NBC Universal is the parent company of Universal Pictures, the movie and television-making arm of this large conglomerate that also includes theme parks and network television news programs. Universal Pictures works in conjunction with many independent production companies. It is those production companies that contract the script and talent for a film production. Your goal is to sell a completed film script to a production company that works with Universal Pictures.
- Skill level:
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Write your script. A production company wants to know that there is writing talent behind your idea. Ideas don't sell but scripts do.
Format your script correctly. Script writing software makes this task easier and gives you a professional looking package to present. Final Draft is a popular software used by many professional screenwriters.
Register your finished script with the Writers' Guild of America -- either the East Coast or the West Coast office. You do not need to be a member of the Guild in order to register your script. Both Guilds provide information that is valuable to beginning writers. You can make changes to your script without re-registering.
Find an agent. Many agencies will read a "spec" script. Look for those that are open to new writers. Production companies only read scripts submitted through an agent or a manager. There are legal reasons behind this, the most important being the protection of your words and the "written by" credit on the first page of your script.
An official ambassador for your script provides a paper trail for the submission process and protects everyone involved. The Writers' Guild provides lists of agencies that are "signatory" to the Guilds' agreements with production companies. Studios rarely work with agencies that are not signatories.
Network your script to industry insiders by attending networking functions. These can be found by reading trade newspapers such as "The Hollywood Reporter" and "Variety." Another publication that provides industry news is "Backstage." Be prepared to give your script to anyone connected with a legitimate agency.
Circulate within the acting community. You may find an actor who is appropriate for your cast and will be interested in reading and becoming involved in the process of selling your script. Many scripts have gone from the page to the screen this way.
Tips and warnings
- Write a short cover letter when submitting your script to an agency. Be brief and provide a "log line" that describes what your script is about in less than three sentences.
- Writing that "all my friends say this script will make a great film" is unprofessional. The script needs to stand on its own merits.
- Send a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your script if you want it returned.
- Do not phone the agency for follow up. If interested, someone will contact you. If not, you will receive your script by return mail.
- Do not pay to have your script read by an agency. Some agencies make their living by charging reading fees but this is not the type of agency with which you want to be affiliated.
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