How to Get a Movie Script Produced
Writing the next big Hollywood blockbuster is only half the battle. Getting your movie script produced is where the work really kicks in. Getting a screenplay turned into a movie requires more than simply submitting to a producer. There are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, screenwriters need to follow a definite chain of command when submitting scripts for to production companies and agents for consideration.
Write your movie, don't direct it. This means you need to submit a spec script as opposed to a shooting script. The spec script should have as few camera directions as possible. None is best. Also, leave off the scene numbering. The director will take care of all of these things if a production company decides to produce your movie.
Pay attention to the movie credits for movies you watch that fit the genre of your movie. Find out what companies produce those movies. This information is valuable when you are ready to start submitting your script.
Write a log line. It should be one line long and sum your movie up. Take the time to craft the log line. Many times it is the sole determining factor whether an agent or production company asks to see your script. "A down and out boxer struggles to overcome the odds as he rises to the top of the boxing world" might be a good starting log line for the movie Rocky.
Prepare a synopsis. The synopsis should be between five and 10 pages long, written in present tense. The synopsis should tell the story your screenplay tells, touching on all the major plot points, including any information that might not be revealed to the audience until the end. Don't keep information from agents and producers in an attempt to surprise them. They need to know everything about the story.
Attend film festivals. This allows you to network with people in the movie industry. Many of these festivals also provide opportunities to pitch your script to movie industry pros who have the power to produce your movie.
Consider using online pitch services like Virtual Pitchfest (see Resources). These services provide movie industry contacts and allow you to pitch your script online. Some even guarantee a response. These services charge varying fees, but the industry contacts you have access to can be worth the money.
Enter screenwriting contests (see Resources). Not only do these contests often offer big cash prizes, winning a contest gives your script a leg up and coverage. Many production companies seek out contest-winning scripts for production.
Ensure that your script is properly formatted before you send it anywhere (see Resources). If you use a screenwriting program like Movie Magic Screenwriter or Final Draft, these programs will format your script properly for you, leaving you free to write. You can also consider a free online scriptwriting service or free screenwriting software such as Celtx (see Resources).
Submit a query to the producer or agent you think fits your script. Include the log line of your movie and a brief letter stating who you are, that you have a script available, and any information about past movie credits, including script contest wins. Include a short version of your movie synopsis and close the query by thanking the agent or producer for considering your work. Let him know you look forward to hearing from him and include complete contact information. Do not send a screenplay unless requested. If you can afford it, register your script with the WGA (Writer's Guild of America). Some producers and agents might require it, others don't. Your screenplay is protected by copyright law whether you register it or not, but the registration provides tangible date of creation information should you need it.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.