4 Things You Need To Know Before Submitting Your Work To Studios

(Alex Le May) #1

Some of the biggest complaints I hear from series producers and content creators is, “I can’t sell my script or project because I don’t have a network” and “If I could just get in the room, they would see how great my work is”. “My work is incredible and I just need that one shot”

Well, there are some very specific reasons for why you’re not getting your work seen by the decision-makers. The following are 4 reasons why that might be happening.

It’s Not Who You Know, It’s The Superiority Of Your Work

Those of you that know me, know I rarely pull any punches. I’m not helping anyone if I’m not relaying hard truths based on my experience and the experience of my peers. So here goes: If you’re not getting in the room, it is most likely because your work isn’t good enough… for now. The hard reality is that a number of things had to happen for you to get in the room in the first place. First, someone who read your script or screened your series had to like it enough to pass it up the food chain. Studio execs and distributors get promoted by discovering the next great thing. If your work was not passed around the office, chances are it is dead-on-the-vine at that particular studio.

Knowing If Your Work Is Submission Ready

  • Get a bunch of people to read it – make sure they’re objective (like, not your mom)
  • Hold a staged reading and solicit feedback from those attending
  • Submit to screenwriting sites like THE BLACK LISTor to screenplay competitions – not to win anything necessarily, but for the feedback. If it does get you noticed, that’s a great bonus
  • Look for patterns in the feedback – If a bunch of people are saying the same thing, it’s a good bet it’s true.

Submitting Your Work Based On A Deadline That Exists Only In Your Head

Let’s face it, writing a script or producing, shooting and editing your series is a painful process on a good day and many creators have been living with their projects for a long time, months and even years. They just want the fight to end. They want those endless days of discomfort to stop so submitting before it’s REALLY ready sounds like a good way to make that happen. I’ve spoken with countless creators who have said, “It’s really good and they’ll be able to see past any flaws” with the idea that the buyer will see the value and help them fix any issues.

But the fact is, is buyers/execs have access to endless amounts of content and scripts so they simply don’t have to do that. They have access to a TON of finished and highly polished projects to the point where they’re arguing between two stellar pieces of work not trying to fix one that has holes.

Realize That If You Submit Your Work It Will Get “Covered”

Coverage is the process of whereby an assistant to the exec, essentially, does a book report on the script or pitch concept (usually a one-sheet, pitch deck and sizzle) so the exec can decide whether it’s worth their time to review it or not. Their inundated with work and couldn’t possibly read or review everything, so a coverage report gives them a quick way to consider the value of a script. If the they read the report and it’s negative, they automatically pass.

This report gets stored in the ‘coverage book” which is really a database of everything that’s come into that studio or production company. Too many passes and it’ll be tough to ever get a meeting and trust me, it doesn’t take too many “no’s” to get put on the ‘naughty list’. So making sure your project is tight as a drum really matters.

In the end, buyers, agents and execs obsess about finding their next project. So make sure you’re submitting work that has them saying, “You wouldn’t believe the project that just landed on my desk”.

(Bri Castellini) #2

What does coverage usually look like? Are there tricks to making sure your script looks good as coverage (other than just “making it a good script” I mean haha)

(Alex Le May) #3

Coverage includes the basics of longline, genre, synopsis, setting, etc. but also include a breakdown of whether it holds together as screenplay or series. Are the characters 3 dimensional, does the structure hold up. Is it make-able from a budget standpoint and finally it’s given a grade: Fair, good excellent, etc.

Obviously, screenwriting and storytelling in general is subjective and I could write a tome about it but getting through coverage successfully really just means it’s super buttoned up. It’s surprising, it’s unexpected, but yeah, basically write a “good script” that’s finished and polished. It’s kind of a kooky process. in essence, grad students from USC and assistants hold your fate in their hands. :slight_smile:

(Amen J.) #4

I’ve done coverage as a script reader and most the scripts submitted were terrible structure-wise or in dialogue. I find good scripts read like a finished product. You should be able to see it play it out in your mind if done well. I recommend reading scripts on the Blacklist or the scripts for existing Hollywood movies, it really helps to see the difference! Or maybe chat with a script reader for feedback?