When you’re new to the game and super eager to get a film project going, it is easy to get excited about meeting industry pros and hope they can jumpstart your career. In my situation, I had written a romantic comedy with a dance theme. And I wanted to get the screenplay read.
I immediately hooked up with an unscrupulous producer, which is a different story for another time. And through this “Producer” (I use the term lightly), I was introduced to an editor who had aspirations of being a director. He convinced me he’d be perfect for directing the movie. But first, he wanted to discuss some ideas.
How Not To Get Your Screenplay Read
He said he was going to tighten up a couple of areas in the story. And I was ready to do that. We set up some meetings. And it didn’t take too long to realize he wanted to rewrite the entire thing. Not only that, but once he started making changes, he immediately wanted writing credit. I didn’t just get my screenplay read. I effectively lost my entire story.
You would think this would teach me a lesson. But after I shifted away from the dance screenplay, I started developing a horror script, which eventually was made into my film “The Attic.” Keep in mind I was still new to the business and very forgiving. So when my director “friend” offered to read my horror script, I let him. And once again, he wanted to discuss some ideas… Which turned into him writing his ideas into the script.
When it came time for the film to get made, he demanded a shared credit. And I felt suckered. I should have worked out a formal screenwriting agreement before we got too far into it. And maybe I could have worked to delete his ideas from the script. But over months of development, I was also adding my own ideas, and it got to the point where I didn’t know which contributions were his and which contributions were mine.
These days I wouldn’t let this kind of stuff happen. I’ve now written 30+ screenplays and have optioned, sold, or made into films 24 of those screenplays. And this editor? He never got another writing credit, and he never directed (as far as I can tell from IMDB). If you’re serious about screenwriting, make sure to take a minute to evaluate fast-talking producers who promise to get your screenplay read. And if you’re really serious, make sure to grab this screenwriting video training.