It’s time to finally take your script out but where exactly do you start? Can you submit your script without a manager or an agent? The short answer is yes.
There are plenty of ways to take your script out. That includes reaching out to producers directly, entering contests and fellowships, attending pitchfests and some online resources you might want to use.
This article will give you all the information you need to submit your screenplay and get noticed, so keep reading to find out.
Get Feedback From Friends or Coverage Services
Before submitting your screenplay, you want to make sure that your script is in the best possible shape.
Usually, we like to suggest using trusted readers to give you feedback on your script, the story and characters. You can also use coverage services such as WeScreenplay or Coverfly.
When you get script coverage, you will receive a “consider,” “recommend” or a “pass” with notes on why you received this score. It can be a really valuable tool to get a better understanding of how your script ranks.
Additionally, receiving a “recommend” adds value to your script. It’s something you should mention when reaching out to producers. It informs the person you’re sending the script to that it is above average and has already been vouched for by a coverage service.
Keep a List of Industry Contacts to Reach Out To
One of the best ways to create a strong network is to keep a list of everyone you know.
Every time you come in contact with a new person, keep an entry of their name, company, relevant information, and email address in one place. This goes for agents, managers, producers, assistants, and whoever you meet in the film and TV industry.
In this industry, things move fast. The assistant you meet today will most likely be a coordinator in a few months and a producer sooner than later.
Additionally, you want to check in with your network often to keep them posted on your latest achievements, the projects you are working on and to know where they’re currently at or where they’re going. Producers, agents and managers move from company to company all the time. That’s why you want to keep their information updated.
When you get started, you can build this list of contacts from emails you find on IMDB Pro or Backstage. You want to find producers, managers or agents that have similar materials to what you write. This way, you know they’ll most likely be interested when you reach out with your logline.
Another great way to build that networking list is by attending online events such as Pitch Festivals, film or screenwriting festivals, and any industry events you can find.
Get Comfortable Pitching Your Script
Before anyone reads your script, they need to be convinced that this is something they want to dedicate their time to reading.
When taking a project out, you need to have a strong pitch.
Ideally, you want to have two versions of your pitch.
One that’s a verbal pitch that you can deliver within three minutes or less. This will be useful if you meet someone at an event that wants to hear about your screenplay or if you participate to pitch fests online or in person or if you do roundtables where you meet professionals and get an opportunity to pitch.
Additionally, you want to have a one-pager pitch of your screenplay in case anyone requests to see a written pitch for themselves or to share with their team.
Query Producers, Managers and Agents
From your networking list, you now have plenty of people you can reach out to.
This process is what we call querying.
You want to have a strong query email. It has to stay short, not more than three paragraphs with three to four lines each. Less is more in this case. No one wants to receive a long email and the longer it gets, the most likely it will get deleted without being read.
Your query email should inform the reader of the project’s title, the comps, the logline, why you wrote this script/why it matters, and a little blurb about yourself.
Submit to Screenplay Competitions
There are many (maybe too many) screenplay contests out there. But unfortunately, not all of them are worth submitting to, and most are pretty expensive.
Coverfly is usually where you find all the screenwriting contests and you can submit your script through their platform.
You want to target screenplay contests that have an excellent reputation in the industry and that offer tangible rewards. These rewards can be meetings, cash prizes, or anything that takes your career to a new level.
If you can afford it, we always recommend paying a little bit more to also request feedback on your submitted script since most contests offer this. It will help you know why you ranked the way you did in that contest and what the jury thought of your script.
Here are the two highest screenwriting contests out there that everyone in the industry knows and values:
The Nicholl Fellowship
Held by the Academy of Motions Picture Art and Sciences. Every year, up to five writers each win $35,000. This is one of the very few competitions that will get your phone ringing with requests from managers and agents.
Austin Screenwriting Competition
A prestigious competition with high-level judges from top producing companies and agencies. This competition has been around for almost thirty years and also holds a Writers Conference with over 170 panels and networking opportunities.
Submit to free Fellowships
Fellowships are one of the most fantastic features that this industry has to offer. And they’re entirely free. Yes, you read that right, entirely free. While highly competitive, they offer incredible perks if you get selected.
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of those fellowships below:
- Paramount Writer’s Mentoring Program
- NBC TV Writer Program
- Fox Writers Incubator Initiative
- Screencraft Fellowship
- Sundance Episodic Storytelling Lab
- Imagine Impact
- Circle of Confusion
- Warner Media Access
- Universal Writers
- Ubisoft Women’s in Film/TV
- Warner Brothers Television Workshop
- Make sure you keep an eye on their deadlines since you don’t want to miss them.
All of these have unique perks if you get selected. Either you receive intensive training or get to be in a writers’ room to learn how to write for television, and more often than not, there’s an opportunity to get staffed on a TV show.
These are truly life-changing opportunities for an emerging writer.
Attend a Pitch Fest
Another great event to participate in as a writer is a pitch festival.
One of the most well-known pitchfest in Hollywood is Fade In Pitch Fest.
They have two versions, one online and one in person. At both events, you will meet plenty of producers, managers, and agents to whom you will pitch your story in five minutes or less.
We recommend doing the online version since it is less costly and will often have higher-level executives attend than the in-person event. You might also get more time to pitch online than you would in person.
How it usually works is that you will receive a list of attendees before the event and get to select a number of companies you’d like to meet with. The Pitchfest will then prepare a schedule for you with all the meetings you will be taking throughout the event.
Use online resources
Use social media to connect with industry people as well. As long as you do it in a respectful way, there’s no problem reaching out to others online, through LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
There are other great places to submit your screenplay through.
Virtual Pitch Fest is a website that lets you query production companies, managers and agents for a fee. You get a response within three days and this can lead to getting your script read and even produced.
Another all-time favorite is Roadmap Writers. They will train you to become great at pitching and connect you with the most prominent producers, managers and agents out there. In addition, you will get to pitch your script in what they call “roundtables,” where you have three to five minutes to convince an executive to read your script.
Many writers also use The BlackList. While The BlackList is mainly known for publishing a yearly list of all the best-unproduced screenplays that have been circulating in Hollywood that year, they also have an online platform that lets you post your script for a fee. A BlackList employee will read your script and give it a score.
Many producers read screenplays from The BlackList if they rank an 8 or above (the maximum score is 10). Additionally, if you get an 8 or above, you will get included in the BlackList email with the best-ranking screenplays for that week.
Now that you know how to submit your script don’t be afraid to be creative. Again, as long as you are respectful, you can reach out to anyone.
Once you submit your screenplay, make sure you give your reader time to read it. Don’t follow up too soon. Give them at least three weeks before you reach out.
Everyone in this industry is very busy, and while we’d love to say that reading your script is their top priority, it is not. Respect their time and take their feedback positively even if you disagree with their notes. Anyone that offers your feedback is an ally.
Be patient and keep pushing through. You might receive many “no’s,” but it only takes one yes to change your career forever.
Stay positive, always thank people for their time and make sure that you keep a door open to submit other scripts in the future. Most of the time, producers, agents and managers will let you submit other loglines if you’ve been pleasant to deal with and respectful. Obviously, they need to like your writing too. At the end of the day, it’s all about building connections and that is how you submit a screenplay.
Best of luck out there!
Article by Lena Murisier