by Susan Kouguell
I know, I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. “Selling a script is impossible. It just doesn’t happen. I don’t know anyone in the film business so I have no chance at all. It just isn’t fair. I’m just not a lucky person.”
Well, selling a screenplay does happen. But – (here it comes) – truth be told, selling a script is like winning the lottery. Some people do win the lottery and some writers do sell their scripts.
Keep your sanity! Remain focused! Remember that your screenplay has three potential goals:
1) to sell
2) to get optioned and/or produced
3) to serve as a writing sample for future work
So, here are ten steps to selling your spec script…
1. Write a great script. Okay, this sounds obvious, but often my Su-City Pictures’ clients and students have said to me, “If this awful movie I just saw was actually made, why should I work so hard on my script?” The answer is this: the competition and odds are indeed staggering, so put your best work out there. Your script is your calling card and it reflects your writing talent. Your script should demonstrate that you know the craft – this means it should have a strong voice, developed characters, solid structure, and follow the genre conventions. It’s nearly impossible to resubmit a rewrite of the same script to an agent and/or company once that script has been rejected.
2. Write an attention-grabbing query letter. Research and query production companies, studios and talent (actors, directors, producers) that are a good match for your script.
3. Compose a strong synopsis. If film industry folks respond positively to your query, you may be then asked to send a one-page synopsis with or without your script.
4. Prepare a great pitch. Once an agent, manager, production company and/or studio has read and liked your script, you may be called in to meet with them at which time you will be asked to pitch. There are other opportunities to pitch such as pitch festivals.
5. Network. You’ve heard the joke: “What’s the best way to Carnegie Hall? … Practice. Practice. Practice.” What’s the best way to break into the film business? “Network. Network. Network.” Writing is solitary, but the film industry and getting your script made into a movie is all about whom you know and the people you meet. No matter where you live, find a way to make personal contacts with industry professionals. Attending script conferences, workshops, and film festivals are good ways to make connections, as well as social media.
6. Educate yourself about the film business. Being savvy about the film industry makes you more appealing to potential agents, production companies and/or studios. Keep up-to-date by reading the trades, and screenwriting and film publications. This is a good way to learn who’s looking for what in order to help you target the right people for your project.