David Berger, 33, has been working on his screenplay every day for the last three years at a Studio City Starbucks and wants you to know that he is “nearly finished.”
“It’s taken a lot of effort, but the script is just about perfect and should be ready to send to agents and managers in the next six months or so,” said Mr. Berger who moved to Los Angeles five years ago from Cherry Hill, New Jersey to pursue a writing career. His prior credits include “Guy Banned from a Tarzana Coffee Bean for Fighting with a Persian Teenager over Outlet” and he is also the author of an unfinished spec script for Modern Family.
The Avocado spoke to several Starbucks employees about what it has been like watching Mr. Berger work, to which they all responded: “Which white guy with a laptop working on his screenplay are you talking about?” Efforts to explain that Mr. Berger was the pudgy, slightly balding writer with a goatee were unhelpful. “They’re all pretty annoying,” said shift supervisor Nancy Albatross. “They don’t buy anything and never leave.”
Fellow Starbucks writer, Michael Peacock, who has worked at the table next to David for the last year and is himself only 4 or 5 years away from finishing his own script about his father not loving him or something, said he admires Mr. Berger and appreciates his willingness to watch his things while he is in the bathroom. “I know my laptop is safe when I’m taking a shit if Dave is here.”
Mr. Berger said he wouldn’t be able to work on his art without Starbuck’s lax loitering policies and the fact that refills on iced teas and coffees are free with his Gold Card. When asked what his screenplay was about, Mr. Berger muttered something about it being a genre flick in the style of Jordan Peele or Quentin Tarantino, but refused to give any more details without “proper NDAs” in place. Ultimately, Mr. Berger admitted it was about his father not loving him or something. “I think it’s going to be a significant piece.”
Non-union screenwriter Darren Forsyth is offering script consultation and coverage services to aspiring writers. The cost is $500 per script review, which he insists is “industry standard” and “a small price to pay if you are serious about getting better at your craft.”
Mr. Forsyth, who has never “sold” a screenplay in the traditional sense, is a frequent, unpaid contributor to the Huffington Post and the /r/screenwriting group on Reddit and sees his services as an important part in your growth as an artist.
“Having a neutral reader give feedback on your work is an essential step toward getting better at your craft,” said Mr. Forsyth, who has applied to many prestigious writing competitions that wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them in the ass. “I’ve been a screenwriter for twelve years and have myself paid tens-of-thousands of dollars for script consultants and writing workshops, so I know firsthand how valuable something like this can be.”
When asked sheepishly by a prospective client that just moved to L.A. to pursue her own screenwriting career what made him qualified to charge money considering his lack of professional success, the 37-year-old scoffed and muttered something about “paying your dues” before telling the young girl that he has watched several YouTube videos reviewing Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass and that he was once in an improv class with Damien Chazelle in 2007 and “still has his number somewhere.”
“It’s a lot of money, I don’t know…” said the prospective student to which Mr. Forsyth responded “If you’re not serious about your craft then don’t waste my time!” before immediately offering to lower his rate to “well what can you pay?” since he really needs the money.