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Entries in The New Yorker Life Coach cartoon (1)


What's A Script Consultant?

Cartoon from The New Yorker Magazine

This information came from a presentation called “How To Get Hollywood To Pay Attention,” by Luke Ryan, producer of films like Red Dawn and Hottub Time Machine, speaking at the 2012 Willamette Writers Conference.

Who Wants What In Hollywood: A Quick Rundown

  • Agents—want to make big money: They represent the script and concept.
  • Managers—want to be producers: They think, “I sell your script, I become producer.”
  • Producers—want to get movies made: They make no money unless the movie is made, even if the writer gets paid.
  • Studio Execs—want not to get fired: They place their bets on whatever worked before.
  • Assistants—want to get promoted to executive: They are your best friends. They have an incentive to read.
  • Lawyers—want to argue: As soon as you get a deal as a writer, they descend upon you.
  • Talent—want to be no less famous than yesterday: Actors and filmmakers.
  • Readers—want to be writers: They do “coverage” on scripts. They are angry “non writers.” You have to take away their reason to say “no” to your script.
  • Writers—want to earn a living writing: Usually you don’t even have to write the script. You just have to prove you can write on the things Hollywood will do anyway. You get about $20,000 to be on a script round table. (He noted Hottub Time Machine had 20 writers.)
  • Script Consultants—They, Ryan says, are usually douchebags who want your money.

Elizabeth Taylor


When you pitch an idea, making people think “I have to read that” is the only goal, and you want to do it using as few words as possible.

A character sets out to achieve a goal but runs into a problem and must do something to overcome certain doom. Two vital pieces:

“but” = complication
“and must” = character growth 

For the certain doom element, find an emotional hook: “or the marriage will fail,” "or the kid dies."

Boil down the pitch line to this: 

“A (character) sets out to (goal), but (obstacle) and must (grow or face certain doom).”

Hollywood Style

Fiction, Ryan says, is more a writer’s indulgence. Hollywood writing is a matter of: Is this something people want to see? And can you rock it out? Write the kind of thing that will make people hire a babysitter for the night.

You only have so many scripts to write. Write things that can change your life. Be in control of your voice. People love voice. 

Write in genre because your audience picks movies that way. And always make the conflict happen to the main character. Don’t coddle the hero. Ever.