(Note from the Founder of www.screenwritingstaffing.com, Jacob N. Stuart) Screenwriting Staffing has been in business for 2 years. Tina A. Wake has been a member at Screenwriting Staffing for a good portion of that time! But what makes Tina so unique to SS? Is it the amount of success she has found? Because in just UNDER 2 years, Tina has found 8 “PAYING” SCREENWRITING SUCCESS STORIES through our organization! But still, while that’s such a huge accomplishment, we think it’s her location that amazes us the most. Tina lives and writes in Australia, and a majority of the screenwriting leads she lands through us, or other similar sites, are based here in the USA. So I caught up with Tina and asked her to provide a little insight on how a screenwriter who is NOT based out of Hollywood can still FIND Hollywood success. Her answers were great!
Quick Bio on Tina A. Wake:
I have written over 25 full length features across many genres including Thriller/ Suspense, Drama, Sci Fi, Comedy and Romantic Comedy. I am dealing with Producers in LA as we speak in regards to optioning at least five of these. I can write a unique, gripping screenplay from scratch in a month or less guaranteed, am easy to work with, have literally thousands of ideas and can work with you to create exactly what you are looking for, fast.
I was an Author up until March 2012 when I decided maybe I should be the one who turns all four of my novels into screenplays. Since then I have written a further 21 screenplays from scratch. Tina’s IMDb
You can view the Loglines and Synopses on my website: www.awakescripts.com
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: You are based out of Sydney, Australia. You have had 8 screenwriting success stories with us (Screenwriting Staffing), and plenty more from other avenues. What is your secret to finding Hollywood success outside of Hollywood?
Tina A. Wake: I have to admit that if I only had one or two pieces of work, it would be harder, but seeing I have such a large body of work (over 40 features and 20 shorts), I can pretty much have at least one thing I can apply for, for nearly every job that passes me by. I also write extremely fast and have hundreds of ideas at any one time, so am flexible and can come up with ideas for people overnight and write a feature within a month.
I also believe in myself, which sounds cocky, but it is true. Confidence and arrogance are different. I am confident. No one is going to like your work, if you don’t even believe in it yourself. At the end of the day, like any industry, the film industry is about relationships. So, regardless of where you live in Pakistan or Australia, the USA or Africa, if people like you, you build a relationship and the word spreads. Random calls and emails get tossed aside. I say be persistent, apply for things! Believe in yourself and be nice. Offer to help them! That is what works for me, anyway.
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: While the market is quickly changing, Hollywood is still the mecca of movies at this very moment. So since it’s not feasible for you to travel to Hollywood once a week to pitch your scripts and services, what mediums do you use to promote yourself? i.e., skype, pitchfests, social networks, e-mail, phone.. etc?
Tina A. Wake: I don’t promote myself at all, I don’t have time, but I do apply to whatever I can. Screenwriting Staffing is great, InkTip, Elance, Freelance and Aussie sites like StarNow, The Loop and others for the film industry. I am not bothered about being in Hollywood, in fact I prefer to live here near the beach in peace and quiet! With technology the whole myth about needing to be in the USA is out the window. You write something, you email it to them. Simple. If they want changes, (which they always do), you call them, or email. Easy. Writing is one of those careers you really can do anywhere. All you need is a laptop and internet! I like to go to as many film festivals here as I can too, network, people tell people etc…
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: How would you rate/describe the screenwriting opportunities in Australia? What are the pros and cons?
Tina A. Wake: The film industry here is very tiny compared to the USA, and of course clicky like everywhere else. I am just starting to make a small name for myself out here and hope to crack A list in the next few years. Again, it is about networking and building solid relationships. If you are cocky, rude or arrogant, no one is going to want to work with you or read your work. They also don’t want to meet writers that are so stuck to their scripts, they’ll never let them go! Be flexible if you want to see your stuff made, as trust me, it gets changed so many times along the way, hopefully for the best! The pros are it is a smaller industry, so once people know you, you are the one they call. The cons would be that it is a small industry and once people know you, that is all the only person they call, so if you aren’t that person, it is hard to get your foot in the door… be nice…it will flow.
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: You first started out as an author for books. What made you turn to screenwriting?
Tina A. Wake: I saw an article in a trashy puzzle magazine about a guy in another State of Australia who was a policeman by day and screenwriter by night. I had four novels that I wanted to turn into screenplays but didn’t know how to do it. I contacted him simply by typing his name in Facebook, he came up and we started chatting. I wanted to know how hard it was to crack the industry and he told me all he had learnt in the last 4 years which was a great help. I borrowed a few books from the library and read hundreds of screenplays to see the format, got the free version of Celtx and started writing. I figured it might as well be me who turns my novels into screenplays. From then I was hooked. I bought Final Draft software and pretty much wrote for a few years every spare second I had. Screenwriting became my new passion and I still love it!
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: You have a very positive and generous personality. Would you say that this helps, even more so since you are NOT living in Hollywood, especially when you are having to deal with people from different time zones, continents, and cultural differences?
Tina A. Wake: Sure, having an Australian accent definitely has it’s advantages for people to remember me! I went over to the InkTip Pitchfest in LA that first year (2013) after writing 12 features in 6 months. Yes, I was on a roll, but I wanted to see if I was actually talented, or just full of it. I gave each of the 30 or so producers that I met a little clip on koala. They all loved my ideas and the koala, told me ways I could improve and I am still in touch with at least half of them now. We just check in every now and then. I have written for some of them. The relationship still builds. It is great. You have to be able to take a no. Develop tough positive skin. To me, every no is closer to the next yes. I don’t try to convince people to like my work. If they do, they want to make it. If they don’t then they are not for me! Time zones and cultural differences? No worries at all. I type in American English now instead of British like we use in Australia. It is natural for me now. Every now and then I have to research deeply into your education and political systems, but otherwise, we are the same. I have a lot of Amercian friends, so if I get stuck with what you call different things, I just ask them. Although I still want to say get in the lift instead of get in the elevator!
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: Do you try to incorporate Australian themes or characters into your scripts, even if you know the film will NEVER air in Australia? Does this work?
Tina A. Wake: I put them in every now and then if I feel it brings something to the story, but mostly try to keep it as generic as possible. I try not to even set my scripts in any particular place, as then I can show it to people from the USA, New Zealand or even Europe. I have found I get more interest this way. If it doesn’t need to be there, don’t put it in unless it really makes a difference to the story. The more people you show, the more chance you have of selling your script.
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: What is one thing Australian cinema excels in that American cinema should consider?
Tina A. Wake: Deeper human relationships. Not so flashy and fast paced. Give the audience more time to connect with the characters instead of just being blown away the whole time. Mainstream American movies do it big. We like to keep it simple and truer to the heart. But that just might be our preference?
SCREENWRITING STAFFING: This question is for our Australian readers: what resources are available for screenwriters in Australia?
Tina A. Wake: Like in America, there are writer’s guilds you can join in every state. Check out sites like Starnow.com, Theloop.com, Elance.com (put your scripts on there and subscribe to the leads they send every week..GOLD) and more. Just look it up on Google, you will find that there are a lot of screenwriting opportunities in Australia. You just need to be good at it, professional and fast! Volunteer to work on upcoming films, join a screenwriting club on Meetup.com, apply for things and build relationships. There is no other way. People don’t just call you up out of the blue and ask to work with you. Make an effort, love what you do and you will be in the industry. Be the kind of person you would like to work with, simple as that!