This is the story of how a troubled, wannabe punk rocker from Seattle became a professional screenwriter. (Warning: epically long thread to follow.)
I always loved movies. I was a kid who lived through the stories in my head. Gangster pictures. Westerns. Disney flicks about ghost pirates or goofy scientists. My mother would drop me at the revival house with enough money for a ticket and popcorn. Movies were my safe space.
When I was 16, a kid in typing class was drawing storyboards. He made Super 8 zombie films in his backyard, complete with exploding oatmeal brains. He wanted to be a director. I realized you could dream of a career telling stories. From that point forward, I never had a Plan B.
This morning I’m starting a new TV pitch. In order to procrastinate - and get my head right - I thought I’d do a quick thread about TV pitches. My stats are: pro screenwriter for 20 years, pitches sold to NBC, Fox, ABC and FX. One season in a network writer’s room.
Everything that follows are my opinions. Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, telling stories in a room is one of my strengths. We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, opinion one is the most obvious... A pitch is telling a story. Period.
Blowing away the room with a fantastic performance does NOT guarantee a sale. You are at the mercy of what the buyer thinks they need, and what they have already bought, but all things being equal, think of a pitch like early Israelites thought of the Bible...
Since it’s Sunday morning, maybe it’s appropriate to talk about something that’s been on my mind... Recent polls show that for the first time in modern history, less than fifty percent of Americans report belonging to a house of worship.
While roughly two-thirds of Americans still identify as Christian, the fastest growing religious group in America is unaffiliated. There are a lot of people on Twitter who probably believe this is a good thing, but honest people should take time to consider what that will mean.
Start with the fact that data shows religiously observant people are happier and healthier than those who are not. I am not attempting to proselytize and social scientists suggest a number of reasons for this, but this is what the data shows.
Okay, I was inspired to create this thread by two things: recent Twitter conversations with aspiring Native filmmakers on how to tell their own stories, and a series of great threads by @tonytost about how to break into the screenwriting business. Here goes...
I’m specifically giving advice on how I think Native filmmakers can get to a position to tell their own stories, on their own terms. Be advised that I am neither the Boss of the Movie Business or Native. These are just my opinions as I try to be helpful.
Also, I believe this may apply to anyone trying to get into a position to control their own narratives. Black. Latinx. Female. LGBTQ. Working class whites... This is about how to tell the stories you want, how you want, without unreasonable compromise.