Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Tyler M. Reid

I Finished My Screenplay, What's Next: Making the Film Myself

It is not uncommon for writers to want to be directors or for directors to write their own screenplays. Turning your own writing into your own film is one of the fastest routes to get recognized both as a writer and a director. The reason for this is because you have control over what is happening with your writing next. For instance, if you send your screenplay to a manager, IF they take you on as a client, it could be many months to get your writing produced. The same goes if you take your screenplay to a producer - a script can stay in development hell.

I Finished My Screenplay, What's Next?
Making the Film Myself

Direct Your Own Film, Starting Backwards

When you have decided to direct your own film the first thing you usually think about is how you can go about getting the money you need to make the film. You start at the start. However, like any successful business, you need to start with the end in mind. That is the customer and the customer in your case is the audience. Just because you make a film does not mean anyone is going to want to see it. I know we all believe that our film will be great and audiences will swarm to theaters or their streaming platform to see the movie. Usually, that is never the case. Not because the film isn’t great, but because to get people to know about your film costs a whole lot on marketing and advertising.

Build Your Audience First

Creating in public is about sharing your work as you are working on it as well as sharing the process of working on it. This is hugely beneficial because what you are doing here is growing an audience. Though whichever social channel you are sharing the content on may call them followers or subscribers, they are actually your audience. The wonderful thing about this method is that not only are you growing your audience but you are also creating your work. Being your true and authentic self will help you connect to your audience on a level that expensive marketing budgets can not do.

From Audience to Financing

Now that you have a growing audience in place you can jump back to the beginning. Your audience can work in two ways for you now. You can begin thinking about crowdfunding as a way to finance your film or you can go to an investor and show them that you already have a built in audience. Remember, an investor is giving you money to make a product that will make them more money on the money they gave you. Though it is hard for creatives to see and to remember, investors care more about making money than they do about the film as an art piece. They are making a business decision when deciding whether or not to invest in your film. Even though you can not prove they will make a return on their investment, you can at least show them you have an audience that is very likely going to spend money to watch your film.

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The best route is to take both of those elements together. Raise crowdfunding first. Now you already have money in your production, then you go to an investor. This way you show them that you are taking your own film very seriously by raising your own money and you also have a built in audience. Already having money in and having a built in audience is a great way to convince an investor to get involved in your film.

Producer and onwards

During the above steps you may have already been speaking with a producer, you may have already gotten a producer on board. However, if you don’t have a producer at this stage, you will need one. You want to make sure you have someone who will oversee that money and ensure it is used in the proper way to get the film made, the way you want to make it. At this point you want to be able to focus on your vision and telling your creative story.

From there you will want to figure out how you want to distribute your film, from theatrical, to streaming, to direct to consumers like YouTube or other AVOD methods. This will most likely be something you decide up front, but depending on how popular the process of making your film is to your audience while you are sharing the creation process with them, you may decide that the audience is so large it is worth thinking about an additional distribution strategy.

Start with how you will attract your audience before you begin the journey of making your film and you will set yourself on a path to a successful film as a writer and a director.

Tyler is seasoned film and media professional with over 20 years of diverse experience, specializing in production management and creative direction, with a rich portfolio spanning music videos, films, and documentaries, and a global network from the US to Sweden. Reach him on his website, LinkedIn, and X, and gain access to his free filmmaking templates when you sign up for his newsletter here.