Most people are not successful in their field. It has nothing to do with their talent, skill, education, background, or personality. It has everything to do with the question they ask themselves. When striving for success, most people ask this question:
“How can I get money from other people?
This is a certain path to failure. Screenwriters often think they can write a screenplay and someone will magically want to buy their script. While this can and does happen, there’s a reason why anyone will want to buy your screenplay.
It’s because they think they can make money with it.
So rather than ask yourself, “How can I get money from other people?” A better question to ask is:
“How can I create a product or provide a service that can put money in someone else’s pocket?”
This is the reason why Hollywood loves to make movies from books, TV shows, toys, or comic books. It’s because all of these have proven popularity in their market already. If a toy is already popular and making money (think Transformers), then making a movie based on that toy has a good chance of also making money.
If a popular novel is already making money (think “The Hunger Games”), then making a movie based on that novel has a good chance of also making money.
Of course, this doesn’t always work but Hollywood wants the shortest path to profits as possible. Successful products like novels, TV shows, toys, and comic books help prove an idea so turning that idea into a full-length movie poses far less risk than choosing a screenplay from an unknown writer who wants to tell a story that has no proof that it can make money at all.
As a screenwriter, you have two ways to make other people money:
- A screenplay
- Your ability to write
You want to sell a screenplay, so to increase your chances, think low-budget. The less expensive your story will be to make, the less risk. If your screenplay tries to become the next “Star Wars” and requires tons of special effects, costumes, and stunts, you’ve immediately driven up costs and made your screenplay far less attractive to buy, regardless of how good your story might be.
This is the reason why horror and comedy are the two most popular genres for screenwriters to pursue initially because both horror and comedy can be filmed practically anywhere with no special sets or costumes. Horror and comedy can also use unknown or up and coming actors so that expense will be much less than hiring an A-list actor like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie.
So make your screenplay as attractive to buyers as possible by making it as easy to make as possible. The second way to make other people money is to write such a great screenplay that someone may not want your script, but they will want your writing ability.
Hollywood already has tons of ideas. That’s why an idea alone is worthless. Implementing and executing any idea is the real treasure so if Hollywood can find a talented screenwriter, they can give you their idea for a story and pay you to turn that idea into a compelling screenplay.
To succeed, it all boils down to writing the best screenplay possible. Just keep in mind that the fastest way to success is to convince others that they can make money off you, either from your scripts or from your writing ability.
Until you can convince Hollywood (or any industry) that they can make money off of you, you’ll be stuck on a dead end route to failure. The moment you figure out how you can make money for other people, success will be much closer to your reach.