The process of swelling a screenplay can be long and hard. Writing for film and television is not for everyone. The odds of finding success as a writer are not good.
I have been writing and submitting my writing for the past eight years. I have made a couple of small projects on my own, but they have not gone anywhere. I am not a member of WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) and I have not made money from my scripts.
The WGA will not help you sell a script. If you do sell a script they can help you get fair pay. You can also register your script through the WGA which is like a copyright but it is not a copyright. The WGA has many services including lectures from award winning writers. I have been to a few myself and found them an asset.
There are some ways to get your ideas before the people that want them. There are conferences and seminars where you pay to pitch your ideas to various people from the industry. I have not done one of these so I cannot say from personal experience if they work or not. The thing you want to be certain of before you do one of these is whether or not your idea is worth spending the money.
If you have an idea and/ or a completed script it is important to research the people that you are pitching to. You need to find out what they have done so you do not pitch them something they have already done. You need to research what they are doing and are preparing to do so that you do not pitch something they already have.
A pitch is where you share your concept with someone. You are a salesman during this pitch. Keep it short and simple. Be ready to show or tell more if they want it but be ready to be quiet. Knowing when to stop is a key. You want to keep their interest without overwhelming them.
The most important thing to do before writing a scripts is research. You need to know what is hot at the moment and who it is that is buying. There are many web sites that you can use to find what is hot. These sites will show you what is doing well and what is being produced at the moment.
I wrote coverage for a small production company as an intern once. Coverage is where you read the script, summarize the script, and give your feedback in regards to if the script is something to take a closer look at. A good thing to do is to find someone you know to write coverage of your script.
There are companies that will look at your script and give you feedback concerning your script. The thing to do with these companies is to research them throughly. They can be very helpful if you find the right company.
When you have finished your script try having friends do a table read of your script. I mean get some friends to read the script as though they were acting out the script. This will give you some idea of pacing. If your script is a comedy it will show you what is working and what is not working. I have found having actors or friends read my script aloud very helpful in the editing of a script. When I have heard a script of mine out loud I have caught mistakes that I had read over again and again without catching.
Since I have not sold any scripts I cannot say much about the process of selling your script. It is important to research as much as possible including what you should expect to be paid for a script. You can find a large amount of information by going to the WGA web site.
You can option your script to a production company. This is usually an upfront fee paid for your script. This is not selling your script. This gives the production company the right to buy your script. You cannot shop your script to other companies during this period. If the company does not use the script within a certain amount of time then the rights revert back to you. You keep the money paid, if any, to you for optioning your script.
Be aware of scams because there are plenty of them waiting for an aspiring writer. I am working on a TV series that I plan to produce myself. If you have the money you can write and produce your script. This will take a large amount of money even if your script is not an action adventure film.
The best advice I have ever been given as a writer is this: read. Read the industry magazines and newspapers. Find the many web sites of the industry and sign up for them. The more information you have the better. Read scripts. Read anything you have to read. Watch as much as you can. The more you know about what is going on in the industry the better.
Be ready to pitch. Have a pitch that you can make if you meet someone in line for the movie theatre. Have a pitch ready for when you least expect running into someone to pitch to. You never know where and when you will run into someone. The goal is to be ready to pitch when the opportunity presents itself.
Writing is the easy part. The difficult part is finding someone willing to pay you for your script. Keep writing and keep pitching. There are countless stories about scripts that were rejected by everyone until the right person heard the pitch.