I apparently am one of the first three (and hopefully not the last) Alaskan screenwriters to be asked to be a guest blogger for 49 Writers. That being the case, I thought it might be expedient to start out by explaining the differences between screenwriting and other forms of writing. I’ll try not to bore you.
On the other hand, maybe the producer doesn’t have the money readily available. In that case, you may sell an “option” to the producer. That gives the producer the option to buy the script for a set period of time at a set amount. An option usually lasts a year or two. The producer can use that time to raise the money to make the movie. The problem with this is that you can’t sell the script to anyone else during the time it is optioned. Let’s say you option your script for $25 on Tuesday, and on Wednesday another producer wants to pay you $1,000,000 for your script. Guess what, you’re stuck for however long the option lasts. In the mean time, the million dollar deal may well evaporate.
Just for grins, let’s say that you sold the film to a producer that can, and does, actually raise the money needed to make the film. Smooth sailing from now on, right? Wrong! Next the script goes to a series of film minions whose various jobs are to fold, spindle, and mutilate your script to fit it to the contours of their visions of what the story should be. Maybe the producer wants to give a role to his or her third cousin on Great Aunt Sadie’s side of the family; you may have do a rewrite. The director has a different world view; you may have to do a rewrite. Maybe a named actor wants more lines; you may have to do a rewrite.
So if it is such a pain, why do I do it? Because to see your words turned into a moving, living, breathing tableau on the screen while you sit in a dark room watching it all unfold before your eyes is a thrill I cannot describe. God help me, I love it.
At the time this post first ran in 2010, Jim McLain was a 57 year old screenwriter who had lived in
Hope springs eternal . . .