So, you have a screenplay and want to turn it into a film?
We have to tell you right away – it won’t be easy. Even a seemingly outstanding movie idea can’t always make it to the top because the cinematography industry is so competitive.
If you think about it, many film directors and producers struggled with their screenplays, too. Take George Lucas, for example – no one wanted to pick up the idea of Star Wars because it was an “indie movie.” Many years later, Lucas sold the franchise to Disney for $4 billion.
So, of course, there’s always a chance for your screenplay as well. However, it might not be good enough to get noticed just yet, and you’ll have to go a few extra steps to improve it.
What are these steps?
Let’s take a look.
1. Improve the Quality of Your Screenplay
If you think that your screenplay is already good enough, think again! You should be ready for the harsh reality – most likely, your work will be heavily judged by people who’ve worked in the industry for many years. Besides, a little self-criticism never hurt anyone.
So, how can you improve the quality of an already existing screenplay?
- Research the works of maestros. Aside from the theory on screenwriting (that’s an obvious must), read actual screenplays – this will help you establish and improve your own style. UCLA has excellent collections of screenplays in free access, make sure to check them out.
- Analyze the structure. There should be a distinction between the three essential parts of a screenplay – setup, conflict, and resolution. The reader should also be able to see the dynamic development of the characters and a detailed outline of the setting.
- Make sure the plot is relatable. A good screenplay serves people right here, right now. It is relevant to the current society, as it reflects its problems. If it does, it will draw the interest of the wider public.
Indeed, there is a chance that you’ll have to rework your script several times, but it’s worth the effort. The only thing is to keep your hopes up – even if your screenplay gets rejected, take it as an opportunity to improve, not a signal to give up.
2. Think of the Target Market and Audience
Where would you like your work to be adapted into a film? Depending on the location, you will have to modify your screen to keep it relevant to the target audience.
The bare minimum you’ll have to do is localize your script, which means translating it considering the local peculiarities of a specific country or region. In other words, you’ll have to study the language and culture of your target audience to make sure your script doesn’t contain any taboos or inconsistencies.
Let’s give you an example. Suppose you’d like your script to be adapted to the German audience. As you learn German language and culture, you’ll find out about different taboos like, for instance, rolling down the window to chat with a passer-by (which is quite common in North America, especially in the USA). A typical American OK sign is also not allowed to be used in Germany – it’s a rude gesture.
The problem and message presented in your screenplay should also be relevant to the target market and audience. Otherwise, there will be no interest among the public to check out the movie.
3. Film a Trailer and Get It Noticed
It’s one thing to read the screenplay, but it’s a whole other story to watch the short screen version of it. So, if you want to increase the chances of your screenplay getting produced, you need to create a short trailer and get it noticed.
Alright, let’s say you have a trailer. How can you spread the word about it?
Here are some options:
- Enter competitions. If you have no money to hire agents or marketers, participating in a contest is the best way to get your screenplay noticed. You can still submit your works to the 2022 Script Pipeline, Austin Film Festival, and the CineStory Competition.
- Join cinematography communities. Aside from participating in competitions, you can look for film communities off- and online. There, you can find independent filmmakers who can turn your screenplay into a motion picture.
- Attend film festivals. Even if your screenplay is not ready yet, you still need to work on building your connections. Film festivals are a great opportunity to meet people like you who dream of getting into the movie industry. Maybe you can work on a project together? By the way, make sure to check out our piece on film festivals in Canada to know which ones to attend.
Of course, if you have the budget for it, you can hire an agent or a marketing agency to promote your screenwriting talent and get your script noticed. This way, you can focus on improving your screenplay while they look for opportunities to get the right people to see it.
Over to You
Being a talented screenwriter is great, but you’ll also have to work hard to get your talent noticed. Otherwise, you’ll keep writing without any film adaptation prospects, and no one will ever learn how talented you are and how outstanding your ideas can be.
So, work consistently on improving the quality of your screenplay by enhancing your style, doing research, and adapting the script, making it relatable to the target audience. And, of course, build your network! Attend festivals, join communities and participate in competitions. The more persistent you are, the higher chances your screenplay will have at getting noticed.
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