So you just finished your screenplay. Right? Your thinking this is a masterpiece that deserves to be made — but made by who?
There are thousands of production companies out there that will be happy to read your script and give you an offer, but what is the best way to do that?
How do you sell your script to a production company? You can sell your script to a production company by doing one of the following:
- Paying Online pitch sites
- Submitting query letters
- Getting an agent/manager
But this begs the question which companies do you choose to contact and how? And which method is best for you?
Which companies do you choose to Contact?
First, you have to determine the budget of your script. Now I know you’re creative and haven’t thought about the number much, but this is key. Do a little bit of research from your favorite movies.
Look at the actors, did they hire Tom Crusie? If so that’s minus 20 million.
Look at the locations, is mostly everything shot in one house? Or is the main characters running across Seatle?
Look at the clothing, is this movie take place in the 1900’s? Or now.
One trick I learned is the more comprehensive the shots in the movie, the more expensive — for example, every Mission Impossible scene. Whether it’s authentic or part CGI, all those moving parts are costly. The extras, the street shots, the parked cars, the fire truck running by in the background, etc.
Take everything into account and then look at the budgets you can find most budgets just by googling:
“What was the budget for X?”
Or by going to Thenumbers.com. Which is a big site that host financial information for most Hollywood movies?
Here are a few budget examples?
Mission impossible 5 – 150 million USD
Get out – 4.5 million USD
Mr and ms Smith – 110 million USD
Paranormal Activity – 11,000 USD
You can even determine from the short list above the more straightforward the concept of the film, the cheaper it is. For example paranormal activity was shot “found footage stye” with two actors and it took place in one house mostly one room. The house they probably got for free.
After about ten, you get pretty good quickly and will be able to guess budgets. So now please esitmate your films budget.
What Genre is your film?
Some writers think about this question beforehand, but during the writing process, I understand stories can change.
You can even determine from the short list above, the more straightforward the concept of the film, the cheaper it is. For example, paranormal activity was shot “found footage style” with two actors, and it took place in one house, mostly one room. The house they probably got for free.
After about ten, you get pretty good quickly and will be able to guess budgets. So no, please estimate your film’s budget.
I worte am artical that will teach you everyhting you need to know about determininng genre check it out below.
But now that you’re done its time to relook at genre to determine where your script fits. What’s a set film genre? Just a quick google search will bring you up to speed. Google: “Film Genres” a long list will be displayed up the top of the results.
Just remember you don’t have to fit your film into one box. It can be an “action comedy” or “thriller horror.”
After this, its time to make a list of potential companies based off your budget and as you probably know, the smaller your determined budget, the more companies you will have access too. Not every company is a big Hollywood studio like Universal or Bad Robot. But if you’re more interested in those companies check out my other articles.
Most are smaller houses which at most have a couple of million to spend on an entire production. These are the type of companies; for the most part, we will focus on in the rest of this post. But whether your budget is 70 million or 750 thousand. The easiest way of finding a company that will be most interested in buying your script is to look for the right producer.
Which producer should I choose?
Producers are a lot easier to find and pitch than production companies. Each production house has a set number of producers with there own interest and personalities. For example:
Jason Blume is a producer who makes for the lack of a better word “cheap horror thriller” type movies.
Hes tried to make other types such as romantic comedies etc. But they never worked out for him looking at the numbers. So he’s stuck in his lane which isn’t a bad thing. From here you can find his production company Blume House productions.
Let’s reverse this method, think of a movie that will be a similar genre and budget to your script. From there you can usually find on google the producers or if it doesn’t populate try IMDB.com to find the producers of any film. If they made something like your script, there is a strong chance they are looking to repeat the process.
The last part of the process if you haven’t done so already is to create a logline. A longline is a 1-3 sentence summary of your film. There are plenty of resources online to teach you how to write one. But freshmenscreenplay also has one.
Online Pitch Sites that Work
Ok, you did the hard part. You’ve determined your budget and your genre. For example:
“2 million dollar crime mystery.”
You’ve found some companies that work best with your type of script. Now let’s contact them. But it’s not the year 1999 anymore even dating has gone online. Let’s look at some different online options for pitching your script to your desired companies.
Virtual Pitch Fest
This pitch site is a way of pitching production companies through an online database of production companies. Their company list is always updating. And what’s great about this site is there’s a list of companies are currently looking for scripts to read and produce.
Say you wrote a comedy once you sign up and log in you can then look through every production company looking for comedy scripts. Once you found some, you can then write a query letter more on what that is in the next section. Heres the thing every pitch you send is guaranteed response and if you don’t get one within five days then you will receive another pitch opportunity.
Once your letter is sent if the producer representing the company is interested in your script, they will ask for it. Getting to this step alone is a win.
They not only have producers, but agents and managers as well witch in some cases, can be better to have that one sell of your current script — more on that in the last section.
Stage 32, which I’ve written about before is one if not my favorite companies online to work with. They combine the best of both worlds. Online pitches and face to face interaction.
Stage 32 also has a list of producers from different companies, but unlike virtual pitch fest, they do face to face skype interview like pitches with the actual producers.
You sign up for a time slot and pitch for 30 minutes as they listen and ask questions. And if they are interested you don’t have to wait up to five days to find out you find out right there if they want to read your script or not.
Below each producer is a list of films they have produced before so please don’t pitch an action film to a horror producer. He will just be bored for the 30-minute session.
Ink Tip is where producers and writers come together. They are proud of the fact 375 movies have been produced through the company giving you some reassurance the website isn’t fluff. Every site works a little differently for Ink Tip you submit your script and your logline.
After that, producers will browse scripts based on their interest, i.e., crime or thriller. From there, they read your logline. If they are interested, they will download your script. You will get notifications on producers who do. If they like it past that point, they will for sure send you a message.
Query Letters and there Hidden Power
What is a query letter? A query letter is a formal letter sent to a producer or company to sell or promote your finished screenplay.
Places to Send your Query letter
Now that you understand what this letter is and what makes it so accessible for selling your scriptlets look at the three different ways of sending one.
Remember earlier in the post you compiled a list of producers? Well, I hope you didn’t throw that list out. Any emails you’re acquired during that process can be used now that your letter is finished. But if you still don’t have a list of emails, there’s one way that most people aren’t familiar with.
You are probably familiar with IMDB, but they do have a paid service that will give you access to all there features one being emails of producers agents and companies. And not just a few almost every company has a dedicated email, and most producers have there work email attached.
IMDB Pro is like a cheat code for selling your script. Most people don’t send letters this way, and thus producers aren’t expecting a letter dedicated to them about a film they might be interested in producing.
Again make sure you do research first don’t just send the same blanket email to every person. People have a high radar for this type of approach.
Literally, in your inbox right now you can see emails from companies you’re ignoring as white noise. Don’t be the same. The response rate for this method from my research was about 5%.
An ancient school approach to sending anything but maybe worth a try. As I like to find underpriced ways of acquiring attention from my research people have sold scripts here in 2019 with regular old paper mail. The response rate was about 2%, but if you know anything about marketing, that’s not bad.
How outgoing are you? Most writers are introverts. Up to now, we have been discussing online methods for submitting your script. One thing a company won’t be expecting is to receive a phone call about their potential project, especially in 2019. A lot of the time you can get straight to the interested producer you researched just by asking. People’s shields are down for this method.
Why getting an Agent or Manager is the Best Thing
All of the following ways we discussed up to this point have been you putting in the work but now let’s discuss a couple of options for you to be creative and leave the selling to someone else.
Agents are like personal salespeople for your screenplays. Getting one means you wouldn’t have to do any of the above tactics.
They already know your good, and they already have companies in there pocket looking for results. Most likely, the agent has already spent years building relationships with production companies, so you don’t have too.
The hard part is getting one of these people to believe in you as a writer. Any of the above techniques also mentioned works on agents. But once you have one, there is no more guesswork on which company will buy your new screenplay, send it off to your agent and write another one.
This all sounds well and good, but there is a cost for having a supersalesman on your side. An agent will 15% of the final sale of your screenplay. For example, if you make $100,000, they take $15,000 of it.
Managers work a little bit differently than agents. Where you don’t, talk to your agent until you’ve finished writing your script, you talk to your manager daily. They help you during the idea creation process and start lining up potential sales purities long before your finished writing.
It can be exceptionally comforting for someone to hold your hand during this process, whereas most writers do it alone.
The only downfall is they legally cannot be in the room or advise you on financial negotiations. They only get you in the room. Whereas an agent will negotiate for you seeing what they get paid is on the line as well.
Managers will cost slightly less than agents about 10% of what you get paid.
Sometimes screenwriters have bot a manager and an agent, and there is no rule against it. But you will cough up 25% of all your income.
Do I need an agent to sell my script?
no, of course not from the information showed in this post along you can do the entire agent process of building relationships totally on your own with time.
But who doesn’t want so they can focus on being more creative and just writing. Check out the link below for the first step in the process.
How much will my screenplay sell for?
How much your first script will sell for depends on a variety of factors such as how much the company requires from you are they asking you to for rewrites as well? Did they ask you for a film treatment?
But generally, film scripts don’t sell for less than $74,479.
For a full breakdown of what the variations check out my full post below.
In conclusion, now you know all of the working and most popular ways to sell a script to Hollywood.