Screenwriting Script Development Script Writing

How to sell a movie: What they don’t tell you.

Do you have an idea for a movie that you think will skyrocket? Or, you’ve finished a 90-page feature-length gem, but you don’t know where to start selling the idea. Fear not, here’s how to sell your movie. 

Selling a movie is an art; it’s not easy – even if your script is incredible, there are a few steps to ensure that it gets seen by the right people. If your script has no visibility, there’s no way of getting it sold.

In today’s article, we look at how to sell your movie, how to get it to the right people and the top tips to help you achieve that goal and get your first sale. 

Right, let’s get into the good stuff!

6 Top tips on how to sell your movie

We’ve compiled our top tips to help give you the best chance of selling your movie. It can be tough to get your movie seen by the right people but persevere, use these tips and keep at it, and you’ll get there – it is MORE than possible to achieve the goal of selling your movie. 

Let’s jump into it.

Write a great logline.

The logline is the first port of call for any production assistant. They use this to filter through the rubbish. You could have the most gripping drama behind the logline, but if your logline sucks, they won’t even read the first page – brutal, I know. 

Here’s a couple of our favourite loglines, concise, thought-provoking, and ultimately attract the producer to take a look at the film treatment or the script itself:

The silence of the lambs: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: When an optimistic farm boy discovers that he has powers, he teams up with other rebel fighters to liberate the galaxy from the sinister forces of the Empire.

Read our examples of ICONIC loglines!

Create a Film Treatment

Selling your screenplay takes a lot of time, effort and devotion – almost the same amount of effort you put into actually writing your film. 

Sometimes producers don’t have the time to read a big script. But they want more than a logline or a synopsis. That’s when the film treatment comes into play. 

A film treatment is a prose that outlines your film in a more detailed manner, including the directional style of the film. It’s generally used before the film is written to help build a skeleton and a path to follow. 

This is also perfect for any production house or agent interested in your work that is time-poor and needs to understand more than the logline and synopsis – but doesn’t have the time to read your screenplay.

Make sure your film treatment is succinct, gripping and most of all, contains the key twists and turns of the story. 

Develop your characters to a tee; their description needs to fly off the page, and within the first two sentences, give the reader something to think about. 

Write short, distinctive descriptions that tell a lot about your character and ask questions to help develop the characters further, like: 

  • What are your character’s specific motivations?
  • What are the stakes they are willing to put on the line to achieve their goal? 

If you need help with the development of your story, we highly recommend Dan Harmon’s Story Circle

This helps you break the story up into eight pieces (Similar to the hero’s journey) and create a story that contains many twists and turns and a gripping arc that will captivate the reader.

Read more on What is a film treatment and how do I create one?

Get a manager.

How to sell a movie:

As well as going solo on this, it’s worth looking to get a manager to represent you as a screenwriter.

To help you with your search to sell your movie, it may be worth looking to approach a few management teams, companies or individuals. 

This can be as exhausting as finding a buyer for your screenplay, but having a manager that believes in you and has those industry contacts, gives you a much higher chance of selling your movie. 

To find a manager or an agent to represent you as a screenwriter, we advise you to look through Google and Linkedin and approach individuals of each firm that are one open to offers or two cover your genre if they have an assistant try and address your cover letter to the assistant, as it gives you a better chance of being seen. 

Another method is to get a free trial subscription on IMDB Pro and source out the relevant people and go directly to them, rather than the contact us page on their site. You can use IMDB Pro to look for producers and assistants to producers who have previously made movies in your genre. 

It takes time to establish communication with managers and representatives. Still, keep a regimented, researched approach. It will certainly give you the momentum to take the next step in your screenwriting career and get to the point where you can sell your movie. 

Read our guide on how to acquire a screenwriting agent and manager.

Network

Ah, this old gem. I personally dislike the saying “network” as it seems like a group of people having forced conversation, milling around hundreds trying to get as many business cards as you can fit into your pockets. 

We’ve moved on from that. Make genuine connections, don’t even mention your latest venture at first, and connect personally. 

I think we sometimes forget to establish a real connection, and although it feels it should all be about “Selling yourself” or “Business”, it’s really not. You have to like someone to want to work with them, so what better way to start a working relationship than having the same interests, the same travel aspirations, the same love for comedies and so forth. 

Don’t build fake relationships; they never work and don’t get you anywhere. Be real; you’ll get there – I promise. And, it will be far more fulfilling!

Hunt down producers. 

Hey! If the above doesn’t work, or you don’t want a manager, seek the producers yourself. If you’ve followed the first tip, you will have a quality, logline, synopsis and film treatment. You have everything to capture the imagination of the producers and could go it alone!

Seek them out. 

We recommend that you go to IMDB Pro (Get a free trial there – *Note this isn’t an affiliate link, just advice).

The old school way was to search through all the directories, don’t do that, these will always be out of date, you’ll be left behind.

Use an online pitch site.

You can use one of the recommended sites below to upload your script and supporting material for a fee. The negative of this option is that it costs; however, the positives outweigh this by a mile – especially if you’ve got an amazing script on your hands. 

The wealth of people who are members of these sites regularly visit and read scripts to understand what’s out there and potentially offer an option on the script.

Here are our two favourite sites for pitching your script to get it sold. 

The Blacklist

The Blacklist is the perfect place to upload your script. Franklin Leonard created it in 2005. Franklin surveyed over a hundred film execs about their favourite scripts that had not been made that year. 

We highly recommend signing up to The Blacklist when you have your script and supporting material finalised. It’s potentially worth looking at the option to receive feedback. We’ve found this in the past incredibly useful. 

InkTip

Just over 200 scripts have been picked up and made from InkTip. It averages 30 films a year, which is pretty astonishing stats. 

As well as helping screenwriters get representation. InkTip offers a wealth of advice and allows you to get your script picked up and represented by a top agency. 

Read more on How to get an agent for film directors, actors and writers

We hope this article on “How to sell a movie: What they don’t tell you.” was useful to you. Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments. 

For more filmmaking help, resources and articles – simply scroll a little further. 

Get that movie sold! 

Happy filmmaking 🙂

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