The key to selling your screenplay is getting the right people to read it. They key to getting the right people to read it is to be creative in your approach (the traditional ones are used by everybody and they clog up the system and tend not to get through). The key to being more creative is to steal, uh, I mean adapt, ideas from other fields.
For example, take the Underground Book Club. They are distributing hard copies of the first three chapters of various books at major London train stations during the busiest commuting hours. The hope is that instead of reading their newspapers or work reports, commuters will sample these books and then want to buy some of them in order to read the rest. The samples are also available online.
Does that give you any ideas? First let’s look at the principles behind the effort:
- Find out where your target market is and go there.
- Give them something new, different, interesting
- Create a desire to take the next step—the one that earns you some money
- Make it easy to take that step
So….your target market is agents and producers. Where could you find them? Perhaps at conferences and film festivals, for instance. Could you give them something on their way in or out? If so, do it on public property, because the organizers of the event are unlikely to let you do it on their patch.
What could you give them? They won’t take a script, but maybe a pitch in the form of a graphic novel page.
The next step you want them to take is to ask to read your script and if your ‘taster’ is intriguing enough they will. You could include a simple to remember email address for them to use. If it’s a producer who says they’ll read it only via an agent, now you have a nice hook with which to approach an agent: “Producer X has expressed interest in reading my script but only if it’s submitted via an agent. Would you be willing to submit it?” They’re much more liable to do that when a producer has already asked to read it.
If this idea doesn’t appeal to you…come up with one of your own! The idea is to apply your creativity to marketing what you write, as well as to writing.
(You’ll find plenty of additional ideas about marketing your work, in my book “Your Writing Coach.” You can get it from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller. You may also want to check out “Do Something Different,” published by Virgin Books with an introduction by Richard Branson. It includes 100 case studies of how people marketed their products inexpensively and creatively.)
Chasing trends is a waste of time because by the time a trend is apparent it’s already too late–usually it takes a year or more to go from a green light to a released film. However, these genres are always in demand if the scripts are well-written.
COMEDY – especially comedy with a physical element, because these travel well. These days good foreign sales are essential.
ROMANTIC COMEDY – This is the most popular sub-genre. It’s one of the hardest to write because usually the story depends on keeping the potential lovers apart and these days there are fewer things that do that. Previously factors that served this function included miscommunication because they didn’t have cell phones and the internet and travel was slower; social attitudes against couples of different ages, or different races, or different religions, or different social classes; and more differences between the genders (women not allowed in certain occupations, for instance).
The elimination of such factors is good news for society, bad news for romantic comedies. You’ll have to work harder to come up with a plausible angle but if you manage it your script will have a good chance of selling. Movies that have done it include “When Harry Met Sally,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and “Shakespeare in Love.”
PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER – This kind of character-based story needs to be clever and suspenseful, ideally with a twist in the story as well. Examples include “Fatal Attraction,” “The Game,” “Fight Club.”
If you don’t like these genres, don’t try writing them just because they are always popular. Odds are your script won’t be that good if you’re not passionate about the genre. However, if you have several ideas you like equally well and one of them fits one of these genres, I’d suggest going with that one.
(Want friendly guidance on creating characters, coming up with dynamic plots, and selecting settings that support your story? Get my book, “Your Writing Coach,” published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)
Thinking about making a web series? Think you need to copy network series? Define the demographic you are targeting? Think again!
In this seven-minute interview conducted by Film Courage, Joe Wilson, creator of the web series Vampire Mob, talks about why you don’t need to look for sponsors or try to find the ideal length and demographics.
His point: if you want to be a story teller, why build in all the elements that have made life difficult for story tellers? Find a story you are passionate about and make it! (He drops the F-bomb often, so take that into account if you’re listening at the office, etc.)