Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How can I Get a Producer to Read my Screenplay?

Completing a screenplay is only the beginning of a bumpy journey for the screenwriter. The next step is submitting the script to agents, but other avenues can be explored, including screenwriting competitions, professional readings, screenwriting consultancies and workshops, all presenting possible breakthroughs for a good script to get noticed.

Opportunities for Screenwriters to get Produced

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It can be hard to find a film agent or production company to read a screenplay from an unknown writer, and this ma spur the writer to take desperate measures. This warrants a word of caution to always think twice before parting with too much money for the privilege of getting a screenplay read. Avoid screenwriting organisations that make big promises, or services that have not been tried and tested. I always conduct a Google search to establish if there have been issues with a particular company that may not be revealed within its own site.

Opportunity for Screenwriting Submissions

A good place to start is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, which gives good advice on sending a screenplay, what to avoid and a list of agents to contact. Conducting a little research into the submission guidelines and the genre of the film agent is always a good idea.

Establish a contact name and expect a long wait. Some literary publishers also accept submissions from screenwriters. The submission package must be immaculate and well presented to reduce the chances of an out-and-out slush pile rejection. A link on how to submit a screenplay can be found at the foot of this article.

Useful Information for Screenwriters

The slog of breaking into the screenwriting market can nurture disillusionment in the writer, as most film agents are reluctant to read anything unless by an established screenwriter. The following alternative contacts are worth trying, the links of which can be found at the foot of this article.

Submitting Scripts to BBCWritersroom

BBCWritersroom is a great first contact for the newbie screenwriter, as the first ten pages are guaranteed to be read. A three month wait is likely from the receipt of an acknowledgement card. A tiered system is in place where a script is passed on to an ever higher contact if it passes on certain merits. Ultimately, the Beeb are looking for originality rather than a perfectly formatted script. A link to a free screenwriting formatting tool can also be found on their site, as well as current news for scriptwriting opportunities.

EuroScript Consultancy

A reasonably-priced screenwriting consultancy that also aids development of scripts for TV and film. This independent UK based screenwriting contact consists of experienced producers, screenwriters and tutors. Screenwriting workshops are also on offer.

Grants for Filmmakers

The writer may apply for screenwriting funding via bursaries for film development, which can be sought from the following contacts:
  • Arts Council England Regional Offices offer grants for scriptwriters within areas of the UK.
  • Writers’ Projects offers grants of a few thousand pounds to Scottish writers.
  • The Scottish Arts Council finds bursaries for Scottish writers who have a passion for writing plays, as well as other literary works.
Opportunities for Young Scriptwriters

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The following organisations offer student drama writers to break into TV or film writing.

The BBCWritersroom Future Talent Award for Writers: Partnered with MediaCityUK, an opportunity for fledgling drama writers to submit a drama or comedy script to be professionally read with the chance of production.

International Student Playwright Competition (ISPC): A long-running annual competition for students to submit their play to be read by notable scriptwriters, including Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a prolific playwright, with the chance of having the script professionally read at notable venues and winning a large cash prize.

TC Brian Way Award: Like the ISPC, has been running for many years. The competition offers young talented scriptwriters to be discovered, and the chance to win a large cash prize. The criteria are passion, originality and raising the profile of the issues of young people.

BBC Drama Writers Academy

Writing for TV in the form of a soap episode or a sitcom is often overlooked in preference for that elusive break into writing a feature film, but writing for TV is a lucrative industry and has a bigger demand for new talent. The writer may well do wise to look out for opportunities in writing for TV.

Every year, the BBC provides opportunities for a fledgling writer to write an episode for Doctors, Casualty, Hollyoaks or Eastenders via their Writer Academy event. This could provide possible open doors for the writer if talent is present.

Further Advice for Screenwriters

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