View Full Version : SENDING OUT SCREENPLAYS
02-17-2001, 04:31 AM
I have completed my first screenplay, but I'm unsure of what to do next?
Which organisation do I register my screenplay with? (I'm from the UK)
I'm thinking of producing it myself. Do I need an agent before I can start sending the scripts out to actors?
If so, how do I find an agent?
Do you recommend any books on producing films?
My screenplay is based on a novel. Must I option any rights before I can register my script? Is it expensive?
How do I make contact with the actors - big and small?
02-17-2001, 01:09 PM
Let me start off by saying - great job in finishing a screenplay. Many don't get that far. You sound ambitious. This information may puncture some illusions but it's better to live outside the Matrix than in it right?
First - if you have written a screenplay based on a novel that you have not optioned, your script is unproduceable, and you can't even submit it anywhere before you option the rights to the novel which are most likely already optioned or bought by someone else.
Second - It is very difficult to get an agent, especially since you don't live in L.A. If this is your first script, the overwhelming likelihood is that your craft hasn't developed enough to endure the scrutiny of L.A. Remember - people come from Yale, Harvard, Brown, Oxford - the best and brightest from all over the world to try to accomplish exactly what you're trying to accomplish. And most of them have many U.S. connections and have perhaps written six or seven scripts. So it may be early to consider an agent.
Third - Any actor, big or small, if you are submitting to them formally, requires a "pay or play" offer - meaning, you have to legally and formally offer them money to get them to even read the script. So the only other alternative is the "friend of a friend" approach which comes back to contacts.
It's like credit cards - you can't get financing without actors and you can't get actors without financing.
But we all know that people wind up with credit cards sometimes. Rules are made to be broken.
You can look into the option, but my suggestion is to go into another script. Keep writing.
02-19-2001, 06:50 PM
02-21-2001, 06:30 AM
Second. Is an agent necessary? Even for producers? Some respected people in the film industry claim that it isn't? I think Hollywood has learn't its lesson by now, Harvard and Co graduates don't necessarily make good writers. Take Spielberg, Scorsese, Darabont,Lucas and the mighty Kubrick -rank among the best - never set foot in an ivy league university.
Third. How much will it set me back to pay actors to read my script? Will I need a lawyer? God, who makes these rules anywhere? Paying actors to read screenplays! If an actor accidentally stumbles upon my screenplay, it won't cost me anything, will it?
You mentioned contacts. Well, my contacts do stretch to the likes of Tom Cruise and others from Hollywood's A-List, however it may put my big plan in jeopardy if I try and exploit that now.
02-21-2001, 02:12 PM
I think Tao's point re: Ivy League educated "writers" was too just get across the level of competition in the field of professional screenwriting. You're right, the best writers didn't necessarily go to the best schools, but a lot did and are highly educated. (And besides, people like Lucas, Spielberg and Scorcese all attended USC-- one of the best film schools in existence. But I wouldn't put Spielberg and Lucas in the top ranks of feature screenwriters working today.)
You certainly don't need an agent to get a movie made-- especially when going the indie route. A kick-ass producer willing to do whatever it takes can conceivably find the financing, have the contacts, etc. to make it happen. (Usually takes more than one, but it happens all the time.)
There are so many routes that can be taken in getting an indie film made. If you have contacts, no, you don't have to pay an actor to just "read" your script. They'll read it based on personal relationships. But no working actor will commit to a project that has no funding unless his or her brother, sister, spouse, etc. might be making it. So if you don't have the contacts to a certain actor, then you do need to do as Tao says, send the script with a play or pay offer. Doing this makes it a "real" thing. It gives you the leverage to at least demand a response (be it yes or no) from the actor's agent in a reasonable amount of time. What do you have to offer? Who knows. Offer $25 grand... $50 grand... whatever. (And yes, a lawyer would need to assist in drafting the play or pay deals you're sending out-- or at least a producer well-versed in doing this sort of thing.) There are a lot of really good actors who will drop their price if they believe in the project and the talent behind it. (Or you can go in a completely different direction and get whatever money you can, hire a casting director and cast unknowns in your film-- paying them SAG minimum.)
You're right to say you may not want to exploit your best contacts at this time. Is this script the right one? Is it the best you can do? Will the actors you're seriously thinking of really jump at the chance of doing it? Hard questions, but try to answer them truthfully. (I mean, look at what Paul Thomas Anderson had to accomplish before someone like Cruise would drop his rate for the opportunity to work with him.) In the mean time, try and find that kick-ass producer who'll go to hell and back to help get your film made.
p.s. If you can't option the rights to the book you based your script on, START OVER. Do not send it out under any circumstances. Chalk it up to a good writing exercise and start something original.
02-21-2001, 08:29 PM
What book was it?
02-22-2001, 10:27 AM
For the record.... only Lucas went to USC of that three. Spielberg did give about $1.5 million in the mid 80's to build the mixing and scoring stage there -- which is very nice by the way. I believe he has given more in recent years to because of his relationship with Lucas.
Scorcese went to NYU if memory serves me correctly. Spielberg went to Long Beach College or something like that. He did not get into or go to USC.
But in general folks are right... many of the writers out there/here are well educated and in a fair number of cases came from backgrounds other than film before breaking in as writers (see some of our interviews for examples).
As a side note, most of the "Ivy leaguers" out here are suits -- as in agents, managers, and studio execs. Not all but most -- though I do have to say a decent number of the graduate students at USC with me were from Harvard, Brown, MIT, and so on.
03-08-2001, 01:33 PM
Don't be offended but I don't think you have what it takes to produce--just focus on writing for right now. When you have more connections, you could consider producing. You may find it extremely hard just trying to get an agent for your writing skills.
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