What gets a script sold?

November 27th, 2010 by Ron

The Script Blogger

What gets a script sold?

I’ve been questioning producers and production company executives I’ve met or spoken with over the last year, with one question.

What makes you buy or option a screenplay?

The majority answered with, “who will buy into the script”?

Followed with:-

Does it fit my budget?

Who can I get to play the characters?

Who will want to direct this?

Who will invest in it?

And most importantly, will anyone pay to see this story?

Understanding the target audience is not initially the cinema audience is probably one of the hardest things for a writer to realize. A writer’s audience is a producer or production company first. Then a director, investors, actors and a distribution company.

Small Indy products often sell direct to Channel or DVD and in fact the current producer I am working for sold a project at the AFM for a total of $1.3mil to TV and foreign. It has a budget of $300k and shooting hasn’t started yet.

There seems to be a consensus that Sci-Fi, Westerns, In-Jeopardy and Disaster products are the Genres of the next couple of years but who is to say, it is harder than picking the next Derby winner.

Many writers consider getting somebody to read their work difficult, but what they have to do is find a producer interested in their work, and thinking beyond that can make the difference.

What ever product you are producing there has to be a market for the finished product otherwise it has been a waste of time.

Regardless of what the product is, from a turbo-charged set of roller blades to a screenplay about Richard Nixon. If the product has no audience appeal it will have no market value and probably no market.

It is no good writing to satisfy your own tastes you have to be able to write to satisfy other people’s tastes.

Oh, I know Quentin Jerome Tarantino writes what he likes but unless you are that different with the connections he has got, write to please the market first, indulging yourself can come later.

What ever you write, think about the audience that you are targeting your script at, firstly a producer and then why it will appeal to a director, actors, investors as well as a cinema audience. Somehow you have to satisfy all of those needs in the one document.

7 responses to “What gets a script sold?”

  1. Elis says:

    Thanks sharing this fantastic blog…i appreciate u and i Found this blog very useful.

  2. LARRY BARAN says:

    If “someone” knows you, it’s easier to get a reading. Beyond that, a script has to grab a producer or director in some personal way. Twenty producers may turn you down and then the 21st falls in love with the story/concept and gets it done. My screenplay of my mother’s true 1950’s Chicago crime story has a lot of hooks. But, until the right person catches it, it will just keep floating around.

  3. Stephen Fleming says:

    Really this site’s information is very helpful and very attractive for the new information about scripts…. so thanks for the sharing this information with me.

  4. Victor says:

    Imagine the grey world of political correctness in a world without discord, a slimy slide into nothing… Even a field of sheep have arguments, butt heads. But the best part is the activity that follows as you described Ron, the writer ready and fired up to write about life and not like a civil servent in pale green and grey.

  5. Wayne Joseph says:

    Interesting read. The script depends on what the production companies are looking for. If it’s good enough, maybe they will options the rights. If not, I guess it ends up either in development hell or in the bin. Every good script needs a good home. There are some really bad scripts that end up being turned into some really bad movies.

    Point taken.

  6. Fred Wilson says:

    If you want to write scripts that have no life or heart to them, if you want to write scripts that may make you some money, but never make it to the rarely make it to the screen – and when they do, nobody likes them – then do what Ron says.

    If you want to make something that connects with people and will get you known as a good writer in terms of quality (rather than in terms of “can he do what we want him to do and fast?”) then write something true, something honest and something from the heart. Something that only you can write. Believe in your story, and if you find the right people, the people who also believe in your story, then you can actually have some success.

    And just maybe, you’ll leave something behind that mattered.

    Fred Wilson
    A truly talented writer can write with passion even if it is somebody else’s story, many untalented writers can only write with passion if it is for themselves.

    Knowing the difference is the difference.

    Ron Aberdeen

  7. Mark Gilvary says:

    Good Post Ron!