Screenwriting : Order of operations (Screenwriter version) by Tony Ray

Tony Ray

Order of operations (Screenwriter version)

So, let's say you're ready. You have 3-5 original screenplays that are ready to go. You have worked them, through and through, and they are ready to go. All of them are in final draft status, not a thing more can be done with them. They are perfect.

Where do you go from there? Do you send your scripts to studios first in order to try and drum up interest from producers? Do you try your hand with a manager? Does one risk the wrath of the WGA and try to seek out an agent? I apologize in advance if we've gone over this subject before (it honestly wouldn't surprise me if this has been answered no less than a hundred times).

Stephen Floyd

Pick one and produce it yourself. In this crowded, competitive market, that’s your best move.

Kay Luke

First thing is to accept that your screenplays aren't perfect. Pretty much anybody who reads one will tell you how to improve it. And he with the deepest pockets speaks the loudest.

Secondly, it depends what you want. Scripts that win contest and scripts that sell are rarely the same. And Studios mostly hire writers to write specific things. There's no money in Indies and Independent Production Companies are bombarded with queries. Same with Agents and Managers. Still, send out queries-- might as well get used to hearing NO, 'cause it usually takes a million NOs before you get a YES.

Try Listing Services. They have a low success rate, but Screenwriters have a low success rate anyway,

But best bet-- if you truly want to be a Screenwriter-- is to get your ass to Hollywood, where perception is reality and you're perceived to be a million miles away.

Dan MaxXx

studios don't accept unsolicited scripts. What's the 'wrath" of the WGA?

Craig D Griffiths

This is what I have done:

1) Produced a few short films. This taught we so much about writing.

2) Decided I will never know enough to stop learning. Therefore I am never done.

3) Posted my scripts to script revolution. This drove some interest (and small sales).

4) On IMDB found producers that had a stable of films that were a perfect fit for what I had written and reached out to these people. Not sales pitchy. Just to network.

I have producers that I can now say I know. This is my team as much as I am part of their team.

Jason Mirch

Hey Tony! Thanks for the post! I am the Director of Script Services at Stage 32. You're asking a lot of great questions. I have found that managers are particularly interested in working with new clients and emerging writers. That is where I would start. You might consider getting feedback on your pitches and projects from managers and producers who are currently selling projects in the market. Feel free to write me at j.mirch@stage32.com and we can discuss your projects at length.

Doug Nelson

Who says your scripts 'are ready to go'?

Craig D Griffiths

Doug Nelson if a person can write nothing better at this point in time, it is ready to go. It doesn’t guarantee success. But it is as good as it will be with the current resources available.

John Ellis

Tony Ray I'll say this: Craig D Griffiths method is spot on. Do it that way.

Because, the truth is, there are no shortcuts. It takes time (and often money) to build a career as a screenwriter - despite the "overnight success" stories you hear.

Work on set, doing anything and everything you can. Network. Give back before the biz has given you anything. Learn, improve, don't give up, and someday you'll be successful.

Kay Luke

Doug -- we both know the answer!

Doug Nelson

Kay - Yes we do,

Craig D Griffiths

Doug Nelson and Kay Luke questioning a person confidence and asking a question that only undermine a writer isn’t helpful. Unless you can explain how it is helpful.

Kay Luke

Craig --WTF are you talking about?

As I have previously stated, blowing smoke up someone's ass is counterproductive. If it wasn't, every kid in America would grow up to be President.

Of course, I'm not trying to sell anybody anything...

False Confidence is to a Screenwriter as it is to a Boxer-- a gigantic mistake! Now THAT'S helpful!

Mike Heff

I'd agree that you should pick one and make it! I think that's the best way to get attention for your scripts is to see it in a film. The average person isn't usually down to read an entire script in one sitting, but they'll watch it!

Tony Ray

Dan MaxXx-What I mean by "the wrath of the WGA" is simple: say I get an agent interested in my work who is part of an agency going against the WGA right now. Then, let's say I strike a deal with a studio via that agent. Then (bearing in mind that this is a hypothetical situation) I get screwed down the road, try complaining to the WGA only to find myself falling on deaf ears. I know it seems like a near-impossible scenario, but I want to make sure that A) I'm thinking long term as well as short term and B) I avoid making mistakes that I could've avoided.

Craig, Kay, and Doug-Thank you for your insight. I'm sure none of you were trying to give me false confidence nor were you trying to question my confidence. Remember, we're all artists here, and therefore all on the same team striving and grinding for the same goals. And trust me, I may be young but overconfidence is NOT a problem with me. Lol

Mike, John, and Stephen-I have considered making a few short films myself, and I do hope to one day be making big league films and such. However, with my current situation its just not feasible to do so. I know that it sounds like an excuse, and maybe it is. I just want to keep a stable financial foot so that I don't gamble with my future, that's all.

And Jason Mirch-You will be getting an e-mail from me.

Dash Riprock

If you're not WGA you can sign with whatever agency will have you.

Dan MaxXx

Tony Ray you got wrong theories about WGA, agencies. Start meeting working writers, union & non-union. Get the scoop from people who write for a living, work in Show Business

Sam Borowski

Tony, and I mean this all due respect, it IS an excuse when you say you can't make short films and want to keep a stable financial foot. You mention gambling with your future, BUT, you need to BET ON YOURSELF! And, if you wrote an excellent but cost-effective short film, it would not hinder your future. You can make an excellent short for $4000-$5000 and that is doing it SAG. It will be tight, but find an experienced producer, who can not only stretch the funds, but possibly add to them and get you some name actors. In the meantime, follow Dan and Dash's advice and pursue any and ALL agents/managers. Attend Film Festivals and other networking events. Network ... Network ... Network. Also, look to meet up with experienced filmmakers - directors and producers - and see if together you can make a low-budget feature for Festivals with a real chance for distribution that you write. BUILD your resume! BUILD your tribe! You need to pursue any and ALL avenues in this business. And, I would strongly suggest banding up with an experienced producer and director and writing/making a cost-effective short to get your work out there. Next thing you know, your short is playing on Amazon with a bunch of Laurels on it, you're writing a indie feature for an indie director and agents and managers will take your work much more seriously. ;) GOD BLESS and * STAY FRESH!!! *

Peter Roberts

Interesting questions Tony. The varied responses have given food for thought. Would be interested to hear what you choose to do and how it works out.

Mike W. Rogers

Dan, aren't you, "people who write for a living"?

Dan MaxXx

Mike W. Rogers Nope, I don't write for a living. Maybe I should start a website and just talk about writing, charge $99 membership fees.

Kay Luke

Mike -- there're only a few of us around here who have ever actually made a living as a writer, and not all that many who make a living in any branch of Entertainment, despite all the experts.

The only way to make a living at this is to dive in head first, be talented, and be too stupid to quit and go home when you probably should. I highly recommend it.

Doug Nelson

I don't think I've ever met anyone who only wrote for a living - except maybe one ( a paperback writer who churned out bushels of 'airport novels'). I know writers who were also Showrunners, I know a writer who adapted a novel that he liked so much, he included a part for himself (The Hunt for Red October). Almost all writers have day jobs - maybe in film/tv, maybe not. Personally I had a whole 'nother professional career going but I had a nice little cottage industry going during the '70s & '80s when the studios were buying/optioning almost everything that came along. There were FAR fewer writers in those days.

Craig D Griffiths

My Brother had a series for two years in the late 80’s which was also my full time gig.

He then did comedy for 30 years. I went to Government (more money). He had another Series a few years back. Rob McHugh - Comedy School, SBS Australia.

So you can make a living writing.

Dan Guardino

You can make a living. I was a Staff Writer for a while but I didn't really want to make a career doing that sort of thing so I quit after 18 months. However I had a lot more than five screenplays under my belt so keep writing. Use your scripts to make contacts instead of just trying to sell them. I didn't write and produce a short but that sounds like that might be a way in as well. You'll never fail if you never give up.

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