Featured Writer: Paul Zeidman

Paul ZAs many of you may recall, I interviewed Paul Zeidman a while back for my blog and the follow-up book, Creative Writing Career. To keep you up to date and share what these awesome writers are up to now, I started a “Featured Writer” section of my blog, and am happy to share Paul’s updates below.

Check out his blog at MaximumZ. 

Justin Sloan: It’s great to catch up, Paul! Since we last talked, I know you have done a great deal of writing. Can you tell us about some of your favorite scripts you may be shopping? 

Paul Zeidman: I’m still shopping around my fantasy-adventure DREAMSHIP. I pitched it at the recent Great American PitchFest back in late May. There were a few prodcos that seemed interested in it, so now I’m just waiting to see if it progresses past the reading stage.

I also pitched my western THE IRON HORSE OF LUCY STEELE, which also garnered a lot of interest. In the meantime, I got some great notes on it, so a rewrite/polish is pending, which I’m really psyched about doing. A lot of writer friends have said it’s pretty solid, but a little tweaking could make it even better.

Even if nothing comes of having pitched either script, simply being at GAPF was a fantastic experience because I discovered that I’m actually really good at pitching! I’m usually pretty quiet and somewhat reserved, but when I start talking about my scripts, I get really animated and go into “engaging storyteller” mode.

JS: You did an amazing series of interviews with script consultants. Tell us more about that and where our readers can find the posts. 

PZ: Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

The whole thing came about from me wondering what it would be like to ask a professional script consultant or reader some questions about themselves and their background, screenwriting in general, what advice they’d give, and, of course, their favorite kind of pie.

I originally came up with a list of five well-known names, but the more research I did and the more consultants I found, the list kept growing. I decided that a grand total of 50 was a good, solid number.

Each consultant was thrilled to take part, and really enjoyed answering the questions (especially the one about pie). I wasn’t asking for anything in return, although a few did offer a discount on their rate in appreciation.

For now, all of the interviews, plus a few bonus columns, are available on the blog, but I’m considering compiling all of them into an e-book.

JS: Didn’t you also start posting for a big deal script website? How did this come about? Do you approach these posts differently than you would posts on your own blog? 

PZ: When I’d contact potential interviews to ask about their interest, I’d mention that previous entries in the series could be checked out on the blog (just to prove that the whole thing was legitimate). One of the consultants I’d sent to was Ryan Dixon of ScriptShark. He liked what he saw on the blog, and really enjoyed my writing style. When he responded to agree to the interview, he also asked if I’d be interested in contributing to ScriptShark’s blog. How could I say no to that?

While a lot of my Maximum Z posts are about me and what I’m writing, I also like to write about topics I guess would be considered connected to screenwriting – establishing realistic expectations, evaluating your own skill level, the potential for success outside of Los Angeles, that sort of thing. I’m no expert, and have never claimed to be, so I just write from my experience and point of view. Responses for the most part have been very favorable, which is always nice.

JS: Thank you for the update, Paul! Is there anything else you want to share? Anything you have learned over the last year that you feel you should share with our readers? New outlook on life or the writing world? 

PZ: I’m taking a little break from the interviews for now, but have a few ideas for what could come next. Still working out some details about it.

On the writing front, I’m finding my speed at actually getting stuff done has improved. I try to write every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. Doing this on a regular basis has really paid off. A project I think will take six weeks gets done in half the time. It still surprises me when this happens. My goal is to submit the western and another script to the Nicholl next year.

I’d also say that the more I write, the better I get at it (albeit very, very slowly). My confidence in my own abilities has grown exponentially. It probably also helps that I just really enjoy writing, especially when it’s something I’m very interested in or something I would want to see as a moviegoer.

But what has probably been the most significant change over the past year is how much my personal network of fellow writers has grown. I’m a big believer in networking, and have connected with a huge number of great writers from around the world, mostly online, but some in person.

Regarding the latter, if they’re from here in the Bay Area (even more specifically San Francisco), I’ll ask if they’re interested in a get-to-know-you coffee/lunch chat. A lot of those have developed from casual acquaintance to trusted colleague. It’s been great, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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