Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to See Your Fiction on the Silver Screen


By Susan McCauley

Selling a speculative script isn’t easy, but if an author has a book that’s doing well with readers, it stands a much better chance of being produced as a film. So, how do you make that happen? 

If you have a literary agent, you can certainly share your desires with him or her and ask if they can help you pitch your book to production companies; however, many literary agents don’t represent screenwriters or handle film deals. That really depends on your agency and individual agent.

So, here are some other ways to see your book made into a film:

A producer reads your book, loves it, and options it. (This happened to Charlaine Harris with True Blood). Unfortunately, there’s a lot of luck involved unless your book is a bestseller. 

You know some Hollywood, New York, or London producers, pitch them your book, and they option the rights. 

You adapt your own book into a screenplay and seek out a screenwriting agent in Los Angeles, New York, or London. 

You adapt your own book into a screenplay and find an independent production company that you can work with to see your project come to life on screen.

Remember, movies usually cost millions of dollars to make – even some independent films. And the budget will largely depend on your story, the setting, time period, genre, casting, etc. Some genres are less expensive to produce than others. But stay true to your story and make your book and your screenplay outstanding. And be clear about what you want for your book as a film: Would it be a good art house film? Is it an indie film? Or is it a major blockbuster type?

I’ve have written speculative feature length film scripts (my MFA is in screenwriting), but I have not sold one to a studio - yet. (I decided I didn’t want to be a studio screenwriter for my career). Over time, I transitioned into writing more fiction. I now write short stories, novels, and screenplays, and my published short story, “The Cask”, is currently being made into a high quality independent short film.

If you’d like to learn more, please check out my classes at Margie Lawson Writer’s Academy. My next class, Adapting Fiction for Film, begins October 1 and costs $50. In it, you’ll learn how to adapt a novel for the screen, and can also ask lots of questions about what to do once you’ve got a finished, polished script. 

I have a BA in TV-Film, an MFA in Professional Writing (thesis in screenwriting) from the University of Southern California and an MA in Text & Performance from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and King's College London. 

I hope to see you in class, and look forward to answering your questions!

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