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screenplays. Shane Black sold ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ for 4-million. Joe
Eszterhas sold a treatment called ‘One Night Stand’ for 4-million. 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 back in their
place. The numbers went way down. The potential for screenwriting brought a
flood of screenwriters into the industry.
For Alan, he has an entourage (e.g. lawyer, manager, agent, etc.) to keep his business on
track. As a member of the Writer’s Guild, his rates are proportionately larger than most
freelancers “60 to 70 thousand for an absolute minimum. As you work, your pay
incrementally climbs. If you work with independents, you have to adjust because money is
an issue.” He is quick to point out that even with an agent he must relationally connect as
a freelancer:
Your agent is incredibly valuable because they create the relationships. They know
who’s out there looking for a writer who’s looking for open writing assignments.
They’ll connect me with the executives with various companies. It’s up to me to
connect with the executives and build on that idea. That’s where today it’s
becoming such a headache. This year has been brutal. You come to them with
an idea and what they want is a ‘take.’ A ‘take’ is where they give you a one-liner or
a paragraph and you build a pitch out of it –on spec.
On spec, means that the writer is not getting paid and Alan explains, “A lot of times you’ll
come up with a take. But then maybe they’ll need pages. It’s like can you give me a couple
of pages so I can give it to my boss? Then you’ll do that. Then you still might not get paid
and you’re putting a lot of time into it.”
Alan was the recent recipient of a lucrative bidding war for his latest script, “Man and Wife,”
with proposed director Akiva Goldsman who wrote “A Beautiful Mind ”and “Cinderella Man”
and discusses the bidding process:
“You take a script to a number of buyers. What you hope is that Sony will be
interested and they’ll offer X amount of dollars. Another studio will also want the
script and basically you get into a bidding war. Well they offered $300,000 and
what are you going to offer? We’ll go for 350. Guess what they’re going for 350.
What are you going to do? What you hope for is escalation.”
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