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What Are Tracking Boards?


Tracking boards are essentially private bulletin boards used within the industry in order to exchange information and keep up to date on the latest screenplays hitting the market. This information is shared by young creative executives known as CE's, who are eager to discover the next big screenplay and will trade information by both phone and e-mail. There is no single tracking board that governs the whole of Hollywood and by their very nature they are informal and unregulated.

It is important to understand the role that tracking boards can play in the option and eventual sale of your screenplay, even though as a writer you are powerless to influence them.

A typical scenario involves your agent calling a select few CE's and notifying them that he's going out wide with your script and would they like to be included? The CE's start spreading the word and soon other companies are calling for a copy. Your script hits the town and within hours the first coverage reports come in. This is where it gets tricky and the importance of good coverage really comes into play.

If the coverage reports are negative, then word soon spreads over the tracking boards that this script isn't very good. Suddenly, interest begins to wane and some execs may even drop it from their reading list. The hype has died.

If the coverage is good, then a buzz begins to build and your agent could find themselves with multiple offers and even a bidding war. Suddenly your screenplay has become the hot property that everyone is talking about.

It can be a scary thought for any writer that the fate of their screenplay may rest with an anonymous group of executives playing phone and e-mail tag around town. You might even ask the question, why do these young executives share information with each other - aren't they in competition? The truth is that executives need to stay in touch and network with each other, as they change position and company with alarming speed and you never know who you might be working alongside, you need to cultivate close relationships with your peers.

Tracking boards are just another cog in the networking wheel of Hollywood and it pays to know how to play the game and what you're up against - so make sure you hone your screenplay to within an inch of its life before you hit the town and never go out with your first draft.

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