I wrote my first few screenplays in college. They sucked. Then I moved back home to Orlando, Florida. Started doing improv, took some acting classes, made a couple short films. Wrote some more screenplays. They were better.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2001 with two solid indie samples. My manager at the time encouraged me to try writing a big studio spec. The resulting script got me my first agent and over thirty general meetings, which led to my first OWA (open writing assignment) for a studio. At the same time, I co-wrote “The Air I Breathe” with director Jieho Lee. It was probably my 15th or 16th feature screenplay, and the first one to get made.

My 23rd script was an original spec called “Five Killers”. Lionsgate bought it, made it, and shortened the title to “Killers“. Since then, I’ve written a half-dozen scripts. Some of them have garnered interest but none have been sold yet.

All in all, I’ve made money off of nine of my screenplays, including options, sales, and OWA’s for a few studios. I’ve made a living as a screenwriter for over ten years. Last year, for the first time, I made money writing for both film and television.

Now, I’m working on a brand new feature screenplay. My 30th.

The point is: there are no shortcuts. Cinderella-stories of writers selling their first script for seven figures is not the rule. It’s a dream sold by magazines and websites that thrive on people believing in the reality of a shortcut to Hollywood success.

There are no shortcuts. There is only hard work. Perseverance. Luck. Craft. Failure. Success. Mistakes. And yes, dreams that come true.

But shortcuts? Don’t count on it.

Now, back to number 30 for me.

9 thoughts on “Shortcuts

  1. Geri Elsasser

    Thank you Bob, for starting this blog. You seem to be one of the more “accessible” Hollywood writers out there. I appreciate this kindness. I will try not to take advantage of your openess by bugging you too much with silly questions. First question: How did you get that first Manager you mention in your bio if you had not sold anything up to that time?

  2. N.G. Davis

    Thanks for sharing. I always like to read about writers’ backgrounds and certainly agree with your sentiment about shortcuts. How many years did it take you to break in? The standard seems to be somewhere from 6-10 years. I know one guy who did it in three, but he’ll be the first to tell you that it was dumb luck and never should have happened.

    1. bobderosa Post author

      Thanks for reading! I had been out here a little over a year when I sold my first pitch. But I had been working my butt off back in Orlando, cranking out lots of scripts, honing my chops. I feel that saved me LOTS of time. But even after I sold that pitch, there were many difficult years to come. It wasn’t really until “Killers” was made that I felt at least some stability in my career. And that was followed by one of the toughest years yet! Just never gets easier…

      1. N.G. Davis

        Yeah, that’s what I keep hearing. It’s a constant grind, unless you’re one of like 10 A-listers…

        I’m just getting my first taste of how slow and frustrating Hollywood can be. Lots and lots of waiting on producers/lawyers/etc leaves lots and lots of time for insecurity! Trying to focus that energy on the next project, but it’s not always easy.

        Glad I stumbled across your blog!

  3. Vivi Anna

    I really needed to hear this today Bob. I’m finishing up #4 script this go around. I wrote #5 back in 2001. And I did get a lot read and made some contacts but nothing went from there. So I decided to write books instead. So I wrote 25 books, and now 12 years later, my scripts are way better, I have a manager and things are looking grand. So I can totally relate.

    Thanks for starting this blog!!!

  4. philip

    You’re not only an inspiration to me, but a real cool dude. Anyone that puts forth the hard work and tells it like it is, is a hero in my book. Ok ok enough sucking up!
    I just moved to LA from South Carolina. I haven’t had a heart attack yet from the culture change, mostly because I’m from Boston and travel.
    I’m working on a comedy that will be my 12 script. Let’s see what happens.

    Philip Webb

  5. bobderosa Post author

    Congrats on the big move, Philip! It’s a scary one, but Los Angeles is great. Just takes some time to get into the rhythm here. Glad you like the blog!

  6. Pingback: Bob DeRosa’s “Shortcuts” « Screenwriting from Iowa

  7. Fletcher

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    co-worker who has been doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject
    here on your web page.


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