How to Sell a Screenplay

You may have written the next Hollywood blockbuster – but unless you can finance the film yourself, you'll need to sell the screenplay to a producer who can make it come to life.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Finish an entire script Write and revise an entire script. Unless you already have a reputation, you won't be able to sell a treatment, a synopsis, or anything else but a full, complete script. In the industry, this is known as a "spec" script.
  • TIP: Make sure your screenplay is properly formatted. You can find information on proper screenplay format online. Or, use script-writing software to simplify the process.
  • Step 2: Register your script Register your screenplay with the Writers Guild of America. Got to wga.org to find out about the registration process and how it can protect you.
  • Step 3: Come up with The Sentence Distill the plot of the screenplay down into one sentence, known as the "logline." Whenever you meet anyone who might be interested or might know someone who is interested in your screenplay, you can tell them the story without wasting their time with 15 minutes of explanation.
  • Step 4: Research potential markets Generate a list of potential markets by identifying the production companies that make films similar to yours. Reference books and typing production companies' names into a search engine can help you locate mailing addresses and the right contact names.
  • Step 5: Send out letters Send query letters to production companies, and to agents listed in the Hollywood Creative Directory. Your query should be no longer than a page, and should include a one-line summary of your screenplay, a synopsis, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for their reply.
  • TIP: Do not send unsolicited screenplays. They will be ignored and filed – in the trash bin.InkTip is a website that has a newsletter you can subscribe to that you get weekly requests for scripts from production companies and producers. I've noticed some good companies requesting lately.
  • Step 6: Sell If an agent likes what they see, they'll take over the job of selling your screenplay, and they'll take a commission of your earnings if a production company buys your work. Or even better, a production company might purchase it directly from you or offer you an option – payment for exclusive rights to produce your screenplay within a certain timeframe.
  • FACT: In 2005, the Writers Guild of America registered 40,000 screenplays.

You Will Need

  • An original screenplay
  • A copy of the latest Hollywood Creative Directory
  • Script-writing software (optional) (optional) (optional) (optional) (optional)

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