Scriptwriters Anonymous: the power of a self-help group
As you may have noted, one of the things to watch out for in your media career, is getting bitter and twisted. The only person being cynical hurts is you and the ever-diminishing circle of friends you will bore. So more than the low cost, the best reason to go to events like the Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles is to gain the positive strength that a therapy group can give. You are among friends: it’s OK to admit that you wrote about being gay in Poland or the last days of a cancer patient just because you needed to tap a rich vein of human interest. (OK don’t mention the cancer patient, maybe say you love Plan 9 From Outer Space instead).
They say that if everyone in L.A. dropped their scripts on the floor at once there would be an earthquake. At the Screenwriting Expo it would be possible to test this out. In 2007, there were more than 8000 scripts pitched. I think they should have one session where the 8000 or so writers stand on a stage and drop their scripts on the count of three. Then someone from the Guinness Book of Records could give a precise Richter magnitude of the combined impact using a scriptometer. It would at least provide a measure of success for the Expo, year to year.
Apart from the seismic script contest (also called the Golden Pitch Festival, another extra cost to enter) there are some great guest speakers you can quiz. They do genuinely seem interesting even if I have never heard of them: the up-and-coming director/writer, John August, who made the film, The Nines (what?), and Shane Black who got a record breaking check of $4 million for the script of The Long Kiss Goodnight. Try to resist asking them a question which isn’t really a version of, “how can I be you?"
There are some great titles for workshops that I'd love to go to, such as, "how to get through script re-write hell". Then there’s also some competitions to enter as well as software and stuff you can buy to write scripts, which I imagine are about as useful as an avocado slicer in cooking.
The Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles is for scriptwriters of all sorts and if you have finished reading this that could be you I guess. There are also quite a few potential producers looking for scripts. Now, as you have guessed, the main problem with script writing is the huge number of people trying to do it. Worldwide there are less than a few hundred features made a year and maybe a few thousand TV shows. More are from Bollywood than Hollywood. A handful of those projects will make you rich and most will be done for love not money. There are at least ten thousand people going to the Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles, so, "do the math," as they say. But if I can’t persuade you to be an air traffic controller, I'll see you there.