Selling a Screenplay — Emotions, Motives, and Drives

Although selling a screenplay is a lot like selling anything, the specifics are unique to the industry. Consider the buyer’s emotions, motives, and drives. First, who would buy a screenplay? Most commonly, a director or financier and even an actor would buy a screenplay. They ultimately have a goal and reason why they would buy a screenplay —
oftentimes to make money, to produce a specific type of movie, to minimize labor, to advance an acting career, and more.

Like the renowned self-help author Napoleon Hill teaches, you should never ask someone to do something unless you’ve given them a motive — a reason to do it. So what motive or reason have you given someone to buy your screenplay? Does it promise to be a commercial success? Would it make a great fit for the buyer? For example, will the buyer be able to film it with relative ease? Does it meet the buyers’ budget? Is it a distinct sub genre in which the buyer specializes? Does the main character in the screenplay fit a specific actor’s style?

Artistic license and creativity are key to screenwriting. At the same time, you’ll do yourself a favor to acknowledge that screenwriting and the film industry in general are a business. As such, people expect to make a profit. A wide range of talented people are responsible for making a movie or TV show and it all begins with the screenplay.

If someone is going to buy and produce a new film, they want to be certain it will be worth all the effort and that they’ll eventually be compensated for all their efforts. To make that determination, they conduct and analyze reams of data. As a screenwriter who wants to sell a sell a screenplay, you should at least know the basic elements of what makes a screenplay a potential financial success.