SCREENWRITING: THE $100,000 SALE (Learn Script Secrets, Tricks & Costs)
by Dov S-S Simens on June 7, 2016
$100,000 SCRIPT SALE (Treatment & 2 Drafts)
Hollywood, according to union minimum rules, pays approx. $100,000 (see below) for a Treatment and 2 Drafts (1st Draft & Final Draft) to hire a writer to write a script based off an idea they have or a book or real life story they optioned.
QUESTION: So what do you think they’ll offer you when you come to them with the finished script that, for whatever reason, is absolutely perfect and they love?
ANSWER: $100,000. Duh.
For specific amounts go to the website for the screenwriters union, called Writers Guild of America (www.WGA.org) and view (http://www.wga.org/uploadedFiles/writers_resources/contracts/min2014.pdf) what you will discover is that the exact pay ranged from $67,804 to $127,295…
This is nice.
The $67,804 is for a Low-Budget movie (film under $1,200,000) and High-Budget is (film over $5,000,000) assumed as any movie costing more-than $5,000,000 but marketed as “just-under” $7-10 Million, or $10-12 Million, or $12-15 Million.
Yep, all those budgets they market are “just-under”…
Back to facts.
If Low-Budget (under $1.2 Million) writer, according to the WGA 4 years ago (rate have changed slightly), gets paid…
- TREATMENT… $30,721
- 1st DRAFT… $26,700
- 2nd DRAFT… $10,383
If High-Budget (over $5 Million) writer, according to the WGA 4 years ago (rates have also changed slightly) gets paid…
- TREATMENT… $50,874
- 1st DRAFT…. $50,874
- 2nd DRAFT… $25,547
The one and only secret to obtaining the $100,000 SALE ($67,804-$127,295) is to write the great script.
Obvious and simple to say, yet extremely difficult to do.
But doable if you follow these steps.
And remember; Anyone can have an idea and use free formatting shareware (www.Celtx.com) or purchase formatting software (Final Draft 10.0, www.FinalDraft.com) and knock out 90-140 pages in 1-2 months.
Not a big deal.
The big deal is to knock out 90-140 pages, of course typed in the write format, that has A-M (see below)…
- (A) Grabs the Reader on Line 4-6 of Page-1 (grabs readers attention)
- (B) Grabs the Reader on Bottom Line of Page-1 (holds readers attention)
- (C) First 8-12 Pages captivate the reader. (makes reader turn pages)
- (D) Characters introduced have personality & uniqueness. (reader enjoys this)
- (E) 2nd ACT starts around Page 12, after an “UH-OH” & “OH-SHIT”. (reader is grabbed)
- (F) Reader is now grabbed, hooked and reads entire script. (reader is satisfied)
- (G) 2nd ACT is a great roller-coaster ride. (reader is still hooked)
- (H) 2nd ACT establishes the 3 Sub-Plots. (reader is fascinated)
- (I) All Characters are not 1-dimensional and have a sub-story. (readers is enthralled)
- (J) 3rd ACT starts page 70 (90 Page Script) or page 110 (140 Page Script) (reader is excited)
- (K) 3rd ACT brings 3 Sub-Plots and Primary Plot all together. (reader is kvelling)
- (L) 3rd ACT resolves itself. (reader is more than 100% satisfied)
- (M) EPILOGUE, 1 page might be a bonus
Now… Get Real.
$100,000 SCRIPT SALE
Is the $100K Script Sale possible? The answer is “yes” but it is likely only going to be an Option Agreement with maybe $5,000-$10,000 down,,, Permit me to explain.
You will get an offer for $100,000, with at most, $5,000 down, and an 18-24 month exclusive where at any time the buyer has the option to give you the remaining $95,000 and own the script 100%, with a further likelihood that he the buyer, in the option agreement will have two 1-year extensions for an additional $1,000 each…
The end result is that you will announce you sold the Script for $100,000 but got only $5,000 for a 24-month option, and $2,000 for two 12-month extensions.
Thus, your $100,000 Script Sale got your property tied up for 48-months and you received a total of $7,000.
Welcome to Hollywood.
You keeping hearing Hollywood, all those celebrities and dudes, sitting on those $1,000 “Variety Entertainment Financing Summits” stating “We’re looking for great ideas” and you instantly get excited about your-idea-is-great.
Don’t get excited. Hollywood is not looking for great ideas… it is looking for Great Scripts.
And if your script handles “A-M” above then you likely have the Great Script expect a $100,000 offer but the resulting 36-48 month option will likely only get you $7,000-$10,000 in cash.
Positive Note: If the Script is actually ever made then, and only then, on first day of Principal Photography you will receive the remaining $90,000-$93,000 owed.
Back to writing the Great Script and hoping for a $100,000 Sale… that is not an option agreement.
Let’s assume: You grabbed the reader right away on page-1, you make him/her turn the page and read 9 more pages. The 10 pages are great he/she is now engrossed and then reads the entire script.
Plus, you have dimensional characters, with unique dialogue, and 3 sub-plots which each resolve themselves and are all intertwined into the primary story that also resolves itself… You got a Fr*ckin’ Great Script.
Let’s assume the reader gives “good coverage” (two page book report to his/her superior), states “Must Read” and the superior reads the script and agrees “This is a Fr*ckin’ Great Script” you will now likely get an offer for Writers Guild minimum (Low-Budget) of $67,804. What the f*ck round-it-up to $75,000, with a paragraph in the offer that if the budget ever goes over $5 Million you will receive $127,295 or whatever writers guild minimum is at that date.
Voilla…You sold your script for about $100,000… give or take a little.
Hold on, Stop-The-Engines, I’d be remiss if, however, if I did not say that you “ain’t gonna get a check at one-time for that $100,000 or $67,804-$127,295″, at this moment from the slick Hollywood Buyer (aka: Development Executive), for he/she is not really buying your script he/she is really optioning it (first refusal right) for 3-4 years with likely only 10% down.
Bummer? Don’t be bummed!
Once again; Welcome to Hollywood, be mature, understand that this is a business and if you can ever get one script actually made by a major or mini-major studio you likely will become a “player” and on your way to fame & fortune…
Dov S-S Simens
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