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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Guest Blog: Hilary Graham

Hello, Rouge Wavers, this your guest blogger, Hilary Graham. My script FREEBIRD was the Grand Prize Winner of the Silver Screenwriting Contest, so Julie suggested I share a bit about my experience while I’m here in LA enjoying the many fruits of my wonderful prize package. It’s nearly midnight and I just returned from the Ch√Ęteau Marmont where Julie & I had drinks with screenwriter and author, Blake Snyder. If I were back home in NH, I’d probably be asleep by now (you gotta wake up early to slop the hogs, you know). But since I’m here in Los Angeles I’m wearing lipstick and using the phrase “four-quadrant picture” and hanging out at “The Chateau” across from Rosario Dawson and next to a man who has actually sold multiple scripts for seven figures.

Blake Snyder is a great guy and truly a guru in the best of the word. He’s like a screenwriting Yoda. (Tomorrow I will try to telekinetically lift a Studio Executive using the force.) If you haven’t read Blake’s Save the Cat! book series, I highly recommend you check it out. I’ve read many screenwriting books, and I have to say that Blake’s Save the Cat! is by far the most down-to-earth straightforward analysis of how a screenplay works, written in a concise, personal, easy-to-read style. I’ve found it particularly helpful to turn to it when I’m trying to work out the beats of a script. In any case, it was great to be able to meet Blake in person glean some of his wisdom in between sips of my yummy vodka drink in a setting I’d only read about in People Magazine. Blake is clearly a very generous man, not only of his time (and I honestly don’t know how he fit in meeting with me with the gazillion other projects he’s working on) but also with his insights. One of the nicest things about our meeting was getting to be amongst people who all truly love doing what they’re doing, even though each of us is at different stage in our journey. I think in this business, where it’s easy for people to grow bitter, I always find it heartening to meet people who are not only happy because of their own accomplishments, but also seek to encourage others’ success.

Speaking of which, Julie has been like a Fairy Godmother to me, nurturing and supportive of my script, and working hard to help advance my career by setting up meetings with writers and production companies. (More details to follow as I have these meetings over the next few days.) Anyway, I’m tremendously grateful for her advocacy, and I urge all of you other aspiring screenwriters go out and get yourself a cheerleader.

Anyway, my first 48 hours in LA have been a whirlwind, (my manager has also set up a full schedule of meetings for me so it’s go, go, go) and my week is just beginning…. Thinking about it is too exhausting, so instead, I’ll just try to remember to breathe, to be brief, to learn something from every meeting, to forgive myself when I don’t make a perfect pitch, and to have fun. I was sitting in the waiting room at Paramount today listening to some middle-aged guy in a suit talk on his cell phone and it occurred to me—we’re all here doing this cause we like telling stories. How cool is that?

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NYCWriter said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Hilary.

And, congratulations!

I'm trying hard to push down that evil little green troll lurking inside me... but, hey, take it as a compliment. I'm jealous as hell, but wish you the very very very best while you are out there.



E.C. Henry said...

Now THIS is a Hillary I can endorce (hehe).

Glad to hear you're having a ball. Hope all your dreams come true. Glad to hear Julie's efforts are making a difference in your career.

Hope to hear you land a sale sometime soon. But untill then, at least you have the solace taht SOMEONE liked something you wrote. Some of us out here in the cyberspace wasteland haven't even experienced that yet.

"Freebird" must be something special. Hope to see it at the Bonney Lake multiplex someday.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

rachel said...

very cool hilary - enjoy your time and keep up the blogging!

Anonymous said...


I hope one day I could win a contest at your company.

But my script is a martial arts and boxing epic set in the 70s.