SimonSays Entertainment, producers of Blue Caprice & Mother of George (both are currently in theatres or on Demand), Gun Hill Road & Night Catches Us (both on Netflix) accepts script submissions twice annually. As Director of Development, I review countless packages that are simply not production ready. So, a few tips:
1. If your screenplay has received no development in a respected national or international theatre lab, it is not ready to be shown to producers or stars because it is a developmental script. The one exception is a developmental producer whose job it is to take a project early in it’s development and get it production ready. Those kinds of producers are few and far between. When screenwriters submit a developmental script that they are pitching as production ready, it clues me into the fact that this person is green and doesn’t know where his/her work falls in the professional spectrum.
2. What is in your head, your vision must be on the page. If you’re asking me to take an untried director/writer under my wing and raise several million dollars for them to jump start their careers. The story you pitch me needs to be the story on the page: well-written and with impeccable structural integrity. Investors, Producers are looking to produce the movie you sold them in the script, not your new vision that you get somewhere along the way in post or some great idea during filming. Folks are paying for the story on the page and an entire marketing strategy has been created around the story on the page. Vision & final product must be exquisitely articulated on the page, so that the visuals just take us deeper emotionally.
3. Get serious street credentials. When I’m planning on having a $75,000 operation, I want my doctors to be phi beta kappa preferably from an Ivy League School (that’s not snobbery, that’s real, it’s my life on the line, right?). If I’m asking investors to hand over a quarter of a million dollars on an untried director or screenwriter, they’re going to want to know
- Did this person go to NYU film school?
- If not, who have they worked under that is known and powerful because I’m going to pick up the phone and call that director and get a reference before I write a $250,000 check that could become dust in the wind. In short, you need impressive credentials that can be backed up.
4. Development, Development, Development can happen in two ways:
-The first way means the script has been through Sundance, Tribeca All Access, IFP, Cannes, Berlin, SXSW or Toronto readings, workshops or labs. So industry taste makers have weighed in on your script, given you notes to improve it, thereby becoming your industry advocate. They are now invested in furthering your career because they’ve become a part of building it.
–The second way is to have a powerful director, producer, screenwriter (i.e. Soderberg, Sorkin) attach themselves to the project. More than likely, that person will have advised you to get a relatively expensive script doctor to give your script a once over. Script doctors are structural geniuses and can identify what’s working, what’s not, suggest fixes and give you a clear idea of where your script is and next steps. Or if you have a really smart script doctor and you’re both writer/director; it might be in your best interest to ask that script doctor to co-write the script with you or come on as a consulting writer. This can only add a higher profile to your game.
This is my two cents, take it or leave it. But as I constantly run into folks sharing their dreams with me, I’d like to be able to help those dreams happen, but you have to bring your A Game. When I love a project, you get my heart and soul. I expect your very best in return.