Breaking into the Movie Business
By Angela J. Townsend
A few years ago my writing career as a traditionally published author took a turn to motion pictures. Since that time I’ve had a flood of emails from authors seeking advice on how to obtain a motion picture deal. There are many ways to break into the industry. In this blog post I will be sharing the way that worked for me.
I’ve learned a lot since the start of my motion picture adventures, which began in 2013. As strange as it sounds, I always envisioned my novels as movies, right from the very start. This is because I’m a visual writer. I absolutely live in the world of my creating and it is a bright and vivid place for me. In order to have a sellable screenplay, you must be able to envision the landscape that is your story. You must know every single brick in your story’s foundation, every little detail about how the world works. You must know it like you know your own soul.
A question I am often asked is, do I need a screenplay version of my novel in order to sell it? The answer is simple. In most cases, no. If you find a producer interested in your work, send them your completed novel. They’ll read it and decide if it’s a project worth pursuing. This is how it happened in my case.
If you do have a screenplay, keep in mind that every scene and element of the script will cost money to produce. So in addition to writing a wonderful script with a niche audience in mind, narrow down locations, characters and difficult special effects. It’s much easier to sell or produce a movie that doesn’t require an extra-large budget. Keep in mind movies can be very expensive to make, most studios have a budget in the millions to work with. Most independent films are generally made on a much smaller scale.
Once you have a solid script, see if you can gather a group of volunteer actors to have a table read. Hearing the screenplay acted aloud for the first time is an unforgettable experience. I will never forget the first time I heard my words spoken from the mouths of talented actors auditioning for The Forlorned. It was life changing for me. Our casting agent held auditions in another state. I watched the actor who played one of my main characters and fought back tears. Not only was it a surreal experience for me, it also gave me ideas of how I could make every word count to push my screenplay forward.
I had an advantage with being familiar with the genre in which I wrote. I suggest you do the same. Do your homework and know your target audience. What hook will you use? What are the popular trends in your genre in the film industry? You may find most of your answers by performing a simple google search. Go to Google and sign into ad words. Once you are there, try Google’s keyword planner. This is a wonderful tool that will allow you to input words that will give you an idea of how many people are searching for your particular genre and if there is a genuine interest in what you write.
The next step is to find a producer with a solid background and connections to the industry. A seasoned producer will also have connections to funding sources. To get started I recommend searching IMDB (Internet movie database). This is a wonderful way to find out what movies are produced in your genre and the quality of the work. If you love the movie, look and see who produced it. Gather a list of names to contact.
Everyone involved in my film, The Forlorned, can be found on IMDB. It’s a trusted resource for me. Make sure whoever you work with are experienced with connections in the industry.
After you find a producer interested in your work, I suggest that you obtain an Entertainment Attorney. Make sure they have experience and a proven history in Entertainment law. I work closely with mine and I find that his advice has been priceless. Every state in the U.S. has a bar association. These associations will give referrals and also keeps public records on disciplinary actions taken against attorneys. It’s a great way to make sure who you work with can be trusted. You can find the bar association for your state by going to the American Bar Association website and looking under State & Local Bar Associations tab.
Last but not least, you must believe in yourself and your project. It takes hard work and dedication. If you have questions I’m always happy to help. The quickest way to reach me is through my twitter account for The Forlorned (please see below).
American Bar Association: http://www.americanbar.org/aba.html
IMDB-Internet movie database: http://www.imdb.com/
Entertainment production software: http://www.lightspeedeps.com/
Capture Audience leads: http://www.aweber.com/easy-email.htm
The Forlorned on twitter: https://twitter.com/TheForlorned