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Film - Closing the Deal

 

You have spent years polishing your script, you have gotten an agent, you have taken your meetings, and you have found an industry buyer, and it seems like all of your dreams of filmic fame are on the brink of coming true, but there’s still the complex matter of closing the deal. For every film project that winds up getting an initial green light to be made, there are roughly five thousand that don’t. That is a daunting enough figure as is, but even more so when one considers that far less than half of those that green lit ever make it to the silver screen, and many of those that fall by the wayside wind up paying the screenwriter a pittance, if anything. This is largely because screenwriters are not, by nature, social animals, and are not sufficiently versed in salesmanship or business practices to understand that time kills most deals. The most essential element in closing the deal, transforming an executive’s promise to make a film into the reality of the film getting made is persistence. This actually matters far more than talent. Potential buyers are inundated with scripts on a daily basis, and must constantly shift their attention from one project to the next as they try to determine which will be commercially successful. It is easy for any individual script, including those the buyer may have expressed some intention in making, to still fall through the cracks. One should not be afraid to resort to any and all measures to keep the project fresh in the mind of investors so it doesn’t wind up “dying in turnaround”. Bear in mind, this is not the best approach for initially selling a script. That is best done through the rather formal and formalized process of first getting an agent, and then using that agent’s contacts to get one’s script bought. The message here is that even once the script has been purchased, the screenwriter’s job is far from over, and not just in the area of script revisions. In Hollywood, all the players look out for themselves first and foremost, and no one gets ahead through laziness and complacency. The only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary, and the screenwriters who manage to succeed in closing the deal do so through pluck, perseverance, and the constant awareness that without them gently but consistently pestering the moneymen to see that the deal gets done and the film gets made, they are more than likely to find their years of creative effort rewarded with little more than a minor paycheck.

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