We, Pandemonium, as a company have been mulling over our reaction, stance and way forward through the spectrum of sexual harassment coming to light and, as we do not have our thoughtfully measured post ready yet, we’d like to share this amazingly great clip from Saturday Night Live.
The tech giant has targeted $1 billion in spending for original television series and films over the next year, looking to establish itself as a buyer of premium entertainment, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous individuals.
With its checkbook whipped out, Apple may be poised to acquire up to 10 TV high-caliber series, and company execs have begun scouting out prospects with agencies, according to the Journal.
Already, Apple has signaled its aims to become a significant Hollywood player with the hiring of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht — longtime presidents at Sony Pictures Television — in June. The duo behind such hits as “The Blacklist,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Breaking Bad” are tasked with building a slate of world-class content for Apple. And this week the company revealed that it has tapped Matt Cherniss, ex-G.M. of WGN America and Tribune Studios, to head development for the original entertainment group.
Still, even with an annual budget of a billion dollars, Apple would trail Netflix, Amazon and HBO.
Netflix, the subscription streaming-video leader, plans to spend $7 billion on content next year (up from $6 billion in 2016), while analyst peg Amazon’s spending on programming for Prime Video at around $4.5 billion for 2017. Time Warner’s HBO spends around $2 billion per year on content.
To date, Apple’s forays into original video have been in support of Apple Music subscription service. It bowed unscripted competition series “Planet of the Apps” this summer and launched the “Carpool Karaoke” spinoff from James Corden’s CBS late-night show last week — neither of which impressed critics.
For Apple, a $1 billion outlay for original entertainment would barely make a dent in its balance sheet: The company reported $261.5 billion in cash, cash equivalents and long-term investments as of July 1, 2017.
Eddy Cue, the SVP of internet software and services who’s been with the company since 1989, is overseeing Apple’s original entertainment strategy. Cue, who reports to CEO Tim Cook, is in charge of the iTunes Store and Apple Music, along with other products and services including Apple Pay, Siri, Maps, and iCloud services.
“We have exciting plans in store for customers,” Cue said in announcing the hiring of Van Amburg and Erlicht, adding: “There is much more to come.”
It's tough. It's hard work. That's usually what you hear from writers converting their novel to the pages of a screenplay. Jennifer Irwin, author of "A Dress the Color of the Sky," recalls how she took her novel from manuscript to actual script. She struggled at first but with the help of screenwriter Stephanie Keuhn, Jennifer learned how to navigate the world of adaptation screenwriting.
This past year, I sold the film rights to my manuscript, A Dress the Color of the Sky. After I had signed with a literary agent, she mentioned to me that I had a gift for writing dialogue. "You should write the screenplay," she said.
A few months later, I ran into a television writer friend at a party. "No doubt you should write the screenplay," he said. "After all, no one knows the story better than you." He advised me to purchase a screenwriting program and to free up a wall in my house for laying out the storyboard.
One morning, at an exercise class, I met a screenwriter named Stephanie Kuehn. We got to talking. She had some experience, represented a younger generation and saw the incredible opportunity in this pro bono project. We talked about the differences between writing a screenplay versus a novel. A screenplay tells the story through images and dialogue whereas a book shows the story through description and dialogue.
Stephanie, helped me see my manuscript in a whole new light. How would the story unfold on the big screen? We had to break down the book into parts, choose the most critical scenes and put them together in three acts. I wrote more impactful dialogue because every second on film costs a massive amount of money. After writing thirty pages, Stephanie informed me we needed to cut it in half!
I realized our goals of making the screenplay entertaining and memorable were the same goals I had for my novel. The screenplay contained all the entities one would find in a book; cliff-hangers, character arcs, try/fail cycles, and character flips. Our screenwriting needed to be captivating because we only had a few minutes to grab the producer's attention. Stephanie added to the scenes, wrote the outline and laid out the camera angles with the same goals in mind.
It is not easy to break into the film industry. Often, it feels like a game of risk and luck. I've grown accustomed to dreams being made and broken within twenty-four hours. You have to love what you do to reconcile that happening over and over again; you have to love your stories. When Jennifer and I initially discussed her project, I felt curious, which I believe is the best place to begin work. I was excited to read her novel, "A Dress the Color of the Sky."
Adapting a book into a screenplay is difficult; synthesizing an over two-hundred-page novel can be an arduous process. Imagine taking out pieces to a puzzle, reshaping the edges, and putting it all back together. With that daunting image, it wasn't arduous at all. Our writer's dates were fluid, cohesive and fun. Work was intermittent with talk about relationships, work, love, sex, politics, philosophy, and current events. Our discussions served as good fodder for the story. The entire process took two months.
Now, we are waiting to hear back from the producers. Regardless of their response co-writing scenes for "A Dress the Color of the Sky" was a labor a love, and a project I am proud to have been a part of.
Adaptation's no easy task but it’s one that every screenwriter or writer should try. Pay homage to a novel that inspires you, see where the characters you know and love take you in your writing process. See how adaptation can help you hone your craft.
It is not an easy process in the least but you have to keep in mind why writers chose to adapt in the first place. Being able to pull inspiration from a world already created is the perk of adaptation. Here are the characters, the story and the concept, now go, run with it.
Personal challenge? Pick your favorite book. Now find your favorite chapter. Adapt that into a scripted scene. See where it takes you. You never know where you'll end up.
Yeah, but don't I need an agent? You'll hear that from most screenwriters now days. Most are worried that they need representation to make a dent in the screenwriting universe. Screenwriter Brain Koppelman is here to to tell you that having an agent is not your jumping off point.
Koppelman recently shared on his blog and IndieWire.com the advice he’s dishing out to all screenwriters on navigating the world of agents.
We put this question on our FAQ because we do get asked it a lot.
SHOULDN'T I BE TRYING TO GET AN AGENT?
Agents wait until you're a star, then they come after you. So, consider Pandemonium your star maker. We developed Pandemonium because this is the way modern day agents work. In the 50s & 60s, agents were out on the road six months a year discovering new talent like Elvis. Today, they look for talent that's getting big on their own. So, below is Brain Koppelman's experience with agents to illustrate our point.
Brian Koppelman Jul 22, 2014 1:45 pm:
I remember, with crushing specificity, the week that every single talent agency in Hollywood passed on the chance to represent me. And I remember it felt like absolute fact, like irreversible judgment, from on high, that the screenplay my partner and I wrote was not only unsalable, but wasn’t even strong enough tsuggest that we had any promise as screenwriters. I was so shaken up by these rejections that I wrote down what each agent told the person who had submitted us for consideration. One said, “the script is overwritten.” Another that “these characters are underwritten.” A third that “nobody is going to buy a poker script,” and a fourth, I swear, that “there are already three poker spec scripts in the market right now.”
Not one agent asked for a meeting with us or to read any further material.
Less than a month later, Miramax bought the screenplay in question. And by the end of March, each agency had calls into us requesting meetings, offering to fly to New York to take us to coffee, asking us to allow them the privilege of explaining why they, and their team, were the absolute best and only people who should represent us. Because they were true fans of what we did, had real understanding of our work, and, from the moment they had read our screenplay, knew we were going to have a long and distinguished career, if, of course, we had the right people around us to guide us through the difficult Hollywood maze.
Here’s the best part; I read each of them the comments they had made on the script a month earlier. Being agents, none of them skipped a beat: “that wasn’t me, I had an assistant read, oh, well, I fired that reader, I only read coverage.” Not one of them owned it, said, “I was wrong,” or “I didn’t think it would sell,” or, even, “it didn’t reveal itself the first time, but after Harvey bought it, I decided to read it again, And now I get it.”
This doesn’t make the agents evil or bad people. But it does, I would think, give lie to the idea that their judgement is, in fact, a judgement on the intrinsic value of the work in question. And it’s as good an explanation as any for the reason that most professional screenwriters roll our eyes when asked, by up and coming writers, how to get an agent.
Agents are, for the most part, reactive, not proactive. They have to be; their days are spent servicing current clients, movie studios, producers, deal flow, all of it. And, they know, most screenplays that get sent in by amateurs are not going to be game changers, million dollar sales, the beginning of an auspicious career.
“Yeah,” I can hear you saying, “but my screenplay is a game changer, a million dollar spec, the beginning of an auspicious career.”
Let’s assume, for a moment, that it is everything you think it is. What then? Well, then, I believe you will find representation. But it may not be by submitting it, blindly, to the top agencies. More likely, if you have written something of real quality, you can also write emails, letters, blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses in an inviting, memorable and witty way.
There has never been an easier time to attract attention to yourself. To make yourself and your work stand out. All you need to do is convince people that it would benefit them to invest their time in you and your material. Because that’s how the business works.
Everyday, execs in the movie business, and screenwriters, directors and producers, are online, engaging, participating, looking for something great. Your job is to find a way to get them to ask you to read your stuff. The way to do that is not by asking them. It’s by creating a smart, inviting, entertaining persona, by not seeming crazy or desperate or scary,
“Yeah,” I can hear you saying, “but that’s not fair. All I should have to do is write the great script. I don’t want to have to be some kind of online trick monkey.”
Okay. Don’t create an online persona. Take a scene from the screenplay and film it. Cheaply. And put it on YouTube. Or on your own site. If it’s really great, other people will start linking to it and before you know it, agents will be asking you to please send them the entire screenplay.
“Yeah,” I can hear you saying, “but I’m not a director. I don’t have the money, I don’t—“
Okay. Don’t film it. How’s this. Submit the script to The Blacklist. It’ll cost you about fifty dollars, you’ll get reviewed by professional readers, and if they like it—
So take a trip to LA. Find out where assistants at the various agencies go to drink or party, make friends with them—
“Not very social—“
Fine. Put the screenplay up, in its entirety, on your site, then buy some online ads in places film people go, cheap ones, to drive traffic to the site—
“No money to do that. Why can’t it just work like this: I send the script in to CAA or WME. They read it and call me and then send a dump truck filled with money and fame to my house?”
The point is this: there are huge barriers to entry in the movie and television business. There always have been. It’s a simple question of numbers and reality. And your choice is, really, to complain about how hard it is to get representation or to go out there and do something so amazing that the representation finds you.
Because that’s what the story of our first screenplay is really about. I’m not saying the screenplay was amazing. But the fact that Harvey Weinstein bought it was. To the industry. And they reacted in kind.
Worry about the work. Do the work. When it really is undeniable, your challenge won’t be finding an agent. It’ll be choosing from all the ones begging you to sign with them.
You can follow one of Koppelman's suggestions right this second.
In his blog post, Koppelman suggested putting your screenplay, in its entirety, on a website to be read, like Pandemonium. Pandemonium creates online buzz, cultivates a fanbase. Once a following is created, agents take notice. When Koppelman’s script was purchased, agents who had passed on his work suddenly began to contact him, noticing the sudden clamor for his script. Pandemonium creates the smoke signals that will attract agents to the screenwriter's work.
Pandemonium is a platform where writers can establish their intellectual property. We create that online buzz Brian suggests you should create. You don’t have to film a scene or write the novel version of your script, you can simply SUBMIT your script to us and, if it's up to snuff, we'll market it. We’re in the business of helping writers find their audience before the agents come into play.
Lionsgate has picked up Shay Hatten’s spec, “Ballerina,” which could be converted into a John Wick spinoff
The wrap.com reported that a spin off spec script within the John Wick Universe, called “Ballerina,” written by Shay Hatten, has been picked up.
We love seeing young writers skyrocket, at Pandemonium, and want to congratulate Shay Hatten on his success with Black List. When we were starting Pandemonium, the number one comment we heard was, “Check out Black List, because they’re already doing it.” We checked’em out and realized that Pandemonium is essentially the opposite of Black List.
Hollywood is an invite only, closed system and Black List caters to that. We are the opposite in the way that we are 100% public facing. We are building audiences that are transparent for the studios to see, to take risk off a studio when greenlighting one of our writer’s projects. Our intent is to sell our writers screenplays to the masses and create a fanbase that will carry the film into production.
So, we'd like to congratulate Shay Hatten again on his success with Black List and say—they are definitely a viable way to break into the industry—yet we'd like to remind you that there are other ways too, hint, hint, wink. ;)
Jeremy Fuster | July 25, 2017 @ 4:51 PM of THE WRAP wrote:
With two successful installments and a third in early development, “John Wick” has become the next big franchise for Lionsgate. Now the studio could soon dig deeper into Wick’s world with a spinoff fashioned from “Ballerina,” a spec script written by 23-year-old writer Shay Hatten.
A person with knowledge of the spec told TheWrap that it is “premature” to say whether the spec will be turned into a spinoff, though the script’s plot shares elements of John Wick’s journey as a female assassin bent on revenge hunts down those responsible for killing her family.
Basil Iwanyk, who produced the “John Wick” films through Thunder Road Pictures, is attached to the spec. Meanwhile, early plans for “John Wick: Chapter 3” are in motion, with Derek Kolstad returning to write the screenplay. Combined, the two “Wick” films have grossed $258 million worldwide.
A graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, Hatten made the 2016 Black List with another script for a black comedy called “Maximum King!” which tells the story of Stephen King’s struggles with alcohol and raising his family as he writes his first and one of his most famous novels, “Carrie.”
Hatten currently works at Robert Downey Jr.’s production company, Team Downey. He is repped by CAA and Lee Stobby Entertainment. The story was first reported by THR.