You have probably thought many times how to break into the film industry with that amazing script you have been working on for ages, or maybe you have various stories sitting in a dusty drawer that hasn’t been opened in years.
You decide to sign up to Filmarket Hub and upload your best script to the platform, in hopes of getting noticed by film production companies, TV broadcasters or investors who are looking for new, fresh material like yours. Days, weeks, months pass by and your script is sitting in some server; it has received several views by some companies, but no one has contacted you to talk about it.
Why isn’t your story getting the notice it deserves?
Maybe you have received public funding to develop it, maybe you have one special mention at a film festival…but still, you can’t figure out how to break in the industry so that at least one working producer reads your script and considers working on it. Well, with this post we will try to bring some clarity to how the industry works from within: we will break down how producers and independent film production companies think.
Firstly, the film industry is, like any business, filled with very successful companies, mildly successful ones and then there are smaller, struggling productions companies. Within that market, there are already established screenwriters, directors, etc. who are pushing for their material to be made. That is the first barrier to take into account: competition is harsh.
Secondly, making films is a very costly enterprise; every time a new film is being made, the majority of the money invested in it won’t come back to the pockets of private investors. Majority of them know this and do it for diverse reasons: they believe in the project, their love of film, they are very rich and want to invest some of it in something as glamorous as film or they like to invest in risky projects in the hopes of, someday, receiving some profit…and those are very few and rare (at least in Europe). So, in other words, making movies cost a lot of money and there are very few guarantees of benefiting from investing in it. That’s another barrier: return on investment is low.
Taking these two main factors into account: having a lot of professional screenwriters fighting to get their next script produced and knowing how very few movies actually make a return on investment, you can see why an independent producer might not want to bet everything on the material of someone they don’t even know.
But let’s get down to more specific details, so you get an idea of what are production companies dealing with:
- A very competitive market, in which producing a film is very costly and producers will be the last people to see any return on investment (if there is any it will go first to the cinemas, the distributor, the sales agent and so on and so forth).
- Production companies receive hundreds of scripts every month. They usually have people who will read these, but the first filter they will most likely apply is to get rid of the scripts they don’t know the person who sent it.
- Production companies tend to work only with screenwriters they already know, best-case scenario, they will read the script of someone who has been recommended.
But why is the selection process so harsh? Why don’t they give a chance to my script?
Because of the reasons explained before in this article, producers have to be very selective of everything: time, how they spend their money…and that means as well, what scripts they dedicate time to read and to consider.
With this scenario, I will never get passed cold calling or sending emails to production companies. Isn’t there anything else I can do?
Yes, there are ways of getting closer to go from “random person who sends a script” to “promising screenwriter whose script I want to read”. That is why we post these articles on Film Academy and why you can also use the tools we offer at Filmarket Hub.
So, what are some of the things you can do to improve your visibility and professionalism as a screenwriter?
- Work on improving your script: this seems very basic, but it is key to getting your script analyzed by a professional, listen to their advice and keep rewriting until you get to a rounder version of a script.
- Simplify: Be as precise and clear as possible when pitching your idea. Less is more, always.
- Be thorough & rigorous: Fill in the blanks with all the information you already have about your project: the more stuff you have figured out, the more convincing you will seem to producers. It is not the same to present a project with a good one page, tagline, poster, and budget, then to just send a 200-page script (I am exaggerating, but you get the idea).
- Stay humble and realistic: keep in mind that like you, there are thousands of people trying to get their ideas noticed and made into reality. This applies to how you deal with industry professionals as well as when writing a script.
So, as you can see, having a script that is as ready as can be is the first thing you need to have, but it is NOT ENOUGH; it is about presenting yourself in the most professional and put together light. Production companies have a lot of information coming in every day and in order for them to notice you, you need to package your project in a strategic enough way to become relevant to them.