SCREENWRITING: THE $100,000 SALE (Learn Script Secrets, Tricks & Costs)

$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.

Writing-5-jpg (WGA minimum for a Treatment and two Drafts is “just under” $100,000)

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.

Duh.

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.

Writing-7 (Mr Q wrote and got two scripts made before he directed “RESERVOIR DOGS”)

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.

Writing-4 (Is your $100,000 Script sale a Sale or is it an Option?)

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…

Happy Filmmaking,

Dov S-S Simens

 

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3 comments on “SCREENWRITING: THE $100,000 SALE (Learn Script Secrets, Tricks & Costs)”

  1. joe sixpak says:

    do you have a model template for all that plots and subplots to use as a guide
    plus the other features of a great script

    there was a seinfeld template you could drop in your situations and create an episode very easily

  2. This web site really has all the info I needed concerning
    this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  3. Anthony Tsal says:

    The hard nosed truth is that nobody gets employed on any sound stage or location – actors, technicians, catering staff etc – without a blessed screenplay!! Nowt happens. I’d wave a sheet of A4 in my hand at the Oscars and ask anybody, however gifted or famous to ” please film this .. and give me 120 minutes of real entertainment!! The writer has always been treated like some by product who is given that gift of any payment almost with the expectation of bowing with supreme gratitude for that honour. The truth is that YOU sweated over that 120 pages or so, producing mountains of notes and throw away scenes and iffy dialogue and treatments etc., YOU did the work. YOU instigated eventually the means by which said Actor or said Director was hired for a very nice fat fee thank you, ready to move on to their next project thank you. Whilst YOU scratch around mentally for the next idea and make mental notes, perhaps start a few rough drafts, make numerous nots and dread that day when you HAVE TO SIT DOWN AND WRITE!! Nobody else does that?? YOU enable movies! YOU provide employment! YOU Godamit should be the king pin!! YOU should receive your just reward. Instead, its as if that blank sheet of A4 magically comes about into a completed script … ready to shoot and everybody is laughing and sipping coffee and its all so wonderfully easy …….. S’truth!! I bless all you screenwriters from the bottom of my heart. My disbelief after fifty odd years has not wilted …….. FADE OUT

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