Friday, August 31, 2007

Better odds in Vegas

I have to make a correction to an earlier post. But before I get to that, let me just say that I’m a gambling man. I like poker and I love craps. I play skins on golf holes. It reminds me that every shot counts.

When I lived in Vegas, I gambled. Not every night, but once in awhile. But living there is much different than being a tourist who flies in for a weekend for a big score. Those suckers will play anything, never knowing what they’re doing or their odds. They gravitate towards the slots because they’re attracted to the noise and blinking lights. I stuck to the tables, mostly shooting craps. People are intimidated by the dice. You know why? The casinos want them to be. Because the little known fact is that casinos lose most of their money on the craps table. It has the best odds payout.

You know what’s the worst thing to play in a casino, what helps build those high rise hotels and subsidizes the buffet and fancy hotels? The slots.

So here’s my correction, and my point (and sometimes I have one)…

Earlier in a post I said that 5,000 new scripts were registered with the WGA every year. The actual amount is 50,000. If each script was a person, they’d fill a stadium.

My confusion was that out of the 50,000, only 5,000 get optioned or purchased (leaving 45,000 unsold). And out of that 5,000 about 200 get made into movies. That’s about 4%.

So, here are the odds:

To get a script sold = 10 to 1

For a movie to be made from your script = 25 to 1

Why am I writing screenplays again?

Oh, right, because to get a play produced in a regional theatre has even worse odds and less money. That’s why. Because there are just as many playwrights out there competing for festivals where they won’t even make a dime, much less get royalties from a professional production.

The Chester Horn Festival received over 600 scripts from all over the world. For a short play festival. For no money. Only 12 made the cut. That’s 2 % of submissions.

So let’s break that down into the odds:

Short play getting produced for no money = 50 to 1

So although the theatre is my first love, I know the stats. I know which games to play at the casino and which to avoid. This doesn’t mean I won’t put a quarter into the slots now and then, but I sure won’t expect much payback.

But really, if you stopped to think about it, both games are crazy. Both involve risk. Risk means you will have losses. You just will, in gambling or in writing. If I went to law school or med school, I wouldn’t have to worry about job security.

But as the credo goes: “you gotta be in it to win”.

No comments: