HOW OLD IS TOO OLD? - Complications Ensue
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Monday, January 16, 2006

Q. I'm a 37-year-old successful software engineer.But that was always my fallback. I always really wanted to go into the movies. One day I'd like to sell a spec script with an eye to getting assignments. Am I barking up the wrong tree?
Well, your age isn't going to help any. Showbiz is a business for the young, and development execs don't often like to hire writers who remember pop songs from before they were born, unless they're veterans who've made their bones.

There are two ways to get on the list for assignments. One is to make a Big Kickass Spec Sale. Sell a script for half a mil, and you are suddenly on the list.

The other is to work your way slowly into the biz, impressing development execs with your craft and your "takes" on projects they give you to look at. Eventually you hit a point where all the guys on the list are not available, and they hire you.

You can waste a lot of time trying the second route. A lot of time. But it's possible. Unfortunately if you're working as a software engineer, realistically, you're going to have to make the big spec sale, because you can't do all the meetings.

It will help if the big spec sale is something that plays off who you are now, e.g. if you're a 37-year-old woman, then something like Thelma and Louise (supposedly a "first script," but hah) will leverage your skillz better than an action hero vehicle. So when you think up your specs, make sure you have a killer hook which makes the most of who you are.
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4 Comments:

since there isn't a requirement to put age on submitted screenplays, and hopefully your agent doesn't have a big mouth, it really doesn't matter how old you are. If they love your writing and story they aren't going to change their minds in the meeting room... but just incase, invest in a case of grecian formula (on sale at Costco)

By Blogger The Moviequill, at 9:33 AM  

As a working Hollywood actor as well as a produced writer, I agree with Alex. The Industry skews and worships youth however a great script is a great script. An outstanding Spec Script with you and it positioned smartly by a capable agent is your best bet.

By Blogger Paul Parducci, at 12:57 PM  

Or write a killer of a novel, where your age and experience will work for you rather than against you; your fresh voice backed with your whole life's punching power.

Don't be put off by the way the publishing industry shoves young and beautiful authors to the fore... they'll be gone within the year. Just look at the shelves. The stayers are the ones with the mileage and stamina.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 7:17 PM  

Hey! Couldn't an old guy hire a front, like that Woody Allen movie!
Collaborate with some young good-looking actor with charisma and teach him how to pitch a spec. Then he could wear a wire in the writing room and develop a weird habit of talking to himself aloud and introduce the writer as his grandfather to whom he owes a favor because he raised him since his parents died in a car crash thats why the old guy hangs around the studio bringing him pizza and coffe and stuff but actually is coaching him.
...
It's worth the effort, after all there are millions to be made here and your only competition is idiots. How smart can age bigots be,anyway?.

By Blogger max, at 5:22 AM  

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