Screenwriting Staffing welcomes Babz Bitela of Silver Bitela, a WGA franchised agency, to “The Backstory”.
Note from Founder of Screenwriting Staffing, Jacob N. Stuart: Many of Babz’s clients are enrolled in our Premium Membership, so I try to keep in contact w/ her on a regular basis, learning about all their success – not just through Screenwriting Staffing (in which she has had 3), but in the “industry” in general. Babz is a go-getter, an industry veteran, w/ a unique voice — which is something WE ALL need to have!
[Interview | 9/14/2014]
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “Why does EVERY screenwriter need an Agent?”
BABZ BITELA: “I’m one of those agents who knows you don’t need an agent, until you need one. Here’s the point: writers use to need agents to do deals for them because the ‘writer’ persona was a ‘loner’ typically and not very outgoing. They didn’t market themselves and thus, the agent needed to step in and not only write the deal, but market the writer to get a deal in the first place: the agent was the FACE and the PUSH of the writer. No longer: for the most part writers, sadly, can no longer just write: they must get into the movie business the way rock bands embraced video: meaning, the writer must now work to brand themselves and their own efforts. There’s simply too much competition: it’s THEN you need an agent. You, dear writer, have no business signing anything unless you fully understand what you’re signing.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “When screenwriters’ submit their work, what is your biggest pet peeve (immediate turnoff) i.e., not following directions, spelling mistakes, too many pitches, rude follow-ups…?”
BABZ BITELA: “Not doing three simple things to set themselves apart, now apart from your list which is “TOPS” in my book so good on ya: writer – do this — READ SCRIPTS. DO A TABLE READ. GET COVERAGE. RINSE. REPEAT. You’d be so surprised as to what you catch doing a table read. We do them here. Everyone takes a few parts, and I read the action and slug lines, and everyone makes notes to look at later. HUGE. A table read is what your actors will do; why not do it first. Also “ing” words: slow down the readers eye. Run, not running. Or runs. Adjectives: ick.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What is the #1 advice you give to newer screenwriters when submitting to agencies?”
BABZ BITELA: Write a low budget gem! Then keep it .. LEAN. Logline. Page count. Genre. One paragraph pitch who’s doing what to whom and what’s stopping them and why can’t they get there and to do this avoid proper nouns! Don’t say Joe told Mary about Jenny and all hell broke loose, say A dude’s got two women, and they both find out about each other, and plot to ruin him. (verbs, verbs, hurdles and more verbs) ONE paragraph is fine; in short get in and get out – never lead with “I’ve just finished” say “After a few table reads and some coverage, I’ve found this one may be ready for market.” (not done, ready for market. Two different things.
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “In your opinion, what is Hollywood looking for: thrillers, dramas, pilots, reality pitches, etc? And why?”
BABZ BITELA: “Hollywood is not the way in for most new writers, but OK let’s go there: Hollywood wants the next NEW THING: period. That’s all they hunt for. Because if it’s not there, head’s roll. Better to write a LOW BUDGET GEM with few locations and grab hold of that credit, it’s huge! It’s everything; it’s fuel. I am asked DAILY: single location shoots. That means then it’s GOT to be great. Not good. Not really good. GREAT. How do you get to great? Practice and luck. And let me tell you, Lady Luck? She’s a tramp, fickle and wears cheap shoes so don’t trust her – hone your craft. The sale ain’t the thing; the story is the king.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “Can a screenwriter find success without an agent?”
BABZ BITELA: “ALL THE TIME!”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “Does a screenwriter need to live in Hollywood to find success?”
BABZ BITELA: “NOPE.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What are the top 3 things you look for in a screenwriter/screenplay: produced credits, contest wins, great story-line, large network, etc?”
BABZ BITELA: “Scripts are a lot like porn; it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. I know from page one I’m in for hell or heaven: I HEAR VOICE on the page, and it’s SO obvious. How do I know this; well, I do what you my fine writer must do: I read tons of scripts. I hunt for voice and a marketable idea and I must fall in love. Because to hawk it I’ve got to believe. Jason Bortz found success early this year with a big budget option and when it goes it’s going to be big. And now with Screenwriting Staffing, we pitched a script I’ve loved for years and couldn’t find a home for and Screenwriting Staffing brought me a lead and I pitched it and Jason got the job! That’s a long way of saying, I will run with great: I know great when I see it. Credits help, but voice is everything.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What is the #1 mistake you find when screenwriters submit their scripts to companies?”
BABZ BITELA: “IT’S A TIE: a) They are too in the moment: they write zombie as zombie is hot. Those projects have been set up YEARS ago. Writers need to write THE STORY they want to tell, that they are certain will be something marketable. b) they write a period piece and they have no credits.”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “Can non-WGA screenwriters still find PAID screenwriting jobs? And if so, what can they expect as far as professionalism and pay?”
BABZ BITELA: Screenwriting Staffing Utopia proves this happens all day long! But this is important so I hope folks are really paying attention: most scripts DON’T sell for big bux: they can go for a few hundred bux to a few thousand and anywhere in between. Don’t be deluded to think that your script is going to be a lottery ticket. Take the low paying jobs why wouldn’t you? I do! My eyes are on the prize all the time, but I need to make sure my ego doesn’t get in the way of progress for my client. It’s called in house here: the “2 2 3 if we can” (we want two to three percent of the total pp budget if we can get it.)”
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: “What should a screenwriter expect from their Agent?”
BABZ BITELA: “Nothing except candor. The writer should write. A manager can rock up the career trajectory, but the writer who looks to the agent and says “what are you doing for me”? I don’t have those kinds of clients. My clients are screened mightily before I sign them. They must produce work I CAN TRY TO SELL. I am working for them FOR FREE and thus, you dear writer must write and pitch while I try to find inroads for your voice.”
Babz offers a plethora of unique and inspiring resources for screenwriters. Be sure to visit the following: