O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Screenwriting for Profit

Book Description

This book teaches readers how global trends define the marketplace for saleable screenplays in key international territories as well as the domestic market. Veteran writer, producer, and director Andrew Stevens gives you the insider edge you need to write for the global marketplace, sharing his decades of experience producing and financing everything from micro-budget independent films to major studio releases. In leveraging Stevens’ comprehensive experience, you will learn how to determine specific subject matter, genre, and story elements to make the most of international sales trends, and harness the power of these insider strategies to craft a screenplay that is poised to sell.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction
  6. Prologue
  7. 1 Critical Criteria Before Determining Your Subject Matter
    1. Understanding the Global Marketplace
    2. Shelf Life
    3. Studio Films
    4. Distribution Costs
    5. Independent Films
    6. Understanding Sales Agents
    7. Sales Agents’ Responsibility to Buyers
    8. How Films Are Bought and Sold
    9. Film Markets
    10. Film Festivals
    11. Term
    12. Rights
    13. Territory
    14. Buyers
    15. How Sales Are Documented
    16. Sales Agents’ Contracts
    17. Buyers’ Reps
    18. Producers’ Reps
    19. North America
    20. Market Value Is Critical for Screenwriters to Understand
    21. The Market-Savvy Screenwriter
    22. Other Ways of Gathering Trending Information
  8. 2 The Independent Film and Television Alliance and the American Film Market: Services and Opportunities That Benefit Screenwriters
    1. Legal Contracts
    2. Global Research and Tracking
    3. Advocacy Efforts
    4. The American Film Market Seminars and Conferences Financing
    5. Financing
    6. AFM—Pitch Me Your Script
    7. Benefits of Attending Film Markets
    8. A Writer’s Goal While Attending the AFM
    9. Get in Touch With the Marketplace
    10. How to Navigate the AFM
    11. The American Film Market and Connections for Screenwriters
  9. 3 The Cannes Film Market and Festival
    1. Juries
    2. Selection Classifications
    3. Events
    4. Where Film Sales Happen
    5. Pre-Sale Marketing
  10. 4 Writing for the Marketplace
    1. Trends + Analysis = Profit
    2. The Necessity of Developing Screenplays
    3. Key Territories and Associated Challenges
    4. Second Level of Sell
    5. Know Before You Write
    6. Understanding Territorial Desires and Why
    7. Genre Beats and Running Times
    8. An Example of Developing a Script Based on Market Desires
    9. A Catchy Title
    10. Working With the Department of Defense
    11. Development Recap
    12. The Creative Challenge
    13. Writer Wannabes vs. Career Professionals
    14. Anomalies
    15. Buyer and Sellers: Screenwriters Are Sellers
    16. The Creative Process in the Real World
    17. The Cognizant Writer
  11. 5 Building a Career—Everyone Starts Somewhere
    1. Study the Market and Ask Questions
    2. Pay Attention to What Is Selling
    3. Success Breeds Success
    4. Apply What You Learn
    5. Pre-Determined Profit
    6. The Market Often Dictates Story Structure
    7. Organic Integration and Running Time
    8. Importance of the Second Level of Sell in Multiple Genres
  12. 6 Historical Context of the Recent Evolution of Media Gives Writers Perspective
    1. Directors as Well as Writers Need Market Awareness
    2. The Trend Shifted and New Media Emerged
    3. The Historical Evolution of Audio-Visual Media
    4. Filmmaking and Emerging Media
    5. New Media and Distribution Platforms
    6. Marketing Challenges in New Media
    7. Attracting Distribution
    8. Star Name Recognition Helps
    9. Writers Should Be Aware of the Fiscal Realities of Distribution
    10. Visual Concepts
    11. Sales Campaigns
    12. Marketing via Digital Platforms
    13. Niche Marketing—Identifying the Target Audience for Your Story
    14. Building Awareness for Your Film
  13. 7 Screenplay Structure and Components
    1. Three-Act Structure
    2. Act Structure for Television Films
    3. The Syd Field Paradigm
    4. The Prologue
    5. Entrance and Exit of Major Characters
    6. Scenes
    7. Word of Mouth Scenes
    8. Memorable Lines
    9. Plant and Pay-Off
    10. Exposition
  14. 8 Inspiration, Sequels, Remakes, and Reboots
    1. Inspiration
    2. Draw From the World Around You
    3. Sequels
    4. Remakes
  15. 9 Character Development From an Actor’s Perspective
    1. Most Screenplays Lack Depth of Character
    2. Personalization
    3. Transference or Substitution and Sense Memories
    4. Synergy of Writers and Actors
    5. A Personalization Exercise for Writers
    6. An Example of an Actor’s Backstory
    7. An Actor’s Prep for a Television Pilot and Series
    8. An Example of an Actor’s Timeline
    9. Preserving the Writer’s Intent
    10. Some Actors With Power Have No Regard for a Writer’s Words
  16. 10 A Screenwriter’s Perspective
    1. The World Before Final Draft
    2. Two Sample Writer’s Character Breakdowns
    3. Examination of Character Breakdowns
    4. Archetypes
    5. The Four Basic Archetypes
    6. Weaknesses, Needs, and Super Objectives
    7. Physical Description (Physiology)
    8. Sociology
    9. Psychology
    10. Use What Works for You
  17. 11 A Director’s Perspective
    1. The Writer/Director
    2. Criteria and Process of a Film Director
    3. Writers Rewritten
    4. It All Starts With the Script
    5. Directors’ Preparation Techniques
    6. Suggested Criteria for Being a Successful Film Director
  18. 12 A Producer’s Perspective
    1. Assimilating How the Business Works
    2. Certain Writers for Certain Projects
    3. The Business Changes, but the Paradigm Remains the Same
    4. What a Producer Looks for in a Screenplay
    5. A Producer Isn’t a Producer Without a Script
    6. An Example of a Malleable Writer
  19. 13 Writing for Cost-Effective Budgets
    1. Night Exteriors
    2. Limit Locations and Company Moves
    3. Limit Speaking Roles
    4. Working With Minors
    5. Working With Animals
    6. Residuals
    7. An Example of When Theatrical Film Residuals Become Due for Various Media
    8. Reduce or Eliminate Distant Locations
    9. Reduce the Number of Shooting Days
    10. Rethink and Modify Costly Sequences
    11. Recap
  20. 14 Financing
    1. Equity Financing
    2. Self-Financing
    3. Bank Financing
    4. Completion Guarantors
    5. Limited Partnerships
    6. Pitching a Deal to Equity Investors Is Like Pitching a Script
    7. Social Media and Crowdfunding
    8. Grants
    9. Subsidies
    10. Subsidies: Too Good to Be True?
    11. Multiple Source Financing
  21. 15 Writing Is a Team Sport
    1. Content Is Dictated by the Coaches and Fans
    2. Literary Development
    3. Television Development
    4. Studio Development
    5. Independent Development
    6. Readers
    7. Post-Production Storytelling
    8. National Research Group
    9. Gathering Information From Demographic Groups
    10. Avoiding Major Competition
    11. Declining Audience Share
    12. The Tent Pole Danger Zone
    13. Calculating Audience Share
    14. Audiences Can Dictate Editorial Cuts of Films
    15. Current NRG Screening Challenges
    16. Altered Content
  22. 16 Studio Due Diligence: How the Big Boys Cater to the Little Boys
    1. Comic-Con
    2. Millennials
  23. 17 New Media—New Model—As Significant as the Majors
    1. Netflix
    2. Amazon Studios
    3. Amazon Prime
    4. Hulu and Hulu Plus
    5. YouTube
    6. YouTube Red
  24. 18 Non-Union vs. Union Writers’ Agreements
    1. Writing for Independent Companies
    2. Writers’ Agreements
    3. Written Agreements Are Essential
    4. Union and Non-Union Rates
    5. WGA Low-Budget Rate Tiers and Fees
    6. Rewrites on Spec Scripts
    7. Restrictions, Obligations, and Penalties to a Producer or Production Company
    8. Revision of the Screenplay
    9. Initial Release in a Non-Theatrical Market
    10. Reports
    11. Cost Report
    12. Right to Audit
    13. Minimum Terms
    14. P&W Contributions and Residuals
    15. Practical Contrast of Union vs. Non-Union
    16. Union Overview From an Independent Perspective
  25. 19 Writers’ Protections
    1. Ideas vs. Stories
    2. WGA Registration
    3. Copyrights
    4. The Library of Congress
    5. Steps to Registering a Copyright
    6. Underlying Source Material
    7. Chain of Title
    8. Example of Chain of Title
  26. 20 Non-Disclosure, Non-Circumvention, and Confidentiality Agreements
    1. Sample Non-Disclosure Agreement
    2. Non-Circumvention Agreements
    3. Sample Mutual Non-Circumvention, Confidentiality Agreement
  27. 21 Screenplay Submissions
    1. Query Letters
    2. Steps for Constructing a Query Letter
    3. Real Examples of Bad Query Letters
    4. Samples of Query Letters That Got My Attention
    5. What If I Don’t Get a Response From My Query Letter?
    6. Alternatives to Query Letters
    7. Submission Release
    8. Sample Submission Release Form
    9. A Real Life Illustration of Why Producers and Studios Protect Themselves From Litigation
  28. 22 The Pitch
    1. Personal Presentation
    2. Getting the Job: The 7 Keys
    3. Recap