Everyone wants to write the next great American screenplay, but only a few really have the talent. With the advent of screenwriting software, more and more people think all they need is a cool script development program like Dramatica and Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000 to handle the formatting and they can be the next “flavor of the month.” These software programs are tools to make the process of developing an idea and putting it down on paper easier, they just can’t come up with a great, salable idea for you. If someone could develop software to do that, they’d be the richest person in the world.
Q: I’ve sent my script to two producers who “passed” on it. One of them gave me some suggestions on how to rewrite it and the other one didn’t give me any comments. Should I rewrite the script based on those comments or keep sending it out until someone buys it? It won an award in a contest so I think it must be good.
A: It all depends on the contest. Producers “pass” on scripts for a variety of reasons. Most of the time it’s because the script is not nearly as interesting as the pitch in the query letter or the synopsis. Writers can have great initial ideas and the script just falls apart by page 60. You might want to consider having a script consultant look at the script first before you submit it to anyone else. If you cannot recognize weaknesses in the script, you need a trained professional to do it for you.
Q: I am a graphic artist in addition to being a screenwriter and I wanted to include drawings on my script cover and on specific pages of my script. I was told that agents and producers don’t like it. Will it hurt my chances?
A: Yes. Do not draw anything on your script or in your script. Your script covers should be blank and your script pages should have nothing but black text in 12 pt. Courier font on them.
Q: I don’t own a typewriter or a computer printer. If I have great penmanship, can’t I just handwrite the script?
A: Absolutely not. Agents and producers will not read anything that is not typed. Since you obviously have a computer, go down to Kinko’s with your disk and print your pages out. You have to make an investment in your career as a writer, which means buying the tools you need to get the job done. Agents and producers are professionals and take their jobs seriously and writers should do the same.
Q: I think the so-called standard format is boring. Why can’t I use a more exciting font and print my script on colored paper?
A: You can break the rules once you make it. Until then, follow the rules to the letter otherwise you will face rejection every time.
Q: My script is 140 pages long and I’ve done everything I can to make it shorter (even cheating the margins) does it matter if my script is a little long?
A: Yes. The first thing agents and producers do is look at the last page of the script. If it is over 110 pages, they usually wince, but if it is over 120, they don’t bother reading it at all.