It’s easy to spot novice screenplays. They often involve massive sets, special effects, and large casts along with exotic animals, spaceships, dinosaurs, or aliens. All of this means that the movie would cost hundreds of millions to make, which a risk-averse Hollywood would almost never do for an unknown story.
There’s a reason why Hollywood’s big budget movies get made. They’re either based on a popular novel, a sequel to a popular movie, or a reboot of a popular movie or TV show. In other words, Hollywood tries to minimize their risk by developing projects that have a large fan base.
There’s a reason why comedies and horror movies are so popular because they’re relatively cheap to make. Horror especially doesn’t rely on A-list actors. The lesson is clear. Think about the cost of your screenplay from a producer’s point of view.
Comedies and horror movies are easy to make since they can often be filmed anywhere with minimal special effects. The more unique the setting (such as 1920 Paris or 1850 Washington DC), the more expensive the set, costumes, and vehicles.
So start by thinking from a producer’s point of view: how can you minimize the expense of making your story? Can you cut characters? Set it in the current time? Minimize the number of locations? Keep the locations generic so they can be filmed practically anywhere?
The more you keep costs down, the more attractive your screenplay will be to make. Take two equally good screenplays but assume one could cost $2 million to make and the other might cost $20 million to make, guess which one will likely get made, especially for an original story?
Besides thinking like a producer (how to cut costs), think like an actor. That means creating fully fleshed out characters that will be fun for someone to play. So rather than have three characters who move the story along, what if you condensed all three characters into one character? Not only would this save the expense of two other actors, but it would give that one actor a far meatier role to play.
Actors want to play interesting characters. Since screenplays have a limited amount of time to tell a story, they need to have a limited number of characters so everyone in that small cast plays a larger and more important role.
So write from the following perspectives:
- Producers – Look at how to cut costs
- Actors – Look for meatier roles
The cheaper your screenplay can be to make and the more compelling the roles, the greater the chance it will get made. There’s no guarantee, but by putting the odds in your favor, you can increase the chance that your screenplay will get made.