FilmMaker Mag by Scott Macaulay
reader recently emailed me with a simple question. After going to film school, making some shorts and working conspicuously within his means, he’s now written a script purely from the imagination — not censoring himself by thinking of things like money and production requirements. The resulting project, I take it, is too big for his usual DIY methods. He asked, “What do I do now?”
A tough question, not knowing the filmmaker very well and not having read the script. There are easier-said-than-done answers: “Find a producer! Get an agent!” But just sending out a bunch of PDFs, sitting back and hoping someone else will make your movie (or tell you why they won’t) is only one approach. For those who want to be more proactive, here are 15 things that can be done starting now. (If you’re a GTD junkie, consider these all possible “next steps.”) Keep in mind that this list, which is by no means inclusive, was written with a first-time writer/director in mind, someone who may necessarily be working outside the system to get his or her film made.
1. Proofread your script.
Do it yourself, and then have an eagle-eyed friend do it again. Seriously.
2. Get it out for feedback from people you trust.
Be patient. It can take people a while to read things. Patiently follow up, and after they do read it, encourage them to give you honest advice. Ask them specific questions about what works for them and what doesn’t. Consider putting together a reading and then soliciting feedback after — both in a Q&A session and through follow-up emails. (I actually hate going to readings, but admit that they can sometimes be helpful.) And, if you’re hoping for industry finance, get it covered. All studios and most production companies hire readers to do coverage — a synopsis, comments, and grid rankings of its various elements (concept, characters, etc.). You can hire these people too. Just ask a contact at a company who their best reader is and if that person would be willing to take on a freelance assignment. And then pay that person to do private coverage for you. For a relatively small amount of money you’ll learn how a more marketplace-attuned person will view their script without risking a pass from a company you may be interested in.
3. Rewrite the script based on the feedback you receive.
For your readers, did the story work? Did the characters track emotionally as they progressed through the script? Was the dialogue fresh? Were there formatting or exposition issues that threw people out of the story? Did you write characters actors will want to play? I can’t tell you how many scripts I read that are really just first drafts. It’s clear their writers haven’t drilled down, identified their scripts’ weaknesses, and worked to fix them. Recognize that writing is a skill, and rewriting is a related but separate one. You need to do both. read more...