Monday, August 14, 2006

How To Sell A Screenplay

Well a good title helps!!!

I don't actually think there is any black magic about it. In fact I'd say it it depends on only three things.

1] Have a good idea

2] Execute it well

3] Get it to the right people.

Whoooo I hear you cry. That is some shit hot advice. Not.

But I'm serious.

One and two are of course largely dependent on that imponderable known as screen writing talent, and may appear in your first, fifth or fifthteenth screenplay. Who can say?

Number three is another talent in itself; takes almost as much dedication and is equally as important as one and two.

So, getting it to the right people? By the right people I mean people with the financial resources and/or contacts coupled with a need or want for your particular project at that particular time.

How hard can that be?

Well pretty hard, especially if you are a writer with no agent and no track record. It's pretty damn difficult even if you have.

But it's not impossible. It's about the research. Read the trades, film magazines, Done Deal Scriptsales, whatever, to get an idea of who's doing what - and to who.

Get names. Then phonepitch, e-mail and snail mail your query letter with a kick ass log line. Yes you hear tales of the pool boy slipping the 'A' listers massage therapist a screenplay and next stop hot starletts and cocaine binges. But that doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

Cold calling is just the way it has to be when you first start out. Grit the teeth, gird the loins [whatever that means] and suck it up. If the receptionist hits you with a 'no unsolicited scripts.....' ask if they'll look at a log line and query letter. If you have prepared as best you can, got your log line shining and your best telephone manner bristling with that 'smiley' voice that keeps you on the line with the double glazing canvasser long after you should have hung up, then you are good to go.

Remember - without product, producers are sitting twiddling their thumbs.

Remember - there are a lot of crazies out there and that is why producers put up these barriers.

Remember - you are not one of those crazies. You are polite, articulate and present an intriguing project.

If you are not comfortable on the phone then e-mail and snail mail. Keep it short, to the point and avoid begging. They don't want your life story they want THE story.

You will be met with a lot of rejection. Don't take it personally. There are a hundred and one different reasons why someone might not want to read or buy your screenplay. None of them to do with your talent.

You can guarantee that almost every spec screenplay ever sold, including some that became the biggest and best known movies of the last thirty years were initially met with varying degrees of 'No Thanks' before someone finally said 'Yes Please'.

So assuming one and two are a given, don't wimp out on number three.

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