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Old January 8th, 2009, 02:31 AM   #1
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I want to make a film, but don't want to write a script...where can I get one?

I've mostly been shooting independent music videos, but I'm very interested in making a film... however, I haven't written a story in years and I don't really feel like being a writer, I rather focus on directing/film-making.

I don't have a ton of money to pay a "professional" writer or pay thousands of dollars for a screenplay....is there any good way I could go about finding a script from an up and comer? Are there any community forums or venues where I could find someone with a good script or screenplay that I could make a film out of?

I'm interested in making a "feature" film, not a short.

Thanks for any help.

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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:44 AM   #2
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First, let me say that I am kind of in the same boat: I like directing more than writing and, try though I might, I have the most difficult time writing a story that makes sense and flows from point to point. Very frustrating.

Now to answer your question with another question: why are you making a feature film? Do you intend to pitch a story to a group of investors and get backing so you can make and distribute it to the masses? Are you planning to take it onto the festival circuit? Are you just trying your hand at something new?

How you go about getting a script or a writer will be determined primarily by your answer to this question. If you're just intrigued at the thought of being the director of a 'feature' film but aren't really serious about marketing it for profit, I'd turn to the writer in your family, or a friend who's good at storytelling. Collaborate with them on the story if they'll let you- it'll help give you a sense of ownership of the story, and sharpen your vision for bringing it to the screen.

If, however, you're undertaking this to leave your mark on the big screen, you might consider optioning a script. If you're not familiar with the term, optioning is putting a downpayment on a story to retain exclusive rights to produce it for a certain period of time. Maybe you can get your hands on a few treatments stored away in some movie studio basement, or call up the author of one of your favorite novels and see if they want to turn their story into a movie. You find out how much they want to sell the rights for, and you pay them a percentage (usually ten percent) now with the promise to pay the rest later.

There's more that goes into this, and I suggest you read Dov Simens' book From Reel To Deal, as well as Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices and Extreme DV at Used Car Prices, both by Rick Schmidt, for further insight.

Good Luck,

Chris
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Old January 8th, 2009, 08:42 AM   #3
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Speaking as a filmmaker, and a screenwriter - Christopher's advice is dead-on. You're not likely to be able to get a polished script from an agented writer (or even one that's been optioned) unless you have the backing to show that you can get the job done.

Screenplays can be written very quickly - the fastest for me was three weeks - or they can take years to gestate and evolve - the longest for me was fourteen years. (And it won a Platinum Remi Award at Worldfest Houston Intl. Film Festival)

A family member or friends IS a good place to start. Or perhaps approach the local community college creative writing program. EVERYONE I know is 'working on a screenplay'. It's a cliche, that's why the boat rower hands his script to Shakespeare in "Shakespeare in Love." Doesn't mean it will be a good script, but you never know where you'll find a diamond in the rough.

Think about shooting a couple of shorts first though, get you sea-legs under you before you take on the HUGE undertaking of helming a feature. ESPECIALLY if you plan to produce it yourself. You're smart enough to know you don't want to wear both hats of Writer and Director - IF possible, avoid wearing the producer hat - in addition to caterer, stunt co-ordinator, costumer and transportaion supervisor. You'll typically have to wear at least three hats on a short.

IF you're bound and determined to find a script to option, you can TRY to register as a producer at INKTIP.COM. This is where I list my scripts. I've gotten querries from Major Studios, and Indpendents - but the owners of the site do a fair job of "Vetting" those who are registering as producer/directors/agents. You have to have some credits before they allow you access to browsing the site.

Good Luck!

Last edited by Richard Alvarez; January 8th, 2009 at 11:58 AM.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #4
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Douglas.
Check your PM's.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #5
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I'm in the same boat as Douglas, I want to make a film, but don't want to write a script. While searching around on the 'net, I came across the site just before the holidays TriggerStreet.com. From their "About Us" page:
TriggerStreet.com was founded in 2002 by two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and producer Dana Brunetti as an interactive mechanism to discover and showcase emerging filmmaking and writing talent. With the legal--and attendant procedural--restrictions on outsiders in Hollywood, Spacey and Brunetti sought to democratize exposure, providing an avenue of communication between Hollywood and emerging talent everywhere, thereby working to overcome the barriers they so often encounter.

Responding to the enthusiasm and high quality of work produced by its burgeoning film community, TriggerStreet.com evolved as a social networking utility to provide an evolving platform for emerging artists in different media: the strength of the peer-based review system and the positive impact of the resultant constructive criticism catalyzed the addition of several new specialized communities. Beyond its Short Film and Screenplay sections, TriggerStreet.com now provides opportunity for feedback and exposure for Short Stories, Books, Plays, and—most recently—Comics. By nurturing an environment where users collectively strive for creative excellence by reaching out to others, TriggerStreet.com has grown with the mission of facilitating the kind of collaboration and communication necessary for success in the entertainment industries.
I've signed up, but haven't explored it very much.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Wilson View Post
I'm in the same boat as Douglas, I want to make a film, but don't want to write a script. While searching around on the 'net, I came across the site just before the holidays TriggerStreet.com. From their "About Us" page:
TriggerStreet.com was founded in 2002 by two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and producer Dana Brunetti as an interactive mechanism to discover and showcase emerging filmmaking and writing talent. With the legal--and attendant procedural--restrictions on outsiders in Hollywood, Spacey and Brunetti sought to democratize exposure, providing an avenue of communication between Hollywood and emerging talent everywhere, thereby working to overcome the barriers they so often encounter.

Responding to the enthusiasm and high quality of work produced by its burgeoning film community, TriggerStreet.com evolved as a social networking utility to provide an evolving platform for emerging artists in different media: the strength of the peer-based review system and the positive impact of the resultant constructive criticism catalyzed the addition of several new specialized communities. Beyond its Short Film and Screenplay sections, TriggerStreet.com now provides opportunity for feedback and exposure for Short Stories, Books, Plays, and—most recently—Comics. By nurturing an environment where users collectively strive for creative excellence by reaching out to others, TriggerStreet.com has grown with the mission of facilitating the kind of collaboration and communication necessary for success in the entertainment industries.
I've signed up, but haven't explored it very much.
Triggerstreet is a great website. I've had stuff on there before and the feedback is excellent. It's built as a peer-to-peer review site for up and coming screenwriters. You review scripts to be allowed to upload and have your script reviewed.

I haven't used it as a site to gather material for, so I can't comment on how it would work like that, but it's a great site.
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Last edited by Heath Vinyard; January 8th, 2009 at 12:56 PM.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #7
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Wow, a filmmaker who wants to make someone else's script? That's the equivilent of spraying Axe Body Spray in a room of attractive women (or so the commercials say). Just say it out loud in a crowded room a few times and you'll get some bites.

Besides the advice already posted, might I suggest thinking of an issue, genre, or topic that is important to you and start the path to find a script that shares that with you so that there's a connection, a passion, that you and the writer both share thus creating a better relationship.

Lots of cities have screenwriting workshops and meetings at public libraries and other venues which would be a great place to look as well.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #8
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Agreed. There are plenty of screenwriters out there that would be willing to work with either of you. Heck, I'm one. I not only direct, but write as well. If either of you can't find what you're looking for, PM me and let's talk. :)
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Glavan View Post

Now to answer your question with another question: why are you making a feature film? Do you intend to pitch a story to a group of investors and get backing so you can make and distribute it to the masses? Are you planning to take it onto the festival circuit? Are you just trying your hand at something new?
I think that since I posses all the equipment/crew to shoot a film and I know how to edit, color correct, I'm good with compositing, etc... outside of getting or writing a screenplay and finding some aspiring actors, it really shouldn't be that expensive for me to make a pretty good film... as long as the script doesn't include extravagant locations, stunts, etc.

I rather do a feature instead of a short because after putting all the time and money into making a film, I'd like to have something that I can potentially make money off, and I don't feel that you can do that with a short. Once the film is completed, I will be looking into finding distribution and/or look into entering it into film festivals.

Quote:
If, however, you're undertaking this to leave your mark on the big screen, you might consider optioning a script. If you're not familiar with the term, optioning is putting a downpayment on a story to retain exclusive rights to produce it for a certain period of time. Maybe you can get your hands on a few treatments stored away in some movie studio basement, or call up the author of one of your favorite novels and see if they want to turn their story into a movie. You find out how much they want to sell the rights for, and you pay them a percentage (usually ten percent) now with the promise to pay the rest later.
.
There's more that goes into this, and I suggest you read Dov Simens' book From Reel To Deal, as well as Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices and Extreme DV at Used Car Prices, both by Rick Schmidt, for further insight.

Good Luck,

Chris
I've heard about optioning, but I don't know how where to go to view these scripts.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Roger Wilson View Post
I'm in the same boat as Douglas, I want to make a film, but don't want to write a script. While searching around on the 'net, I came across the site just before the holidays TriggerStreet.com. From their "About Us" page:
Thanks for the link, I'll definitely look into it.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Edward Phillips View Post
Wow, a filmmaker who wants to make someone else's script? That's the equivilent of spraying Axe Body Spray in a room of attractive women (or so the commercials say). Just say it out loud in a crowded room a few times and you'll get some bites.

Besides the advice already posted, might I suggest thinking of an issue, genre, or topic that is important to you and start the path to find a script that shares that with you so that there's a connection, a passion, that you and the writer both share thus creating a better relationship.

Lots of cities have screenwriting workshops and meetings at public libraries and other venues which would be a great place to look as well.
That's a good idea too, I'll definitely check that.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 05:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Wright View Post
I think that since I posses all the equipment/crew to shoot a film and I know how to edit, color correct, I'm good with compositing, etc... outside of getting or writing a screenplay and finding some aspiring actors, it really shouldn't be that expensive for me to make a pretty good film... as long as the script doesn't include extravagant locations, stunts, etc.
I own a pretty good pair of hiking boots, but I'm not going to tackle Mount Everest the first time I wear them (or the second, or the third)..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Wright View Post
I rather do a feature instead of a short because after putting all the time and money into making a film, I'd like to have something that I can potentially make money off, and I don't feel that you can do that with a short. Once the film is completed, I will be looking into finding distribution and/or look into entering it into film festivals.
You can't make money with a badly-made (or unfinished) feature either, but the difference between a crappy short and a crappy feature is the amount that you've sunken into it.


J.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 06:56 PM   #13
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I own a pretty good pair of hiking boots, but I'm not going to tackle Mount Everest the first time I wear them (or the second, or the third)..



You can't make money with a badly-made (or unfinished) feature either, but the difference between a crappy short and a crappy feature is the amount that you've sunken into it.


J.
I've studied much of the technical aspects of it, so I don't see how I won't be able to do a decent job of filming it and post production. I already know I can do a much better job than some of the independent films I've rented out of blockbuster. The biggest tasks to handle in my opinion, is having a good script and decent actors.

If I can combine those two, I'm sure I'll be able to handle the rest, so I'm not too worried about making a crappy film if I have those on lock.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #14
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I've studied much of the technical aspects of it, so I don't see how I won't be able to do a decent job of filming it and post production.
That's why practical experience is so valued. Studying basketball isn't going to get you in the NBA until you've actually played.

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I already know I can do a much better job than some of the independent films I've rented out of blockbuster. The biggest tasks to handle in my opinion, is having a good script and decent actors.
Funny thing is, even the makers of crappy films have lots of experience - and that wasn't enough.

Screenwriters who write good scripts and decent actors want to work for someone with a proven track record, unless they get paid. And investors won't finance a movie unless experienced people are on board.

Kind of a catch-22.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Wright View Post
If I can combine those two, I'm sure I'll be able to handle the rest, so I'm not too worried about making a crappy film if I have those on lock.
I guess you could always be the first one in the history of the world to prove everyone else wrong...


J.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 07:57 PM   #15
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AS mentioned, I list my scripts on INKTIP.Com. Additionally, I get a 'tip sheet' every week, that has leads for producers, production companies and agents looking for very very specific scripts.

Sometimes, they have particular needs - "Looking for a script set on an WW2 Submarine..." or "Looking for a script set in a lakehouse in the woods..." - Obviously, they have already secured these assetts and are looking for a script to fit them. Additionally, they may specify 'No more than five actors, two locations, no car scenes... etc.' - in an effort to keep the budget low.

Low as in under a hundred or hundred fifty grand.
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