by Steph Greegor (@stephgreegor)
Let’s face it, every family member and friend you give your script to will think of something positive to say about it. Your mom will claim genius and your best friend will wonder out loud if you’ll thank him or her in your Oscar speech.
But, come on. If you’re a beginning screenwriter, you know better. You want feedback, not high-fives. If you’re honest, you can probably sense the dialogue is a little weak, the structure a touch flimsy, the technique lacking, and the Hero’s Journey, well… wait, is there one?
You need a professional. And that’s where a paid consultation with a working Hollywood writer can help move you from rookie status to serious contender. Don’t believe me? Hear it straight from a script consultant.
Screenwriter-producer Ryan Roy (PEACOCK, KITE) is a BlueCat Script Consultant who offers comprehensive script consulting and coaching services. He and I discussed the importance of script consultations, what to expect, and the biggest mistakes new writers make:
Ryan Roy (RR): Unbiased, unemotional, experienced feedback.
Professional screenwriting is a business. If a beginning screenwriter wants to move forward, they NEED to get honest feedback from a patient, intelligent consultant—one who has actually written screenplays that have sold and been produced. This is what I deliver to my consult clients.
SG: Often, consultation packages have many levels, from detailed notes to a simple overview or a phone call. Is there a better service selection for a beginning writer—phone vs. written notes?
RR: Depends on the writer, depends on the script.
A phone/Skype consult obviously provides more dynamic interaction and a chance to freely talk about the script and various issues.
SG: How can a beginning writer discern which consultation services will get them bonified help and which ones may lead them astray? Is there a certification or qualification to look for?
Read the reviews. Google the consultant. Trust your gut, and then get going.
SG: What is an acceptable cost beginning writers can look for when buying consultation services?
RR: Sixty five million dollars.
An acceptable cost is based on the value received. Would someone get value from a $100,000 consult with Aaron Sorkin? Probably. Would someone get value from a $10 consult from a writer who has never written a screenplay nor worked within the Hollywood system? Nope.
SG: What should beginning writers be wary of when looking for consultation services or after they’ve bought them?
RR: False prophets. Don’t buy into grand promises of riches and klieg lights.
SG: What are some of the mistakes you see beginning writers make?
RR: They don’t know their craft, and they don’t know this business.
Screenwriting is a specific medium, and Hollywood is a specific beast. Get to know both as much as humanly possible.
SG: If a writer enters contests and doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere, should they just trash the script and start again, or might a consultation or read of the script help point out some basic errors that could help improve their contest standing?
RR: A consult can always point out ways in which a script can be improved. However, the onus is on the writer to improve the script.
Best advice I can give — trust your gut & never give up!
Learn more about Ryan’s consultation services at BlueCat.
Steph Greegor is an award-winning journalist and prize-winning screenwriter based in Columbus, OH. She was recently brought on as faculty to teach Intro to Screenwriting at the McConnell Arts Center in Columbus and is currently producing and directing her short film, OLSKY. You can learn more about Steph at her website, www.stephgreegor.com.