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You Have To Adapt
“You have to be tactical. You have to adapt. As the industry changes, you have to learn
how to change with it. A lot of times somebody says, ‘nobody wants to buy Westerns or
don’t write a Western.’ That’s exactly the time to write a Western when nobody else is
doing it it’s time to do that, is the advice of Alan McElroy.
Alan recently wrote a script, “to get myself out of the funk of writing takes, pitches and
pages. It is a throwback to the period of heroism. There are distinct bad guys and in the
end the hero wins. It’s pure escapist fun reminiscent of the movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’
It is something where I probably needed to lift my own spirit. As a writer in general, you
have to be writing for yourself. When you start writing to suit the industry, it’s the tail
wagging the dog. You’re chasing mist and it’s too easy to do. One of the reasons I’m glad
I don’t live in L.A. is that everybody is talking about the latest development deal or specs for
sale.”
The 80’s Changed The Level of Competition
The level of competition has substantially increased for freelance. In the late 80’s,
screenwriters became very powerful. Joe Eszterhas, another Clevelander, was pulling in
millions Alan notes, “there was a backlash because studios did not like the idea of
screenwriters having that much power. So they stopped buying everything and put
screenwriters in their place. The numbers went way down. The potential for screenwriting
brought a flood of screenwriters into the industry.”
Packaging a NASCAR Project: Pitching Michael Mann
“This Friday I have a pitch with Michael Mann (‘Hancock,’ ‘The Aviator,’ ‘Collateral,’ Miami
Vice,’ and ‘Public Enemies’) on a project. This is a project about NASCAR. We’re trying to
lure a director into the project because if you package a director with an actor it is more
likely to get put into development when you pitch a studio,” notes McElroy. “’Man and
Wife’ is a rarity. You cannot walk in with a naked project nowadays. You have to package
in all of these elements to get it off the group. You want an actor involved, a director and
it’s really becoming the only way you can hook in a studio.”
Pitching As Performance: Take An Acting Class
Scriptwriters are the ultimate freelancers. Even if you’re on staff, you’re always assuming it
can end tomorrow. A lot of people think writers or creative types are in a privileged position
given that you don’t have to sit with the same co-workers day-in and day-out. Alan
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