"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Interview With Doc Hollywood

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interview With Doc Hollywood

Rob Parnell

When we launched The Hollywood Connection last Monday, we got a slew of questions from new subscribers to this fabulous - dare I say - unique opportunity.

I felt it was important for Doc himself to answer those questions himself. Here they are:

Question 1: Why the anonymity, Doc? I'd really like to know who you are.

Doc: I understand your wanting to know. I would too.

But while developing projects, anonymity is the producer's best friend. It's important to control the time and place when a project is announced. I'm currently working on projects in both Australia and Los Angeles and would like to keep as low a profile as possible; it's for this reason that I'm unable to give you more information.

Question 2: Can you give me a clue? Any films / movie stars / projects you can actually name? I just need something, Doc.

Doc: Producers are traditionally very quiet about the projects they are working on. If we feel that an idea has merit we want the time and space to develop the full potential of the story/script with the

My goal with this project is to help and discover new screenwriting talent. Without anonymity this would be nearly impossible. I hope you can understand that.

Question 3: How do I know that Doc Hollywood isn't just Rob Parnell? Why didn't you just go it alone - and just use his Writing Academy to promote your services?

Doc: I've known Rob for just over a year now, a mutual friend in
Hollywood introduced us. I'm impressed with the work he has done with the Writing Academy and the help he has given aspiring writers.

During a conversation, we had the idea to offer a resource for screenwriters unfamiliar with, and wanting help, in Hollywood. Like a lot of producers in Los Angeles I've begun looking to Australia for new talent, and working with Rob has made this possible.

Question 4: I've never heard of coverage before - how do I know it's a bona fide reality?

Doc: Wikipedia has a short article that should help answer your questions. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Script_coverage)

Question 5: How can coverage really help me?

Doc: It's not uncommon for writers working in Hollywood to pay readers anonymously for coverage; I've done it myself. The idea is to hone your project for the best possible reception.

Friends and family are great for encouragement but lousy for constructive feedback. Fresh eyes on a project can sometimes fine tune an already good idea or take a weak idea in a more productive direction; this is my goal with this project.

It's important to remember that with all good coverage you'll get both good and bad news, it's all part of the process.

Question 6: Can I use the coverage you give me to get a movie deal?

Doc: Nobody can guarantee you'll get a deal, and if someone does,
they're lying. What I can tell you is that at some point during your
project's journey, a reader will do coverage on it, and it's best to be prepared for this moment. The coverage done for a studio or production company can be the beginning or the end of your story.

My job with this project is to help give you a fighting chance with this process.

Question 7: What's the deal with "Search for a Blockbuster"? Is it for real?

Doc: Hell yeah! The film "Paranormal Activity" cost fifteen thousand dollars to make and has already made one hundred and seventy five million dollars at the box office. Like every other producer in the world, I'm looking for the next big thing and hoping I find it with this project.

I can't recall ever hearing another producer tell me, "I like spending my time making small and underperforming films." If a producer says this, they are either lying or an idiot.

The industry is full of cynical filmmakers hurling stones from behind cover at the projects that make it well over the line. It's a little like resenting the Germans for making good vehicles!

If by "Blockbuster" we're talking about a very successful film, then yes, I'm looking for a blockbuster.

Question 8: How do I know you just won't steal my ideas and rip me off?

Doc: I'm glad I got this question. I can't think of one writer that I
know who has ever had a story stolen.

The last thing a producer wants or needs is a huge legal battle over the material. Making films is hard enough.

I have a copyright on every project that I've ever written or worked on, and so should you. You've spent the time writing your treatment or script, now take some time and protect it with a copyright or other device. You can register your ideas, story and / or screenplay at the Writers Guild of America - which I recommend. (www.wga.org)

After protecting your work your objective is to get an 'option agreement' from a producer. The option agreement is a legal document between the writer and the producer that gives the producer the sole right to develop and shop your screenplay for a specified amount of time.

You should investigate option agreements online, Wikipedia will
help with this, 'Option (filmmaking)' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_(filmmaking)).

Question 9: The Release Form seems OTT - do I really need to sign these things in Hollywood?

Doc: Hollywood is an industry that trades in ideas. It's important that you protect your work just as producers protect themselves. The worst thing anybody can have happen in Hollywood is a legal battle over material. It's for this reason that contracts abound.

Most contracts are straightforward depending at what stage you are at. In the case of this project I need for the submission process to be very clear and open.

Question 10: Is my copyright totally protected? How do I know for sure?

Doc: What you've got to understand about copyright is that it's innate. You own it the moment you put words on paper.

Technically you don't need to even register it - it's yours, forever, just because you wrote it and anything you sign should say that.

Movie deals are actually traded on the expression of ideas, not just the ideas themselves. If you're the writer and you're the one doing the expressing, you're protected.

And remember, even when other writers use and develop your idea, you're still in the loop: you should still get paid.

But don't just take my word for it. Talk to a lawyer if you want full clarification of the issues.

Question 11: Do you really want to help writers - or is this just some sort of scam?

Doc: I've been working with writers for nearly as long as I can
remember. Let me give you one example. A few years ago I was introduced to a young novice screenwriter that was looking for help. I read his screenplay and gave him my feedback.

I said, "I have good news and bad. The good news is that you have the patience, skill and temerity to write a screenplay, the bad news is that it needs a lot of work."

I gave him my notes and he my left office crestfallen, but he did the right thing by asking for help. He went back to the drawing board, fixed the script and sold it - and is now writing two other scripts for a producer in Los Angeles based on his ideas.

Filmmaking is a huge gamble for everybody involved, but with the right help and guidance, nothing is impossible.

I don't know about you, but I want to sincerely thank Doc Hollywood for spending the time to answer these questions for you.

It's all fascinating to me. For more information about submitting your story ideas or screenplays to Hollywood, go here: http://www.dochollywood.biz

Keep Writing!

Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write

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