Studios And Networks Don’t Want Good Scripts, Here’s What They Really Want by Houston Howard

Film Courage: So in your first book Make your Story
Really Stinkin’ Big,’ you have Chapter 10: Some Sage Advice, sort of the
ending chapter I guess. What is some sage advice that you can share
from the book? Houston Howard, Author/Instructor: So the the biggest thing I would tell people that that are either
trying to break in or that already are in and they’re trying to figure out how
to stay afloat is to think outside the paradigm outside of the the path that
we’re all given the same door that everybody’s supposed to go through the
same the same way that we’re supposed to do things start thinking outside those
boxes because when you can think outside those boxes there’s more opportunities
than you then you realize to actually differentiate yourself in the
marketplace and continue to do the thing that you love the most which is tell
stories and which is then to create things that people can can can
participate in and be affected by and so it’s it for me it’s a the mindset of
having a mindset of disruption having a mindset of innovation having a mindset
of an entrepreneur who builds a consumer brand rather than how a producer builds
an entertainment brand if you if anybody builds an entertainment brand the way an
entrepreneur builds a consumer brand you build it differently because there’s
different different principles at play but but for some reason people in this
little Hollywood bubble and they think free market economics doesn’t does it
impact anything we’re just all about story in our in our as long as I just
write good scripts that I’m good and sadly for you know 95% of writers out
here even working writers that the just writing a a great just being great at
your individual craft isn’t enough and you know unless you’re one of like the
top a-list you know number one person in in the town or the top ten riders in the
town everybody is trying to figure out how do I stop going from paycheck to
paycheck how do ice
doc because even if you’re even if you’re like a list you’re still going to
paycheck to paycheck there’s all those periods of uncertainty there’s always
periods where where the the new up-and-comers are in there and things
start to wind down a little bit you got to get there and hustle there may be big
paychecks to big paychecks but there’s the stress and the pressure that is just
around this industry that if you don’t start thinking outside of the paradigm
you it’s just it’ll it’ll wear you down after a while and and so so the biggest
advice I could get it’s just get out there and look at all
the tools that you have at your disposal and figure out how to use all of them in
the best way how to how to look at models that have been there for a
hundred years and say say how do I increment lead deviate from that how can
i how can I operate within it but the same time put pressure on it from the
outside just start to change it how can i establish myself and my brand as a
writer and a filmmaker as a different brand than all these other eight million
people that are trying to do the exact same thing as me how do i do all those
things and it so that it’s not always how do i just write the better script
because it’s very difficult to write the better script so so now i if if if you
put yourself in a disruption mindset and an innovation mindset
i’m thinking outside the box i’m kicking the box down the road and and looking at
it from a completely different mindset now there’s opportunities that they’ll
seed that that they didn’t see before because they were too myopic right
they’ll see that maybe you know maybe if i if I create a multi-platform
transmedia super story that has a film and a book series and a TV show and a
video game component and a mobile game component then if I build that I can
shop it as a movie but at the same time I can also shop it as TV but at the same
time I can also shop it as a video game but at the same time I can also shop it
as a book series I worked with it with a filmmaker who who was trying to shop a
TV pilot for years and and I said okay well let’s let’s
build some of this stuff out and she built a book series into her plan she as
she was shopping a TV pilot she was able to take this book series and may get a
get a publishing deal out of it where she was never able to get the TV
deal but she ended up selling it as to a publisher got a publishing deal is now
working off their ad with books and is using the audience she’s building from
the books now the TV public the TV networks are coming to her to to say can
we put your books on TV and so and so what that did is it gave her not just
one outlet that she just kept going after cuz she’s like I’m a TV writer all
I can do is TV this think a little bit bigger this thing differently and think
about how to approach the marketplace differently what the the networks and
the studios and all the buyers what they what they really buy is audience what
they buy is pre awareness and so that they don’t studios and networks don’t
reboot things because they love them it’s the people didn’t greenlight the
studio’s didn’t greenlight baywatch because they love Baywatch
they green-lighted they greenlit Baywatch because there’s there’s a pre
awareness of Baywatch that makes the investment less risky and so if you
understand the principle of what they love is pre awareness then all your job
is as a creator is to how do I create pre awareness if I can create pre
awareness for my TV show create pre awareness for my movie I’ve solved the
problem because if they love pre awareness I’m gonna give them pre
awareness but how do I do pre weirdness for a movie
if I’m a filmmaker I can’t do pre readiness for a movie by making another
movie because then it’s a catch-22 well the way you do Priam earnest for a movie
is now do something other than a movie let’s go out and do something that we
know we can do it easy in the marketplace that can quickly build it up
build an audience maybe you publish your own book maybe do music do social media
etc etc etc and then you build that pre awareness for it then the studios and
the network’s they now will listen to you have a different conversation
because you broaden your think and you’ve established your pre
awareness not only that but you’ve generated revenue made your investors
happy etc etc etc so you only get to that point if you think outside the box
you have to think from a not from a story perspective but an IP perspective
think from an IP perspective then again execute in a story level but you always
have to think from an IP perspective so that you can take advantage of different
opportunities but it seems like creating a product it’s easier to be a disruptor
it’s easier you know you look at Apple they they were the underdog for a while
were they targeted to people that were the misfits you know their whole
campaign which was really cool and then of course that type of person wanted to
buy those machines and look at Tesla they you know it was it was a it was a
car that was not a Prius it was something that was sexy and it spoke
volumes about who you were but in terms of writing a script or or or getting a
series out there it seems like they would be very difficult to differentiate
yourself yeah I mean it’s it’s very difficult to differentiate yourself
that’s that’s why I say let’s let’s it’s if it’s difficult to differentiate
yourself within the television industry or you know that from you know from all
the other series or from the all the other features that are being created
the one way to differentiate yourself is to is to differentiate and diversify
your plan and and and differentiate and diversify your intellectual property to
where now it’s not just a your IP and your project isn’t just a feature film
there’s all these other components there when you do that you differentiate
yourself as a creator okay right and so and you you can look at somebody like JJ
Abrams like George Lucas their brand isn’t the same brand as any other
filmmakers the people look look at them almost in a different category right and
so that helps differentiate you from the beginning secondly if you get good at it
what it does is also allows you to do it for other people so now you can go to
somebody who’s making a movie and say hey you ever thought about doing it like
this and if you’ve already done it a couple times they’ll come to you is say
hey can you help me do this to my project one which is great for you
because you get paid for it and
and secondly that continues just to build your brand is this this disrupter
type of a person another thing that you could that that that I always talk about
and try to encourage people in is to figure out the the passion and the
purpose behind the brand like what like how do you make your brand important how
do you make your brand sort of connected to the like the emotional foundation of
people and what people care about and it’s the thing called corporate social
responsibility if you can tap into how how your entertainment brand isn’t just
cool but how it’s important on some level then you actually you could
actually connect with the audience in a different way not just in a cool way but
at an emotional way and so a lot of times now what’s been in vogue of how to
get series and features produced and picked up is that before you go to the
network’s of the studios or to whoever that you want to shop these things to is
to figure out the thematic premise behind your project I call it a soap box
and as the what are you trying to say about your project and with your project
you take the time to go build an advisory council of organizations that
will endure not fun but and just come alongside and endorse you and so if you
you know if you have you know something like get the movie get out that is very
much in one it’s a great movie but it’s infused with this race-conscious soap
box that talk together that really is seated with the with the evils of racism
and how you know we you know it’s very apparent but if you have a project like
that take the time to go to you know the n-double-a-cp to black lives matter
to some of these other organizations say I just want you to endorse me and and
and and because the reason that I want to create this project is I want to
enhance the lives of certain people in this certain way if you have a project
that is like the leftovers that is all about grief and how you may
grief and how you manage loss and then all of a sudden take the time to go find
organizations that are focused on how to help people manage grief how to help
people manage loss these are different there’s authors that write books about
these things how do you make those collaborations the connections from the
beginning then when you go have those conversations with networks and studios
or investors you can you can they can see the organizations that are coming
along side of you and endorsing your project because of what you’re trying to
say with it that then also distinguishes you in the marketplace as well because
you you now have you’re now you’re now moored to two organizations and entities
that that that have been well established in in in society not only
that if the organization’s endorse you then they’re donor basis and the people
that they that they connect with will also support it which then proves that
there’s a market for the project so so it’s very this interesting you know
outline all this in the in my new book where where it’s figuring out that
emotional base that that emotional foundation that can align yourself with
nonprofit entities other organizations that then help differentiate yourself
then if you’re if you’re if you then diversify the product line in a trans
mediated super story way now you’re hitting on both levels and you really
have something different so not only is your project differentiated but you as a
creator have been differentiated yourself and you have a different brand
yourself which is great but you only get to that point is if you elevate your
elevate your thinking above I’m just a filmmaker I’m just an author I’m just a
director that’s all I am I die all I do is direct movies I’m a I’m a movie
director and that’s it if you never think outside of that box you’ll never
do anything else you’ll never take advantage of the the hundreds of
opportunities that surround you every single day you know you we have to be
able to build that build the car differently in it an 18-wheeler when
it’s going down the road and it blows a tire keeps on going
right but if your filmmaker and you and and you’re riding down the road on a
unicycle and you blow that tire you fall flat on your face right so we have to
figure out the the machine that we’re riding needs to be built differently so
that we can we can we can help differentiate ourselves and keep going
and float on top of the water right and so mixing all the metaphors at this
point but but but you could what I’m trying to say is that it’s the mindset
it’s a vision that if you don’t have you’re not going to be able to take
advantage of it but if you do have there’s so much stuff that you can do
it’s incredible once people it’s like it’s like seeing the matrix right you
don’t now see oh I can do that and I can do that and I can do that and I can do
that and I can collaborate with this person that can generate over no revenue
over here and now I can do this and generate pre awareness within loops be
background to have better conversations with the network studios and investors
that I wanted to have conversations with from the beginning all the while
building this really dynamic robust audience base that will then follow you
for your whole entire career as long as you keep feeding them in the right way
the reason I was laughing was because I was actually thinking of the wheel
analogy and then you said it yes so that’s why I was smiling but yeah it
sounds like so you’re not really inventing if you want to go with a
metaphor a better story wheel you’re giving tentacles so that’s absolutely
you’re spreading different okay don’t that makes sense
yeah sure you

100 Replies to “Studios And Networks Don’t Want Good Scripts, Here’s What They Really Want by Houston Howard”

  1. He's right. Preawareness for your film helps. The writer of the film "30 Days of Night" couldn't sell the script so he turned the script into comic books which gained so much popularity to where the studios finally reached out to purchase his script. Check out a channel called "Good/Bad Flicks". They thoroughly break down the process it took to make alot of smaller budget films (Puppet master, Maniac Cop, Mad Max, Cobra, etc).

  2. Why do I feel that a studio exec or producer who just read a great script wouldn't say "sorry, this script is amazing, but there's no pre-awareness, bye."

  3. Jeez louise, these videos are gold. This is something I think every writer should hear. Keep them coming!

  4. Essence of his suggestion: Don’t put all of your creative and artistic eggs, into just ONE basket. It increases your odds of success, by having your product (i.e. your screenplay, video series, book, podcast, etc), seen by more people — in more (different) venues. Great advice, thanks.

  5. How many people have you ever met who have the time, skill and vision to write, design, QC and produce a feature film, let alone that, a book, a TV pilot and two games plus promotion? Get real. The brand part is right but the rest is generic, pie in the sky nonsense for most people. Forget about getting into the system and make your own instead. Stop asking others for permission and do your own thing.

  6. Huh. This reminds me of how George Lucas published these comics of the Star Wars movie a year before the movie came out.

  7. I'm not sure it's really about branding as much as it is to go and make a name for yourself. If you're a nobody and you offer a great script, one of the best, you're still a nobody. But if you've already established yourself, your image and therefor your "brand" as a writer, an artist or an internet personnality then perhaps the studios or networks will look twice at your script.

  8. This is such amazing advice and its so simple yet most people don’t even think about it. Have to have different streams of ideas to create different opportunities for yourself.

  9. So what's really being said here is simply – let's say if you've entered a script or a few scripts into screenplay contests only to have them go nowhere maybe try rewriting them into maybe novels, or TV shows or maybe even video games. Hmmm sounds good. Only one problem you're still on the outside struggling to get inside. Whether it's a book or video game, TV show you're maybe expanding your possibilities but now you're still right back where you've started only now you're getting even more "No's" before you get that eventual "Yes" even with all these extra added incentives. But if you only think or focus on just rejection you'll never get that brass ring of success. So it's best to keep your options open plus expand your opportunities.

  10. The reason I'm creating a video game is exactly as Houston says. Mainstream is always fueled by up and coming technology, so I'm all about virtual reality video games right now to tell a story I've wanted to tell for over two decades. Everything is based on new up and coming technology. The writers that hit the streaming boom for example got very lucky. Next is VR, and it'll be something else next. A lot of times for game developers it's a new console or a new tech that allows them the medium to create a product, and for a writer they ought to see the opportunity there.

  11. Bullshit! Lost in space came out like a hundred years ago then they did a reboot on Netflix. Who the fuck knows about lost in space if you ain't old?

  12. Hollywood sux–I wouldn't even bother to sell them a script, write your stuff, try to sell to small outfits or indep. filmmakers

  13. It's not even about money: it's whether you're in an "in" group and have the "right" POV. . .

  14. I like everything about his advice. I should truly concentrate on a book and then let them come to me. At least, I can self publish.

  15. Just write something that; delights,excites,reaches, teaches,inspires, desires. Keep at it,as you the writer, without listening to the Hollywood nonsense.

  16. The "Pre-Awareness" bit sounds good, the rest sounds like terrible advice unless it is done in the service of generating that pre-awareness.

  17. That soapbox concept done wrong… is what ruin starwars… and hopefully doesn’t become
    cliché when over done I would keep that in mind as well.

  18. what he says about going to talk to social orgs as "research" is the very problem with the industry today. No screenplay should adhere to what some organization wants or desires. You're supposed to tell a great story, not play down to an agenda. GET OUT is a horrible film and will be seen as such as the years wear on. Don't play down to your audience's petty wants. Challenge and force them to rise to see something new and greater than anything they've seen before.

  19. That whole "pre-awareness" thing applies to books, tv, everything if you need a financier like a publisher or producer. It's all hopeless unless you create your own market and sell by yourself.

  20. I agree completely, but studios only ever want “what’s already successful”.. I’ve argued till I’ve been blue in the face trying to convince them to be more avant-garde, creative, and adventurous but they rarely ever listen.

  21. Studios really want me. I've been responsible for about a dozen multi-movie progressions: Star Wars (the first one was made at my suggestion, so no, I'm not exaggerating), Indiana Jones (I picked Jones over Smith, so no, I'm not exaggerating, Pirates, BTTF, Avatar (just the first, the second? crickets), National Treasure, Night at the Museum, The Matrix, LOR (I got them to complete principal photography on all 3 first), Shrek, Lost (to the hatch) I mean, really, who else does this? Well, I do, or basically, I have. In general, faithful people do better by following my directions than jerks who put their perversions into everything that disgust heterosexual people (ahem … KINGS) who just want to be entertained without having to get scalded bah-weird. So hire me. [email protected] I've never taken money, probably why my sequels aren't squeak-wills. I'm ready now though. [email protected]

  22. Gross. Get some SJW to endorse you! This is why you should write and read novels. Hollywood is a demented sweatshop manufacturing 90% garbage.

  23. Not a filmmaker yet but building my seed company that will fund my empire. Just hired an IP attorney and will do a lot of what you said. Thanks brother.

  24. thanks the team of film courage for everythings your content is really helpful.. It will great help if u could also write in the description what these guys have already written or directed, So that we can watch or read the script of the shows they have written.

  25. I’ve never been more educated, encouraged and inspired from a video as an emerging artist in an industry that in really unknown to me with few connections. Seems like it’s some kinda ancient secret that some people want to use my talent but not help me to expand . Everything he is saying
    i totally get it.. and I feel empowered even more… just want him and you to know the profundity of this video on my life, inspiration and career… I’m soooo hyped to take these ideas and concepts and employ them as an artist !!🤗🤗🤗. Thank you again so much ❤️

  26. I don't think he knows what he's talking about.
    If what he says is true, they wouldn't be making so many hyper-safe CRAP films and re-makes and such.
    Thank god for 1.5x and 1.75x video playback speed.

  27. Basically, unicycles aren't going to get you there. Thanks though, because it's nice to hear someone say it, that's how I've managed to get by.

  28. Have an idea, and then talk to a small film company about it and then write your script. I have no idea what this guy is talking about

  29. he starts with think for yourself, it was the ingenuity of our ancestors that our modern knowledge and technology sits on. We build the path we walk on, no one else can path for us.

  30. It's good to think across markets, but it's very rare to build a movie audience from a book…and when that happens, it's because the publisher spent tons of money marketing the author and the book. It's also important to consider timeline for book publishing. 1 year to write. 2 years to publish = pretty standard. You'll become a better writer by doing novels, but it's a huge time investment–but the barrier to entry is just as tight as the film industry, and the gatekeepers are a small clique of NY Ivy League white people.

  31. I looked this guy up and I have a significantly higher IMDB PRO ranking than him, and I am an absolute nobody in the middle of nowhere. lol.

  32. He's absolutely right. I wrote a script then a graphic novel and finally a game on iTunes. It got the attention of three studios. The most important advice I received was that Hollywood buys ideas not scripts.

  33. This brings to mind three truths, at least from my experience. 1. Great scripts most often don't make great movies. Good scripts can make great films in the right hands. 2. If you're a filmmaker, making a good film won't get you anywhere. You need to make a film that just blows people away. That makes their brains fall out of their heads when they watch it…then you need to "Kiss the Ring". You need a godfather (A lister) to bless you. otherwise you gonna to have a VERY difficult road ahead. 3. Comedy films are the most difficult films to pull off. There is nothing worse than a comedy film that's not funny. Quality Horror is the next most difficult. Drama is down the list but is most often given awards for reasons that elude me. I

  34. Can you elaborate on getting organizations to endorse your project? How do you approach them? And how do they go about endorsing your project? They just talk to members of their group? Or give them flyers to pass out to watch your material or what not? Or is it asking them to write a letter stating that they endorse you? Because how would you prove that they endorsed you at all? Thanks for any clarification you can give. And great video by the way!!!!!! This was great information.

  35. This lady who takes all these great interviews is an enigma to me. But I really like and appreciate the work she puts in and the end product of that work.

  36. E.T. was a good script. it was a pass at first.. because people cant read and don't know anything.
    So bad scripts sell. Anybody see 'the last Jedi'.. audiences gave up.. after 'Rogue One'

  37. These are great idea, but imagine if they are embraced and become the norm. How long before creative people realize that the fastest way to build the most pre-awareness is to 'soapbox' on behalf of a large, powerful existing political entity? How long before most of what's written is thinly veiled propaganda for one point of view or another? These techniques probably will help a writer sell work, but ultimately the writer has to work in service of the story, and not become a stooge for some political group that needs a mouthpiece.

  38. So my feature is based on areas of domestic abuse, mental illness but mostly substance abuse.

    Would organization dealing with substance abuse in my case LSD in my movie, would this be worth the pursuit for their endorsement ?

  39. we made a proof of concept short for our feature script, it's gotten a lot of views already on youtube, but still unsure of how to get interest from studios/producers.

  40. I'm not a writer and this all sounds like sagely advice, HONEST advice actually, considering the title of this video. However, isn't the adherence to the ethos of this advice — Hollywood wants ideas/springboards, not good scripts — the reason why so many movies are shit nowadays, because individual movies are more franchise-pitch than a self-contained story? I don't doubt that this advice is the way to go if you want a reasonably long career, but what would the likes of Robert Towne think of it…maybe reluctantly agree? I don't know…just wondering, not trolling.

  41. "If you want to write a horror movie that involves racial issues, manipulate local African American organizations into giving you their endorsement."


  42. The idea of getting a publishing deal without having written the book — that's one in a million. Publishers don't buy a pitch – unless it's non-fiction. Publishers buy finished novels.

  43. At one point he's basically saying "infuse your project with propaganda, to give it at least a shot at being made/seen. What this guy is saying is exactly the problem with filmmaking right now.

  44. I’ve been approached by a production company and they Skyped me immediately. They asked me to recite lines!! (That surprised me as I’m not an actor and didn’t expect this) for a possible tv special on a subject I’m an expert in. What can expect next?

    I live in Australia and the company was in NYC. Will they want to fly me out? Will I have to find money to get there if they want to film a show?

  45. If you want to be a script writer, learn to shoot shorts/movies. No one reads what they're not interested in. They'll watch if it's done well. It's a strange business.

  46. Less then 1% of book publishing deals are accepted, he wants us to not only be the 1% in writing books but after that be 1% movies and tv. This guy has never made anything on screen, those who can’t teach

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