So, you wrote a screenplay, now what? Well, first off, congratulations on finishing your script! That's an achievement in itself! Now let's get into talking about what to do with your screenplay's final draft.
Write Down Your Goals
Now that you've finished this script, what are you hoping to do with it? Do you want to sell this script? Use it to showcase your talent to get a job on a writing staff or maybe win a fellowship? Do you want to make the film yourself, and are looking for how to do that? Taking the time to figure out what you want to get out of your screenplay will dictate the kinds of steps you take once you finish your final draft. What is your ideal scenario?
Copyright Your Screenplay
Before you start sending your script out into the world, it's best to protect yourself by either copyrighting it or registering it with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) or your local writer's guild, depending on the country in which you reside. The last thing you want as a writer is a legal battle, so copywriting or registering your script is an excellent way to protect yourself and your work from future infringement. While blatant plagiarism is rare, it can happen.
Deciding whether to go with US copyright, WGA registration, or another option, is up to you, but here's a little more info about both to help you decide:
Registration with the WGA establishes a date of creation for your original work and lasts for five years
Copyrighting your script lasts your lifetime plus 70 years and establishes your ownership of the work
WGA registration is instantaneous, while copyright protection can take four to six months to get
If, later on, you make any drastic changes to your script and its story, it may be a good idea to re-do the copyright or WGA registration, so the latest draft of your screenplay is on file.
SoCreate made this handy infographic that better breaks down the best and worst ways to copyright or register your screenplay.
Rewrite and Consider Professional Screenplay Help
Are you sure that this is your final draft? Have you had other eyes on the script? If the answer is no, then you might want to consider a screenplay consultant or coverage service. There are many professional coverage services online that will assign someone to go over your screenplay. They usually offer different tiers of feedback or editing with differing prices. It's essential to research and read reviews to see how happy other writers have been with the coverage they've received. I would personally recommend Script Reader Pro, WeScreenplay, or the Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference Coverage Service.
If you're looking to save money, a great option is to trade editing services with other writers. Also, don't overlook the helpfulness of having friends and family read your script! Even if they aren't involved or knowledgeable about screenwriting, they can still provide useful feedback and notice things you've missed in your writing.
Send it to Competitions
Again, you need to ask yourself what you're looking to get out of this. Some contests provide winners with funding to help get their script made into a film. You could also use the script to apply to a fellowship program to help develop your writing skills. Other competitions will assist you in networking and getting in touch with industry professionals. It's all about researching and finding the screenwriting contests that will best suit you and your goals. Some prestigious competitions to start looking into are Austin, ScreenCraft, and Nicholl, but there are many other reputable scriptwriting contests depending on what you hope to win.
Get Your Screenplay Hosted
Screenplay hosting websites like The Black List or InkTip allow writers to post their screenplays for industry executives to see, for a fee. This kind of website can be very helpful to attract notice from the filmmaking and TV industry. The Black List's annual list of the best, unproduced scripts has resulted in numerous screenplays' sale and production. InkTip, on average, has 30 scripts a year produced from their website. Both websites have also led to many writers finding screenwriting representation.
There are a lot of different things you can do with your finished screenplay. No one's journey to breaking into the industry or selling a script is identical, but while there's no exact formula, there are some common paths. It would help if you considered yourself, your goals, and your dreams when determining your next move and what will be best for your final draft. Happy writing!