How much do I have to pay to participate?
The short answer is “Nothing,” though we hope the answer is eventually “About $37,000.” If the work you do with us does not lead to you actually making money as a screenwriter, you will never pay us a thing. But if you begin to earn money as a writer following your experience with Poiema, you’ll pay us a certain percentage of your income as a writer – it’s 3-7 percent, on a progressive scale – up to a maximum of of about $37,000. (See our MOU for specific details.)
The “about $37,000” figure is based on the WGA minimum for a network hour-long script – which is also the figure the Guild uses as a base to award certain benefits, once those earnings are achieved.
Is being a part of Poiema really worth that much money?
You’ll have to be the judge of that. If we’re able to help you get established as a working writer in Hollywood, you have the potential to make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, we’re trying to make this program self-sustaining, financially, so any funds paid back into the program mean that we can continue helping and mentoring other Christian writers.
Is it guaranteed that I will get paid work as a writer after going through Poiema?
Sorry; nothing is guaranteed. After we help you write your script, it’s up to you to get it into the hands of the right people, and to shop it (and yourself) around.
Will you help me get an agent or manager?
No. But if we think your script is good enough, we will send it on to people that we know who might be able to help you out.
How much do the mentors get paid?
That varies depending on their experience, and how much time is required to shepherd along a script. None of our mentors do this full-time; they are paid a little more than they would get as an adjunct faculty at a college (and adjunct faculty are woefully underpaid).
What happens after I finish my script?
In some cases, Poiema might offer to work with you on other projects – including helping you to write another complete script, and perhaps even others after that. We think of Poiema as a long-term relationship, and – since it is our goal to get writers hired on TV shows or as screenwriters – we do not consider our work done until that happens (and even after that, we will still work with you to get hired again).
What if the mentors and I don’t agree about a certain aspect of my script (be it a story point, a characterization, specific dialogue, or anything else)?
The Poiema mentors are not your studio executives or showrunners; they are your helpers. In the end, your script is your script, and you will make the final decisions regarding what does and doesn’t go in it. That is not to say that we won’t “vigorously suggest” what we think is best, but in the end you have final say.
Who owns the script after I write it?
You do. Poiema has no say in what you do with it, and has no financial stake in your work. (Poiema has a financial stake in you, per the MOU that you will sign, but not in the actual work that you do.)
Where (and when) do you meet?
Meeting times and locations are set depending on the writer’s and mentor’s schedules. We have a space in Hollywood that we use, but we have also met at restaurants, in homes, and via Skype. Some mentors are able to meet during weekdays; others are more available evenings and weekends. In general, writers set the best time and place for meetings and the mentors try to accommodate as best as they can.
Do I have to live in Los Angeles?
No, although it is preferred.
Do I have to have been paid for the scripts I need to have written in order to get into the program?
No. Most of our participants have never been paid as writers (though it’s our hope that participation in Poiema will change that). But we need you to have a certain level of experience with scriptwriting before we work with you.
Does the script that I write have to appeal to the “faith-based” audience?
No, it has to appeal to the “people who can hire you in Hollywood” audience. While we do discuss purpose and meaning of our work, this is not a program that is designed to create evangelical scripts.
Do I have to be a Christian to participate in this program?
What if I’m not a Christian?
Spend some time getting to know Jesus, and then get back to us.
How do you pronounce “Poiema”?
That varies, depending on who’s pronouncing it.