2010 – The year of “meh”

With the Holiday season behind us and only the alcohol fueled New Years eve left to tackle, I figure it was a perfect time to look back and reflect at the year that was.  No, this isn’t a post about things that happened in the World at large, but more importantly, things that happened in my own life, both on a professional and personal level.  While every year since I’ve moved to LA I feel that my life has moved forward towards my life goals, this year was at a flat-line level in almost every aspect. The good thing is I’m taking this time and post to realize where things went wrong and what I could do to fix them in the future.

There are two different aspects of my professional life, that as a producer and the other side as a writer.  The Producer side and most things at Suntaur Entertainment stayed pretty flat.  For me it was a problem of being reactive in 2010 instead of proactive.  I did find a couple projects that I adore and feel that they will eventually move forward, but there wasn’t really much to celebrate or tout over the past 12 months.  Financing for one of our pictures was supposed to close in September of 2009.  Of course that didn’t happen and we’re trying to settle with the financier without taking it to court.  This little snafu has caused some hardships, but everything happens for a reason.  There’s a bigger and better deal being put together at the moment, but that is all I can say.

There was also a little traction on a reality show concept that my boss and I had created.  It was the perfect fit to take to one of our partners and eventually almost found its home on a major network.  The network loved the idea and wanted to develop it further, but the project came with a couple “conditions”.  Our partner didn’t want to do one of the shows from the network which was the “condition” that killed the deal.  Luckily, the project has been pitched over the phone to one of the most powerful people in the World.  It is a perfect fit and hopefully we’ll go into development with them in the second quarter of 2011.  Ultimately if this does happen here, it will be a better product, so once again, everything must happen for a reason.

On the development and management front it was also very flat.  The industry is dead in a lot of respects and it makes breaking out a writer difficult.  Networks only want to go with proven talents and the spec market was one of the worst of the year.  If you haven’t checked out the Spec Market Scorecard from Jason Scoggins, you better get yourself on over to Life on the Bubble.  The more information you can learn about the business of screenwriting the more you help your chances at succeeding.

But back to the clients… I got a little off track there.  Lynn Dickinson found herself a Lit Agent in July for her wonderful MG fiction book Brother Haters Anonymous.  The script for the book is one of my passion projects and everyone who has read it sees the potential for a future franchise.  With the anemic spec market we’ve been holding off in hopes of her landing a book deal, but if that doesn’t happen soon I have a Plan B to get the script and Lynn’s career skyrocketing in 2011.

Some of the biggest development went into a young writer named Cody Brotter.  I’ve been reading Cody’s stuff for the past four years (since he was 15) and have always been blown away by his dialogue and humor.  The kid has had a natural talent for dialogue, it was just finding the right commercial project.  in 2010 came a project called Sweethearts… a John Hughes-esque script set in the modern day times of social networking and high school sweethearts.  We’ve since renamed the script and will be hitting up directors and hopefully producing the film in 2011.

Other projects include the first script found off Twitter from Jeff Eyamie which has tons of commercial potential if developed properly, a script from one of the writers of Miss Congeniality, an educational/informational show for kids and another reality show that has been pitched to the networks with Kenny Ortega attached.  So I guess I couldn’t complain too much.  While the year wasn’t great for selling, it was actually a strong year of development.  There’s several other projects not listed here (including clients) as I don’t want to bore you with the 20+ projects currently being juggled at the company.

The biggest downfall of 2010 had to be my own writing career.  I know what killed it and I know how to slowly get it back.  Or so I hope.  The biggest fault is I’ve been working on two scripts for far too long and should have thrown in the towel on one of them many drafts ago.  Why didn’t I?  Well I think they’re both commercial ideas and they’re both with different writing partners.  They allow me to juggle a little more, but coming back to the same project again and again has killed me on a creative side.  Only recently have I sat back down to start writing again.  I’m trying to get over the fear of the constant rewrite.

At the end of 2010 both those projects have come back alive for one reason or another and at least there is also renewed passion and interest from my end.  I’ve also thrown in a new webseries to mix things up.  Maybe I just became burned out on writing the same two features twenty different ways?  Maybe I was too over worked in the Producing side that I pushed this aside?  Maybe I’m just making up excuses?

With 2011 I’ve promised myself a couple things:

  • Finish the final rewrite on TACOM with D. Jordan Knight by June
  • Finish the final rewrite and joke punch-up of IAMW with Trevor by June
  • Finish up writing the first season of the CN webseries
    • Finish pilot by first week of January
    • Finish season one bible by end of January
    • Write the rest of the scripts by June
    • Produce the webseries over the summer
  • Start working on a new script alone
    • Finish the outline by January 1st
    • Rough first draft for the Script Race in January
    • Re-write as time permit through June
  • if all goes according to plan… shop for representation in July/August
  • And for my big year goal… to lose 50+ pounds.  Just one pound a week

There it is… my personal goals set out there for all to see.  This is a lot to put on my plate with everything going on at Suntaur.  The professional side might take over and I might have to trim back on some of the goals, but I must be persistent.  Every year I hear of people giving up on the dreams of Hollywood, but how many really try and put their full efforts into making it?  Most sit back and hope something happens, but honestly that isn’t the way this town works.  You will get out of it as much as you put in.

Well 2010 was flat in my mind so I’m ready to shock some life back into my system.  To put that passion back into play and be the only one responsible for the outcome.  I recently read a book titled “The Power of Less” after it was recommended to me by Anne Lower that was loaded with helpful ideas on how to battle my life of multi-tasking.  No longer can I put so much on my plate and try to do so many things at once.  It is time to simplify and focus on certain tasks.  That means less time on Twitter and checking my email.  That also means less time playing poker at PokerStars (find me as NorCalZac) even though I am finally becoming a winning player.  That isn’t in the long term goals.

Oh, and before you even think I forgot about it… the most successful thing from 2010 that I was lucky to be a part of: #ScriptChat.  ScriptChat is barely a year old and has grown by leaps and bounds.  The #treefort has been a wonderful team and every guest we’ve had has been valuable in the growth of the brand.  2011 brings many new great features to ScriptChat and we hope to see it grow even more.  Thank you if you ever participated in a chat, randomly tagged a tweet with the hashtag or even just lurked in the chatroom and learned anything.  That’s what it is all about, learning the craft and growing as an artist.

Well if you read this far, how do you feel your 2010 was?  Was it better than expected or just ho-hum like mine?  What will you do differently in 2011 to move at least one step closer to all your goals?  You don’t need to make big changes all at once, remember it can all be done in baby steps, or if you want to go cliched, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  As we’ve said at #scriptchat, we want to make 2011 “the year of the screenwriter”.  Together, we can do it.  You just have to believe and take the right steps towards the goal.

Good luck.  Onwards and Upwards!

9 Comments

  1. Vivi Anna
    Dec 27, 2010

    Wow, I think you accomplished more than you realized Zac. It’s all that you’ve planted in 2010 that will be ready to be harvested in 2011.

    For me 2010, was much like yours. Lots of planting for things to come. I realized a lot about my writing, especially with my books, and I realized that I have been selling myself short when it came to my screenwriting. That I am better than I thought. That I do have the talent and the drive to make something happen, and that the only thing standing in my way is me.

    I made a ton of amazing contacts in the industry, all from #scriptchat. From that I’ve gained a writing partner, two trusted script consultants, and a plethora of amazing people I would never have met or known before.

    In 2010, I made a strong working relationship with a producer, learned how to put a kick ass TV series bible together, wrote a pilot, gained Hollywood rep for a big TV project, and reconnected with a MAJOR player that remembered me from like 7 years ago. For me, that’s a freaking good year.

    I hope all the best for you in the New Year. And I can’t wait to meet you come April. (remember I twisted your arm in being on a panel at the RT writer’s convention?) :-)

  2. I love your honesty, Zac! I also believe in stating goals out loud for people to hear. There’s nothing like accountability to motivate. So…. my goals are: 1. to get SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME to a higher level of quality. I’m very proud of it, but my gut feeling is we can make it better 2. to finish the script I’m writing for Pro Series, 3. to finish the novel and submit to literary agents, 4. to keep improving the scriptchat brand, 5. to spend more time with my family. I need to work less… or at least more efficiently.

    Now let’s keep cheering each other on so we can push past the tough days together!

  3. Jamie
    Dec 27, 2010

    Well, considering how my 2010 started (Zac you know about this), it hasn’t ended as badly as it could have. I’ve really put too much on my plate, so I’m giving up my position on the #scriptchat #treefort NOT!!! I’m letting a few things go and focusing on my jewelry business which makes the money so I can write and concentrating on the projects I started in 2010. Not starting any new projects until the old ones are finished.
    This was a great post Zac. An I’m right here with you on the WW, only now it may be easier because my life if truly at stake if I don’t start eating better. So I will put my health first. Part of that is to run a couple of 5Ks or maybe even longer. Not to win, but to finish.
    That’s it for me, for the most part anyway.

  4. Jonathan Peace
    Dec 28, 2010

    A great, honest post Zac.
    As one of the writers that Suntaur considered I’d like to openly thank you for the time you took with my submission, time that took you from your own writing dreams. It is this willingness of sacrifice, this ability to put others first that has really given me hope for the long screenwriting journey to come. There is the cliche that Hollywood is a cut-throat world, and while that may be true in certain aspects I have seen quite the opposite. My experience with yourself and others has been one of openness and honesty. A dream shared.
    Through Twitter and #scriptchat I have learnt so much, met so many amazing people and found a few great opportunities. One of those was the writing assignment for Vantis Pictures. The Rift goes into production early 2011. So again, thank you Zac for helping not only me but a great many others take another step towards our goals.
    I hope I can be in a position one day, to return the favour.

  5. DreamsGrafter
    Dec 28, 2010

    Zac, you’ve had such packed year! And the way I’ve read your post is that a lot of planning and foundation laying has been occuring in 2010, which means that 2011 and beyond will be about reaping the rewards of your hard work. I truly think that in order for something to have longevity with its success, there needs to be a good amount of groundwork achieved; the so-called knockbacks are about something more suited for you waiting around the corner (I sooo believe this). I’m so excited for you!

    My goals for 2011 are: 1. Make my thriller short film. 2. Complete my novel. 3. Keep working on my screenwriting.

    Here’s to goals and taking one step closer towards our storytelling dreams! xox

  6. Kim Garland
    Dec 28, 2010

    You definitely had a wood-shedding year, which is a must for getting new work done. This next year will hopefully be one where you get to reap the rewards of all the work – those are definitely the fun years!

    I’m with you and I’m going to continue getting more proactive in 2011 and focus on a few projects that I absolutely, hell or high water, have to complete next year. Excited to see where we all are this time next year!

  7. Dawn Chapman
    Dec 28, 2010

    What a wonderful inspiring blog. You’ve done so much and still are strong. :) I love #scriptchat and the people I’ve met there are amazing.

    Thanks for the constant aid, support and effort that you put in. You keep so many smiling and give so much hope.

    Dawn

  8. JeffRock E
    Dec 28, 2010

    2010 was a tremendous year for me, Zac, and you are a contributor to that.

    Just giving me hope that I’m possibly not completely delusional is enough for me to be indebted. Getting you meet you, go for beers, hang and get to know the general coolness that is Zac Sanford was a highlight of the past year for me. Now I feel like there’s the business hat and the personal hat.

    Put on your writer hat sometime and look me up. I’d be happy to help however I can.

    PS I need to get the lead out, too. I’m drafting I’m drafting!

    All the best in 2011
    Jeff

  9. Young Lee
    Dec 28, 2010

    I’m going to take advantage of my youth and take on every opportunity that comes my way.

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