Friday, May 16, 2014

Screenplay markets pt 2

Last Monday I talked about the many places writers can go to in order to show their stuff. Mostly places that charge money and which, if someone doesn't like you, you can lose a lot of hope.

I don't mean someone trashing you, but if you go to places like The Black List (not the TV show) and pay $50 for a reader's report, he/she just might say your screenplay isn't great. And that means the several thousand people who do read screenplays for possible development will basically drop you dead.

But there are other places; namely Amazon where you can send your screenplay there for no money. Amazon is serious and they have a deal with Warner Bros studios for "First Look" deals.  First Look refers to the deal wherein Amazon might take a screenplay and develop it and will show the screenplay to Warner's first.

And you could get your screenplay or TV series sold for WGA fees that give you a $5000 option fee and should it actually get made, you could make as much as $500,000.

Sounds good, and it is free.  So what's the problem, it's free and everything...

Well, you have to have a screenplay that a majority of the readers in Amazon prefer. And they're not really studio readers, in fact most are people just like you who vote on different screenplays, TV and features. 

What Amazon is doing in a way is "crowd testing", which studios do when they have a new movie coming out. They show it to a crowd, maybe in a theater or maybe in one of those little theaters where each person in the audience has a button to push to signify good or bad or in the middle. These are mostly used for TV series.

It sounds okay but the catch is, of course, people have to like your screenplay. And your competition includes some of the real pros.

And then there's Amazon's contracts; a lot of bloggers are whining about them but every contract from the big guys is going to screw you; after all this is the country that took away copyrights from artists, including screenwriters. All of Europe and Canada still hold that the author/artist/etc always owns the copyright, but not the good old USA. But that's another blog.

So where's the hope?

Not easy to find but that's what this business is about. 

You can go to InkTip or Black List and pay money with the possibility that someone will like your screenplay, and sometimes it works. 

What the point is here, is that it's hard as hell to get a screenplay sold, even for the pros, it's a wide open house for anyone who has screenplay software.

So what's the hope supposed to be, Jim?

The hope is that you keep writing. Anyone who writes one screenplay and gives up wasn't meant for writing. And that's probably 80% of the students who go to film schools. It's the ones who don't give up that will most likely sell something.

I've often told you I will show my screenplays to anyone. I have a casual friend who worries about his first screenplay because someone will steal it. He even has a time limit as to how long you can keep his screenplay.

I will stand on the corner of Hollywood and Vine if it meant screenplay sales. That's why I have three  projects optioned as of now.

But more about the fear of stealing and other paranoia on Monday.

Have a good week-end, it's hotter than hell here in L.A.

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