By Regan Morris, BBC News, Los Angeles: “Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along.”
That’s what the character Joe Gillis says in the classic American film noir, Sunset Boulevard. In the movie, Gillis works part-time as a struggling Hollywood screenwriter. He ends up floating dead in a swimming pool.
Perhaps he should have kept his day job.
The path to screenwriting success has always been hazardous. Every successful writer has a different story, though most would agree it takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck.
But some experts and wannabe writers believe the internet has levelled the playing field.
There are now so many websites and online contests out there promising to make writers’ dreams come true that you no longer need to move to Hollywood to get your script seen.
“Historically you had to move to LA [Los Angeles] and network and eventually someone would read your script. That’s terrible advice if you’re married and have two kids and a mortgage,” says Franklin Leonard, the creator of the popular website, The Black List, which hosts thousands of scripts for a fee of $25 a month.
“We’ve had writers from Ireland sell scripts via the site, writers from Sweden sell scripts via the site. If you don’t live in Los Angeles or don’t have an uncle who worked at Paramount it shouldn’t matter,” he says.
But has the internet really democratised the process?