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Where to submit screenplays

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geoff S, Aug 10, 2002.

  1. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    For an amateur screenwriter who has never sold anything before what is the process for getting a screenplay copyrighted, registered, whatever, and then recognized to be made into a major motion picture assuming it is good enough?

    Looking for any suggestions, links with answers to this question, people who could help, etc etc. Eh... you know pretty well now what I'm looking for. Thanks for any suggestions you can dish out.
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    You need to get an agent. No one will give you even first look without an agent
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    The Writers' Guild of America is the union that represents film and television writers in the U.S. Their website has all sorts of information on how to break into the business. (As well as articles that often suggest that no sane person would want to. [​IMG])
    Copyright for a literary is established simply by putting it into concrete for - that is, when you get it on paper. What you want to do is establish when you wrote it, to avoid being ripped-off later. You can do this by registering your copyright with the Library of Congress (details at their website) or with the Guild itself, as explained on their site.
    The Guild site also lists agents, and notes which will or will not accept new writers. An agent will want to see a sample, or preferably samples, of your work in order to decide if you have what it takes to eventually sell something (and thereby make them some money.) Avoid agents who charge a "reading fee".
    You might also want to pick up some books on screenwriting. The Complete Book of Scripwriting by J. Michael Straczynski (B5, Jeremiah, Rising Stars, The Real Ghostbusters) is a good one, and unusual in that it covers movies, TV, stage plays, animation, even radio (or audio) drama, which is making a bit of a comeback thanks to the internet.
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  4. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Go to the book store, go to the writer's section. There you will find a treasure trove of books to both help you with structure and then with marketing your script.

    After you've absorbed all of this knowledge get ready to be rejected. Alot.

    And don't expect getting an agent will mean you're on you way. I've been through three agents and am still an unpaid screenwriter.

    Also, you don't HAVE to have an agent to sell. Many production companies will look at your stuff after you sign a simple release.

    Finally, don't believe any of the lists that say an agent will only look at your stuff if referred to them. Send them a letter anyway. All three of my agents were listed this way and they all took me and my writitng partner on.
     
  5. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the info guys.
    I've dabbed into screenwriting a little after reading some other screenplays and understanding the format. I had some ideas going through my head for one story, and started writing it, and it turned out to be a real good one (got some feedback from people I let read it, either they were impressed with my writing, or just that I knew how to write at all [​IMG] ). Was the first time I actually started a story, and was able to finish it. I'm writing another story and am actually doing it successfully (no writer's block that makes me quit, time goes by, I come up with something and then I'm on my way again).
    Personally I don't see why for a really good writer it is hard to get something sold. IMhO there are so many crap movies each year, and so many flaws in screenplays, and often in veteran writers' works, that I don't see why producers are not on an intensive hunt for good material regardless if it is from a young rookie or whomever. I think for many of them it is cause they want anything that is cheap to make that people will see just to kill time, and they turn out making a profit by selling everything but the film (whose writing, producing, and directing it plus whose starring in it), but the film is a piece of garbage and that's just how they want it.
    BTW I'm not ranting cause I've been rejected, haven't tried to submit anything yet actually, will try when I have at least three good screenplays so I know I'm not wasting my time on a talent I don't have, and just instead got lucky on. What I said about studios who buy bad screenplays is just my pre-established opinion.
    Anyone agree/disagree?
     
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  7. Randall Dorr

    Randall Dorr Second Unit

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    I kind of disagree. I see where you're coming from but, typically, you can't judge the quality of Hollywood's screenwriters based on the quality of the finished films.
    A writer submits their work to a studio which immediately wants it rewritten to attract a big A-list star. Eventually there are producers and a director who want to add their own ideas. The big star balks at coming on board, insisting that "the script isn't right." Changes are made, contracts are signed. Then rehearsals: the director gathers all the actors who have been reading the script individually and have their own ideas for their character. Changes are made to suit each actor. Then principal photography. Until recently, writers could, and usually were, banned from the set. It's pretty hard to have any say over your dialog if you're not even there. Photography is finished and the director works with the editor to piece it together. They might drop a scene or two. A line or two. Even the dramatic pause that the writer thought was the high point of a scene will be deleted because the director wants to go in a different direction. The final product probably won't have much in common with what was originally put on paper.
    I can't imagine anything worse that struggling with a story and characters for several months, or even a few years, only to have dozens of people rip it to shreds as they try to make what is your their own.
    In Hollywood, the writer has been, and probably always will be, the lowest person on the totem pole.
    If you're going to be a writer in Hollywood, you need to be something else, too. An actor, a director, a producer. (Or preferably the head of a studio. [​IMG] ) That is what you do. At some point in conversation, just casually toss out the fact that you also write.
     
  8. Joe_C

    Joe_C Supporting Actor

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  9. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  10. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, very true that good scripts go wrong with everyone's little changes after the writer sells it. Specifically I was refering to screenplays that are bad to begin with and the point that Hollywood is looking for something that is cheap to make and will bring in profits, maybe not good profits, but none the less, profits. You're not as likely to sell a script if to make a movie based on it it will cost $200 million also.

    If the option to be the director for a film that I wrote I would have to take it despite the hardships in the job to make sure that what I wrote doesn't end up being a piece of garbage, or that a good scene will be cut out to be replaced with something there only to make the film more appealing to a certain demographic. Plenty of films where the writer and director have been the same person have been really good with fewer issues.

    Also, what do you think about getting your work registered and copyrighted, then make a website showing it off, letting guests read your (copyrighted) work to get feedback on how you're doing and maybe get the attention from a visitor who also happens to be a big-shot producer? Could happen... what does everyone think? Been thinking of trying that option out. Some websites display art... mine would display scripts I wrote (that are copyrighted, all plagarists will have charges pressed and to trial we go! ... type of thing).

    Thanx for the help and info guys!
     
  11. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  12. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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  13. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    I would recommend writing a script that you really think is a good script and then sitting on it for a while. Make some other scripts that will make "bigger" movies and make more money, then try to make your dream script into a movie. Kevin Smith did it with Dogma and so did the guy who wrote The Breakfast Club.
     
  14. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    There's probably a "screenplay acceptor" somewhere around the desk your computer sits on. JK.
     

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