Becoming an overnight success.

November 20th, 2010 by Ron

The Script Blogger

Becoming an overnight success.

All successful writers were unknown once, but few went from obscurity to fame with one script.

Normally their overnight success was the result of years of writing; hundreds of rejections and several well written scripts before their lucky break and that was probably because of somebody in their network of contacts.

Building a track record in the industry takes time.

Time to get known as someone who can write, as a writer who can deliver, even if your first attempts were rejected and as someone who is prepared to put the time in to perfect the craft, so you have to be prepared to work at being a writer.

Low budget scripts and small time production assignments are one way to establish a track record. And in most cases, a track record is necessary.

Often a producer, even with low budget work will ask for changes in the script, how you respond and how quickly are part of giving confidence to a producer and investors.

Can you deliver under pressure?  Are you willing to take on board criticism, can you adapt to meet somebody else’s requirements.

One good script written at your leisure doesn’t prove that. It just shows you got lucky with an idea and know how to present it. It doesn’t show you can re-write it on demand, that you are willing and able to accommodate a producer’s requirement or that you are somebody who others can work with.

The chance of an outright sale of any screenplay today is zilch, particularly if it requires a big budget to produce the film.

The money involved these days is huge and as with any investment in any business the investors want to know everything about what they are buying and who they are buying it from.

A track record in the lower leagues helps to give them confidence, and more so if people have made a return on your earlier work.

I’m not saying a new writer should not write big budget scripts but they should be part of a portfolio which includes lower budget work.

My first two scripts would cost mega bucks to produce, my second two were really low budget concepts and it was the second two that brought me my first assignments and first option.

They help me get my foot on the ladder.

Now I have scripts optioned with budgets of $3mil, $15mil and $45mil and I still write assignments for budgets below $500K and budgets above $50mil. Recently I was offered my first adaptation and received an option on a script before I wrote it, just from the pitch.

Proving it is not what you know, but who knows you and knows of your work.

It has taken me five years to build a network of contacts and a reputation within the lower rungs of an industry which has almost impregnable walls and will probably take a further indefinable length of time before I reach the goals I have set myself.

One aspect of being a writer that you don’t know when you begin is how difficult it is to be a successful one and then how difficult it is to become a published one or as a screenplay writer, a scriptwriter with a produced screenplay.

Most of us start out with visions of becoming an overnight success and that is always possible, but it can take years before the night in question appears on the calendar.

The important thing is if you are not writing, not marketing your work and not networking you will never become an overnight success.

Anyone came become an overnight success if they are awake on the night in question.

2 responses to “Becoming an overnight success.”

  1. Wayne Joseph says:

    If I ever make it as an ‘overnight success’, that would be something. Still I’m writing to get my script finished. I hope to complete it by Christmas. Just have to see what happens in 2011.

  2. Nathan says:

    Very nice write up. I am still fairly young, but after nearly ten years, of writing scripts, producing shorts, and writing more scripts, failure is the only constant, even if there are minimal gains along the way. The feedback gets more positive, a few agents want to read the script, but never sign me. But, I will keep writing until I am up long enough on that special night that I become an overnight success…. or don’t