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Why Hollywood Won't Read Your Book

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David Farland shares bad news about trying to get your book made into a movie. It's possible but it's very difficult.
https://mailchi.mp/xmission/david-farlands-writing-tips-why-movie-producers-dont-read
 

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His response was quite disheartening. He said that even the agents will either throw away the book or send it back unopened, for fear of getting caught up in a copyright infringement suit. The same was true of the producers and the studios, though if you write a great letter, they might have a “low-level exec” assigned to read the book in order to give coverage, “coverage” being a simple one-page document that suggest why this would or wouldn’t make a great property.

Sigh. I’m afraid that he’s right. Nobody in Hollywood reads in part because they are afraid of frivolous lawsuits. If you send in a book or screenplay that features an evil clown and the studio makes a movie with an evil clown ten years down the line, the execs are afraid that you will sue.

They’re hit by frivolous lawsuits on a regular basis. In fact here in my home state of Utah, we have the queen of frivolous lawsuits, a woman who claims to have written every major science fiction movie ever. She sues the studios on a regular basis.

What is interesting is this: American copyright law suggests that an idea for a movie or book can’t be stolen. In other words, if you write a boy-meets-girl love story, that idea can’t be copyrighted. Tens of thousands of people a year will write similar stories.

So it is only the “expression” of the idea that can be copyrighted—your exact character, plot, and words. If indeed you rip off someone else’s book, you’re in trouble—unless, of course, you live in Hollywood!

 

 

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Yeah, Hollywood is snake pit.  The only way around it that I've seen is to build an audience beforehand, so that Hollywood is primarily buying your readers rather than your content (e.g., the Martian).

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Posted (edited)

There is a document that you have to sign prior to any exec, agent, studio and sometimes even individuals reading your ideas, script, treatment or other literary material. However, if you write something and it is "pirated" and you sue, better get a lot of money cause you won't get read or sell anything else.  Yes, it is a snake pit of sorts but when you are on the other side of the fence, you can better understand why people won't read your unsolicited material. Even when I pitch I often have to sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) which sort of protects them from being sued if they make something that resembles your idea.  

 

Oh and I forgot to mention that most execs don't like to read period.  Not books nor scripts that's why they have readers. 

Edited by DrRita

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I just have to add that there are hundreds, probably more like thousands of movies adapted from novels.  So they are scouring the literary world for good books because Hollywood is good story poor!  It's just plain sad that they are so scared of bombing at the box office that they don't want to take a chance on anything that is remotely unknown or doesn't have a huge fan base.  Jackass, the Movie . . . I rest my case.

 

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Do it the right way... write your novel as a script yourself - after LOTS of practice - then print to PDF and email it to your agent. Or if you're feeling good, pitch it yourself. Have a treatment ready as well as a "leave behind". If they like your pitch, they'll ask for the treatment. If they like that, they'll ask your agent for your script.

Then after lots of discussion and terminal requests for re-writes... it will get filmed or go into a filing cabinet.

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Oh BTW you can register your treatment at WGA (Writers Guild of America)  too as well as your script. 

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I've always go the impression that to accomplish anything in Hollywood, "you have to know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who etc."  Then, if you're able to get through all that, you find yourself dealing with somebody like Harvey Weinstein.

I don't know how much of that is a myth, but adding that, to what I've been reading, in the posts in this column, I wonder if trying to sell any writing to Hollywood, isn't just be wasting most writers time?"

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1 hour ago, William D'Andrea said:

I've always go the impression that to accomplish anything in Hollywood, "you have to know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who etc."  Then, if you're able to get through all that, you find yourself dealing with somebody like Harvey Weinstein.

I don't know how much of that is a myth, but adding that, to what I've been reading, in the posts in this column, I wonder if trying to sell any writing to Hollywood, isn't just be wasting most writers time?"

 

While I'd like to say it's a myth, Hollywood is a very small town.  Yes, knowing someone or having some sort of connections is extremely important but it has happened that people do get through if your work is good.  The best way to break in if you don't have inside connections is through screenplay competitions and film festival competitions.  If you make it to somewhere near the top with your screenplay (or best seller novel) you will get attention.  But as always the competition is very stiff.  Knowing someone is still no guarantee.  It's just a tough business no matter how you go about it.  

 

And the small town thing goes for working there too.  Everyone pretty much likes to work with people they already know. 

 

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And if for some miracle Hollywood does want your book, buckle up, because you're likely in for a ride.

 

I once discussed the process with a producer. First, in order to shop it around, you'll need to turn your book into a screenplay. This requires a different and specific writing skill.

 

But let's imagine that your screenplay defied the staggering odds and got optioned. The producer(s) will attach a director. This director will likely want his/her own screenwriter(s) to rewrite the screenplay.

 

This is when the real fun starts.

 

Suddenly your thoughtful, witty story morphs into a paint-by-number Hollywood formula. The protagonist that you labored for months, and even years to develop is now a 20-something stereotype to attract the latest acting talent. Oh, and he's now a brooding vampire. 😒

 

And the violence and gratuitous language is ramped up to attract more viewers in the target demographic, and please the investors who are sinking tens of millions of dollars into the project.

 

Then... the project is delayed because the lead actor's schedule is full. So you wait a year or two. Then, because of those delays, the project is suddenly canceled because the director is no longer available. This is actually a good outcome because if the movie was ever made, it would hardly resemble the book. 

 

This is why Tom Clancy once declared that selling your manuscript to Hollywood is like handing your daughter over to a pimp. 

 

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

And if for some miracle Hollywood does want your book, buckle up, because you're likely in for a ride.

 

I once discussed the process with a producer. First, in order to shop it around, you'll need to turn your book into a screenplay. This requires a different and specific writing skill.

 

But let's imagine that your screenplay defied the staggering odds and got optioned. The producer(s) will attach a director. This director will likely want his/her own screenwriter(s) to rewrite the screenplay.

 

This is when the real fun starts.

 

Suddenly your thoughtful, witty story morphs into a paint-by-number Hollywood formula. The protagonist that you labored for months, and even years to develop is now a 20-something stereotype to attract the latest acting talent. Oh, and he's now a brooding vampire. 😒

 

And the violence and gratuitous language is ramped up to attract more viewers in the target demographic, and please the investors who are sinking tens of millions of dollars into the project.

 

Then... the project is delayed because the lead actor's schedule is full. So you wait a year or two. Then, because of those delays, the project is suddenly canceled because the director is no longer available. This is actually a good outcome because if the movie was ever made, it would hardly resemble the book. 

 

This is why Tom Clancy once declared that selling your manuscript to Hollywood is like handing your daughter over to a pimp. 

 

 

 

LOL!! That's why I like to make my own movies!! Hence FishGate Productions. However, there's one huge problem I face . . . $$$.

 

But I have control! LOL again!

 

Remember the movie Pompeii that came out a couple of years ago.  I know the writers and I read the original script.  If they would have stuck to the original story it would have been a good movie.  Yes, they do terrible things to your script. But you get paid a lot and I guess for some people the money is the main thing. 

 

One of my professors in film school sold a script and it got so mangled he didn't even want his name on it as screenwriter. He took story credit instead.

Edited by DrRita

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I realize this will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I can't understand why so many authors "want" their books made into movies. Is it money? Is it pride?

My favorite book of all time has never been made into a movie, praise God! I, literally, think I would vomit if my perfect mental images of this book--this book I have loved my entire life--were suddenly washed away by some Hollyweird's interpretation. My thinking is, why mess with something that is already perfect? It doesn't make sense. The imagination is much more powerful than a screen.

I recently published a book of my very own, and I've always said I'd run like heck if Hollywood wanted to make a movie of it. Granted, the chances of that ever happening are very, very low, so thankfully I don't have to do any running. Lol!

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56 minutes ago, Ella Rose Carlos said:

I can't understand why so many authors "want" their books made into movies. Is it money? Is it pride?


Affection. These days, so many more people watch movies than read books and I'd want to share a book which meant something to me. (Also, there's then the chance that having seen the movie might make someone go back and read the book, and which case, SCORE!)

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1 hour ago, Ella Rose Carlos said:

I realize this will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I can't understand why so many authors "want" their books made into movies.

Have you ever read a good book, and thought it would make a great movie.  Well, all authors love their books, otherwise, why would they write them.  So I can understand why they'd love to see it on the big screen.  They just don't always realize it will be someone else interpretation of their book.  Rarely is it close to the book itself.  I'm not talking screenplays, but novels.  

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Screenplay writing can be highly remunerative, and a film option on a book is the cherry on top of a well-received piece of work. Film, even short film, is collaborative and even an experienced author is seldom given the opportunity to write a screenplay without a proven track record. And Hollywood is highly unionized.

 

The phrase "development hell" was coined to describe the process.

 

The fact that I know this as an unpublished novelist is a testimony to how pervasive it is.

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This of course is why I recommend every novelist get Final Draft and a couple of seminars, and learn to write screenplays.

It has TREMENDOUS benefits it gives your writing skills - and of course, if you sell a book and it hits the shelves, you get bragging rights.

If you sell a screenplay and it gets released to the screen - you get to write for a living.

Or maybe just sit around  and watch your movie for the rest of your life.

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One of the main reasons novels are rarely the same as the book is because books contain a characters inner thought processes and cannot be translated to screen time. Books are meant to share all of the interior and exterior emotions if the characters which is very difficult to translate into action. A movie is to be watched. Anyway many books would not do well as adaptions to the screen. They would be too boring. 

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1 minute ago, Katherine Johnston said:

Support Indie-movies makers. The world doesn't need more Hollywood,...the world needs an alternative to Hollywood. 

(Jumps up and down waving). That’s me!!!

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