Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Where can I send my screenplay?
The following post was made in 2009, which was quite some time ago. I'd rather not delete it, but I would encourage you to read the updated version of this advice before commenting here.
Anyway, here's the old post:
I get a lot of traffic here through the phrase "Where can I send my script."
So this one's for the new folks.
If you've just written your first screenplay, don't send it anywhere. Or if you really want to, send it to the Nicholl so you can see how you place. They have about 6,000 entries every year and it's the holy grail of screenwriting contests.
Then, start writing your next one.
Don't send your script anywhere else. Don't send queries to agents. This is not a game for people who have one idea and just want to see if they can make some money. This is a game for people who are dying to be screenwriters. It takes YEARS. Nobody wants it to take years, but it does. We all think we're the exception, but we're not. Any story you hear about a guy making a sale off his first script - the reason you hear about those stories is because of how rarely it happens, as in, next to never.
It sucks, I know. You worked hard on that thing. You took time - maybe a year - to put your best work into it. It was practice.
Maybe one day when you've written maybe 2, 5, 10 more and you really know what you're doing you'll be able to go back to your first idea and rewrite it, but for now, you used that story to learn.
So once you know what you're doing, go with the queries. Throw that sucker at the good contests. Give it to anyone and everyone you know. By then you'll know how.
In the meantime, read the message boards at Done Deal, read all the columns at Wordplay, read the trades, get educated.
And for the people who just have an idea and want someone else to write it:
Let's say I'm a writer you want to work with because I've written good stuff. You don't want to be my writing partner, you want to tell me your idea, have me write it, and split the profits. I see this kind of thing all the time on Craigslist.
Okay so I'm this hypothetical writer. I have a tons of ideas. I have yellow index cards all over my bulletin board with ideas on them. Every single time I watch a History Channel show I come up with a new story idea. I do not need your idea. If it's a truly incredible idea, I'm just going to steal it and make it my own, so you should write the screenplay yourself or pay me to write it. But chances are, unless you're planning on paying someone or cowriting it, finding someone who wants your idea will end badly for you. Actually, chances are good it will end badly for you either way. So just write your screenplay. And if you can't write a screenplay, go back to your day job. Because people keep saying Hollywood is out of ideas, but we're definitely not out of ideas. The studios are just not comfortable experimenting with our ideas. Either way, if you have an idea, write a screenplay. Then write another one.
And Here is a follow up to this discussion.
And Here is a follow up to the follow up to this discussion.