserves her success. For anyone to think she got it because she’s married to a Nolan is foolish. And probably a little jealous that Jonathan Nolan didn’t marry them.

    • m_v_s

      It’s a good script but petered out towards the end.

  • Nate

    After reading through the sales in the book, I noticed one or two that have been reviewed on here. One of them (Guest) was actually part of the Twit-Pitch competition in 2012.

  • Linkthis83

    I appreciate your concern, random poster guy who I feel has made comments to me before under a different name other than the one he/she is using today.

    All I can say is: I’m working on it. But the truth is, I’m not sure if I’m going to present it here first. I’m hoping to have a WS entry ready by the end of April as well and I’ve got another idea cooking that would be more apt for SS first anyway. Besides, you don’t want me to share a first, amateur script do you? The belief around here is that those all suck anyway :) Happy writing to you as well.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Kinda had it figured you were writing SS comments with you left hand, while writing scripts with you right. What genre?

      (Am looking up WS in the dictionary.)

      • Linkthis83

        WS = Writer’s Store. For the logline contest.

        My current main project is more of a drama/adventure. That’s what I’ve been categorizing it for now. I think it’s an awesome story. But the trick is going to be telling it effectively. And in my amateur status, I’m hopeful, but not confident. And I’m also sure even if I did pull it off I’d say it could be better.

        The WS entry is going to be more Teen/Dramedy I think. At least the idea I have right now falls under that mostly. I think I hate genre labels.

        I’ve also had a recent horror concept idea that I think could be really marketable. Starting to develop that a little bit as well.

        • walker

          Link, I hope you don’t mind, but I am not worried about you.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m not sure how to interpret that, but I will say thank you anyway :)

          • walker

            I was just poking fun at “Just Saying’s” disingenuous concern. We can’t all be like him, remaining focused on the mission, and hap at it. Sometimes I find it difficult to hap at all.

          • Linkthis83

            Lol. I just wasn’t sure if you were having fun with that comment AND taking a shot at me. I chose to believe you weren’t doing both. And if you were, I was going to be okay with it :)

            Don’t want this reply to be too long. Now that big brother is keeping stats on me. Must get back to the hap.

            Btw, Walker, I’m a fan of the majority of your posts. I look forward to more constructive head-to-heads in the future.

          • walker

            Thanks Link you are a dedicated and positive contributor. I really only come on here when I am blocked, and then I tell myself hey, it’s screenwriting related.
            walker.mjh at gmail

  • Linkthis83

    And if you really are concerned, stay away from AOW this weekend. I’m going to be there when I’m not writing/developing.

    • drifting in space

      I’ll see you there, brother.

  • pale yellow

    I love TB…already a member, but I wonder if they would let me renew for this fantastic amount ;)

  • kenglo

    I just watched SNITCH and man! The movie is completely different from the script. Totally different. They did a lot of rewrites. What’s everyone’s experience with writing something and then when it gets to the big screen it’s totally different. I mean this has different characters, different storyline, everything was different.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      Well, I once made a really crappy sci-fi/thriller from my own screenplay. It wasn’t so much that I changed the script as it was not having enough money, time, or proper pre-production. When the cops descended on us during filming, I had to do reshoots/pickup shoots a month later when I could wrangle some of my actors together (it wasn’t easy, the actor can be a very wily creature). Due to all these factors, I had to rethink stuff in the edit. Not fun, but better than giving up was my motto at the time.

      The script pretty much sucked too. So it was all kind of a bust except for the fact that it was truly fun to make, and I learned some filmmaking skills by the seat of my pants. More what not to do than what to do, but you gotta start somewhere.

      As for any run-ins with professional big time Hollywood production, nope. I haven’t yet managed to scale the walls or set up an unofficial office in the studio janitor’s closet.

      ——————

      “I mean this has different characters, different storyline, everything was different.”

      As a huge fan of the “World War Z” novel, this is exactly how I felt when I saw the movie.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertCornero Robert Cornero

    I got a copy of this book for placing in last year’s Launch Pad competition. It’s got a lot of great info in it. Don’t spend your rent/food money on it, but if you’re in the process of querying, this might be a great resource for you.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Cool.
      I noticed two other familiar scripts:
      Fascination 127 & The Jaguar’s Fang

      • http://twitter.com/RobertCornero Robert Cornero

        Yeah, a handful of scripts generated quite a bit of heat off that contest. A few, but double check me on the numbers, made it to the hit list and eventually were optioned. Another handful or writers got repped off it. My own personal experience is that one of the big four looked at my script, and a large production company did as well. Both ended up passing, but it was encouraging for me as a writer.

        It’s a legit contest in my book, if a bit unknown/under-appreciate – but only because it is so new.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    WOW! A lot of great info there in that pdf. Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be sifting through it all tomorrow afternoon.

    I just have to do one tiny little rant.

    As I was skimming through the loglines, there seemed to be quite a bit of the “movie X” meets “movie Y” kind of thing. I don’t mind that so much, but one even went with “Mad Max” meets “The Road Warrior.”

    Seriously?

    Hey Hollywood, I’ve got a great little spec script called “The Denominator.” It is a bit like “The Terminator” meets “Terminator 2″ and features a murderous AI that hides inside of an experimental calculator/smart phone being used by a scientist employed at Area 51.

    Okay, end rant –

    • lesbiancannibal

      I’d imagine it’s a typo – Mad Max meets The Road.

  • walker

    I really should have checked with you first to see if I am entitled to my opinion. I sort of think when another commenter says “it was a good script but petered out towards the end”, or when you yourself call it “neo noir”, you are making my point for me. It is a hackneyed concept. Are you saying that in the future there will be private eyes and femme fatales when they are already extinct in the present? Do you think the B story about the deceased tycoon and his crazy wife and son was well executed? Or was it tacked-on and unsatisfying? How about the protag’s alcoholic best buddy? Pretty original. And how far would you get with a detective voice-over as the opening? I will tell you straight-up I am not envious, just disappointed. In the script more than the obviously inflated sale price. The price is not Lisa Joy’s fault, that’s great for her. But the script being an uninspired rehashing of film noir clichés is Lisa Joy’s fault.

    • walker

      I should add that it treats its women characters like shit.

  • grendl

    Of course it’s derivative. At least of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and the end smacks of my own from Tall Dark and Handsome.

    A woman goes to see a man, gets put in a tank to experience her memories, and someone unexpected ends up as the surprise reveal in the tank or tube in my stories case.

    If I thought of a woman in a tube, and a three card monty game of guess whose memory this is in 1998, then anything after it has to be seen as derivative. Period. Or maybe its just coincidental derivation.

    http://scriptshadow.net/amateur-offerings-weekend-34/

  • andyjaxfl

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first 300 movie, though I did enjoy enough of it to have a mild interest in the sequel. Holy shit, you are right. What a terrible movie. Sure, Eva Green was pretty interesting, but that might be the most boring movie with swords I’ve ever seen.