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May 1 at 8:30am

When Do You Submit A Script?

By Ted Hope

We have two approaches:

1) Go for it.  Who knows?
2) You only get one chance, so…
I subscribe to the notion that everyone tries to get something in before anyone else because they are rewarded for it.  You must look at the acquisitions and development departments of film companies through this lens. The job is to suck, but not do a shitty job, just to be a giant hoover swallowing up everything that is remotely in reach.  For these film companies, and the people who work there, it doesn’t matter if they have money or they don’t, they need to get projects in because when they do find gold, the money flows.  But if you are an acquisitions exec and want to have the most scripts within reach, you better make people believe you have money.
Further that subscription to that notion has another evil twin: i.e. the acquisitions or development exec’s job is only at risk when they green light something or someone else does. If they care about their job, they have to stop movies from ever getting made — at least those that not everyone in Hollywood would say had to get made.  This translates into our reality as:  In the first instance it leads their business to actually be about NOT getting something made.  In the latter, it mean after they work hard to NOT make a movie, they have to work even harder to make sure others also DON’T make the same move.
So with those two as the choices, where are we left?
We believe in our project and believe it should get made.  Have we done all we can to compel others to break the vicious cycle of only making safe bets?  That is the goal of the perfect script, the hot director or the bankable stars.  When we know we don’t yet have either of the latter, we are compelled to keep writing.
Hollywood is a very political town.  Once we submit to one place, how do we ever justify not submitting to another?  Sure we can always say we are doing more script work, but that gets tired after awhile.  And sure, anyone can get their hands on a draft by going to the talent agencies, but that is done far less than we’d suspect.  So you start to see why people hold on to scripts for a long time.  Desire is often at it’s highest when it has yet to be consummated.  Or so they say.
And then comes the issue of Hollywood career producers.  Maybe you, the passionate filmmaker,  just want to build your team and make the project more compelling. Should you collaborate with that producer or production company?  Is their goal to make the best movie possible?  Or is their goal to survive in Hollywood and somehow find that next hot project, director, or star?  You may wonder if it matters, but you won’t have to wonder long if something is better for their career than for that film of yours.  When the truck is careening towards your car, and your partner has the wheel, which way will they turn?  In America, you want a partner who will turn the wheel to the right and put themselves between you and that giant-ass truck.   If you look at their credits, do you think they are about the movies or the career?  Which way will they turn.
I get it.  Waiting is hell.  You have your script and you want to move your movie forward.  We have all made gambles and won and it is hard to resist that urge and try it again.  Particularly when you hear stories of somehow somewhere sometime it fucking worked for someone.  Action feels great.  Waiting is hell.  But timing is everything.
Yet once the project is out, it is out, and there is no retrieving it.  So you tell me: is it worth it to scratch that itch?


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