How to Get Exposure and Get Produced
There's one amazing fact that I can almost guarantee: if every single producer in the world read your screenplay, your screenplay would get produced.
I'm not kidding. If you knew how to market your script to get every producer to not just listen to a pitch, but to actually read your script, that same script would get produced. It’s important to know that your job as a screenwriter is not just writing, but also marketing.
You can sit there with your tablet, desktop, or laptop and naysay, but I stand by that statement; I've seen way too may statistics to justify my opinion (far more statistics than even most studio execs). By no means am I saying that John Doe can throw some words on a page, and call it script, but provided you have a coherent story, following the rules of screenwriting, there is someone out there waiting for you, and waiting to produce what you've written.
Why More Exposure Is Good Exposure
Here's the math to prove more exposure is good:
(a) If you give your script to zero people, you have zero chance of someone producing it.
(b) If you give your script to one person, you have at least a chance of someone producing it.
(c) If you give your script to multiple people, you have the same chance of someone producing it as in the above scenario "(b)" multiplied by the number of people you gave it to.
If your goal is to get your script produced it is absolutely essential to get more exposure. And you can totally do it. Getting a little or a lot of exposure is almost completely in your hands. Don't waste time waiting for producers and executives to approach you, be proactive every chance you get.
So let’s get started.
InkTip – Get Access to Producers
At any given time InkTip has more than 2,000 active Industry members. These are producers, agents, managers, directors, dev execs and readers who look for scripts and writers. InkTip also has an additional subscriber bases 15,000 industry members who keep an eye out for writers and scripts.
Every active Industry member has been vetted via resume and references, and has exhibited an ability to get a movie produced or get it into the right hands so that it can get produced or in some other way can benefit a writer's career. Furthermore, no Industry members are paid by InkTip to view scripts, which means every Industry members searching for scripts and writers through InkTip is actually searching for scripts and writers with the intention of making a film now.
InkTip averages 30 feature films produced per year, and hundreds of options and writers hired (see InkTip's IMDb page). Overall 315 films have been made by producers who found scripts and writers on InkTip. And another 30 are produced every year.
Writers list their screenplays on InkTip so they can be found by producers, reps, and directors. Listing your screenplays on InkTip.com makes your scripts available to 2,000 executives right off the bat, and the other 23,000 receive updates on our writers and their scripts via email.
The best part about using InkTip for exposure is that it's an inexpensive way to keep your proverbial lines in the water. Listing a script on InkTip.com comes out to less than $15 per month and exponentially increases your chances of getting your script produced or getting hired for a project. Go here to learn more.
Network at Film Festivals and Industry Events
Film festivals and industry events like mixers or panels are a great place to meet producers, filmmakers, agents, managers, directors, actors, and other writers just like you. There are thousands of film festivals and events around the world, and the likelihood of there being one close to you is very high. Browse InkTip’s Film Festivals Directory and Events Directory to find events close to you.
So, who should you talk to when you attend festivals? The short answer: everyone. The long answer: make sure you're attending the festival's screenings, events, panels and parties. Treat the trip like a work trip (and talk to your personal CPA, but you can likely write off the expense). Know that at many festivals, the percentage of entertainment industry attendees can be anywhere from 15-25%., so when striking up conversations with fellow attendees, feel free to ask them early on if they work in the industry. Perhaps relate it to a screening you both attended, and ask if they were involved in the production. If they do work in the industry, spend some time establishing a rapport (make friends!), exchange work and personal stories, and of course exchange contact information.
Once you have real relationships in the industry, you should slowly warm up to getting these contacts to check out your screenplays. Getting your screenplay to people in the industry is valuable exposure, but getting your screenplay to industry friends is priceless.
You're going to meet a lot of people, and they're not all going to be producers or agents, but heed this advice: "do not disregard anyone!" You may meet the director of photography of a movie you just watched, or maybe only a young production assistant, but guess what: they're working in the business. Every person working in every industry always wants to achieve more, and a production assistant is no different. They may be in a position right now to help get your screenplays into the right hands, or maybe a year from now they will be the right hands. What's more, these lower level career people are likely to be much more responsive to a complimentary screenwriter holding a similar rank on the totem pole, as opposed to an Academy award-winning director who's bombarded by crowds. Not to say the award-winner won't be responsive, but people lower down don't get hit up as much, and will therefore be much more open, and have more time to spare.
Entering screenplays into script competitions is a controversial subject. I've heard all the questions hundreds of times over: what contests are worth it? What contests actually get you industry exposure? What contests do producers pay attention to? ...etc. This list goes on and on.
There are a good number of contests that I personally think are worth it (and these thoughts are not necessarily endorsed or opposed by InkTip). Some to consider are the Nicholl Fellowship, PAGE Awards, Final Draft’s Big Break Contest and Austin Film Festival's competition. There are lots of contests available. You can find more contests in InkTip’s Screenwriting Competitions Directory. We vet all competitions in our directory to ensure they are good for writers.
Contests can absolutely provide more exposure, though I feel the biggest value in contests is the credibility that can be given to screenplays that place well or garner positive results. For the purpose of this article, and my desire to point out the power you already have in controlling your career, it's worth pointing out that your exposure to industry executives through contests is largely based on the contest's relationships with those execs... not your relationship with those execs.
Finally, you don't need to place in a contest to get exposure. Almost all screenplay contests have readers and executives who read the entries and judge them; the people who run the contests are not the only people who read the scripts. Sometimes a producer, executive, or reader will love a screenplay that hasn't won or even become a finalist in the contest. That individual will remember you, and sometimes they will make contact with you after the contest to see what else you have written, or to produce your script or get it into the right hands.
Contests can be very valuable, and can earn you some major bragging rights.
Finally, even though face-to-face introductions are the best, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn't be tracking down email information for companies and executives you'd like to work with, and getting in touch on your own! You should definitely know that there are business email Do's and Don'ts for more info on this see “Learning to write emails for success.” Reaching out via email is a great, proactive way to do something to further your exposure and your career.
You can do this!
Keep writing and always be marketing yourself and your script. Marketing is a catch all word, but for your screenwriting career it simply means use InkTip, meet industry people at festivals and events, build credibility and exposure through screenplay competitions, and reach out to companies and executives you’re interested in working with. You owe it to yourself to do everything you can to get your scripts made.
About the Author:
Gato Scatena is a producer with Scatena & Rosner Films, and the former vice president at InkTip. His most recent productions include the film, "Filth," starring James McAvoy, the upcoming comedy, "Mantevention," starring Mario Van Peebles, and Lifetime's "Imaginary Friend," starring Paul Sorvino. Scatena & Rosner Films is in development on more features for 2017, and also works in film tax incentive financing.
Questions for Gato can be tweeted to @GatoScatena on Twitter.