There are several ways scripts are made into movies.
most are not a direct formula. unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way. they are all based on relationships and the potential money investors can make off the script.
these include the following:
1.) a production company obtains the rights to a story, comic, novel, etc.
They then hire a screenwriter to adapt the material into a screenplay.
This way, the company already knows there’s an audience for the script.
for example, harry potter sold over 400,000 books before it was made into a movie. iron man was a cult classic among comic book readers around the world before his 2008 movie .
even low budget movies like color out of space was a folk tale written in 1927 before it was made into a movie.
This is the number one way scripts are made into movies today, by hiring an established, trusted screenwriter to adapt an already published work.
Now, to get your spec script turned into a movie today, let’s look at the second option.
2.) through a manager or agent
this is how your spec script will have a chance to become a movie.
Let’s say you’ve written a script and you want a chance to do it. then send a query letter to a manager or agent introducing the script you just wrote.
For a great way to do this, I wrote a full article on where to submit your agent script here.
the person will ask you to read his script. after reading, if he falls in love with how brilliant you are, he will accept you as a client. by doing so, the contact list essentially becomes yours.
The agent will then present the script to actors, production companies and executives with whom he has working relationships. those who know are looking for the material you have written.
Once you’ve found a buyer, your script is selected and your job as a writer is essentially done.
3.) star power of an actor
yes, actors can make scripts into movies.
many actors like denzel washington and fences, brad pitt and moonlight, angelina jolie and unbroken.
how does this happen?
Normally, if an actor has enough fame, power or attraction, he could do a script. mainly on the promise that they will act in it. as the production company is banking on its star power to boost ticket sales.
quintin tarantino resovair dogs script was sent to someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew harvey keitel.
but I have thought of a strategy to reach these positions.
how scripts become movies in 5 easy steps
- write your best screenplay yet
- find a manager and/or scriptwriting agent to guide you
- get a producer or director to show an interest in your work
- present your script to the producer or director
- negotiate terms
1.) sharpen and refine your script
Possibly the most important part of the entire process is the beginning.
If you don’t have a rock-solid script, then you’re never going to impress a producer, director, or other guy in Hollywood you need to connect with later on.
You may even find it difficult to strike a deal with a writer’s agent or manager.
Most people skip this thinking their script is gold or worse, they haven’t even written a script, they just have an idea.
so what makes a good script? It’s not always just about genre or style, but about having the fundamentals well defined.
don’t assume your script is good just because you’re happy with it. have others read it, be it your fellow writers or even other professionals.
as we have written in this blog, you can find a mentor to guide you through these initial but crucial stages.
You could even enter a screenwriting contest or fellowship to potentially work with professionals who can make your screenplay even better.
the main point is to receive feedback.
2.) Partner with an agent or writer manager
Don’t be too quick to make the first move, as it can take months, sometimes years, before a script is in Hollywood form.
While you can’t agonize over your script forever, once you’re relatively sure of it, you’ll want to prepare to compare it. To that end, a writer’s manager or agent can be a very valuable asset.
There is a difference between script agents and script managers.
It’s usually easier to get an administrator, so you may want to start with that first. your manager can further refine your script with you to get you in the best shape possible.
Agents are the ones who help you get in touch with producers, directors and film studios. by the time they see your script, they expect it to be near perfect.
It is not necessary to choose a script writing director instead of an agent or vice versa. both will be immensely helpful to you as you make your way down the uncertain road to movie stardom.
3.) find a producer who likes your work
In this blog, we’ve talked about the importance of living close to where the action is in the worlds of film and television.
for many aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters, thisthis is hollywood, but other major cities in the united states and beyond, like toronto, austin and even tokyo also apply.
once you’re in the thick of it all, network when you can and also trust your agent to get your foot in the door. when you meet producers or directors, whether at parties, events, or anywhere else, you want to address them as people first.
This should look familiar after a recent post by us. after all, shoving your script in someone’s face doesn’t produce the best results. you want to connect with them above all else.
By touching on topics a producer is passionate about during your chat, they might be interested in your script. Your agent can also source the script, putting you in touch with directors and producers who they think will be a perfect fit.
4.) present the script to the producer
now comes one of the biggest meetings of your life. you’ll sit down with a director, producer, or even a film studio representative in their office. While you may have talked about your script before, now is the time to officially introduce it.
This is going to be an incredibly stressful experience, there’s no way around it. however, you’ve come this far, so try not to let anxiety get to you.
So how should you handle your meeting with a Hollywood executive? remember the pillars of a job interview, such as arriving early, dressing nicely, making eye contact, offering a firm handshake, asking questions, and knowing when to speak and when to listen.
Make sure you have a clean copy of your script, but don’t submit it right away. Remember, while the producer or director may have a small interest in your script, they aren’t necessarily completely sold on it yet. that is the purpose of this meeting. when presented with the script, they can ask to see it. only then will you want to pass your copy.
here are some tips for presenting your script in a way that will make people ask for more:
see the time:
You have more time than a 30-second elevator pitch, thankfully, but you don’t want to drag out the meeting forever. directors and producers are important and busy people with many things to do. limit your presentation to about 10 minutes and certainly don’t exceed 20 minutes.
know what to say:
Ten to 20 minutes can be a long time to fill if you’re just improvising. We recommend that you prepare your presentation as far in advance as possible. feel free to write what you want to say.
practice your speech:
Once you’ve written a version of your presentation, practice it out loud. time yourself as you do this, as you want to make sure you stick to the recommended 10-20 minute time limit. if your speech is too long, you will have to cut some things. if it’s too short, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you shouldn’t talk about your script for only three or four minutes either. you are doing it an injustice.
Break down your story to its best elements: What if your presentation is 30 minutes long and you need to cut it down to about 10 minutes? you are probably spending too much time explaining the story you have written. think of the story description more like a synopsis. What elements of your script will attract more attention? focus on talking about those above all else.
While some artists hate genre boundaries, directors and producers don’t care about genres because it’s easier to categorize movies that way. If your script fits a certain genre with a neat little bow, be sure to mention it once or twice in your submission.
be confident and speak slowly but clearly: the presentation of your speech is also important. If you rush through your speech because you’re nervous, you may leave out crucial information or speak so fast that your message gets muddled. take your time, believe in yourself and project that confidence in each of your words.
5.) negotiate your terms
If all went well, then the director or producer will have asked to see your script. You two shake hands, walk out of the office, and the meeting ends. after a couple of agonizing weeks or even months, you get a response from the director or producer. they tell you they’d like to adapt a script into a movie and ask you to come back for another meeting.
The time will come to negotiate the terms of the agreement. you may want to hire an attorney to ensure you get a deal that benefits you.
make your dreams come true
Once the terms are confirmed and the contract is signed, your film will officially be on its way to Hollywood! It can take months, sometimes years, before a movie makes it from the script stage to hitting the big screen, but once it finally does, it’ll be worth it.
While this is a very exciting time for you, it’s also not a good idea to rest on your laurels. be sure to keep the momentum going. continue writing new content for a second, even a third script. If you have older scripts you want to buy, talk to your agent or manager. When you meet new Hollywood types, tell them your current script is being adapted into a feature film. that should make it easier for you to continue getting work.
The process of turning a script into a movie is fraught with blood, sweat, and tears. It’s also something that doesn’t happen with all screenwriters, but if you aim high, work with the right people, and above all have a really good script, you could be the next one to write amazing Hollywood movies. good luck!