Could someone "unknown" still(sometimes) sell a spec screenplay?:)

Could people with no "connections" still be able to sell screenplay or does this only happens to people that are very well connected(eg: worked for studios for decades, had many assignments before, etc.) can do that?:)

Could someone "off the street" just sell a screenplay, or you have to become a professional first, by doing assignments and working to build a "name" for yourself during many, many years(I've heard it takes about 10 years before you can sell a screenplay, others say it's 20-30 years)?

Laura Scheiner

Victor - it could happen, but it's very rare. It's very rare for anybody to sell a spec - even successful, repped, award-winning writers rarely sell their specs. To avoid wasting time by writing specs, established writers often pitch at the idea stage and then are hired to write the screenplay rather than writing it on spec,

For new, unestablished writers specs almost always serve as writing samples which can lead to representation or the chance to be hired to write . It's not about becoming a professional by getting paid assignments it's that the vast majority of films are developed that way (a producer has a property - book, true story, etc., or an original idea that they want to make a movie of so they hire a writer - or in many cases a succession of writers - to develop it. So most professional screenwriters support themselves from paid gigs, not from spec sales. That doesn't mean that specs don't sell - it's just that it's the exception - not the rule. It's more common for a spec to be optioned, but options rarely lead to sales. I've had seven option of my specs. None sold - although three came very close. It's just the nature of the beast. And it's good to understand the realities of the business if it's something you want to pursue. If you want a as a screenwriter and you are not going to produce your own films then you are almost certainly going to have to take paid assignments,

In most cases it takes years before a writer is good enough to write a sellable script, And unfortunately the vast majority of aspiring writers will never get to that point, Some will never understand the craft well enough and some don't have the talent. And even for those who are good enough, most won't make it, simply because there are far more aspiring writers than there are writing or script sales opportunities. It's just math.

Doug Nelson

Yes Victor it can happen; and a few win the lottery too.

Dan MaxXx

You're gonna need a connection to a Buyer- a referral, contests, rabbi, whatever.
But "off the street"? Hmm how about Shane Black. He was 22 years old. His roommate set up a meeting with an agent. Agent read Lethal Weapon on Friday. Sold Saturday. Nobody remembers the roommate.
Or Writer Brad Ingelsby. Supposedly he was selling furniture and living with parents and sold a spec for big money.
Lots of unicorns in Hollywood.

Sam Borowski

Victor some of the advice I give in my acting AND Filmmaking workshops is two-fold: You have to set goals that are achievable, BUT you also have to BELIEVE that YOU can be that SUCCESS STORY! Believe it - put it out to GOD and the Universe - and then be MORE PROACTIVE and see where that GETS you. My guess is further down that path than you imagined. You have to throw away the negativity - and that includes the negative comments. But, at the same, listen to the constructive comments such as Dan MaxXx. Whether it be your roommate or trainer's shrink helping you. BUT, I'm also a firm believer that you make your own "Luck," both in this business AND in this world. Put yourself in position to receive that luck. BUT, AGAIN, are you being PROACTIVE? ARE you going to networking events and film festivals? Are you making short films? Are you constantly writing? Do you have a presence on social media - including here on Stage 32, which you clearly do - and do you use it wisely to brand yourself in a positive manner? Do you have an IMDb page? IMDbPro? Do you have your screenplays copywritten? Do you submit to screenplay contests in both film festivals and online? My point is, again, BE PROACTIVE and put yourself in the position to succeed. Instead of blindly writing query letters and submitting - when they solicit you to - why not build your connections to one of those "unicorns" in Hollywood. It CAN BE DONE. And, if you think it can't, you're in the wrong business. This STILL IS THE BUSINESS OF DREAMS! <3

Dimitris Tenes

I read in an article you need to do three things to succeed as a scriptwriter: 1) write and rewrite, 2) refine your craft, 3) submit your work.

Of course, to submit your work you need to follow procedures. Producers don't accept unsolicited material but you can send query letters to them. Also, participate in contests. Go to film festivals and other happenings where professionals gather and talk to them if you have the chance. The more people from the industry you meet the more probable it is to find someone willing to read your script. Don't waste time and energy thinking how many years it will take you to sell or how difficult it is. Producers and studios always search for new talent.
Never give up.

David E. Gates

It has happened, but it is rare. It's about knowing people... a friend of a friend may help get your script directly in front of someone famous or able to film it, but, as Dan M said, it's a rare as hen's teeth.

Matthew H Emma

I sold one of mine and I am the definition of unknown. Granted, it wasn't to a large or well-known production company or for very much money, but I did do it. I hope that means something.

William Martell

Yes. Here's a list of last year's spec scripts by "first timers":

But most writing work is assignments, not spec sales. Of course, to get an assignment companies have to read a stack of your specs and love your work and call you in to pitch your take on some property they want to develop. So it still comes down to getting reads (through equeries or manager or agent submissions or that handful of good contests).

Bruce Burnett

I really only write spec scripts so I am glad they sell...otherwise I'm screwed. I write what I want to make so naturally this leads me to spec. I hate the thought of a 'Hollywood'... that doesn't make spec scripts.
It's why I want to be a director.

Pierre Langenegger

I've got to question the Josh Gordon entry as being a first timer, William. Considering it's listed as"Untitled Josh Gordon Project", I'm guessing it's the same Josh Gordon who already has 9 director credits and one short writing credit as well as some producer credits.

Sam Borowski

Bruce Burnett, if you write spec scripts and you want to be a director, you should team up with a producer who can help you and make independent films. It IS possible to get Hollywood to stand up and take notice of you by doing that. Look at what Ryan Coogler achieved with Fruitvale Station. (And, that's in recent times. When Quentin Tarantino made Reservoir Dogs with producer Lawrence Bender, he was not a hot commodity. Ditto for Kevin Smith with Clerks. We've all heard these stories before.) But, you have to be willing to not only band up with a quality producer, but put your work under the microscope to be the best it can be. A filmmaker showed myself and a younger director something once. The younger director remarked, "It was on the level of a good student film you would make in high school." My comments were even harsher than that. You also have to recognize in raising the money, you have to get a very good cast - and that IS attainable, again, if you get the right producer and have a great script and raise a little bit of capital, which can be done. IT CAN BE DONE! So, think of this, rather than a Hollywood that doesn't buy spec scripts, which it still does. But, by going the independent route, you can make Hollywood stand up and take notice. GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH! ;)

Bruce Burnett

You hit the nail on the head Sam. I couldn't agree with anyone more. I made one film 'A LARPer's Love Story' with my own cash and though the film wasn't good...the experience was incrediblely valuable.
But a good producer is everything. That's what I learned. Oh ya... and don't use you own money. I am working on another film now = animated. It's called, 'Putzick, Herder of Digla, Basic Business'.
Below is a Digla

Sam Borowski

Bruce, Break Legs with your new film! I will say the title is a bit wordy. Keep that in mind, especially for festivals and online when people peruse the titles to see if they're interested! And, I love that you took what could have been a negative experience with your first film and made it a positive one. That's a GREAT ability and will help you as you navigate through the rough waters of the Entertainment Business. ;) GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH! ;) ;)

Annette F Hummell

There are some rules made to be broken, don't be afraid to send your script to everyone who deals with your genre. I plan to do this myself and lately been considering looking to make it myself.

Toby Tate

I'm a successful novelist with four traditionally published novels, one self-published novel, and two novellas under my belt. I wrote my first screenplay three years ago and spent a year trying unsuccessfully to sell it.

In 2016, I decided to write a screenplay that would require a much lower budget to produce. I found an independent production house which had already produced two successful films in my genre (horror), and they liked the screenplay. We brought in another producer who helped us refine the script, and I also got coverage from two different producers here on Stage 32.

Instead of giving up the script for a payout, I put some skin in the game and signed up as co-producer and I am sharing co-writing credits with the director and producer.

A year later, after dozens of pitches on Stage 32 and elsewhere, we have landed a distributor and are about to finalize the production funding.

I am very happy with my decision to co-produce and help raise money for my own project, because,'s my own project! I have a much bigger piece of the action than I would have otherwise, and I am much more involved than I would have been just handing my screenplay over.

Eventually, I will probably try selling a screenplay, but for now, indie production is going to be my thing.

Sam Borowski

Toby, I always encourage writers to learn producing - and production - so they can get in the conversation. Get in the game. Have more of a say. AND< a better chance to GET THE MOVIE MADE! GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH! ;)

Toby Tate

Thanks Sam - you too! And I'm a huge fan of Ernest Borgnine, by the way - from McHale's Navy, Poseidon Adventure, The Devil's Rain and Escape from New York to Mermaid Man!

Mauro Ferritto

I’m surprised this is still a question. Of course. 1000% of course it’s possible for an unknown to sell a spec. Why wouldn’t it be? You have a great script that’s ready to sell, it won’t be hard at all. No harder than a pro writing a spec and trying it sell it.
Actually the easiest part is the selling. The hard part is writing something great enough to have someone want to buy it - albeit a studio or producer.

Dan MaxXx

Year 2017, less than 70 spec scripts sold for bigtime money that made the news. I guess there's more than 70 Buyers in a free market.

Bill Costantini

Conversely, there are thousands and thousands of people WITH connections that can't sell a script. Hope that puts a fresh cartridge of ink in your pen, Victor.

Bruce Burnett

70...that I call good news. Actually more than I thought. Yaaaa. I would rather wait to sell something new and original than be tossed cash for another washed out premiss or rehash. Here's to originality selling...cheers!

Dan Guardino

Almost every screenwriter starts out as an unknown so the answer would have to be yes.

Monique Amado

Of course it is! Jonathan Perera wrote 'Miss Sloane' (which starred Jessica Chastain), got it into the right hands and within a year it was in pre-production. Anything is possible. He's also brilliant, so that didn't hurt. Read this article on ScreenCraft's site:

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