By Mark Lund-
After years of research, writing and submitting, your book is published. Your dream is a reality. But through the process you had another dream – to see your written words come to life as a movie. There are two routes to making this possible.
Your first option is to find a literary agent to represent your book in the entertainment industry. The industry loves “IP” (intellectual property). From the Marvel universe to The Hunger Games, this is an industry that “hungers” for the next big thing, and they prefer to find those through agents. Agents are flooded with submissions, but if your book has a following, reviews, and positive press, it may be considered for representation.
Finding such an agent follows the same path used to find an agent for your book—research. To get a feel for the industry you’ll want to start reading industry trades The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. You should already know aboutIMDb.com (Internet Movie Database), and the monthly subscription toIMDbPro.com has fairly up-to-date contact information (you’ll see who representsSuzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games). Identify the agent’s submission policy. It’s all about that first impression.
If you are fortunate enough to secure an agent, and they get your work optioned, then the process moves into higher gear. Generally, you will receive an upfront payment for a specific time period of optioned rights. You may or may not have input into the adaptation of your book into a screenplay. If your book is not produced by the expiration of the optioned rights, they revert back to you and the process starts over. You may strike oil as we’ve seen with The Hunger Games or your book could wind up in what is called “development hell”. Your book gets endlessly optioned, but never produced.
Your second option is to produce your own movie. This means a substantial learning curve and working with a team of creatives. To start, you adapt your book into a screenplay, which is easier said than done. As a novelist you adjust your thinking because a screenplay only paints what needs to be visualized.
Start reading IndieWire.com and FilmmakerMagazine.com for a feel of the industry. Attend film festivals to see independent films come to life. See if your state has a film office. Through all these new resources you may come across a screenwriter to work with. The Writers Guild of America is also a wonderful resource. Want to write the screenplay yourself? I highly recommend the software Final Draft.
With your script complete, submit to festivals with screenwriting competitions (FilmFreeway.com). Winning nominations and awards validates your screenplay. Find the right cast and crew, which can be a challenge. Seek out local colleges or universities that offer a film program and castings for independent short and feature films. Volunteer to help on set or, if you’re interested in acting – audition! From there you will learn what happens on a set.
Carefully plan your film budgets to include distribution. Shane Carruth’s award winning Primer was produced for $7,000 with a box office gross of over $400,000. Look him up to see where he is now.
You probably once thought that publishing a book was just a dream, but there it is in your hands. If you apply the same discipline, determination and patience to the film industry, you may find yourself in a theater watching your book unfold on the silver screen.
Mark Lund is an award winning magazine publisher, thrice award nominated screenwriter, television personality, film producer and director. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2342088/ andhttp://theashtontimes.com/about/
Shane Carruth’s Primer:
Development Hell – explained