James V. Simpson — or Jay Simpson as he goes by — sold his first script—Armored—in November of 2006, for $400,000. Fast-tracked for production, Armored was released in September of 2009.
He was interviewed by John Robert Marlow in one of the most honest interviews I’ve read. When asked what’s the most important thing a screenwriter should know, he responded:
The make-or-break decisions happen before you type FADE IN. Designing a story that will attract buyers and talent is as much an art form as the actual writing of the story.
Most people say: know the craft — that’s a given! Know your grammar — if you have to be told, you should not be a writer. Outside of that, I often hear to be passionate about what you’re writing but the truth is, you have to sell it. Esp as a first-timer, you must be aware of the market. Or win or place in a widely acclaimed screenwriting competition.
Jay Simpson did both but most important, he said, he made the LA connections when he had none.