Monday, September 7, 2009

Screenwriting - 5 Ways to Bring Your Script to Life Without Selling it to a Producer by Melody Jackson

One of the challenges of being a screenwriter is that fulfilling your goal is an all-or-nothing proposition. An actor can get small parts and work and see themselves on TV and in a movie, even if they never become a star. But as a screenwriter, your script either gets produced or it doesn't. You won't see a couple of scenes from your script in the movie theater - your only chance there is the whole thing or nothing.

With that said, here's the good news You have options. Even though there's no guarantee that you will make any money from doing these things, you actually CAN experience the creative satisfaction of seeing your work come to life. Having this experience will not only make you proud of yourself and inspire you, but will also help you develop your craft. Here are five ways to have your screenplay come to life without a producer buying it.

These will work for you whether you are in Los Angeles or you're in The Midwest or anywhere, you may just need to adapt the ideas a bit. And if you have already had some of your work produced in the past, you might adapt these ideas to help you shoot a trailer presentation of your movie to show to potential producers or investors.

Here are five ways to have your screenplay come to life without a producer buying it.

1. Take a film and video production course at a local film school or community college and shoot your own scenes.
As a screenwriter, you will benefit from understanding as much as possible about film production. Take a class to learn about production and to get yourself inspired about your writing. For your production project, use the scenes you've written.

2. Hold a table reading at your home, a small theatre, or at a community location, even invite an audience.
A "reading" is an event in which you actually cast actors to read your screenplay aloud so you can hear it come to life. You should also record it so you can review it later.

Holding a reading will help you see what works and what doesn't work as well as be very exciting to hear it acted out. You might also invite an audience so you can see what parts they have a noticeable reaction to or fall asleep on. If you've never done a table reading, I guarantee you will be surprised.

3. Find other area filmmakers and work together to shoot a demo/trailer of your script.
Because of the great accessibility of video equipment and editing software, more and more writers and producers are shooting presentations of their scripts. You could make a trailer to use to present your script to investors - although it must be very good production quality if you do that. It will also be very exciting to see even a few minutes of your story come to life.

No matter where you are in the U.S., it is very likely that someone near you is also interested in working in the film industry. You can start your own short film production company to start out. You can also check on Craig's List or post there that you're seeking other filmmakers to collaborate with. And sites like Meet Up try to connect you with other like-interested people.

4. Contact your state's film commission to find all the resources that you can about where other filmmakers are.
A great resource for connecting with professionals is your State Film Commission. Call to find out what resources they can offer you or tell you about. You can find out what productions are coming to your state and also potentially meet other filmmakers you could collaborate with.

5. Contact an acting school or acting class near you and see if you can provide scenes for them. Then go watch.
If you're feeling a bit lazy in the production arena and don't want to go to a lot of trouble, you could just contact a local acting school and tell them you have scenes you would like to provide for their classes. On-camera acting schools love to work with new material (of course, it should be pretty good). And if you go watch, you get a chance to hear your work come to life with next to no effort.

The main point of this article is that, along the way in your writing, you can and should enjoy some reward for your effort by seeing it come to life in some fashion. Although your long-term goal is to sell your script and see it on the screen in a cinema, don't discount the benefit of throwing yourself a little bone and seeing a few scenes come to life.

You might be surprised by how gratifying it is to see the characters you created suddenly alive in real people portraying them - even if only for a few scenes.

Melody Jackson, Ph.D., has critiqued over 2000 screenplays in depth and was rated a Top 5 Script Consultant in the country by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. Go to for more information on marketing to Hollywood. If you are ready to jump-start your career, increase your confidence, and have more fun pursuing Hollywood success, get "Plugged In" at Also get your FREE REPORT on "The Top 20 Literary Agents In Hollywood," along with the FREE REPORT "Endless Professional Screenwriting Work."


Chi said...

Although selling our screenplay to a producer is a good thing, i agree its not the be-all or end-all :) Whatever happened to the satisfaction of doing a great screenplay on its own merits? If this is done, then everything else is gravy!

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