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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spotlight on Derek Rydall

Wavers know that The Wave-inatrix is a fan of the book There's No Business Like Soul Business, by Derek Rydall. Yesterday I got inspired, picked up the phone and called him. Derek was nice enough to have a great conversation with me and here is some of what he had to say:


First things first - your head shot on your website is great. Are you single?

Not at the present moment. In fact, not for the last 15 years. But, hey, you never know.

What inspired you to write There’s No Business Like Soul Business? Great title, by the way.

Lots of pain and suffering, plenty of producers who didn't see my genius, and a good dose of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching failure and disappointment. In other words, a day in the life of the 'biz'.

Then I had a sort of near-death experience, decided to become a monk, then a minister, then told my girlfriend I had to be celebate. Yeah, that went over real well (Lasted, oh, about a day or so). And finally I realized that I was supposed to bring this new awareness to the 'biz'. That led to a group of a couple dozen other miserable artists and entertainment professionals looking for a way to sell themselves without selling their souls...and eventually the book.

You travel literally all over the world doing workshops based on your book. I know you are also researching two projects; can you tell us a little about them or is it all top secret?

One is an untitled project about a bunch of college-age pilots flying in the jungles during the 80's. And the other is about Mona Lisa and DaVinci.

Did you like the movie Top Secret?

I actually loved it!

I understand you went through WGA arbitration recently, about a script at Universal. How long did the process take, what got you there and who won? Does the arbitration system work, in other words?

It took a couple months. It happened because there was a writer who did a story before I came on board, then a director came on after and brought someone in to rewrite it. I won and received sole I think the arbitration system works incredibly well!

You didn’t know this until now but recently I subscribed to your email-newsletter about how to get the most out of a script consultant and loved it. Being that I am a script consultant, I wanted to make sure I am delivering as much value as possible to my clientele. Can you give my readership the top five things to look for in a script consultant in a nutshell?

(1) Credibility. Check their references, past testimonials, samples, to see if they have a proven track record and are a fit for your sensibilities. This doesn't mean you shouldn't work with a consultant who doesn't yet have a long resume -- there are many very talented people out there who haven't yet proven themselves -- but then their price should reflect that lack of experience and lower some of your risk for trying them out.

(2) Honesty. You don't want someone who only pats you on the back, you want someone who will tell you the absolute truth, otherwise they're not helping you create the best script possible. On the other hand, you want someone who is always constructive and supportive; someone who feels like they're in your corner.

(3) Passion. You want a consultant who truly loves film and story, who's passion and enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. You also want someone who you feel is sincerely interested in your success -- not just your check -- and invested in helping you make your script as good as it can be.

(4) Service. You want a consultant who isn't watching the clock or making you feel like you're a burden. You want to feel like you can ask questions and get real answers and solutions, and you want to feel like there is some follow-up after you've received your notes and/or story meeting.

(5) Value. You want a consultant who offers real value for your hard-earned dollar. That can come in a lot of ways. If it's coverage, you want more than just the standard 2-page studio-type coverage that doesn't really give you any significant feedback. And with the bigger analysis packages, it's always great to have the choice of a personal one-on-one story meeting to brainstorm over the notes. Also, look for consultants who offer other benefits -- like more in-depth follow-up, faster turnaround, a money-back guarantee or a free sample analysis of the first page or so of your script, etc.

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are aspiring screenwriters who feel that paying a consultant is a huge rip-off. What say you to that point of view?

I understand this feeling. Most of us have been bombarded with so much marketing and some not-so-ethical people trying to prey on unsuspecting artists and creative types. But the truth is, most consultants are good, honest people who have some knowledge to share and want to help. It's up to the writer to do their due dilligence and make sure they're making a good choice.

Also, it's important for writers to realize what this craft really takes, and what other successful writers have done to get where they are. Many writers vet their scripts through multiple sources of feedback and multiple rewrites. If we want to achieve lasting success, we need to model some of these same practices.

If you look in other industries, you see successful pros using consultants all the time. Entrepreneurs have consultants go over their business plans before pitching a new multi-million dollar enterprise. Architects have other professionals go over their blueprints before trying to get a multi-million dollar building built. Well, what is a script but a 'blueprint' or a 'business plan' for a multi-million dollar venture called a movie.

So it seems we have a mutual acquaintance with Marc Zicree! Is he the nicest guy ever or what?

Absolutely. What a cool guy!

It’s sometimes very tough to stay encouraged in this business we call show. What do you advise aspiring writers to hang onto or think about when they are feeling down about it?

Just as the oak tree is already in the acorn in potential, there is a mighty being inside each of us waiting to emerge. And, like the acorn, we already possess everything we need to achieve our greatness...but the conditions must be cultivated for us to grow. These are primarily 'inner conditions' such as a connection to our 'source', grattitude, passion, peace, generosity, and a vision that is bigger than our personal life.

There is no quick fix, per se, although sometimes just taking our attention off ourselves and trying to help someone else can do wonders. There are many other things we can do to cultivate a sense of faith and empowerment regardless of outer conditions, but this is a good start (you can check out the book, "There's No Business Like Soul Business" for more).

Are there some writers who should quit trying? How can they tell if enough is enough and nothing is moving forward and so this may not be the path for them?

That's a tough question, and one many of us grapple with from time to time. The only thing I can really say is that if it's something you truly want, then you should never quit. You can't determine whether or not you'll move forward based on how you 'feel'. That's a big mistake. It's called 'emotional reasoning'.

Feelings don't necessarily tell us the truth, they just tell us what we 'believe' or 'think' about something. We need to examine our beliefs more deeply to see if they're true or not. Often, our struggles are calling us to grow in ways that will make us the people and the creators that we need to become in order to fulfill our higher purpose. Look at all the examples of people who had everything against them, who were rejected over and over, for years, but didn't give up. Thomas Edison failed at creating the lightbulb like 10,000 times. Where would we be if he gave up after the 100th failure...or the 5,000th failure? We'd be in the dark and we wouldn't have movies! How many of us are willing to fail 10,000 times?

Okay I know this is a really annoying question but what are your top 3 favorite movies of all time?

That IS a really annoying question. Mostly because I have so many movies I love. A few that come to mind...the original Star Wars, Groundhog Day, Bruce Almighty, Little Miss Sunshine, The Matrix, and about a 1000 more, including a lot of older ones.

Do you read in bed? What are you reading right now?

You sounded so sexy when you asked that. Yes, I read in bed. I'm not reading anything right now, I'm doing this interview. Oh, you mean in general? About 12 books, on politics, spirituality, world service, psychology, etc.

If we were to host a Rouge Wave dinner here in LA, to talk about staying encouraged and inspired would you come if I buy dinner?

Oh, yeah.


Well, whaddya say to that, Wavers? How about Sunday, September 28th at the Kung Pao Bistro in West Hollywood. A get-together for writers feeling down in the mouth and who'd like some inspiration and encouragement. Contact me HERE if you'd like to attend. Admission is the cost of dinner and a willingness to participate in a conversation about how we can stay motivated and encouraged in a very tough business. That Derek will be joining us is pretty huge; he travels the world speaking and he's doing this just because he's a cool guy.

To learn more about Derek Rydall, his books and services, click HERE.

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Luzid said...

This is a great idea, and I'd love to come!

...unfortunately, I work Sundays (from 1PM - 1130PM).

Why do these cool things always happen on days I can't attend? : (

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie..

Love this line from Derek regarding finding a good script consultant --

"(2) Honesty... you want someone who is always constructive and supportive; someone who feels like they're in your corner.


Can't wait to use your services Julie!