How to Sell A Screenplay – Get Familiar With Your Market

Knowing how to sell a screenplay means knowing that this industry, by its very nature, is one in which everything is divided into style – certain filmmakers and production companies specialize in making certain types of movies, and it is your job to figure out which company is best suited for your material. If you’ve written a big budget war movie, don’t send it dialogue driven comedy producers. Even if the script is great, it would not fit into their artistic wheelhouse, which means that based on genre alone, they won’t take the project on.

It is important to remember that there are two basic models of film production in terms of studio structure, and knowing the difference between the two will help you to know how to sell your screenplay:

Small independent production companies, on the other hand, specialize in making exactly the kind of movies that the studios are unable to. They often produce smaller in scale type films (think Kevin Smith’s Clerks or Paranormal Activity as a prime example) and are often run by filmmakers themselves, who use them as a haven to develop their passion projects. If you have written a “character piece” or something with a lot of dialogue, this is where you need to be focusing your attention. Learning how to sell your screenplay, especially a dialogue heavy one, means learning more about these companies.

Large scale studios (MGM, Fox, Paramount) spend millions upon millions of dollars marketing each and every one of their films, so in order to make sure that the film turns a profit (remember, this is still a business), they have to make large, commercially viable films that appeal to a very broad audience – even if you’ve never read a comic book, you’ve probably seen at least one Marvel movie, right? That’s not an accident – they’re designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. As a result, a studio is not going to be interested in making a low budget (1-5 million dollar) movie, because it does not fit in with the system they already have in place. Knowing how to sell your screenplay means knowing whether your screenplay is right for a studio or not.

This is one of those moments where having good research skills are going to be of particular use to you as you learn more about how to sell your screenplay. As you watch some of your favorite movies, find out which production companies made them (this info is usually at the beginning, often with a title card that has an animal of some sort), and then attempt to research what the best way to contact that production company. Although it is not a free service, IMDBPro has an extensive database of both production companies, and contact information, that you can subscribe to.