3 Great Lessons For Anyone Who Wants To Be A Professional Screenwriter by CSUN Professor Eric Edson

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: Many new writers say that it’s nearly impossible to get their scripts to people that actually have the power to buy them or green light them. That this is their problem…that it’s access. And that’s the reason they’re not making movies. What are your thoughts on this?

Eric Edson: I would say they don’t know how lucky they are as of today. You have to get used to the system you have. For instance, back in the day (“back in the day”), back in my day there was ONE way into Hollywood, TV, Film…ONE way! And that was through an agent’s front door. And that agent’s front door had layers and layers of guardians before it. And that was also frustrating you know, in a similar way but very, very frustrating.

But now what you have, you have a more creative path. Let me put it this way. Contests…screenwriting contest have now been around long enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. You know, the good ones, year after year, have gotten stronger because more people believe in them and the less good ones (although they are all sincere. I know they’re all sincere) have kind of fallen by the wayside.

But the test is this, every time I hear that…I mean yes I have great sympathy for that, I understand that. I remember when I was coming up myself and it felt like this and it was infuriating and frustrating. But the number one reason why you are not making it is the material is not yet good enough. Because especially if you’re not reading, you know, reading the stuff that’s out there, you have no way of knowing how good good has to be in order to get noticed. And coming in, you have to be better than most of the people who are now making a living at it in order to get noticed.

But the contests offer…I was talking about re-objectification, the contests offer a concrete way to do that. Work on it and work on it and work on it until you’ve got something you are ready to test. But now, pick your contests carefully. The first time you try it out, pick smaller contests, more fringe-like. I mean do your research, they should be decent, upstanding contests and so forth. Try it out. Try it out. Did you make the quarterfinals? Or were you swept away in the first pass through…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: Eric, can you tell us about the first screenplay you sold, what was happening in your life at that moment in time and how many had you written previously?

Professor Eric Edson: Wow! That takes me back…I was still at UCLA as a grad-student. And I was in my first year working on my PhD. I knew I always wanted to teach at the college level at some time, so I wanted to get those required degrees in early. And I just loved college and I wouldn’t let anybody tear me out of there. So I was still working on the PhD. But there was another student there (a doctoral student) whose step-father was a director! And he asked “Do you have anything? Do you have any stories?” (Watch the video here on Youtube).

 

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About Professor Eric Edson:

Eric Edson has written seventeen feature screenplays on assignment. His produced script credits include PASSION’S WEB for Showtime, and he co-wrote and co-executive produced the NBC Movie of the Week LETHAL VOWS starring John Ritter and Marg Helgenberger. Other films include THE ROSE AND THE JACKAL starring Christopher Reeve, THE SOGGY BOTTOM GANG starring Don Johnson, and DIVING IN starring Kristy Swanson. Eric has also written for episodic television.

Professor Edson’s new book “THE STORY SOLUTION: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take,” published by Michael Wiese Productions, uncovers for the first time the 23 Hero Goal Sequences® used in every successful motion picture to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes and link together all plot development from first page to last (Read more here).