WHY MUST WE BE CLUED UP?
So you don’t get PITCH SLAPPED! Christopher Boone of nofilmschool.com spent months writing a comedy spec script only to see a trailer for PITCH PERFECT on a news site which was exactly the same story he’d written! Christopher was an absolute trooper about it, tuning it into a positive by sharing his script online so that he and others could learn from the feedback process. But it just goes to show –
DO YOUR RESEARCH so you DON’T WASTE TIME!
SEE WHAT SPEC SCRIPTS ARE SELLING
If you’re after some sobering facts, these sites are the place to go. THE SCOGGINS REPORT is a great place to start. Jason Scoggins and Landon Rohwedder compile all the big studio spec sale information here so that you can see how few of them actually get bought per month/year. Especially useful is the fact that you get to read the loglines of the ones that sold so you can see exactly what kind of material is attractive – or has been attractive in the past. Similar resources include Go Into The Story’s SPEC SCRIPT DEAL LIST and Script Pipeline’s SCRIPT SALES.
LEARN HOW TO SELL SPEC SCRIPTS
Scott Meyers has a great series called The Business of Screenwriting: Everything you wanted to know about specs that covers all sorts of material including tips on BUYERS: MAJOR STUDIOS & FINANCIERS. You can also find more generalised articles such as Raindance’s 9 GOLDEN RULES and you can listen to other writers’ experiences on the SELLING YOUR SCREENPLAY PODCAST.
SEE WHAT’S DOING WELL IN THE BOX OFFICE
After seeing what spec scripts are selling, see how well already-produced movies are doing at the box office by reading feeds such as The Guardian’s BRITISH BOX OFFICE or stats on any popular film news website…
FOLLOW FILM NEWS
As well as researching spec sales, new aquisitions and upcoming releases can also be really useful, as can reviews on recently released movies. There are loads of great sites out there. Some of my favourites are INDIEWIRE.COM, VARIETY.COM, TRACKING-BOARD.COM and SCREENDAILY.COM.
SEEK RELEVANT ARTICLES
News sites can be pretty overwhelming but it’s well worth browsing the headlines frequently for any juicy RELEVANT articles. For example, if you’re into pitching documentaries then you would definitely want to read what HBO doc chief Sheila Nevins wants to explore.
FIND OUT WHAT SELLS
Another great way to be on top of your game is to know what sells and what doesn’t – and where. Do a bit of research and you’ll find articles that help you with all sorts of queries, such as why European films struggle to cross borders. But fear not, you can find out how to break into Hollywood with your script from outside the United States by reading Scott Meyers’ 2-part guide. Don’t forget to check out discussions in comments, too. Scott Meyers advises that comedies don’t travel overseas as well as other genres because they’re less visual and more dialogue-led, requiring more comprehension (language-wise). Handy tip!
FIND OUT WHAT PEOPLE WANT NOW
Use mailing lists such as Scott’s at GO INTO THE STORY or THE BLACK LIST or sign up to sites like NETWORK ISA and INKTIP. Watch out for opportunities on all websites, including SCRIPT MAG and BBC WRITERSROOM and regularly browse sites like MANDY.COM and CRAIGSLIST.
GO TO EVENTS AND NETWORK
No better way to find out what producers want than hearing it from their very selves! Use websites listed in this blog post (and others such as UK’s BBC WRITERSROOM OPPORTUNITIES), do a Google search or see what’s being announced in social media groups. A great place to network is the LONDON SCREENWRITERS’ FESTIVAL…
Want to come to London Screenwriters’ Festival? Use my special discount code: SOFLUID-16X to get a £23 discount!