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Article: 7 Ways to Sell Your Story (Script, Book, Stage Play or Podcast) to "Hollywood"

7 Ways to Sell Your Story (Script, Book, Stage Play or Podcast) to "Hollywood" - Image of Man with Money

7 Ways to Sell Your Story (Script, Book, Stage Play or Podcast) to "Hollywood"

1. Sell/Option to a Producer or Production Company

Understand what producers buy:

  • Stories that are the right genre fit and budget range for their slate.
  • Stories that have some packaging elements - such as attached talent (marketable actor or director) or some money in place.
  • Stories that have "heat" - these are scripts, books, plays or podcasts that have perhaps won well-known competitions, built an audience, gone through a credible development program, or are being "talked" about in the industry (named on the Blacklist [], etc). These projects give the producer a feeling that success is inevitable.
  • Stories with successful underlying IP (such as a book, stage play or podcast).

Pitch producers, production companies, and development executives. The best way to pitch is with a logline and brief synopsis.

  • Research and create a list of producers who develop projects in your story genre and budget - use IMDb to research similar films and see who the producers and production companies are. Be aware that many do not accept unsolicited pitches, so you’ll want to research to determine which producers will be open to submissions. 
  • Producer contact information is available via IMDb Pro (you can acquire a monthly or annual subscription to the platform).
  • Follow their instructions to submit/pitch your story.

2. Get Management Representation

Understand who managers represent:

  • Writers who have a distinct voice.
  • Writers who produce marketable stories.
  • Writers who have several projects available to pitch.
  • Writers who are the right genre fit for their company.
  • Writers who are easy to work with, who accept constructive feedback, and who are "good in a room" (probably more like "good on zoom" nowadays).

To pitch managers:

  • Follow the same steps outlined above in step 1 for approaching producers.
  • Research IMDb movies in the same genre as your story, determine who the writer is and view the writer's listing to discover who the writer's manager is. 
  • You may also refer to this resource list of Literary Managers who Represent Screenwriters.

3. Attend a Film Market

You can also meet producers at film festivals and especially film markets, where some companies are specifically looking for projects to develop. AFM  (American Film Market) is held each year in November. Be sure to research which companies to approach based on the genre of film they produce and budget levels, as well as whether they get involved at the development stage (versus the sales/distribution stage) and any packaging elements they expect the script or story to already have in place.

4. Get into a Development Program

Apply to the Sundance Institute, Film Independent or similar program for writers/projects where you develop your story and have opportunities to directly meet producers, directors and/or financiers, or even have a short proof-of-concept film made of your story. (The Blacklist Partnerships and Programs includes collaborations with select studios and theaters to offer labs, residencies and playwriting commissions.)

5. Connect with an Up-and-Coming Director or Producer to Get the Film Made

New filmmakers can be great partners. They are looking for projects to produce or direct to create a "calling card" to break into the industry. If you have a short story or a contained script that can be made inexpensively you can become a produced writer with some cache. You won't make any money but if the project becomes a successful independent film at festivals or elsewhere it can accelerate your career. Here is a select list of film festivals where you can meet new directors and producers: Film Festivals & Markets - and an article on How to Interest a Producer in Your Movie Script.

6. Create Your Own IP

Add value to your script or story. Consider turning your story into a book, podcast, stage play or other Intellectual Property (IP) that you can produce on your own and make successful (and then pitch and sell the film rights). 

7. Use a Pitch Platform

For a fee, you can also connect to producers or managers via a pitching platform. You can refer to this resource list of Pitch Platforms for Writers