Learn To Write Movies: How to Sell Your Screenplay! Screenwriting Course | John Watts | Skillshare

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Learn To Write Movies: How to Sell Your Screenplay! Screenwriting Course

teacher avatar John Watts, Writer/Director

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      First Steps


    • 4.

      Making Your Good Script Great


    • 5.

      Getting Feedback


    • 6.

      Marketing Preparations


    • 7.

      Marketing Your Script


    • 8.

      Thoughts, Tips and Ideas


    • 9.



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About This Class

In this follow up course to Screenwriting Step by Step we will cover all you can do in order to sell your screenplay. This will include how to make your script better, where and how to get feedback, how you can make those all important industry connections and how you can give your work the best chance to get it noticed.

No equipment is required. This course works best if you already have a first draft of your script done but it is still a good primer if you haven't yet.

Most of all I want to give you actionable steps in order to attain your dream. A lot of writers feel lost when they have finished their work with no idea what to do next. Let's fix that together!

Meet Your Teacher

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John Watts



Hi All,

My name is John and I have been working in the film and television industry for 20 years. I started my career with the BBC, ITV and various Sky channels before moving over to the film industry where I am now a professional Writer and feature film Director for Netflix and others. I hold a masters degree in Screenwriting, have sold scripts in the USA, UK and China and have been a script doctor to countless more.

I am passionate about helping others get into the industry and making great stories.

See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello everyone. My name is Jon Watts. Welcome to the second of my screenwriting courses. This one is focused on the business side of screenwriting. Now the reason for doing these quick course is because I've had so many people sending me emails and saying, okay John, I've finished writing my first script. What do I do? Who do I send it to in order to get it made? Now, unfortunately, it isn't quite that simple. We'd all live there to be a magical email address like scripts at Hollywood.com that you just send it to and voila, job done, cashflows in. But unfortunately, there's not, however, don't let that put you off. It might not be easy, but anything that's worth getting never is. You can do it and by following the steps we're going to go through over the next hour or so, you will have a much better chance of getting to where you want to be. Why should you listen to me? Because I'd been through it myself, from not knowing anyone in the industry to getting scripts optioned, sold, and produced. I've also recently been the director of what are my own scripts and the movie got into the top five movies on Netflix. You are in good hands. Now. I've messed up along the way and I will tell you the problems I face so that you don't fall into those same traps and how I overcame them. Finally, who is this course for? Is for people who have written their movie script and think they finished and want to sell it. If you haven't written a script yet or aren't sure how to, then why didn't you go and see my first screenwriting course called learn to write movies, where I'll walk you through it. If you're ready to dive in, Let's do it. I look forward to seeing you inside the course. 2. Misconceptions: [MUSIC] First of all, I think we should go through some very common misconceptions when it comes to selling movies and being a writer. The first one is that you need to live in LA. Now, I guess years ago, this may have been true, if you wanted to get in on the Hollywood scene. There are undoubtedly certain benefits, if you did live in LA, such as meeting people within the industry and gaining all important connections that will definitely speed up your career. But do you need to live in LA? No, or any other big city for that matter. If you're young and carefree, with nothing holding you back, then sure, go for it. But for a lot of people, it just isn't an option. It certainly wasn't for me. I had a family with young kids, a mortgage that needed to be paid. I couldn't just pack up and move to another country. I live in a small city in the middle of England, with no discernible film industry. Yet I still managed to get my scripts out there. Did it take longer than it might have, if I was in LA or even London? Yes, probably did. But it's not the barrier people think it is. Don't let it be an excuse to hold you back. We live in a 24-hour electronic world, so there are no excuses. The second misconception is that you need an agent in order to sell scripts. Again, this isn't true. I don't know, but for some reason, people think they must have an agent to get jobs, to get noticed. Like this person is some magical wizard. I guess it's for two reasons really. One is because the new writer doesn't have the knowledge themselves to promote their own work. Two is because it would be so much easier just for someone else to do all the hard work for you with it. You can just sit and relax, while the commissions and money roll in. Maybe it's just another excuse we give ourselves in order to procrastinate rather than get stuck in, which could well be the case in many situations. Unfortunately, this just doesn't happen. In my experience, an agent is very unlikely to take anyone on that hasn't already had scripts options sold, or they have been a finalist in a prestigious competition, or show an extreme promise through writing samples and edit jobs, things like that. Put yourself in their shoes. An agent is there to make money, and they want the best people who have the best chance of making that money, simple as that. If you were them, wouldn't you pick on a client that can do that for you already? Because they already got some work under their belt, wouldn't you? Someone who thought could really get a good studio deal. Therefore, make you money. That's what an agent is for. In the beginning, odds are you won't have an agent. I'm here to tell you, you don't need one to get your work bought. What we're going to talk about today, you can do it without an agent. Rather than waste your time and become disillusioned by chasing them, in the hope that they will give you your big break, you'll make it happen for yourself. Don't waste time. Finally, on our list of misconceptions, when you sell your script, it will be made into a movie. Now, I can feel you all staring at me, and saying, "What are you talking about?" Well, the fact is a large percentage of scripts that are bought don't actually make it into production. They're optioned. Now, if you don't know optioning is, it's where a film company pays you, the writer, a specific amount of money to have the option of making your script in a certain time period, whether that be one year, two years, whatever it is in the contract that you sign. It's like a first dibs, like we say to kids. You've given them the first chance of making your scripts, and no one else can have it. Whilst it's under option to that company, you can't sell it to another company. Say, you sold the option for $10,000. Then the next week, someone offers you $50,000. Well, that's just tough luck, I'm afraid. You have to sign with the company you think will have the best chance of getting the script into production. However, that doesn't mean it will get made. The production company who optioned your script might not be able to secure financing during that period, or the actor they wanted now can't do it, or 1000 other reasons. At the end of the period, it goes back onto the market, and someone else might option it. Now, the good news is that every time your script gets option, you get paid. The bad news, it may never be made into an actual movie. By the way, when it does go into production, you'll be paid a production fee for the script as well. So that's more money, good for us. Bizarre, as it seems, you can make money from this continued optioning, even if your script never gets made. The other thing I wanted to just quickly point out is that there are other ways you can also make money is living as a screenwriter. You can work as part of a writer's group on lots things like TV shows. You can be hired as a ghostwriter, where you're hired to come in, and write on behalf of someone else. You can be a script editor, who is brought in to polish a script before it goes into production. For example, if say, you are amazing at dialogue. The producers might hire you to give their scripts a dialogue pass. Remember, movies costs an awful lot of money to make. They need to make sure their script is the very best it can be before principal photography. If you're the best in a certain aspect of screenwriting, like dialogue or action scenes, you can get paid a small fortune for just doing a few days work to as spruce up a script to make it the best it can be. Now, before we go any further, let's move on and talk about your script. What we can start to do to get you on that marketing journey. 3. First Steps: First things first, if you want to get your script, and by extension, yourself noticed, you need a top script, and it needs to be marketable. Now, this sounds very obvious, doesn't it? But you'd be surprised the number of people who were churning out the most poorly written screenplays ever and expect them to be bought and made, or they've had a movie which has such a limited audience. No investor, in their right mind, is going to put in millions of dollars in funding, because it just wouldn't make a return on their investment, and no businessman wants to do that. As a writer, we have to write something that is entertaining, says what you want to tell the world, but also one that others will want to see and pay their hard-earned money for. Now you'd be amazed the amount of rubbish that's floating around in the script world. I was talking to a producer friend of mine actually the other day who's produced a movie I've just made, and he said that for a lot of companies, it's actually extremely hard to find a good marketable script, so much so that sometimes they really struggle to get a movie into production, even though they already have funding sitting there waiting. It's absolutely crazy. A well-written, well-crafted script is number 1 priority. Now, obviously, if you've watched my previous class, you'll have an amazing head-start over everyone else, won't you? Now, getting the basics right is so important, and that's why we need to step up our level from here. Now you've written your first draft, and what you have to remember is that it is just that, a first draft. I always hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you haven't actually finished your script yet; I know it's painful to hear. It's time to start the rewrites. Now I know that's the last thing people want to hear when they've slaved over the laptop for hours on end to get the script finished; you type, fade out, and go, I'm done, excellent. Then someone like me tells you, you're not. As the old adage goes, writing is rewriting. But you don't want to hear that. I know I would say exactly the same. Little story of mine, I remember finishing with, I think my second script, and thought, I don't need to do anything, it doesn't need a rewrite, it's all good. I had been talking to a producer that was introduced to me off the back of my first script, and he was asking to see my work or to get together for a coffee, etc. I was really excited. Now this was a guy who was well-known and had access to lots of investment. He was certainly the highest figure I had ever spoken to in the industry. So naturally, I wanted to get my script over to him ASAP, so I did. I sent it over by email the next week, and the days went by, the weeks went by and nothing, I didn't hear anything back. I didn't let it worry me, I thought he's probably busy. I know we had a couple of movies coming up and everything. So I waited some more, still nothing. Eventually, I wrote an email saying that, I hope you got my script okay, we would still be great to meet up, but nothing. It wasn't until I wrote to the guy who'd first introduced us and got him to read my script, did I realize the truth. It was my first draft, and to be honest, it sucked. Now some of it was okay and it had the potential in there, but it just wasn't up to standard at the point I'd sent it. So for me, I well and truly burnt my bridge there. I've never had any contact with that producer since. So don't you fall into that trap. What does all this mean? It means one draft is not enough, and it doesn't matter if you're a great writer, it still will never be your best, most polished piece after the first draft, it just can't be. That is our starting point. Like sculptors do, they block out the rough first, don't they? Then they go within, they start sculpting the details and refining and making it perfect, that's what we're going to do. If you followed my other course, you should have a good form, like a sculptor would. We've just got to now make it perfect. Now I hear what you're saying, but John, if I knew how to make it perfect, I'd have just done that in the first place. Well, that is a very good point, and one which we will address in the next section. So I will see you there. 4. Making Your Good Script Great: [MUSIC] Like any innovation, iteration is the key to success; produce feedback, learn, and adapt. In order to do this without being completely overwhelmed, it's best to do it in small bite-sized chunks because like anything in life, if we try to do too much at once, we're going to get confused and before we know it, the whole thing is going to be a big tangled mess. You'll get discouraged and things will start to quickly fall apart and won't want to do it anymore. Also, it seems less daunting when you do it in small steps, at least for me. I'm a huge procrastinator and I know if I have a huge amount to do, I would usually end up watching YouTube or something rather than doing anything else and getting knocking down to work. To do this, we're going to take one aspect of the script at a time and concentrate purely on this before moving on to the next aspect. I usually take it in the following order, but you can do it any way you like. I do it with plot, theme, character and dialogue, individual scenes, and then writing style. For example, the first run-through will be purely focused on the script's plot and making sure that it's the best it can be. What could you change to make it more memorable? Are there any little twists you could add? This is the point where you can experiment a little and see where your creativity takes you. Then the next run-through may be theme and how it relates to the plot. Do you have different size to your thematic question? Are you asking the audience to think about your theme rather than preaching to them because no one wants to be preached at during a movie? How did the protagonist question the theme? Does it help them overcome their problem and thereby achieve their goal? Then our next part will be character and maybe dialogue. Did your main character have an arc? Do they overcome an inner problem in order to succeed? Do they have relationships with others that enable this rather than just random people who we meet along the way? Do your characters have individual dialogue that distinguishes them from other characters and tells the reader more about them as people? Is it rich and subtextual rather than being on the nose dialogue? Is it extraneous dialogue no one cares about? Does it not have any purpose in your script? After that, I'd move on to individual scenes. Do you need to have every single scene that you've written in your script? If not, take it out. Does each one moves the story on or tell the reader of important information they need to know? Can you make the scenes more interesting, compelling, or tense? Finally, I'd finished with the writing style pass. Is your description as best it can be? Is it concise and vivid? Could you use a metaphor instead of a long-winded fall line description? Are your action paragraph style? Is there plenty of whitespace on the page? Now, we discussed a lot of this in the screenwriting course. I won't go over all that again here. If you need a refresher, go and have a look at the course. But there is plenty that you should take the time to go through and really try to make it the best you can. It was so important. Now that sounds like a lot of passes, but each time you do one, you will be making your writing better, trust me. Little by little, your script will become rich and before you know it, you will surprise yourself with a difference you have made. Also, side note. I know that when you start to go through it, other things might pop into your mind to change like maybe you're on your character paths and some great plot idea might come up. In that case, just jot those ideas down for now, concentrate just on the part you're doing, and then come back at the end and add the new plot ideas afterwards with maybe another plot pass. I hope that all makes sense. We're just going through it pass by pass and then making those ones the best we can. Take one topic at a time, plot, theme, character and dialogue, individual scenes, run writing style. Concentrate on one of those at a time and go through your script making changes you think will enhance your work, then repeat for each of the topics. It's really that simple. Finally, it is much easier to add than take away. All too often you find after your first rewrite, you have an extra 10 pages than you did originally. The goal is to keep the same amount of pages, so chip away anything extraneous, be it a word, a phrase, or a piece of action, it really does add up actually. Do not be too protective of your original material. Change is important and it will make your final script that much better. You can do incremental saving as well, so save your new draft as Version 2 and then Version 3, etc, so you don't lose things before. That way you can see the changes you've made at earlier date and compare your new ones to an earlier version. You can always revert back to certain things if you need to. Once you've done all those past changes, that's your second draft complete. Now it's the best that you think you can do. We go into our feedback loop to see what others think, then we'll take that feedback and iterate again. Yey, I hear you say, more rewrites. Anyway, I'll see you in the next one. 5. Getting Feedback: [MUSIC] We've gone through our script ourselves, made all the changes and got a solid second draft, now we enter our feedback loop stage. They're what I like to think of as four tiers of feedback for your script, which in my opinion, give progressively better and more reliable feedback for your work, the higher the tier we go. Let's go through each of these four one-by-one so you understand what I mean. The four tiers are; friends and family, writers groups/ film groups, screenwriting services, and people in the industry like producers, directors, other screenwriters. The first and usually least productive tier is number 1, family and friends. Now we've all been there, I know I have. Your mum offers to read your script or one of your mates who likes film and says, "They'll give it a go, give it to me I'll have a read of it." But while they can give you a yeah, that was good because they love you and they aren't likely to say, sorry, that was total crap. They're not likely to know the intricacies of screenwriting, like understanding if the structure is working and where you could fix it, or weaving in theme and playing with the character arcs, for these reasons, I'd say this tier 1 group is something I would try to avoid if I were you. Number 2 is writers groups and film groups, this is a step-up from tier 1 because this group of people usually have a grasp of the script basics, they're into film and can tell you if it has an intriguing idea and you can gauge how marketable your script is, and your idea is here, it's going to be likely felt producer would want to read it in the first place. However, although there may be some good working professionals in this group, there will be plenty of people who aren't, and this will lead us back into tier 1 territory where we don't really want to be. You have to be cautious, be selective to those you give your script to, and who you trust to give your productive feedback. If you're in one of these groups, then see if there's someone who has some film experience, strike up a conversation, feel them out, see if they could be a good fit before asking if they'd like to read your scripts. I mean you never know, you might find one or two people who you will develop a working relationship with, and as we'll talk about later, the film and TV industry is all about contexts. People hire from people, once that they meet and once that they like, the chance to start forging these contacts, it's always a good thing and you can never do it early enough. Tier 3 is screenwriting services, and while I think most new writers will start here. I mean I did for myself, for instance, it can also be quite a polarizing category for some of the people, and if you don't know what it is, a script service is where you send your work, you send your script to this company, usually online, they read it and write notes for you on how to make your script better. You can then use these notes to start your revise, which now it always sounds pretty good, and these people do it for a living, so they can judge more accurately your faults and where you could improve, certainly better than the lower tiers we've covered so far, but there are also some problems or considerations at least with the services that you should be aware of. First of all, whether we like it or not, there are lots of scripts services out there and they are all vying for a slice of your money, I mean it's big business after all, and not all are equally as good as each other. I mean I remember the most I paid to someone for feedback that was, I think it was $900, now that's a lot of cash which I didn't really have at the time. I did get good feedback to work with, but was it really worth that amount? I'm not sure. Afterwards, in my early days, I used host of different services, some were good, some were not so good, you have to find the ones which works well for you, which can take time and money. The other main problem is criticism is subjective and this is true for both for the reader and writer. What one person may deem as total rubbish and not worth the ink on the page, another might see it as highly entertaining and well-written. Also, constructive criticism might be great for one writer, but the same criticism maybe useless to another who just doesn't agree with what the reader suggested. You could therefore end up spending a lot of money, but not really getting back the information you wanted in return. I can also tell you that some scripts services are overly enthusiastic about your script, because like all businesses, they won't repeat customers. I mean think about it, if they tell you your script really sucks and you're hopeless and you should never be writing, will you go back to them with your next draft? Doubtful. Whereas if they say, "Yeah, your script is really pretty great, it just needs a few tweaks here and there." You're much more likely to make those changes and then send it back, so they can praise you even more. Now we all like praise and screenwriters are naturally self doubting, I know I still am, if someone says we are fab writers, we liked them, naturally we do. What you need to do is find someone who offers constructive but truthful feedback, you need to trust their judgment, and this leads me on to my next point. Scripts services hire readers to read your script and write notes, now while some of these readers have read for big film studios, they are not studio execs or agents or producers, they usually have a really good understanding of screenwriting, and they will offer suggestions based on what they think you could do to make your work better and what's selling at the moment. That does not mean that they are always right, this is just what they would do, not what you would necessarily want to do. Again this can be quite radically different from one reader to another, so it's a luck of the draw of who was assigned your scripts. Whether they like your genre or not really, and what they are going to give you are suggestions, I mean if it was David S. Goyer, Aaron Sorkin telling you these things, then you'd better down well listen, but the readers suggestions are not the key to getting a sale, which at the end of the day is what we're all after. Take on board what they say, but don't blindly copy, they are not oracles of film. If you're going to use a script service, be careful what you pay for. Some of these service offer two or even three pricing structures as well. One part is for the basic coverage and one for the super-duper you've got to have this coverage is the best in the world, this means that the price can vary from a couple of $100 all the way up to 1,000 or more. Look closely at the different types and the differences that you will get for your money, because the paying more isn't always the better option. For example, some services might say you get eight pages of notes for the super-duper coverage, but only four for the basic coverage, what they don't shout about is the fact that one or two of these pages of the super-duper coverage may be taken up by a synopsis of your script. A synopsis for anyone who doesn't know is a short description of what happens in the film, now why do you need this from a script service? You wrote the **** thing, you know what it's about. A lot will also tease you with a tick box chart at the end where there is a scale of how good different aspects of your script is, such as characters, plot, dialogue, etc. People liked to see these things visually, they usually pay extra just to get this, where it's probably covered in the notes, anyways you don't really need it. The other big thing that they try to push is the past considered recommend rating. This is how the reader feels the production company would rate your script with a pass and shove it in the bin, would they consider and have it as a maybe, or would they recommend and send the script up the chain of command to their bosses. I'm going to be honest with you, if a script services is charging you more just for this, do not pay the extra, again the view of a reader is subjective, like we've just talked about, they have no idea what the plethora of producers and production companies are looking for at any given moment. They cannot say if your script would be a past considerable recommend, I mean if your scripts sucks, you'll find this out in the notes, so you can pretty much assume it would be a pass, and if they rave about it, you may be onto something, so just keep on working. There are so many contributing factors to a script sale that it's impossible to judge based on a reader's view. The other reason I don't really like this scale is that if you don't get a recommend, most usually they put consider any way to be safe, you may become disheartened and think you aren't good enough, do not listen to that. Keep pushing forward and like the heroes in our amazing stories, you will get there in the end, you just need to go step-by-step and keep pushing forward. It seems like I may be bashing on the script services here, but I'm not really, I do think they have their place and as I said, I've used them myself and found them a benefit, just make sure you take what they say with a pinch of salt and be careful what you're paying for, don't spend more than you can afford, and presume that by doing so, you'll be guaranteed to get your work service, it's not a magic pill, so just take that on board. They're all also of course more well-known script doctors, who will read and offer notes, but these can be really quite expensive, and although I would have more trust in the person if I'd read their book or knew more about them, you really have to weigh up whether it's really worth the large outlay. These are usually people who have written quite a number of things and more academic, apparent story experts, but just again, be careful, don't spend all your money, please just don't. Finally, the more experienced you get, you will be able to use the best tier for feedback, which is tier 4. Now tier 4 consists of people currently working in the industry, whether that's producers, directors, other writers, things like that. Now this is undoubtedly the hardest tier to get, because you need to make these contacts in the first place, and they have to be people that you know and trust, you can't just send it to a decision-maker you've just met or doesn't really see you as a friend, that they're given a professional feedback to, or you will end up in the chat like I did previously with the producer I told you about. Now these tier 4 contacts of yours will understand that this is your first draft, they can give you good feedback, they'd know that you're not trying to sell it to them, and if they like it, they can also help with you selling it or getting the script into production as well. It's a two-way street, you see they want a good movie that they can make money from and you want a good movie to sell or make, or else they can tell you that there isn't a market for that kind of script at the moment. They even sometimes tell you what they are looking for in terms of story type in the next year or so, and have you got anything like that? This has happened to me. I personally have a writing partner as well, and it's definitely something I'd recommend, most writers are better at certain things than others, for example you may be amazing at dialogue, but not quite as good at coming up with action set pieces. Whereas your writing partner could be the opposite, and so you can balance things between you and go over each other's work, and it really does work for me, and so it's definitely something that you should maybe think about. Anyway, as I've said, you won't have these contacts to start off with, no one does, it will take time, there are a few ways to get them and although it may seem daunting and you aren't getting anywhere to start off with, if you stick with it, it will pay dividends in the long run. For example, one of the easiest ways is to get into a working role first to start building contacts, then the compound effect of knowing people in the industry propagates along. That is that old saying that you are within seven people of anyone in the world through the people that you meet, something like that. Start using that power rather than sitting alone in your office hoping to get a break, get onset, even if it says a runner, meet people, go to networking in your area and yes, I absolutely hate them to. You never know who you will end up chatting to in these situations, and it could be people that actually end up changing your life. In my mind, you have to try all the avenues and one will eventually work, let's go into more depth in that now in the next chapter. 6. Marketing Preparations: So far we've spent a lot of time talking about script development and not about selling your work, but it is actually a huge part of getting the sale done. A great script has so much more chance to get bored and is worth doing. Not jumping straight ahead, however, tempting it might be, and believe me, I know how tempting it can be. But if you do, you're likely to crash and burn. Let's try and do the prep work first. There's also a couple of other things we might need in our setting journeys. Let just quickly cover that. That way we are ready for anything. What else will we need? Well, first thing is a logline. Anyone who has taken my screenwriting course here on Skill-share will know the importance of having a good logline. We use this to make sure we have an interesting story with a good protagonist. We can test it out on people to see if it's potentially marketable. All this is actually before we write the scripts, we do not want to be wasting our time. However, that logline is very important in the marketing as well when we get to our finished work into the world. You might be having a conversation with some potential decision-maker who says, well, tell me about what your script is about, and then rather than some long-winded explanation of about how your character does this, then there's this other thing and boring the person to death. You can give your logline a more conversational quick 22nd synopsis. Some people call this actually the elevator pitch. It should only take as long as it would to ride an elevator into the office to tell the story. That's the whole idea of it. I also liked to do a quick written synopsis, anything from half a page up to a couple of pages. This is that if someone asked to know a bit more, you have something to send them via email or whatever with a bit more depth. There isn't a huge long treatment for them to wade through which they're just not going to bother. It's the extended information of your film if you like. If they liked that, then they cannot receive this full script afterwards. That's it. I've never been asked for anything else, so we are now good to go. 7. Marketing Your Script: We've got to the stage where our script is the best we can make it. We got feedback at whatever level we can at the moment than our rewrites are finally ready to get this thing out there. We've got our logline and a couple of patient offices. Now what? Well, as a bit of an introvert myself, I know how scary this car park can be. Now, you're worried that people might not like your work, you think that if the first-person you send it to doesn't like it then you are a failure. It's never going to happen for you. You're not confident in putting yourself out into the big scary market and prefer to just sit behind your laptop writing. But the truth is, you've got to stop thinking like that. Believe in yourself and your ability. Fake it till you make it if you have to. The people are not going to come to you and you have to go to them, take action and get what you want. There's no other way to do it. Now, we have a few choices when it comes to how we get our script out. In days gone by, I guess some people still do this to a certain degree today, you'd get a list of all the production companies, managers, producers, things like that from a book. I think it was called the writers and artists yearbook, if I'm not mistaken, and send them a query lead to all these people. You'd put something like, Hi, my name is such and such. You put any experience you've already had and then I've written a new feature called a bumble fly, which is a cross between transformers in the matrix. You then give you a little log line, which we've just done. Finally adding, if you'd like to read the copy, I'll be delighted to send it to you. You then mail all these letters out manually. This can still work and they certainly an option. It doesn't cost a huge amount other than the postage and it doesn't take too much effort, so it is worth a shot. You're not going to lose anything by doing this. It may be wanted to give it a go. Probably not the best, but you can always try it. One of the most well-known ways to get your script notice is through screenwriting competitions. There are lots and lots of these, and I wouldn't recommend entering them all as it will start to cost you an awful lot of money and be a waste of time. If you want to enter competitions, I would stick with the big ones such as the final draft, big break or the Nicholl's fellowship. Now these are very prestigious and have different genre categories. If you get to the finals, you are likely to get some interests and start making those vital contexts we talked about earlier. They only happen once a year, however, and I wouldn't just use this method as your only method. It's like putting all your eggs in one basket and we don't want to do that. We want to maximize our chances here. Now, from my personal experience, I have done this, one of my scripts got into the finals of the big break a number of years ago. I didn't make a few contexts from it. Not amazing, but it was worthwhile to do. I wouldn't pin all my hopes on this method, but it's certainly worth ago in my opinion. Another method is through online services such as ink tip, virtual pitch fest, and the black list. I'm sure there's others. But before I go any further, I'd just like to clarify, I'm not affiliated with any of these companies and this is my own personal view of them. What these are, are a bit like the old-style query letter we talked about before, but brought into the digital age. Once again, though, this costs unlike the more manual method and it can actually cause quite a lot. But let's go through some of the most well-known ones and you can see what they're all about. Ink tip. This is basically a listing site. You with the aspiring white to pay $30 a month to list your script along with everyone else's hoping someone will like the sound of it, read it and get in touch through the logline that they can see. It seems that they list hundreds of log lines, and you can request the full script based on that logline. Well, at least this proves the importance of the good logline. Like we've said before. They say they have lots of production companies, producers, etc., reading them and have lots of success. However, if you look at their movies main page, it's not exactly crawling with well-known movies and there don't seem to be many of them, which is claimed on the About Us page. I haven't heard myself of any success with this side. But if you want to give it a go, maybe do it for a month and see if you get any bytes. It doesn't seem overly expensive, so it could be worth ago. I'll just see how we get on. The blacklist. This is similar to inked it. You pay $30 prescript per month to have it hosted on their site, produces [inaudible] filter by genre and budget, and then vitro script. Now, here's where I don't like this site and this is a personal thing. On their site, it says we also encourage but do not require the purchase of at least one pay devaluation from our readers, which is $100 per read for features and one of hour pilot, $70 per read for half hour or less pilot. Only hosted scripts can receive evaluations. Now, what this means is that they are trying to say, you don't need it, but you'll be much better if you've got it. To get one of our readers to evaluate your scripts and they will recommend it or not to the producers, etc., on the site. I've seen this on this slide before and I can tell you that you may need to buy a few evaluations to get your script to stand out a bit more at a $100 a time remember. Then if one of the evaluations is bad, remember that a reader is giving a highly personal subjective evaluation of your script. But if one of these evaluations is bad, your score drops like lead balloon and you then feel like you've got to buy more evaluations to make up for it. Personally, I don't like this kind of tactic. I think it's wrong and I wouldn't recommend you guys do it. Of course, have a look for yourself. Make up your own minds. I don't know everything. You're the one in control your destiny and if you think it's the right fit for you and you are happy to spend the money, your choice. This one, however, is certainly not for me. Virtual Pitch Fest. Now, this side is a bit different from the other two. It's very much the digital query letter where you will sign up, there is a whole list of reps, producers, and companies that you can send a query attitude. It goes straight to their email through the site. What is good is you get to choose who you want to send it to, who you think will be the most receptive to your type of film and you're guaranteed a response. It could just be a no, we're not interested with no further information, which is unhelpful. Who knows if these people are receiving hundreds of these a day and they just press node to get rid of them. I don't know. The price ranges from $55 per seven pitches up to a $185 for 25 pitches. I'm a bit torn on this one. Out of them all this seems the most proactive and you're not just hanging around hoping someone somewhere will pick up your script to read it. You send your pitch email to who you want and you get an answer within a day or so saying, yes enters the script. No, we're not interested or whatever the case may be. The bad side is, you will probably very quickly burn through the money. I mean, there's hundreds of listed people and companies to send it to. It looks like you'll have to really dig down into who you want to send your pitches to whom, why? Or else you may be tempted to send more and more and more and more, hoping that the next one will say yes. It also doesn't say who in the companies that you're actually getting through to. It could be the lowest rank in the office for all you know. Again, I don't know, I'm not involved with them. But again, you can give it a try and see what you think. Surrounded them all, I think if I were to give one myself ago, I'd give it to virtual pitch fest because I can target who I think would give me my best chance bit of research on my part. However, overall, all of these methods seem like the lazy person, which in my experience just doesn't tend to work. It's very impersonal. It doesn't build your connections. I can't discern whether it is much of a success rate other than draining your bank account, which worries me. It also seems like the get rich quick scheme of the screenwriting world where these companies that are going to preying on your dreams, setting aspiring writers a shot of hope human and breaking Hollywood in exchange for cash. I'm sure they probably used the odd one or two people who have had the hit lucky with it and it's worked great, but I would advise caution and not really rely on these things. Remember nothing and I repeat nothing beats hard work. We can do better. So onto the things which I think do work though these do require some effort. I've just actually been reading a book which was talking about how often in life we do all this hard work, but it doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. We get disillusioned and we quit. Now the author said this is the biggest shame and worst thing we can do because all this hard work we've been doing isn't wasted. Is often not seen hidden underneath the surface like a plant growing its roots until all of a sudden burst into existence and we're rewarded with what we wanted in the first place. Another thing I like, which is in similar vein is that definition of luck. You've heard about when people make it big and then others say, "You're lucky because you met the right person," or "You're lucky for winning this competition," or whatever. Well, I like that phrase that, "Luck is where opportunity meets preparation." You need to have done the hard work, the preparations so that when you are presented with the opportunity, either the meeting or the pitch, you can grasp it with both hands and make the most out of it. Now if you hadn't done the prep, you'd fall flat on your face. They may seem like overnight success or luck to those on the outside who haven't seen the graft you've put in, but it is what this will make you succeed. This is hard work and then getting the opportunity will make you succeed. Now the number one on the things that require effort and can give the most reward is make your own marketing. I actually did this with my first script to really great success. I tried sending out query letters, but it wasn't really getting anywhere and at the time I didn't know anyone in the film industry. I had come from TV. I did an MA in screenwriting, was doing low budget commercials and corporate video to make some money. I wanted to be a writer, director in film, but didn't know how. I decided to write my first script with my writing partner Thomas after I'd been to China with my wife and got an idea for a movie while I was over there. We wrote a script and as I said, more query letters but got nowhere. We decided to make a fake trailer for the movie we've written. We gathered together our friends, got some hired kit or what our friends had and made a two minute long trailer as best we could. We spent about a year adding visual effects, learning to color grade it properly and things like that. We didn't have any monies, so we did it all ourselves. It was an incredible learning experience and when I'll always actually be very thankful for. Anyway, finally we put it on YouTube. We spread the word through friends, etc. We got a local PR company on board and pay them a small amount which is less than I would've paid to those online services we just spoke about. Through their media contexts, we got international newspapers, got an interview on the TV and radio news and so much stuff. Before we knew what we had 1 million views on YouTube, but more importantly, a couple of agents and producers were contacting us to chat. We weren't contacted them, they came straight to us and through this we made those all important contexts once we didn't have a clue how to get before. In the end, that specific film didn't go anywhere, but one set of producers we met on that very first marketing effort actually produced my last movie which has just been on Netflix. That's over 10 years later, but it goes to show the power of actually meeting and talking to real people rather than doing things through faceless online ways. That effort doesn't go unnoticed. Now if you don't film yourself, join a local film group or reach out over the Internet to others locally to see if they would like to band together with you to make a short trailer about your script. Or make concept art if you're good at art and get it on Instagram or another platform to drum up interest. You could do as geographic novels. I mean, something visual is always going to be better than just reading something. If you can get people excited about the concept of your film visually, they're much more likely to say gone then send it over so I can have a look, I've read of it. You then started the conversation as well. I mean, maybe your script won't be right for them, but they might know someone who would be interested in and pass it on to them or they might like one of your other ideas. If they like you as a person, they are much more likely to want to help you and work with you in the future. It's this meeting real live people that is the secret to getting your film sold or optioned. It works better than anything else and it is a matter of just how to meet those people. Like we've just said, you can market your work in the social media sphere if you're uncomfortable with that and hope some come to you. You can also be more active at the same time by contacting people directly and by this, I don't mean trying to sell them your script over email, which I know is what we're trying to do and now I'm telling you not to do it, but just hear me out. What I mean is try and find producers agents, sales agents, contacts with their website or IMDB Pro and I'm not talking Steven Spg here. I think you get the idea. You can then contact them, tell them a little about yourself. They are extremely busy, but if they could spare 30 minutes one day, you'd love to buy them a coffee and talk more about getting into the industry. Send them the link to some of your materials, if you've done the YouTube video thing or artwork. I know it doesn't sound like it will work, but weirdly it does and if you can't find their email and actually, lots from my experience, even more successful than doing this via email is doing it by old-fashioned letter, which I know is weird. The thing is when was the last time you got a letter? Emails are ready to avoid, but a letter makes you stand out these days. You can put in a business card, your contact details, whatever. You can then follow it up via email further down the road if you need to. They will make people remember you and by saying you would like to get their expertise over coffee rather than trying to make a sale is much more effective. People generally like to help nice people if they can. This is a great way to meet and get to know someone leading to work or a sail further down the line. You can also reset before we get on a set, you're on a film set, either locally or on a low budget feature may be. You might be just making tea and you might not get paid very much, but you'll be gaining experience and meeting people. Connections, that's what leads to sales. I didn't know, as a real life person, you are your greatest marketing tool. Get out there and let people see you and get to know you and then they'll want to see your work. In summary, I would say, save your cash when it comes to buying exposure or access or at least just double in the other methods, if you want to give it a go online as well. Don't spend all your hard-earned cash please, it's not the best way. Save your money and get out there in front of people in person, talk to them, make friends, build alliances, do favors, work on films, eventually your material will be read. You just need to keep going write more and don't give up. If you're serious about this as a career, you need to get into the film world, not just sitting behind your laptop. Even better, all these real-world experience will make you a stronger screenwriter, boosting your chances even further, your material will get read, there will be light and your career will lift off. So get out there in person and meet people, that's the best way to do it, I promise you. 8. Thoughts, Tips and Ideas: [MUSIC] In this final chapter, I just want to go through some final thoughts, tips, and ideas with you before you charge off, do those rewrites and make your connections. Firstly, it is important to have more than one script written before you try to find producers or whoever, I know this is painful to hear sometimes, but this is for number of reasons. Your first ever script is unlikely to be your best. I know like anything in life, it takes practice. When I look back on my first script, I know it wasn't great, so keep on writing, do more and more. You can always come back and tweak them later as well. Remember, this is what you're supposed to enjoy doing, so get it lit. Another reason is because producers, agents, etc, often asked the question. Okay, that's great. I liked what I read but have you got anything else? Didn't know, they'd like you're writing but they want to see more of it. Maybe your original script isn't quite right for them budget-wise, genre wise, or some other reason. What's marketable at the moment, for example, whatever. If you've got something else that may work better they want to see it. It shows you a not a newbie. It's not good enough for you to say and this has happened to me, I know this well, Well, I haven't gotten any other scripts at the moment. I haven't done anymore, but I do have some ideas for them. They'll just say, okay, let me know when you've finished that up to give them read some time. You've lost your opportunity. Strike while the iron is hot and get more in the fire for if the first one doesn't hit quite right. As we've been talking, you might have realized that to succeed in this industry, you need to be passionate about it. You need to put in the effort, be comfortable being uncomfortable by going networking, putting yourself out there, not worrying that you aren't good enough or fitting depressed if someone rejects your script. The thoughts and behaviors of others are not in your control. If you get a 100 positive things said in one negative, you will latch onto that one negative, we all do its natural. You need to push through that. You will never ever get the approval of everyone, so don't waste your time trying. If you don't succeed the first time do another and another, and then you will succeed. Everything takes time, just keep going. Your passion will drive you forward and believe me, you will get there in the end. If this is your chosen career, think of yourself as a writer, not an aspiring writer, not hopefully one day I'll be a writer. Say you are a writer, now. How you view yourself is very important and actually it changes the way you behave, your habits, and your work ethic. If you believe yourself to be a writer, you will adopt that as a core belief and it'll become true. As I say, it sounds a bit weird, but it does work, so give it a go. Lastly, I get asked this a lot. Should you give yourself a timetable or set hours you write in? This is very personal and will be different for everyone. I don't like that myself. I don't like giving myself some quota. Because if I don't manage that one day I'll feel like I've let myself down and then I will get stressed and then worry about double the next day to catch up or something. It's just not going to work, it just won't work for me. I do quote like a deadline though. Otherwise to me, I'd probably procrastinate a lot, I go on YouTube a lot, so giving myself a realistic deadline is much easier when you have a writing partner as well for accountability, as you're both pushing in the same direction and date but giving myself this deadline I do find helpful. I know some people are very disciplined. They're like robots. They do 9:00-5:00 purely writing and I good like that. If there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, find the one that works for you and just tweak it if you're getting nothing done. 9. Thanks: Thank you so much for watching this course. I really, really do appreciate it. I love making them and I hope you found something useful during this that you can use to kick off your own career. I'm sure I'll be doing some more, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, get those scripts to their absolute greatest, write down what actions you're going to take to get it out there, and hopefully, you guys can come back and tell me you got some of your work auctioned or sold. If there's anything you need to know, then I'm always here in the comments and questions as well. If you want to know anymore, just let me know. Good luck. Stay in touch and speak soon. Thanks for watching.