I got an email recently with a few questions in it:
“A few hours ago me and a friend of mine decided to write a story, soon to be screenplay, despite our total lack of credentials. We are both in college for, what I guess roughly translates to, Computer Engineering. So we have something to fall back on if this dream doesn´t come true. All we really have is our love of movies, good stories and what we believe is the ability to write something great.
Do you believe there is even a remote chance this can work? We wouldn’t have a way of financing it, we know no one in the industry, nor do we know anyone who would finance this. We have no desire to direct, mostly sell the script to a producer who can get someone to finance it.
Also, I would like to know if the writers remain involved in the process after the sale. Will me and my friend be able to accompany the entire process of turning a screenplay into a movie (if such a thing happens), or get entirely shut out?
Does the fact that we are from, and live, in another country (Portugal) worsen our chances?”
It can most definitely work. But that’s not the question. The real question is, is it worth the effort? How much are you willing to sacrifice and give up to make this dream a reality? If you’re just going to write a few scripts and send them out that’s probably not going to do much. But if you’re willing to devout your life to this pursuit, it can happen. But becoming a great screenwriter takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Most successful people in Hollywood didn’t have family or friends in the industry when they started. They began their career just as you are beginning your career now. But they stuck with it for many years and continued to work at their trade until they found success. So the question is, are you willing to take screenwriting seriously enough to give yourself a real chance to make it happen? It’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not a sin to decline the challenge. But it’s not going to happen easily.
In general you will probably sell your screenplay and all rights to it. It really depends how involved the producers want you and what sort of relationship you have with them. In some cases it will be little but in some cases they may keep you very involved. It really just depends.
And yes, living far away from Hollywood is a disadvantage for sure. Can you move to Los Angeles? Do you have that much dedication? There are lots of computer engineering jobs in LA (in fact there are a lot of all types of jobs in LA) so you should be able to find something to pay the bills while you pursue screenwriting. You also might try networking with local filmmakers to build up your resume. Check out this post: Breaking in to Hollywood from outside the United States.
In addition I’ve written a good number of posts about moving to and living here in Los Angeles. Check them out here: http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/tag/living-in-los-angeles/
Specially this post might be helpful: Do you have to live in Los Angeles to be a screenwriter?