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Is Hollywood Screenwriting Success becoming easier because of the Internet?

Just think of the odds... According to a recent news source about 100,000 screenplays enter the "Hollywood system" each year. In that same year maybe 300 movies are produced. Now remind you, those produced movies come from years of development. And of those yearly produced movies, maybe 10 are from first time screenwriters. 

So recently it was asked if the evolution of the Internet as a marketing device has truly helped writers or simply made it more competitive? SU's very own Christopher Wehner wrote the book on "Screenwriting on the Internet" way back in 2001 and says that the Internet has radically changed the way writers gain entry into the business. 

"With the explosion in screenwriting competitions and script handler websites, the Internet is a game changer," says Wehner. "Just in the last decade the barriers are coming down like never before. Back in 2000 everyone was skeptical that the Internet was truly helpful. In fact a lot of people thought is wasn't. Today with The Black List and InkTip and so many others, no one in their right mind would say the Internet hasn't changed time and distance with regard to Hollywood."

But, with that said, Wehner says, "it's still about relationships and the industry requires that those serious about a career have to be able to get close to Hollywood for sustained periods of time."

Kevin Ott, the communications director at the Writers Guild Foundation, says "A lot of people come to Hollywood and they still think in that kind of old-school mindset of 'I'm going to write my script, I'm going to get it in front of a producer, I'm going get it in front of an agent, they're going to sell it for me and I'm going to make a million dollars.'" (Source)

That pathway is as Ott noted a "very, very, very narrow doorway to success," Ott continued stating, "the internet has created more pathways to success."

But with that in mind even making it isn't what it used to be. We've all read the headlines, six-figure deal for such and such writer. We think automatically, "That writer made it!" They can quit the day job and move to Hollywood and purchase the house." Not exactly.

From the BBC article

For Matthew Hickman, winning a screenwriting contest on The Black List website changed his life. Well, sort of. His script, An Elegy for Evelyn Francis, won him an all-expenses-paid trip to Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, where he was feted by the industry. Producers have been buying rights to produce his scripts and he's got meetings with executives all over town. Technically he is one of the most talked about, promising new writers in Hollywood. Yet Hickman still works as a low-paid clerk at a UPS postage store in LA to pay the bills.

The pathway to Hollywood success is very difficult and the odds are long. Even accomplishing success or so-called "making it" is just as elusive and it's often not what we thought it would be.

Just look at recent script spec sales for the last ten years (See more at:

  • 2003: 90
  • 2004: 75
  • 2005: 58
  • 2006: 60
  • 2007: 64
  • 2008: 87
  • 2009: 67
  • 2010: 55
  • 2011: 110
  • 2012: 99
  • 2013: 100

Now multiply those ten years by 100K and think about the competition. With those odds, if you're not using the Internet to atleast get your foot in the door you're crazy. If you think you're just going to mail off scripts, or drive to Hollywood and get that meeting, think again!

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