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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Markets for Screenplays

   
Author Topic: Markets for Screenplays
Bent Tree
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Do any of you have any links or information on places to market screenplays? I have a story which was published on an online publication and among the comments I recieved on the discussion board from it, Many thought it would make a great movie. I was considering developing it into a full screenplay, but I am not naive enough to think this is a 'real' possibility.
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Jeff Baerveldt
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Why wouldn't developing your story into screenplay be a "real" possibility?

Go to your local library, check out a few books on screenwriting to learn how to write a script, and then do it.

Selling your screenplay...well that's different. But it's not too different from trying to sell a novel.

Obviously, trying to sell your screenplay to MGM, Universal, or some other big-time Hollywood movie company would be far more difficult than selling your screenplay to an independent producer.

But the chances of selling the first screenplay you write are about as good as selling the first short story your write or the first novel you write. It's probably not going to happen.

So my advice would be to write the screenplay, learn what you can from it, market it if you think its any good, and get on with other writing projects.

I've been writing for nearly five years now, and the fundamental mistake I made for a long time was being more concerned with selling my stuff than learning how to write well.


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rich
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I'm in the process of writing my third screenplay. I "stole" the idea for the one I'm writing, but I let the guy I stole it from know. He was a little surprised that anyone would even admit to liking the idea enough to write about it.

I've found screenwriting is relatively easy, compared to short stories and novels, but that's been my own experience. Having said that, one should be aware that selling and marketing a screenplay have more to do with who you know, as opposed to how well it's written.

There are plenty of screenwriting message boards, all with conflicting advice, and most concerned with "art". The best thing about these boards, though, is you have the opportunity to read current screenplays, those making the rounds or recently sold. Here's some links:

screenplays

more screenplays

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/index.php

[Really wishing there was a preview button (edited March 22, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by rich (edited March 22, 2009).]


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Bent Tree
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Does the process work like selling novels? Find an agent being the first step? If so are there separrate agents that handle screenplays?
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Troy
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Yes. There are usually separate agents. Go to the library and check out and read J. Michael Straczynski's The Complete Book of Scriptwriting. That'll give you the foundation you need, I think, to get started.
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Bent Tree
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Thanks, Troy. I'll check that out.
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Troy
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By the way, what's the story? Could you link to it? You've got me curious.
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rich
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I wanted to go into a little more detail, but children decided they needed my attention. So I took them out of their cages, and...

The process sort of works like selling a novel. Except it's harder. There are many more aspiring screenwriters than there are novelists, and 90% of them live around LA. And anyone living in LA is currently a screenwriter or a producer so be very careful if a "producer" wants to option your screenplay.

There are separate agents, but getting an agent is harder than selling your screenplay. From what I understand, you may not need an agent to sell your first novel, but you're probably going to need an agent to sell your first screenplay (which is different than an "option").

Straczynski's book is a good place to start, as well as Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman, or Which Lie Did I Tell?, also by Goldman. However, these books are old. Meaning the format, while not completely different, is, well, outdated. Read up on current screenplays. And no camera angles. Or CUT TO.

A little about "The Business"

From John August's blog

Details on writing loglines


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rich
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I keep forgetting to include this:

The Nicholl Fellowship is apparently the premiere screenplay contest. Even if you don't win, producers and agents tend to contact those that make it to the semi-finalists and finalists.

http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/index.html


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TaleSpinner
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You might want to check out the BBC, who claim to read unsolicited scripts for film, TV, radio or stage:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/index.shtml


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I think it's a good idea to register a screenplay with the Screen Writers Guild before submitting it to any producers or studios. In fact, I don't think many agents, producers, or studios will even look at an unregistered screenplay. So that's one major difference from selling a novel.
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rich
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Kathleen is absolutely correct about registering the screenplay. I'm an idiot for neglecting to mention that since I've registered both that I completed. Most of the contests for screenplays will tell you to register it also.

On the other hand, most agents, producers, or studios won't look at it anyway, registered or not. And there are some sites that will tell you to go ahead and file for copyright, too; registering isn't the same thing as copyright protection.

(For the record, I'm not an actual idiot. I've been tested, and I'm at least a moron.)


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steffenwolf
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What does it take to register a screenplay, and what's the point? Does it ensure that two people aren't passing the same screenplay around with different names for instance?
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Robert Nowall
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Does it cost anything to register a screenplay with them?
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rich
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It's $20 to register a screenplay online ($10 for members, but you have to sell something to be a member), and it is used as proof of authorship (but you have to go through the Copyright Office if you want to sue someone over copyright infringement). I think you have to re-register the work every five years.

The WGA is a union, and they set up the registration process to help their members. I assume they realized they could make a lot more money by offering the registration services to the general public (or that may just be my cynicism).

But, yeah, it's $20 and it helps if there's a dispute in authorship.


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