How to write for the movies

Have a burning desire to see your story on screen? Find out how!

It seems that just everybody wants to be in pictures these days!

I can hardly judge – it’s the reason I came out to California myself, after all. But since working at the “front end” of Players Incorporated, I am most certainly finding that many of my fellow hopefuls simply have no idea how to comport themselves in a professional setting – never mind the highly pressurised environment of a movie studio.

All day long I must field telephone calls and in-person callers from would-be writers.

They demand that they simply must speak to Miss Holt in person about their story – nothing less than a face-to-face meeting will do. This they insist over and over again, no matter how strenuously I impress on them that Miss Holt is an extremely busy woman and does not have time to meet every Tom, Dick or Harry who believes they have just the story for Players Incorporated’s next picture.

Just today, a young woman with a pleasant accent that may have been Irish was waiting outside my office when I arrived at 8 o’clock. Well I told her right away that Miss Holt would not see a stranger without an appointment, and in any case her diary was full for the day, and then some. The woman (about my age, bobbed hair of auburn and flapper-style dress of forest green) said that she would simply wait until Miss Holt could see her – even if it took days.

As I had no chance of manhandling her off the premises myself (Mr Gabor is out with our company on location over at San Fernando – some business about an actor being taken ill) I just let her sit there while I got on with my work.

(Incidentally, there has been no further word from Mr Macmillan with regards to consequences for last week’s party, so I think we’re sitting pretty – though as I have seen no further sign of Jack McCann about the lot, it appears that was my once chance to lay eyes on him in person!)

As I type this post, she remains on the bench just outside my office.

Miss Holt telephoned to dictate some wires an hour or two ago, and informed me that she would not come to the office until after lunch. I duly passed this news on to the red-haired writer, and she repeated that she would wait regardless. I am considering offering her half of my sandwich – I don’t want to encourage such behavior, but equally I don’t want her to faint from hunger whilst effectively under my watch.

So, it seems an opportune moment to give some constructive advice to scenario writers of tomorrow.

If only so that I will not be deprived of half my lunch in the future!

If you hope to be considered as a scenario writer, try the following:

  • Take on a newspaper column.
    For five years Miss Lorna Moon wrote a syndicated humorous column – it so impressed Mr Cecil Demille that he invited her to join his writing staff. Frances Marion also started out as a journalist on the San Francisco Examiner.
  • Write a play.
    All studios have scouts at theaters all over the country most every night searching for interesting stories that might be adaptable for the screen. Write a Broadway smash hit and don’t be surprised to find a one-way ticket to Los Angeles awaiting you after opening night.
  • Submit a story to a magazine such as the Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker or Cosmopolitan.
    Script girls and secretaries are scouring magazines daily for potential stories for the screen.
  • Keep in mind that all studios have their stars and as such are searching for “vehicles” for them – there is no use in sending a story perfect for Miss Gloria Swanson to us, nor one ideal for Mr Archie Tanner to United Artists.
    Do some research and understand whom you are writing for.
  • Do NOT waste your money on a scheme such as the “Hollywood Manuscript Service” or the “Palmer Photoplay Corporation.”
  • They are nothing but false come-ons for movie novices.
  • Send your scenario ideas to Screenland magazine if you are a subscriber.
    A subscription to the magazine entitles to you one critique of your story, so you won’t waste your time and postage sending something to a studio that is simply a dud. However, do not expect that just because you are a subscriber you are entitled to a positive critique – Screenland is the magazine of the movie colony, and they know what’s what.
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