If I Had An Idea....|
Many times when I’m meeting people for the first time, the conversation rolls around to the inevitable statement/question: "I have this great idea for a story, How do I get it made into a movie?"
Well, there are several ways but none of them are easy.
Start by asking yourself:
• Is this an original project/idea or is it based on something you’ve read or seen?
• If it’s original, how developed is it?
• If it’s inspired by a movie, book, article, or event, do you have the rights to use or
adapt the material?
Okay, for THIS exercise let’s say it is a original project, what next?
The first thing to do is decide if you want to produce it yourself as an indie, pitch the concept to a producer, or pitch a script to a producer. If you produce it yourself as an indie, or festival, film it could be done as a full film or as a short to attract investors. Self-producing will give you the most control over the project. If you decide to pitch the concept to a producer you will become the “Idea Guy” but the bulk of funding for developing the project would come from elsewhere leaving you less control. Finally, if you pitch a script to a producer you will have more control but you will obviously need a finished script.
No matter which path you choose you will need a well developed outline of the project. A vague idea about making the ultimate Zombie love story won’t carry much weight if you can't clearly show what you hope to achieve. Even if you want to produce it yourself you need to know what you want to do so you can best decide how to do it.
This type of outline, or treatment, is the Cliffs Notes version of the Cliffs Notes. It is what you will use for your pitch. The pitch grabs attention and draws people (producers) in. It is a 5 - 10 minute presentation that provides info on the plot, the characters, the setting, and the the story arc. It may also include info on the target audience, proposed budget, what actors might fit the various characters, etc. If it’s going to be presented it should also have a “hook”. A hook is something that boils everything down into a manageable bit of information that generates interest. For example, I once heard the TV series Sheena referred to as “Tarzan with tits”. While rude and demeaning, anyone who hadn’t been living under a rock could grasp the idea quickly (Sexy adventurer in the jungle) and a TV series followed.
Now that you’ve developed the outline you come back to deciding how to do this.
To pitch a script or self-produce you will obviously need a finished script. If you’ve never written a script, or have no desire to, you may want to hire someone to write it with, or for, you. Once the script is finished to your liking REGISTER IT with the WGA! This is the only way you can protect your property.
Now that you have a sellable script you’ll need to “shop” it. If you are an unknown and/or have no proven “track record” you will need help. Get an agent or attorney who specializes in this type of work. Interview a lot of people, verify their credentials, and remember, a good agent will take a percentage of your sale not your bank account. Paying a small retainer is acceptable, but the minute someone wants a substantial sum and/or guarantees getting your project produced RUN!
Now, if a producer picks up your project, the producer will try to get a director and talent attached to the project as soon as possible in order to attract backers and/or a studio. At this point, to appease the collaborative vision of the studio, producer, director, and actors, the rewrites begin. Hopefully you were able to retain some creative input. If not, hopefully you were well compensated and you are sitting by a pool typing your next script.
If by some miracle you have the opportunity to pitch a concept and a producer picks it up the project goes into script development. This refers to the early stages of working a story idea into a practical script. People are brought on board to help with this phase of the project. At this point the story is fleshed out through a series of meetings with writers or associates who will be involved in the project. Again actors and a director are attached and the rewrites begin.
The amount of time a project stays in development depends on many things, but a period of months is usually the very least. Movie development is a collaborative process and it is common to have opposing ideas, politics, and conflicting egos that can slow down or even derail progress.
If a project makes it through the development phase, the screenplay is pitched to a studio executive and to additional executive producers that will be providing financial backing. Once a studio greenlights the project, (which might require more rewrites), it moves into the pre-production phase. In this phase all arrangements are made that must take place prior to actual shooting. For example, the movie is fully cast, the crew is hired, and sets are built and/or locations are chosen and contractually secured. Production, or the actual shoot comes next, followed by post-production or final editing and the screening phase. Finally the movie is premiered and released.
"Film Biz 101" is ©2008 by Corey Castellano. The Film Biz banner is a creation of Corey Castellano, ©2008. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.