Appeasing the Gatekeepers. There are many.
A wise man once asked, “If your script falls in the forest and nobody reads it, any chance you get the job?” You’ve spent months agonizing over plot, characters, protagonist and antagonists, dialogue, building the classic three Act format with crisis and resolve, and ending your story with a Catharsis moment that is sure to touch your audience. You’ve just written, what you believe, is the second coming of ‘Moonlight.’ Even your mother likes it. Now what?
- If you’re new to the game, you probably don’t have the resources to hire an agent and even if you do, your script has to meet all professional standards. And speaking of professional standards make sure you copyright your script and/or register it with the Writers Guild of America. The fee for non-members is $25 and it can take up to 6 months to process. Ouch! Another way and one that I use is to send yourself by registered mail, a copy of your script making sure you keep all associated documentation and DO NOT open the package. That should be done by a judge in a court of law and proves your ownership.
- Depending on the genre of your film, market to the producers/production companies that work in that medium. Beyond consideration for the costs of printing and blanket mailing of your script, why try to sell your efforts to a company that makes mostly romantic comedies if your script is a horror movie.
- To discover if there is interest in your script and AFTER you’ve mailed a copy to yourself, write a synopsis and send that to prospective buyers. If they like what they read, they’ll ask for The Full Monty. (everything which is necessary, appropriate or possible; ‘the works.”) Then send them your script with an attached release form.
- Using the proper format for screenwriting is critical. Except for your mother, no one will read it, and it will become landfill.
- Spell check your work for accuracy. It keeps readers from seeing stop signs.
- Put your script in a drawer for a few days and then with a clear mind, proofread it. After all the effort you’ve put into it, it is too easy to fall in love with your work and hard to be critical and objective.
- Follow the formatting rules for information on your title page. Use Card Stock 80 lb. 8.5×11 stock. Using a 3-hole punch attach brass brads to the top and bottom holes only. For most 120-page scripts, inch and a quarter brads will do the job.
After you’ve completed your search for production companies you need to call and see if they are looking for new scripts. If so, get the contact information and add it to your list of potential clients. Usually, the first gatekeeper is a professional script reader who’s job is, to read your script and advise management on the viability for production. If you can’t make it passed them you keep on trying with others.
As one unknown wag said, “Being a good screenwriter is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet.” Who knew?
That’s a wrap.