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The War on the Consultant III: Confessions of a Script Consultant

(If you haven’t had the chance to catch up, check out  Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, I had just admitted that I too, dabbled in script consulting.

NOOOOOO! I know! I was young… I needed the money… Don’t worry, i got out. Cleaned up. Got tested. All is good.

If you’re thinking: “Wait! Did he just compare consulting to prostitution?” Why, yes. Yes I did. If you subscribe to Mazin’s camp, then that’s all a consultant is. Someone that’ll fuck for cash. A soulless entity only after one thing: Dollaz. More specifically: Your dollaz.

Is that the reality? Well… it depends. I know. Tough, isn’t it?

I’m not being difficult, it’s just that the answer isn’t an easy one. Some people out there truly are con-artists. Bent on taking advantage of naive writers, clueless about a system they are desperately trying to be a part of.

On the other hand, some consultants have a vast wealth of experience to offer you. Experience that you might not get anywhere else. Experience that comes from years of working in the industry in various roles. Experience that, when printed out on a resume, blows your level of expereince away.

Yet at the same time, I just proved that what LOOKS good on paper, isn’t always what IS in real life. Know what I mean?

So why did I do it?

At first it was simply because I had a lot of people asking me if I would consult. Later it became about trying to help people NOT make the mistakes that drove me crazy in my day job.

I thought that, if I could get writers to stop doing the dumb shit they were doing, maybe we could churn out better material.

And, to put it frankly, my time is valuble. When I sit down with someone and go over their script, it’s time consuming. I never just said “good job” or “maybe you need more of this.” I spent hours on each case. Reading, making notes and then talking to the writer for 1-2 hours going over all of the notes I made.

That makes for a long day when you spend all day reading scripts only to go home and read even more scripts? AND to try and write your own in there as well? Yeah. No thank you. So I charged people.

But I felt really bad about it. I felt dirty.

For one reason and one reason only. Why should anyone listen to me? I’ve never sold a script. If you subscribe what Craig and John are telling you, than you SHOULDN’T listen to me because what do I know? I haven’t sold a script. That makes me a con-man. A gigalo. Banging for cash.

Are they wrong? Well, no… they’re right. I haven’t sold a script. But does that mean I’m an idiot who doesn’t know anything? No. I mean I have a masters degree. In screenwriting! Oh wait, but I already explained…it’s a useless degree! Shit!

ARE YOU CONFUSED YET?

You are? Good. That’s the point. I did all of this, not to be a hypocrite, but to show you the complexity of the argument.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER?! WHO’S RIGHT?

And that’s the fucking problem with the entire ordeal. If you’re looking for an answer than you’re the fucktard in all of this. Because there isn’t one.

John and Craig went to good schools. Got a good ed-u-ma-cation. Used that degree to find jobs within Hollywood. Made contacts. Climbed ladders. Worked their craft. Spent years networking. Tweeking. Learning. Busting their ass. Eventually, they found success and made it to the top.

You know, like millions of people do every day at THEIR jobs.

Yet, for some reason, novice writers think all they have to do is say the correct phrase to the right person and they can get the keys to the executive bathroom. Poof. Just like that.

But that’s not how shit works. Yet there are hundreds of thousands fucktarded writers out there that think it’s just that easy. It’s not.

More importantly, there are hundreds of thousands fucktarded writers that did NOT choose writing and Hollywood as their “profession.” They’re doctors. Accountants. Teachers. Artists. Office workers. Whatever. Tired of their lives, they know FOR SURE that they have a great idea for a movie. All they have to do is write it down and tell someone. Then they can end their miserable lives and enter the the Garden of Eden that is Hollywood.

Fame. Fortune. Titties and ass everywhere! These await you behind the great Hollywood gate. All they need is the secret password. Spoiler alert, there isn’t one.

But here’s the part of the equation that many fail to see. Those fucktarded writers out there, the ones who didn’t choose Hollywood as their “profession,” all have one thing in common… THEY DIDN’T CHOOSE WRITING AND HOLLYWOOD AS THEIR PROFESSION!

And while my $200,000 masters degree is a “useless degree,” it’s still a degree in the field that I have chosen. If you chose another degree, or no degree at all, then you’re hardly knowledgeable in the field you want to be successful in… screenwriting.

So what do you do?

John and Craig have sold scripts and became a part of the elite. So they, according to their own logic, are now capable of acting as consultants… but they’re too busy to consult. Know why? CAUSE THEY’RE WRITING SCRIPTS!

They acheived this by the above stated hard work, not by using consultants. So it’s easy for them to shit on consultants. Label them as Satan’s Spawn cause “we did it without them, you can too.”

Why pay for someone to read your scripts and give you feedback? They didn’t… Or did they?

My combined two degrees ran me about $200,000. And I already told you that I went to a “pointless school in Hollywood.” John went to USC. Craig went to Princeton. Uhhhhh… Imma guess they paid a little more than $200,000 for their education. Soooo… doesn’t that mean that they PAID for their education in screenwriting? (Part of EVERY screenwriting class is reading and giving notes, either by the Professor or your fellow screenwriting noobs a.k.a. students.)

If you didn’t get a degree in screenwriting thus have no knowledge about the craft AND decide to seek out a consultant for their “expert opinion, based on their experience…” then aren’t you essentially paying for an education?

By my math, at quite the discount… unless you’re paying $200,000 for a consult. If you are… STOP! THEY ARE ROBBING YOU!

When I consulted, that’s how I justified it in my mind. All I was doing was “private tutoring in the art of screenwriting.” Hey, I taught screenwriting at a college level so I just translated that in to private lessons. With each person I consulted, I essentially gave them the same level of treatment that I would one of my students. 

Except this time, when I taught, I had all of my experience working in development to throw in.

Let’s take a second to break it down…

These are some of the most common tools that every writer starts with:

Laptop: $1,000 (on average… cost varies)

Copy of Final Draft: $200 (usually found cheaper)

McKee’s Story: $30 (usually skippable)

Save the Cat!: $11 (usually skippable)

Screenwriting Bible: $20 (eh… skippable)

The Hollywood Standard: Complete Formatting Guide: $18 (not skippable in the beginning)

Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great: $16 (not skippable… EVER!)

Script Shark Screenplay Coverage (regular): $149 (if you must)

Average Consultant Fee (Feature Script): $300

Average Screenwriting Contest Fee: $55

Cheapest Pass to Great American Pitchfest: $300 (does not include air or hotel)

TOTAL COST: $2,099

VERSUS…

4 Year Degree at USC: $WAY MORE THAN $2,099!!

When you look at it that way, is it REALLY that bad for fucktards to spend their hard earned money getting an “education” from a consultant?

It is… if it’s a waste of money. What would make it a waste of money you ask? Well, there are good consultants and bad consultants. Just like there are good teachers and bad teachers.

So how can you tell a bad one from a good one?

Stay tuned to part 4 to find out!

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