Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

What Does It Mean When a Script Is In Development?

A script described as "in development" is probably a term you've heard before, but what does it mean?

If a script is in development, it is working its way through pre-production and the rewriting process. A script could be rewritten any number of times for many reasons, including casting, location, and general story structure.

Hold Your Place in Line!

Get early access to SoCreate Screenwriting Software. It’s FREE to sign up!

Keep reading to find out about script development and how the story development process works!

What Does It Mean When a Script Is In Development?

What Is Script Development?

What does it mean for a movie to be in development? "Script development" is a pretty broad term that generally covers any film or television script in the time before production starts. Development can last as briefly as a few months, go on for a couple of years, or languish for many years in what is often called "development hell."

How Does the Story Development Process Work?

Most production companies and studios have development teams dedicated to finding and developing potential content. Development executives' main goal is finding strong scripts and getting them to the point where they can be greenlit for production. These executives spend their days meeting with writers, providing script notes, investigating potential intellectual property that they can option, and pitching projects to studios.

As a screenwriter, you will most likely meet with a development team in the form of a general meeting. A general meeting gives development a chance to be introduced to you and learn about your interests, your scripts, and any new ideas you're exploring. A general meeting with a development team can be important for a new writer's career. Meeting with development can put you on their list for writers to consider when they're thinking of people for a project. They might also share projects for which they're looking for new writers and have you pitch an idea. You never know where a general meeting might take you, so always be prepared to be fully engaged and ready to pitch!

Scripts in development always undergo rewrites. No matter the script, it will always be given notes and require rewrites.

A script in development might only have one writer, or it could have a long list of writers. It all depends. Sometimes notes might be given to you directly with the expectation that you will handle rewrites, other times, you'll be paid and excused to allow another writer to come on board.

Sometimes a studio or production company might secure rights to IP but not have a script. In this case, the development team goes through their lists of writers, contacts managers and agents, and takes meetings searching for a writer that will be a good fit for the job. A potential writer will likely have to pitch their concept, and if the development team feels like it's a good fit, then the writer will be commissioned to work on the script.

Writers need to remember that development can be kind of a nebulous term. Just because a project is in development doesn't guarantee it will ever be made. Unfortunately, many scripts never leave the development process. Scripts get trapped in "development hell" for all sorts of reasons, including a hard time finding financing, legal issues, or just that the studio is no longer interested.

The script development process can often feel like a long stressful road with no end in sight. Patience is essential during this time. As a screenwriter in this situation, your goal is to present yourself as a team player who wants to work with others to make the script the best it can be. Script development is ideally about quality rather than speed. Keep in mind the more polished your script is, the brighter its future will be.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Sharing is caring! We'd SO appreciate a share on your social platform of choice.

Hopefully, this blog could shed some light on what it means for a script to be in development. Development can seem vague, complex, and tedious, but it's essential to a script's journey to production. Happy writing!

You may also be interested in...

The Screenwriter's How-To Guide to Selling Your Screenplay 

The Screenwriter's How-To Guide to Selling Your Screenplay

You've finished your screenplay, and by finished, I mean finished. You've written, you've rewritten, you've edited, and now you're interested in selling it. How in the heck do you do that?! Today, I've got your how-to guide to selling your screenplay. Get a manager or an agent: Managers help develop a writer. They provide feedback that will strengthen your scripts, help you to build your network, and keep your name top of mind with 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 ...
Veteran TV Writer Ross Brown Tells You How to Handle Script Notes That You Don't Agree With

How to Handle Script Notes, According to Veteran TV Writer Ross Brown

Taking and implementing notes is a skill that every screenwriter must hone. Screenwriting is collaborative, and that goes for the process that happens before, during, and after production. But how do you handle feedback that you don't agree with? Veteran TV writer Ross Brown got very good at receiving notes during his time as a television writer ("Step by Step," "The Cosby Show," and more) and now, he's the one giving notes to his students in the MFA program at Antioch University in Santa Barbara. In an interview with SoCreate, he explained why a note might not always be what it seems ...

The World’s Most Expensive Screenplays

The World’s Most Expensive Screenplays

First things first, the majority of scripts don't sell, and if they do, it's usually not for the kinds of prices you'll see on this list! That's just the honest truth. I'm not saying you'll never sell a spec script to a major studio or producer, or you won't sell it for a great price, because you may. I just want to emphasize that the following list of high-priced spec screenplays are outliers. They're not the norm in the film industry. Read on to learn more about some of the world's most expensive screenplays! “Déjà Vu,” a science fiction action film, written by Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii, sold for $5 million. “Talladega Nights," a comedy ...