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Old 05-28-2012, 12:58 PM   #1
Doesntmatter
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Experienced advice is all I need

My title may be like Yoda line, but...my problem is really complex so if you are even remotely interested just read the whole thing , because I really need your advice. It may start like it has nothing to do with writing and screenwriting in particular, but eventually it will make sense.
So, here’s my story. I am a 19 years old teenager from Bulgaria. Bulgaria?! – you may think. I bet most of you have never heard of that place before…so let me tell you about it. Here in Bulgaria the average month salary is about 500$.Most of the people with dreams and ambitions migrate to Western Europe or USA , but some of us just don’t have the finances to go and study abroad. For instance, I wanted to continue my education in Britain, studying screenwriting , but since my parents can’t afford helping me out with the money, I’ll be studying economics in Bulgaria.( I still studied my ass of to get in) I am not complaining. Maybe that’s the right thing to do. Get a solid profession and not that solid salary, working from 9 to 5 and that’s it. Accept the world for what it is – a place that is just not fair. For my parents writing is like being a musician for some people. We have an old saying in Bulgaria : “A musician can’t feed the house” (can’t provide for his family). Being an artist is a silly thing to be here. As you can see I am a little short of supporters. Here’s the thing, though. I love movies. I love the illusion they create. It’s like for those two hours I am in a different world, a better world, where everything is possible and life is just less…hard. So, I guess, my question is: Is there a point in trying to achieve something from here (Bulgaria), moreover is it even possible to be noticed or succeed. Because that’s what we all want- to be noticed , to feel like our thoughts, our stories will be remembered. Before some of you optimists answer me with the biggest clichés of all something like: “Follow your dreams” or “ You can do it , buddy” there’s something I have to say. I don’t have money! – plain and simple. I don’t have money for books, I don’t have money for writing courses (it may come as a surprise, but there are not any good courses in the area) and I have no idea how to start or where to start from for that matter. All I have is a fairly readable blog in Bulgarian which people seem to dig and a couple of really small achievements in literature. Expressing myself on a piece of paper is basically the most meaningful thing I’ve ever felt doing. It’s just…all I have for the time being is time. So, I am not asking you if it possible to achieve something I am asking you: “IS IT REALISTIC?”. I can use that couple of months for finding a job, studying a new foreign language (which will be really useful in finding a better job), working out or doing all those things simultaneously, instead of chasing windmills and dreams that will never come true. All I know is that I have a really good story to tell, but the odds are surely against me. It’s hard enough for a native English speaking writer to succeed , so what’s left for the “guy from Bulgaria”. So, guys, I really need your opinion on this, whatever it is , no matter how hard you may be on me I’d really like to see what you think.

Last edited by Doesntmatter; 05-28-2012 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 05-28-2012, 02:12 PM   #2
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It's not exactly what you're asking, but my suggestion would be to get a new or used copy of The Screenwriter's Bible and study it cover to cover (here you can get a used copy for $10), and possibly also a copy of Story by Robert McKee. Then make time and write whether you're working in some other field or not.
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Old 05-28-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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Is it realistic for most of us to pursue our dream career?

Probably not.

Does that stop us?

No.

If you have a fire in your belly and something to say, then keep trying
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:07 PM   #4
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Hi Bulgarian guy -

Listen. Your question is age-old. Here are my two cents. You must be practical. You must ensure you are able to financially take care of yourself -- and your family if you are married. BUT keep writing. You never know what opportunities may present themselves that allow you to turn writing into more than a sideline. You wrote quite a few words here to ask a rather simple question (sense or sensibility?) so you obviously are a writer!
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:11 PM   #5
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Thank you very much you've been really helpful !
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Doesntmatter View Post
My title may be like Yoda line, but...my problem is really complex so if you are even remotely interested just read the whole thing , because I really need your advice. It may start like it has nothing to do with writing and screenwriting in particular, but eventually it will make sense.
So, here’s my story. I am a 19 years old teenager from Bulgaria. Bulgaria?! – you may think. I bet most of you have never heard of that place before…so let me tell you about it. Here in Bulgaria the average month salary is about 500$.Most of the people with dreams and ambitions migrate to Western Europe or USA , but some of us just don’t have the finances to go and study abroad. For instance, I wanted to continue my education in Britain, studying screenwriting , but since my parents can’t afford helping me out with the money, I’ll be studying economics in Bulgaria.( I still studied my ass of to get in) I am not complaining. Maybe that’s the right thing to do. Get a solid profession and not that solid salary, working from 9 to 5 and that’s it. Accept the world for what it is – a place that is just not fair. For my parents writing is like being a musician for some people. We have an old saying in Bulgaria : “A musician can’t feed the house” (can’t provide for his family). Being an artist is a silly thing to be here. As you can see I am a little short of supporters. Here’s the thing, though. I love movies. I love the illusion they create. It’s like for those two hours I am in a different world, a better world, where everything is possible and life is just less…hard. So, I guess, my question is: Is there a point in trying to achieve something from here (Bulgaria), moreover is it even possible to be noticed or succeed. Because that’s what we all want- to be noticed , to feel like our thoughts, our stories will be remembered. Before some of you optimists answer me with the biggest clichés of all something like: “Follow your dreams” or “ You can do it , buddy” there’s something I have to say. I don’t have money! – plain and simple. I don’t have money for books, I don’t have money for writing courses (it may come as a surprise, but there are not any good courses in the area) and I have no idea how to start or where to start from for that matter. All I have is a fairly readable blog in Bulgarian which people seem to dig and a couple of really small achievements in literature. Expressing myself on a piece of paper is basically the most meaningful thing I’ve ever felt doing. It’s just…all I have for the time being is time. So, I am not asking you if it possible to achieve something I am asking you: “IS IT REALISTIC?”. I can use that couple of months for finding a job, studying a new foreign language (which will be really useful in finding a better job), working out or doing all those things simultaneously, instead of chasing windmills and dreams that will never come true. All I know is that I have a really good story to tell, but the odds are surely against me. It’s hard enough for a native English speaking writer to succeed , so what’s left for the “guy from Bulgaria”. So, guys, I really need your opinion on this, whatever it is , no matter how hard you may be on me I’d really like to see what you think.

Well, in order to answer your question sensibly, the first thing I wanted to know was what the state of the Bulgarian film industry was like, so I simply typed in, "Bulgarian Film Industry" into my search engine and the first hit that came up read: "Bulgaria Film Industry Sees Record Production Increase"

Apparently, in 2009, there were 110 original motion pictures produced in Bulgaria. Who knew? Certainly not me.

What do I know about the Bulgarian film industry? Nothing, I'm afraid.

The real question is -- what do you know about it? Because this is your country, your language, your people, and if there's any real chance of your getting work as a screenwriter or filmmaker, it's so enormously greater that you're going to get that work in your native country and language than elsewhere that to talk about working elsewhere hardly seems worth focusing on.

Since you're talking to us on a computer, presumably you have one and that means that you have at the very least that means of doing research on your own country's motion picture industry and it's important to remember that most of the people who are working professionals in that business right now (and sure, some of them, as in any business, got their jobs because their dads or their uncles, or whomever, were already in the business) started off as someone like you -- outside of the business with few resources other than a desire to be in the movies.

There is a process. It's called networking. It's a way of meeting people. And the goal is to make contacts and learn about the business that you want to be a part of.

Maybe you've heard of the term "six degrees of separation?" It means that just about everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by only six other people. Say me and President Obama. So I know person A, person A knows person B, etc., etc. until person D knows President Obama.

While you probably don't know it, I'm willing to bet that you already know people who know other people in the Bulgarian motion picture industry. They may not be precisely the people who you want or need to know.

That's not the point. The point is, where you are now, anything you can learn about how this industry works will help you. You have to open to the experience of learning about how movies get made, get bought, get sold, get put on screens in your own country.

And you have to be willing to very nicely ask people, whether it's someone who works in publicity, or a grip or a gaffer or a production assistant or anyone who's willing to sit down with you for a free hour and talk to you to do you the favor of sharing their experience.

And listen to them and learn from them and take notes and write to them afterward and thank them -- and as part of doing that, always ask them if there's anybody that they can suggest that you can talk to (and by the way, can you mention their name as having recommended you).

That's what's known as networking. One person recommends others that you might talk to. They in turn recommend others. And if you present yourself as an intelligent, polite, and enthusiastic *listener* -- you will learn a lot, you will make contacts (because everyone likes to have that feeling of doing a little favor for someone, and talking about themselves -- it's flattering, so long as they don't get the sense of being used).

This is the sort of thing that doesn't cost you anything but time and attention -- make sure you know who you've talked to, that you thank everybody in writing, keep track of the people who've been nice to you. Follow up on leads.

In my experience, most people in this business will be helpful to *nice* people who are trying to learn and get a foot in the door. And I have no reason to believe that it's any different in Bulgaria than it is in the rest of the world.

You want to learn. You will find that there are people who will want to teach.

So long as you don't make yourself into a pain in the ass.

NMS
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:17 PM   #7
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NMS pretty much covered everything I would suggest. Go forward with the practical because you don't want to be starving and homeless while pursuing your dream, but if you have the fire and desire and the willingness to both learn and get knocked around some, then go for it. There are free script writing software programs available, you have a thriving film scene in your own country. The only way to really make it anywhere in film is to write every day, improve, and network, network, network.
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:37 PM   #8
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First of all I'd like to thank NMS and ice for their answers.

Regarding NMS Let me clarify that many of these motion pictures are mostly Hollywood productions shot in Bulgaria.(Like Conan the Barbarian, Hitman,The expandables and others)There are a couple of bulgarian TV show series that are worth watching and are ok, but still the quality is incomparable to an average american tv show. In recent years a couple of average(in my opinion) movies were made, but certainly nothing exceptional due to the lack of money and poor sponsorship. So even though the film industry is developing fast it's the foreign producers that call the shots. Furthermore the bulgarian participation is relatively small and not crucial for the movie at all. So I guess that one should still try to sell himself to somebody that is not on this local market. I'd also like to add that I'm not poor, actually I'd describe myself as a middle-classed student and I really don't want to complain I have all the basics, it's just that in Bulgaria the middle class can't afford spending money on something that's not...let's say "practical".

Actually I haven't heard of the term "six degrees of separation" , but I really liked the concept of it. As a matter of fact I have a friend that have had a couple of small acting parts in Hollywood productions and is often called for castings by New Line Cinema, since he is in their "catalogue" or something. That guy might know somebody I could talk the subject through. I really doubt he'd help me, because he's kind of selfish and narcissistic, but nothing stops me from trying.

Thank you again, guys
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:34 AM   #9
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It sounds as if the Bulgarian film industry is where the Canadian film industry used to be. (I'm Canadian) It used to be that US companies came up here to film to save money and take advantage of the tax breaks, and Canadian film and television was, comparatively, home movies. But we built on that, and our industry grew. We're still not 'Hollywood', but we have been called 'Hollywood North'.
So, maybe you have a chance to grow with the industry in Bulgaria. Or, get a foot in the door, and maybe have a chance to work in another country. Your written English is good.
As everyone says, stay in school, get the Economics degree. Movies are hugely affected by financial matters, there's got to be some way you can find related work, again, as a way to meet people and make connections. While you're studying, (and, I assume that in Europe, the more languages you have, the better) maybe look around for students making small films. Get practice, see how things happen, how you could make them happen. Also, they may have access to books, etc.
There are Bulgarian films at Foriegn Film Festivals here, someone is making them. Why not you?

As for your friend who's had a few small acting parts, he should want to help you, especially if he's selfish and narcissistic, because you're not trying to become an actor, and competing with him for parts. If he helps you with your ambitions to become a screenwriter, why, that's more potential work for him! Even if not in your films, he'll have a buddy with connections.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:50 AM   #10
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NMS speaks truth, and his advice is always worth listening to.

Stay in school, get the degree.

Start 'working' in the industry. Start NOW. What does that mean? In a practical sense, that means you need to start hooking up with people in your area, who are shooting films. What kind of films? Any kind of films. What should you do? Anything that's needed. Why should you do it?

NETWORKING.

You're on an international forum for writers. I'll bet there's a Bulgarian forum for filmmakers. People looking for scripts, for crew, for caterers for crying out loud. FIND the people in your area making films.

That's how it happens. That's what it's about. Maybe you help out on a short film, maybe you're just micro-waving the donuts, or fetching coffee. Maybe you meet someone who you hit it off with, and they mention you on the next project. Maybe you're just holding a reflector. It. Doesn't. Matter.

People work with people they know and trust.

Get known. Be trustworthy.

Doesn't mean you have to be a 'chump'. I never work for free. That doesn't mean you get cash - it could mean you get a 'quid pro quo' but you get it in writing. Do favors. Return favors. Keep track of favors.

The more you can do, the more you WILL do.

Because sooner or later, you'll be able to hand your script to someone who is looking for one. Or you'll be on set, and come up with something good in the spur of the moment. Or you'll cobble together a small crew, to shoot that short, because THEY ALL OWE YOU for working on their short films.

That's my recomendation.

OR

Buy a lottery ticket. When you win, you can squander it making movies.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:39 AM   #11
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My view of it is this. You have to be realistic. The odds are long, long, long. At the same time, some people golf and they'll never be professional. And some people play soccer (football) without a hope in hell of being professional. What are you going to do with your spare time? You'd better enjoy it.
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Old 06-04-2012, 07:32 PM   #12
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There has been a lot of great information already. I just want to touch on a few other points:

First, successful people do whatever it takes to turn their dreams into reality.

Second, successful people do things they don't like to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doesntmatter View Post
some of us just don’t have the finances to go and study abroad.


I knew a South Vietnamese guy that spent 2 years - alone, at 7 years old - making his way to the United States after the war. He had no money, no family, and the North Vietnamese arrested anyone fleeing from the south.

I'm not saying your situation is infinitely better. I'm just illustrating that, if that's what you need to do, you find a way to do it.

Quote:
Accept the world for what it is – a place that is just not fair.
I won't sugar-coat anything. Life isn't fair. And it's not just in the arts. If you go to school for economics, you'll find that profession isn't exactly fair either. More jobs - sure. But in either case, if you want something you have to be the one to go after it.

Quote:
instead of chasing windmills and dreams that will never come true.
What is your dream? Is your dream just to write screenplays? Or is your dream to make a million dollars writing screenplays? (you don't have to answer that - it's just to make you think) Get specific with yourself. What - exactly - is it that you want? You cannot choose which roads to take until you already know where you're going. And there will be literally an infinite number of roads you can take. Several years of economics could very well be one of those roads to get you into screenwriting.

And remember, you are young. You have a lot of time to set yourself on a solid course. You might not feel like you have a lot of time... but take it from someone that is twice your age and wandered aimlessly for 10 years. Always have goals! It can be very disheartening to looking back and think about all the goals one could have accomplished in that time.

One last thought. Besides providing you with a stable income, how else will economics help you reach your goals? Is there another field of endeavor that could provide you with a stable income, but also be more transferable into the arts industry? Marketing? Development? Non-Profits Management?

I hope that helps.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:15 AM   #13
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Here in Bulgaria the average month salary is about 500$.
If that's your level, it's very realistic.

You may not sell a script to a big studio for $100gazillion but there are plenty of indie producers on the social networks who are looking for scripts and will pay at least that much. Just get good at writing lots of scripts and don't get precious about each one.

You don't need to buy books anymore. It's all on the net and software is free:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/scriptnotespodcast
http://www.youtube.com/clickokdotcodotuk
https://www.celtx.com/
http://www.agentquery.com/resource_ww.aspx

I always seem to see writers pitching their scripts on various social networking groups.

You've got a massive advantage: you're aiming low.
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:18 AM   #14
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Stick with your dreams and one day you will be walking through them with a smile in disbelief and ecstasy. The imagination, the dreams of writers, (the magicians of all ages) are the only ones that can tell the truth, the way the world really works and what we are all collectively experiencing. You need not hope or pray, yet work, and let the art speak for itself. There will always be other artists interested in seeing/hearing your works. I am one of them. You are definitely not alone here, my friend. Best of luck to you, and know that the fruits of your labors always pay off. Cause = Effect. This is not cheesy, but yet a sacred science. I am currently working out, studying martial arts, etc. while pursuing an active career as a musician, while writing screenplays, directing, acting, and working very hard day and night. In the end it isn't about money...it's about finding a way to honestly and openly express emotions that would otherwise devour the core of our being. There is physical suppression of expression, mental, and spiritual, I personally believe. Writing, Acting, Painting, etc. are all crafts, specialized to suit particular forms of expression....and they are all wonderful. Some of us are just writers, screeners, etc. some of us are all around artists. Unity is the key like Pauly and Gate both said.
Remember this if nothing else...there are real connections here and abroad, all you have to do is follow your intuition.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:43 PM   #15
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A lot of good advice so far. Mine advice is to stay in school and get your degree. In the meantime, read, read, read, and write, write, write. And network. Find a film that's shooting someplace close to where you live (if that's possible) and try to get a job getting coffee for the important people. Do it for free. You're very young, you have energy and clearly an objective. Just keep working towards that goal and things will start to fall in place. But do get your degree. If there isn't a film close to where you live, then try getting work in a theater. Get involved in the world of acting, writing, directing.
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