How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell)

by Ashley Scott Meyers on May 25, 2012

I believe that most screenwriting books, seminars, blogs and other screenwriting resources don’t spend nearly enough time on teaching people how to market their screenplays. SellingYourScreenplay.com tries to bridge that gap.

When I started out in the industry I didn’t know anyone. I was just a guy with a few ideas and a dream. With a lot of hard work and persistence I have been able to sell several screenplays (click here to view my credits on IMDB) by applying the exact lessons I’m going to teach you on this blog. It’s not quick or easy and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. But if you’re willing to do the work I believe that you too can have some success as a screenwriter.

There are no shortcuts and I, nor anyone else, can sell your screenplay for you. Ultimately you’ve got to decide if it’s worth the effort to make a go at screenwriting. You’re reading this blog, so that’s a good first step. But that’s all it is, a first step. Now you’ve got to really dig in and start doing the hard work.
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The opening pages of your screenplay are by far the most important pages of your entire screenplay. If you have a great opening few pages and you set up your story and characters properly, it can get things on track and keep the reader reading until the end.

But writing a great opening isn’t easy. A ton of information needs to be in your opening pages… and it has to be entertaining, too. Writers, both new and experienced, often squander these precious opening pages with poor choices and an overall lack of craft. Don’t let that be you.

So for the next Selling Your Screenplay class, I am going to be digging in deeply to the openings of five great screenplays (see list below). I will be examining, at great length, what makes them great and how you can apply these lessons to your own screenplays.

This class will be taught by me, Ashley Scott Meyers. I’m an actual screenwriter with real screenwriting credits, not a “guru” or “screenwriting teacher.” You can see my credits on IMDb here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0583488/.

In addition to the basics of how to write a great opening, you will learn…

  1. You will learn what makes a great opening by seeing and discussing several great openings from popular, highly successful produced screenplays (see list below).
  2. You will learn how to develop unique, interesting characters with only a short description and a few lines of dialogue.
  3. You will learn what you should include in the opening and what you should not include.
  4. You will learn how to entertain the reader and make her feel real emotion – fear, sorrow, joy, empathy – while reading your screenplay.

In this class…

  1. I will be examining the great opening pages from five fantastic screenplays (see list below).
  2. I will be sharing my own checklist for making sure my opening is as good as it can be.
  3. I will be giving you several exercises to help you craft the perfect opening for your screenplay.

You should take this class if…

  1. You should take this class if you are struggling to write your opening pages.
  2. You should take this class if you are preparing to send your screenplay out and want to make sure the opening pages are as good as they can be.
  3. You should take this class if you are about to start writing a screenplay and need help getting started.
  4. You should take this class if you want your opening pages to be awesome!

The screenplays that we will be discussing during this class are listed below.

Natural Born Killers by Quentin Tarantino (first 5.1 pages)
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/wp-content/uploads/screenplay/scripts/Natural-Born-Killers.pdf

Legally Blonde by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (10.1 pages)
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/wp-content/uploads/screenplay/scripts/Legally-Blonde-(1).pdf

The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont (first 2 pages)
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/wp-content/uploads/screenplay/scripts/The-Shawshank-Redemption.pdf

Unforgiven by David Webb Peoples (first 4.5 pages)
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/wp-content/uploads/screenplay/scripts/Unforgiven.pdf

Jerry Maguire by Cameron Crowe (first 10 pages)
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/wp-content/uploads/screenplay/scripts/Jerry-Maguire.pdf

Class Details

To sign up for this class go here: http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/classes/.

The class took place on Saturday November 15th at 10am PST. The class was recorded so you can take the class anytime by joining Selling Your Screenplay Select.

You can see all the SYS classes that are in the library by going here: SYS Online Classes.

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In this episode of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast I interview producer Danny Bramson About His new film Jimi: All Is by My Side, written and directed by Academy Award winner John Ridley and starring André Benjamin.

The podcast is available in iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher (for Android users), the Windows Marketplace, and the Blackberry store or you can simply listen to it or watch it right from my blog.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Links mentioned in the show:

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This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 042: An Interview With Producer Danny Bramson About His New Film Jimi: All Is by My Side.

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In this episode of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast I talk with writers Alejandro Seri and Johnny T Silver. They recently sold their first spec script and are now pushing several other projects. We get into the real specifics of what they’ve done to successfully market their work.

The podcast is available in iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher (for Android users), the Windows Marketplace, and the Blackberry store or you can simply listen to it or watch it right from my blog.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Links mentioned in the show:

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This is a transcript of: SYS Podcast Episode 041: An Interview With Screenwriters Alejandro Seri and Johnny T Silver.
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Online Class #12: Before You Begin To Write Your Screenplay

by Ashley Scott Meyers on October 10, 2014

Update: This class is the second segment of Selling Your Screenplay Select Gold, a one year intensive screenwriting workshop where I will be walking screenwriters through the entire screenwriting process, from choosing a marketable concept to writing a professional screenplay, to selling their script. Space is very limited.

Selling Your Screenplay is proud to announce the second in a series of live online courses dedicated to helping people write better screenplays.

Hopefully after the last online class, Choosing a Marketable Concept, you now have a solid story concept that you feel is marketable and ready to be written.

But it’s not time to begin writing your screenplay, yet! Not until after you’ve taken this second online class!

Hopefully after this class you will have everything you need to write a professional, marketable screenplay that has a good chance of selling.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from new writers is that they begin writing their screenplay way too early. Many writers don’t spend nearly enough time honing their log lines, building their stories, writing their outlines, or getting to know their characters. And once the first draft of a screenplay is written, it’s often times too late to correct major flaws that could have been easily  avoided with proper preparation.

This class will be taught by me, Ashley Scott Meyers. I’m an actual screenwriter with real screenwriting credits, not a “guru” or screenwriting teacher.

During this online class you will learn…

  1. You will learn my method for writing compelling log lines, and how to write them with ease.
  2. You will learn how important screenplay structure is.
  3. You will learn how to implement proper screenplay structure into your story.
  4. You will learn how to write an outline that will result in a professional screenplay.
  5. You will learn how to craft interesting, memorable, and unique characters.
  6. You will learn how to craft a memorable ending to your story.

In this online class I will…

  1. I will be illustrating what I teach with real movie examples.
  2. I will explain the entire pre-writing process that I have used to write ALL the screenplays that I have sold.
  3. I will show you exactly how I go about outlining a story by showing you a real outline from the current spec screenplay that I’m working on.
  4. I will give you several exercises that will help you craft a solid outline for your story.

You should take this class if…

  1. You should take this class if you have a solid concept for a screenplay but aren’t quite sure how to turn it into a fully developed, professional level screenplay.
  2. You should take this class if you’ve written a screenplay or two (or three) but are having a hard time getting them up to professional standards.
  3. You should take this class if you want to give your screenplay the best possible chance of selling once it’s done.

A couple of notes…

I am a big fan of Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat so if you haven’t read it, you probably should get a copy and give it a read before the class. I will be using a lot of the concepts that he teaches in his book so it will be helpful if you’re already familiar with them it will be helpful.

You can buy Save The Cat from Amazon here: http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/productlinks/amazon/Save+The+Cat

I will also be talking briefly about some of the concepts in Lajos Egri’s great book, The Art of Dramatic Writing so if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s probably a good idea to check that one out, too.

You can buy The Art of Dramatic Writing from Amazon here:
http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/links/amazon/72

Throughout this class I will be using The Wizard of Oz to illustrate many of the concepts that I teach, so please make sure you’re very familiar with this story.

The next few online courses will be about actually writing your screenplay. But you don’t want to start writing your screenplay until you have done the proper preparation!

By taking this series of online classes, you should have a marketable, professional screenplay by the end of it that’s ready to be sent out to agents, managers and producers.

Class Details

The class took place on Saturday October 18th at 10am PST. The class was recorded so you can take the class anytime by joining Selling Your Screenplay Select.

You can see all the SYS classes that are in the library by going here: SYS Online Classes.

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In this episode of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast I talk with writer, director Markus Blunder about his new film Autumn Blood. We talk in some detail about how this film came together.

The podcast is available in iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher (for Android users), the Windows Marketplace, and the Blackberry store or you can simply listen to it or watch it right from my blog.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Links mentioned in the show:

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This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 040: An Interview With Writer Director Markus Blunder.
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In this episode of The Selling Your Screenplay Podcast I talk with New York Film Academy Screenwriting Chair Melanie Oram. Our discussion covers a lot of ground including the differences between an independent film and a studio film, as well as an in-depth talk about writing short scripts and how they can help you with your writing career.

The podcast is available in iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher (for Android users), the Windows Marketplace, and the Blackberry store or you can simply listen to it or watch it right from my blog.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Links mentioned in the show:

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SYS Podcast Episode 039: An Interview With New York Film Academy Screenwriting Chair Melanie Oram (transcript)

September 29, 2014

This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 039: An Interview With New York Film Academy Screenwriting Chair Melanie Oram.

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