Success! Aaron Steven, the 2nd place winner of our 2014 Action/Thriller Screenplay Contest just landed a GREAT literary manager at Kaplan/Perrone, one of Hollywood’s best management companies, with a roster of some of the best screenwriters including David Callaham (The Expendables), Jeremy Slater (Fantastic Four), Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer), Wendy Molyneux (Bob’s Burgers), Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) and many more!
We caught up with ScreenCraft winner Aaron Steven recently – here’s the interview:
1. Congratulations! How did you get your manager? How was your initial meeting?
I got signed as a direct result of placing 2nd in the 2014 ScreenCraft Action/Thriller Contest. One of my prizes for coming in 2nd was a phone consultation with a literary manager, and that happened to be Taylor at Kaplan/Perrone. By the time we spoke he had already read The Narrows. We got along really well and seemed to have similar tastes. I pitched him on my next spec, which I was just finishing up, and he said he would pass The Narrows around to some other folks in his office. About a week later I got a call telling me how excited they were to read my next spec as soon as it was ready. Flash forward a few months, everybody’s schedules calmed down, and I went in for a meeting to go over my work and see where things stood. I ended up kind of hijacking the meeting and pitched a couple new ideas that I’m really passionate about and everything just kind of clicked. He signed me on the spot!
2. What’s it like having a manager?
It’s still early days so I can’t speak too much on the specifics, but so far it’s a dream come true. For young writers just starting out, it’s such a balance between the writing side and the business side. Before you’re signed you spend so much time and thought on how to market yourself or make the best connections. It’s a great feeling to know that somebody has your back and that you can just focus on the craft of screenwriting.
3. Have you entered other consulting services or contests?
Before entering my script in ScreenCraft I had done the usual circuit of The Black List, The Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Film Festival, etc. While The Black List was really helpful in terms of getting notes back, I still felt like I was at a disadvantage since I was competing against scripts of all different genres. So when I saw the ScreenCraft Action/Thriller contest my eyes lit up. Not just because I’d be going up against a much smaller set of scripts, but because the industry judges were all people who already loved scripts like mine. It’s a great system, not just for the writers but for the judges too.
4. How did you get into screenwriting?
It was probably a combination of my father, who is a novelist and a cinephile, and my experience in film school. From a young age I knew I wanted to tell stories and had a passion for filmmaking. Going to film school gave me exposure to all the different aspects of the craft, and pretty immediately the one I gravitated to was screenwriting. I went to a smaller school called Towson University in Baltimore and I had the benefit of some fantastic teachers there. In particular a guy named Michael Angelella. He’s a great mentor to me and a brilliant writer, and he really taught me how to approach the entire thing. After school I moved to LA and started working in production. The last 5 years have been a balance between working in the industry and my own writing. There’s been a lot of late nights and I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive wife and family.
5. What advice do you have for emerging screenwriters who are looking for Hollywood representation?
Don’t sit on your laurels. Before you’re signed, you need to take getting yourself out there just as seriously as you take your writing. The days of writers being solitary, tortured geniuses are long gone. Get out there and network. Be over-prepared for everything. Practice your pitches religiously with anybody who will hear them. Send query letters and enter contests, especially ones with strong industry presence like ScreenCraft. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you these things don’t work because I can tell you they do. Read everything you can get your hands on, especially current scripts that are getting sold, made, etc. At the end of the day, you get out what you put in, and the best screenwriting contests can still only get you in the door. It’s up to you to make those connections matter.
GOOD LUCK AARON! We look forward to many more success stories from you!