The Dark Side of Screenwriting

For the past few days I’ve been working on my final assignment for the first trimester, which is a proposal for my final project (thesis): a feature length film I’ll write this summer. There are a few components of this assignment:

  • The Pitch: Synopsis and premise of the film. Which audience do you want to write the film for? What is interesting and unique about your film?
  • Writer Statement: Why do you want to write this film? Why couldn’t anyone else write it as well as you can?
  • Timeline: How long will it take you to get the film written? How long do you need to polish it before you’re willing to send it out to production companies? These are excellent things to write out, especially to hold yourself accountable so you don’t end up procrastinating the day of your finished script.

Those things are pleasant to think about. Then came the things that are…less pleasant.

  • Market Comparison: What other films have been made that are similar to your film? How much did they make? How big were their budgets?
  • Marketing Plan: Where exactly are you going to send your screenplay when it’s done? Be realistic. (I had dreams about walking into Warner Bros. and handing them a screenplay [okay, not really. Do you know how successful Warner Bros. is? They own Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings].)
  • Legal Considerations: How much money are you willing to take for your script? How long are you willing to wait to have it made? How many of your rights are you willing to give up (because the answer will be pretty much all of them).

In my consideration of all these things, I found this extremely helpful blog post about screenplay optioning.

Lesson learned: writing movies isn’t glamourous. It’s not exactly Dirty Jobs material, but it’s pretty close. There is a lot more to consider about writing your screenplay than this really great fandom-ignited idea you have…

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