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Old 10-16-2018, 03:44 AM   #1
Mintclub
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Default When your script doesn’t go out wide

There’s a lot of great threads on done deal about scripts going out wide but not so many that discuss when your reps target select producers instead. Thought it might be interesting for the DD community to share their own experiences on this type of approach. Did your script build momentum slowly? Did it sadly lose the interest of your reps after those first few passes? Did they use it as a sample where perhaps it then landed on one of the prestigious end of year lists and then catch fire etc?

I’ve had scripts go out wide and the responses have come in thick and fast. Just last week though I had a new script start being slipped to a handful of producers. It’s a big, epic swords and sandals type war piece so there’s understandably not as many folk that can take it on and get it made.

Any DD’ers care to share their experiences? Could be a helpful thread for writers that don’t necessarily write a script with a slam dunk/ commercial concept but is something their reps dig.

Last edited by Mintclub : 10-16-2018 at 04:07 AM.
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

I've had three specs hit the town -- two went wide and the third was a bit more targeted. It still wound up going to a decent number of producers but it was a much more gradual process. I'd say the biggest difference, as far as the experience from my seat, was the adrenaline rush of the process.

The two that went wide (both contained thrillers) just blanketed the town in a matter of a day or two and the responses started rolling in fast. One ended in an option and one didn't (though that one led to a job writing a movie that's about to be released, so that was definitely a win overall!). But the experience of knowing damn near every company in town was reading your script was an exhilarating one, especially as a young writer.

The third script was a different case from yours, Mintclub, as it was a mid-budget, very dark crime drama. Unfortunately we never got much traction with it, which I'm sure colors my view of the smaller, more targeted rollout. From where I sat, it just felt like there was a little less urgency to the process. The responses played out over a matter of weeks-to-months, rather than that rapid fire pace of going wide. I wound up with a few good meetings, one of which was with an awesome Oscar winning producer, so that was cool -- we tried to get something going together but it never got off the ground. This third script eventually died a quiet death, which was disappointing as it was a bit of a passion project and a script I'm still very proud of. Oh well. I guess nothing's ever truly dead -- you never know.

I should add, actually, that the two scripts that went wide already had producers attached (back when I was a baby writer eager to spec for producers). Those scripts were going both directly to buyers and also producers to partner. I'm not sure how much that may have affected the process, if at all. The small crime drama was a totally naked spec.

Anyway, that was my experience with both fashions of rollout. Good luck on your epic war piece, Mintclub. Hope it finds a great home!

Last edited by DLev24 : 10-18-2018 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 10-17-2018, 10:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

In my experience, every rollout is different, and the term "going wide" is relative. Sometimes it means hitting every studio at once through one producer (I'm doing that right now), and sometimes it's hitting a ton of producers at once and seeing who will take territories, etc.

Recently I wrote a tiny drama about an old man, so it went to a very select group of indie producers who do that sort of thing. Right now I'm out with a 100m sci-fi with a big director and producer, so we're going straight to studios. But that can actually mean fewer eyes on your script, since you're not hitting "the town" with it, just buyers. But studio eyes are very important and a good way to get back on their radar even if they don't buy it. As I've said before, the script that changed my whole career was one that went out to every producer in town but didn't get set up anywhere, but it went Black List and has gotten me work ever since. So even through that script didn't sell, it did more for me than any script I've sold or even had made.
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Old 10-17-2018, 11:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

First time was to get my name out there. Went to 60 or so production companies. Based on a true story/famous story (multiple public sources, no IP used) probably a 50M budget or so. Started getting it out there on Wednesday/Thursday. Saturday night they started calling for territories. Monday morning we were into basically every territory. Still sitting out there a couple of places but I doubt it sells straight without attachments.

Second one is a a similar period to the first - 70s, true/famous story. The price point is lower but given the subject matter I assume there may be fewer people to target. We're slipping now to select producers and going to see what the market is.

Result of the first round is about fifteen meetings in November with space for a few more based on this rollout. Even if it generates zero meetings I'd be pretty darn happy with the results of the first.
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Old 10-17-2018, 05:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

I've never had any luck with the "slip the script to a few producers" thing. It just seems like reps can only maintain their enthusiasm about any given project for ~1 afternoon, so whether they send the script to 50 people or three, that's the sum of what they're going to do until something changes.

Of course, if one of the three producers comes onboard and wants to package it up, etc., great, but those aren't terrific odds. And if the first three producers pass, then anything else that's going to happen with the script is going to be the result of your own actions, not your reps'.


That's my experience, at least. YMMV.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

Lots of varied and interesting experiences here folks. Great to hear. Keep ‘em coming! I’m sure there are plenty of positive stories out there but it does seem as though the ‘slip the script’ approach doesn’t often lead to too much traction.

I noticed last year’s Blacklist topper Ruin originally hit the boards back in the March with Justin Kurzel attached to direct and produce through his own company. However it wasn’t until the October that they announced a sale and Gal Gadot circling it. Makes me wonder if (like yours Professor C) it went out wide but didn’t originally sell but gained fans that way and built a new sense of momentum.
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Old 10-19-2018, 11:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mintclub View Post
Makes me wonder if (like yours Professor C) it went out wide but didn’t originally sell but gained fans that way and built a new sense of momentum.

Happens all the time. I developed a 100m sci-fi script on spec with DiBonaventura, who were very honest about how hard it was going to be to sell such an expensive movie to a studio with no IP behind it. I did it anyway because I loved it, and they really got what I was going for. Sure enough, it didn't sell. People liked it, but it was too big a gamble. However, months later, Joe Johnston read it and attached himself to direct, and because of his involvement, a Chinese company offered to pay 80 of the 100m to do it as a co-production if an American studio came on board. Because it was now much less of a financial risk, Lionsgate jumped in. So never give up on things, they sometimes find a new life.
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Old 10-19-2018, 12:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

That’s an awesome story. Very cool of you to share.

I think we may both be with the same agency? Hopefully, with a little luck they’ll help find my tricky Braveheart style script a home.

Last edited by Mintclub : 06-04-2019 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 10-22-2018, 07:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: When your script doesn’t go out wide

This is an interesting thread and I think I might have mentioned something along these lines age to go.

When you start dealing with agents and the overall business, this is probably one of the situations that will make it very obvious how people unfortunately are not completely transparent in their intentions. And I hate to sound cynical but that has always been my case with the “slipping to a few producers“ angle.

As logical and positive as their arguments can seem, sometimes the decision not to go widen is dictated by a very simple concern: that the script is not going to be hit on the circuit and that they will look bad by exposing both you and themselves to that dud.

My most recent experience is somewhere in the middle. I had a screenplay that I spent a lot of time working on and which I do think my producers genuinely loved. But they also realized that it wasn’t the easiest project to take on , especially in a stifled Hollywood executive context. So they sent it to 5 to 10 super refined producers. It didn’t go anywhere but I really appreciated them trying and I am now revisiting the screenplay. It’s one of those strange animals that has been getting insanely great reviews from some people and yet has not found a fan in the real world that can take it on board. But enough time has passed now – over a year and a half – and a director I know recently approached me about directing it. So I forwarded that email to my team and it has essentially started the conversation up again

It is a fine line. Some reps are scummy and won’t go wide because they just don’t believe in you very much unless you have that immediately identifiable hit. Other agents (even though they might not be 100% honest about it) really do think that the script would do more damage than good if it went wide. So you just have to be open to seeing the other side as well... Keeping in mind that sometimes the script really is not as good as you think it is, or it may need to be set aside for a while and reviewed a year or so later.
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