How to sell your screenplay to Netflix Like a Pro

How to sell to netlfix

With over 75 million subscribers, Netflix is an internet film powerhouse. Almost every single producer, Screenwriter, and filmmaker dream about getting their film Netflix. As a screenwriter myself I’m one of these dreamers. So I scowled the internet to find the answer. If you want to get the attention of Netflix you have to find someone that has a relationship with them.

How to sell your script to Netflix? The way to submit your screenplay to Netflix is through a licensed literary agent, producer, reputable distributor or executive that has a previous relationship with them.

This method might seem very Hollywood but it works, if you have a script or a finished film. Let’s dive into how to find these people.

How to find the people who work with Netflix?

For the record, Netflix puts on their website:

Netflix employs a team of creative executives and buyers, who receive pitches for shows and movies.

Netflix may generate an idea internally and hire writers or other creatives to develop those ideas further.

Meaning there are people at the company whose job is to hear your idea or hire you to write something they already have in the works, much like Hollywood and your Spec-Script concept. The question is where the hell are they?

Finding people who work with Netflix is easy and hard at the same time. Heres the easy part. Just log in to your Netflix account or do a quick Google search. For example, I just googled the Netflix film Bird Box:

Ignore the Rotten tomatoes score we aren’t here for that. I just found five people who have working relationships with Netflix. And even more from the credits of the film at the end. A tip is to look past the cast and go deeper into the credits.

Birdbox Credits

There is no plug-in solution. There’s no dropbox for contacting Netflix with your film. There’s just the work to find a relationship. Now, are you going to be able to ask Sandra Bullock a few questions about Netflix? Probably not but the third producer on the list might have an email if you have an IMDB Pro account?

Ok, earlier I lied there is a plugin solution.

I just wanted to detour all the people who really didn’t care about art. Speck is an open platform aggregator for independent films and TV shows. This company distributes your content across all platforms like Roku, Amazon, Smart TVs and Hulu and Netflix. Find out more here

Another solution that Netflix suggests is finding a literary agent that works with Netflix. Now that Netflix is ramping up production with more Hollywood stars there in need of more talented writers.

As literary scouts, Maria B. Campbell and her colleagues identify adult and children’s books for adaption to film and television. They just became Netflix’s sole scouts for new upcoming projects. I’m pretty sure if someone there read your screenplay you get pushed up the latter.

I just like to add that before you pitch to Netflix make sure your script is ready. Give it to people to read and give notes. But not just anybody how about a Hollywood screenwriter. Find out how you can hire a Hollywood screenwriter to grade your script below.

How to Pitch Netflix

Once you do the digging and found your connection its time to pitch. when it comes to selling your project it would be best to go with some heat.

Here are a few guidelines:

Refine your pitch

There are numerous suppliers of content out there since everybody wants to get a deal with Netflix. Therefore, it makes much sense to find ways of making your project rise above the rest for you to get noticed. The following are some questions to help you refine your pitch:

Do you have any influencers in your pitch?
Yes, you already know if you already have a popular influencer on board with your project you have a better chance to get their attention. An influencer doesn’t just mean online celebrity it could mean popular actor, a producer with a lot of contacts or a casting director.

High Concept
Look at the films Netflix is producing. They want something that has a high concept. In other words, a movie that people will understand as soon as they see the one-sheet (Movie Poster, thumbnail) This is really important especially online seeing as they don’t want something that an audience can scroll past. I wrote a blog post that goes over spec scripts and the definition of high concept you can read here.

Does your film have a strong social media following?
Building a following might seem like it doesn’t matter but if you look at the short 80’s flick Kung Fury that is also on youtube. Writer/Director David Samberg got the attention of Netflix because his movie generated 30 million views online first.

Kung Fury Short Film Trailer

You can think it’s stupid all you want. Something with that boom online will get noticed by Netflix. Remember they are always watching online.

Find an aggregator or distributor

If your film has a strong pitch, your next step would be to partner with an aggregator who will make the pitch for your film. They will then evaluate whether your film has a pitch that can enable your film to be picked by Netflix.

Get a response

If your film gets picked by Netflix, it will take a few weeks for them to respond. If they show interest in your movie, they will then contact your aggregator for negotiations. Most of the Netflix deals involve the payment of licensing fees for one or two years. If the deal is accepted by Netflix, you will have to provide all the video files and artwork to the distributor.

Types of screenplays that Netflix is looking for

Writing for Netflix is revealingly a different kind of screenwriting. Writers for tv and film have proved to be the same over the years whereby you pitch a screenplay to get noticed and then hope for a deal.

There are thousands of titles at Netflix and viewers would be scrolling through to find what they want to watch. They can navigate with speed to get what catches there eye, but this speed comes with the need for films and TV to be appealing. For a viewer to stop and click a movie it takes a lot of ingredients. Again think High Concept.

Now when your talking to your connection makes sure you don’t rule your other options out. If they want to make your film, you shouldn’t be upset if it’s not going on Netflix. Thousands of people get turned down every day for there idea or their spec-script. Take what they’re offering you to get in the door. You get another chance then.

What type of Scripts does Netflix want?

For the answer to this, we can look at other people and how they got their content in hands with a Netflix representative. More importantly why Netflix picked them over all the rest:

Adi Shankar on Netflix deal
How “The Pearl of Africa” was sold to Netflix

What we can conclude is a little bit of everything. Or a little bit of everything that is popular. Yes, Netflix is looking for star power nowadays, but star power comes in many ways. A producer, actor a casting director or if you just flat out have the attention aka the Buzz they will reach out to you. In other words, be so good that they want to have a meeting with you. as they did with these examples.

When writing for Netflix, write with stars in mind

These days the movie star has been the most critical factor on the poster. But it’s now apparent that most writers don’t love writing with specific stars in mind. I know I don’t. When writing scripts, it’s important to focus on the voice of the show through the characters.

When writing for Netflix, write short films

Did you know Stranger things started out as a short film created by the duff brothers in 2007 called “Eater”

Duff Brothers short film

Even if you are just a writer take some cash and make a short of your project. Get someone to direct and produce it. Netflix wants completed works of art. Sometimes words on a page aren’t enough.

You might be thinking im not willing to do that. Well, other creators are, and for this highly competitive market, you have to be willing to take one more step than the other guy. Persistence is key. Stranger things film was first rejected twenty times by several tv networks across the United States remember that.

Happy writing.

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