Photo Credit: Derrick Gallegos
So you caught the bug for storytelling and you wrote your first screen play. Congrats! Now you want to get it out there for people to enjoy, simple right? The truth is there are a lot of ways to get your writing produced and out there to an audience and for a lot of young writers it can be overwhelming to try to get your work exposed. Once upon a time, getting your work out there was a pretty cut and dry process that was basically a game of who you know and who happened to like your work. Thankfully today there are many more avenues for a young writer to take in order to really get their work out there.
It all starts with the script (duh). You have to think of a script as a product you are offering to producers. You want to make sure it’s the best possible script you can it. Before you send a script to any one, you wanna make sure, first and foremost, that it is a script YOU are happy with. Make sure it tells the story YOU want to tell. Before you do anything with what you wrote you have to like it. Remember, whether you are pitching it to producers, meeting with a creative team, or even producing it yourself, you're going to be stuck with it so make sure you enjoy it!
"There is no such thing as useless script. A good idea, is a good idea regardless of when it is produced."
So you love the script, great! Now it's time to get it spell checked and formatted properly. I know this may seem like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised with how many first time writers forget this step. Although it may seem like a small detail, a properly formatted script shows not only your professionalism as a writer but that you are serious at your work, plus it also shows that you've been around the block a few times and know what producers look for which is always a plus. If you are unsure of your own proof reading skills, or your borderline illiterate like me, grab a sharp – eyed friend to go over your script for you! Trust me, I would be nowhere without my editor (thanks Sofi!). You'd be surprised just how many people enjoy going over and fixing other people’s work.
Next, get some friends to read your script and see what they think! Look to see if there were any points where they had trouble following the story, if they reacted as expected, or even unexpected. It's good to get a feel for how an audience would react early on, so you can go back and make changed if necessary.
Lastly, and this is more so a tip than a guideline, write within a budget. In the beginning when you are trying to get your work produced it may help to write things that would be much cheaper for a studio to produce. Remember, studios drop a lot of money into projects that may or may not work, this is a big risk, especially it they are a smaller company. Writing within a tight budget makes producing the work much more feasible, especially if you go about producing it yourself, it's just plain more affordable. Now this doesn't mean throw away your several million dollar epic and to stop writing bigger production all together. In fact, I would encourage the opposite. Not only will it make you a better writer, but it will leave you with a decent catalog of work when the time (and money) come around. There is no such thing as useless script. A good idea, is a good idea regardless of when it is produced. Don't lose hope in a project that may not have the money just yet!
So you have a script you are happy with and you want to make your script into a full production. There are a few ways to do this, let’s start with the old fashion way of way of pitching your script to a producer. The last thing you should do is just send your script to a bunch of producers and hope to get a call back. Sure you may get lucky
Thiry Three Theatre Co. members: Derrick Gallegos (Left) Producer and Actor
Devin Padley (Center) Director and Actor Monica Arsenault (Right)
Photo Credit: Shelby Phillips Website: shelbyphillipsphotography.com
and land one, but for most writers, nine times out of ten you won’t hear anything back. Producers often have a stack of scripts to go through before they get to yours, and that's assuming they even get the chance to read it.
Thankfully there are ways to increase your chances of meeting a producer and getting your movie made. The best way by far is to network. This is where being in college or university helps because you have a lot of young directors, producers and actors looking for work. These are good people to keep around as contacts and may even call you when they start to produce professionally.
Not everyone has the luxury of going to school though and that's okay, going to film festivals is also a great way to meet producers. If you see a producer whose film you liked, respectfully introduce yourself! If you have a chance to pitch a script, make sure it’s well-rehearsed. You should be comfortable describing your writing, it not only shows you are confident in your work but it also makes the producer feel comfortable if the pitch feels more conversational. You're extending an offer, not trying to sell him or her something. You should also have business cards at all times!
If you are really persistent, and have the funds to do so, hiring a good literary agent is also not a bad idea. Notice I said good literary agent. Don't just grab the first person who guarantees you'll have your work seen. Often times they will just send your work to as many producers as possible and hope for the best which is what you don't want. A good Agent will get your wok into the hands of a producer that is looking for something your writing has to offer. Do your research!
If you were able to get your screen play into the hands of a producer, congrats! Now you play the waiting game. This can easily be the most stressful part. BE PATIENT. It can take four to six months to even hear back from a producer. I get it, the suspense sucks, but it’s a necessary evil. Just think of it as another part in the process and in the meantime get back to what you love doing in the first place, writing. When you finally do hear back, if they want to produce your work, congrats! You made it. If they rejected it, that's okay. You have to remember that your writing is at the mercy of a handful of people’s opinions. It doesn't mean your writing is bad. You can always improve and you can always try again. You've made it this far and at the very least you've made a new contact out of it! Getting this far is hard, be proud of it.
Fortunately, today there are so many other ways to get your work out there. With so many online outlets like YouTube and even Facebook, finding an audience has never been so accessible. Getting involved in online communities is a great way to network and meet people interested in your writing. You can find specific people willing to work with your writing style, and with so many smaller production companies producing such varied contend (like your good friends over at the wonderful Starr Street Media), finding people to produce your content has become a whole lot easier and in more cases more beneficial for the writer. Because of the inherent independent and free form nature of online media, it can be much easier to maintain more creative and commercial control over your work and find deals that can work better for you. You can also get immediate response from your audience. I understand the YouTube comment section can get a bad rep, but it also does house a lot of good constructive criticism which can help you improve your writing a lot faster.
In a world where you need experience to get experience, embracing online media is a great way to get your foot in the door as well as have the freedom to experiment, however knowing the ins and outs of the industry as a whole can only help you in getting your work seen. It can be a very long and difficult process but don't let that discourage you. Keep writing, keep meeting new people and most importantly remember to enjoy what you do!
P.S This blog is just my two cents on some ways to get your work produced, There are so many people who have different experiences and I would encourage you to see what other people have said on this topic!