Julie Gray returns this week with a follow up - although it could certainly be called a prequel - to her guest post, Competition Season. The subject prompted hundreds of questions, but the ones asked most by 32’ers was some version of: How do I know my screenplay is ready for prime time?
Julie offers her invaluable insight below. I thank her again for her generous contribution to the community.
As always, Julie is available for followup questions and remarks in the comments section below.
Eight Action Steps You Should Take After Fade to Black:
After weeks and months of the frustration, joy, hard work and amazing moments, you have finished your script. Now what?
First, you must ask yourself: is the script really done? Did you get feedback? How many drafts of the script is this? If it’s anything less than 3 rewrites based on feedback, the script isn’t in fact ready to go anywhere. You can get feedback from a number of sources: friends, writing pals, online writing resources or a professional.
Go through the script and proofread it within an inch of its life. Look for and eradicate typos, homonyms and format mistakes. Make sure the script is perfect. Don’t let silly mistakes knock you out of the competition.
Make sure that you have an entertaining and concise (50 words or less) logline that represents your script at its finest. The logline should feature the hero, the main conflict, the villain and the entertaining upshot of the whole enchilada. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a great logline ready to go before you consider doing a thing with the script.
Competitions are a great way to test the waters and see how your material does out there in the world of other screenwriters. Moviebytes is a good resource for competition deadlines and listings. Please see my earlier blog post on Stage 32 for hints and tips on screenwriting competitions and how to take advantage of them.
Shake your network tree to see if you know anyone who knows anyone who is a literary manager, producer or agent. You might be surprised whom you know. Six degrees of separation! Be polite, be professional, be unattached to the outcome and give it a try.
Consider investing, if you haven’t already, in an IMDB PRO membership. Look up movies that you really love and the companies that produced them. Find a production company that has made movies that you not only love but that you would compare your script to. Match up your tastes and theirs, in other words.
Write query letters to the agents, managers and production companies that you have targeted. A good query letter should be short, to the point. Include the title of your script, the genre, the logline and your contact information. There is no need to write a novel. Remember, people in Hollywood have short attention spans. Short, sweet and to the point is the magic formula.
Production companies receive hundreds of queries, so make yours stand out in its simplicity, authenticity and its great logline. (A good query letter is a whole other blog post, by the way.)
One of the first things you will be asked, if you are lucky enough to get a read, is what else you have. Don’t come up short on that answer. Ideally, you should be writing all the time. And if you aren’t writing, you should be outlining, networking, learning more about screenwriting and querying too. Keep all of those balls up in the air at all times. I know. It can be exhausting. But it is, in many ways, a numbers game. No good ever came to a writer who put all his or her eggs in one script.’