The Savvy Screenwriter

How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out!

Susan Kouguell

St. Martin's Griffin

Chapter One

Empower Yourself

Bravo! You’ve completed your screenplay. Now what?

Forewarned is forearmed. You need to be ready for what lies ahead.

The Savvy Screenwriter reveals what’s in store for you. It demystifies the film business and tells you what you really want and need to know ... how to sell your screenplay and yourself without selling out.

Whether your goal is to write for independent or Hollywood films, The Savvy Screenwriter will help you to gain an understanding of how the industry works and what it expects from you and your screenplay. A savvy screenwriter is empowered. You must know what you’re in for and what you must do if you are going to succeed in the film industry.

When I was brainstorming for a title for the first edition of The Savvy Screenwriter, one idea I came up with (but which was quickly shot down due to its incredible length) was:

“Everything you always wanted to know about selling your script, finding and working with agents and entertainment attorneys, writing queries and synopses, pitching, learning the psychology of story analysts and movie executives, understanding option agreements and development deals, tackling writing assignments and collaborations, learning the film lingo and resources ... but didn’t know whom to ask.”

Okay, it was a really long title, but this is what I wanted this book to give you. And here I get the last word---or words.

In my years working on independent and Hollywood films, I endured a number of bumps and bruises, but through trial and error I finally figured out how things worked. The Savvy Screenwriter will help you navigate the maze set up by the film industry, which is filled with daunting rules, etiquette, and the secret society of film executives. If only I’d had a book like this, a book that would have empowered and guided me through this often difficult maze, I would have been able to devote more time to writing and less time to tending to my bumps and bruises. And I would have had a lot more fun learning the film industry ropes.

If I had known then what I know now ...

Throughout The Savvy Screenwriter you’ll find personal anecdotes from my past. (They are typed like this, on my old-fashioned typewriter.) The movie scenes (presented in screenplay format) are fictionalized accounts of often sad but true events that happened to me in the film business---many of which occurred when I first started out. People’s names and titles of films have often been omitted to protect my pocketbook and my career.

This second edition has been fully expanded and updated. It is filled with new, funny, and helpful personal anecdotes, as well as those provided by colleagues, seminar students, my students at Tufts University, SUNY Purchase, and Screenwriters Online, and my Su-City Pictures East’s clients---all of whom generously agreed to share their stories (anonymously).

Throughout the book you’ll also find more film industry updates, including information about online script registries, script competitions, and pitch festivals. I’ve also included samples for synopses, loglines, query letters, outlines, beat sheets, and a new chapter on treatments, as well as Act 1 of a sample treatment. In the Appendices you’ll find expanded Savvy Lingo and more extensive and updated resource information. Each chapter has been expanded to further help you become a savvy screenwriter.

Copyright © 2006 by Susan Kouguell