Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Marketing Your Script

Here's an excerpt from my book:  The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent and even when you don't live in L.A.


Successful screenwriters have two jobs: writing a good script and marketing it.
Once you make your script as best as you can, research appropriate buyers for your script.

There are three basic steps to marketing your script:

1. Know your market. Look at the credits the target producer has already. Don’t pitch them something in a totally different genre than what they have previously made movies in unless you know for sure that they are looking to branch out in a new direction. Don’t assume that your high concept script that happens to be the next great horror film will make a producer who usually does romantic comedies invite you and your script into their arena with open arms.

2. Come up with a plan then put it into act. There is not try, just do. (I think that was Yoda.) If that plan includes sending out mass queries, think about that. I sold my screenplay without sending one query letter and without an agent. Maybe I got lucky or maybe I decided on a different approach or approaches. These are noted in the “Marketing Your Script” and “Break into Hollywood” sections.

3. Have a knock ‘em dead One Sheet.

The One Sheet is different from the synopsis or outline because it’s a marketing tool. "One-Sheet" is a standard industry term for a movie poster. More recently, within the screenwriting industry, it has come to mean a one page narrative summary of the entire story of your original screenplay. It includes all of the major story beats, and act breaks. Beginning, middle and end -- minus the minor details. Having listened to your pitch, a producer will often ask for the one-sheet as a reference, or as something to show to a higher-up.

Think of what the poster would be for your movie. There are no strict guidelines on what should be on it or how it should look except that it has to be amazing and get the producer or studio executive excited about your project. Easier said than done, I know but it is possible.

Tips for creating a dynamic One-Sheet:

1. You’ve got to have punchy description of your story.

2. Leave out the backstory.

3. Imagine what you would see in the trailer.

4. Describe only the interesting scenes.

5. Include your contact information.


Watch some movie trailers. Check out ones that are for movies you have already seen. These can be found on the internet…imdb, fandango, the movie’s website. Notice what images they choose to highlight in the trailer. Note what made you interested in seeing the movie.

Next take an upcoming movie and view the trailer. Note what makes you want to see the movie or what doesn’t and why. This will give you a clue of what works and what doesn’t. Notice what is the difference between the movie trailers that were phenomenal that made you excited about seeing the movie and which ones didn’t. Try to read the screenplay for those movies. You can find them most times for free online. Then compare what parts they chose to show in the trailer.

Do the same sort of thing with your movie. What strong, visual elements do you have that will pique their interests? Forget the fluff and extract the big events, the big turning points in your screenplay. If you have a major twist that you do not want to give away, hint at it so that the reader will know that there is something more to come but they’ll have to read the script to find out. Don’t be totally vague but provide just enough intriguing information to whet their appetite. They will already be interested based on your title and high concept logline. Note that the One-Page write up is a lot shorter than the outline or synopsis. A paragraph at the most. Try not to have more than 10 - 15 sentences.

Example information to include:

For a screenplay:


For a TV series:
The Concept
The Series Description (basically a synopsis)
Episodes Explained (Explain how the first 6 episodes will play out to show them that you’ve thought through the concept)

I hope this gets you started. For more information, be sure to check out my book:  The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent and even when you don't live in L.A.

Write right and write on!

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