Unproduced independent screenwriters are doing it tough the world over, consigning themselves and their work to a system of checks and balances dictating how scripts should and should not be written.
Assuming your script is free of formatting, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, pacing problems, structural issues and underdeveloped characters, etc., and you still don’t know what you could be doing wrong, this article is for you.
This time around the focus will be on addressing the three biggest existential barriers to entry that deny writers the opportunity to be seen and find success. Let’s get started.
1. There are no Fundamentally New Ideas
Your job as an aspiring screenwriter is not to reinvent the wheel with your first, second or even third screenplay. You can do that later once you’re established enough and have the connections.
Far too many writers expend too much energy trying to be original and clever, not realising that readers are only ever really looking for something they know others will be interested in.
Push all that to one side and spend your time crafting the best story you can in as an interesting a way as possible and finding a way to be okay with that.
2. The Invisible Hand of the Free Market
Indie screenwriters can be forgiven for writing what they want to and how they go about it, but it’s important to remember that production companies and studios talk in terms of money.
While you should not execute a by the numbers script and plug all of your ideas into a tired formula, you need to think critically about the practicality, feasibility and marketability of your script.
A genre like high sci-fi is already going to be more expensive than the average horror and while you should not have to write what is popular, understand that going against the trend will put your script at an immediate disadvantage within the context of what is selling.
That said, own your writing and make no apologies. Be smart about what you include and do your research when it comes to finding and approaching a suitable buyer for what you’ve got.
3. The View That Anyone Can be a Writer
Educational institutions are charged with ensuring all students become able to read and write and that no child is left behind, regardless of their background, situation or learning ability. This creates a mindset in people that writing is easy.
The physical act of it is, yes, but the actual art of writing is much less tangible. It is not enough to just pick up a pen or boot up the computer and start typing away. But people do and as a result, the film industry has become a bit of a numbers game.
With so many poorly written scripts clouding the waters, readers really do have their work cut out for them. There’s no way around this aside from networking and getting to know the people who can help you along—and if you can help them out also, so much the better.
Screenwriting is about more than putting one word after another and hopefully, this article will have pointed out a few of the things screenwriters often forget about when they sit down to work.
By having all of this in the back of your mind and tailoring your approach when preparing a one-page pitch, your script will have a better chance of finding its way to the surface of the pile.
From there, the doors should open for you.