Jeremy Andrews and Casey McDougal, co-founders of WoAccelerator

There’s a new Screenwriter’s resource on the block, WoAccelerator, a free program designed to help screenwriters create a market ready body of work and connect with Producers looking for material.

Today we get some time with the programs founders to understand how it all works.

Thanks to Jeremy and Casey for their candid and thorough answers, you can find their site at https://woaccelerator.com/#/

Note: If an answer is marked WoAccelerator it signifies that it’s a joint answer.

First up, how about a little bit of background on you both, how did you get into the industry?

Casey: We were undergraduates in Acting at the University of Connecticut. After I graduated, I studied at the Berkshire Theater Festival and pretty much thought I was going to only do theater for the rest of my life. A friend of mine who did set design on film sets encouraged me to join the union. I did, and began booking acting jobs and learning more about being on film and tv sets. I primarily worked in Boston and New York. I also worked as a PA on a couple sets.

Jeremy: Started my theatre and business degrees/career in college. Spent some time at a few houses like THINKFLIM and learned the ins/outs of the system. Picked up a couple of languages. Then ventured into financial analysis and hedge fund trading before shifting into software/tech.

Can you share a little on your respective works in the screenwriting/ writing sphere?

Casey: I have produced, written, and acted in my own work, including a web series, “Holding,” which I wrote for myself and my friends to work on in between gigs. It got into several festivals and won “Best Web Series” at the Hollywood and Vine Film Festival. I also am currently working on a feature. Jeremy has a lot of feature experience under his belt himself!

Jeremy: had always written short stories when I was in grade school. That lead to writing in high school, culminating in 8 full length screenplays. Had a short play produced off-off broadway and won a couple of awards for playwriting excellence. At Uconn is where I met Casey.

What did you learn from these experiences?

Casey: The biggest thing I learned was you have to keep writing. You can’t think too much about your next step, you have to just take it and keep rewriting and keep taking notes from other people.

Jeremy: The world changes quickly and for the limited time you are here you need to make the most of it.

Did you have any formal writing education?

Casey: For screenwriting, no. I did specifically study documentary writing and PSA writing at Connecticut Public Broadcasting a few years back.

Jeremy: I never went to school for writing, never took any screenwriting classes. My english teachers in 6th grade and 8th grade took an active interest in my gifts as a writer and helped me explore them. I received a Christmas gift in high school (Dave Trottier’s Screenwriting Bible), which by that time was not about learning to be a screenwriter but about perfecting my craft.

In 8th grade I would stay inside during recess to work on my play – it was the first play I wrote (about Rosa Parks) and was put on by my school (Catholic Parochial School) at the end of the semester for faculty, staff, parents and the student body – directed by my teacher.

Up until that time I had only written 30 page short stories on my computer that my parents would read. Finally gave one to my 6th grade teacher , Ms. Hoffman, and that is where things took off.

Your new venture is WoAccelerator (https://woaccelerator.com/#/), what was the genesis of this idea?

Jeremy: I began to think about the fact that If there was a free program like this for screenwriters when I was younger that could cultivate and accelerate diverse raw talent that would have been awesome. There is a lot of talent with grit, that if just given the opportunity could soar to new heights.

How would you describe WoAccelerator to an interested writer, and what are the key features of the service?

WOA: A program designed for writers who work on their craft every day and are looking to make a regular income from writing. Key features include:
i. Consistent feedback from script analysts,
ii. Weekly lecture series from guest lecturers
iii. Workshopping in breakout sessions
iv. Workshopping with professional actors
v. The opportunity to participate in round table discussions with industry leaders.

And what is involved if a screenwriter is accepted into the program?


WOA: The concept of an accelerator is not new. Many industries like fashion and tech have had them for a long time. Going to school, having a family, and working a fulltime job is not new – in facts thousands of people do it every year. It’s similar to getting your Masters in a four month time frame, so the workload is intense, but the payload potential is huge.

How long does the program last for the writer?

WOA: Four months.

What does the screenwriter get at the end of their time?

WOA: They will have garnered experience, connections, and for those who have production-ready scripts, an opportunity to sell options on their scripts in our own marketplace.

(I think you mentioned previously) The writer will get 10-15 scripts at the end of the program, this seems somewhat optimistic given how long features normally take to write, or is there something else at play here?

WOA: One thing to keep in mind that not all works are features. Some are the first episode of a pilot (comedy, drama, 30 minutes, 60 minutes). We tap into each writer’s strength. The idea is that the writer should aim to be consistently writing and not be too precious about their work. This is a business. We are not so much interested in the writer who agonizes over a script for 10 years and refuses to write anything else.

Do you accept writer applications from anywhere in the world?

WOA: Yes

Presumably scripts/material will be in English?

WOA: For the first cohort yes. However we are actively exploring international markets and languages

How will the quality of scripts be ensured within the program?

WOA: Our mentors, generalist, and analyst are all critical in our process. We have a unique process, but one component is blind reading. Names and titles are removed.

Where have you recruited the script readers, tutors and mentors from?

WOA: Given that we are in a Covid environment – analysts are remote and not from a specific geographic location.  We had over 100 very talented applicants from all parts of the world apply and Casey and I have finalized our decisions. Part of the program allure is that there is no bias in the program.  Script readers do not interact with writers and vice versa, and therefore must remain confidential.

And what does it cost the screenwriter to join and be part of the program

WOA: It is free!

When will the first cohort of writers be selected and start their journey with you?

WOA: We are launching our first program in May/June.

Are you still accepting writers into the first cohort?

WOA: Yes, we are still looking for writers.   We have a min/max cap – but currently we are still accepting applications.

Obviously, the appeal to such a program to any screenwriter is the potential that Producers will see the work – how does this work?

WOA: For a variety of reasons the majority of scripts will never get made. Producers get pitched hundreds of scripts a month, both good and bad. Many screenwriters spend 6 months or more trying to sell/shop their script around, instead of writing the next 10-15 pieces of material. With our marketplace. Our patent pending marketplace allows a handful of producers to option your material for a set period time.

Do you have relationships with Producers already?

WOA: Yes. The game has changed and the traditional idea of who a producer is has changed dramatically. With XR (one of our focuses in the program) and global remote collaboration, we are not confined to the traditional LA/NY ecosystems. We do have relationships with both seasoned and new producers already.

However the goal is to find new producers who have never thought about being a producer before and offer them the opportunity to get started in a safe, lower risk environment.

Do the Producers pay to enter the program?

WOA: Producers do pay a subscription to access our talent. Given it’s a tightly vetted process, we want to ensure they are committed long term to this process so that it is successful for all parties involved.

Are prospective Producers vetted before they are allowed access?

WOA: Yes, through a screening and interview process.

Given, Inktip, The Blacklist, Script Revolution, Simply Scripts etc, how do you plan to differentiate yourself in the marketplace?

WOA: A couple of ways: First it’s free for screenwriters. Second, accelerators are meant to provide a short term intense booster to a screenwriter who ready for the next level (aka. Working writer). Finally, we are not just looking for writers to submit scripts into a blackhole never to be seen again. We take an active part in their development and take much fo the burden of selling off their shoulders so they can do what they do best – WRITE!. For us, the writer’s work ethic, their talent, and commitment to make this a career is just as important as the script itself.

A general consensus amongst screenwriters is that Producers are already inundated with scripts, why would they come to WoAccelerator for material?

WOA: TIME! Many a wise person has said, money you can make time you cannot. We have a focus on stories from around the globe – all identities, backgrounds, etc. We are an inclusive program and ideal for the producer who wants to cut through the noise, minimize the risk of acquiring material, and only source high quality material based on their specific criteria.

Do you take a cut from any deals done on the scripts created as part of the program?

WOA: Yes. While every writer in the program understands the deal terms before entering the program, that information is currently private but based on a percentage.

We are investing in our writers and producers of tomorrow. During the vetting process, both writers and producers are fully aware of the deal terms before signing the contract. We want to ensure screenwriters are full educated on the business side of the deal.

Our website contains a section of deal terms which all screenwriters should be familiar with regardless of their acceptance into the program.

What have been the main challenges in trying to set WoAccelerator up?

WOA: Every business has challenges and ours is no different. For us, it’s ensuring that all people regardless of age, gender, or background are able to hear about this opportunity – hence the interview.

What’s next in terms of plans for WoAccelerator?

WOA: We already have a plan in place for the next phase of our program, which is exclusive to the participants who have completed the program We will have more on that after the first cohort.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS SECTION

Fave movies?

Casey: Cool Hand Luke, Roman Holiday, Good Fellas, Terminator 2, Bridesmaids, any Nora Ephron film – hardest question to answer, too many!

Jeremy: Momento, Inception, Matrix

Fave scripts?

Casey: Sound of Metal, Vice, Jurassic Park

Best and worst filmmaking advice you’ve had/heard?

Casey: Best: Surround yourself with people who have the same work ethic as you. Worst: I think the worst advice I’ve heard is that you should just give up at a certain age. Ridiculous.

Fave foods?

Casey: I’m vegan, so anything really as long as it’s vegan!

Jeremy: Anything healthy that takes good

Fave drinks?

Casey: I’m a big fan of kombucha these days. I think Jeremy and I both love water too, cause we are health geeks!

Jeremy: Water – under appreciated

Fave sport and team if applicable?

WOA: UConn Basketball

Fave thing to do outside of film related stuff?

Casey: anything by the water, long drives, just spending time in nature.
Jeremy: Fly

Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers and filmmakers out there?

Casey: We really believe that it’s important to choose what you want to do and keep working at it.

WOA: The job is never done, there is always more to learn. So don’t take things personally, keep doing good work, and don’t listen to anything that deters you from your purpose.

Where can people find you online?

WOA: Website – Woaccelerator.com which has all of our social connections Applying to be a screenwriter in the program is probably the fastest way to get in touch at the moment.

Thanks to Jeremy and Casey for their time, hopefully we will catch up with them further down the line after a cohort or two have gone through the program.

20/03/2021 – Opportunities

First set of 2021, gl if you apply for any…

Writer for online new cast with a social angle
https://www.mandy.com/uk/job/1388338/segment-writerresearcher/writer
Source – Mandy

Script for pregnant actor sought
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m7hkyw/looking_for_a_script_that_includes_a_pregnant/
Source – reddit

Looking for a screenwriter to collaborate on next project
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m6ls7w/im_looking_for_a_screenwriter_to_collaborate_for/
Source – reddit

Short scripts sought for new project
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m5vz0c/audio_guy_who_has_been_doing_videography_i_work/
Source – reddit

Single location, low-budget, feature required
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m5vx5n/looking_for_a_one_location_feature_script/
Source – reddit

Producer looking for a screenwriter to work on a project set in a grocery
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m4s72b/producer_looking_for_a_screenwriter_to_write_a/
Source – reddit

Director/Producer looking for a script that can be shot remotely
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/m3n46f/seeking_shorts_or_features_remote_production/
Source – reddit

Psychological horror shorts needed
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/lzsnuy/looking_for_psychological_horror_film_scripts/
Source – reddit

Writers for Horror website sought
https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/wrg/d/aurora-regular-writing-for-horror/7293866020.html
Source – Craigslist

Writer needed to join crew of short film
https://vancouver.craigslist.org/van/wrg/d/vancouver-seeking-writer-short-film/7292425505.html
Source – Craigslist

Scriptwriter needed for Youtube channel
https://www.upwork.com/job/Hiring-Script-Writer-for-YouTube-Channel_~0114bc9822336d5584/
Source – Upwork

Writer needed to help with three separate projects
https://www.upwork.com/job/Full-length-Screenplay-draft-needs-work_~0146e332c5f7cfbe61/
Source – Upwork

Writer required to adapt a novel to screenplay
https://www.upwork.com/freelance-jobs/screenwriting/
Source – Upwork

Scriptwriter for Ghost related Youtube channel
https://www.upwork.com/job/Scriptwriter-for-Ghost-Related-Youtube-Channel_~011093a74f153769c9/
Source – Upwork

Fantasy Novel adaptation opportunity
https://www.upwork.com/job/Screenplay-For-Icya-The-Twin-Souls_~0196177caf57622def/
Source – Upwork

True-life story adaptation opportunity
https://www.upwork.com/jobs/~010be6e8e0405eaddd
Source – Upwork

Options, Sales and Production

A few people have asked me how I manage to sell and option so many short scripts.

Others have shared their experiences of optioning/selling scripts, and their frustrations regarding what happens next.

Or as is often the case – what fails to happen next.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to take a look at both sides of the coin, and share my experiences and info gleaned from other writers.

In this piece, I’ve strived to be as ‘full disclosure’ as possible without discussing individual deals. And please keep in mind, that each deal is different, so your mileage may vary!

Sales and Options

According to my calculations, I’ve written close to a hundred short scripts, seven features and a couple of TV pilots.

Of the shorts, 20 or so have been filmed, with many, but not all, having been made available online at some point or another. A further 15 of them are currently sold, or under option.

I say ‘currently’ because at least the same amount have been optioned in the past but not proceeded and the option has lapsed, some of my scripts have been optioned four or five times and still not made it to production.

Of the Feature scripts, I’ve had three of my specs optioned (all currently lapsed) and one that I wrote for a Producer in India filmed and briefly released – even appeared on Netflix for a few weeks.

So, let me clarify what I mean when I use the terms Sales or Options.

Option: Someone wants to make your script and you agree with them to let them try and pull the resources together to make the script within an agreed-upon window – normally 6-24 months . The agreed Option means that you stop marketing your script for the duration of the agreed timeframe and essentially take it off the market.

Note: The longer the option window you agree to the longer your script is unavailable for, so think carefully about what you are happy to sign up to.

There are two types of Options, the first more common with short scripts.

Unpaid Option – You agree to allow a Producer to attempt to make the film with no monies changing hands, common with shorts and Student filmmakers and the like.

Paid Option: A fee is paid to Option the script for the agreed window, usually the option fee is 10% of the estimated sale fee. E.g. if you agree to sell a script to a Producer for $10,000 then an option fee may be $1000. The Sale fee is usually specified and contained within the option agreement and is paid when the film starts production.

Note: You may also come across something called a Dollar Option, this is where someone wants to option your feature script for a very nominal fee, usually $1. Ask yourself if you genuinely believe the Producer who is offering you $1 can make a feature – if you think they can then go for it, otherwise stay well clear.

Sale – Outright sales are uncommon with Feature scripts, as most deals start with an Option and become a Sale when the film goes into production and the second part of the fee is paid.

But, occasionally, and again more frequently with shorts, someone may just cut to the chase and buy the script. E.g. they buy the rights to make your script for a set amount, no option fee.

So how do you get paid?

I get asked this a lot for shorts as writers seem shy or worried about it.

So, when talking with a Producer or Director, I simply ask if they have a budget for purchasing the script, then go from there. Why? Because I strongly believe a writer’s work has value. We spend time, effort and emotional energy on every script we create. So we deserve to be compensated whenever it’s possible.

What’s the worst can happen? The Producer may say “Sorry I don’t have any funds to buy/option the script” at least you will know and it may help set expectations for the production should you decide to proceed with the deal.

With this approach I would say I get paid something on 60% of my shorts and all of my Features.

The actual Contract and agreements, I tend to play by ear and work with the Producer to structure a deal that works for both parties. And, when payment is involved, there’s usually a contract.

For Shorts I think it’s fine to do this yourself, you’ll find sample contracts online, experienced Producers will likely have one they use and the agreement may be just email or a signed PDF. Whatever works best for both parties. Never be afraid to ask for what you want, or say no, or walk away if you don’t like the deal – it’s your script.

With Features, entertainment lawyers or your agent (if you have one), should be engaged to make sure everything is okay.

As to what contracts contain: that’s always different!

For me, the essential elements are these:

  • What rights are you granting to the producer? e.g. Sole and exclusive, region specific or worldwide?
  • What does it extend to? e.g.: is it just this script, or does it grant rights over sequels, remakes, etc (you should definitely try to keep these rights.)
  • Try and retain rights to the script itself, so that you may re-exploit it at a later date with a different filmmaker – particularly for shorts.
  • Make sure the contract specifies how long it’s to last for, most relevant with Options and make sure you keep track of these dates so you know when they’ve lapsed.
  • Make sure the agreement covers what credit you will receive on the film and IMDB.
  • Make certain all payment terms and amounts are included – plus timings and delivery mechanisms of the payments.
  • Ask for a profit share, a couple of % should the film make a profit.
  • If in doubt about a clause, seek clarity before you sign.

Pre-production Frustration

So for those who’ve sold/optioned scripts and now wait in limbo, often with no updates from the filmmaker. Please believe: I feel your pain!

But in the end, there’s very little you can do. Producers and Directors are not doing it to you on purpose (as much as it may seem that way). No, there’s a whole host of reasons it can take a while before an optioned script goes into production.

  • They have a window – which just so happens to be 6 months away.
  • Their plans change. Many short film-makers have other jobs. Your short is just their passion project, which can only be done on their off time.
  • Resources and/or finances change. Or disappear.
  • They flat-out change their mind.

Of course, none of those reasons make the process any less frustrating… however how valid they may be. My advice. Patience is a virtue. Practice it. Often and wisely.

As a side note: it’s often interesting to see how willing or unwilling the film maker is to involve you in the process. In my experience, I’ve had audition tapes sent to me for my review. Rewritten scenes as required. Advised on prop selections, etc. Even if the producer prefers you take a ‘hands off’ approach, there’s no harm in letting them know you are keen to work with them, if desired, so as to better understand the process.

Post-production

But once a script is finally produced, everything comes up roses.

Right?

Well kinda. But not really. Among other things you’ll learn about (drum roll)…

Post-production.

Post-production is where a lot of the magic happens. Film editing. Sound effects. Colour correction. Music, titles, credits. And more.

Needless to say, that can take awhile. So you’ll need to practice your patience again.

Please don’t interpret any of this as a complaint. If I didn’t think it was all worth it, I wouldn’t have written all those scripts and wouldn’t still be writing them.

But it’s good for writers to be aware of the potential bumps in the road and factor them into your expectations.

Thank God – The Damned Thing’s Filmed!

Yes, that day has finally come. You’ve been sent a Vimeo link, or a DVD of your film. Now you can relax and soak in compliments from your jealous friends.

Right?

Well. Sorta. But then you watch the film – and your over-critical ID chimes in.

Because, unless you directed and edited the final movie, it’s very, VERY likely it won’t be exactly the same as what you envisioned in your mind’s eye.

Reasons for changes are unending. Budgetary concerns. Dialogue can be altered. Casting may not be your taste.

And make no mistake – there’s nothing you can do about it… unless you morph into a Director, and insist on making scripts your way.

So focus on the positives!

  • You conceived a great idea.
  • You had the creative skill to distill your ideas into a successful script.
  • You had the gumption and fortitude to get that script into the hands of a real film maker, who thought highly enough of it to invest time, effort and money to make it a reality.

As a result, you’re now watching something that has your name in the credits. You’re a produced screenwriter, which is no small achievement. No matter how arduous the journey was.

Unless that doesn’t happen and the film, despite being made, never comes out publicly. I have a few that this has happened to, I’ve seen the film but I may be the only one who has ;-(

Not a lot you can do about that one either.

Hopefully, you will Option and Sell a bunch of scripts, and hopefully the above will prove useful.

Screenwriting Competitions

I decided to enter a few competitions with some of my short scripts… And quickly discovered that, as screenwriters, we are spoilt for choice. There’s hundreds of contests out there, with new ones starting every year. So which ones should you be entering, and spending your hard earned money on?

When all was said and done, I collected two 1st place, one Runner’s up, a Third, a Finalist and one Semi-Finalist placing. (In the interest of full disclosure, I also entered five more scripts that got absolutely nowhere. Nada. Zilch!) But I did gain knowledge and experience in the process – and that’s valuable as well.

But, let’s back up for a moment and ask one important question… Exactly why do you want to enter competitions in the first place? For me, it was reasons 3 and 4 from the list below. But different competitions offer different opportunities. It’s important to define your goals at the very start, in order to plan proper strategy. Do you want to:

  1. Get yourself an agent, manager, producer.
  2. Get professional coverage.
  3. Win prizes, such as money/trophies/software/film festival passes, etc.
  4. Add ‘award winning screenwriter’ to your resume.
  5. A mix of various aspects of the above.

Let’s consider these motives, one by one.

1) Obtaining an Agent, Manager or Producer

There are only a handful of screenplay contests that will consistently get you this level of attention – and then only if you place semi finalist or finalist. These are the big players in the game: The Academy Nicholl FellowshipPage AwardsScriptapaloozaBlueCat, and a handful of others (that I have less direct experience with.)

But remember – if you’re angling for these big fish – these contests attract thousands of entries. Competition will certainly be fierce!

– Page has been around for over 10 years and has a $25,000 First Prize. In 2014, it was won by Matias Caruso (interview here), whose started sharing his writing and learning his craft on SimplyScripts.

– Nicholl has been around even longer – thirty years and receives over 7000 entries annually. Up to five winners can receive $35,000 fellowships.

– Scriptapalooza has been in the game over 17 years, receiving over 4000 entries annually. One major plus: the judges are all agents, managers or producers and the first prize is $10,000.

– BlueCat has been around since 1998, attracting over 4000 entries per year. This one boasts a $15,000 grand prize (and $10,000 for the winning short too!)

Not to mention other high profile comps, like Final Draft’s Big BreakScript PipelineAustin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, etc. Score big with one of these, and your feature, short or TV pilot could connect with the ‘right’ people.

2) Get coverage

You can get coverage from a variety of sources – from the free opinion of people online, to shelling out hundreds of dollars for professional readers (of varying quality.) You can also get it as a result of entering some screenplay contests – which is sometimes packaged as part of the entry fee. Bluecat does that. So does ReelWriters. So when you are contemplating a competition, research if they do a coverage package – and determine if that’s useful for you.

3) Win something

Prizes range all over the map: nice trophies. Free software, discounted services… all the way up to some pretty substantial monetary prizes. Screencraft for example, have a number of competitions with various prizes. Check out what the competition you’re considering offers – and if it’s something valuable to you. I.e. is it worth spending $30 to enter a competition for a copy of Final Draft, if you bought a copy recently? Probably not – if that’s all that a win will mean.

4) Award winning screenwriter bragging rights

Does this matter? Well, if it’s PageNicholl, etc – then yes, it probably does. As for the others… Well, here’s how I think about it personally. When trying to persuade producers/directors to read your scripts, I think ‘award winning’ may help get your script read. (And maybe even read first.) It may also be something a producer might be able to use while marketing your work. I’ve never heard anyone say it’s a bad thing. Though you have to balance that against the cost of multiple entry fees!

5) All the above (or any combination)

Hey – wouldn’t it be grand to win a competition and really score? Get the prizes, the coverage, the bragging rights – and have your work seen and produced? Well, one can definitely dream. And if you back it up with hard work… those dreams do sometimes come close enough to reach…!

Researching Competitions and Lists

Okay – so you’ve decided competitions are worth a try. But if you’re not ready to tackle Nicholl, where can learn about the smaller fry? Here are a few handy links that I’ve used in my searches – complete with details on submission requirements, deadlines, etc…

1) Movie Bytes – http://www.moviebytes.com/

2) InkTip – http://inktip.com/competition_directory.php

3) FilmFreeway (Film Festivals too) – https://filmfreeway.com/

4) Without A Box – (Film Festivals too) – https://www.withoutabox.com/

5) Coverfly (Competition and tracking portal)https://www.coverfly.com/

* It’s worth pointing out that some Film Festivals – like AustinNashville, etc – have screenwriting comps within their festivals. Getting into the finals of these often includes free passes for the festival as well.

Finally, let’s end with a few tips – garnered both from my own experience and common sense:

1) Thoroughly research any competition you are thinking of entering. How long has it been established, who runs it? Are there any complaints online? If you have serious doubts… spend your money elsewhere.

2) Does it have a genre bias and does that bias fit with your script(s)? If so, use this to your advantage.

3) Does it offer different categories for scripts, e.g. Drama, Horror, Comedy? In general, the more categories the better. That means that your Horror opus won’t be competing against indie Dramedies. (Especially good if you get a reader whose favorite film is Juno!)

4) Do all scripts have to have a certain theme? I found an Australian comp where all the films had to involve dogs! If your script doesn’t fit, it won’t win.

5) What can you afford? Competition entries can mount up fast. Always spend wisely. Look for discounts via sites like FilmFreeway, Coverfly and MovieBytes. And take advance of early entry discounts, too.

6) Do you want your script tied up? Most competitions have a “no option” entry requirements, so If your script’s been already optioned/sold, that disqualifies it from competition, and if it gets optioned during the competition window then it can get disqualified too. Now, that’s no problem if you’ve just landed a $10K option, versus say a $250 prize. But what if someone wants to option your script for free, or a $1 type option? Remember, too, that many competitions have very long entry windows. Your script could be ‘considered’ for months.

7) Read the rules carefully. Make sure you understand all the requirements, and any rights you’re potentially signing away. (For instance, winning the Disney Fellowship may require certain compromises.)

8) This should go without saying, but make sure you send in the best version of your script possible. And I don’t just mean the strongest story. I mean proofread the script within an inch of it’s life. Why spoil your chances – and waste your money – with a poorly formatted script, strewn with typos and littered with grammatical errors?

9) Send a properly formatted script in PDF format. Word docs and other files are a strict no-no.

10) Don’t forget to take your name and address details off the script title sheet if the competition asks for it (Page does, for instance).

So what now? Get out there and research! Pick your competitions wisely. Polish your script until it shines. Then submit…. And let it go. It’s in the hands of the judges now….

Where do people advertise for scripts?

This time around we’re examining places where people are on the hunt for scripts.

This means you’ll be actively chasing down leads – taking the initiative. That requires more work, of course. But isn’t your script worth it?

A few rules and pointers before we begin:

  1. Always read any Script Ad/Lead thoroughly and make sure your work fits the requirements. There’s NO point sending a short comedy script if the ad’s for a horror feature.
  2. Provide a succinct Bio of your experience and achievements. Keep it brief, to the point, and review its relevance for each ad/opportunity you apply for.
  3. Unless otherwise requested, send loglines first. Make sure they really sizzle – and never send more than two or three for the same opportunity.
  4. If it’s a paid site, you need to make sure it’s going to provide you sufficient value for your money. Many have testimony pages from previous users and/or trial periods.
  5. Producers/Directors who are looking for scripts post their Ads all over the place. So you may find duplications – seeing the same ad on Mandy, then SSU or ISA.

I’ve tried many of these resources, and keep an eye on them regularly, but there are always new ones popping up… so keep your eyes peeled.

Mandy – www.mandy.com
A site full of TV and Film production jobs. You can filter and tailor your searches as needed. It has RSS feeds too (more on that later.) Applying is done through the site itself, so you’ll need to register. But it’s free.

Stage 32 – www.stage32.com/find-jobs
I’ve mentioned this excellent resource before; a great community covering every aspect of filmmaking. They have job postings, too. All sorts of film and TV opportunities so use the filter liberally. Application is via the site itself. It’ll be easier if you’ve got your loglines and scripts already posted on the site. And – like Mandy – it’s free.

International Screenwriters’ Association – http://www.networkisa.org/writing-gigs.php
ISA, Like Stage 32, has a specific jobs section where opportunities are listed. But these are exclusively writing ones. They used to have some free leads on the site but now it looks like they’re only available if you are a paid ISA member.

Shooting People – https://shootingpeople.org/production/work
A site dedicated to connect independent film makers (in the UK) and facilitating the creation of new films. It’s subscription only and is approximately £8 a month. The Ads on here seem to be exclusive to SP (more on that later) and are applied for within the site. I’ve subscribed to these for the last several months. I just wish there were more ads specific to screenwriting.

Screenwriting Staffing (aka SSU) – http://www.screenwritingstaffing.com/
This one’s a little different. It has two distinct services when it comes to screenwriting leads, as well as a whole host of info and services on their website.

  • Unpaid Leads – sent as a weekly email and also available on the site at https://www.screenwritingstaffing.com/free-membership . Needless to say, these are ads looking for scripts/writers with no payment involved. This service is completely free.
  • Paid Leads – sent as an email approximately 5 times a week with 2-3 leads per email. With these, the Producer/Director has a budget to pay for the script. It’s all a part of their Premium Service, which costs around $15 a month or $99 for an annual membership – though they often have seasonal discounts.

Craigslist – http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
The world’s largest free ads site. If you have something you want to buy, sell, rent, shill or give away, Craigslist’s the go-to place. A weird mess of everything – including ads for scripts and writers. CL isn’t the easiest place to navigate, so I’ve outlined the basics for you. Further down, I’ll explain how to make life a whole lot easier…

  • Click on the link above. Scroll down to the list of Cities (CL sites are classified geographically).
  • For the purpose of this example, scroll down to “California” and click on “Los Angeles”. (Places like New York and London are logical options, too.)
  • Below, you’ll find a page full of different categories of ads. Click on Writing/Editing in the Jobs section or Writing in the Gigs
  • That will give you a list of all the ads in that section. There are literally hundreds, only a few of which are screenwriting, so…
  • Use the search box – found on the top left of the page – to narrow the list down. I personally use ‘script’, ‘screenplay’ and ‘screenwriter’ as my search terms.

Voila, there you go!

* A quick word of warning: there have been concerns raised over Craigslist and sending scripts out to strangers posting there. I suggest you limit your responses to well written and professional looking ads. Send loglines only first, and make sure you’re comfortable with the original poster before going further and emailing your work.

Reddit, Produce My Script – http://www.reddit.com/r/producemyscript
This sub reddit allows you to post your scripts, but it also has Producers/Directors posting script requests too.

Inktip – http://www.inktip.com/sa_preferred_newsletter.php
Inktip’s another site that works both ways. Not only can you post your script, but they have a weekly newsletter with leads. The service costs $60 for 4 months (half if you have a Feature script posted on the site, too.) There’s also a Free Newsletter that includes a couple of leads per week – different from the ones on the paid mailing, so make sure you subscribe to the free version, even if you do get the paid version.

Production Base – http://www.productionbase.co.uk/film-tv-jobs
UK exclusive and it’s a paid subscription with multiple levels of cost, has some good opportunities listed as it’s a general Industry site. I’ve not used this one myself, so I’m not sure how effective it is.

BBC Writer’s Roomhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities
Free and has both BBC submission opportunities and non-BBC opportunities to boot. Quite a few stageplay requests pop up here too.

Google https://careers.google.com/jobs/results/
Yes, you can use Google Jobs service to look for writing job. Set your location and search criteria and off you go. Switch on Alerts and it will even message you the opportunities.

UK Scriptwriting Opportunitieshttps://www.facebook.com/ScriptwritingUK/
A Facebook page run by the awesome Danny Stack (UK Writer & Director) that lists some interesting UK base opportunities.

Upwork https://www.upwork.com/freelance-jobs/
A freelance jobsite that also occasionally lists screenwriting jobs you can pitch for.

(Other freelancer/general recruitment sites will also occasionally have screenwriter posts too)

Hope all of this has been of help. If I’ve missed any resources, please reach out and let me know. I’ll include it in any future updates!

Where to advertise your scripts…

You got yourself an online presence. TICK.

You’ve used some of the handy sites we mentioned last time to garner feedback, and improve upon perfection. TICK.

So – here you stand (or more likely sit): armed with a finished, polished script. But now who’s going to make it? And how will they learn of its existence?

Well, our third article is here to help you out – providing you, the writer, with a host of sites and services especially geared to get your script out there. To be seen – and hopefully filmed. After all, that’s what we’re writing them for!

Isn’t it?

A few tips before we dive in.

  • On Forums and Message Boards, make sure you follow their rules and post in the right place. Nothing’s worse than a writer who barges in, and doesn’t bother to get the “lay of the land.”
  • Keep posts short and sweet – and watch them for responses.
  • Post your logline, and make it zing. After all, it’s the first and possibly the last thing a reader will react to.
  • Link to your website or IMDB page etc. That gives people a chance to check out your other work.

So onto the resources. And what better place to start, than …

Simply Scripts (SS) – http://www.simplyscripts.com/submit_your_script_new.html

Submit a logline and your script. When you do, it’ll appear in two places.

The Discussion Board – lots of screenwriters frequent SS. It’s here that they’ll take a look at your work, and offer you their thoughts. These are great free reads. Perfect to use for your next revision.

Unproduced Scripts – A round up of all scripts submitted in the previous week.

Note: Your script will also be findable via the sites’ search engine, various genre links and (potentially) through SS’s ‘Random Short Script of the Day’.

I have had more options and sales for my short scripts through SS than any other site/resource.

Script Revolutionhttps://www.scriptrevolution.com/

Script Revolution didn’t exist when I originally wrote this article, now it is a MUST use resource… created by a fellow writer (CJ Whalley) and it’s totally free to list shorts, features, TV pilots, everything!

It has less interaction between the writer’s than a site like Simply Scripts, but it doesn’t focus on that aspect really. It is extremely well designed, very visual and allows Producers to get into very specific details on their script searches as there’s so much info you can add for your script including budget, themes, story types etc.

Love the feature that allows you to upload a mock-up poster for each listing, a really nice and eye-catching feature.

New features are regularly added as SR goes from strength to strength.

Shooting The Shorts (STS) – https://www.scriptrevolution.com/shootin-the-shorts

STS is now a part of Script Revolution. select the STS option when you list your script and they may give your script a review. If they do, it will appear a few weeks later with a review from another writer on SR. Built as a showcase really, all reviews are positive – giving potential film makers a taste of what’s in store when they crack open that PDF. It’s so much better than a simple logline on the site!

Inktip – http://www.inktip.com/

Inktip is primarily for Indie, lowish budget Features and has been around for a long time. It has a pretty decent track record of connecting screenwriters with producers and getting things made. They also provide a host of other services including script tracking, a competition portal and a whole lot more. Some things are paid for, others free… and listing Short scripts on the site is one of the free elements!
Submit your shorts for free via http://www.inktip.com/sa_short_script_listing.php
Interview with CEO

Blacklist – https://blcklst.com/

A site definitely geared for the Feature screenwriter. My experience of it is non-existent, but some writers have had success. Blacklist takes the approach of evaluating and scoring scripts by at least two of their readers (the site’s reader evaluations are paid for by the individual writer. Any resulting industry reviews are free.) This allows prospective film makers to get an opinion of a script in advance – though some writers have taken issue with evaluations and scores.

The site has been around for a long time now, and has a number of other features and sections so it is definitely worth a look.

Reddit, Produce my script – http://www.reddit.com/r/producemyscript

There’s a forum for everything you could ever think of on Reddit, and that includes Screenwriting. The ‘Produce my Script’ forum has been set up to connect writers with filmmakers. The filmmaking side tends to be students and gifted amateurs. But give it a try. You never know where the next Tarantino will emerge from.

This is another one that is FREE!

WinningScripts – http://www.moviebytes.com/ws/

Sister site to MovieBytes (a great competition portal). WinningScripts offers writers a great opportunity to get their scripts listed and seen by industry professionals. One can list an unlimited number of scripts on the site for a modest annual fee (currently $29.95). Included in that is a logline, synopsis and script excerpt. Interested film makers can contact you to request full scripts. There’s also a Top 10 section based on scripts that have won or placed in competitions.

Stage 32 – http://www.stage32.com/

A great online community for all aspects of film making. Once you’ve joined, you can upload loglines. People can check them out and contact you if interested. I’m not sure this is the most active or well used feature on Stage 32 but it is another of the free ones, so you’ve nothing to lose really.

International Screenwriter’s Association (ISA) – http://www.networkisa.org/

Upload your script’s logline and other details for free, which are then visible via the site’s database. But the other areas of the site are via an annual subscription, such as Jobs section. Again… you lose nothing by listing.

Selling Your Screenplay, SYS Selecthttp://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/

Created by screenwriter, Ashley Scott-Meyers, Selling Your Screenplay offers a range of different services and resources, many of them free. It also has a paid for service called SYS Select which includes script listing for Features, Short, TV etc. It’s a little like Inktip, in as much as it has indie Producers using the site to find scripts.
The monthly subscription is $30, which includes unlimited listings, a simple free website for your scripts, weekly screenplay leads and a monthly newsletter that goes to their stable of producers.
Interview with CEO

Coverfly https://www.coverfly.com/

Coverfly is a little different as it’s more about contest placements and tracking successes. To do so you create a profile, upload scripts and submit them to competitions, writing programs and the like. This creates a Coverfly score which Producers can look at, amongst other things, when using the site looking for projects and/or writers. If you intend to enter any competitions then you should definitely do it via Coverfly.

Script Motherhttps://www.scriptmother.com/

A peer review site where you earn points based on the reviews you provide to others… these points are then traded in for reviews of your own script (or you can buy the reviews!). Your script is then rated based on these reviews and available to see to interested Producers and filmmakers. The site is free to use and isn’t restricted to scripts, fiction can be uploaded too.

Now for a few new ones that seem to have sprung up in 2019-2020.

Script Bookhttps://scriptbook.io/

Script Book uses AI analysis to create a huge set of data on submitted scripts, that in theory Producers can then look at when looking for scripts. The basic service is free, but only provides limited data to you the writer… if you want more, i.e. to see everything that the producer sees, well it is a lot more!

Jury is out on this one as I’m not sure I’ve heard of any successful script listings getting picked up so far… certainly an interesting idea though.
Interview with CEO

Story Gohttps://storygo.io/

Another free script hosting/listing site with a decent interface and the ability to upload script, some additional docs, a poster image and the like. You accumulate points based on your activity on the site, which presumably influences where your scripts then show on the sites Top 100 lists and the like. However areas of the site such as Top 100 are only available to Producers.
Note: I’ve had some technical issues with the site on occasion and they do not seem to respond to emails.

Script Havenhttps://www.scripthaven.com/

So, Script Haven is US only at the moment and requires you to have registered your with the WGA as one of the terms of listing. They also have in their T&Cs that they will receive 15% of any sale or option that come about through listing on the site… listings themselves are free.

taleflickhttps://www.taleflick.com/

On this site you can list novels, graphic novels, short stories and screenplays… the idea being anything that you could sell to make a movie from.

However, the basic listing package is $99 per story uploaded with lots of add-ons and other services that you can pay for.
Interview with CEO

The Mavericks of Cinemahttps://themavericksofcinema.com/

French, though site is all in English, with a focus on trying to bring Producers, Writers and Actors all into one place. It’s free to list your script but charges Producers to use the services (which seems odd).
Interview with CEO

Story Datahttps://www.storydata.io/

Story Data is another free script hosting site that is trying to make its mark. It focuses on security of your script and ensuring unauthorised people don’t see it or share it. For this it uses Blockchain technology, a first (I think) in script hosting sites.
Interview with CEO

As you can see, there are a lot of places where you can list/host your scripts to get them seen. Remember, you are trying to get Producers to find you and your scripts, so look into the sites listed and definitely consider the free sites – be rude not to!

So, until the next article – get those scripts out there!

Getting feedback on your script

In the first article, Marketing Yourself, we looked at establishing an online presence for you and your work. So hopefully you’ve now got your new website all set up and ready to go. And you’re all over Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter like ants at the proverbial picnic table…

So what’s next on your journey towards screenwriting world domination?

Well, you could use some of the great resources out there to get coverage (aka, feedback, notes etc) on your cinematic baby. Rewriting and polishing it until it shines, for that day when you get that oh so precious email: “send us a copy of your script…”

As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So you want that script to be perfect.

Don’t you?

Okay, so you’re not going to get professional coverage without paying for it (and you may wish to pay for coverage at some point).

But there are some great places to get your screenplays read without shelling out your limited dough, complete with feedback and notes.

Below you’ll find a list of sites where gifted amateur screenwriters – and the occasional pro – congregate and provide useful recommendations.

A few words of caution before we dive in: it’s worth pointing out that you’re putting your work (your baby!) online for others to see and comment on.

1) Make sure it’s copyrighted and registered somewhere – through the Library of Congress, WGA, WriteProtect, Write Vault etc. And no, not everyone’s out to steal your script or idea. But, as in all walks of life, there are occasionally some bad apples lurking around. Somewhere.

2) Bear in mind: on the net, free expression reigns supreme. Barring any board limits and moderations, people can and will voice their opinions as they see fit. Feedback is usually respectful, but inevitably some trolling and flaming occurs.

3)   Check your grammar and spellen. (Um, “spelling”) And then check it again! Readers quickly get distracted with error strewn scripts… and often leave choice comments before they move onto other things. Besides, if you can’t be bothered to run an easy spell check and read through the pages, why in the world would you expect a stranger to do so. For free?!? (An extra tip, if grammar isn’t your thing, there’s some online help… check out Grammarly or Ginger for example.)

4)   Make sure the screenplay’s formatted correctly, using screenwriting software to ensure the basics are right. Final Draft like to think they are the standard, but they’re bit pricey for a beginner. For the cash strapped, Trelby is free, CeltX basic free, as is the web version of WritersDuet. At the more modest end of paid are programs like FadeIn. Whatevcer you use, make sure your formatting’s up to snuff as it removes reader distraction.

5)   Save or upload your docs as PDFs. People don’t like seeing screenplays written in Word. It screams amateur no matter how well formatted it is.

6)   The vast majority of the sites we’ll look at work on – and appreciate – reciprocity. So if you ask for a read, make darned well sure you give thoughtful ones in return.

7)   Consider all comments and feedback. No script is so perfect that it can’t be improved on. That said, don’t forget it’s your script. So use the recommendations to improve and polish your work. Not change it into something you don’t like.

8)   Don’t limit yourself to asking for script feedback. These sites are the online homes of tons of helpful fellow writers. Reach out to them with other questions as well. How to get through a tricky piece of writing, logline reviews, etc. You name it. People will have thought about it, and will be willing to share.

Now for the online resources themselves:

Simply Scripts – http://www.simplyscripts.com/

Kind of an obvious choice, given it’s where I cut my teeth and continue to be active. But it’s a fact that bears repeating: the SimplyScripts discussion board is populated by a bunch of talented writers, most of whom are happy to help fellow scribes out. The site has two primary sections for getting script exposure: 1) A general discussion board for unproduced works – divided by features/shorts and genres, 2) The script showcase, where selected short scripts get additional exposure through in-depth reviews. You submit to both via SimplyScripts submission form

Reddit – http://www.reddit.com/r/ReadMyScript/

Reddit has a few different areas (fondly known as sub-reddits) for writing, and two or three that focus on screenwriting in particular. I’ve found that the link provided above is the most suitable one for your needs. The feedback is usually decent. Not as good or in depth as SS – and there’s the occasional troll or flame war. But you’re on-line. You should be used to that!

Writing Forums – writingforums.org/workshop/scripts-and-screenplays/

A new one on me discovered whilst researching this article, but from what I can see it is a good general writing forum with a dedicated screenplay section that seems fairly quiet but scripts look like they get commented on.

Shooting the Short – scriptrevolution.com/shootin-the-shorts

Now part of the Script Revolution (SR) site. If you have you scripts listed on SR then there’s an option when you upload to have your script reviewed – IF the reviewing panel like it enough. This is not really for first drafts, rather the polished final article looking for some final thoughts and extra exposure.

IndieTalk – http://www.indietalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=43

A movie making Forum with a relatively healthy screenwriting section. If you ask for script feedback, you’ll generally get 5-10 responses which is pretty decent.

AbsoluteWrite – http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=12

A broader forum that contains a wealth of info on a number of writing specialties (including Screenwriting, of course.) It’s worth a look – but it’s a lot less active than it used to be with very few recent posts.

Stage 32 – http://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting

It’s a little like Facebook or LinkedIn, but specifically for film makers. Each discipline has it’s own “Lounge” for discussion and online interaction. There, you’ll find a variety of exchanges: requests for feedback on scripts, loglines and more. As is true everywhere, there’s a ton of opinions on S32… so please remember Rule #5. It’s your script. Take constructive criticism and value it. But remain true to your vision.

Zoetrope – http://www.zoetrope.com

Yep, Copolla’s site! You need to join officially. But then you can post scripts and get them read. And you do need to read scripts in return. This is one site that I’ve limited experience with but still seems reasonably active, and it’s not limited to screenwriting, you can get feedback on fiction too.

CoverflyX – https://www.coverfly.com/x/

Part of the Coverfly competitions and tracking portal is this new service that hooks you up with other writing peers so that you can exchange notes. Not used it personally but it’s Coverfly so worth a look.

Talentville – www.talentville.com/

A writing community where you can join and have your work reviewed. As I understand it you can get one script reviewed for free, but beyond that it is a paid membership you will need which is $40 a year I think (with optional extras).

Facebook

There are a variety of Screenwriting groups on FB, none that I’ve found are specifically dedicated to script feedback but you may find some willing and friendly souls willing to take a look at your scripts.

ALSO
You may be looking enough to have a regional forum or writer’s group, online or in person, that would allow you to get script feedback and swap notes. Just Google “Writer’s groups in XXX” or “Screenwriting groups in XXX” where XXX is your location… you may find something nearby that can help improve your script.

Lastly, there are a number of Screenwriting groups on Facebook, feedback on these can be a little hit and miss but you will often see members post a few pages for review.

Well, that’s enough sites to start with. If I’ve missed any then please let me know and I’ll update the article.

In the meantime, start digging around in these sites – they’re all essential tools to improve your script, your craft… and provide valuable networking opportunities too!

Marketing Yourself

This article was originally published in 2016, and a lot has happened since… so this is the 2020 version, it’s November – so almost the 2021 version 😉

So – you’ve finally done it; you’ve completed your first short script. Congratulations! Great feeling, isn’t it?

Now what? Well re-write, re-write and re-write…. Until the final version of your script really shines.

But once you’ve gotten to that blessed point, how the hell do you get it filmed?

Now what?

That was the question that confronted me in August 2013, when I finished my first short, Prototype.

I wrestle with that question every day, on some level or another. And I’ve discovered there’s no one answer, or quick unravel of this Gordian knot. Believe me on this. I’ve looked and tried.

What I have discovered in my research is a wealth of information scattered around the net: resources, writing communities willing to help – and a bunch of places to connect with potential filmmakers.

I will cover all the info I’ve found in future articles.

But first things first.

Forget for a moment about the script. You have to be ready to market you.

Marketing Yourself

Let’s be honest. To some, “Marketing” is a dirty word.

But I think it’s best seen as a great opportunity – a chance to showcase your writing. With the right approach and attitude, you can use the tools of marketing to share:

  • News on your newest scripts and their availability
  • Your growing success when things get produced, wins in competitions, etc.
  • Your thoughts and ramblings on writing and film making
  • Your own tips and info on how to get those darned scripts made

In other words, you have to “get yourself out there.” It’s a horrible, over-used expression – but important if you want to get your scripts actually filmed. And get them made regularly.

I was lucky. For me, marketing came pretty naturally.

You see, I work in marketing (please don’t hate me or throw things!) But for others, it might not be as easy. So here’s a quick guide to some of the tools you can use to “enhance your profile”:

A website

A website is essential.

It provides you with somewhere to refer potential film makers to – a place they can look beyond the pat logline, and find details of what you have available, successes, other things you write.

It’s a place to compile and showcase scripts that you’ve had filmed and show that you take writing seriously. In other words, it’s the hub of you.

Mine is www.anthonycawood.co.uk have a look and see how I’ve put this into practice.

When you step into the world of web design, btw, you should seriously consider getting your own domain. (That’s the bit after www.) If so, have a look at domain companies like http://www.123-reg.co.uk/ or similar.

If you’re proficient in building websites, you can even consider a do-it-yourself option, and place it with a dedicated hosting service. Check out http://web-hosting-review.toptenreviews.com/ for a few examples.

Building your own site can be daunting and chances are, you’re not an IT programmer! But, it can be easier than you think. There are tons of services out there that take IT out of the process… providing templates, drag and drop functionality, etc.

Check out https://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.co.uk/ for a good selection of options. Most of these throw in a domain as part of the process, too.

But what about content? That can vary according to your style. Here are just a few examples of writer websites from the screenwriting community:

Marnie Mitchell Listerhttp://brainfluffs.com/

Breanne Matsonwww.breannemattson.com

Warren Duncan: https://warrenhduncan.wixsite.com/screenwriter

Mark Renshaw: http://mark-renshaw.com/

David Lambertson: https://dlambertson.wixsite.com/scripts

Quite a diverse bunch! But as you look them over, you’ll see some reoccurring themes and topics, such as:

  • Scripts with loglines and additional script details
  • News of their latest scripts and any developments in various projects
  • Details of produced scripts (with links to videos)
  • Contact details (email, phone, etc.)

And websites have added benefits: they make you more visible in Google and other search engines, and are also a convenient place to store your scripts (in case of that future devasting hard-drive blow-out.) I have a hidden page on mine that holds PDFs of all my scripts. That way, if I get a script request when I’m away from home, I can just send people the relevant link. You can of course use Dropbox, Google Docs and similar services for the same purpose. Or email yourself updates of scripts just in case.

And then there’s the fringe benefits. I’ve had numerous occasions where a potential film maker has asked to see Script A, checked out my website and saw a logline that they liked… then asked to see Scripts D and F too!

You can also create a web presence through a Blog type setup instead of a standard website, see below for a little more on this.

Facebook

Like most people out there, I already had a Facebook (FB) page for personal reasons. But it can be used for industry purposes as well. Many film makers create specific pages/sites for their film projects. They serve the same sort of purpose as a dedicated website, but tend to be more project specific. And also are slightly easier to set up and share. FB pages are terrific for news, networking with people who share your interests and creating communities for your work.

LinkedIn 

And when it comes to connecting – don’t forget LinkedIn as well. There are plenty of producer’s, directors and various other crew types on this business social media and connections site.

If you have another career, other than screenwriting, then don’t forget to make sure your profile also reflects both roles… just so people looking you up know your writing is serious too.

Twitter

When it comes to internet tools, Twitter’s more of a two way street. Not only can you share your news, views and general rants – but you can also get feedback from fellow writers, producers and directors. As with Facebook, it’s a great way to keep people posted on your writing developments… Just make sure you don’t end up using it as a writing diversion! I’m @anthonycawood11, by the way….

Other Stuff

Admittedly, my Website, Facebook and Twitter are my main marketing weapons of choice. But don’t forget to explore other noteworthy options:

  • Dedicated Blogs. Service providers include TumblrWordPress and others provide a slightly different way of creating a website, this post is on WordPress!
  • Instagram – great for sharing stills from films made from your scripts and engaging on a more visual level.
  • Youtube/Vimeo – also great for getting your videos seen by the masses
  • Pinterest – Good for moodboards, mocked up posters of your scripts and the like.
  • TikTok – Okay, I’ve not quite worked out how to use this one for showcasing your screenwriting but I’m sure there’s a way!

Bring them all together

For a long time I’d have links to all my different content at the footers of pages and on emails and the like. The only problem is that the more sites and services you get and use, the messier it all looks!

And then I found Link Tree: https://linktr.ee/

It’s a great free resource that collects all your various links into one, easy to navigate, list. There may be other similar services, but they’d be hard pushed to beat the simplicity of Link Tree.

My Linktree can be seen at: https://linktr.ee/tcawood

One Last Tip

Don’t forget synergy! (You’re a writer – you know what that means…) Combining the power of these tools is a great strategy for marketing.

know and you know that you’re a great screenwriter. But now it is time to make sure everyone else finds out! 

Matthew J. Lawrence – Writer/Director of Coven of Evil

Q: First up, how about a little bit of background on the man behind Macabre Pictures, how did you get into the industry?
I’ve always been into films for as long as I can remember, particularly horror. As a kid I wanted to grow up to be a special effects artist as I loved the practical effects and monsters but I wasn’t very good at making things so that probably wouldn’t have worked out. Also, Hollywood and the movie industry seemed very far away, so as I got older I never really thought of it as a career path.

I didn’t study filmmaking at Uni, but I did hang out with people who did and I helped out on a bunch of student films. But it wasn’t until much later when filmmaking equipment became more affordable in the mid naughties that I started really considering making my own films. I co-founded Macabre Pictures with Screenwriter David Ross, who is a good friend of mine.  

Q: You produced a couple of films before your Directorial debut in 2012, how did they come about?
Some of my early credits were producing roles for a friend of mine, Jemshaid Ashraf who I’d met whilst on a work experience placement at the BBC. These were extremely low budget and we were just learning really. But we were able to get them released and I’m very proud of that.

Q: You’re first Directing gig was Tied in Blood, how did that come about?
David Ross and I had made a few short films together which we didn’t put on IMDb or promote very much as they were just to cut our teeth. Tied in Blood actually started out as a short film but quickly became something bigger. We brought in another production company, Rotunda Films to handle finance, production and distribution. As a first time Director, I was glad to have Rotunda’s support and I learned a lot from them.

Q: You then made a few shorts, what were the main differences for you from the feature?
For me, the main difference is that it is much harder to get a feature film off the ground, particularly in terms of raising the money. After Tied in Blood I took some time off filmmaking to start a family and when I returned I wasn’t really in a position to start making a feature straight away so I started making shorts instead and I was fortunate enough to have some great experiences doing so.

Q: More recently you’ve moved back to features, how did the newer ones happen?
Coven of Evil marked my return to feature films. The inspiration came from Executive Producer Warren Croyle who gave me the title “Coven of Evil” and asked me to pitch a logline for it. I decided to reverse engineer the film, building a story around the actors, locations and resources that I had access to. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the glorious Yorkshire moors so this became the backdrop for Coven of Evil.

Q: What have been the main challenges for you as an independent Horror producer trying to make films in the UK?
I imagine the challenges I face as an independent filmmaker in the UK are similar to anyone working outside the Hollywood system: raising finance and securing distribution is difficult and there’s a smaller pool of local cast and crew to collaborate with. However, on the plus side, you can retain more creative control and the local community can be very supportive. 

Q: Your latest film is Coven of Evil, on Amazon Prime… how did you arrange that distribution?
Coven of Evil was funded through pre-sale financing. We raised the money to make the film by selling the distribution rights in advance. This kind of thing is very rare nowadays. I was only able to do it because I had a pre-existing relationship with the distributor who released my first film “Tied in Blood”. It’s a risky thing for distributors to give an advance to a film that hasn’t been made yet and the budget was kept really low to mitigate this risk.

Q: You used a variety of writers, how and where have you found them/their scripts?
A number of the scripts were written by David Ross, my co-founder at Macabre Pictures. I’ve always enjoyed working with David. We bounce ideas of one another really well and each of us is able to challenge the other to get the best out of him. The other writers I have worked with were people I met on various filmmaking networks such as Mandy and Shooting People.

Q: You’re also credited as Writer on the last couple of films, what prompted adding this new string to your bow?
I think that one of the reasons my collaborations with David Ross worked so well is that he’s always been able to write around locations and resources that we have access to, which makes it a lot easier to get the script made. Unfortunately, David has hung up his boots, at least for now while his kids are young, although we are still good friends. After a few failed collaborations with other writers, I decided to try developing my own scripts sticking to the principle of writing around my resources. I’ve very much enjoyed it but I certainly don’t rule out working with other writers in the future.

Q: Out of your multiple hats, which do you prefer?
My favourite role is Directing, with Screenwriting as a close second. As with a lot of indie filmmakers, I wear the other hats out of necessity. One area where I’d like to have more support going forward is on the producing side. Producing yourself is fine in the early stages of pre-production but once you start shooting, it’s really difficult to wear both the Producer’s hat and the Director’s hat at the same time.

Q: What’s next on the slate?
I’m in development on a short horror film called “Look Deeper” which is about a man who is spending the night with a married woman and then her husband comes home. It’s a dark and twisted tale and doesn’t resolve in the way that you’d expect. We’re intending to give the film a very stylised look and we are drawing influence from some of the Giallo films, particularly some of Mario Bava’s work (like Blood and Black Lace). It should be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.

I’m also working on the concept for a feature film, but I can’t say too much about that yet. It’s something I’m very excited about, but it’s quite ambitious so there’s no guarantees it’ll get greenlit.

Q: And what changes have you seen in the industry since you started?
Improvements in technology have made it easier for very low budget films to achieve better production values as well creating more opportunities for distribution through streaming. However, this has also brought about a lot more competition so it’s harder than ever before to get your film seen and to make money. Still, on balance, I think it’s a better time to be a filmmaker now then when I first got started.

Okay, now for some getting to know Joey questions…

Q: Fave movie?
That’s a difficult one, I’m going to go with The Exorcist but if you asked me on a different day, you might get a different answer.

Q: Fave script?
The Sixth Sense

Q: Best and worst filmmaking advice you’ve had/heard
I can’t recall being given any really bad advice. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes, but I don’t think these came from taking bad advice so I suppose I’ve been lucky in that regard. 

I’ve been given plenty of good advice over the years:

  • For very low budget films, craft the film around the resources you have access to. 
  • Make sure to surround yourself with collaborators who are not only talented but are passionate about and committed to the film you are making.
  • Remember Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Keep calm and try to keep going.
  • From a technical standpoint, make sure you record clean sound. Audiences (and distributors) are more forgiving when it comes to picture quality than they are with sound. Try and find a sound recordist who knows his or her stuff! This goes for both production sound and post (including ADR). 
  • You’re likely to get some criticism and negative reviews, particularly for your early films, so don’t let these discourage you. Learn from the constructive criticism and disregard the rest. Don’t worry about the opinions of people who you would never seek advice from!

Q: Fave food?
Steak (medium rare)

Q: Fave drink?
If it’s with my steak, then a nice glass of red wine. Otherwise, I’m happy with a beer or whiskey (single malt).

Q: Fave sport and team if applicable?
I love football and I’m a Crystal Palace fan.

Q: Fave thing to do outside of film related stuff?
I’m a family man and enjoy spending time with my wife and two young daughters.

Q: Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers and filmmakers out there?
I think the best way to approach independent films is to try and find a sweet spot between the kind of films you love to watch and what you can realistically get made (and hopefully sold) with the resources available to you. Also, as long as you are doing your best, don’t be too hard on yourself because making films is tough!

Q: Where can people find you online?

http://www.macabrepictures.com

twitter.com/MacabrePictures

https://www.instagram.com/macabrepictures/

https://vimeo.com/macabrepictures

https://www.facebook.com/covenofevilmovie

Thanks for the interview Matthew, Coven of Evil can be found on Amazon Prime!

OPPORTUNITIES – 16/10/2020

New set of opportunities, gl if you apply to any

Shorts required with female protag 19-29 age range
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sfv/wrg/d/los-angeles-screenwriter-screenplay/7215151034.html
Source – Craigslist

Production company looking for true stories
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/wrg/d/los-angeles-production-company-looking/7214088173.html
Source – Craigslist

Experienced screenwriter needed for TV comedy series
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/wrg/d/los-angeles-experienced-screenwriter/7213402132.html
Source – Craigslist

Screenwriter needed for Firefighter script
https://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/wrg/d/yonkers-screenplay-about-fire-fighter/7212331844.html
Source – Craigslist

Seasoned producer looking for spec writers
https://vancouver.craigslist.org/van/wrg/d/vancouver-seasoned-producer-with-imdb/7214061649.html
Source – Craigslist

Fall/autumn related shorts sought
http://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/jb3pow/looking_for_fallhalloweenthanksgiving_short_order/
Source – reddit

Mob type short required
http://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/ja17fw/mob_type_short_request/
Source – reddit

Found footage horror short needed
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/j2nzx7/found_footage_horror/
Source – reddit

NY based filmmaker looking for a feature
https://www.reddit.com/r/ProduceMyScript/comments/j1l2d3/producing_second_feature_film/
Source – reddit

Ultra low budget feature required
https://www.stage32.com/jobs/800987/Screenplays-Wanted-Any-Location-okay
Source – Stage 32

Wanted, Adventure scripts for kids
https://www.stage32.com/jobs/90848/Wanted-Adventure-scripts-for-kids
Source – Stage 32

Amazon Prime Writer’s Slam, UK only pitch opportunity
https://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities/triforce-writerslam
Source – BBC Writer’s Room

New Year’s Eve 2020 themed shorts, UK only, table read opportunity
https://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunities/sik-productions
Source – BBC Writer’s Room

Thanks for reading…