WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY FINISHED SCREENPLAY?
Like everyone, you’re hoping for a clear answer. You want direction. You want to know what’s the right move for YOUR career? What’s the best path? I can’t give you the answer, but I can help you find it.
People are very insecure and this doesn’t exclude you. We pour our heart and soul into something and want nothing but the best for it. God forbid we make the WRONG decision on what to do with our work. Well, guess what? There is no wrong decision and it’s important to ingrain that into our minds.
The key here is to look inward. It’s not a matter of what’s the right move for your work. It’s not a matter of what’s the right move for your career. What we want to figure out is, what’s the right move for YOU? Let’s start at the top and step through the process I would take. Let’s walk through the questions I ask myself and you should be asking too.
IS THIS THE FIRST OR FINAL DRAFT?
Let’s be real here, nobody writes a first draft of anything and it’s fucking gold. There is always room for improvement. Hell, I can take my 10th draft of a screenplay and find things I would change about it. It’s a process, much like my career, of constant failures, learning, growth and improvement. Remember, there is ALWAYS room for improvement.
One thing we want to avoid when determining if this is our final draft is, analysis paralysis. What the fuck did he just say? I repeat, analysis paralysis. The over analyzing, over thinking, mind fuckery that happens when we feel something may not be good enough, but we’re unsure because our fucking insecurities are getting the best of us. Stop, breath, think and use your fucking head. Is this your first draft? If the answer is yes, then you should probably reread the script and work on a rewrite. Is this your 5th draft (arbitrary number, who am I to tell you how many drafts you’ll need to write) or more? Do YOU love the story? Does it entertain YOU and make YOU happy? Then stop, it’s done.
It’s that simple. Let’s put things into perspective. If your goal is to win an Oscar or hell just get the movie made, let me tell you that the odds of failure are extremely high. Do you know how many people win an Oscar for screenwriting every year? One. One fucking person. Do you know how many screenplays are out for studios to choose from each year? Thousands. Maybe tens of thousands. How many movies are made from those submitted scripts? Likely around 5% or less.
Heartbreaking I know. We’re being set up for failure. But, there’s good news. The path to growth is through failure. One thing we all know, The Failed FIlmmaker loves failure. I thrive on that shit. I fucking embrace it like a warm hug from grandma on Christmas night, or some shit. So, move on from the doom and gloom that is this looming failure and let’s take another look inside. Let’s find our why.
WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
Simon Sinek, Start With Why. I highly recommend this read.
Your why is the driving factor behind all of this. It’s the one thing that keeps you going and for this we need to look inside. We need to ask the question. What is your why? If you say money, get the fuck out. Just kidding, I thought that was my why for the longest time. Trust me when I say this, it’s not your why. It could be a result of your why, but NOT your why.
Why did you write the screenplay? Did you want to be a writer? Did you want to be a filmmaker? Why did you write the story you did? Do you have a message you want to get out to the world? Are you looking to inspire? Find your why and then leverage it to make your decision on next steps.
When I think of my why, the first thing I think about is the fact that I want to be a filmmaker. This helps to illuminate my path, I NEED to make this film. I like to consider this my surface why. But, look deeper. Why do I need to make this film? What’s the point? For me, it’s to inspire. I want to show people that when you put your mind to it, you can do anything. That is my why, to inspire.
Now that I have my why, the next steps are easy. Make this movie and do it by any means necessary. Submit the screenplay to festivals hoping to win money to finance the picture. Look for private financing. Crowd source. Use credit cards (not recommended) or save some money until I have enough to make the picture. That’s what I should do with MY screenplay. What should you do with yours?
There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s not about building a career or making money. It’s not about external validation from a highly competitive industry. It’s about fulfilling your why. Do this and the path becomes clear. It took me a long time to understand this. Like many, I too was lost. I didn’t have a why. Now I do. My why is to inspire. What’s yours?