If you want to know how to sell your screenplay, you’re in luck. When I was working for a filmmaker in New York, one of my jobs was to read screenplays, write coverage and hopefully find a gem. During that time, I learned some valuable lessons that I would like to share with aspiring screenwriters who want to get their screenplays produced.
The way I see it, there are four methods you can use to get your screenplay produced. As a screenwriter, you can write query letters and send them to agents and production companies. You can approach people who know people in the industry and see if they will read your script and make introductions to Hollywood heavyweights. You can send your script to screenwriting contests. Or you can write a business plan and produce your movie yourself.
After living in Los Angeles for a few years, I have noticed that the movie industry is similar to most any other industry. Our goal in Hollywood is to produce products. And as a screenwriter, your job is to create a blueprint for a potential product. In this case, your product is a new movie. And like any new product, your movie has never been made before and is therefore unproven. And because you are an unknown writer, you are asking a corporation (in this context, a movie producer with a a relationship with a studio or financiers) to produce an unknown product from an unknown inventor.
To get your screenplay made into a movie, a producer will have to drop whatever projects they are working on and devote months and in some cases, years to get your unproven product produced. They will have to attach actors, financiers and distributors to the project. And that is the easy part. Every day, these producers will face rejection, obstacles and countless crazy people. They will cry, lose sleep and possibly fail…
Making a movie is risky. Anytime a movie gets produced, someone has risked their reputation and livelihood to make it happen. And here is the quick catch 22. As soon as you are a produced writer, people will often scramble to read your material. To get this this point, you need to actually get something produced.
If you have a screenplay, your story better be better than good. It better be great. Otherwise, do not bother sending it. And even if your screenplay is great and you find a bunch of industry pros enthusiastic about your material, there are no guarantees. It may still take months and possibly years before you see any money for your work. Just check out the Hollywood Screenplay blacklist as a reference.
So the question is, why depend on someone else to get your movie made? You can do it yourself. If you have been reading Filmmaking Stuff for any length of time, you probably know I would rather climb my own ladder than some ladder I don’t own. Stop asking for permission.
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Need additional tips on screenwriting? Check out: How To Write Your Movie