Freelancewriting – The Hot Showbiz Story
When you see their names, their images strewn across the social landscape, you’re energized. Alive.
Since they’re the meat and potatoes of tabloids, talk shows, and gossip columns, you’re plugged in. Their triumphs and tragedies are grist for the media mill and you’re spellbound by the most mundane details of their personal lives. You know what I’m talking about. You inhale their oxygen, their pulsing glamour…
It’s a star-studded universe out there. You write freelance and you yearn to write that material. Fact is, you’re probably hooked on the stuff.
And that’s okay, but you’re not alone…
As a writer, I’ve handled more than my share of entertainment newsbites, articles, movie reviews, and even an interview or two; so I can relate. But before you embark on a quest for this Holy Grail, I’d like to offer some pointers.
GO TO THE SOURCE
If you decide to play this game, you must learn to navigate within that terrain. Here are a few ground rules:
- Go where the product grows. In the entertainment industry, that means New York and Hollywood. You can’t mine this gold from Iowa, Kansas, or Minnesota.
- Know the players. Stay abreast of events, updates, developments, and who’s who in the industry.
Invest in your career with subscriptions to the trade bibles of the industry, especially:
- Hollywood Reporter
You can’t consider yourself a serious force in the “biz” unless you’re reading these trades every day. No matter what happens in the industry, you’ll read about it in The Hollywood Reporter or Variety. Additionally, I’d also suggest a regular review of:
- Rolling Stone
KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS
Although the following list is not exhaustive, it does represent the six most common and general types of freelancewriting projects within the entertainment industry:
• Newsbites: news squib format. Anything from shows, concerts, movies releases, factual points, quotes. Often sensational.
• Movie reviews: As stated. Most are between 8-16 lines, but could be as much as a full page. There is an art and science to writing them.
• Events: You name it. Parties. Openings. Award shows. These are written in an “after the fact” tone.
• On scene: If you’re a novice, consider yourself very fortunate, very blessed if you’re assigned to one of these. Red- carpet events and premiers with emphasis on the “now” aspect. Current/active soundbite sentiments are expected.
• Perspective articles: Backgrounds and insights into the subject matter. These provide unique perspectives on trends, opportunities, events, and celebrities.
• Interviews: Whether in print, film or video. This is a medium about which many books have been written. Read anything by Larry Grobel on these, but here a few principles to help you nail the coveted interview and sail through those murky waters:
WRITE IT PRETTY
Let’s cut to the chase. You’re a writer. You’re a professional freelance writer. And you don’t need for me or anyone else to step on your toes about the fundamentals of good writing.
What I’m referring to is the intangibles. Be creative. Adapt your own compelling style and put it to work. I’m talking about the kinds of phrasing that begs to be read.
Think about your readership. By and large, the fans are young-16-25. This demographic craves anything in the spotlight. Hollywood would be lost and close to broke without their support. They’re the bedrock of the business. As such, you job is to stoke their fire. To be successful, you must give them the flavor of that celebrity, that world. They buy the music, fill the movie theaters, read the magazines, and watch the hot TV programs. This is critical.
If a star is arrested, goes into rehab, or is caught in a compromising position, it’s up to you to deliver the news-and make them want to be there in that moment.
To accomplish this, you must speak their language and speak their minds. Try to:
- Write like an impressionist painter. Appeal to their mental and visual sense to evoke an emotional response. Empathy. Touch their pulse.
- Create a sense of identity. Put them in that interview with you. Make them feel the pain, the success, the conflict within that celebrity. Put them in that zone.
- Take the reader to the event, the scandal, the ecstasy brimming after a red-carpet awards show.
- Try bursts of snappy verbs and adverbs: Use “giddy” instead of “happy;” replace “angry” with “testy;” work with “naughty” instead of “negative.” Be playful.
- Eliminate heavy phrasing with short descriptive words. Say she was:”time dumb” rather than “She forgot to leave early.” “Buzz” is better than “rumor.”
For those who have a professional interest, in a specific medium YOU MUST become familiar with the jargon.
• In the film industry, become familiar with:”attachments” and “greenlighting.”
• In the music industry, if a CD is about to be released it is about to “drop.” If a song has been “covered,” know what that means. If an event is about to occur or has occurred, the term is “jump.”
Don’t be afraid to use the attention grabber. That’s what this industry is all about. Show business is outrageous. Write accordingly. Write with authority, as if the readership knows what you’re talking about, as if you have the inside scoop, and they can’t go anywhere without it. You are the expert!
And finally–create the image, sell the mystique.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
I’ll leave you with my final five parting shots. Try them on to help yourself make a splash:
• Shock value is not a sin.
• Do it with style.
• Give them something only you know.
• Make them love it.
• Have fun!