My name is Ryan Goldblum, and I’m Shore’s Writer Development Manager. In this post I want to share how our process works, and the ways in which Shore continues to work with writers after our competition ends.
If you’re a writer who hasn’t yet gotten your break, you’ve probably found that getting your work in the hands of people within the film and television industry can be incredibly difficult. It’s not a matter of hunting down the right email and sending off your work – most agents, managers, and producers simply will not read (or oftentimes even open) unsolicited material, or material from sources they don’t recognize. These forms of gatekeeping can be difficult to overcome, which is why screenplay competitions have become one of the best avenues for new writers. However, even within this framework where industry professionals are eager to read the best scripts that rise to the top of these competitions, they are often sent in a mass email without context, and are subsequently forgotten – the window closes. Our writer development program was designed to veer away from these common pitfalls, and create real and tangible opportunities for success with our writers. Here’s how it works.
After the competitions end, I have a chance to read scripts from our finalists, and get a real sense for the project in question, and the strengths of the writer. This is invaluable – to speak about someone’s writing passionately to someone within the industry, its important to me to have read the script, and already start to think about its critical and commercial prospects. Then, its time to have a one-on-one consultation with the writer. We talk about the script, their background, their experience in the industry (which varies from working Hollywood writers to first-time competition entrants), and their goals for the project. From here, a game-plan is tailor-made for this individual writer.
This plan often centers around a few central questions – are they still working on the script and looking for notes, or is it locked? Do they have additional materials to support the project like a one-page synopsis or lookbook? Are they seeking representation at the moment, or are they already working with a manager or agent? Are they seeking to direct their script, option it (sell it to a production company to make), or is it simply a good sample of their writing ability to attract representation or a job in the industry? Depending on the answers to these questions, I determine a strategy for where the script might have the most success. If this entails giving notes on the script, helping develop certain elements, or simply getting the script in the right hands at the right time, or advice for a recently signed writer on what the next step is – whatever works best for the writer, its about being the most valuable resource possible in each specific instance.
On the other side are the industry professionals. Shore’s Industry Roster contains 300+ managers, agents, producers, production companies, and directors spanning the US and UK, Europe and Australia, and more. Just as I spend time getting to know our writers, I do the same with members of the industry. This entails learning their likes and dislikes, the kinds of projects they might already have in development, the kinds of budgetary or geographic restrictions they might have in place – anything that narrows down the type of project or writer they might be particularly excited to read. From here, its a matter of connecting the dots – which projects are ready for submission, which companies are looking for their next project or unsigned writer – being plugged in to their individual needs and selling them on the scripts we have at Shore that are just waiting for the right partner is the name of the game.
By working so specifically and individually on both the writer and industry sides, Shore has created something truly unique among script competitions – an ongoing engagement with writers, a constant communication with verified industry professionals, and a resource to competition alumni that exists long after the competition cycle has ended.
I hope this gives prospective entrants more insight into our writer development program. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to submit your script, and I look forward to working with you.