I Want To Sell My Screenplay!

The ABC of Selling Your Screenplay

By Daniel Dercksen

The Writing Studio receives tons of mails from writers who have written a screenplay and want to sell it.

Let’s examine this more closely: Selling your screenplay is not about selling a screenplay, but taking ownership of what you have written and developing your screenplay to its full potential so that it is ready to shake the marketplace and be developed to its full potential as a film, or perhaps even a TV series.

Just as a homeowner takes ownership of selling a house, by making sure that it ready to be sold and that it is ready for the right market, so must the screenwriter develop the screenplay and knock it into shape to satisfy producers and investors.

You are not selling your screenplay, you are getting it ready to be developed into a film, and that process can take up to 50 years in the case of Milos Forman’s passion project Goya’s Ghost

  • Silence was a 26-year-journey from page to screen for writer-director Martin Scorsese.
  • Fifteen years after Producer Alison Owen bought the rights to Deborah Moggach’s novel Tulip Fever, and sending the option to A-list producers, her tenacity and vision paid off and the film went into production in May 2014 under direction of Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), from a screenplay by Sir Tom Stoppard (Anna Karrenina, Shakespeare in Love, Empire Of The Sun), and the thrilling romance can now be experienced on the Big Screen.
  • 40 years ago the journey of the eight-novel epic The Dark Tower began when Stephen King wrote the words: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed,” sparking an entire universe that makes its long-awaited screen debut, telling of an eternal battle between good and evil, with the fate of multiple worlds at stake.
  • During the past 25 years screenwriter Tom Flynn has been selling spec scripts to studios in Hollywood, only seeing Watch It made (which he also directed). Now, with the success of Gifted, a story inspired by his one-eyed cat Fred, and his sister, whom he describes as “the most unassuming ridiculously smart person you’ve ever met,’ Flynn is back to writing full time… this time getting his movies made.
  • Final Portrait is a 10-year passion project for writer-director Stanley Tucci
  • Tom O’Connor’s spec screenplay for The Hitman’s Bodyguard launched his career in Hollywood.

How do you do this?

If you look at most films being produced today, particularly independent films, you will note on the credits that the writer has taken up the position of Producer, or even Executive Producer.

Taking the position of Producer does not always have to do with money, it’s essentially about ownership, about making sure that the screenplay you have invested your life in, gets the full treatment and attention it deserves when transforming words into action.

Being a Producer is producing results, managing realistic outcomes and not idealistic day-dreaming.

And, by wearing the cap of Producer, you have to start thinking like one and look at your screenplay as an investment.

If you are lucky, you might find an agent who will be willing to invest in a writer with zero track record, but mostly, agents tend to go after the bigger fish, the award-winners, and writers who promise a return on their investment.

But before you start globe trotting in search of an agent and start signing on the dotted line, or give up hope, wear your Producer’s cap and be the proud owner of a screenplay you know is worth its weight in gold.

Now approach the agent as the Producer, and let the agent work for you.

You are now stepping away from a screenplay you have spent a lifetime on, and becoming a serious investor.

You have to invest in your writing and sign a contract with yourself; once you have done that and taken full ownership of your story, no-one can take it away from you.

It is YOUR STORY!  OWN IT!

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • When you are writing your screenplay make sure to keep track of what money you spend during its writing and development process: During the writing process, keep a record of all the financial records of travelling you might have done during research, workshops and courses you have signed up, books you have purchased, DVD, Blu Ray’s and movies you have watched, meals you have ordered to keep you from starving, anything you have spent your well earned money on. When you are ready to sell your screenplay, the sum total of money spent will be factored into the selling price.
  • The development process may take years, so why not speed up the process by writing the novel of your screenplay and publish it. Your screenplay is then based on a best seller and will be more marketable.
  • Have your script read by a professional reader, and if you feel that you are not 100% with format or grammar, get a script editor to polish your screenplay.  The Writing Studio does read screenplays and offers the service of script editing and polishing. Read more
  • Watch as many movies as you can related to the story you have written, be on top of what you have written so that you are familiar with other films dealing with the same themes, or genre.
  • When watching movies, familiarize yourself with the credits and see how a writer involves him or herself with the film process, or television series.

In truth, nobody can sell your screenplay better than you, so put on your Producer’s cap and start investing in your writing.

How can The Writing Studio help you?

  • Our The Write Journey course will take you through the process of conceptualizing your idea, developing your characters, structuring and plotting your story, and prepare you for the ardent writing process.  The course also introduces you to the world of filmmaking, the language of films, reading and evaluating films,    and gives you valuable tips on how to sell yourself and your work.  Read more about The Write Journey
  • Once you have completed The Write Journey course you will have written the first pages of your screenplay. You can then complete a draft on your own, sign up for The Write Draft advances course that will assist you during the process of writing your screenplay.  Send us an email regarding The Write Draft
  • Once you have completed a draft, you can submit it to The Writing Studio for reading or polishing. Read more
  • If The Writing Studio is contacted by producers looking for new screenplays, and your script is being develop through us, we will establish contact between yourself and the producer through our The Write Agency 

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