We asked Elliot to tell us all about the Write and Sell the Hot Script screenwriting class, and more besides…
Elliot Grove has worked intensively with writers at Raindance since 1992. He explains the tricks of the trade from practical experience and reveals some of the latest paradigms through lecture, exercises and video clips.
On the weekend of Saturday/Sunday December 10/11, 2016, Elliot will be in London presenting his acclaimed couse: Write and Sell the HOT Script. Elliot founded the Raindance Film Festival a quarter century ago. In honour of the film festival’s 25th year Raindance offer this amazing weekend course at 25% off.
Talent? That’s the ability you start off with, that tells you whether or not you want to pursue a living as a writer. You can learn to make your scripts more dynamic, and how to write stories that appeal to people in different countries. My starting point is to teach the ground rules and the preparation you need before you write a word – so that when you come to the sketch, or the scene, you give yourself a chance to squeeze the maximum out of it.
What do I get for parting with all that cash?
Hopefully an intensive weekend that focuses you on how best to continue towards your long-term goal of becoming a paid writer. The bare bones of the weekend are as follows:
On Saturday we start with the creative process of writing, and I will try to summarise all of the prevailing (and often confusing!) theories of writing into one day. My goal on Saturday is to give you a workable plan to get that idea out of your head onto a piece of paper. I am a great believer in systems – and the great artists of our culture, be they musicians, painters or writers – all devise systems that allow them to approach a creative process.
Does your system work?
If you’ve been trying to write and publish your script or story and haven’t been successful does it mean that your ideas are wrong? Or could it mean that your story training is wrong. There are lots of questionable ‘script teachers ‘out there.
I have been in the fortunate position where I have met and worked with a great number of talented writers, directors and filmmakers – who have flattered me with praise for my ‘system’.
What happens on the Sunday?
On Saturday we devise a doable plan to create the script. On Sunday we devise a straight-forward plan of how to market and sell your script. To my knowledge, no other screenwriting course does this!
Do you talk about writing Hollywood movies?
Do you mean writing for Hollywood? Or selling to Hollywood? For these are two very different topics. My main approach is to write an enticing story, then decide where and how to compose a strategy for selling it.
Read any good books about how to write screenplays?
If you really want to find out how to write brilliant scripts, I suggest you read brilliant scripts. You can get the scripts from just about any screenplay at imsdb.com
The gap between where you are now and where you want to be may seem enormous at this stage. But many have done it before you and many will after. You can be any age, and once you find your voice, things can happen very quickly! My approach to teaching is to give you the foundations on which to build your career.
Six Frequently Asked Questions…
We also asked Elliot to answer some FAQs – and you may be surprised by what he says…
1. How do I get an agent?
You become a working writer first. There are very few agents who take writers, and they tend to expect you to be working before they take you on. Having an agent is useful when you’re a working writer, but at this stage it’s not crucial to your success.
2. How do I stop someone ripping off my idea?
You can’t, and you don’t. If you’re good enough, something you said or wrote will be ripped off at some stage. It’s happened to me several times and I’ve wasted far too much energy getting bitter and twisted about it. The best advice I can give you comes from stand-up Mark Thomas, who was performing a ‘white geezer trying to be black’ character in his act for years before Ali G came along. “The fact is”, he said, “Sacha Baron Cohen took that character and turned it into something so much more successful than I could have managed.” Accept it, and move on.
3. How do I format a script?
Producers desperately want to pick up your script and more than anything else, they want it to draw them into a compelling story. If it does that they’ll forgive you any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, incorrect spacing of margins, wrong point-sized fonts or ink smudges. If you’re dyslexic, as many top writers and performers are, you may want a sympathetic friend to cast an eye over your work before you send it off. To make sure you have the right format, check this out by getting my script formatting guide.
4. Isn’t it nearly impossible to get funding for a film these days?
No. The common complaint producers have is “Where are the decent scripts!” Getting the money is never the problem. Trouble too, is that writer’s seldom understand the mechanics of the film industry.
5. How do I get my script to a producer?
Easy. You email it to them. Or stick it in the post.
Getting them to read it, that’s trickier. If you are an unproduced writer, expect your script to languish at the bottom of a huge stack of dusty screenplays, perhaps forever.
The trick is getting the producer to ask for your script. It’s a marketing exercise that I talk about on the second day of my script class
6. Can I really make any money as a screenwriter?
Nobody gets paid for writing screenplays. You only get paid when you sell a screenplay. Build up your inventory of scripts. Expand your network of producing contacts and expand your circle of influence.
Elliot’s last word…
It can be done, but don’t expect your first script to be the one to do it for you. To use a well-worn cliché, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Get the basics in place, and you should make slow but steady progress.