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Thursday, October 8, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 8 - posted by AnthonyCawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 8: Scriptwriting Software

If you ask a bunch of screenwriters what software they use, you’ll get a cacophony of different views. Each one strident and strong. No matter the software, they’ll claim it’s the best. It’s industry standard, they say. You’d be mad not to use it. It’s the tool that makes writing… easy!

Needless to say, an article that examines the main contenders would be great. So here is my offering and personal experience – with opinions thrown in for good measure.

** Note – as I always do – it’s best to travel to the official websites of each: look at key features, current prices, file formats, supported Operating Systems and other details. Research is a very good thing. Especially where software is concerned.

First up, we have:

Final Draft

Price – $250

Demo – 30 Day Free trial available

Mac/PC – Both

Mobile/Device – Available for iPad and iPhone

Pro Advocates – Darren Aronofsky, J.J. Abrams, Robert Zemeckis

Final Draft considers itself the industry standard. In fact, it’s used by scores of professional screenwriters – but not all of them.

It’s feature rich to say the least. Anything FD doesn’t include probably isn’t needed.

It has over 100 script templates, integrates index cards well and even has a feature that reads the script out aloud – with different character voices!

FD’s also very customizable, with reports coming out of its ears. Plus, it imports and exports in a plethora of file types and formats.

One of the other good features – IMO – is the ability to save to Dropbox. That’s great if you use multiple devices, as it ensures you’re always working on the most up to date version of your masterpiece.

Yes, Final Draft does pretty much everything. It even has iPhone/iPad versions, currently on sale for $14.99.  (Note: mobile versions sync scripts with Dropbox. Scripts can also be stored locally, emailed, printed etc.)

The only real downsides to Final Draft? Well, the price – though it’s often discounted – and the relatively slow development timetable for enhancements.

You could always just buy the iPad version and play with that if the price tag puts you off!

Website: http://www.finaldraft.com/

Movie Magic

Price – $170 (current sale price)

Demo – 5 Day full demo available

Mac/PC – Both

Mobile/Device – Not currently

Pro Advocates – Paul Haggis, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, Evan Katz

Another high cost option that purports to be the industry standard. MM has a bunch of pro-screenwriter endorsements and it’s apparently the preferred format of WGA West.

From a features perspective, Movie Magic has much of the same as FD: including Text to Speech, a ton of templates and online collaboration features. And – this software has extensive (and free) support and a couple of features not found in FD.

It does, however, feel a little old these days – an overhaul seems overdue. And the inclusion of other popular hardware devices would be nice.

Downsides: price and lack of a mobile app (though their website says that’s in consideration).

Website: http://www.screenplay.com/p-29-movie-magic-screenwriter-6.aspx

Celtx

Price – Basic – Free

             Standard – $9.99 per month

            Plus – $19.99 per month

Mac/PC – Online application – yes to both.

Demo – Standard & Plus have 15 day free trials

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Kirk Suttles – Head of Production at Lifechurch.tv

Celtx used to have a desktop version, but they’ve gone completely online of late (if you have the desktop version, it isn’t supported anymore). But if you just want a basic online screenwriting product, then the free edition is perfectly fine. Many people happily use Celtx for spec scripts.

The Standard version comes with more production type features, such as Shot Blocking, Scheduling, Budgeting, etc. The Plus version has even more features, including Live Chat support. They have a big focus on collaboration and team working as well – that’s not just a FD/MM thing!

Website: http://www.celtx.com/

Fade In

Price – $50

Demo – Yes

Mobile/Device – Yes (including Android)

Pro Advocates – Craig Mazin

Though a newer entrant to the market, Fade In is feature rich for the price and has some unique advantages (like Android support, a Linux version, EPUB exports etc) that make it a definite contender. It also has Dropbox support, so you can switch between desktop versions and mobile devices easily.

Fade In also also seems to have a really responsive developer, Kent Tessman – who happens to be a screenwriter too*. Additional features are added quickly and frequently, something that Final Draft and Movie Magic have been criticized for (frequently) in the past.

*Check out Kent’s great script, Chrome Noir on the Black List Table Reads podcast. It’s well worth a listen!

Downsides: I think it has fewer features in total than FD or MM, but I’m not sure they’d be missed!

If you are new to screenwriting and want a solid desktop based program, then I think Fade In is worth the look.

Websitehttp://www.fadeinpro.com

Storyist

Price – $59

Mac/PC – Mac only

Demo – Yes

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Michael Brandman, New York Times Bestselling Author

This one is Mac only (including iPad/iPhone). I haven’t had chance to look at it, but to be thorough, I thought it fair to list it anyway.

Geared for novelists as well as screenwriters, this one is a word processor with built in screenwriting functionality. It has outlining functionality, as well. You can add images and things like that to a story, just to give it more color in your mind. You can also create ePub and Kindle books via this software.

In certain ways, Storyist seems to be more of a writer’s tool. But if you are a Mac fiction writer who dabbles in screenwriting as well, it might be what you’re looking for!

Website: http://storyist.com

WriterDuet

Price – Free version (restricted features)

            $7.99 per month (or $99 Lifetime fee)

Mac/PC – Online application (so yes to both).

Demo – Has free version

Mobile/Device – Yes

Pro Advocates – Ed Solomon, Andy Nyman

I believe this is the newest in the collection. Like Celtx, the developers have chosen an online route. But they recently added a desktop version, providing good cross platform support. WriterDuet also incorporates cloud saving to ensure you are always using the most up to date version of your script.

One of the key features of the software is real time collaboration. You can work on scripts with a writing partner in real time – no back and forwards, or issues with version control.

One of the other good things is that the developer – Guy Goldstein – is very accessible and currently has an AMA going on Reddit (screenwriting). So he’s pretty active in general.

No, WriterDuet doesn’t have the production level features of some of its more established competitors. But to perfectly honest: if you’re an aspiring writer engaged primarily with spec scripts… do you need colored revision pages and page locking to get by?

Website: http://writerduet.com/

So here you go. Check out the websites yourself. Try the free versions and find out what you like!

Admittedly, this article isn’t an exclusive list, but it discusses the main tools in use. Apologies if I’ve missed your favourite, but feel free to post in the Comments box!

My personal view? That if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget, then WriterDuet is a good choice. If you are looking for something with a little more and you have the bucks to spend, then Fade In’s the option I recommend. Then: if you want whistles and bells, the kitchen sink and don’t mind paying a hefty price, then Final Draft’s in your sights.

In the interest of full disclosure… I currently use Final Draft on PC and my iPad. But I’ve also written scripts with Celtx, WriterDuet and Fade In. So I’m agnostic with my software! UPDATE: I’ve changed what I use to Fade In on PC and iPad, loving it.

About Anthony: I’m an award-winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Monday, July 20, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 7a - posted by AnthonyCawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 7a: Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to pick up a ton of useful information on screenwriting, scripts and the market for them. Not to mention a terrific tool for filling dead time: driving, commuting and the like. At their best, Podcasts are informative, funny, provocative and quickly become part of your ‘must do’ schedule.

So – without further ado – here are my favorites. In no particular order…except for the first one!

Scriptnotes:

John August (Big Fish, Frankenweenie etc) and Craig Mazin (Hangover 2 & 3 etc) are the real deal. Working Hollywood screenwriters who write for a living… and who pay it forward by putting out a weekly podcast to share their knowledge, opinions and wisdom. Their insights are quite useful, based on their working knowledge and experience of the industry . And they don’t shy away from difficult subjects. There’s now over 200 episodes, so get downloading!

Note: John and Craig are chalk and cheese from a personality point of view, but this dynamic is one of the many things that makes the weekly episodes an absolute highlight of my week.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/scriptnotes-podcast/id462495496?mt=2

On the Page:

Pilar Alessandra is a professional script consultant in Hollywood. Her weekly show is based around a succession of guests: almost all of whom are screenwriters, but occasionally show runners and producers are added to the mix. The interviews are wide ranging, funny and informative. Pillar definitely knows her stuff and is a real livewire on the show.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/on-the-page-screenwriting/id262077408?mt=2

BAFTA Screenwriters Lecture Series: 

These podcasts consist of records of lectures given by a variety of screenwriters at BAFTA/BFI events. They’re not regular, and tend to come out in a bunch once a year. Currently available are podcasts with Emma Thompson, Richard Curtis, Tony Gilroy, and Charlie Kaufman to name but a few (there’s approx 25 in total).

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screenwriters-lecture-series/id524739237?mt=2

Curious About Screenwriting Network:

A great service provided by Network ISA. They have regular Tele Seminars with screenwriters, script consultants etc, which are recorded and released as podcasts. Currently there are over 50 that have been made available, and include guests such as John Truby, Robert McKee and David Trottier, and covering subjects like Rewriting (with Pilar Alessandra), Winning the Big Contests and Pitching.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/curious-about-screenwriting/id975005439?mt=2

Selling Your Screenplay:

“Starring” Ashley Scott Meyers, who is an aspiring screenwriter with a couple of sales and produced films to date. His podcast interviews other writers and focuses on how they broke in, how they got their films made and what tips and tricks they can share with fellow writers. Ashley is a genre writer with no airs and graces about his own work. It’s a refreshing attitude and the insights from his guests are great, as they focus on selling your screenplay. (Which is information that all of us writers can use!)

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/selling-your-screenplay-podcast/id691691124?mt=2

Third & Fairfax, The WGA Podcast:

This is a new podcast from the WGA West. Only a couple of episodes so far. It deals with WGA news, has writer and staff interviews and is pretty informative for both WGA members and non-members.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/3rd-fairfax-the-wgaw-podcast/id1001323963?mt=2

The Black List Table Reads:

This one is a little different… As Franklin Leonard puts it… ‘it’s movies for your ears’. In essence, this podcast takes well written scripts from the Blacklist and have professional actors voice them in a table read type setting. They work extremely well. The scripts they’ve done so far have been excellent and varied.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/black-list-table-reads/id982082891?mt=2

The UK Script Writers Podcast:

Tim Claque and Danny Stack are working UK writers who provide insights on the UK scene and interview UK based writers, producers and more. Informative and funny for us Brits, there’s almost 50 episodes so far.

iTunes linkhttps://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/uk-scriptwriters/id384710944?mt=2

As to how to access these resources? Use whatever Podcast app you have on your IOS or Android device, and remember to subscribe so that you get the new episodes as soon as released.

Which is not to say the list ends here. On the contrary – it’s just beginning. There are a bunch of other podcasts that I subscribe to, and find useful to my writing. The best podcasts spark ideas around subjects I like, and act as inspiration generators. My personal ones are Lore, Ted Talks, Mysterious Universe, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews and Paranormal Report. In their own ways, each of these have provided info and snippets that have acted as the genesis for short or feature ideas. Mind you, these are my favorites – catering to my particular interests – so have a look round yourself. See what podcasts exist for your interests and fave genres. Because you never know where inspiration will strike next!

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, May 8, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 6 - posted by AnthonyCawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 6: Options, Sales and Production

A few people have asked me recently how I manage to sell and option so many short scripts.

My response? I usually laugh, and get embarrassed (what can I say – I’m a Brit!) Anything to move the subject along.

Others have shared their experiences of optioning/selling scripts, and their frustrations regarding what happens next. Or as is often the case – what fails to happen next.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to take a look at both sides of the coin, and share my personal experiences. Note: In this article, I’ve strived to be as ‘full disclosure’ as possible without discussing individual deals. And please keep in mind, this all relates to my experience only. Your mileage may vary.

Sales and Options

According to my calculations, I’ve written 30 short scripts over the space of just shy of 2 years.

19 of them are currently sold, or under option. I say ‘currently’ because I’ve got an additional 6 shorts where the options have technically lapsed. So you could argue the number’s 25.

I’ve also written three scripts specifically at someone’s request. Only one of those has actually made it to fruition. In the other two cases, the “commissioner” of the script proved unable to move the project forward, leaving me with the unproduced work. One of those has since sold to a different producer.

Let me clarify what I mean when I use the terms Sales or Options. Trust me, I have my reasons.

Sale: Someone buys the script outright for money. And a contract exists to formalize that.

Option: Someone agrees to try and pull the resources together to make the script within an agreed-upon window – normally 6-12 months – with agreed payment to follow.

A further note regarding options: these are usually offered by newer producers or directors (sometimes students) who don’t initially have funds available… or just want to ensure they can get the project off the ground before sinking capital into it. Any agreed payment for such deals is often only a percentage of the profits the short may make, rather than a defined monetary amount. This type of deal is often called a Free Option.

Sales have $$ paid up front. A couple include bonus $$ upon start of production, things of that nature. Note: Whenever I can, I make a point to obtain a percentage of the profits on the backend as well. Shorts usually make no profit at all. But I want to be included in case it goes viral, or blows up some way!

When talking with a Producer or Director, I ask if they have a budget for purchasing the script, then go from there. Why? Because I strongly believe a writer’s work has value. We spend time, effort and emotional energy on every script we create. So we deserve to be compensated when it’s possible.

Contract and agreements, I tend to play by ear. Some people will disagree with this strategy – and I do wish to stress I only do this for shorts.

When payment is involved, there’s usually a contract. I don’t use a lawyer or agent – just my common sense. Knock on wood… it’s worked. So far!

With options, I email an outline of my terms to the producer, and make sure all parties are in agreement on the terms.

A quick note when it comes to both types of agreements (both email and signed): don’t be scared to ask for anything you consider right and fair. And never be afraid to say no, if you’re not comfortable with a deal.

As to what contracts contain: that’s always different! Usually, they’re drafted by the Producer/Buyer. On a couple of occasions, I’ve been asked to supply them. In those circumstances, I just retrofit one I’ve already got. If you don’t have one on hand, Googling for templates also works.

For me, the essential elements are these:

  • What rights are you granting to the producer? e.g. Sole and exclusive, region specific or worldwide?
  • What does it extend to? e.g.: is it just this script, or does it grant rights over sequels, remakes, etc (you should definitely try to keep these rights.)
  • Make sure the contract specifies how long it’s for.
  • Make certain payment terms and amounts are included – plus timings and delivery mechanisms (Paypal is one great method– though they do take a cut.)
  • If in doubt about a clause, seek clarity before you sign.
  • Very, very important note: if and when I get to this stage with a Feature script, I’ll be seeking professional legal advice.

Pre-production Frustration

I recently shot the short “Txt M” from my own script – precisely due to frustration with how long it can take films to get made!

So for those who’ve sold/optioned scripts and now wait in limbo. Please believe: I feel your pain

But in the end, there’s very little you can do. Producers and Directors are not doing it to you on purpose (as much as it may seem that way!). No, there’s a whole host of reasons it can take awhile before an optioned script goes into production.

  • They have a window – which just so happens to be 6 months away.
  • Their plans change. Many short film-makers have other jobs. Your short is just their passion project, which can only be done on their off time.
  • Resources and/or finances change. Or disappear.
  • They flat-out change their mind.

Of course, none of those reasons make the process any less frustrating… however how valid they may be. My advice. Patience is a virtue. Practice it. Often and wisely.

As a side note: it’s often interesting to see how willing or unwilling the film maker is to involve you in the process. In my experience, I’ve had audition tapes sent to me for my review. Rewritten scenes as required. Advised on prop selections, etc. Even if the producer prefers you take a ‘hands off’ approach, there’s no harm in letting them know you are keen to work with them, if desired, so as to better understand the process.

Post-production

But once a script is finally produced, everything comes up roses.

Right?

Well kinda. But not really. Among other things, one learns about (drum roll)…

Post-production.

Post-production is where a lot of the magic happens. Film editing. Sound effects. Colour adjustments. Music, titles, credits. And more.

Needless to say, that can take awhile. So you’ll need to practice your patience again.

Please don’t interpret any of this as a complaint. If I didn’t think it was all worth it, I wouldn’t have written 30 shorts and 2 features. I’d have found something to do with more instant gratification.

But it’s good for writers to be aware of the potential bumps in the road. Factor them into your expectations.

Thank God – The Damned Thing’s Filmed!

Yes, that day has finally come. You’ve been sent a Vimeo link, or a DVD of your film. Now you can relax and soak in compliments from your jealous friends.

Right?

Well. Sorta. But then you watch the film – and your over-critical ID chimes in.

Because, unless you directed and edited the final movie, it’s very, VERY likely it won’t be exactly the same as what you envisioned in your mind’s eye.

Reasons for changes are unending. Budgetary concerns. Dialogue can be altered. Casting may not be your taste.

And make no mistake – there’s nothing you can do about it… unless you morph into a director, and insist on making scripts your way.

So focus on the positives!

  • You conceived a great idea – and it got filmed.
  • You had the creative skill to distill your ideas into a successful script.
  • You had the gumption and fortitude to get that script into the hands of a real film maker, who thought highly enough of it to invest time, effort and money to make it a reality.

As a result, you’re now watching something that has your name in the credits. You’re a produced screenwriter, which is no small achievement. No matter how arduous the journey was.

As for my own stuff? Well, I keep plugging away, and will broach every opportunity to push and promote my scripts. But there’s no magic involved. It’s just an established plan that’s worked for me. So far:

  • Have a decent idea. Follow it up with a decent script.
  • Get feedback to make sure that script is as good as it can be. I mostly use Simplyscripts and Stage 32. Both are invaluable to me!
  • Get your script listed everywhere (I’ve discussed go-to links in my previous articles.) But for the record, Simplyscripts and Inktips have given me the majority of my success.
  • Refresh your listings. Change your loglines. Always keep working on the scripts.
  • If someone requests to see one of your works, make sure you use it as an opportunity to build relationships. They may not ultimately want the script they ask for. But they may like your writing, and choose something else you have. Or ask you to write something for them.
  • Always, always – persevere.

And the result? Out of my 19 scripts, 3 have been produced and are watchable (links available on my site.) 2 are in post production (I’m hoping to see them in the next 2-3 months.) 8 are slated to start production six months from now. The rest, further out than that.   And I have a feeling that as least another 2-3 will end up as lapsed options. Sad as that may be…

And speaking of future predictions: I’ve started to concentrate on Feature scripts. Which means going through all the pain, agony and frustration all over again. But in new and interesting ways.

I’ll keep STS posted. Perversely, I’m looking forward to it!

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, April 24, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 5 - posted by AnthonyCawood

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What?

(Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World)

Part 5: Competitions

I decided to enter a few competitions last year with some of my short scripts… And quickly discovered that, as screenwriters, we are spoilt for choice. There’s hundreds of contests out there, with new ones starting every year. So which ones should you be entering, and spending your hard earned money on?

When all was said and done, I collected one 1st place, one Runner’s up, a Third, a Finalist and one Semi-Finalist placing. (In the interest of full disclosure, I also entered five more scripts that got absolutely nowhere. Nada. Zilch!) But I did gain knowledge and experience in the process – and that’s valuable as well.

But, let’s back up for a moment and ask one important question… Exactly why do you want to enter competitions in the first place? For me, it was reasons 3 and 4 from the list below. But different competitions offer different opportunities. It’s important to define your goals at the very start, in order to plan proper strategy. Do you want to:

  1. Get yourself an agent, manager, producer.
  2. Get professional coverage.
  3. Win prizes, such as money/trophies/software/film festival passes, etc.
  4. Add ‘award winning screenwriter’ to your resume.
  5. A mix of various aspects of the above.

Let’s consider these motives, one by one.

1) Obtaining an Agent, Manager or Producer

There are only a handful of screenplay contests that will consistently get you this level of attention – and then only if you place semi finalist or finalist. These are the big players in the game: The Academy Nicholl Fellowship, Page Awards, Scriptapalooza, BlueCat, and a handful of others (that I have less direct experience with.)

But remember – if you’re angling for these big fish – these contests attract thousands of entries. Competition will certainly be fierce!

Page has been around for over 10 years and has a $25,000 First Prize. In 2014, it was won by Matias Caruso, whose shorts have been showcased here on Moviepoet, SS, and in STS.

Nicholl has been around even longer – thirty years and receives over 7000 entries annually. Up to five winners can receive $35,000 fellowships.

Scriptapalooza has been in the game over 17 years, receiving over 4000 entries annually. One major plus: the judges are all agents, managers or producers and the first prize is $10,000.

BlueCat has been around since 1998, attracting over 4000 entries per year. This one boasts a $15,000 grand prize (and $10,000 for the winning short too!)

Not to mention other high profile comps, like Final Draft’s Big Break, Script Pipeline, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, etc. Score big with one of these, and your feature, short or TV pilot could connect with the ‘right’ people.

2) Get coverage

You can get coverage from a variety of sources – from the free opinion of people right here on the SS boards, to shelling out hundreds of dollars for professional readers (of varying quality.) You can also get it as a result of entering some screenplay contests – which is sometimes packaged as part of the entry fee. Bluecat does that. So does ReelWriters. So when you are contemplating a competition, research if they do a coverage package – and determine if that’s useful for you.

3) Win something

Prizes range all over the map: nice trophies. Free software, discounted services… all the way up to some pretty substantial monetary prizes. Check out what the competition you’re considering offers – and if it’s something valuable to you. IE: is it worth spending $30 to enter a competition for a copy of Final Draft 9, if you bought a copy recently? Probably not – if that’s all that a win will mean.

4) Award winning screenwriter bragging rights

Does this matter? Well, if it’s Page, Nicholl, etc – then yes, it probably does. As for the others… Well, here’s how I think about it personally. When trying to persuade producers/directors to read your scripts, I think ‘award winning’ may help get your script read. (And maybe even read first.) It may also be something a producer might be able to use while marketing your work. I’ve never heard anyone say it’s a bad thing. Though you have to balance that against the cost of multiple entry fees!

5) All the above (or any combination)

Hey – wouldn’t it be grand to win a competition and really score? Get the prizes, the coverage, the bragging rights – and have your work seen and produced? Well, one can definitely dream. And if you back it up with hard work… those dreams do sometimes come close enough to reach…!

Researching Competitions and Lists

Okay – so you’ve decided competitions are worth a try. But if you’re not ready to tackle Nicholl, where can learn about the smaller fry? Here are a few handy links that I’ve used in my searches – complete with details on submission requirements, deadlines, etc…

1) Movie Byteshttp://www.moviebytes.com/

2) InkTiphttp://inktip.com/competition_directory.php

3) FilmFreeway (Film Festivals too) https://filmfreeway.com/

4) Without A Box – (Film Festivals too)https://www.withoutabox.com/

* It’s worth pointing out that some Film Festivals – like Austin, Nashville, etc – have screenwriting comps within their festivals. Getting into the finals of these often includes free passes for the festival as well.

Finally, let’s end with a few tips – garnered both from my own experience and common sense:

1) Thoroughly research any competition you are thinking of entering. How long has it been established, who runs it? Are there any complaints online? If you have serious doubts… spend your money elsewhere.

2) Does it have a genre bias and does any bias fit with your script(s)? If so, use this to your advantage.

3) Does it offer different categories for scripts, e.g. Drama, Horror, Comedy? In general, the more categories the better. That means that your horror opus won’t be competing against indie dramedies. (Especially good if you get a reader whose favorite film is Juno!

4) Do all scripts have to have a certain theme? I found an Australian comp where all the films had to involve dogs!

5) What can you afford? Competition entries can mount up fast. Always spend wisely. Look for discounts via sites like FilmFreeway and MovieBytes. And take advance of early entry discounts, too.

6) Do you want your script tied up? Most competitions have “no option” entry requirements. If your script’s been optioned/sold, that disqualifies it from competition. Now, that’s no problem if you’ve just landed a $10K option. But what if someone wants to option it for free, or $1? Remember, too, that many competitions have very long entry windows. Your script could be ‘considered’ for months.

7) Read the rules carefully. Make sure you understand all the requirements, and any rights you’re potentially signing away. (For instance, winning the Disney Fellowship or entering the Amazon Studio competition requires certain compromises.)

8) This should go without saying, but make sure you send in the best version of your script possible. And I don’t just mean the strongest story. I mean proofread the script within an inch of it’s life. Why spoil your chances – and waste your money – with a poorly formatted script, strewn with typos and littered with grammatical errors?

9) Send a properly formatted script in PDF format. Word docs and other files are a strict no-no.

10) Don’t forget to take your name and address details off the script title sheet if the competition asks for it (Page does, for instance).

So what now? Get out there and research! Pick your competitions wisely. Polish your script until it shines. Then submit…. And let it go. It’s in the hands of the judges now….

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 4 - posted by AnthonyCawood

Let’s see… where were we?

In our last article, we looked at various corners of the web where you could list and promote your scripts. These were mostly “passive” sites – i.e.: you post the script or logline, then wait for someone to show interest.

This time around we’ll reverse that trend… examining places that showcase Producers and Directors that are on the hunt for scripts. You’ll actively choose and chase down leads – taking the initiative. That requires more work, of course. But isn’t your script worth it?

A few rules and pointers before we begin:

  1. Always read any Ad thoroughly and make sure your work fits the requirements. There’s NO point sending a short comedy script if the ad’s for a horror feature.
  2. Provide a succinct Bio of your experience and achievements. Keep it brief, to the point, and review its relevance for each ad/opportunity you apply for.
  3. Unless otherwise requested, send loglines first. Make sure they really sizzle – and never send more than three for the same opportunity.
  4. If it’s a paid site, you need to make sure it’s going to provide you sufficient value for your money. Many have testimony pages from previous users and/or trial periods.
  5. Producers/Directors who are looking for scripts post their Ads all over the place. So you may find duplications – seeing the same ad on Mandy, then SSU or ISA.

I’ve tried many of these resources, and keep an eye on most regularly. But – in the spirit of full disclosure – I haven’t personally had success with them. OTHO: I’ve had many read requests, made a ton of good contacts, but not actually placed a script with them. Yet.

Mandywww.mandy.com

A site full of TV and Film production jobs. You can filter and tailor your searches as needed. It has RSS feeds too (more on that later.) Applying is done through the site itself, so you’ll need to register. But it’s free.

Stage 32www.stage32.com/find-jobs

I’ve mentioned this excellent resource before; a great community covering every aspect of filmmaking. They have job postings, too. All sorts of film and TV opportunities so use the filter liberally. Application is via the site itself. It’ll be easier if you’ve got your loglines and scripts already posted on the site. And – like Mandy – it’s free.

International Screenwriters’ Association – http://www.networkisa.org/writing-gigs.php

Another site I’ve touched on before. Like Stage 32, it has a specific jobs section where opportunities are listed. But these are exclusively writing ones. You’ll notice some of the Ads are greyed out. Those are the new ones, which require a subscription. BUT here’s a handy tip. The Ads become available to all after a few days. So unless you’re the early bird type, there’s no need to subscribe. Subscription to ISA is $10 a month, and covers a number of other services: access to a writer’s database, class and contest discounts. And earlier access listed jobs.

Shooting People – https://shootingpeople.org/production/work

A site dedicated to connect independent film makers (in the UK) and facilitating the creation of new films. It’s subscription only and is approximately £8 a month. The Ads on here seem to be exclusive to SP (more on that later) and are applied for within the site. I’ve subscribed to these for the last several months. I just wish there were more ads specific to screenwriting.

Screenwriting Staffing (aka SSU)http://www.screenwritingstaffing.com/home.html

This one’s a little different. It has two distinct services when it comes to screenwriting leads, as well as a whole host of info and services on their website.

  • Paid Leads – sent as an email approximately 5 times a week with 2-3 leads per email. With these, the Producer/Director has a budget to pay for the script. It’s all a part of their Premium service, which costs around $15 a month or $99 for an annual membership – though they often have seasonal discounts.

In addition to the Paid Leads emails, SSU Monthly Premium Membership allows writers to post loglines on the site. Their Annual Premium Membership gets you logline assistance, screenplay coverage, and PR/Marketing assistance.

Craigslist – http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites

The world’s largest free ads site. If you have something you want to buy, sell, rent, shill or give away, Craigslist’s the go-to place. A weird mess of everything – including ads for scripts and writers. CL isn’t the easiest place to navigate, so I’ve outlined the basics for you. Further down, I’ll explain how to make life a whole lot easier…

  • Click on the link above. Scroll down to the list of Cities (CL sites are classified geographically).
  • For the purpose of this example, scroll down to “California” and click on “Los Angeles”. (Places like New York and London are logical options, too.)
  • Below, you’ll find a page full of different categories of ads. Click on Writing/Editing in the Jobs section or Writing in the Gigs
  • That will give you a list of all the ads in that section. There are literally hundreds, only a few of which are screenwriting, so…
  • Use the search box – found on the top left of the page – to narrow the list down. I personally use ‘script’, ‘screenplay’ and ‘screenwriter’ as my search terms.

Voila, there you go! Of course, you could use this method on every city that Craigslist exists for. But with hundreds of sites, it would take ages to do it regularly. Wouldn’t it be nifty if there were a way to automate it? (Of course it would… but more on that later!)

* A quick word of warning to STS gentle readers: there have been concerns raised over Craigslist and sending scripts out to strangers posting there. I suggest you limit your responses to well written and professional looking ads. Send loglines only first, and make sure you’re comfortable with the original poster before going further and emailing your work.

Reddit, Produce My Script – http://www.reddit.com/r/producemyscript

Mentioned in our last article, this sub reddit allows you to post your scripts. But it also has Producers/Directors posting requests too.

Inktip – http://www.inktip.com/sa_preferred_newsletter.php

Inktip’s another site that works both ways. Not only can you post your script, but they have a weekly newsletter with leads. The service costs $60 for 4 months (half if you have a Feature script posted on the site, too.) There’s also a free newsletter that includes a couple of leads – different from the ones on the paid mailing, so make sure you subscribe to the free version, even if you pay. Since this portion of Inktip is geared towards Features, I’ve not personally used the service yet.

Indietalk – http://www.indietalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=46

A great forum with loads of resources. The Jobs section isn’t very active, but worth an occasional check anyway.

Screenwriting Goldmine – http://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com/forum/forums/scripts-wanted.29/

Another site with a great forum and tons of useful info. It’s got a jobs section that’s a bit quiet, but worth a look.

Ideas tap – http://www.ideastap.com/opportunities/jobs

I’ve only recently discovered this UK centric site. It allows you to search for jobs in the entertainment/creative industries, including writing. It’s free (always a good thing!) and looks like a decent all around resource.

Filmandtvpro – http://www.filmandtvpro.com/

Another resource for finding jobs in film and TV. The site has separate pages for UK, Canada, USA etc. Access to unpaid job ads is free, paid job ads are based on a monthly fee of $15/£15. I’ve not tried this one as yet, and can’t provide additional comment.

Production Base – http://www.productionbase.co.uk/film-tv-jobs

Similar to Filmandtvpro but UK exclusive. It’s a paid subscription with three levels of cost, starting at £8. I’ve not used this one either, so I’m not sure how effective it is.

Earlier in this article, I mentioned how it’d be great to automate some of the querying process. (Searching can sap a lot out of you, and take away from writing time!) Sure enough, there are some tricks that tech savvy writers can use. I’d love to be able to take credit for the tip below, but I discovered how to do it via Ashley Scott Meyers and his excellent site Selling Your Screenplay (.com.) Follow the link below. It’ll take you to a video of Ashley demonstrating how to use a feed reader and add RSS fees to automate your Craigslist searches.

http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/videos/how-to-find-producers-who-are-looking-for-screenplays-and-how-to-quickly-send-out-screenplay-query-letters/

The tool I use is Feedreader (www.feedreader.com). I’ve included Mandy searches on mine as well. (You can add anything you like that has an RSS feed.)

More on Ashley’s site and podcast in future articles.

Hope all of this has been of help. If I’ve missed any resources, please reach out and let me know. I’ll include it in future articles!

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 3 - posted by AnthonyCawood

A writer’s work is never done. Let’s see, where were we? Oh – that’s right. Marketing you and – most importantly – your SCRIPTS.

You got yourself an online presence. TICK.

You’ve used some of the handy sites we mentioned last time to garner feedback, and improve upon perfection. TICK.

So – here you stand (or more likely sit): armed with a finished, polished script. But now who’s going to make it? And how will they learn of its existence?

Well, our third article is here to help you out – providing you, the writer, with a host of sites and services especially geared to get your script out there. To be seen – and hopefully filmed. After all, that’s what we’re writing them for!

Isn’t it?

A few tips before we dive in.

  • On Forums and Message Boards, make sure you follow their rules and post in the right place. Nothing’s more offensive than a writer who barges in, and doesn’t bother to get the “lay of the land.”
  • Keep posts short and sweet – and watch them for responses.
  • As part of the “getting to know you process”, mention any achievements you may have. EG: My script won XXX award was filmed by John Doe Director in 2014. You know, that sort of thing.
  • Post your logline, and make it zing. After all, it’s the first thing a reader will react to.
  • Link to your website or IMDB page etc. That gives people a chance to check out your work.
  • Please note: I personally specialize in shorts, so the resources listed may be biased that way. But I’ve mentioned sites that focus on Features, too.

*Speaking of “getting to know you”, I’ve included in these listings the number of short scripts I’ve managed to option/sell/get made from the various sites. Just so you can get a sense of how active and successful they could be for you.

So onto the resources. And what better place to start, than …

Simply Scripts (SS)http://www.simplyscripts.com/submit_your_script_new.html

Submit a logline and your script. When you do, it’ll appear in two places.

The Discussion Board – lots of screenwriters frequent SS. It’s here that they’ll take a look at your work, and offer you their thoughts. These are great free reads. Perfect to use for your next revision.

Unproduced Scripts – A round up of all scripts submitted in the previous week.

TC Note: Your script will also be findable via the sites’ search engine, various genre links and (potentially) through SS’s ‘Random Short Script of the Day’.

Simply Scripts, Shooting The Shorts (STS)http://www.simplyscripts.com/category/scripts-available-for-production/

I’ve separated this out from the main SS site/service since it represents a different service and opportunity. Submit your script for review here (a link that’s separate from the main Simplyscript’s submission page.) If selected, a full review will appear a few weeks (maybe a month) later. Built as a showcase, all reviews are positive – giving potential film makers a taste of what’s in store when they crack open that PDF. It’s so much better than a simple logline on the site! (Submit finished/final drafts at – SimplyScripts.com/STS)

So far STS has been responsible for at least 14 scripts getting optioned/made. And that’s just the ones they know for sure!

Between SS and STS I’ve had 3 scripts sold/optioned so far.

Inktip http://www.inktip.com/

Inktip is primarily for indie, lowish budget Features. From what I’ve heard it’s got a pretty decent track record of connecting screenwriters with producers and getting things made. They also provide a host of other services including script tracking, an online magazine, a competition portal and a whole lot more. Some things are paid for, others free.

To date, I’ve gotten five shorts sold/optioned through Inktips. Submit your short for free via http://www.inktip.com/sa_short_script_listing.php

Blacklisthttp://www.blcklst.com/

A site definitely geared for the Feature screenwriter. My experience of it is non-existent, but some writers have had success. Blacklist takes the approach of evaluating and scoring scripts by at least two of their readers (the site’s reader evaluations are paid for by the individual writer. Any resulting industry reviews are free.) This allows prospective film makers to get an opinion of a script in advance – though some writers have taken issue with evaluations and scores.

Reddit, Produce my scripthttp://www.reddit.com/r/producemyscript

There’s a forum for everything you could ever think of on Reddit, and that includes Screenwriting. The ‘Produce my Script’ forum has been set up to connect writers with filmmakers. The filmmaking side tends to be students and gifted amateurs. But give it a try. You never know where the next Tarantino will emerge from. I’ve had three successes here thus far.

WinningScriptshttp://www.moviebytes.com/ws/

Sister site to MovieBytes (Great competition portal). WinningScripts offers writers a great opportunity to get their scripts listed and seen by industry professionals. One can list an unlimited number of scripts on the site for a modest annual fee (currently $29.95). Included in that is a logline, synopsis and script excerpt. Interested film makers can contact you to request full scripts. There’s also a Top 10 section based on scripts that have won or placed in competitions. I’ve not had a script success from here yet, but I remain optimistic.

Stage 32http://www.stage32.com/

A great online community for all aspects of film making. Once you’ve joined, you can upload loglines. People can check them out and contact you if interested. I’ve had two shorts optioned by other Stage 32 members to date.

International Screenwriter’s Association (ISA)http://www.networkisa.org/

Upload your script’s logline and other details, which are visible via the site’s database. The site also has a ‘Jobs’ section – more on that in the next article. I haven’t had any success with this site as yet, but I have had a few read requests.

Script Boutiquehttp://www.scriptboutique.co.uk/

A relative newcomer from the UK. It’s similar to Inktip in that as you can list your logline and synopsis for viewing. Script Boutique is free for screenwriters from all round the world. No successes so far, but it’s a new site which will probably grow over time.

There are also some other sites/forums that I regularly post on. No luck with these so far… but then again, you never know! 😉

Screenwriter’s Market http://bproducersseekingscreenplays.runboard.com/f2

Indietalkhttp://www.indietalk.com/forum.php

Student Filmshttp://www.studentfilms.com/

Done Deal Prohttp://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/index.php

Screenwriting Goldminehttp://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com/forum/

Film Maker Forumhttp://www.filmmakerforum.org/script-marketplace/

Happy writing to the STS community. And until next article – get those damned scripts out there!!

About Anthony: Anthony Cawood is a new(ish) screenwriter from the UK with two produced short films, two in post production and another seven sold/optioned. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category), and two other scripts have recently placed 2nd and 3rd in the FilmQuest Screenwriting Competition and Reel Writers Screenwriting Competition respectively. Links to his films and details of all his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, September 26, 2014

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) – Part 2 - posted by AnthonyCawood

Part Two – Getting Feedback

At the beginning of this series, we discussed writer promotion basics; how to establish you (and your work) as an active on-line commodity. Assuming you’ve been a busy marketing beaver, you’ve now got your new website all set up and ready to go. And you’re all over Facebook and Twitter like ants at the proverbial picnic table…

So what’s next on your journey towards screenwriting world domination?

Well, you could use some of the great resources out there to get coverage (aka, feedback, notes etc) of your cinematic baby. Rewriting and polishing it until it shines, for that day when you get that oh so precious email: “send us a copy of your script…”

As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So you want that script to be perfect.

Don’t you?

Okay, so you’re not going to get professional coverage without paying for it. (Though when you’re ready, don’t forget to take a look at STS’s very own talented and detailed script consultant, Danny Manus, of NoBullscript Consulting!

But there are some great places to get your screenplays read without shelling out your limited dough, complete with feedback and notes.

Below you’ll find a list of sites where gifted amateur screenwriters – and the occasional pro – congregate and provide useful recommendations.

A few words of caution before we dive in: it’s worth pointing out that you’re putting your work (your baby!) online for others to see and comment on.

1) Make sure it’s copyrighted – either through the Library of Congress or at least WGA. And no, not everyone’s out to steal your script or idea. But there are always some bad apples lurking around. Somewhere.

2) Bear in mind: on the net, free expression reigns supreme. Barring any board limits and moderations, people can and will voice their opinions as they see fit. Feedback is usually respectful, but inevitably some trolling and flaming occurs. Following are a few helpful ideas to keep it to a minimum:

3)   Check your grammar and spellen. (Um, “spelling”) And then check it again! Readers quickly get distracted with error strewn scripts… and often leave choice comments before they move onto other things. Besides, if you can’t be bothered to run an easy spell check and read through the pages, why in the world would you expect a stranger to do so. For free?!? (An extra tip, if grammar isn’t your thing, there’s some online help… check out Ginger for example.)

4)   Make sure the screenplay’s formatted correctly, using screenwriting software to ensure the basics are right. Final Draft is the standard for pros, but a bit pricey. For the cash strapped, CeltX is free, as is the web version of WritersDuet. Making sure your formatting’s up to snuff removes another reader distraction.

5)   Save or upload your docs as PDFs. People don’t like seeing screenplays written in Word. It screams amateur.

6)   The vast majority of these sites work on – and appreciate – reciprocity. So if you ask for a read, make darned well sure you give thoughtful ones in return.

7)   Consider all comments and feedback. No script is so perfect that it can’t be improved on. That said, don’t forget it’s your script. So use the recommendations to improve and polish your work. Not change it into something else.

8)   Don’t limit yourself to asking for script feedback. These sites are the online homes of tons of helpful fellow writers. Reach out to them with other questions as well. How to get through a tricky piece of writing, logline reviews, etc. You name it. People will have thought about it, and will be willing to share.

Now for the online resources themselves:

Simply Scripts – http://www.simplyscripts.com/

Kind of an obvious choice, given you’re reading this off the homepage. But it’s a fact that bears repeating: the SimplyScripts discussion board is populated by a bunch of talented writers, most of whom are happy to help fellow scribes out. The site has two primary sections for getting script exposure: 1) A general discussion board for unproduced works – divided by features/shorts and genres, 2) The script Showcase “Shootin’ the Shorts” (STS), where selected short scripts (and one feature a month) get fantastic exposure through in-depth reviews. Please note: STS is for shorts ready to shoot, not first draft works in progress!

Reddit – http://www.reddit.com/r/ReadMyScript/

Reddit has a few different areas (fondly known as sub-reddits) for writing, and two or three that focus on screenwriting in particular. I’ve found that the link provided above is the most suitable one for your needs. The feedback is usually decent. Not as good or in depth as SS – and there’s the occasional troll or flame war. But you’re on-line. You should be used to that!

IndieTalkhttp://www.indietalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=43

A movie making Forum with a relatively healthy screenwriting section. If you ask for script feedback, you’ll generally get 5-10 responses. Not to the same depth as SS, but pretty decent all the same.

AbsoluteWrite – http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=12

A broader forum that contains a wealth of info on a number of writing specialties (including Screenwriting, of course.) It’s worth a look – but less detailed than some of the other options here.

The Black Board – http://theblackboard.blcklst.com/forums/forum/screenwriting/

This is the Forum site for the Blacklist. Yes, the Blacklist. As such, it’s pretty active with five screenwriting boards. But it’s more business related – less on the “how-to” of the craft, and more on the “getting things made” end of things.

Stage 32 – http://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting

A great resource for connecting people involved in film making, in all the various disciplines. Acting. Directing. Cinematography. Producing. And, yes, Screenwriting. It’s a little like Facebook or LinkedIn, but specifically for film makers. Each discipline has it’s own “Lounge” for discussion and online interaction. There, you’ll find a variety of exchanges: requests for feedback on scripts, loglines and more. As is true everywhere, there’s a ton of opinions on S32… so please remember Rule #5. It’s your script. Take constructive criticism and value it. But remain true to your vision.

Screenwritinggoldmine Forumhttp://www.screenwritinggoldmine.com/forum/forums/screenwriting.14/

There are extensive sections on screenwriting in this active site. Definitely worth looking at for advice and reads.

MoviePoet – http://www.moviepoet.com

This one shares several members with SS – and has generated some serious talent. Scripts are limited to five pages or less. They’ve got a great monthly competition, where everyone gets to vote and comment on your script. The only downside: that you don’t see anything until the results are announced, then you get all the feedback at once. More on Movie Poet in the Competitions article.

Zoetrope – http://www.zoetrope.com

Yep, Copolla’s site! You need to join officially. But then you can post scripts and get them read. And you do need to read scripts in return. This is one site that I’ve limited experience with. More notes on it at a later date…

Screenwriter’s Utopia – http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/

Has a Script Swapping Forum for people to exchange scripts, get notes etc. The forum doesn’t seem very active, but the site has other resources worth checking out, too.

Established and respected resource for all things film, including an active screenwriting community, who are always happy and quick to help. Check out the other sub forums too, there’s a wealth of info here covering the gamut of film making subjects.

Well, that’s enough sites to start with (search on-line and you’re sure to find even more!) If you do find a gem, please let us know.

In the meantime, start digging around in these sites – they’re all essential tools to improve your script, your craft… and provide valuable networking opportunities too!

Next up: Where to publicize your scripts, once you’re good and ready…

About Anthony: Anthony Cawood is a new(ish) screenwriter from the UK with two produced short films, two in post production and another seven sold/optioned. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category), and two other scripts have recently placed 2nd and 3rd in the FilmQuest Screenwriting Competition and Reel Writers Screenwriting Competition respectively. Links to his films and details of all his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You’ve Finished the Damned Script – Now What? (Anthony Cawood Primers for a Networked World) - posted by AnthonyCawood

So – you’ve finally done it; you’ve completed your first short script. Congratulations! Great feeling, isn’t it?

Now what? Well re-write, re-write and re-write…. Until the final version really shines.

But once you’ve gotten to that blessed point, how the heck do you get it filmed?

Now what? That was the question that confronted me in August 2013, when I finished my first short, Prototype. (A dark serial killer script… available again after a lapsed option. Hint, hint, hint…)

Now what? Over the last twelve months, I’ve wrestled with that question every day, on some level or another. And I’ve discovered there’s no one answer, or quick unravel of this Gordian knot. Believe me on this. I’ve looked and tried.

What I have discovered in my research is a wealth of information scattered around the net: resources, writing communities willing to help – and a bunch of places to connect with potential filmmakers. (Including STS: Shootin’ the Shorts, of course!)

In the interest of paying it forward, I’ll be using this series of articles to share what I’ve personally learned, including topics such as:

  1. Marketing yourself
  2. Where to list and publicize your work
  3. Where to share works in progress, and learn more about your craft
  4. Where to find Directors/Producers looking for scripts and new writers
  5. Competitions
  6. General Resources for the new (and not-so-new writer)

A quick editorial note: I write shorts, so that’s where my articles focus. But many of the resources I’ll be mentioning can be used for Features and TV, too.

But first things first. Forget for a moment about the script. You have to be ready to market you.

Marketing Yourself

Let’s be honest. To some, “Marketing” is a dirty word. But it’s best seen as a great opportunity – a chance to showcase your writing. With the right approach and attitude, you can use the tools of marketing to share:

  • News on your newest scripts and their availability
  • Your growing success when things get produced, wins in competitions, etc.
  • Your thoughts and ramblings on writing and film making
  • Your own tips and info on how to get those darned scripts made

In other words, you have to “get yourself out there.” It’s a horrible, over-used expression – but important if you want to get your scripts actually filmed. And get them made regularly.

I was lucky. For me, marketing came naturally. You see, I work in marketing (please don’t hate me or throw things!) But for others, it might not be as easy. So here’s a quick guide to some of the tools you can use to “enhance your profile”:

Websites

A website’s essential. It provides you with somewhere to refer potential film makers to – a place they can look beyond the pat logline, and find details of what you have available. It’s a place to compile and showcase scripts that you’ve had filmed, and show that you take writing seriously. In other words, it’s the hub of you.

Mine, incidentally, is www.anthonycawood.co.uk. When you step into the world of web design, btw, you should seriously consider getting your own domain. (That’s the bit after www.)

Mine you, building your own site can be daunting. Chances are, you’re not an IT programmer! But, it can be easier than you think. There are tons of services out there that take IT out of the process… providing templates, drag and drop functionality, etc.

But what about content? That can vary according to your style. Here are just a few examples of writer websites I personally know about from the Simplyscripts and Moviepoet community:

Rustom Irani: www.planetrusty.com

Marnie Mitchell Lister: http://brainfluffs.com/

Breanne Matson: www.breannemattson.com

Mark Lyons (Rc1007): Facebook page for The Ephesian – https://www.facebook.com/TheEphesian

Rendevous: http://rendevous.yolasite.com/

Alex Sarris: http://www.alexsarris.com/

Dena McKinnon: http://www.denamckinnon.com/

Dustin Bowcott: www.dustinbowcott.com

Quite a diverse bunch! But as you look them over, you’ll see some reoccurring themes and topics, such as:

  • Scripts with loglines and additional script details
  • News of their latest scripts and any developments in various projects
  • Details of produced scripts (with links to videos)
  • Contact details (email, phone, etc.)

And websites have added benefits: they make you more visible in Google and other search engines, and are also a convenient place to store your scripts (in case of that future devasting hard-drive blow-out.) I have a hidden page on mine that holds PDFs of all my scripts. That way, if I get a script request when I’m away from home, I can just send people the relevant link. You can of course use Dropbox, Google Docs and similar services for the same purpose. Or email yourself updates of scripts just in case.

And then there’s the fringe benefits. I’ve had numerous occasions where a potential film maker has asked to see Script A, checked out my website and saw a logline that they liked… then asked to see Scripts D and F too!

Facebook

Like most people out there, I already had a Facebook (FB) page for personal reasons. But it can be used for industry purposes as well. Many film makers create specific pages/sites for their film projects. They serve the same sort of purpose as a dedicated website, but tend to be more project specific. And also are slightly easier to set up and share. FB pages are terrific for news, networking with people who share your interests and creating communities for your work. And when it comes to connecting – don’t forget LinkedIn as well. Because knowing people is the name of this game!

Twitter

When it comes to internet tools, Twitter’s more of a two way street. Not only can you share your news, views and general rants – but you can also get feedback from fellow writers, producers and directors. As with Facebook, it’s a great way to keep people posted on your writing developments… Just make sure you don’t end up using it as a writing diversion! I’m @anthonycawood11, by the way….

Other Stuff

Admitted, Facebook and Twitter are my two main marketing weapons of choice. But don’t forget to explore other noteworthy options:

  • Dedicated Blogs. Service providers include Tumblr, WordPress and others…
  • Instagram – great for sharing stills from films made from your scripts.
  • Vine – good for posting short clips
  • Youtube/Vimeo – also great for getting your videos seen by the masses
  • Pinterest – I’m sure there’s something useful here. But I don’t quite have a handle on this one. Yet.

One Last Tip

Don’t forget synergy! (You’re a writer – you know what that means…) Combining the power of these tools are a great strategy for marketing. Forget any hesitation, and mention them at every opportunity. For instance, Facebook and Twitter are both prominent on my website. And my email footer has my web address listed.

I know and you know that you’re a great screenwriter. But make sure everyone else finds out, too! 🙂

About Anthony: Anthony Cawood is a new(ish) screenwriter from the UK with two produced short films, two in post production and another seven sold/optioned. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category), and two other scripts have recently placed 2nd and 3rd in the FilmQuest Screenwriting Competition and Reel Writers Screenwriting Competition respectively. Links to his films and details of all his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Damned Yankee – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by Gary Rowlands

DAMNED YANKEE

George just arrived in Songless.  And he’s got a tune to wake the dead…

Any scriptwriter worth their salt knows that the last ten years or so has seen a massive resurgence in the undead and all things zombie. Huge blockbusters like the recent World War Z have taken the box office by storm proving that there is still plenty of life in the ravenous flesh-eaters.

A point given further credence when considering the phenomenal success of TV’s The Walking Dead. The show is an international smash with millions of viewers tuning in each week to see Rick and his cohorts trying to survive a terrifying zombie outbreak where the only thing on the menu is them.

Given the rising popularity of these brain-hungry creatures it’s hardly surprising that there are probably as many scripts floating around as there are dead bodies in a zombie apocalypse.

Invariably, the inflicted end up as cannibalistic corpses due to a mysterious virus or lab experiment gone wrong.

So it’s particularly refreshing to see talented writer Cindy L. Keller breathe new life into the undead with her own unique take on the genre with her script Damned Yankee.

Our story begins when New Yorker, George Davidson’s rental car breaks down on the outskirts of Songless, a deathly quiet town in the Deep South. We think little of it until we discover that George is a country singer en route to Nashville – talk about irony!

George and his guitar take shelter from the sweltering heat under a tree where he encounters a mysterious dancing girl who likes to dance to the sound of silence! George attempts to make conversation, but the terrified girl runs off into the woods.

Fortunately, help soon arrives by way of wiry old hillbilly Phil Basher. Phil is the town’s chief peacemaker who not only has a strong dislike for “Yankees” like George, he also takes his job seriously… very seriously! So much so, that he refuses to allow George to play a single note on his beloved guitar and growls “You’ll raise the dead with that racket!”

They head off into town together and tensions soon rise between them. Phil eventually confides in George that the town is cursed, hence the reason why all types of music including singing are strictly prohibited. A statement borne out by the grizzly sight of hundreds of dead birds culled to prevent them from making so much as a peep.

But it’s too late! Modern technology intervenes and thanks to George’s ringtone all hell is about to break loose! Worse still, Phil has a much darker side to him as George is about to discover to his dismay.

Will George survive Phil and the undead hordes or are he and his musical career truly dead and buried?

About the writer: When asked where her inspiration comes from, Cindy will tell you that she was brought up in a small town. A town whose movie theater played Double Features on Saturday afternoons. Many of those being Horror double features. She loves the old horror classics. Movies like Dracula, Creature, The Mummy, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Horror without all the blood and guts, and she strives to incorporate that notion within her own writing.

Cindy is an award-winning screenwriter. She’s been a finalist at Page, finalist at Gimme Credit, Sixth place winner at American Gem, and the winner of Hellfire’s Short Horror Contest.

She has had two shorts produced, and has more shorts and features available for production. Cindy can be reached at skyburg “AT” hotmail

Pages: 21

Budget: low to moderate. A handful of characters (mostly non-speaking). A couple of vehicles. A few locations: Woods/House/Service Station/Cemetery and that’s pretty much it!

About the reviewer: Gary “Rolo” Rowlands cut his teeth writing sketch comedy for the hugely popular Spitting Image – a show broadcast on national television in the UK. He has since gone on to write several high-concept features and can be contacted at gazrow at Hotmail dot com.

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

 FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

 PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

 OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

 

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