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How Hard Is It To Sell A Screenplay

Adam Scott

Trying to sell your screenplay?

This article will discuss how hard is it to sell a screenplay and give you some tips for selling your screenplay.

According to Stuart Shute:

"Almost everyone who writes one eventually sells one."

Very often we are given instructions on how to sell our screenplay, whether from friends or strangers we meet at parties. All the scripts we watch on screen have a film agent involved in the writing process.

Unfortunately, most of them are wrong. This doesn't just affect scripts that are put into the hands of agents.

It's true for the writers who are trying to get their films financed by financiers. When a script is sold to an agent, the script is then sent off to a few financiers, who then offer their quotes to the writer.

This process goes on until one of the financiers finally wants to develop the script into a film.

There's no doubt that agents are a big help for writers. You should always have an agent working on your behalf.

When your agent is sending out your screenplay around to financiers, you should also be actively pitching your script to those financiers.

Since agents are a valuable source of knowledge, it's very common to see agents giving out free scripts to their clients. Unfortunately, most of these scripts are about Hollywood stories, about big stars or about big box office stars.

That's great if you're a movie star who wants to write a screenplay and then go back into obscurity after your film is released, but what about the writers who are trying to sell their scripts? What do you do?

You might still have a chance if the script is set in a big city or an obscure town in the US. Also, if you're writing a big-budget blockbuster you may have an advantage if you pitch your script as a film that the big stars are sure to want to appear in.

But what about writers writing film adaptations of literary classics, or serious intellectual films?

How can they make their script stand out from the crowd?White printer paper on black typewriter

One way of looking at it is to remember that the movie industry is different to other industries. People go to the movies to escape their troubles for a few hours.

Most of them have absolutely no idea who the cast and crew are, who is financing the film, or what kind of movie it is. They don't know that a movie is a form of entertainment, and if they do then it's the kind of entertainment they would rather be doing at that particular moment, rather than watching a movie.

This is why it's very important to remember two things when you're working on a script:

Your screenplay is a work of fiction that needs to be taken as fiction. You are not trying to make a film.

You are trying to get someone to accept a certain amount of money to fund a film, or to read your script.

Chris Rattue says:

"It's true that if you are working on an adaptation of a literary classic, you might have a better chance of selling your screenplay, but, as a first time screenwriter, it's best not to think in terms of novels or periodicals."

If you're serious about selling your screenplay, you have to forget about the medium that you are adapting your screenplay for, and focus on adapting your screenplay as a film. If you do this you will have a better chance of selling your screenplay.

Before you start to write your script, ask yourself:

How would I make this film? What genre would I want it to be?

This is what film school teaches you. But it's not easy to do the first time, because you need to imagine a form of storytelling in your mind's eye.

A film director in the 1940s might have said:

"I want to make a film in the genre of: the musical."

That kind of question helps you to plan your story.

So what type of film should I make?

Most popular movie genresgreen frog plush toy on brown textile

Sci-fi action movies

These movies will have a lot of special effects, lots of explosions, and lots of chase sequences. They are formulaic, and they are fairly predictable.

Psychological thrillers

These movies are based around the question: Why is a person (or a character) behaving the way they are? The solutions to these mysteries are hidden in the screenplay.

This is the type of film that most screenwriters are trying to get their hands on.

Historical dramas

These are about people who are changing the world for the better. The screenplay might not have lots of special effects or exciting chase sequences.

But this is what I believe makes a good screenplay – and, I hope, a good film.

Stick to your styleDétail des Sculptures dans Christopher Park, situé dans le quartier du Stonewall National Monument.

If you are thinking of writing an adaptation of a literary classic, consider the fact that one of the most successful screenwriters in history, Howard Hawks, had over a hundred screenplays to his credit before he even wrote his first movie, To Have and Have Not.

One of the reasons why Hawks was so successful was that he stuck to the formula that had made his directorial style successful. He never changed his style.

For example, Hawks was famous for using a gun, instead of a lasso, when it came to shooting a gun out of someone's hand. Hawks knew that the audience would watch his movies because of the formula they had learned from watching him make films.

Hawks adapted the classics the same way that every film-maker has adapted them from the beginning. That's why his adaptations worked.

If you want to write a good screenplay for a literary classic, you need to stick to the formula that you learnt from the movies you've watched. You need to stick to the familiar plots, characters, plot devices, and dialogue that you know will make your screenplays as engaging and as effective as Hawks's movies.

Dennis Boutsikaris, a highly-decorated screenwriter, makes a strong argument against writing adaptations from novels.

One of the things he says is:

"Any writer who would copy [the book] because it makes money and, worse, they might learn some tricks or give some value is morally wrong. Copy? You cannot do that. I don't want to be like Stephen King who is the king of all things horror. That is not my favourite genre. He has no right to my books and vice versa. I think it's very hypocritical to go and steal someone's ideas when you don't give back what you are taking."

In other words, as a screenwriter, you need to have your own ideas, and not copy somebody else's ideas.


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