Saturday, January 16, 2010


It was a good night at the Dallas Screenwriter's Association meeting last evening. A large group assembled to hear from the panel which included Director of Photography Ron Gonzalez, Producers Sally Helppie and Chad Gundersen, and myself.

The questions were good, pointed and focused. The questions that drew the biggest interest concerned getting a script produced. And there's two distinct ways this happens. Somebody produces your script, or you produce your script.

Obviously, I'm of the latter camp. Getting a script produced is a very hard endeavor. But even more so when you depend on other people to get it done. Let's examine method A, getting someone to produce your script.

Everything begins with a finished script, so make sure that's ready to go. And Sally made an excellent point last night-- don't just have one, but have several. More than once, she said, she's meet with a screenwriter, liked their style, but not that particular script.

Then, you need an agent or someone to represent you. This is a must. Due to tort, no one wants to read an unsolicited script. We return them unopened. We delete the email. So if you want someone to make your script into a movie, it begins with someone pushing it to the producers.

The next successful step usually involves a producer optioning your script. What this means is that they'll give you a little bit of money now, so that they can have the rights to the script for whatever option period, and the option spells out the purchase price if it were to go into production.

As the deal moves along, the script enters production and you get the purchase price check in the mail. And the IMDB credit. Fame and Fortune.

Then there's method B-- DIY. The key to success (success defined as just getting your movie made) in this method centers on your ability to secure the funding for the movie. You need to know how to raise money. There's a lot of legal stuff for securities and you do this wrong and you could end up in a federal prison, so don't take it lightly. For me, I hired a knowledgeable attorney and got the entities setup and he taught me how to do the paperwork and what the investors needed to sign, etc.

The hard part here is finding the investors. In the "Greenlight Yourself" seminar (Jan 30, for info/registration), I not only cover this, I have you practice pitching to investors. You do need to learn some sales skills. Once you have raised the money, then you hire people that can help you in every step-- be it other producers, production manager, even a director if you don't plan on doing that part yourself.

The it's off to the races and you're making your movie. Now for distribution, it's a whole 'nuther story, and yes, we cover that as well in the seminar.

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