I’m plunging in slow motion into the apparently cut-throat film industry. If instead I had a play for theatre to market I would have no problem finding at least folk who would read with a view to production, but for film I know bubkis. Ironically, I know how to write a screenplay and even how to teach how to write a screenplay. So here’s perhaps a variation on the old saw ‘those who can’t do, teach’: becomes ‘those who can do, but know bubkis about marketing, teach’. Well, I need to know this stuff, for my own benefit and to broaden my base of teaching skills. So where do I start? I guess we’ll find out…
So right now I’m trying to sell this thing, Owl Song. My feeling is that the story is not yet in the right form, so I first of all have to decide whether to market it as it is, or to attempt to establish a base interest for what it might be. This is a vertiginous blend of an emotional decision and hard-arse logic. In terms of the latter, I think writers like all workers need to decide at what point they stop giving it away. That is, the model with which we are most familiar is the writer-in-the-garret working for years on spec with some vague notion of er whatever at the end. Frankly it sounds like Work Choices 2.0 (when ah ah no Tony Abbott gets it). Fortunately, the film industry is industrial enough to recognise this. This is where the Synopsis or its big sibling the Treatment comes in.
Step 1 (and maybe 1.2 er 2.0 er…)
I’m a member of the Australian Writers’ Guild. I’m providing a link grudgingly, given they closed their Melbourne office without telling anyone – except the rest of the country (truly) – and it costs me a bomb for not muxh benefit so far. Through them I’ve discovered the Encore Directory which costs a bit, but is a handy resource for finding agents, producers etc. My thought is to start looking for agents soon, before producers
But my first attempt at communicating with the outside world has been to contact Scriptworks, a company which offers all sorts of script services, editing, marketing etc. They also have an ‘acquisitions’ service, which I presume means they act as agents for a script. How did it go?
How to Bugger Up a Synopsis
Scriptworks ask for a synopsis only. If they like the synopsis they ask to see a script. This is standard industry practice. But I buggered it up. I got a very nice response saying they weren’t interested in acquiring the project at this stage, but were interested enough in the ideas to want to read a more enlightening synopsis.
I wrote the synopis in the death-gasp stage of the writing process – you know, the bit in the movie where the dying man manages to press the emergency button or the detonator with his last skerrick of life force. So it wasn’t a good synopsis. I’ll deconstruct it next time…