Ever dreamed of seeing your story come to life on the big screen? Your raw, unproduced screenplay is gathering dust in a drawer. Meanwhile, major studios crave fresh, high-concept scripts to fuel their billion-dollar blockbuster machines. How do you get your phone ringing with calls from Hollywood producers?
For every aspiring screenwriter, the Holy Grail is getting your original script sold, produced, and launched onto the silver screen. Watching your story and characters vividly brought to life by acclaimed directors and actors – seems like an impossible dream.
But major studios like Warner Bros., Universal, Disney, and more are constantly on the hunt for the next breakout hit movie. With the right strategy, your script can catch the eye of development executives and land you that elusive first studio deal.
This step-by-step guide reveals the inside track on getting your screenplay seen and sold to production companies. Follow these techniques, and you can overcome the competition to successfully get your script made into a major motion picture.
Know Where to Look for Production Companies Looking for Scripts
The first step is identifying production companies looking for scripts or soliciting open submissions. While the major studios like Disney, Universal, and Lionsgate typically only accept submissions from agents or managers, many will still consider unsolicited material.
Several major studios have programs specifically seeking fresh voices and new scripts:
- Warner Bros Writers’ Workshop – This prestigious workshop selects up to 8 writers each year to develop feature film scripts under the guidance of industry professionals. Submissions open once annually.
- NBC Writers on the Verge – Only accepts scripts through agent/manager submissions, but this 12-week program focused on selling your script is a huge opportunity.
- Universal Writers Program – Work with Universal execs in this program to create pitches and outlines that could get bought by the studio.
Beyond the major studios, there are plenty of active production companies accepting open submissions:
- Blumhouse Productions – The powerhouse horror studio behind films like Get Out, The Purge, and Paranormal Activity accepts open submissions of movie scripts year-round.
- A24 – Distributor of acclaimed indies like Moonlight, Lady Bird, and The Disaster Artist accepts open script submissions with just a simple application.
- Paramount Pictures’ Insurge Pictures – The specialty label focused on micro-budget films has an open submission policy.
- Bleecker Street – This emerging indie studio invites scripts of all genres up to $15 million budget.
And don’t forget about TV opportunities:
- Amazon Studios – Their flagship show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel came via open submission. Send in pilot scripts year-round.
- HBOAccess Writing Fellowship – This respected program finds promising and diverse writers to nurture.
By targeting companies actively looking for scripts, you have a much better chance of getting your work seriously considered.
Understand Exactly What Types of Scripts Production Companies Want
Once you’ve identified studios and production companies accepting submissions, closely analyze what types of films and genres they gravitate toward. This helps match your script to the best prospects.
For instance, a raunchy R-rated comedy will fit better with a studio like Paramount, who released hits like Bridesmaids and The Wolf of Wall Street, compared to more family-friendly Disney.
Some other genres and script styles commonly sought after:
- Fresh thrillers and suspense: Studios like Lionsgate and Blumhouse are scouting fresh takes on horror and psychological thrillers.
- Unique character study indies: A24, Searchlight and Bleecker Street look for compelling studies of complex characters. Quirky and literary scripts do well here.
- High-concept comedies: Studios like New Line Cinema and Miramax search for the next clever, mainstream comedy hits.
- Compelling dramas based on true stories: Studios consistently look for prestige drama projects, particularly those based on real events.
- Sci-fi and fantasy blockbusters: The major studios need big franchise IP, and are actively looking for the next big sci-fi hit.
Make sure you research the specific requirements and mandates for each company. Following their guidelines shows you understand their brand and needs.
Pitch and Position Your Script Effectively
Once you’ve identified prospective production companies, make sure your script is positioned effectively in your pitch materials. That means conveying:
- The compelling story hook – Boil your story down to a single sentence high-concept hook that grabs attention. Lead with this in your logline and pitch.
- Script strengths and selling points – Emphasize genre conventions, marketability and unique elements that will appeal to producers. Help them see the vision.
- Comparable recent successes – Pitch your script as following in the footsteps of recent similar breakout films in genre or style. This establishes market viability.
- Your writing credentials and passion for the project – Personalize your pitch with your background and what drives you to tell this story. They want to know you can deliver.
With the right pitch, your script can grab the interest of evaluators in those crucial first pages. Remember, their priority is finding great stories and talented writers. Help them see you’ve got exactly what they need.
Know the Process for Submitting Your Script
So you’ve identified prospective buyers and crafted the perfect pitch – now it’s time to put your script in front of their eyes. Each studio and production company has their own specific process, but here are some common submission guidelines:
- Carefully follow submission directions – Whether via mail or digital portals, meticulously follow all listed guidelines. This shows you can handle professional instructions.
- Include any requested materials – Make sure to include a pitch letter, logline, synopsis, and any other requested components.
- Use standard screenplay format – Don’t deviate from industry-standard screenplay layout and style. Readability matters.
- Proof and polish – Before submitting, fine-tune your script with robust proofreading and polishing. Don’t undermine a great story with careless errors.
- Be patient – Know that it often takes at least 2-3 months, sometimes longer, to receive an evaluation. Stay on top of follow-ups.
Once submitted, your main job is to keep pursuing additional opportunities with passion and persistence. Don’t place all hopes on one submission – successful writers hear far more rejections than acceptances.
Partner With a Producer or Manager to Improve Your Odds
Securing a talented producer or Hollywood manager on your team can greatly improve the odds of a studio or production company seriously considering your script. Producers can get your project directly to key decision-makers, amplify buzz, and help secure financing. The right manager’s connections and advocacy can make all the difference.
How do you find and partner with a producer or manager?
- Network at industry events – Introduce yourself to producers and managers at screenwriting conferences, film festivals, and seminars.
- Leverage personal connections – Friends in the industry can connect you to managers or producers seeking new projects.
- Research and make targeted inquiries – Be strategic in approaching managers and producers with specific interests aligning with your project.
- Enter respected contests – Many top producers and managers scout writing contests for new talent.
The best partnerships happen organically when a producer or manager is genuinely excited by your script. While it’s rare to get plucked from obscurity, if you network smartly and make inroads into the industry, you put yourself and your project in the best possible position.
Conclusion: Perseverance Pays Off for Writers
In conclusion, it’s vital to emphasize that perseverance and passion pay off when trying to get your script sold. The path is filled with rejections, false starts, disappointments, and script changes. But successful screenwriters never give up. They evolve their craft and keep improving their scripts while building beneficial partnerships.
If getting your script produced is your true dream – pursue it with relentless drive. Keep optimizing your writing process, absorb feedback, and get your work in front of every pair of eyes possible. With dedication to keep evolving your scripts, and the persistence to see them through years of development, your best stories will find their way to the big screen.
The awareness of active production companies seeking scripts, the ability to effectively pitch your idea, and the passion to endure this long journey – master these, and your cinematic dreams can absolutely become reality. Now get out there and get your script made!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are some top production companies I should target for open script submissions?
Great companies accepting open submissions include Blumhouse Productions, A24, Insurge Pictures, Bleecker Street, Amazon Studios, and HBOAccess.
How can I format and pitch my script effectively to grab the attention of producers?
Focus your pitch on the compelling hook, script strengths and selling points, comparable successful films, and your passion/qualifications to deliver this story. Format the script to industry standards.
What are some common mistakes writers make when submitting scripts?
Not following submission guidelines, not proofreading for errors, including too much irrelevant background in pitch materials, and failing to be patient with long response times.
Beyond studios and production companies, who else could help get my script sold?
Partnering with a reputable Hollywood manager or producer can give you valuable industry advocacy and insider access to decision-makers.
How many rejections should I expect before getting a script sold?
Even successful screenwriters face countless rejections for each acceptance. Persistence through rejections is crucial – never give up on improving your craft and connections.