How do I get my screenplay to the marketplace?

A screenplay is a part of the package, the first element in the movie business.

A screenplay is writing intended to be turned into film – just as a novel is written to be published, and plays are written to be staged. A screenplay is not a complete work. There is no point in writing a screenplay if it isn’t going to get produced. A screenplay is a part of the package, the first element in the movie business.

Package: Some material: a book, screenplay, story outline, concept, a star actor, star director

The screenplay is an element in the deal.

The Writing Studio has developed a process during which writers can take ownership of their stories before they start writing their screenplays, and with a Top Sheet (and eventual Reader’s Report) can secure potential investment that gives possible investors and producers an option to buy the rights of the story while the screenplay is written and developed through The Write Agency.

This allows writers to put on the hat of a producer and invest in their writing, so that all money spent towards the development of the screenplay will be factored into the selling price of the complete screenplay.

Internationally a screenwriter is entitled to between 10 % percent of a production budget of a film. In South Africa this figure drops to 4 percent.

Film is a business. As a writer you have to not only take ownership of your writing, but have to invest in your writing

Every film project starts with a bit of commerce and a bit of art. The film process begins when someone working in development as a film studio or production company reads a wonderful screenplay.

Is your screenplay a viable package?

Screenplays get read, optioned, bought, rewritten, rewritten, rewritten. Once a deal is struck the production executive send the script to a director, who will hopefully agree to direct the script, then the script goes to stars and once a big enough star agrees to do the film, the studio agrees to fund the film, and words are turned into action.

You need a professional reader’s report and not just a friendly nod from my mom or best friend

If you have completed the draft of a screenplay, or short film, stageplay, or manuscript for a novel, it is vital to find out whether or not it works. It could mean the end of your story and your career as a writer if you hand poorly written and undeveloped projects over to producers, directors, publishers or potential investors.

A reader’s report is a vital tool in developing and selling your story. The report will show whether or not you know what you are writing about. Is it clear what the story is about and does it result in a meaningful and rewarding experience? Will the screenplay make an exciting film? Is it clear who will want to see the film? Is it suited to be filmed or will it work better as a stageplay, a novel, or TV series?Are the roles and functions of the characters in the story well defined? Is the dialogue a function of character or stilted conversation? Is the action or journey clear? What makes the journey exciting or dull? Does the voice of the writer reflect the writer’s experience, history and culture? Is the narrative visual and captivating?

The reader’s report will indicate whether or not the script must be sent to  E.R.: our emergency room for work that need to re-written and not ready for development; it needs to  be reworked through one-on-one sessions, or cybertraining; OR that the script/ manuscript is ready for development; minor surgery is needed and the work is ready to be submitted to the film/ publishing process.

A solid reader’s report will equally give producers and investors the assurance that the spec screenplay is ready to be developed into a shooting script. The reader and reader’s report brings the value of the screenplay to the attention of a producer, development executive, who gives it to a production executive at a studio or a producer at a production company.

Read more about the Reader’s Report

How can The Writing Studio help you?

One of the most active independent training initiatives in Africa, The Writing Studio has been presenting workshops and courses in scriptwriting and filmmaking throughout South Africa during the past 15 years with the aim of developing the craft of writers and filmmakers.

The 19 years saw the birth of many new, original scripts that echo the unique voice of South African writers, with stories reflecting specific cultures, experiences and histories that embrace universal qualities.

It is important for The Writing Studio to empower writers to take ownership of their writing, and with The Write Agency, guides writers through the writing and development process of their screenplays.

Only once it has been fully developed through several re-writes does a screenplay become part of the package in the film industry. It is important to make writers aware of the fact that they will not only be writing for money, but that the ultimate reward lies in a fully developed screenplay that might be optioned and developed into a film or TV series.

Who will read my screenplay?

Respected film and theatre journalist of 30 years, Daniel Dercksen, who created The Writing Studio as part of his passion for writing and storytelling, has been running the studio independently for 15 years, persistently developing the write attitude and presenting workshops for aspirant storytellers and storymakers throughout South Africa.  2013 marks an important chapter in The Writing Studio’s passionate undertaking to cultivate new writing and to support the needs of writers.  Focusing on turning words into action, 2013 is the ‘Year of Development’, through intensive interactive one-on-one sessions to develop and complete individual projects, ranging from screenplays for feature film and television, to novels and plays.  Graduates include award-winning playwrights Neil Coppen (Abnormal Loads) and Jeremeo Le Cordeur (February 14th), filmmakers John Barker (Spud 3) Bunny Chow and How To Steal a Million) and Henk Pretorius (Bakgat, Fanie Fourie Se Lobola, Leading Lady), novelists Lauren Beukes (Zoo City) and Gary Hirson (The Magic That is Ours and Calm in Storm)

How can I prevent my idea from being hijacked?

It is vital to never submit a screenplay to be read without securing copyright and to make sure that potential producers/ investors are serious about turning words into action.

Be aware of organisations or agencies launching competitions fishing for ideas and promising development deals … The Writing Studio’s The Write Agency only deals with screenplays that have been fully developed and are ready to enter the international area of filmmaking …. The Write Agency protects the ownership of writers and will not lure writers into deals where they lose their ownership … producers are interested in complete works, not half baked promises … You don’t sell a house that does not yet have any plans drawn up.

How can I submit my screenplay to be read and what is this going to cost?

The Writing Studio/ The Write Agency will secure your ownership and that your screenplay is developed to its full potential.  Read more

Copyright © 1998 – 2015   Daniel E. Dercksen/ The Writing Studio/ The Write Agency