Tales from the Script (2009) is a documentary written and directed by Peter Hanson, who interviews 46 successful Hollywood screenwriters and asks them to share their career insights. They include Frank Darabont (“The Green Mile,” “The Shawshank Redemption”), William Goldman (“All the President’s Men,” “The Princess Bride”), and Jose Rivera (“Letters to Juliet,” “The Motorcycle Diaries”).
If you want to be a Hollywood screenwriter, you must understand that: 1) your scripts will be changed, 2) you will have to find your own path, 3) there will be constant rejection, 4) it’s a business that responds to market pressures and your reputation as a moneymaker, 5) you have to pitch and sell your own script, which may take five years, 6) you can sell a script for a lot of money ($300,000 – $1,750,000), 7) you will have to start the whole process again after your first success; previous success does not guarantee future success, 8) you need perseverance, 9) you will need to build multiple personal relationships to get ahead, 10) if you really want your voice and your idea turned into a movie, without any compromises, you have to direct, produce and write it yourself, 11) you can get fired at any time, 12) you should not define your identity solely on your work, 13) screenwriting is a full-time job, 14) you will likely have to write multiple drafts of the same thing, e.g. 46 for “Amadeus,” 15) you truly have to love writing, love movies, and love storytelling, otherwise you will not survive.
Dennis Palumbo (“My Favorite Year”): “Part of the kind of surrealistic experience in Hollywood is that the originator of the material, from the moment everyone else claims to love it, is then the subject of an attempt to remove them from the material as much as possible.”
Joe Forte (“Firewall”): “The price of getting into the film business, and probably a lot of other businesses that have a lot of competition, is figuring out your, you know, path. If there is a brick wall in front of you, are you going to ram your head against it, are you going to build a ladder […] how are you gonna get over that wall?”
Billy Ray (“Breach”): “This is a last laugh business. And if you can survive as people are kicking you in the head, eventually their leg will get tired. They will want to start kicking someone else. If you are still there and can pull yourself up to your feet, you get the last laugh.”
- Tales From the Script: 5 Things I Learned Interviewing Screenwriters (writersstore.com)