Screenwriters To-Do: Read Industry News

A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Dallas Sonnier at his ever-growing management company, Caliber Media. Dallas and his people hold a special place in my heart; I’ve seen them grow from a three-person/two room operation to what they are now: A powerhouse management company with 12 employees housed up high in a Wilshire tower in the Miracle Mile district, their reputation long preceding them.

As we got to talking, I told Dallas that I’m working on a business screenwriting book, at which point he got deathly serious and said this: “Tell your writers that the one thing they have to do is read industry news. Regularly.” Dallas knows what he’s talking about. He’d put his teenage allowance where his mouth is, and started subscribing to The Hollywood Reporter on a regular basis when he was growing up in Texas. Long before he had a car, he had his THR subscription.

Simple though it might be, Dallas is right: You are trying to break into a working industry. Trying to become part of a dynamic, living, breathing, ever-changing thing. It’s your responsibility to know what’s happening here, what is selling, what’s failing, what companies are shuttering, and which are opening in their place.

I am a big proponent of news coming to me. I don’t have time to troll the web in an attempt to uncover all that’s taking place on every given week. And, like everyone else out there, I like getting as much info as I can for free. Here are a few resources I find to be key:

  • – This is the industry news source that has virtually put print publications servicing the entertainment industry out of business and sent them clawing for clients on the interwebs. With stellar reporting by name journalists and an active news blog that is updated with news stories small and big countless times a day, this has become the staple destination for virtually every seasoned industry executive. If you haven’t yet, subscribe to their Breaking News alerts, if only so they can pass through your consciousness before you delete the headlines in which you have no interest.
  • – An aggregate of over 100 news sources from around the web, their free twice-daily email offers a fantastic daily sample of what’s happening in and around the industry. Not only will you find great news here; they also pepper their site with valuable think-pieces. And just like Deadline, their twice-daily news roundup email (along with targeted editions) is free.
  • The Hollywood Reporter – Yes, they are the single paid news resource on this list, but even now that I’ve left the corporate world and am paying for it out of pocket, I love their daily and weekly editions.
  • The Scoggins Report ( – For anyone hoping to one day get out there on the merit of a powerful feature spec, it’s your job to know the general market trends that you will have to contend with.

After I directed one of my writers to these news sources she said: Okay, interesting. But… what do I do with it? The reality is that, at least in the beginning, much of this will be Chinese. The point is to start keeping your eye out for the projects that are in line with yours (same genre in the very least), see who is moving, who’s buying, what’s happening.

Professionals want to work with other professionals. Professionals who understand the landscape, who know who’s buying, who’s selling, and which companies and executives have meaning. The more you know, the better you are versed, the better the chance you will be giving yourself.