Posts tagged ‘writing assignments’

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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January 17, 2012

Writing Assignments Versus Spec Sales

John Buchanan of Script Magazine has written an article about opportunities often overlooked by novice screenwriters: writing assignments. Buchanan quotes Jeff Morris saying, ““The total amount of money paid out for assignment work versus specs is much bigger… That’s where the work is. It dwarfs spec sales by about 1,000 to one, probably.”

Buchanan writes:

When most aspiring screenwriters imagine their successful against-all-odds assault on Hollywood, they think in terms of a big spec sale that changes their lives overnight. But there is also a less glamorous, more realistic way to break into the industry—and that’s a first writing assignment that sets them on a path to becoming a genuine working writer.

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