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Talentville Bar & Grill : Ask the Expert
How do you Sell?
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April Wolak
Posted September 8, 2011 8:03 AM
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Okay, so four of my scripts so far have made the finals in contests - one placed #2.  What is my next step to get either a development deal or sale?

John Doby
Posted September 8, 2011 5:18 PM
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I believe it depends on the size and reputation of the contests.  Was it the Disney Fellowship or the Nicholl?  Or was it Joe Schmo's Screenplay Contest?  It matters very much to industry professionals (especially agents).  I won First Place for Best Original Pilot in the Scriptapalooza TV Writing Competition, and The Writers Boot Camp Award in the Creative Screenwriting Expo 4.  Although I did win money and/or prizes, nothing ever came of it in the form of a career opportunity.  My advice is to chalk it up as another feather in your cap, and keep writing.

Ron Basso
Posted September 8, 2011 7:32 PM
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John, that's the strange thing about this industry, isn't it? There is this tremendous cottage industry to 'perfect your script' with feedback, coverage, contest, log-lines and prizes galore. You can sink a lot of money into the 'experts' with absolutely no guarantee of ever being produced, even if you win, even if consultants/readers/contest love it! But awful scripts are being produced every month aren't they? Even awful scripts with A list actors. So someone is not following the 'rules' and being rewarded. The disconnect between which scripts are made and the path aspiring writers are asked to trod is huge. We're all in Oz and your advice to keep writing, because you love writing, is the best advice anyone can give.

Ramona Rai
@ Bigger and Better Productions
Posted September 8, 2011 8:34 PM
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John, that's the strange thing about this industry, isn't it? There is this tremendous cottage industry to 'perfect your script' with feedback, coverage, contest, log-lines and prizes galore. You can sink a lot of money into the 'experts' with absolutely no guarantee of ever being produced, even if you win, even if consultants/readers/contest love it! But awful scripts are being produced every month aren't they? Even awful scripts with A list actors. So someone is not following the 'rules' and being rewarded. The disconnect between which scripts are made and the path aspiring writers are asked to trod is huge. We're all in Oz and your advice to keep writing, because you love writing, is the best advice anyone can give.


I'm an independent producer in Australia. I have just completed one feature, and have three more up and running in the next three years, pls a tv series. Most are well on the way to being fully funded. So I can give you a producer perspective if that helps? Firstly it depends on who you are approaching ...if you are looking towards the giants of the industry, competition is fierce and a lot of it is years of networking and knowing the right people. If you just want it produced and you don't mind if it is a no budget at all film, you are mostly competing against writer / producers who are doing their own projects, not looking for others. If you are after the mid range independent producers, ie $1.5 to $10m (most at the lower rather than the higher end) you will find most of them accept unsolicited scripts, but you are more likely to get read if you network first and develop a relationship with them. The reason the bad scripts get out there with the good is because it is such a personal thing ... I have totally different genres, a comedy, and family, a ghost story and, in negotiation, a dark part anime film but you will find most producers prefer a particular genre, so you need to research first or you are wasting both your time and theirs. The scripts have to be good - or at least good in the eyes of the producer, but there is more to making the choice than that, and if you sell the other points as well you have more chance of the producer taking notice. The dark anime was chosen because the writer is already an acknowleged screenwriter, has a comic book coming out at the same time so has strong cross marketing already in place and is keen to also help produce  ... the ghost story was chosen because the writer is a well known historian, was keen to also produce, and the timing is perfect for the genre, the family was chosen because it was an easy sell as a story and it already had several actors of excellent standing attached ...

This site is a brilliant idea to develop your script, but once you do you also need to market and sell it just as you would any other product. So .. my advice is to perfect it, then perfect a sales pitch with it, work out your market and your target producer category, network and make contacts THEN submit the script. 

Melvin Johnson
Posted September 11, 2011 5:07 PM
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April,

  Congrats! You've entered probably one of the biggest "who you know" hobbies/professions there is. That's how sucky scripts get produced continually. How do you do it? Easy answer for a difficult process: Research. Lots of it. You have to find not only prodcos/agents/etc that accept queries from new writers, you have to be sure they're interested in your specific genre. If all they take are comedies and you send a drama, you may as well have just hit delete on the email after you typed it. Oh, and if you try to query one of the big companies like Paramount or CAA, see above result.
    Before you do anything be sure the script is as close to perfect as humanly possible. You'll likely miss some mistakes which is where a site like this one comes in handy. Fresh eyes help find those pesky typos.
    Networking is invaluable. You never know who knows someone that can get you noticed.  There are writers on here who have optioned/sold scripts and they may know someone looking for something you have. For instance I write thrillers, but in my research I may find a company looking for a sci-fi script. What do I do then? Email my friends and give them that info. But only those writers I feel are ready. Especially if I were to refer someone I'd only do it of I know they're production ready. After all, my name is on the line (what little name I have! LOL)
    Contest wins/placements are fine, but rarely do they result in sales. Look at the Nicholls. Compare the number of entries they get vs how many films are produced/writers repped. And they're the "big" contest. The others - no matter how impressive - may not give you anything more than an ego boost.
    Most people on here write scripts with the hopes of making the big bucks. Reality check. The six-figure deal for new writers does happen, but it's the exception rather than the rule.  New writers more often get no money/little money options. I've heard the average is around $3-5K. But get what it gets you? Produced credit and a leg up on every other schmoe that belts out a script. You have to start somewhere and sometimes it's a bitter pill to swallow.  You can always write another script and hope for a better outcome.
  Main thing is no matter how many times you're ignored or turned down you can't give up.  All writers are new at some point.

April Wolak
Posted September 12, 2011 8:53 AM
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Wow, thanks.  It all is such good advice.  Guess I'll have to get more aggressive with my research and querying. 


Emperor
Posted September 13, 2011 2:59 PM
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My  advice?I have not sold my scripts yet and I won't do it until I've reached a stage from where I can keep my imagaintion going.

I think what the people who are offering pro advice here,you should listen to them,and listen to every word they say.For example,It does not matter if your script is rejected.You have to make sure it is perfected.Once perfected,then send,don't send it right now,maybe say as it is,but send on a future date.And many people will aslo try to bring you down.Please make a note of this,I don't know why this has not been included

But

1.You gain fame,Your script is now a movie

2.You write some more,you gain fame.

3.What happens is however,you attract negativism attention as well.You will get heavy critism and people will do their best to bring you down,same with actors,You wanna go to Hollywood?Perfect yourself then go.Like a actor,but you are only just offering the script.Make sure you get some of the finest agencys,ask your friends(or agent) if you can get a good script agency.

4.It is vital you must ignore them,Only listen to the people who are critising on format or story plot.Its your choice,you choose what you want.And be friendly towards people#(Wins you more firends)But be careful as well.

So,Perfect the script,and let me tell you this,entering Hollywood is a vast thing,same with Bollywood,and it is very ,very ,very,very,very,very hard to get into those industries.Only by help can you get there.Not by paying stupid amounts of money to receive feedback from the best agencys.You write a script.good.No need of spending so much money.Thats my advice.Please note this is my opinion.

Melvin Johnson
Posted September 17, 2011 1:43 PM
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Sometimes it's all we have John

William Martell
Posted March 14, 2012 8:20 PM
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Okay, so four of my scripts so far have made the finals in contests - one placed #2.  What is my next step to get either a development deal or sale?


Maybe. What happened after you made the finals and placed #2? Did producers and managers and agents call and ask to read the script? That's usually what happens in medium to big contests.  If that *did not* happen, you're in the same boat as those who did not make the finals of a contest - and it's time to query and cold call and get your script read by people who can hire you or find someone to hire you.

- Bill

Henry Dill
Posted February 5, 2013 2:09 PM
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Try Blacklist its website is www.blklst.com or the screenwriters guide at the writers store, it has a lot of agencies in it it is like 50 bucks.

Czarina Borlongan
Posted June 26, 2017 8:15 AM
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Hello everybody! I have not been writing for a while and pretty sure I have lost my mojo. But recently it stories and scenes just pop into my head and I want to put it into writing. The story I came up with tackles the difficulties of a person fitting in with society. You know, ye olde rich and poor. Royalty vs. commoner kind of stuff in a modern setting.  The question is, is that still an interesting catch given that society nowadays is becoming dynamic and swiftly adapting to the trends of today? Or is it too outdated?


Ben Cahan
Posted July 8, 2017 9:16 PM
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Czarina, thematically I think it's fine as long as you have a clear idea of what 'royalty versus commoner' means in today's world.  Universal themes are that for a reason, and whether it is a comeuppance for the high falutin or an unlikely love story or another strain of that story type, keep it hip and modern and be sure you have your own hook that will at least allow folks to envision your movie instead of just seeing some other similar typed movie they know from the same genre.