Posts tagged ‘Joe Gazzam’

July 31, 2013

The Un-Rules of Screenwriting: Joe Gazzam’s List

E.B. White wrote that there are “no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion.” With this in mind, we’ve asked working screenwriters to share a list of the “un-rules” that they find most helpful in their writing careers.

Our list of un-rules this week comes from Joe Gazzam (@JOE_GAZZAM), the talented screenwriter/novelist who graced our pages with an interview about what it’s really like to be a screenwriter.

Joe gave us a list of five random rules (more like soft guidelines, he said.) “Let me preface this,” he told us, “by saying that I’m a working writer pounding out mainstream studio films.  If you’re an indie type, if your dream is to write “My Left Foot,” you should probably ignore everything I’m about to say.”

With that in mind, here are Joe’s thoughts:

  1. If you can’t pitch your idea in a sentence, toss it in the garbage. There’s a very good chance the person who has the power to buy your script will never read it.  They will simply ask the exec underneath them (that did read it), “What’s it about?”

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July 30, 2013

What It’s Really Like to Be a Screenwriter: An Interview with Joe Gazzam

Last week I got the opportunity to have a chat with screenwriter Joe Gazzam (@JOE_GAZZAM).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Joe who?” If you look Joe up on IMDb, you won’t find much. He doesn’t have any credits listed, but he has actually been working on paid projects and selling specs within the studio system for the last ten years. A Black List writer, you may not know Joe’s name, but you’ve probably seen his work (he has been a writer on such films as 21 Jump Street and Step Up Revolution).

I was particularly interested to speak to Joe because he knows what this industry is really like — not what it’s like for the Aaron Sorkins and Shane Blacks of the world — but what it is like for 99.9% of screenwriters working in Hollywood.

In our interview,  Joe talks about how he got his break, his daily work routine, writing assignments, independent film financing, and why it’s so important to live in LA.

LA Screenwriter (LA): How did you get your start as a screenwriter?

Joe Gazzam (JG): I was sort of the cliché. After working a bunch of crappy jobs, I had this revelation. I wrote one screenplay, and realized it was the only thing I wanted to do. I was in Atlanta at the time — never been to California, didn’t know anyone — literally just packed everything in the car and headed out. Then I started hanging out with this guy who had a girlfriend who was repped.

Now, the only way you can get an agent for the most part — other than screenwriting contests and what have you — is to basically browbeat someone into forwarding your script along. So my friend and I browbeat her, and she gave my script to her agent, and that’s how I got my first representation.

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