If you just finished your first screenplay, congratulations! Writing a script is a super cool accomplishment. But don’t go crazy. Just because you have a script doesn’t mean Hollywood is going to come knocking. Like any business, you now have something to sell. And part of your job is finding the appropriate buyer.
In Hollywood, agents and managers have long standing relationships with the heavy hitters. It is through these relationships that material gets read and sold. But assuming you don’t have representation, you’ll have to get crafty and creative in order to get your material read. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact most industry players will refuse to read your work.
Why? Because they don’t have a trusting, working relationship with you.
I Wrote My First Screenplay, Now What?
Even if you mail your first screenplay directly to a prospective buyer, more than likely it will be sent back or go in the recycle bin without being read. Think of it this way: What if I (as a producer) spent the last 3 years developing and raising money for a zombie movie about ninjas (currently in development) and you happen to send me a ninja zombie movie?
Then all a sudden you think I’m stealing your idea. Then we go to court or some other form of litigation…
Frankly it’s just not worth it.
Hold on… Before you get discouraged, here is the thing. What I just described is the front door. It’s the conventional route to getting your first screenplay read. But like most things in life, when the front door is locked, rest assured there is always a back door or a window. Back doors and windows are always opened by people who know you.
Friends will do more to help friends than they will to help themselves. For example, when I couldn’t get my stuff read, I did two things that opened every door to me. One is, I read screenplays for a producer in NYC, which eventually led to a more detailed role in development. When the time came, because I had the relationships, it was very easy to get my script into the hands of a capable producers. Around the same time, I also sent my first screenplay to an actor friend who was getting quite a few mainstream gigs in Hollywood. Because the script was good, he felt good telling other people about it.
What if you don’t live in Hollywood or New York?
Go visit local film festivals and make friends. At the same time, research screenplay contests for places that traditionally favor your type of work. Then submit your finished work to the contests. These contests are a great place to have your work read by industry folks. Even if you don’t win, many offer detailed feedback and coverage. And if you do win, you can then leverage your win to make phone calls to all the industry folks you otherwise wouldn’t call.
The point is, there are ways to get your work read. So don’t give up at the first rejection. With that said, here is a really cool screenwriting resource.