The following is a Q & A exchange from a client seeking script and marketing advice. I wanted to share the information as I thought it might be helpful to other screenwriters and filmmakers.
Q: You give advice on marketing, so would you want me to submit a one-sheet or anything else?
A: A one-sheet is helpful as it can be that overview which serves as a selling tool to encapsulate your story and entice your buyer.
The first step for an agent, executive, third party financier and so on is to assess the strength of the concept. Is it commercial? Does it have engaging, original characters? Does the piece offer a great role that has the potential to attract A-list talent? Will it resonate with a large audience? What are the stakes? Is there enough conflict? etc. The next and most important step is to evaluate the quality of the writing. How well does the writer execute his or her story?
In terms of my own process, I proceed from my creative instincts about what works and doesn't work, coupled with my experiences in interacting with agents, talent, studio and production company executives on a daily basis, listening to what they are looking for, why they respond to certain scripts and writers, and not others.
A one-sheet can be a very effective selling tool. But it can't stop there. As an executive for production companies based at Sony, Disney and Universal, and as a film and TV producer -- the most common words I hear in my daily conversations with colleagues are the following: "How is the execution?" Or "I liked the concept, but I didn't love the execution."
There have been many times when I thought I wanted to option a project based on a great premise. But then once I read the script, the writing fell short. As a result, I wound up passing. Conversely, there might be a script that is not inherently commercial; however, if it is extremely well-executed, it might excite the imagination and passions of a leading actor, director or production company, in which case it becomes viable.
In the current market place, unless a project is based on a large, pre-existing brand with a tremendous built-in fan base such as "Marvel Man", "The X-Men", "The Transformers", "G.I. Joe", and so on, companies do not want to spend a lot of money developing material and spending money on shaky outcomes with no guarantees of returns on their investments. If a company makes a movie that is less than par but still has a brand name and built-in audience, there is a good chance they will have a decent ROI. For a project that has no brand recognition, if the writing doesn't stand out, chances are your executive will pass.
Marketing tools can enhance a project’s saleability, but there is no substitute for a great script.
Wendy Kram is a film and television producer and owner of L.A. FOR HIRE, a boutique entertainment consulting firm. Ranked by Creative Screenwriting Magazine as one of the Industry's "Best Script Consultants", she assists screenwriters and filmmakers from all over the world navigate the Hollywood landscape and advance their projects.