Mostly Development People Don't Steal IdeasComplications Ensue
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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Q. Several times have I sent short excerpt writing samples to (below-the-radar) microstudios that asked for them in Internet classified ads. Not once have I even gotten a "hello" in response. I have a sneaking suspicion that these sorts of cattle calls are to bring in fresh material to "inspire" the writer on the other end rather than bring in new writers, but I really have no idea. In the big leagues I imagine that practice is quite common, but at this (purported) level I don't see much benefit in ripping off the other little guy, though I suppose it is possible that these are A-list screenwriters running a sort of scam. What do you think?
I’d be surprised if that were true. Most writers get their inspiration from watching movies and TV, or their own lives, or occasionally from reading scripts that have won awards. Speaking personally, I don’t want to read someone else’s version of a story. I want to come up with my version of the story. That’s the fun of being a writer.

Most people don’t hear back. Unless a studio likes some material and wants to bring the writer in, they’re not going to write back. The exception would be if someone is really good and the reader likes their work but their boss went another way, they miiiiight send an encouraging note. But that’s rare.

That said, I have no idea what these “microstudios” are or why they’re asking for writing samples in “internet classified ads.” Do any readers know anything about this? Legit development people generally ask agents for material to read, not the internet. A development person would rather read material that at least one person (the agent) has already decided is worth reading; and the agent protects the writer, too, because there's now a third party that knows that the development person has read the writer's work.

On the other hand, it certainly is true that at the studios there is a habit of bringing in a lot of writers to offer their “take,” and then going with the guy with the reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ideas some of the lesser-known writers offer do manage to make it into the eventual script. That’s just part of the deal you accept as a writer. Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that people pay for, mostly.


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