The first screenplay I ever optioned and sold, Dish Dogs, was a direct result of me responding to an ad in one of the trade magazines like The Hollywood Reporter. Since then these sorts of ads where a producer or director is looking for material have moved online to a variety of websites including Craig’s List.

Even to this day I make it a point to submit to as many of these types of ads as I can find. Most, like 99.99% of the time these submissions never go anywhere. But every once in awhile they will result in a good lead.

Craig’s List is especially good for finding newer filmmakers who are looking for short scripts to produce. While these projects typically don’t pay any money, they’re a great way to see your material produced and a great way to network with some other up-and-coming filmmakers. The Steven Spielbergs and James Camerons of tomorrow are making low budget shorts today. And they’re probably on Craig’s List looking for material right now!

To learn more about submitting to Craig’s List leads check out my post, Submitting your screenplay to Craig’s List postings.

Keeping track of all the possible leads on Craig’s List can be very time consuming. There are lots of different cities and sections to look at. However, there is a pretty easy way to consolidate all of this information. I’ve set up a Yahoo! Pipe which looks at all the different sections of Craig’s List that I want to look at, and selects only the posts with certain screenplay related keywords in them. It then displays these posts in an RSS feed. I’ll spare you the details about how it’s all set up because you don’t need to know any of that information. You can use my RSS feed, for free!

The link to the feed is here:

What you’re going to want to do is copy and paste this link into an RSS reader. There a many free RSS readers out there. Click here to use the free Google RSS reader.

This feed is not perfect. You will see some ads that do not relate to screenwriting. That’s okay. But this Yahoo! Pipe filter is screening out probably 99% of the other ads that you don’t need to look at. So instead of having to look through hundreds of ads per day to find one relating to screenwriting, this feed narrows it down so you only have to look at probably 10-20 ads per day. At least a few times per week an ad looking for a screenplay will pop up.

I usually try and look at this feed once or twice per day. I’m not sure if other writers simply don’t want the competition of other writers submitting to the posts or they have some other ax to grind with the people who posts ads, but for whatever reason a lot of these ads get flagged and deleted quickly before I have a chance to respond to them (if you’re a writer who flags these ads regularly drop me an email, I’d love to know what your reason for flagging is). So check this feed often.

An RSS feed is just a simple way for websites to syndicate their content. My blog has an RSS feed, for instance, that you can also put into your RSS reader. That feed is here:

The RSS reader displays the content in a nice easy to read format. I have more than 100 feeds in my RSS reader and while I don’t read every post from every blog I’m following, it’s a great way to keep an eye on a ton of stuff you’re interested in. For instance, I follow many other screenwriting blogs this way.

In any event, if you’re new to RSS feeds just check out the Google RSS reader and play around with it. I think you’ll find this a very powerful tool and has a variety of uses.

Also, Craig’s List is certainly not the only online resource where producers are looking for material. I have actually optioned screenplays through leads I found on Craig’s List, so I can definitely say that it can work. I’ve recently started with some of the other online sites that have free and paid services offering these same sorts of leads, and if I have any actual success with them I’ll certainly be recommending them in the future, too.

If you’d like to know more about Dish Dogs click here and here as I’ve written some posts about my experience with the film.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Overlook Any Opportunities (How I Sold My First Screenplay)”
  1. Great post, Ashley. I’m a big admirer of your site and have been an avid visitor for many years. I agree with all your points. Writers need to consider every possible avenue to achieve success.

    In 2010, I wrote a script and queried a few agencies. I got a request from an agency in Santa Monica (I consider this a big accomplishment, since I live in Canada) but like all the requests I received, it ultimately went no where. I began to rethink my options, and with the rise of e-publishing, I decided to self-publish a book for the Amazon Kindle. It is now available, and I am hoping the sales will be decent enough and/or my blog will generate a big enough following that maybe some agents will begin to take my queries seriously. So far, my book is selling well, so hopefully things work out.

    Bottom Line: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll. If an opportunity comes your way, don’t pass it up!

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