Is your writing on the money? But there is no money in your pocket to pay for contest fees or pitching time? Do you want to get noticed? Score your first screenwriting credit? Then keep reading.
I’ve been writing for six yearsEntered my screenplays into contests. I even traveled to a pitching festival in Los Angeles. (I live in Holland.) But all of this costs money, money this screenwriter working a partime job, did not always have.
So how was I going to get noticed then? I had to sit down and really think things through. I needed to flip my thinking. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full. A flip-thinker asks:” Where is the tap?”.
I found the tap with these three thoughts of how writers can get by. And it starts by helping others.
1) Walk on Someone Else’s Feet
What if I helped someone who had already set foot in the business?
I could take my first steps by “walking on someone else’s feet”. I went online. First stop? Stage 32. The biz’s beehive, filled with workers and people looking for workers. In the “jobs” section I found an established Canadian author looking for a srcreenwriter. She wanted to have a book of hers made into a screenplay. I thought she might have an agent, so I replied. I had a short talk with her but nothing came of it. No matter.
Next stop? Joseph Gordon Levitt’s website, “Hit and Record”.
I browsed through endless posts until I found one by Arno Michaelis, an ex neo-Nazi skinhead. He was looking for a screenwriter to create a script out of a family story. After some research I found out that Arno had written the book My life after hate. He also co-wrote the book The Gift of our wounds. He had an agent, a blue verification check on Facebook (for being a public figure), had a Ted Talk and had made a video with the “Free Hugs” guy.
Those were just a few of the things I came across.
He was a well known motivational speaker and doo-gooder. So much so that he got a $400 thousand dollars from the Obama administration as part of a grant from the DHS”s Countering Violent Extremism Task Force and had received multiple distinctions and awards. I was impressed. Sadly, but lucky for me, I was the first to respond to his post. Soon enough I was Skyping with him. Our ideas on the project matched and the decision was made. We were going to start our adventure.
So while Arno travels the world promoting love and peace, I am about to finish a sceenplay that is based on Arno’s uncle Bob. And when the screenplay is done, I have a much better chance of getting noticed. Not to mention my first screenwriting credit, money and the chance to see something I created appear on the silver screen. On top of that I made a new friend. Awesome.
2) Get your flashlight out
Secondly I thought “what gets my attention online?”.
Well every time I needed information on how to do things, there was a blogger standing on a runway guiding me in the right direction by shining their light. People like RB Botto, Joleene Moody, CJ. Wally, Stephanie Palmer or Jeanne Veilette Bowerman. Just to name a few of my favorite light bringers.
They turned out blogs, jam packed with everything I wanted to learn. Not to mention the secret screenwriting “karate moves” I had not even thought of learning. When I thought about it. Blogs taught me about half the stuff I knew! So why not give back to the writers universe and get noticed in the process? First, I started a blog on my own website. But when I saw Joleene Moody looking for people to stand on the Stage 32 runway with a light, I jumped at the chance and yelled “I got a flashlight!”. And now here I am on the Stage 32 website with my first blog post. (Enter ecstatic emoji here.)
3) Wax that board
As I was surfing the net looking for ways to get noticed, I realized that there was an option I had been aware off al along, but wasn’t fully utilizing. I did not need to flip-think for this one. The bloggers had told me but I had been missing my karate lessons for a while now. Instead of the “wax on” I had been doing the “slack off”. I needed to get back to it, help others and use it to it’s full potential. What was it?
I was on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. I connected with fellow “surfing buddies” but there wasn’t much movement. The waters I was surfing were too calm, almost stagnant. I found myself asking why I wasn’t out there with binoculars trying to spot great waves to ride? Well that was going to end RIGHT NOW! I dug around in the closet, found my bathing suit and off I went.
I started dipping my toes into LinkedIn again. I had a few connections, but how was that going to do me any good? I set myself the goal of getting at least a hundred connections within that year. Well it was easy as pie, because with every new connection I made LinkedIn was showing me people that “maybe I knew” and wanted to connect with. People even found me! So before long I surpassed my goal. Through these connections and actively reading posts by others, this blog post ended up here. (just saying)
My other favorite surfing spot became Twitter. I started to post more frequently, like tweets and follow interesting people. But it wasn’t generating much. What worked?
1) Respond. People react and start following you when you care about what they are putting out there. It is Twitter Karma. Send out good stuff, cheer people on who are strugling or winning and it will come back to you.
2) Keep up. Stay relevant with what is alive at the moment by looking into hashtag trends.
Just by diving into two of them. The #WGAsolidarityBoost and the #writersforwriters hashtags, I gained a few hundred more “surfing buddies” and a chance to pitch my log lines to some big shots.
Well, there you go. I hope my “flashlight” helps you in some way.