Selling a first and original feature screenplay is a dream among those wanting to become successful screenwriters. The Hollywood market is a challenging game to become a serious player. Still, many have tried and succeeded in various ways. However, it is no easy task for aspiring scriptwriters trying to sell their first script among those vying for the same goal. The truth is that not many original stories from untested writers are made into films. However, many see that as a challenge.
Writing and selling a script takes a lot of hard work and tons of planning, but victory can be around the corner for those who put forth the effort and with little luck. Aspiring screenwriters who rigorously apply themselves to selling a movie script should become much more accessible. There are no hard and fast rules to accomplishing this goal. Still, with these suggestions, those looking to make a name for themselves in screenwriting might be able to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls out there.
Well Written and Proofread
Any aspiring writer looking to make that leap in selling their script should always ensure their writing is marketable and the best it can be. The screenplay has it be compelling and keep ahold of the reader’s attention. Studying scripts and movies from successful past writers will allow the aspiring writer to see how their stories unfold. Writers should hone their craft by developing their writing process, learning from their basic mistakes, and growing. A safe bet on making this happen is to write until you have a unique voice.
A distinctive voice will allow the writer to compile a cohesive narrative screenplay and become one step closer to selling it. The script should go through multiple drafts until the writer is satisfied with its bold and original words that are leaping off the page. However, anybody may take this opportunity to send out their daring script—don’t. A vital step in selling is searching for grammatical errors.
A writer only has one shot in when sending out their script. A professional screenwriter will always read their writings with a “fine tooth comb” in search of grammatical errors. A professional to assist with this is ultimately worth the investment. A second opinion on the work and having a fresh set of eyes to check for missed errors can and will always be helpful. Once the script and editing have been completed, the next part of the journey can begin.
Loglines, Pitching, and Online Script Sites
Loglines have been a significant factor in selling the idea of a script. A logline is a one-sentence description of a story that builds interest in the reader. Practice writing loglines and synopsis before sending out a screenplay which is a description of the story and characters one page in length. Prepping will also allow the writer reassurance that the whole storyline flows effortlessly. Also, a logline and synopsis are necessary marketing steps when trying to sell a movie script. Another aspect of perfecting is the “Elevator Pitch.”
The world of Hollywood is very fast-paced, and people interested in buying scripts are very time-deficient. The art of elevator pitching a script that sells is using two minutes to hook a buyer in with the idea and get them to ask for more. So, rehearse with a friend, keep the pitch short, and be ready to answer any question the producer or buyer might have. Yet, remember that unsolicited pitches are amateurish, but there are other avenues a writer can take.
The scriptwriter market has evolved, and there are many opportunities to get a writer’s screenplay noticed. Some organizations advertise screenwriting competitions or contests online and offer great prizes ranging from cash to a real movie deal. Screenwriting competition sites like The Blacklist, IMDb Pro, InkTip, and International Screenwriters’ Association can help writers sell their scripts online. Placing high in one of the top screenwriting contests can help sell a screenplay, do wonders for their career, and offer feedback on their writing.
From there now comes the leg work.
Network, Producers, and Agent or Manager
Aspiring screenwriters don’t wait for someone to come calling. Networking and finding the right people to sell a script have been vital in filmmaking since the craft was first invented. An intelligent path is to find a person in the industry who can offer the writer a small break. Hollywood operates on relationships and who you know in the studio system. Still, there are ways to make new connections in that world.
If the scriptwriter has no connections, they must be adamant about making some. Film festivals and Hollywood industry conferences are where those behind the scenes discuss and meet like-minded people.
Research and contacting producers can benefit those looking for the right place for their script. The idea is to seek out those who work on similar projects to a writer’s genre or vision and who may be interested in buying their screenplay. Many film companies have websites with contact details of Heads of Acquisitions and Development. Additionally, checking out what kind of films they produce will help the aspiring writer make the right choice. However, another option is looking for an agent or manager to sell a script.
Agents have become a “Catch-22” situation. A new writer on the scene won’t have their script read unless they have an agent but can’t get an agent until they sell a screenplay. Agents are there to make a deal between the screenwriter, a producer, a production company, or a studio. However, this happens most of the time when the screenplay is seen as commercially strong and marketable. For some, a better option is finding a screenwriting manager.
A good screenwriting manager will help the writer become better at their craft. They’ll help develop the scripts, offer feedback, work with the writer, build their network, and name-drop the writer around town. Although a screenwriting manager may be able to open doors, the writer will also have to create their own opportunities. Some scriptwriters work with an agent and a screenwriting manager when they’re already established in the filmmaking industry.
Much of what it takes to get your screenwriting talent into Hollywood depends on having the right story, connections, and the right time. While talent, access, and timing are part of that, it can also mean that success can be mainly out of one’s control. What can be controlled is a writer’s relentless advocacy of their work. Developing a network of potential representatives and buyers and promoting stories is vital in getting innovative and marketable stories to audiences and keeping them coming back for more.