Us writers tend to obsess over the details of our chosen craft. Creating memorable characters, story arcs, and grab ‘em by their short and curly concepts. Screenwriters specialize even more – spending god-knows how many hours mastering formatting, structure, and the painstaking art of hyper-streamlined prose. In other words – we deal with writing. It’s our raison d’etre. Our whole world.
So much so that we become blinded to other aspects of the industry. You see, it’s not enough to write the perfect script. You gotta market the damned thing.
Which raises the question – where to start? Never fear: for we at STS have some answers….
Over the next few months, STS will be publishing a series of articles on what to do after Fade Out. Conceived as primers for newbies (and some veterans), we’ll be covering topics such as discussion boards, contests, and copyrights.
Today, we’ll be publishing the first in our series (presented by Anthony Cawood): tips on establishing an internet presence and maximizing exposure – both for you AND your script.
So – you’ve finally done it; you’ve completed your first short script. Congratulations! Great feeling, isn’t it?
Now what? Well re-write, re-write and re-write…. Until the final version really shines.
But once you’ve gotten to that blessed point, how the heck do you get it filmed?
Now what? That was the question that confronted me in August 2013, when I finished my first short, Prototype. (A dark serial killer script… available again after a lapsed option. Hint, hint, hint…)
Now what? Over the last twelve months, I’ve wrestled with that question every day, on some level or another. And I’ve discovered there’s no one answer, or quick unravel of this Gordian knot. Believe me on this. I’ve looked and tried.
What I have discovered in my research is a wealth of information scattered around the net: resources, writing communities willing to help – and a bunch of places to connect with potential filmmakers. (Including STS: Shootin’ the Shorts, of course!)
In the interest of paying it forward, I’ll be using this series of articles to share what I’ve personally learned, including topics such as:
- Marketing yourself
- Where to list and publicize your work
- Where to share works in progress, and learn more about your craft
- Where to find Directors/Producers looking for scripts and new writers
- General Resources for the new (and not-so-new writer)
A quick editorial note: I write shorts, so that’s where my articles focus. But many of the resources I’ll be mentioning can be used for Features and TV, too.
But first things first. Forget for a moment about the script. You have to be ready to market you.
Let’s be honest. To some, “Marketing” is a dirty word. But it’s best seen as a great opportunity – a chance to showcase your writing. With the right approach and attitude, you can use the tools of marketing to share:
- News on your newest scripts and their availability
- Your growing success when things get produced, wins in competitions, etc.
- Your thoughts and ramblings on writing and film making
- Your own tips and info on how to get those darned scripts made
In other words, you have to “get yourself out there.” It’s a horrible, over-used expression – but important if you want to get your scripts actually filmed. And get them made regularly.
I was lucky. For me, marketing came naturally. You see, I work in marketing (please don’t hate me or throw things!) But for others, it might not be as easy. So here’s a quick guide to some of the tools you can use to “enhance your profile”:
A website’s essential. It provides you with somewhere to refer potential film makers to – a place they can look beyond the pat logline, and find details of what you have available. It’s a place to compile and showcase scripts that you’ve had filmed, and show that you take writing seriously. In other words, it’s the hub of you.
Mine, incidentally, is www.anthonycawood.co.uk. When you step into the world of web design, btw, you should seriously consider getting your own domain. (That’s the bit after www.) If so, have a look at domain companies like http://www.123-reg.co.uk/ or www.hostgator.com. If you’re proficient in building websites, you can even consider a do-it-yourself option, and place it with a dedicated hosting service. Check out http://web-hosting-review.toptenreviews.com/ for a few examples.
Mine you, building your own site can be daunting. Chances are, you’re not an IT programmer! But, it can be easier than you think. There are tons of services out there that take IT out of the process… providing templates, drag and drop functionality, etc. Check out Top 10 Website Builders 2014 for a good selection of options. Most of these throw in a domain as part of the process, too.
Rustom Irani: www.planetrusty.com
Marnie Mitchell Lister: http://brainfluffs.com/
Breanne Matson: www.breannemattson.com
Mark Lyons (Rc1007): Facebook page for The Ephesian – https://www.facebook.com/TheEphesian
Alex Sarris: http://www.alexsarris.com/
Dena McKinnon: http://www.denamckinnon.com/
Dustin Bowcott: www.dustinbowcott.com
Quite a diverse bunch! But as you look them over, you’ll see some reoccurring themes and topics, such as:
- Scripts with loglines and additional script details
- News of their latest scripts and any developments in various projects
- Details of produced scripts (with links to videos)
- Contact details (email, phone, etc.)
And websites have added benefits: they make you more visible in Google and other search engines, and are also a convenient place to store your scripts (in case of that future devasting hard-drive blow-out.) I have a hidden page on mine that holds PDFs of all my scripts. That way, if I get a script request when I’m away from home, I can just send people the relevant link. You can of course use Dropbox, Google Docs and similar services for the same purpose. Or email yourself updates of scripts just in case.
And then there’s the fringe benefits. I’ve had numerous occasions where a potential film maker has asked to see Script A, checked out my website and saw a logline that they liked… then asked to see Scripts D and F too!
Like most people out there, I already had a Facebook (FB) page for personal reasons. But it can be used for industry purposes as well. Many film makers create specific pages/sites for their film projects. They serve the same sort of purpose as a dedicated website, but tend to be more project specific. And also are slightly easier to set up and share. FB pages are terrific for news, networking with people who share your interests and creating communities for your work. And when it comes to connecting – don’t forget LinkedIn as well. Because knowing people is the name of this game!
When it comes to internet tools, Twitter’s more of a two way street. Not only can you share your news, views and general rants – but you can also get feedback from fellow writers, producers and directors. As with Facebook, it’s a great way to keep people posted on your writing developments… Just make sure you don’t end up using it as a writing diversion! I’m @anthonycawood11, by the way….
Admitted, Facebook and Twitter are my two main marketing weapons of choice. But don’t forget to explore other noteworthy options:
- Dedicated Blogs. Service providers include Tumblr, WordPress and others…
- Instagram – great for sharing stills from films made from your scripts.
- Vine – good for posting short clips
- Youtube/Vimeo – also great for getting your videos seen by the masses
- Pinterest – I’m sure there’s something useful here. But I don’t quite have a handle on this one. Yet.
One Last Tip
Don’t forget synergy! (You’re a writer – you know what that means…) Combining the power of these tools are a great strategy for marketing. Forget any hesitation, and mention them at every opportunity. For instance, Facebook and Twitter are both prominent on my website. And my email footer has my web address listed.
I know and you know that you’re a great screenwriter. But make sure everyone else finds out, too!
About Anthony: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.