What to think about before you option a script

What to think about before you option a script

As many of you may know it’s getting harder and to finance films today so being selective on the projects that you want to do is even more important than ever. Here are a few of the many things your have to think about when considering taking on a project:

  • Who is the audience for this movie?
  • Does this audience go and see films?
  • Is the audience that goes to see these films large enough to make the film a success?
  • Can you reach this audience easily through social media and other non-conventional marketing strategies?
  • Is this script commercial enough?
  • Is it high concept?
  • Can you make this film for a budget that’s manageable enough that you can feel comfortable that you can recoup your budget?
  • Can this script attract a great director and a great cast?

As you can see there is much more to think about than just reading a script and deciding that you like it. You have to think about what your chance of success is if you make the film. What the likelihood is that you will actually be able to get paid a salary to make the film.

I am here to tell you that many of the films that I have made as a producer I have never received a penny. In some cases I have even had to put my own money in to close the financing of the film and even that money I have never been able to recoup. In most circumstances on films that I have financed with various funders in Canada I have had to defer/reinvest my fees into the film in order to make the film. These deferrals/reinvestments will be never recouped and therefore all of the years I have invested in making the films were all done for free.

Any good film starts with a good script. A good script leads you to a good director, and a good director and a good script lead you to a great cast and a great crew… and of course money. So it all starts with a great script… but I can tell you that out of the over 100 scripts I read a year, I only option 2 or 3 out of that 100 for all the reasons I mentioned above. But hey, it doesn’t have to be a great script for you to option it but it can be a GREAT IDEA! I have optioned scripts that the draft that I read was actually only OK but the idea was great! MOON POINT is an example of a script that was a great idea and I thought that with some work it could be a great little film. The film answered many of my questions above. It was a high concept, commercial type film that knew who its audience was (people who like films like GARDEN STATE, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, and John Hughes films like SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL to name a few). AND we could make it for a very small amount of money which would give us a greater chance of success in not only making our money back but also turning a profit which I for one have never done before. We spent over a year reworking the script to a point where we felt it was time to make the film. The film we made has already garnered us almost all of our money back and hopefully soon will turn a profit.

The key is to make great films that attract as many eye balls to see it. That translates into box office and sales which will help you get your next film made.

Isn’t that the point!