Look at some of the latest movies and you’ll notice a trend. Almost none of them are based on original screenplays. If they are based on original screenplays, they’re written by established screenwriters. The simple fact is that producing a screenplay is risky so studios try to cut their risks but doing one or more of the following:
- Basing a screenplay on a book, comic book, graphic novel, or video game that already has a built-in audience
- Having an established and proven director write his or her own screenplay to direct
“A Wrinkle in Time” was based on a book, the “Avengers” movie franchise was based on a comic book, “Rampage” is based on a video game, and “Sin City” was based on a graphic novel. Remakes and sequels are also popular so that’s why Hollywood is coming out with “Overboard” and “The Incredibles 2.”
Traditionally, the best way to break into screenwriting was through a low-budget film such as horror or comedy. Yet comedy is being taken over by stars writing their own screenplays such as “Bridesmaids” or “Trainwreck.”
So if you want to increase the odds of getting your screenplay produced, consider making it first as something other than a screenplay. When Michael Blake tried writing a screenplay, his friend, Kevin Costner, suggested that he write it as a novel instead. Then it would be easier to get Hollywood interested in the screenplay. That novel and screenplay turned out to be “Dances with Wolves.”
Of course, getting a novel, comic book, or graphic novel published can be difficult, but turning your story into another format first can attract Hollywood to your idea. Once Hollywood sees a story published in another format, that story has now “proven” itself so Hollywood will be far more likely to accept that story as a screenplay than if you tried to get a screenplay produced by itself.
Would Hollywood have made “Dances with Wolves” if it was just a screenplay based on an unknown story? Probably not, especially considering the costumes and sets the story required. However, once Michael Blake wrote the story as a novel, Hollywood could visualize the story and see how it would turn out. Then they approved the story as a screenplay.
If you’re getting frustrated writing screenplays that aren’t getting produced, consider turning those screenplays into another format instead such as a novel. If your story is good, the book form will “prove” to Hollywood that your idea is a good one. Then you’ll have a much easier time selling the screenplay.
Remember, Hollywood wants to minimize risk as much as possible. That’s why Hollywood keeps making endless remakes and movies based on old TV shows or video games. Never mind that many of these so-called minimum risk movies bombed at the box office (“Lost in Space”). Hollywood will still seek the path of least risk even if it keeps leading them to dead ends. Turn your screenplay into a novel. That just might be the fastest way to get your screenplay turned into a movie.