Screenplay contests are a place where you should be able to make mistakes, receive valuable feedback, and improve on your craft. But when sending material to production houses, agencies, or management companies, the staff may not be so forgiving. Here are the mistakes that every screenwriter must avoid when sending their material into the market.
- Spelling and grammatical errors: every producer or agent is quickly going to rush to judgement when it comes to grammar and spelling. If you make big mistakes (especially early on in the script), you are officially stacking the odds against you. Make sure your material is proof read and solid from all angles.
- Don’t look desperate: lots of screenwriters tend to be very protective over their ideas… so protective that it’s off-putting. When sending material to producers, agents, or managers, don’t bog them down with long NDAs or legal forms. This is the fast track to getting rejected before you get a read. Copyright your material and send it out without worry. Nobody is going to steel it… especially a professional who is on the lookout for fully baked sellable content.
- Images and graphics: leave this stuff to the producers. As a screenwriter, give your readers a cover page (standard without images) and the script. Adding pictures, story boards, or mood boards will only make your material appear amateur. You may have the best intentions, but the people screening your material won’t see it that way.
- Long blocks of text: A professional screenplay has a specific look to it. It’s easy for a professional to pick up a script, flip through the pages, and immediately know whether you’re an amateur or pro. Read LOTS of scripts (good scripts, of course) and get a feel for what a great screenplay looks like. It usually has lots of white on the page, with very short descriptions, short dialogue, and they almost always read at a brusque pace.
If you have any doubts about how your script will fair in the market, enter your feature screenplay, TV pilot, or Short Script into our screenplay competition and order Full Analysis. Our professional staff will pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and get you on track to improving your material and your craft.