Netflix: We all know it. As one of the first and now largest streaming services, the name is synonymous with hit television and films! There’s nothing like sitting around searching through Netflix’s many offerings looking for the perfect Friday night movie to watch or the next series to binge. As our viewing habits change, I know some of you screenwriters out there even have Netflix in mind as the perfect home for your movie or television script. You daydream about your script getting made and featured right there under Netflix’s “trending now” section! So, how do you sell a script to Netflix?
Some filmmakers have had success making indie films and licensing the complete movie to Netflix, rather than selling a script that Netflix then needs to produce. But if you have no intention of making your own film, there are options to sell your screenplay to Netflix if you’re willing to go through the necessary steps, as outlined below.
Do Not Submit Unsolicited Scripts to Netflix
I’m looking to save you time and effort, so right off the bat, you should know that Netflix doesn’t accept unsolicited script submissions. So, hang on tight to your screenplay because there are some other steps you can take first to get your script that much closer to the Netflix decision-makers.
Find Someone with a Relationship to Netflix
As with so many things in Hollywood, finding success with Netflix will likely come down to relationships you’ve nurtured ahead of time with people who can open doors that would otherwise remain locked to you. You need to find an industry person connected to Netflix and from whom Netflix will accept a script; this can be a literary agent, a manager, a producer, or even an entertainment lawyer, but not ANY old literary representation. Netflix has relationships with specific people, and you need to find those people.
Do Some Research on Who’s Connected to Netflix
How do you know if one of the people mentioned above has a relationship with Netflix? I suggest creating an IMDbPro profile and using that to comb through various Netflix projects to see who has worked on them. You do have to pay monthly or annually for IMDBPro. Still, I think the price is well worth it since it gives you the ability to see producers, managers, and agents and who they’ve worked with or what they’ve worked on, as well as their contact information if they choose to make it available. This is a gold mine of information, especially if you don’t already have many connections in the film industry.
Consider Getting an Agent or Manager
If you’ve written a substantial body of work and you believe you have a few solid scripts – better yet, you’ve proven they’re solid with high marks in screenwriting contests – then you may be ready for a manager or an agent! If you use IMDBPro, you can look up your Netflix shows or movies in your niche, look at the writers, and check out who represents them. This can be helpful to figure out who has connections to Netflix and discover who might best represent the type of writer you are.
Get Exposure Through a Screenwriting Contest
The next time you enter a screenwriting competition, pay attention to who the judges are. If the competition offers meetings with industry professionals as a prize, be sure to research them! Some competitions have connections with Netflix, and maybe the exposure of winning that competition could be just the thing you need to find your Netflix connection.
Make Your Script Marketable
No matter who your connection to Netflix is, whether it’s a manager, agent, or producer, they’ll likely want you to package your script to sell. As writers, we know our job isn’t over once we get a script to a place that we’re happy with. We have to then make it marketable. That includes things like developing a solid pitch, having a logline and summary written, having a pitch deck and look book, creating a proof-of-concept short film, or having a show bible prepared. You’ll also want to be able to prove that there’s interest in your story, whether that’s through a community of social media followers who want to see your film produced, a topic that’s relevant to the times, or interest from other producers or talent. Every project is different, so what you’ll need for pitching depends on different variables; generating some of these materials before you pitch to a manager, agent, or producer can help get the world of your story across.
I wish I could tell you that there’s just some simple online portal where you can submit your screenplay to Netflix, but alas, there isn’t. It would help if you network, find the right moments and competitions to gain exposure, and hustle to look for opportunities to make the right connections to sell your script. But hey, whether you’re looking to sell a screenplay to Netflix or not, as a screenwriter looking to break into the business, chances are you were already doing most of these things, so keep chugging away!