Maybe you’ve just completed re-writing the last page of your script. Now you’re excited about the idea of selling your screenplay to a studio or production company. Or maybe you’re anxious to have it reviewed by a professional script analyst to see what they think you need to do to sell your screenplay. But the thing that is foremost on your mind is the idea of how great it would be to sell your screenplay. So what are the odds and how can you improve them in your favor?
More screenplays are read and produced today than any time in history because there are so many more places that need content. While it is true that more screenplays get sold and produced than ever before, most of those will never screen at a theatre. However, many more can be seen on cable television, on the internet, direct to DVD, and so on. Already, your odds are better than what they used to be!
Of course, the big dream is to sell your script and see your film at the cinema. So let’s take a look at how you can up your odds of actually selling your script and getting it into the theatre.
1. Write a theatre-worthy script.
You have to write a script that someone will find majorly appealing and feel they can make a lot of money on. That is the bottomline.
The fact is that no one ever knows for sure how a film will be received by audiences, but for sure there are some things that will likely increase the odds most of the time. For instance, writing characters that are the right age and are interesting enough to appeal to a major star. Depending on the genre there are other things that make a script have more commercial appeal.
When you write a script with commercial appeal, you have already upped your odds over a large percentage of your competition.
2. Mingle and network with people in the film industry whenever you get a chance.
Try to meet people who are working filmmakers, whether it’s directors, production executives, or development people. The more you are around the people who could make your film, the more chances you have to get someone interested.
3. Understand the various markets for films.
The more you understand the kind of material that a given market wants, the better your chances of finding the home for your script. Whether it is studying what types of films are on the cable channels, with independent production companies, or even attending film festivals, the more you know about the market the better.
Of course, most aspiring screenwriters have “real lives” with families, relationships, and jobs, so you may not be able to do it all yourself and you may enlist the help of other professionals to do this research for you. But the bottomline is that you do need to market to the right places.
4. Send out query letter mailings and do other unsolicited marketing.
Most screenwriters don’t have contacts, so you have to basically do cold contacts. Concentrate first on the companies that are willing to read unsolicited submissions. If you can get a literary agent or manager that can be a great help, but it’s not necessary. You can go directly to production companies yourself.
When you try to sell your screenplay through query letters, you will need to pitch your script and identify the best producers to send them to. You can also do email queries or attend live pitching events. The most important thing is that you have to take massive action to up your odds of selling your screenplay.
5. Create a strong pitch of your screenplay and be ready to deliver on the spot.
Write your script with all your skill and then create a logline pitch for it that is only three to four sentences long. Tell your story briefly so you can catch the attention of a producer so much that he is excited to ask for more.
You may also want to have a synopsis ready. A script synopsis varies from one to three pages. It touches on the Lead and the important Supporting characters. Their descriptions and motivations relating to the plotline should also come through in the synopsis. In short it is the complete story told in a nutshell.
Selling a screenplay has always been a big challenge but it is more possible these days than ever before. Most importantly perseverance in the midst of rejections is a must.
Ultimately you have to get to know people in Hollywood – but you can do that from scratch by marketing to them. On the other hand, even if you have an “in” with a big producer you went to school with or you met his wife at a party and she loved you – even then, the task of selling yours script can be very difficult. However, when it happens, the rewards are so profound that it is worth keeping the dream alive and going for it.
And the truth is, for all your hesitation, if you are making the efforts to get it seen, selling your screenplay may be just that one day away from tomorrow. Never give up!