You’ve finished your screenplay. You spent time painstakingly planning and plotting it out, you did the hard work of getting the first draft down, and then you came back time and time again doing the necessary rewriting. Congratulations, finishing a screenplay is no small feat! But now what? Do you sell the thing, enter it into competitions, or try to get it made? Don’t let it sit on a shelf collecting dust. Here’s how to make money with your screenplay.
The first thing that probably comes to mind is selling your screenplay to a production company or securing an option. How do you go about that? There are a few possibilities:
If you’ve taken the time to build a substantial body of work, then you might be ready for a manager or agent! Managers help develop a writer, provide feedback that will strengthen your scripts, help you build your network, and mention you to other industry professionals. Managers may even help you find an agent they believe will be able to sell your screenplay.
Agents are interested in writers whose scripts are ready for sale or writers ready to be hired out. Agents are all about making deals between a writer and a production company, producer, or studio.
When you feel like your script is ready for sale and you have other strong, impressive, and marketable works in your portfolio, that is the time to consider getting an agent. Getting a manager or an agent can help put you in positions of opportunity when it comes to your script – opportunities to sell, get it made, or use it as a sample to get another writing job, like getting staffed on a television show.
Put Yourself And Your Script Out There
To network most effectively, you might want to consider either moving to Los Angeles or perhaps another film hub loser to you. L.A. arguably has the most networking opportunities, and you’ll be able to take meetings in person, attend film festivals, or become part of a writing group. Being in L.A. makes it so much easier to meet people because just about everyone around you will work in entertainment in some form or another. You can also find people who are valuable connections AND good friends (and those are the best contacts to have).
When you’re networking, you’re looking to meet people that can help you do something with your script. So, keep an eye out for managers and agents, as I’ve mentioned previously, but also look out for producers and executives. Finding a producer means finding someone to help get your script made into a movie; producers can raise money, aid in the logistics of the film industry, and be a champion for your project.
A development executive is also someone to keep an eye out for. Development execs work to develop a screenplay and get it ready to convince their studio to back it.
Make the Movie Yourself
Trying to sell your script for production isn’t the only way to make money with it. Another option is to make it into a movie yourself!
I’m not saying making a movie yourself is guaranteed to be lucrative, but if you’re budget conscious and bold, it can open doors for making money. Some of those doors include:
You can go the crowdfunding route, which isn’t just helpful for being able to afford production, but it can also allow you to profit from it. When you’re crafting your budget and trying to figure out how much money you’ll need for various aspects of production, make sure to account for your own salary. Balance your budget accordingly so that you’ll be able to walk away with a profit or recoup more funds from contests and ticket sales than you spent making the film.
Look into selling or licensing your film to a streaming platform. Thanks to streaming, there are dozens of platforms looking to air content of all types, which means there’s plenty of opportunities for you to monetize and distribute your work!
Enter film festivals with cash prizes. Film festivals can be a great way to gain exposure for yourself and your work; some of them even offer cash prizes.
Enter Screenwriting Competitions
Another option outside of selling your screenplay or turning it into a movie is to enter it into screenwriting competitions.
While screenwriting competitions can be an excellent way for screenwriters to get their work noticed by the right people, contests also often have a cash prize. Competitions like PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition, Austin Film Festival Screenplay and Teleplay Competition, and Scriptapalooza have cash prizes for multiple categories! If you’re confident in your script, do some research to find some writing competitions that seem right for you!
Repurpose Your Story
As you know, selling a screenplay is a competitive endeavor. Plenty of writers have amazing scripts that will never see the silver screen, but that doesn’t mean the scripts are bad. The stories are solid and can be repurposed into something that earns cash!
Use your screenplay’s story to write a novel or a short story. Publish these stories online and gatekeep them for a fee, or sell printed versions via creative marketplaces.
Some well-known writers even sell printed and digital versions of their unproduced scripts via websites such as Amazon and Scrib’d.
Break up your screenplay into sections and turn the story into a paid newsletter subscription. Keep your readers on the edge of their toes, and they’ll keep their subscriptions just waiting to see what happens next week!
There are tons of ways to repurpose your story, character, and more elements from your screenplay. You just have to get creative (and I know you already are😉).
Some of the most straightforward ways to make money with your script are selling your screenplay, making it into a movie, entering screenwriting contests, and repurposing your story. Now, none of these would be considered quick ways to make a buck! You’ll likely be sitting on your screenplay for a while before you ever make a profit from it. Don’t be discouraged, though! In this industry, you never know when a connection, a chance meeting, or someone reading your script will lead to your next thing, to the thing that launches your career. You’ll also be glad to be sitting on a pile of amazing scripts when that producer says, “this script is good, but what else have you got?” You’ll be so happy they asked. Happy writing!