How to Sell Your Screenplay to a Hollywood Producer
You've done it. You finally finished your screenplay. You typed "FADE OUT," sighed that big sigh of relief, and are now you're ready to jump on one of the many paths to becoming a professional screenwriter.
You want to sell your screenplay. You want to get it directly into the hands of someone who can take it (and your career) to the next level.
It's easier said than done, but here are some important steps to increase your chances.
Get Your Screenplay into the Best Shape Possible
Rewrite Your Screenplay (Like...A Lot)
"I know, but my screenplay is already perfectly awesome," you say. Well, the truth is that it's going to go through many rewrites before it ever sees production. So, look yourself in the mirror and say this out loud: "It's time to improve this thing."
This means re-writing and rewriting again (and again...and then probably several more times). Then read blogs, books, and quotes about screenwriting and revise your screenplay again. Writing is rewriting as they say.
Get Notes From a Professional Reader
When you're sure it's a blockbuster just waiting to be produced, get it read by a reputable, experienced Hollywood reader. Readers can be interns or assistants at studios, but chances are cold queries, or sending out unsolicited requests for a read, won't lead to much.
However, there are plenty of companies that provide professional script analysis from professional readers, like WeScreenplay, Shore Scripts, Launch Pad, and, of course, ScreenCraft. But remember — everybody has opinions. Seek out the ones coming from the most experienced, informed professionals.
Put Yourself Out There
Network. Network like your career depends on it, because it kind of does. This is why competitions, screenwriting events, and community groups are so important — they put you in the same "room" not only with fellow screenwriters who are working toward the same goals you are but also with industry professionals who can take you where you need to go in your career.
Network Through Competitions
The selling point of many writing competitions is the panel of judges they feature because that means someone who's interested in mentoring or shepherding a budding career is willing to read great scripts that come through. In fact, for those who are just starting out, that might be the easiest (and maybe, for a while, the only) way to get "in the room" with a manager, agent, or studio executive, so that's another reason to consider entering your script into a competition.
Network Through Writing Events
Writing events, like ScreenCraft Summit, give screenwriters like you a chance to rub elbows with a lot of people in the community at once. Not only that, but everyone's there for the same reason: to make connections and ask/answer questions. Maybe you're wondering which literary agencies you should seek out to get repped. Maybe you want some script coverage but need some recommendations on who to buy it from. Maybe you can't escape the excruciating fear of rejection and need a few words of encouragement. These events are great for all of those things, but they also might lead to some career opportunities you wouldn't have had before.
Get Active on Social Media
Screenwriters should definitely use social media to connect with other writers.
"Screenwriting Twitter" is awesome — and sometimes absolute drama — but mostly awesome and pretty entertaining and educational. You should definitely give it a look. If you're on other social platforms, like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook, find out where all of the writers hang out and follow/subscribe/like them.
Not just your favorite writers (the more famous they are, the less likely they'll interact with you anyway), but writers that are active and experienced. In fact, there are a handful of working writers on Twitter that make it a point to regularly answer questions posed by their followers, as well as offer insight into what it's like working in Hollywood.
Enter Competitions, Fellowships, and Pitch Fests
As we said earlier, sending your screenplay as an "unsolicited submission" is about as effective as putting it in a bottle and throwing it out to sea. One way of getting it into the hands of an industry professional (agents, managers, studio executives, etc.) is entering it into a competition, fellowship, or pitch fest.
Now, there are so many out there and not all of them are going to be right for you. Every year there are dozens of competitions and fellowships working to find “undiscovered” writers and help get them established within the entertainment industry. As the number of competitions and fellowships have grown, they have become a great way for writers to give themselves deadlines to stick to, however, it can be overwhelming to apply for them all. Which you apply to will depend on the career you desire, your budget, and the kind of writing you’re pursuing.
While many professional writers break into the industry and launch their careers without the assistance of competition and fellowships, these opportunities have proven to be an incredible option for anyone struggling to get their foot in the door, especially if they live outside of Los Angeles. Plenty of past participants can attest to that.