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.