“Don’t Write Scripts, Write Movies” Says Manager Scott Carr
Literary manager Scott Carr talks about the screenwriter-manager-industry triad.
What does a screenwriter in demand look like?
Three words: Incoming call business.
The goal with any writer is to position them in such a way that their work and reputation eventually garners proactive interest from film and TV producers, filmmakers, and financiers to be in business with them. Eventually, this level of demand and success can lead to a screenwriter’s original work finding a much smoother path forward with sales and production.
How do you decide which screenwriters to read and eventually sign up?
A referral from someone I know and trust is the best circumstance for reading a new writer. But a strong logline for a fresh and viable idea can also trigger my interest to read a screenplay. However there’s still no way of knowing if the writing and storytelling is strong enough, which is something a referral usually vets. Signing a writer for representation requires an alignment of sensibility and personality, as well as the writer’s talents on the page and “in the room”.
What does a healthy manager/ client relationship look like?
A relationships built on trust, respect and communication, and one not afraid of conflict and challenge when necessary, to grow and compete.
What proportion of your clients work are original scripts vs open writing assignments?
The goal with writers in this market is to position them as viable assignment writers, as that’s where the lion’s share of the work and money exists. However, I encourage writers to generate original content so there is also a proactive aspect to their career and that provides opportunities to have more control over how a project is built.
What attracts you to a project?
Quality of voice, writing craft and storytelling acumen are paramount. The marketability of an idea is helpful in exposing a new piece of material for a more immediate sales purpose, but there are other benefits that can be garnered from a well-written and well-executed story (casting opportunities, trigger for assignment work, establishing the quality of writer’s voice & craft, etc.).
How would you describe your current film and TV tastes?
Character-facing. Humanized, well-drawn characterizations on the page is what moves the needle the most for me. And if that can be accomplished within a fresh idea and viable genre, all the better.
What is the current state of the industry and how can screenwriters take advantage of it?
The market has more buyers for film and TV than ever. It’s a narrow bullseye within the big studios, given their penchant for IP and franchises, but there is still opportunity to become a part of the world if the desire, sensibility and demeanor syncs up with that mandate. And with streaming services aggressively getting into producing original content, and with cable television being so prolific, the ability to get a story told has never been more expansive.
However, the standard of material has also risen, given how competitive and fragmented the entire landscape has become. I also think stories that have topical relevance are especially viable and meaningful in the market. So, writers are well advised to lean into their strengths, pick a lane that suits them, and charge in aggressively, tactically, and patiently.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions aspiring screenwriters have?
I find many aspiring screenwriters aren’t as ready on the page as they think they are. I encourage all screenwriters to read professional scripts and write constantly until their craft is deemed up to standard by industry professionals. Mastering screenwriting is about the humility to acknowledge that a writer is always a student of the profession, constantly able to learn and grow through practice and feedback. There is no ceiling on growth in this town, but there is a high floor.
Where do find new screenwriter clients?
Referrals, contests, and script consultations, mostly.
What makes you stop reading a script submission?
Generic voice, uneven tone, stilted dialogue, predictable storytelling, uninteresting prose, poor spelling and grammar, formatting errors.
How can a screenwriter stay vibrant and relevant in the marketplace?
Keep living life beyond the keyboard and build up a wealth of experiences and relationships to learn from. And keep reading and researching anything that interests them, and seek out the deserving stories to be told.
Any closing thoughts?
If you want to have a sustainable screenwriting career, don’t write scripts, write movies.