Archive for Getting started
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.)
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.)
Film school used to be the way to get a job or up your chances of selling your projects in Hollywood. Now the studios are making bigger and fewer movies and the action is shifting to other platforms.
On The Wrap, Brent Lang writes, “In the digital age, institutions including New York University, the University of California, Los Angeles and Boston University have torn down the old barriers between teaching television and film production, and merged film and interactive departments. The internet age has led film schools to encourage students to think about narrative in different ways than their predecessors did.”
He quotes Bob Bassett, dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: “Twenty years ago, people went to film school to become the best filmmaker they could become so they could go out and make films. Today, they have to be much more calculating about developing their skills, because those skills are what lead to paying jobs.”
The new outlets: YouTube, Funny or Die, and other sites, as well the the more adventurous cable TV outfits. YouTube has joined with various companies to start new channels. I wouldn’t be surprised if before too long we’re watching Facebook TV.
The formats are new, too. On the internet there’s no particular reason to think of programs in chunks of 30 or 60 minutes. There’s room for stories that take 30 seconds, and for all kinds of media combinations and interactivity.
I’ve always felt that the one big advantage of going to film school is the contacts you can make. You needed a path to reaching the powerful people who ran the film business. The digital media landscape is much broader and you have more ways in. I’m not naive enough to think it no longer matters who you know, just that it matters a bit less than it used to.
Does it make sense at all to go to even the new versions of film school—what I’d call digitelefilm school? Sure–you’ll learn a lot and find collaborators and make useful connections, too. That’s if you can afford it or don’t mind racking up big student loans. Otherwise, get out your Flip or point your New iPad at some actors, or teach yourself Flash or HTML5 animation, or make some stop-motion figurines and make something brilliant.
(What you still need is a good script–which is the missing link in most productions made for the web. A good place to start is my book, “Your Writing Coach,” published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other booksellers. It’s not specifically about writing scripts but it IS about crafting the kinds of solid characters and storylines you need.)