Segments in this Video

Do You Recommend Going to School for Screenwriting? (03:21)


Ken Rotcop explains that school is a good opportunity for networking. He recommends researching professors before selecting a college.

Are There Any Books You Recommend That Teach How To Write a Screenplay? (02:13)

Rotcop does not recommend screenwriting books. Avoid rules or formulas. Structure is the most important element of screenwriting.

Ken, What Do You Really Think About Structure? (05:44)

Rotcop describes the three acts of a feature-length script. Conflict must be present in each scene. The story is more important than format.

What About Format? Don't I Have to Know How to Format a Script? (03:02)

Rotcop walks through the formatting of a proper script. Do not include a date or WGA information on the title page.

But, How Do I Actually Write a Screenplay? (02:26)

Rotcop emphasizes that the writer only needs to include what is seen and what is said. Leave transitions and camera angles to the director.

Do I Have to Live in Los Angeles in Order to Write for Hollywood? (01:54)

Rotcop points out that advances in technology have turned the world into an office.

How Do You Get an Agent? (01:32)

Rotcop acknowledges that it is not easy for writers who are not established to get an agent. He recommends obtaining the list of agents from the WGA website. He offers himself as a reference for aspiring writers to namedrop when seeking representation.

What if a Producer I Meet Wants to Read My Script – Do I Get an Agent First? (00:60)

Rotcop says that it is better to hand a script to a producer if a writer has a personal connection. Once a writer gets an offer, they can easily get any agent to represent them.

What Does a Manager Do? Do I Need One? (02:59)

Rotcop describes the manager as a writer's alter-ego. He also discusses percentages that agents and managers take from client income.

Agents, Managers, and Attorneys – Oh, My! (01:54)

Rotcop suggests representation from an entertainment attorney if a writer gets a major deal. Legal representation is not necessary for television episodes or independent films.

Can I Submit My Screenplay to More Than One Company at a Time? (02:07)

Rotcop suggests making executives pay for exclusives. Get the script out to many people as quickly as possible.

Do You Recommend Online Screenplay Submission Services? (03:40)

Rotcop discusses vulnerabilities of online submission websites like InkTip, and suggests them as a last resort.

What's the Best Pitch for my Screenplay? (01:25)

Rotcop says to keep the pitch under two minutes. It will entice the executive to read the script. He describes how "The Perfect Storm" was pitched.

What Should be the Emphasis of My Pitch? (02:34)

Rotcop notes that it can be interesting to pitch a story from the villain's point of view. Avoid writing a script based around an event.

Keep it Short! (01:45)

Rotcop describes a successful pitch during which he simply held up a movie poster for "Captain America." He also tells of a script that he sold with just one line.

Is it Best to Memorize My Pitch? (01:21)

Rotcop says that a memorized pitch shows a lack of confidence in the material. Conversation should be off the cuff.

Don't Tell the Whole Story in Your Pitch! (01:24)

Rotcop explains that a pitch is a piece of business, not a description of the story. It should be a 2-minute tease to convince an executive to read the screenplay.

I'm Terrified of Pitching. What Should I Do? (02:42)

Rotcop notes that enlisting someone help from someone who is not emotionally invested in a script may help nervous pitchers. It is important for the writer to be present.

I Hate Writing a Synopsis for My Screenplay. What if They Ask For One? (03:23)

Rotcop acknowledges that it can be helpful to provide a 1-page synopsis. However, if an executive shares that synopsis with others, nuances of the story will be missed. Instead, he suggests sending the first 10 pages of a script.

Better Make Those First Ten Pages Count! (00:46)

Rotcop no longer sends synopsis and now only provides the first 10 pages of a script. He notes that more and more companies are transitioning to this practice.

Can I Send or Leave Behind a Written Pitch Instead of a Synopsis? (00:51)

Rotcop explains that the continuity of free flowing dialogue between a writer and executive is lost in a written pitch.

Should I Include My Awards in a Cover Letter Bio or Even in the Pitch Itself? (01:44)

Rotcop says that the cover letter should include examples of a writer's expertise on the topic of their script. Awards can be part of a pitch.

What Happens When My Screenplay Goes to a Reader at a Studio? (04:10)

Rotcop describes the totem pole hierarchy at a studio. He lists the three decisions that a story editor makes before passing a script along to the creative head.

The Cost of Making a Movie is Really 3 Times the Cost of Producing It! (02:18)

Rotcop explains that a good head of production should be able to accurately estimate the cost of a movie. Once everyone else has signed on, the script goes to the president of the studio for final approval.

How Do TV Networks Work and What is a "Step Contract"? (07:50)

There are over 125 production companies in L.A. Rotcop describes the different stages of the Step Contract, including the treatment and step outline.

An Hour With the Story Editor or Ten Minutes With the Company President? (01:06)

Rotcop explains why pitching to the company head is more valuable than time with the story editor.

How to Handle a Holier than Thou Studio Executive (02:54)

Rotcop expresses his disdain for rude executives. He believes that executives are failed actors and directors, and that they are nothing without writers.

Should I Let a Studio Hire a Writer to Write My Story? (02:16)

Rotcop points out that selling a story depends on the situation. Screenwriters get paid more than story writers. He personally would demand to write the spec script.

How Do I Even Get Started Writing My Story or Script? (02:46)

Rotcop recommends getting started by writing a descriptive letter to someone who does not know the story. This fictional communication can serve as the roadmap for a script.

Do I Need to Get the Rights to a True Story I Want to Write? (03:08)

Rotcop recommends avoiding stories found in major newspapers because the rights have likely been grabbed by major studios. He suggests finding Sunday features from small town newspapers. Write the script first and then allow a studio to purchase the rights.

What if I've Already Written the Script and I Don't Have Finances to Get the Rights? (01:03)

Rotcop explains that it is critical to obtain rights if a script is about a famous person.

What About Getting the Rights to a Book? (04:36)

Rotcop describes how to contact a publisher to find out if a book has subsidiary rights. When speaking with an author, be sure to have a letter of intent signed by the author confirming an agreement.

How Do I Deal With Writer's Block? (03:42)

Rotcop suggests walking around the block as a simple solution to stalled creative progress. He also suggests that the writer close her eyes and try to recall the first kitchen from her childhood.

Is It True that Writers Should Only "Write What You Know"? (01:59)

Rotcop suggests that writers imagine themselves as the protagonist in order to come up with a story.

Why Do You Hate Mel Brooks? (07:06)

Rotcop describes how he transitioned from advertising to screenwriting. His first pitch meeting consisted of being ushered out the door by Mel Brooks before he could even start.

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In this how-to video veteran scriptwriter Ken Rotcop takes beginning and intermediate screenwriters from idea to completed screenplay, sharing answers to the most asked questions from his workshops, seminars, and private consultations.

Length: 97 minutes

Item#: BVL113520

ISBN: 978-1-68272-680-8

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video customers.