Screenwriting : Which script do I try to market? by Rick Hardin

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Rick Hardin

Which script do I try to market?

I've got two scripts which are just about ready to market. One is a historical action film that would take a big budget to make, but I think better illustrates my writing talent or a thriller script which would be cheaper to make and is probably more commercial? Knowing that the chance of selling a spec script by a new writer is very very unlikely, so my best hope is to get my work out there and read so I might get an opportunity for a writing assignment or even just a little traction so my future scripts will be considered. Which would you put forth?

D Marcus

Both.

Michael Eddy

generally speaking - "historical" and/or "period" movies (and in this context - period can mean the 80s or anything going back to the dawn of mankind) are very difficult to get made. So all other thiungs being equal - go with your thriller. The other can always be used as a showpiece/writing sample - but I don't think I'd lead with that. And unless you have an agent - who will probably tell you the same as above - it's nearly impossible to get anything read anyways - certainly by a studio or a producer who could potentially write you a check.

D Marcus

The reality is your scripts are more likely to be your "in" - to show producers (and agents) how you write - rather than your first sale. So do not hold back your well written, higher budget script because no low budget producer can afford to make it. Unlike Michael, I would lead with the script that better illustrates my writing talent.

Wayne Taylor

I whole heartedly agree with D Marcus. If you are trying to get a manager or agent then you need to put your best work forward. If you are trying to sell something then small budget is where it's at.

Rick Hardin

Thanks for all your great input and advice. I love both my scripts and I feel in the right hands they both could be a commercial success, I mean look at how much money Gladiator made. I picture the thriller as more commercial in that it would be cheaper to make and would have a slightly broader demographic appeal so it might look as the better bet by a producer. I wrote the period piece first against all the advice out there saying that period pieces are infinitely harder to sell but that was where my passion drew me. So the period piece was my first “baby” and it’s the one that I cut my teeth on the longest. It does have merit in that it’s about Vikings fighting the Irish so there’s lots of action and drama so it’s not just a bunch of people in fancy costumes talking all the time. Thanks again!

Rick Hardin

So how do you get a director attached to a script? Tons have been written on how to approach studios, producers and agents/managers is approaching directors the same or are there differences?

Troy P. Brown

I agree totally with Dan, target who you are sending the script to.

Rick Hardin

Awesome advice Dan, THANKS!

Richard "RB" Botto

Great post, Dan.

Rick Hardin

Once again, BIG THANKS, Dan!

Danielle Sawa

No offense to any above comments, I would not get advice on a public forum regarding your real property. Please accept my apology, that came across mean, but people fail to see that in this business it is not so sweet and easy going. You don't write an epic movie first time around, and if you do, your lack of popularity will keep your gem hidden. I have companies that purchase scripts, polished to the T with character breakdowns and all. You need a rep to shop it around. If its good enough, they wont mind since they receive a cut of your pie. Dont ever pitch scrips together with Generas so opposite, you won't even be taken seriously. Did you get a script dr to tidy things up to prepare you for Copyright, or were you planning on losing your property rights. Newbies do not write scripts that are directed by Scorsese and leads played by DiCaprio. Don't attach a director for publication hopes, if you do that, your just attaching someone to something thats not going anywhere. I see directors do it on films, its retarded. Why don't you crew up an ultra low budget crew, and invest into your project. dont go shopping you story around giving your script away to anyone, all it takes is one hungry hand and youll be watching your vision through someone elses bifoculs. or most likely its gonna get tossed because your not represented therefore your solicitation is unacceptable. You must be representated by a manager or agent who can assist you with the legality and safety of your INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. This is the exact reason that solicitations are tossed in the trash because no one knows proper procedure then wants to claim theft, loss, and sue. You probably wont sell your script to Universal, however, I gave you options to prove your ability, you shop it for INDY production and a director that want to take it to Cannes and SXSW Good Luck, and, I just cast an Indy Flick that went to Cannes, go big or go home :) @Dan, 100MIL script?? A new screen play will not be bought outright by a small production company NOT because of the budget (incentives, credits, distribution deals, etc will bring a lot of the cost down. A big company like Lionsgate is doing the Scorceses Film Silence and that has a 100mil budget. That just means a studio backed budget, financing is secured through investors aka executive producers. Here is a secret....You can try for A screenplay option is a short-term agreement between a writer and a producer or production company (WHICH PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PRODUCER IS THE PRODUCTION COMPANY) in which said writer grants said producer/production company the right to shop (submit) said screenplay to various studios in the hopes of actually generating a purchasing offer. (In today's Hollywood, big-time producers, as a rule, don't actually buy screenplays. They merely rake screenplays to the larger companies that do. most producers actually paid writers for the right to peddle their material to potential buyers. This "option price" was generally around ten percent of the projected purchase price and kept the script "off the market" for a specified period of time, usually six months to a year. The paid option gave the producer/production company the exclusive right to seek a buyer without fear of competition. The rationale behind the paid option was simple: on one hand, producers want exclusivity. They can't go around trying to set up a deal with a specific property when another producer is running around with the same script trying to do the same thing. On the other hand, a script that is taken all over town and rejected is essentially "burned" and unlikely to be taken seriously ever again. Since such rejection may not be based on the material, per se – potential buyers may gave simply not liked the producer personally and/or the talent "package" the producer had assembled – a paid option at least offers the writer some degree of compensation for his or her efforts. See, either do it yourself, find an agent or manager, we are like blood thirsty sharks when it comes to hustling a project that makes since. If the project sucks, doesn't seem to have high probability to succeed then no agent or manager will waste their time since, time is money, and since we are strictly commission, we don't have time to waste on things that don't make sense. Good Luck to you Good Luck

Doug Nelson

Who says your scripts are JUST about ready to market? They need to be more than just about ready. There are script writing contests all over the country – some good, some not so mutch. There are script consultants all over the place – some aren’t bad. How about a table read with your local tanent? Talk with some local indie producers. It’s very difficult to evaluate your own work.

Wayne Taylor

An option can be as little as a dollar. I've even heard of free options for low budget. Lyse is correct, there are as many ways to break in as there is people looking to break in whether its through a manager (forget agents), a contest, the Blacklist site, or networking.

Wayne Taylor

Dan that's not what I meant. I know it's a big positive to have an agent, but the odds of Rick (or any of us newbies) landing one is slim to none.

Danielle Sawa

I see so many people lose their spark by going all in to end up rejected. Having him ensure his project with copyright FIRST, before shopping it out at random would be the most beneficial. See, I'm the most regulated, compliant agent in the world. I have authority no matter what I am doing. I'm a DoD civilian, compliance officer, us fed gov contractor, fed agent, entertainment and motion picture contractor, media contractor (govt) studio and set regulations agent and and set rep. My lawyer also heads the legal dept at Lionsgate's. l im also a business owner, i have a management firm, i have a talent agency, im a talent agent, talent manager, talent rep, talent scout, talent buyer, entertainment manager, film manager, production manager, and it goes on. I am not missing the point of Studio 32, I am using what I know as of the business now, and I am saving the guy a lost opportunity or a shattered dream. A wanna be producer rigged up a fake film slate and went seeking investors. 9 films minimal investment to slate was 15mil. The Scorsese film Silence was in it, seeking 10mil investment guaranteed return in 12 months 10% residuals AND executive producer credit... ON A SCORSESE EMMIT/FURLA FILM STUDIO BACKED BY LIONS GATE FOR 300 MILLION, that shit could have been disastrous. Had anyone invested (because it seemed like an awesome opportunity to the new people in who were testing the film business) they would have scrapped the film AGAIN, for another 20 years. The actual Scorsese and Emmit furla slates are copy rite protected, insured, bonded, etc. Anyone can say anything and he wouldn't know the difference. Thats why I said attaching his script to any random director was retarted. And that's why I think he shouldn't be seeking advice involving intellectual property since he doesn't have anyone to protect him from damage and he doesn't know his rights either.

Danielle Sawa

Now, a greedy SAG/AFTRA Agent faces federal charges for being an ass. lol

Doug Nelson

Rick, If you believe in your scripts - spend a few dollars and post them on InkTip

Josh Mitchell

Please help me rally to produce my new cutting-edge indie feature film "Lack of Cockery". This is a passion piece that I am writing, directing, producing, and starring. I am offering some stellar incentives below for those who donate to the cause - https://rally.org/lackofcockery

D Marcus

Josh, you're a jerk.

Danielle Sawa

You are a smart ass for sure, of course I was adding a laugh to the fact that a guy wanted so bad to get in where he didn't fit in that his actions are a FBI matter. The federal government regulates SAG/AFTRA and the Unions/Guilds. Your agent needs to be fired then, and I would call the Guild because they are buying screenplays actually, not offering them to IMDb as a party favor. So your agent being in business longer then me means what, that she isnt providing retarded advice? 5 scripts, huh! That's impressive. What is the status on those IMDb attachments? What is the names of your projects I will check them out. Marshall is almost done with Detroit Rubber so he will be looking for something to do! No, Im not a screenplay writer, but don't think I can't write... Being a fed contractor you do everything to the T or else.... I am a Procurement and Acquisition Contractor, so that means when I bid offers, I FILE FLAWLESS PROPOSALS 300 PAGES LONG. I don't need to be screenwriter to offer advice for something I am licensed, registered, authorized, and bonded to do. t And what would my motives be?? I am not looking for new talent, I haven't accepted a client in a month.. My projects start back to back!

Danielle Sawa

Justification against an attack, maybe. However your temper was because you didn't like my opinion!! "Newbies do not write scripts that are directed by Scorsese and leads played by DiCaprio. Don't attach a director for publication hopes, if you do that, your just attaching someone to something thats not going anywhere. I see directors do it on films, its retarded. Why don't you crew up an ultra low budget crew, and invest into your project." I never called you anything, please read. I know you didn't say your agent bought screenwriters, but here we go, I SAID IT. AGW purchases screen writes by the thousands. I do care what youve done as a matter of fact, because Im not a jerk. I involve myself with all types of people which is how the hell I got to where I am. For a split second I was thinking maybe you'd be a good guy,,,WRONG. I didn't attack you, I didn't disrespect you, I simply spoke an opinion that I am allowed to give, and since my experience with the scams and fraud are more important to note than your bouts of luck with a screenplay you adapted and have no feeling or emotion in since it didn't come from you. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COULD HAPPEN BECAUSE YOUR PROJECTS DIDN'T COME FROM YOUR VISION. So while your telling him to take his screenplay and toss it around like a party favor is because your projects have no feeling in them like his would. See, while pretty boys like your self are hoping to adapt someone elses story and hoping to knock out blockbuster hits Im on the sets of the real ones. http://www.frankacostafoundation.com/ And this my friend is a book, written and with feeling. It then became a screenplay, written carrying that same feeling... do you think frank is going to take his heart and step on it??? NO, to me, thats what you were telling Rick to do since you were telling him your way, but win or not... THERES NO FEELING OF LIFE FROM YOU IN THEM. Now, once again, Im sorry. I was looking out for him. I didn't want his experience to be a bad one... if you think anything different please no more, I have a headache.

Tom Proctor

Well my friend I know nothing about marketing a script but I do know that as and actor/stuntman I have work for AMC on Turn and it seem both they and HBO will put money into historical films. If they can cross over to a series. Don't take a lot of stock in what I say because I don't have the ring experience for this. Just another thought for you.

Wayne Taylor

Let it go Dan. I think you have some good ideas for what works in Hollywood. Danielle knows what works in Michigan. No need arguing back and forth.

Danielle Sawa

I didnt ask you a question. I posted a general response in regards to multiple posts before mine. You addressed me with an offensive attack. You recreate someones story...hes creating his own therefor, what works for you will jot work for him. In fact, it can be damaging and costly since legality of copyright protection cant save him from theft and he will lose his piece if someone decides to make it their own.

Janet Clarke

Definitely the thriller script, IMO. If it's not as shining an example of your writing, I'd argue to just give it an additional polish. Historical big budget films are just too hard a sell. Not impossible, but very hard. (My only caveat - if the story is really unique and eye-catching. But if not...use it as a writing sample, and focus on the other.) My five cents. Cheers, --J

Michael Eddy

Holy crap Batman!! I left a comment way back when this post was still in diapers and it seems to have grown up into a serial killer. Jumped back in to peruse some of the subsequent comments and was dazzled by the vitriol going on here. Been there, done that in the past and not looking to get mired in the mud again. There's some good advice here - a lot that I "liked" (go Dan go) and some I was taken aback by. Look - there are people posting here with experience and a track record - and they should be listened to. No one says that it's all the gospel and should be chiseled into stone - but at least have an open mind. Especially the newbies and those looking to get a toe in the door and ESPECIALLY those ASKING for the advice in the first place. Everyone has an opinion (one to a customer - like belly buttons and assholes) - give them varying degrees of weight and creedence as is your wont. But Ms. Sawa - even though a scattered point or two of yours has some merit - most of your respones are so atrociously written - no spell checking in sight and with the grammar of a first grader - that it's difficult to take anything you say seriously. Also - your self-described litany of a resume reads like it's about someone who's 105 years old and on steroids. Tell the truth - are you a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press? A Golden Globe voter? That would at least make sense. Whoops - hope I didn't open another can of worms. Guardino - don't leave yet - I may need a wingman.

Peter Carr

Filmed entertainment's about dollars and cents which means marketability and commercial appeal. Your a Writer not a Producer so what the possible budget would be doesn't even come into play. Find out what the market is looking for and exploit it because thats what the market does with you.

Rick Hardin

Thanks for all the (positive) feedback. For those of you that asked both scripts have been through several drafts with one or more professional coverage at each draft. I’m going to the next level and get a little more one on one mentoring. I just have to think about which one I want to push forward first.

David Reynolds

Your best bet Rick is to send your screenplay to Industrial Scripts who will go into it thoroughly sending you a very detailed report on the story, structure, content and whether the project has any commercial chance. If it falls into their Top Ten screenplays of the year they may send it to production companies on their books for you. It's worth it anyway for an independent reader to look at it so you can improve its chances of being selected.

Nile Ford

3 words. Both. Both. Both. -- To the right people.

Alfred Nesser

Key question is: Who's interested? And what are you looking to get out of it?

Rick Hardin

@ Alfred. Who’s interested? No one yet. Other than a small handful of friends and paid readers no one knows they exist, yet. What do I want to get out of it? Answer: anything from a big fat check to building a positive rapport for possible future projects ether mine or theirs. Plus a validation that all my hard work is “good” or at least “decent” even if it doesn’t yield anything else would be a nice benefit.

Anastacia Fisher

I don't know about how scripts work, but I know for my fundraising for my charity Fashion show business that raises money for Epilepsy foundations to better help the Epilepsy community & their loved ones. It has been very hard but a business proposal needs be done in which you put your vision in short detail, about yourself, what the budget is & why. How you plan to execute this. Why out is beneficial to the investors, what they get in return, it must be worth it, & you need to give them a way to write it off on their taxes. This gives them incentive to give. Jan. 1st is when they open up for investing do get on it if you want this to happen, cause count down is getting ready to start. They give to first come first serve of those who can make it great for them. God luck to you!

Alfred Nesser

Focus on the script that generates the most interest, and if you have time, plug the other one in your spare time. Most projects are funded by family and friends. (See "Clerks") My friend, who has been a screenwriter all his life, says, "Alf, I don't get excited when they start shooting one of my screenplays. Even when they start shooting, there's only a 3% chance that the project will ever make it all the way to completion."

Peter Carr

Focus on which property is the most marketable. Let's say you wrote two scripts; one about the Nubana Tribe on a remote Phillipean Island who just discovered hemp and the other about a secret agent who exposes a plot by a foreign government to dominate the world and saves the day. Whiuch one to go with?-Secret Agent. Filmed entertainment is all about the dollar. It's not about art or a hidden message.

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