The day I found the inspiration to go ahead and create a free script hosting website was July 4th 2016, US Independence Day. I originally conceptualised the term “revolution” as a reference to how the site would allow screenwriters to promote their material in a way never seen before. Who would have known, nearly five years later, I’d be sitting on a huge underground uprising that many who have influence seemingly don’t want people to know about ?
Imagine what it’s like to find out there’s a website where you can upload all your screenplays for free? A place where you can leverage the awards and endorsements you’ve received from elsewhere at no extra cost? A platform where writers and filmmakers are regularly connecting to spark off new projects and kickstart careers. Oh, and imagine it’s all run by a fellow writer-producer who understands just how tough it is to go through years trying to break in while every door is slammed in your face by industry members and your pockets shaken down for change by gatekeepers.
It must be amazing to discover that. In fact, I know it’s amazing to discover it. I know because I get a message every other day from writers telling me they’re so glad to learn Script Revolution exists, that it’s a dream come true, and that they wish they’d known about it sooner.
This crazy little attempt of mine to change how screenwriters get discovered and challenge the numerous lotteries and casinos that have popped up to exploit them will turn five years old in August. The community is nearly 10,000 members strong, we’ve had nearly 150,000 downloads, and the homepage receives over a 1,000,0000 hits per year. I’m enormously proud of that as running Script Revolution by myself, doing all the coding, design, management, and marketing, takes it toll but seeing so many positive comments by members when the topic comes up makes it all worth while — I built Script Revolution to give writers hope and it’s definitely working.
What pains me however, and has pained me since day one, is how rarely the topic of Script Revolution comes up outside of the platform itself. I originally believed that the sheer sensation of launching something that gives free exposure would be enough to create a buzz much like that feeling we get when we complete our best script yet. People will have to talk about this, right? It’s too good to ignore! Well, the reality of offering this opportunity to the world was initially met with laughter, dismissal, and censorship. Those that didn’t mock the site for being small, ignored it as something anybody can be part of and thus non-exclusive. Those that saw the potential outright banned any mention of it, much to the horror of members who saw their post and comments deleted on platforms that, I can only assume, felt it could eat away at their bottom line. It turns out a cottage industry that trades on selling false hope likes to make sure its customers are kept in the dark.
And, to be frank, almost half a decade later, after numerous success stories (one feature sold, one optioned, and two shorts sold only last month) and following thousands of members signing up, it still seems few people with influence actually want to talk about Script Revolution. The site cannot be found in the resource guides pinned to the top of forums while expensive and outright predatory alternatives are promoted. The platform does not get mentioned by the same consultants who drive their followers toward poorly respected competitions that employ min-wage readers. The community has never, to my knowledge, been blogged about by any of the various opinion leaders who are supposedly there to let their peers know where they can find an advantage and build a career.
It is, quite frankly, getting strange. It’s hard not to fashion a tinfoil hat and start dreaming up conspiracy theories when a Script Revolution member tells an industry journalist outright that they should publish something mentioning the site, that journalist says they absolutely will, and then never goes on to make contact with me or pen a single word about it.
The reality is, I fear, that we’re actually just terrible at sharing powerful information and we’re so used to having to hand over wads of cash to so much as speak to an industry member, anyone offering access for free is met with immediate skepticism. Finally, after insistence I do so by early members, bringing in a Petreon campaign and a $5pm premium Rockstar Membership tier to help keep the site running actually raised trust in what I was doing and that I wasn’t secretly selling off people’s inside leg measurements to Google.
There have been a few heroes out there however championing Script Revolution for as long as they’ve learned about its existence. Rich RB Botto of Stage 32 let people know about t during a panel back when the site had only just launched (Script Revolution in fact gained a lot of traction within the Stage 32 Writers Lounge), Don Boose of Simply Scripts put a banner up on his site from day-one, and then there’s some of those Script Revolution partners such as Prewrite and ScriptHop who continue to cheer on every success story that comes along while endorsing the site at every opportunity. Plus, despite the screenwriting and filmmaking blogs being silent, there’s been numerous podcasts that have invited me on to waffle on about what I’ve been doing such as Britflicks, Joined Up Writing, 2-bit horror, The Successful Screenwriter, Just One Good Take, and I Was Just Wondering along with YouTube channels such as ScriptFella.
Then there’s my filmmaking partner in crime Shane Stanley, author of What You Don’t Learn in Film School, executive producer of the number one global box office #1 Gridiron Gang, and director of my last two released features, who casually mentioned Script Revolution as a great writer’s education resource during one of his Film Courage interview segments, generating a huge surge in awareness that continues months later.
Oh, did I not mention the site has a whole free to browse screenwriting guide that I’ve put together as I’ve cut my way into the industry as a working writer? Yeah, it’s getting hard to keep up myself. What next, writers are getting six hour long Zoom sessions with working industry members to chat about breaking in and making films? Ummmm… maybe…
On top of all this, there is of course all those individual writers who, rather than keep the news to themselves, have selflessly spread the good word to their friends via social media, forums, email, and in person.
Long story short; Script Revolution has relied almost entirely on word-of-mouth and still very much does. Therefore, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has ever mentioned it. Without you, it simply could not have grown into what it is now.
So perhaps it’s time to make the leaders of your community aware that this platform exists and, if they already know about it, ask why they aren’t making those that look up to them aware of it too.
It seems that the ultimate irony of Script Revolution is that it will have to trigger an actual revolution within the script writing world before it gets taken seriously. I think that’s a real shame but I’m also delighted as the site is fast becoming unstoppable as it doubles in size year-on-year. Writers are starting to realise just how much they are being exploited to pursue their dreams and seem to welcome a platform that levels the playing field, even if it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour normally associated with Hollywood.
As for that original question, “is Script Revolution the best kept secret in screenwriting?”, well Betteridge’s law of headlines states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” so I’ll accept that as the case and propose this instead, as cheesy as it may be, perhaps the best kept secret in screenwriting will be the writers who ultimately get discovered and go on to find their audiences as a result of Script Revolution.