By Jeri Fay Maynard
Stacy asked me to write this, and while I’m not sure I’m qualified, this is what I’ve learned from my personal study and research.
You have several choices: pay for notes about what works or doesn’t work, register it with the WGA, send it out to contests, attending pitching conventions/fairs and pitch it, or find an agent.
There are a couple of things you shouldn’t do: send it to a film company who hasn’t asked for it or to the actor you think is perfect for the lead. The film company won’t read any unsolicited works for fear of lawsuits and claims of theft and the actor may or may not have the time or inclination to read it.
The very first thing you need to do is make sure it’s ready to begin the rounds. Is it the best you can make it? Is it polished? Does every single word count? Do you have a B-story that makes the theme come to life? Is it formatted correctly and written in Final Draft? Has anyone else read it and given you feedback?
The reason it has to be ready is that screenplays tend to have a short shelf life once they start circulating and people remember the writers of the ones not yet ready for shooting. But you want them to remember you for your good writing so they think- That was brilliant, not right for us, but imagine what this writer could do with—-. I suggest you pay for notes and feedbacks by a professional. It should cost you between $250 – $300 and it will take your writing to the next level (IF you listen to the feedback and make the changes and don’t waste time whining about how he/she didn’t understand your concept.)
Next, register it with the WGA. It’s not expensive, but if you have some kind of conflict or misunderstanding later, it will be critical evidence.
Once you are sure it is ready, then the next step is up to you. Some people send their stuff out to contests. This is my current choice. I do one or two of the top contests every year- no more. If it’s not good enough to win (or at least place) in those, then it’s not ready to start shopping it.
I’ve not attending pitching conventions/fairs or tried to find an agent yet. Attending pitching conferences takes money I don’t have and I’m not sure my work is ready to make the rounds yet.
Good luck and keep writing. They say you have to write a lot of screenplays before you crack the code, so while you’re deciding what to do with this finished one, start your second one! And then your third, and your fourth, and by then, with a ton of work and study, you might be ready to sell a blockbuster.