Spec Scripts: Are they Really Worth It?
Whenever a screenwriter begins their journey into the world of scriptwriting, they typically start with a spec script. A spec script is a script that’s non-commissioned or is an unsolicited screenplay for those who don’t know.
Most screenwriters start out with spec scripts, but as many soon find out, it’s practically impossible to sell a spec script, no matter how good it is. The entertainment industry is all about networking and building a following.
Basically, it’s like working your way up the ladder. You get an internship, start working with others, eventually land a writing job, which can cause you to have enough clout to reach a script deal of some kind.
Most screenwriters can’t accomplish this journey, but with enough perseverance, anything is possible. On the other hand, completing a script without backing or anything is risky for the pure sake that you might waste your time.
However, it’s always better to say at least you tried than to question what could’ve been. With the subject of spec scripts in mind, let’s analyze if they’re worth it or not. Be sure to utilize this information to help you with your spec script and what you want to do with it.
Photo credit: Screencraft
Know What's Selling
First and foremost, if you’re going to try and reach a script deal once your script is already finished, make sure you know what’s selling. For example, if you get word studios are buying horror scripts left and right and wrote a comedy, this might make it more challenging for you to sell your script.
Being aware of what’s selling and not selling can help you propel your script forward into the limelight. At the very least, it can be used as a tool for marketing yourself. For example, saying you wrote a script is an excellent resume feature to help you land a beginning job in the industry.
Then after a few years pass, you never know when an opportunity might present itself, and someone higher up might ask you for a script. Plus, it’s always good practice to get a script done and is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Once done, the script isn’t going to go anywhere, and you need to realize what you’ve just accomplished. Most people can’t say they’ve written a full script, regardless if you’ve ever sold it or not.
Once done, you can try using your script to gain jobs in the industry, submit it to film competitions, or get an agent or manager. All of these are difficult tasks accomplish, but anything is possible.
Find Out Who is Buying
Aside from being aware of what’s selling and not selling, try to understand what studios are buying. As a beginner in the industry, smaller studios are definitely where you’ll start out, but make sure you’re aware of what’s going on.
Google is a tool for a reason, so use it to your advantage. Other than Google, try reaching out to friends and acquaintances in the industry to see who can help you during your journey. You never know what direction they point you in.
Even if it’s not technically a sold script, as long as it furthers your ultimate goal of selling script, a step in the right direction is all you can hope for in the beginning. For this reason alone, spec scripts are worth it as a building tool for your career.
Analyze Your Experience
As noted, scripts only get bought beforehand if they’re from a notable screenwriter or someone with a name in the industry. For example, if Chris Pratt wants to start writing screenplays all of a sudden, he can easily get the support.
Since you’re most likely a beginner in the industry, realize your experience will only get you so far. Even if your script is incredible, there’s always a better script out there that they’ll pick up before yours.
As a result, make sure you understand what the point of a spec script is. It’s a chance for you to show off your talent to get your foot in the door, which can further your career. Of course, there’s a chance it can be bought and made, but it’s more of a tool for you to begin your journey.
Get Noticed/Do It Yourself
Lastly, a spec script is great for getting yourself noticed, and if all else fails, you can make the script into production yourself. With today’s technology, why not go out there and do everything yourself with a team.
Most filmmakers and screenwriters will tell you about the importance of creating projects independently early in your career, which is what’ll most likely happen to you with your spec script. Still, a spec script is useful in many ways, even if nothing happens with it.