This past Sunday I participated in a teleconference, the theme of which was that opportunity does exist for those aged 50+ with screenwriting aspirations, at least in films. According to the presenter, television is a different story, as in that world writers are young and, well, let’s just say they much prefer to be with their cohort.
The presenter was the man in charge of an on-line based screenwriting school, apparently in operation for several years. What leant him credibility was his own background as a screenwriter, coupled with his applying marketing experience to generating education modules based on interviews with over 100 movie producers, validated by success stories from more than 250 ‘alumni’ writers.
Here are some of the main points I gleaned from his talk:
- Over 40% of the ‘alumni’ writers to date, many providing testimonials on the website of their subsequent success, are aged 50+
- The three most important ingredients in the bringing of any screenplay to the screen are: Marketability + Story with understandable uniqueness and appeal + Powerful Characters
- When starting out seriously writing, a success plan time frame of about five years is reasonable
- The current state of affairs in Hollywood is such that one stands a much greater likelihood of successfully selling a screenplay if the script orientation aims at smaller, independent producers, with more modest production budgets; the presenter relayed the story of a 70+ year old writer who recently met with and subsequently developed a multi-project relationship with an independent producer aged under 30
- Statistically from 2013 (over what geographic percentage of the industry was not indicated), there were 20 times more low budget than high budget movies made
- To become accomplished one needs to write creatively every day while learning every day
- One should try to write with a financial eye to the ‘money audience’, i.e. almost 50% of the movie-going audience is between 18 and 39 years old, versus the 50+ crowd @ 20% of the audience
- Keep the marketability advantage of the ‘high concept’ in mind; this means stories with great concepts and characters, which can be pitched and understood in one sentence, are sought after by producers
Perhaps the most important underlying tone of this talk was the presenter’s encouragement, recognizing he is 50+ himself, not to perceive age as an impediment to pursuing your writing goals.