Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 11, 2009

Tips – Book to Hollywood Movie

Many of you have asked me what you should do to get your book or manuscript made into a movie.  I never have a good answer.  Maybe if I live in LA I would have a better handle on the answer, but I don’t, so I have been searching for answers.  In my search I came across and article written by Kelly Haramis at the CHICAGO TRIBUNE – 2/8/06.

Kelly turned to Sara Caldwell, co-author of “So You Want to Be a Screenwriter: How to Face the Fears and Take the Risks,” to get answers.  Sara offered these tips over the phone from Los Angeles for all us would-be Woody Allens.

1.  Turn it into a script. “Collaborate with a screenwriter who is experienced . . . write a script and submit it as a screenplay,” said Caldwell, a freelance producer and writer for Amphion Productions.

2.  Tempting as it is to pen a love story about two gay cowboys on a mountain, Caldwell said to avoid what’s hot in Hollywood. “The idea is not to write for the trends . . . write because you’re passionate about the subject,” she explained.

3.  Once you have your future blockbuster, Caldwell suggested starting with the Hollywood Creative Directory (, which includes a resource guide, job board, e-mail lists and entertainment industry directories.

4.  You’ve got the names; now ink the deal – send out a query letter. “These days it’s all done by e-mail,” Caldwell said. But “don’t send attachments.”

5. Don’t forget the log line: “one sentence that describes a movie (or project).” Like all future Oscar winners, you’ll need to include a detailed paragraph about the project, as well as noting your writing experience, published books or any relevant awards.

6.  If you don’t get any bites, don’t shred the manuscript. Instead, Caldwell recommended:

Screenwriting festivals. “They are good to get recognition,” giving you access to “judges who work in the industry.”

Contests. Why not try the 2006 Illinois/Chicago Screenwriting Competition.  I checked this out and they are no longer running this contest. Here is one that looks good, but you will have to wait until next year to enter.  The deadline was September 8th.

Networking. “Screenwriting groups (are a great way) to meet someone who might have contacts and experience.”  If you are in New Jersey I do have a name of a group in Maplewood, if you want to join them.

Agents. “Many (studios) won’t accept scripts without an agent.” She added: “There are agents in other parts of the country (aside from Los Angeles). It’s better to have an agent in L.A. who has more day-to-day contact and who knows people.”

7. Get out there.  Even with your BlackBerry-toting, Armani-suit-wearing power agent, Caldwell said that no one can market you as well as, well, you. So get out there and wow the movie-going public, and . . . make sure to thank us during your Oscar acceptance speech.

I’ll keep up my search, but from what I can see trying to sell a movie script makes selling a book look easy.  Kathy

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