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Selling A Screenplay vs. Selling Your Screenwriting Skills

September 23, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

Margaret Ann Stewart

If you have had trouble as a screenwriter contacting agents or managers, you will be relieved to know that producers are much more accessible online.

Here are my Top Four Recommendations for Websites that have legitimate producers seeking scripts:

A Film Writer,
Hollywood Lit Sales,
The Screenwriter’s Market -, and
Rosa and Ashley’s Message Board

So here’s the good news – they’re working with new, unrepresented writers. Here’s the bad news – they might not want your script, and would rather commission you to write or finish a script that for a film they want to make.

My biggest discovery was realizing that a writer can sell his or her work directly to a producer without any representation whatsoever. In reality, this is exactly how the majority of new screenwriters are getting their work sold. But there is one big difference in this realm: producers who were really looking for specific types of screenplays, versus ones only looking for writing samples. And this is an important concept to understand for the new screenwriter.

Selling Your Screenplay vs. Selling Yourself as a Writer-for-Hire

What I promptly discovered was that many of the producers that posted ads did not want to buy a screenplay, they were looking for a writing sample in a particular genre.  Why?  So that they could find a good writer to complete a script for a story that they wanted written.  In my case, some of the producers would request the first script, and then to my surprise, ask me to see what else I had written. Of course, I had not written anything else and that reality would end the communication. Moral: Even if you think you have the next blockbuster hit – keep writing and accumulate as many “samples” of your work as you possibly can.

And in addition to the Internet sites that post ads by producers, there are also Internet sites that allow you to post your logline or script for producers to read or request to read your script. These sites include Inktip, which charges $60 to post your script, logline and synopsis and is very popular with new screenwriters, as well as Hollywood Lit Sales and A Film Writer (see links above) which allow you to post your logline for free.

With all of this information at hand, I began to query again and post information about the scripts that I had completed by then. Almost instantly, I began to get replies from producers. Some requested a large budget feature that I had (as well as the synopsis and logline), while others that liked my ideas for scripts asked me to write sample shorts, which I did. Once the scripts were turned in I never heard from those producers again. It took a while for me to learn that once any type of producer is no longer interested in you or your work they simply stop responding to you.

On the other hand, there are some producers, whether they want to read your material or not, that are genuinely nice people and understand how difficult it is for new writers to get started. Although they may not be interested in your work, they are happy to share their knowledge with you and acknowledge that you exist.

But the best news is, there was this one producer who actually liked one of my scripts enough to take it on…


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