How to Get A Producer to Read Your Movie Script

Finally, after months, maybe even years of hard work, you’ve done it!

🥂 Congratulations! 

Writing a movie script that sells is far from easy. Finding a job in Hollywood is difficult.

Getting an actual movie made is even harder.

Especially so if you’re working a day job at the same time. You’ve had to sacrifice a lot and pour heart and soul into your passion. You’re on the cusp of stardom, but unfortunately, that’s only the starting line of the race. 

The next big part of your screenwriting journey is getting a producer’s attention your way.

As a video producer in NYC, I get these sort of emails every week:

Most of them I actually send a response and invite them freely to send their pitch. I was once a starry eyed screenwriter once, so I understand where they’re coming from.

They’ll usually send the script. I’ll then promptly take a look at the log line and based on those precious moments, I’ll either pass or place in consideration (in my case a special folder in my gmail account).

If there’s a budget or there’s talent attached, I might even take the call like the example above.

But most of the time they go straight to the slush pile 👉🗑️🚯

I’m sure I’m one of the friendlier video production companies. Most of the time cold outreach will reach an assistant or go straight to the spam folder.

I’m easy enough to reach, but how to get the attention of Universal Pictures or Warner Bros.?

So many questions go through a writer’s head:

❓ Will the 118 pages of story line you’ve powered through catch the fancy of a good producer? 

❓ How do you even know your script is ready for the eyes of a professional producer? 

Chances of getting your script read are usually few and far between. It helps if you know what to do to make the most of limited opportunities. 

Your script has to be really something to stand out from the crowd. 

You rarely get a second chance to impress in the movie business. 

Luckily, I have a few ideas on how to make the most of the one-shot. 

Consider these things to get your script read by a movie producer

Write a damn good script

Do you know how many scripts producers receive in a week? One more than too many! 

There’s no shortage of people eager to tell a story.  The market is flooded with all sorts of scripts, no matter the niche. Countless blaze through the pages with dreams of Hollywood and their name in headlights. 

Visions of the red-carpet swirling in their minds as they hit that final full stop. Very few however have what it takes to make it to the big stage. 

The truth of the matter is: great writing is the only route there. 

Once upon a time, a video clerk sold his first screenplay titled True Romance based off the strength of the script.

Notice the absence of the words “good,” and the preference of the word “great.”  

There’s an abundance of good writing in the industry, but not a lot of great writing. Does your script have what it takes to force a path in the highly competitive film industry?

Engaging plotting, originality, just the right amount of character development, and intriguing concepts are the hallmarks of a good script. Does your writing meet all these criteria? As a writer, your opinion of your work counts for little. 

It helps to get third-party reviews from friends or family, preferably even a professional company free of any bias. With too much time invested in your work, your assessment of it will be tainted.

Professionals can give a more honest assessment so you know if it’s ready. Of course, get as many second opinions as you can for a clear picture of where your script truly stands in terms of quality.

If your writing is up to scratch, you needn’t worry about making it through the competition. As the famous Hollywood saying goes, the cream always makes it to the top!

Have talent attached!

Speaking of Quentin Tarantino, he planned to produce Reservoir Dogs after selling True Romance to Tony Scott and Natural Born Killers to Oliver Stone.

Despite having sold 2 scripts, Tarantino had no directorial experience. This lack of experience limited his ability to raise funds for Reservoir Dogs.

Then a breakthrough happened. QT’s script got into the hands of Harvey Keitel, who wanted to attach himself as actor and producer of Reservoir Dogs.

From there, other actors attached themselves to the project. The list included Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. The list of actors and the strong script eventually made its way to Harvey Weinsten, who gave QT his directorial break.

Here’s Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth discussing their experience, working with Reservoir Dogs:

From there, we all know what happened to Quentin Tarantino. He rose from video clerk to famed Hollywood writer/producer, a modern day auteur.

As an unknown screenwriter, you increase your chances of success by attaching established actors to your script.

Don’t just send your scripts via a cold query to production companies. Target the agents of top talent (or rising talent) in Hollywood.

Universal Pictures might pass on your project on the first try. But if you get Brad Pitt to attach himself to your project, you’re guaranteed at least a pitch meeting with a producer at Universal Pictures.

Movies need actors to succeed at the box office. Snag a good one and you’ve upped your chances to get your movie script read by a producer.

Win a screenwriting competition!

Well, to enter and win a screenwriting competition is the ultimate endorsement of a market-ready, quality script with a bright future in film.

Beyond the monetary implications of coming out on top, such victories open up many doors of possibilities. 

I’ve written about this in my coverage of the Nicholl’s competition.

Read about my review HERE.

Winning a screenwriting competition is quite hard, but just by participating, there’s a lot to be gained. Most importantly, better networking so you know which numbers to ring to get your script a chance.

Unless you were born into a family of screenwriters, chances are your circle of friends knows little of how things work in the industry. Competitions are an excellent place to meet fellow writers and expand your professional networks.

What’s more, you’ll learn how to work through rejection. Remember, few rarely make it through at the first time of asking. 

The industry is built on rejection. A writing competition is also a great place to get some of that professional feedback we were talking about earlier.

Speaking of writing competitions, how do you know which ones are worth your time? Which competitions can genuinely advance your career as a writer? 

The Academy Nicholl Screenwriting fellowship and the Austin Film Festival are among the best at discovering talent and providing a platform for it to flourish. 

Other notable events include the BlueCat Screenplay, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, ScreenCraft, and the Walt Disney Television Writing Program, to name a few.

Before you sign up for any competition, figure out whether it’s a fit for you and if it adds value beyond financial incentives.

Have social proof!

Success stories like the hit 2012 TV show, High Maintenance, show that sometimes all you need to light up the path to greater things is a great story. The web series started on Vimeo.

It amused audiences around the world with its witty and hilarious portrayals of New Yorkers and their encounters with a nameless marijuana dealer. 

Here’s the original teaser for the HBO launch:

The series has gone on to run for four more seasons since it was picked up by HBO. The resounding social proof it received convinced the streaming giants to take a chance on them. Countless positive feedback and highly-rated reviews on criticism platforms have vindicated that investment.

You too can make some social proof of your own. Perhaps start small with a mini-series on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other platform of your choice, and grow your content from there.

Most of the time, all you need is a good phone and a talented cast to tell a great story. 

For example, did you know that some of the scenes in the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man were shot on an iPhone

That goes to show you don’t always need a big budget to show your script to the world. You could also rent videography services instead of buying gear upfront.

Also, you don’t need to shoot your entire script. Maybe just bits and pieces of your best episodes or story scenes to get some heads turning. Many scripts rarely make it to a producer’s desk and fewer still are even read. 

A web series is a great way to attract attention and market your script in a very captivating way.

And, you never know who could be watching!

If you follow these 4 suggestions, you’ll have greater success in having your movie script read by a producer. Good luck! Protection Status