Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dig Deep

I have a manager friend who I've been recieving notes from over the last few years. He's read pretty much everything I've written so far, has always been supportive and insightful and he gives me usable, on-point notes. We were talking last night about the state of the business, how difficult it can be to get things done, and what the world of writing assignments looks like right now.

Writing assignments, for those who aren't familiar with the term, are when studios or financiers look to replace the writer of a project they own. Sometimes a writer is replaced because their deal is complete (I could do a post on writer deals if anyone is interested), sometimes a writer is fired from a movie with steps remaining in their deal, sometimes the idea was birthed internally at a staff meeting, sometimes it is based on a pre-existing property (i.e. book, movie, video game, etc.). The key here is that you are going to get paid to do the "assignment." When an assignment becomes available it is referred to as "open." Thus, open writing, open directing, is how jobs are often referred to, especially by agents, managers and execs, as in, "What do you have open in comedy?"

As studios move away from development and studio slates carry more and more films financed with outside money, the open assignment pool shrinks. This sucks for new writers, because after your first big spec, you want to make some of that assignment loot -- it's oh-so-sweet. The moral of my story: study your craft and always remain open to independent filmmaking. Making good movies is the only thing that matters.

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