This article will teach you how to write an intercut in a screenplay or teleplay.
Say you have a scene in your screenplay where there are two sides of a conversation (such as a PHONE CALL), or two different scenes happening at the same time, and you don’t want to write sluglines for every scene, you intercut. It looks a little bit like this.
INT. HOUSE – DAY
The phone rings. John picks it up.
EXT. PARK – DAY
Mary is on the phone looking at the dead dog floating in the pond.
I think I found your dog.
At the park —
John grabs his keys off the counter.
Stay there! I’m coming–
John stops at the door.
Mary turns away from the pond in disgust.
John, he’s dead.
We hold on John’s face and CUT TO:
There you go, a terrible little scene I pulled out of my ass. Can you imagine if you had to write a slugline for every single side of the conversation! That would be terrible!
Not go forth young writers and write many a phone conversation.
So, you have a screenplay, and you want to try and get it to an agent or manager, but you don’t have their email address? This article will teach you how to get an agent or manager’s email address.
All it takes a little internet sleuthing. But you should know there is 99.99% chance no one will respond to your cold query email. I have probably sent out over 50 query letters to agents and managers in the past five years, and the only time I’ve gotten a response was once I already had some success in the business. Only then did a few of these guys start responding to my emails. And even then, most still don’t. So, in complete honesty, I’d advise AGAINST sending an agent or manager a query letter until you’re already working in the industry and have some success to gauge their interest. Even then, it probably won’t do you any good.
To start, you need two things.
You need to get an agent or manager’s name that you want to contact, and you need the company’s email address.
If you don’t even know WHO you want to contact, go figure that out.
HOW TO FIND THE COMPANY EMAIL ADDRESS:
Okay, say you’re looking for an agent named “Jane Doe” who works at an agency named “Big Agency.” Go to the “Big Agency” website and see if they have an email address listed there. Usually, this email will look something like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Now you know the company’s email address is “@bigagency.com.” If you can’t find it on the website, head on over pro.imdb.com and register for a free 30-day account, or pay for an account (you can always cancel it later). Once you’re on IMBD PRO, type in the agency’s name, go to the agency’s page, and navigate to the contact section. It should list their general email address.
HOW TO GET AN AGENT OR MANAGER’S EMAIL ADDRESS.
If you’re already on IMDB PRO, you might as well look up that agent or manager and check their contact info. A lot of agents and managers will have their email listed, but if they don’t, search all the agents or managers in that company until you find one that has their email addresses listed, any of them. If this doesn’t work, go to google and search “@bigagency.com” (with the quotes) and SOMEONE’s email address should show up. You’re just looking for anyone who works at the company.
So say you’re looking for “Jane Doe’s” email, but all you can find is “Bob Kent’s” email address, which just happens to be “email@example.com” — then you can probably deduce that Jane Doe’s email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org.” This works 99% of the time. Companies, for the most part, always stick to the same email structure. The first letter of their first name followed by their last name, or their first name followed by the first letter of their last name… etc.
And if you want further proof you have the correct email address, just search “email@example.com” in google. Chances are, that email will be listed somewhere on the internet. I’ve found managers and agent’s emails listed in “contact” forms on b-list actor’s websites. I’ve even found them in the leaked hacked Sony emails. All searchable on google.
So go off young padawans, and send emails to agents and managers. Annoying them and never getting a response.
HOT TIP: NEVER, I repeat, NEVER actually send your script to someone unless they ask for it. EVERY SINGLE COMPANY in this INDUSTRY has a strict policy of not accepting unsolicited scripts. If you have an attachment on your email, that is a surefire way to NEVER get a response. What you want to do is quickly describe you and your story, and then ask them if they’d like to read it. Only if they respond asking for your script do you send it over. And half the time they’ll have you sign a release form first.
There is a symptom that plagues film school students and those who want to work in the film industry.
I know this because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of film students. That vast majority of them don’t want to work. They don’t want to start at the bottom and crawl their way to the top. They want to make art. Let me tell you something, you want-to-be-filmmakers —
YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. YOU. YES. YOU.
You’re going to graduate film school thinking you want to work in the film industry, but end up switching careers with thousands of dollars in student debt, or work at a local TV station making shitty commercials, or film weddings for the rest of your life. And that’s no one’s fault but yours.
How do you not fail? You work you fucking ass off, that’s how.
I have not made it. Far from it. But I’m a lot further along than the lot of you. And you probably want to be where I am right now. I work for a “big-time” guy in the industry. I frequent film sets during production and have the occasional chat with a celebrity. My scripts are being read “around town”, and I have representation courting me. This is shit I DREAMED about having 7 years ago when I started this blog. I’m STILL not happy with where I am, but that’s another story. THIS story is about how none of this is going to happen to you because you’re a lazy piece of shit.
If you want to work in the film industry, you have to be willing to leave EVERYTHING behind and move to Los Angeles with no money and sleep on a strangers couch that you met on craigslist who smokes weed every day and watches TV until 1 am not letting you get any sleep before you have to wake up at 4am to get to pre-call on set in the middle of sun valley by 6am.
If you want to work in the film industry, you have to leave every comfort you know, and jump headfirst into a chaotic environment using equipment you’ve never used before for people you’ve never met before, while all the time trying to prove that you’re the hardest worker in the world so that maybe they will hire you again for the next job.
If you want to work in the film industry, you need to be meeting people and spending more time looking for work than actually working because you need to have a job lined up when the current job your working is over.
And then, MAYBE, after you’ve done all this for a few years and find a steady job, you will be able to direct enough shorts or write enough screenplays in your “free time” to get noticed and actually do the shit you really want to be doing out here.
If you’re not willing to do any of this stuff. Then do everyone already working in LA a favor and GTFO of here so that our commute on these god-forsaken highways is minus one car.
Now get off your lazy piece of shit ass and go do something.
Wow … it’s been a while since I have updated this blog.
A whole year.
Things have been happening…
And things have not been happening…
Such is life.
Still holding down the assistant desk, answering phones, updating calendars, making coffees, and picking up lunches. But I’m trying my damned hardest to get into the paid writer’s world. I had a manager last year. Wrote some scripts with him. Went out on a lot of meetings around town. Met some great people. But the manager and me didn’t work out. We’ve moved on.
Good news is, I have 4 new managers reading me this weekend, so hopefully one of them will work out and I’ll be in business with someone else this year. It’s a long hard road trying to become a paid screenwriter, but god damnit, I’m going to make it happen. My new years resolution for 2016 was to find representation. And now my new years resolution for 2017 is to… find representation.
I wrote a new pilot at the end of last year. It’s gaining some traction. “Is this the year?” I ask myself. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’m sure I learned a lot over the last year that I can share with you all on this dwindling near-dead website of mine. Maybe I can pull an article or two out of my ass over the coming months. Blow a little life into this fire.
I’ve visited this little blog now and again over the past year to check in, filter out spam, and update plugins… but to be honest, and it’s kind of embarrassing… I forgot my login password. And rather than put in the work to figure it out, I’ve moved on to other things. But I finally got off my ass and figured out what the password was, and here I am! Woo. Fucking hell…
I feel like there is more I wanted to write, but it’s not coming to me now. Oh, yeah, we got a new president. Fucking just kill me now.
Oh, and I watched Arrival last night. I really enjoyed it. But I was left feeling super depressed at the end. Anyone else feel that way? Just like… what is the point of living anymore? I think the message of the film was the opposite of that but, jesus christ, was I depressed.
Overall — I think this year’s Oscar season is the most boring it’s been in a long time. This year’s selection of films do nothing for me. It’s kind of a drag. There are usually a handful of award films that I really enjoy each year. This year we have….
Arrival — I’ve already told you how that one left me feeling. But I liked it. Even though I wanted to slit my wrists in a warm bath.
Fences — Didn’t see it. Doesn’t really interest me.
Hacksaw Ridge — Loved it. I’m an unabashed Mel Gibson fan. Don’t get me started. Is he a nut job? Of course. Does he make amazing movies. FUCK YES HE DOES.
Hell or High Water — Thought I would love it. But the dialogue was so witty, it took me out of the world and the story. Disappointed by high expectations.
Hidden Figures — Looks like a lifetime movie. Didn’t see it. Don’t want to.
La La Land — Heard it’s great. Doesn’t interest me in the least.
Lion — Looks good, but again… not enough to get me to watch it.
Manchester by the Sea — Saw it. Great acting. BUT FUCKING CAN A MOVIE GET GET MORE DEPRESSING. Jesus christ.
Moonlight — Just like Lion, looks good… but ugh. It takes a lot to get me to sit and watch a movie these days. Probably wont see it.
Jackie — LOVE Natalie Portman, but jesus christ was that movie boring.
There are more — but I can’t even bring myself to name them. So there you have it, a list of movies I couldn’t be less excited about. Except Hacksaw Ridge. That one was pretty good.
Anyway — Here is THR’s full Writer’s Roundtable. Worth watching despite how I feel about this year’s selection of movies.
Maybe you’ve noticed that my feature slider bar on the side there hasn’t moved in a while — maybe you don’t give a fuck. But I do have a valid excuse. Not just procrastination. I promise.
I got a manager.
That’s right motherfuckers. All that hard work is starting to show. It can be done. I am living proof. There is someone out there that read my work and said, “Huh, maybe I can make money off this guy.” Well, Mr. Manager — I hope you can. I hope you fucking can.
So — now the excuse. Said manager wants me to focus on TV, so I’ve switched gears and I’ve started writing a new pilot. Feature is being put on hold for a while. I’ll probably end up taking it off the slider soon. I don’t mind — because I want to be working in TV right now anyway.
So … what now?
Hopefully get a staff job. If I don’t move from assistant land into professional writing land sometime soon I may explode.
One question I see asked over and over again to professional writers is “What does your writing space look like?”.
I feel this question stems from a big problem in young writer’s minds. And that problem is a little voice that says “I need to be in the right environment to write, and if I could only figure out what environment my favorite writers write in, then maybe I will write better.” You know what that is? That is called bullshit. Absolute Grade-A-Mother-Fucking-Bullshit. It’s an excuse! Because deep down you don’t want to write, you want to have written. And your mind is looking for any excuse not to write. So you tell yourself, “I’ll write later when I can go to Starbucks.” Or “I can’t wait until I finish my home office, because then I can write.” Or “I can only write sitting alone in my room wearing my specific noise-cancelling headphones and listening to that specific soundtrack I created specifically for my story.” No. These are excuses to not write now.
Listen – I understand everyone has their “ideal writing environment”. But the problem is when that “ideal writing environment” stops you from actually writing. If you would stop reading this article right now and start writing, wherever you are, you would find that it is not only possible, it’s really not much different from writing anywhere else. Guess what, you can even write on a pad of paper freehand! OMG. Or on your PHONE. I know. It’s insane. Who knew? You can learn to write anywhere. It is completely possible.
Put aside that dream of your perfect writing room.
You know — the one with the large wooden desk and the view of the ocean. The fireplace crackling nearby with a hot steaming cup of coffee in easy reach — And realize that it is what it is — only a dream. Maybe someday you will get that perfect writing space, and I for one hope you do, but for now, do yourself a favor and realize that until you can write anywhere, you will never be a professional writer.
The #1 mistake new writers makes is that they DON’T WRITE.
Even though I’ve finished three original pilots and a spec episode over the past couple years — I’ve started and NOT finished twice as many. So, to help keep me accountable, I’ve put up a little progress bar on the right side of the screen. See it there? If you notice that progress bar doesn’t move for a few weeks. Feel free to cuss me the fuck out and tell me I’m worthless.
Doesn’t matter how old this post is. These are great christmas gifts for writers.
Want to get that writer or screenwriter something they’ll love and actually USE for Christmas? Here’s a quick buying guide. Enjoy.
USEFUL CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR A WRITER:
I bounced this item to the top of my list because it is literally my favorite electronic device. The kindle paperwhite is a brilliant piece of technology. And it actually looks like you’re reading off paper. And the battery life lasts for weeks. I would rather cut off my hands than ever read off an ipad or kindle fire again. Buy this. Now. Even if the person you’re buying it for is all like… “I LOVE REAL BOOKS, MEH”. Just tell them to read ONE book on the kindle paperwhite. They’ll never go back to reading “real books” ever again. You can also consider buying some of my recommended books!
Coffee Mug Warmer
This thing is awesome. I have one. It rocks. Keeps that coffee warm if you enjoy drinking out of a mug — if you don’t like a mug, check below item.
I literally use the Yeti Rambler every single day. Works for hot drinks and cold drinks. It is my favorite cup/mug/travel mug. A little embarrassed to say it, but I actually own three of these things. They clean easy and keep drinks cold all day long. No shit. Put ice coffee in this thing at 8am, you’ll still have ice cubes well after lunch.
Another thing I use on the reg. Adjustable height. Great if you don’t want to buy a super expensive stand up desk.
Writer Emergency Pack
26 Illustrated cards designed by those great guys over at the ScriptNotes Podcast. Designed to help you out of a bind when you’re hitting some much dreaded writer’s block. And even if they writer doesn’t end up using them very much, it’s still a cute gift.
On Writing by Stephen King
This is one of my all time favorite books, let alone my favorite book on the craft of writing. Advice works for screenwriting just as much as novel writing. A must read for anyone interested in writing. AND YOU CAN BUY IT ON YOUR KINDLE… hint hint.
A writer can never have enough sharpies. ‘Nuff Said.
A writer can also never have enough index Cards. They’re amazing for breaking story.
Alright everyone. Long time no posting. Let’s remedy that.
I spend a shit ton of time listening to podcasts since my commute is about an hour every morning and every afternoon. If you’re doing the math, that is pretty much 10 hours of podcasts going into my face every work week. Some of that time is dedicated to listening to podcasts about writing — specifically screenwriting. So here they are in no particular order.
MY TOP FIVE PODCASTS FOR SCREENWRITERS AND TV WRITERS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
WRITING EXCUSES – “Brandon Sanderson, Mary Roninette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced, 15-minute format.” Now although this podcast is specifically geared towards writing science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, and comics, I can tell you from personal experience that pretty much everything they saw also applies to screenwriting. A story is a story is a story . . . plus the short podcast length is perfect for a quick trip around town on errands. Downside is the podcast seems to crash my iphone quite a bit. Not sure why.
THE WRITER’S GUILD FOUNDATION PODCAST – “Founded in swinging, mondo-groovy 1966, The Writer’s Guild Foundation is the only organization in the world devoted solely to the promotion and preservation of writing for the screen. Our events and interviews capture screenwriters and television writers at their most intimate, and run the gamut from Oscar-winning dramatists to TV scribes writing to devoted fanbases.” This podcast provides some great interviews with screenwriters. The only problem is their episodes are few and far-inbetween.
NERDIST WRITER’S PANEL – “The Nerdist Writer’s Panel series is an informal chat moderated by Ben Blacker (co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour; writer for Supah Ninjas, Supernatural, among others) with professional writers about the process and business of writing. Covering TV, film, comic books, music novels, and any other kind of writing about which you’d care to hear. Proceeds from the live panels benefit 826LA, the national non-profit tutoring program.” This podcast puts out a shit ton of material and some great interviews with screenwriters and comic writers. The only downside is sometimes the audio quality is total garbage. Lots of live panels.
SCRIPTNOTES PODCAST – “Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.” A very helpful and entertaining podcast from two working screenwriters. Arguably one of the most popular scrXCing specific podcasts.
THE CHILDREN OF TENDU PODCAST -“Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Emmy Award-winning writer/producer on “Lost” and creator of “The Middleman”) and Jose Molina (writer/producer on “Sleepy Hollow,” “Firefly,” “Castle” and “Law & Order: SVU”) share their hard-earned experiences, giving practical, straight-shooting advice on breaking into television and staying there!”
There you have it. My top 5 podcasts for screenwriters in no particular order. Go have fun.