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Time to …. Life and death are at stake. An MP struggles with the donkey and the owner, trying to get them out of the way. But makes no headway. The entire Third Army halts for this recalcitrant donkey. General George Patton roars up, leaps out of his jeep, whips out his ivory-handled pistol, shoots the donkey, and immediately has it hurled off the bridge, removing the obstacle.

The Great Leadership Principle. That classic scene not only revealed Patton's character in a cinematic way, but also embodies the great leadership principle of taking decisive action to remove all obstacles to fulfill one's mission. Convinced that selling a project to Hollywood had to be an incredibly Complex Sale, I decided to get the real scoop from a respected Hollywood veteran and well-known author. I found that a really Complex Sale, such as to Hollywood, may, at times, be difficult, painful, long-term, discouraging, and frustrating.

But it could, at the same time, be … simple?

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Skip Press is an award-winning writer for radio, television and film. In addition, almost 1, colleges and universities on three continents offer Skip's screenwriting course titled "Your Screenwriting Career. Skip can rattle off Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," scenarios to illustrate a business concept then seamlessly transition to Aristotle's Poetics, lauding its timelessness for covering the principles of dynamic storytelling.

But, and this is very, very, very important, his writing is clear, entertaining, convincing, motivating and easy to understand. Pretty powerful stuff when you combine that with a rare blend of creative genius and business savvy that has enabled him to create, write, market, negotiate and close multiple Complex Sales, including book, film, radio and TV projects.

Wendy Finerman needed over a decade to get one particular film made, and when she began the process she was married to Marc Canton, who was the head of a studio. You have to be passionate about it, willing to do whatever it takes to get the project done. A co-writer and I recently had a screenplay "optioned" picked up for possible production that we first began writing 15 years ago.

Insight 1. Success in the Complex Sale. SKIP: Selling something to Hollywood can also be very simple if you arrive with an already popular property. Examples: a non-fiction book, a novel, a comic book or a well-known national true story. If you have an original, well-written screenplay it better be in a popular genre so that it's readily evident that it will make money at the box office.

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Insight 2. SKIP: Determination, unfailing spirit, and 10 years of tenacious hard work, even in the face of continued skepticism that the project would ever be made, eventually resulted in a little film called "Forrest Gump" with:. Insight 3. Anything You Can Dream. SKIP: Unfortunately, most people don't bring undying determination to Hollywood, and so they must find a champion for their project who won't give up, like the filmmakers mentioned above.

Stepwise, this can mean an agent who finds a producer. Stepping back one step, it might mean finding a manager unregulated by the State of California, unlike agents , who works with an agent or goes straight to a producer. It might be an entity that acts both as manager and producer, like Bender-Spink.

Then a producer will have relationships with a funding apparatus, which may or may not be a studio. To get funding, the producer might attach a director, who will attract talent, which will hopefully impress funding entities.

Marketing for a New Age - Purple Cow by Seth Godin

If not funded by a studio, the producer might need to line up distribution, and a distribution company will know how much the talents' names are "worth" in various worldwide markets, so this will factor in how much they will be willing to spend. For all of these reasons, I advise people to try to write and sell in established genres and markets before trying to re-invent Hollywood.

Insight 4. Know the Business. Know the Process. Speak the Language.

You encapsulated that in one of your books as "Hollywood Success in 25 words or less. SKIP: Here's a personal example. My own script that I mentioned above is called "Alien Creeps. He smiled and told me it was a good title. The concept communicated to him immediately, before he even heard the logline the 25 words or less. So it really starts with a title, and this applies to any business. Johnson, I understand you live in a haunted house.

Have you ever enlisted the services of a ghost buster? Or, it can be an intriguing title that makes you want it explained, like "Men in Black". So then, you have to tell someone on the phone, or via e-mail, or worst choice in a letter, what your script is about. You expand it further, which is sort of what studio marketing people do when they say things on the poster like "Next Summer: You Will Believe. And so they're intrigued, perhaps. How do you accomplish this, finding the right person at the right time?

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If you live here, you also network with people, go to parties, go to screenings of films, and try to find out who is looking for what. And then you get lucky. I have a TV project being pitched at a high level at Paramount. I just happened to bring it to someone who has their ear at a time when they were considering a similar series but couldn't get it right.

Insight 5. Yes, luck counts too. SKIP: It is explaining your entire movie, usually within 15 minutes. In some cases, they will then go pitch the story to their boss, the person who writes the "green light" checks at a production company, network or studio. In short, you have to keep making people happy all the way to the top.

Not any different than any other business, is it? Insight 6. Happy including yourself when you close the deal. STEVE: You advocate, and have often exemplified, aggressive action, cold calling, never waiting or depending on someone else to get you through to the highest-level contact possible. Some people have an aversion to this, or, perhaps, are intimidated.

How did you come to this conclusion? SKIP: I've never had a problem with it. I said hello to Richard Donner "Lethal Weapon," "Conspiracy Theory," "Superman" in a parking lot and sent him scripts for years afterward. I ran into Michael York "Austin Powers" trilogy, "The Omega Code" in a copy shop and noticed he was copying something about Tennessee Williams, whom I'd interviewed - we struck up a conversation and have been friendly since. And speaking of Tennessee Williams, I knocked on his door in New York one day and asked to interview him for a magazine and he said yes. Very gracious man.

Insight 7. There have been times when I have been intimidated by legends. Fred Astaire walked by me on the street in Beverly Hills one day and said hello and my jaw literally dropped and I managed to bungle out a return greeting. Burt Lancaster smiled and tipped his hat to my then wife and I one day in Century City.

I covered the opening of a club Merle Haggard started in North Hollywood and every country legend within the western U. Nevertheless, by and large, the nicest people are at the top in this business. Insight 8.

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No one is unapproachable. Open your eyes. I'm not sure about saying "howdy" though. If you do have it together, though, you will not blow your first chance with a powerful and busy person. Even if they don't have a particular liking or need for your particular project, if they are impressed by your conceptualization and presentation, they'll listen to you again.

In the instances above, the stars who said hello to me may have noticed me because I'm generally confident, or they could've just been nice guys. First impressions mean a lot.


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I got a phone call from Michael York's assistant one day about something I wanted to interest Michael in Michael was doing a movie in Croatia at time. So good first impressions can start long-lasting relationships. Insight 9. Be prepared.