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Screenpit on Twitter

There was something yesterday called “Screenpit” (short for “Screenpitch”) which was meant to be a free showcase for screenwriters to offer their scripts by tweeting their loglines with #Screenpit. I wrote about it a bit as it was starting.

You can see the creators’ website about it. They seem to be well-intentioned folks who put in a lot of work for free to help writers.

Unfortunately—and I thought this is what would happen—because there was no curation to it at all, it was pretty much useless. The only way to see the loglines was to go to the results of the hash-tag, and then sort by “latest,” and the loglines just flew by.

It was like going to an NFL tryout—either as a participant, scout or spectator—and imagine if all you saw was 4,000 people running around throwing and kicking footballs?

Or, another metaphor, it was just a river of words coming at you and you dipped your toe in...and the prospect of scrolling down to read more than a few minutes’ worth of loglines was deeply unappealing. Because...

If you’ve spent any time reviewing screenplay loglines at websites like The Black List or Coverfly’s “Red List,” you know your eyes glaze over and it becomes impossible.

These are amateur loglines, and almost all of them suck.

I don’t want to make fun of anybody’s actual logline, but imagine something like...

“A war veteran is stranded in a small town where he has a rescue an orphan from the zombie apocalypse, while trying to reunite with his true love before aliens land.”

It’s like, huh? what? So what’s it about? The war veteran? True love? Aliens? Zombies?

It can’t be about all of them at once, because it’s incoherent.

And you just know that if the logline is this much of a mess, there’s no possible way for the screenplay to be any good.

Granted, most weren’t as bad as the deliberately bad one I wrote above...but they’re more like, stubbornly average. There’s nothing promising to indicate this is a good script.

So the only prospect of actually reaching out to the writer is getting a bad script and then either having to politely say you didn’t like it, or ghost them.

On occasion I have reached out (on The Black List or Coverfly or Twitter) when there was a good logline—and I’m just another writer, not a producer or manager—and never has the script been any good. Sometimes it’s been “not terrible,” but always—always—it has required massive development work.

Sometimes I give notes and the person is like, “OK, whatever,” sometimes they ghost, and once in a while they’re like, “Thank you so much, you’re right, this really helps me explain why those managers didn’t respond it it.”

I’m actually fairly experienced at giving notes on amateur scripts. There is a peer-review part of the Coverfly site they call “CoverflyX,” where you review other people’s scripts and they review yours—a way to get feedback without paying for it. I did 20 script reviews maybe a year ago before I got burned out on it.

I think there were two out of the 20 where it was like, okay, this person has a clue. And it was a matter of giving development notes (neither script worked, but it was at least professionally written).

Maybe a few others had half-good ideas.

But 15 were just amateur scripts: they fell apart within 10 pages and it was a matter of slogging through well-intentioned but incoherent plot points and bad characters. It was really dreadful and I hit a wall and didn’t want to do it anymore.

But I did try hard in the feedbacks I gave, and ended up with a high review rating, for whatever that’s worth.

So anyway, Screenpit—it was just a river of amateur sludge. I posted a few things, maybe one or two people hit the heart button.

Later in the day some actual writers, producers and managers chimed in that this was not a good idea to be just broadcasting your screenplay ideas on Twitter.

Not that any of the ideas were worth stealing, because 99% of them were terrible, but I did understand the point that this could lead to people stealing ideas, writers worrying that their ideas were stolen, etc. (After that I deleted the ones I tweeted.)

I wish I had a solution to help aspiring screenwriters. But the only solution is, unfortunately, what I faced myself: years of toil and struggle and figuring out how to write better.

This stuff can be learned, but not taught.

But still, people want to take their amateur screenplays and get a manager and sell the screenplay, because of course they do.

At least with sports, people don’t play in adult rec leagues and expect to become professionals—our naked eyes tell us that the professional athletes are so much better than amateurs, it’s ridiculous.

I wish people all the best, but for the vast majority of the thousands of people trying to write screenplays, all it’s ever going to be is a hobby.

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