Before you start writing your screenplay, think of who your market is. It’s not the movie-going public, but the producers, studios, and actors who can all decide if they think your screenplay will help them out.
After James Cameron came out with “Avatar,” there were no undoubtedly hundreds of scripts with similar ideas and themes that took place on exotic alien planets. While there’s nothing wrong with creating a science fiction script, stop and think first. The only reason James Cameron could get his movie made was because he’s James Cameron with a track record of producing blockbusters. For that reason, studios are willing to bet up to $100 million or more on a James Cameron movie because they know there’s a high chance they’ll get it back.
Will studios want to spend $100 million on an unknown writer’s script? Maybe, but remember that even George Lucas had trouble getting money to make “Star Wars.” If your story requires expensive special effects, exotic locations that require shipping a whole film crew to another part of the world, or historical settings that require costumes, vehicles, and buildings to be made to look authentic, it’s going to be tougher to sell your script because of budget considerations. The reality is that if your movie threatens to cost a lot of money to get made, its chances of getting made shrink dramatically.
That’s the reason most high-budget films today are either based on books, remakes of movies or TV shows, comic books, or cartoons because this insures a built-in audience. Rather than try to create the next high-budget movie, start simple. What would a producer say when considering your movie’s budget? If it costs too much to make, then studios will shy away from making it.
That’s the reason why horror/slasher films are so popular because they simply take an existing setting with fake blood and that’s it. The actors are inexpensive to hire, the sets are just any existing building, and the special effects are minimal and easily handled with buckets of fake blood and weapons.
Thinking like a producer can help you see your movie from a budgetary point of view. The cheaper it is to make your movie, the more likely it will be made, regardless of the quality (think of all those horror/slasher films).
Now take a look at your movie from an actor’s point of view. Every actor is looking for a script that can showcase his or her talents, and that means crating an interesting character. Nobody wants to play a boring character, but everyone wants to play a larger than life character. Look at your script and ask yourself if your hero and villain are larger than life characters. If not, then you’ll have a hard time getting an actor excited about your script. Make your characters larger than life and compelling, and an A-list actor might shove your script through a studio just because he or she wants to play the lead role.
The main point is to look at your screenplay from a business point of view. Can it be made inexpensively? Great, you’ve made the studios happy. Does it offer an interesting role to play? Great, you’ve made potential actors (who can help green light a script) happy.
Make producers and actors happy and they may buy your script and turn it into a movie, and that will just make you happy as well.