LAST TIME we left off with the first three things Screenplay Agents want to see in your script...
- ONE terrific role for a movie star ("actor bait")
- The project fits easily in ONE genre
- Super short pitch...that's "Super-short"
...and as we continue, remember ALL AGENTS ARE BROKERS. This means that when an agent encounters a new project from a new writer, they are thinking about how long it would take them to sell the project and how much they might get paid.
So, let's continue with #4:
4. Reading the script is not required
Controversial as this may sound, from a literary agent's perspective, the best script is one where the agent doesn't even need to read it.
After simply hearing the short pitch and reading coverage provided by someone the agent trusts, if the storyline is clear and easily understood, the agent can sell your script.
5. Polished script
Screenplay agents are closers. CLOSERS. They are not script whisperers who will take the time to patiently nurture your script to its full potential over a period of months.
Agents have short attention spans (like most people in Hollywood) and you want them to be able to capitalize on their enthusiasm right away. Some screenplay agents give excellent notes and are skilled with script development, but most are not.
6. Project could be made "for a price"
The lower the budget for the production, the more potential buyers there are for each script. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of buyers who are able to finance big budget fare which makes the odds of selling that much more challenging.
7. Potential for additional sales embedded in project
Screenwriter agents know that the best time to make a sale is right after the first sale. This way they can capitalize and very likely sell your second script for more than they sold your first script.
If there is a sequel or spin-off potential in your project, that can warm the cockles of a screenwriting agent's heart.
You get bonus points if you have:
- An A-list attachment
- Financing in place
- A project based on successful, produced material (e.g. remake, best-selling book, comic book, TV show, web series, short film)
- Ownership of the project's source material
A screenwriting agent's job (finding buyers and selling projects) becomes much harder when any of the following are true:
- Script is a blend of multiple genres
- Large ensemble cast
- Long pitch
- Interweaving storylines
- Script "needs development"
- Project would be very expensive to produce
- Project would be a "one-off"
Agents will be less interested in your project if it is encumbered with additional attachments that don't add value or if there are any unresolved legal issues regarding the project.
Now, you may be thinking, "So you're saying I need to write an awesome script? Duh."
But that's not actually my point.
My point is that you are going to need to write several awesome scripts and THEN you need to choose with which script you are going to lead when you launch your career.
My suggestion is that you do not choose your favorite script or even the best-written script. Instead, choose the script that agents will love because that is the script that makes it most likely that you will sell all of the rest of your scripts.
If you don't have a script right now that meets these criteria, then it's time to learn how to write a screenplay that meets them.