Wednesday, February 23, 2005  

So You Wrote a Spec Script, Now What?

This is a question every amateur screenwriter must face. In all honesty, writing the script is the easy part. Getting legitimate producers and production companies to read your great American screenplay is difficult, but achievable. Let's step back from this idea for a brief moment. Turn our eyes away from contests right now. I hope to pass on a few of the lumps on my head that I've received while marketing one of my screenplays.

The first step is to get your work protected. Before you let anyone out there read your script, register it with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Twenty dollars protects your work for up to five years. Always protect your work.

I've taken a baseball bat to the subject before, but a really good place to start is peer to peer review sites. You can get, somewhat honest, criticism about your script from other amateurs like yourself. Always keep in mind that peer to peer means just that. Another amateur's criticism can only get you so far. Nonetheless, it can be helpful.

Triggerstreet.com, a site for peer reviews, is the easiest place to start. You simply sign up for an account, upload your script, place a log line listing and you're all ready. How the system works has changed over the past year or so. Thus, I am hesitant to go into details about it. Basically, you read other writer's scripts and review them. You earn credits. Those credits are used to have other people read your script.

Zoetrope.com is another great site for reviews. The system they have in place is different and requires a more detailed review than what is expected at Triggerstreet. Both sites are free.

Heliumfeedback.com is a little different than the previous two sites I've mentioned. At helium you can pay for people, known as mentors, to read your script. The fees vary from a couple of bucks to twenty or more. This is an option if you don't have the time to read other scripts and you want quick feedback. I'm not to keen on this. I'm an amateur. I haven't got the bucks to spend on the words. I'm to busy buying paper to write my own words.

Now, about getting those production companies and producers to read your script. Slow down. If you have only written one script, life gets even more difficult trying to get readers. That's why the peer to peer idea is great. You can get feedback that will help you polish your script and learn more about the craft. Peer reviews helped me. They can help you. Start with peer review sites while you learn more about submitting your script to producers. Submitting to them requires a solid query letter, a concise synopsis, filling out release forms… take your time. Patience is a virtue well rewarded.

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