Friday, February 20, 2015

Taking the Next Steps Toward Hollywood

By Sharon Y. Cobb

We have a vibrant film community in Northeast Florida with many talented writers. Some have been writing for many years. Some are aspiring writers fresh out of film school or UNF’s Continuing Education screenwriting workshops. They all have one thing in common: they want to sell their scripts to Hollywood or at least have their screenplays made into independent films. But where to start?

There are many scripts purchased every year by independent film production companies and studios. The popularity of certain genres rise and fall. At the American Film Market in November 2014, more thriller films were offered for sell than any other genre. Writers taking the next step in their screenwriting careers not only need to hone their craft, but also study and understand the script market.

Step 1: Know the Market. Identifying and tracking script and book sales to Hollywood can give a writer information valuable in making decisions about what their next screenplay or book should be. If writers want to sell to Hollywood or have their scripts and books made into movies, it makes sense to follow what’s selling. After learning what genres are hot, a writer who wants to develop a career in film may think the next step would be to secure a literary agent in Los Angeles. But, guess what? You can’t get an agent until you don’t need one! Actually, you need bait to attract agents. Bait in the form of a pending deal with a production company draws agents to the writer.

Step 2: Find the right production company. So, how does a writer get his or her script or book to reputable producers without an agent? There are many ways. None are easy. Most are time consuming and can be stressful for a gentle creative soul such as a writer. But the reality is that writers must take chances to realize their dream of seeing their story on the big screen, or even the little screen. One of the most important things a writer can do is research which production companies are buying which scripts or books. With the internet, locating contact information for producers is relatively easy. Understanding how to approach producers is not. Knowing the right employee at the production company to ask for when calling, is essential. Being prepared for anything during contacts with producers is crucial.

Step 3: Cultivate your Pitch. Say you are a writer and you've done your homework and gotten through to the right person at a film production company, do you know how to pitch your script or book? Do you know how to sell yourself as a writer? Do you know what to say if the producer likes your idea and asks you to submit it through your agent, but you aren’t represented by an agent yet? Education is the key to a successful screenwriting career. Educating yourself in craft and also in marketing a script will help you to gain traction in Hollywood.

Join us for How to Sell Your Scripts and Books to Hollywood on Saturday, February 21 or Saturday, July 18 and learn everything you need to know to take the next steps toward of success in the film business. The one-day workshop at UNF Continuing Education is led by Sharon Y. Cobb, a professional screenwriter who is a member of the Writers Guild of America, west. She has sold dozens of projects to Hollywood and can help you focus on the important elements needed.

 About Sharon: 

Sharon Y. Cobb is a member of Writers Guild of America and has sold a dozen projects to Hollywood including Return of the Sweet Birds to Fox 2000 (Danny Glover and Babyface Edmonds). Her British film Lighthouse Hill was released on DVD after premiering at film festivals and being broadcast by SkyTV worldwide. Her action movie “On Hostile Ground” was broadcast on TBS and worldwide.


This article is part of a series of UNFCE Instructor posts to help you Take The Next Step in your personal and professional journeys. All posts are tagged with #TakeTheNextStep. Please comment and tell us what topics would be meaningful to you and be sure to let us know if this topic was helpful.