Don’t Abandon Your Old Scripts
By Bob Saenz
So, you have a few, or like me, a lot, of old unsold scripts filed away on your computer or on thumb drives or on the cloud… or also like me, saved on all three, and you’ve kinda forgotten they exist. Well, do yourself a favor and pay some attention to them once in a while.
Once a year, go back and revisit them. Spend some quality time updating the tech and social references to keep them current. It doesn’t really take that long, unless again like me, you find stuff you’d like to change because you’re a better writer now. And that’s also a good idea.
To leave them as unloved orphans doesn’t seem fair considering all the time and creativity you put into them in the first place. They deserve the attention because this way, they never get old or worse, read as old.
Keeping them current, you have a backlog of seemingly new scripts to show if the right time comes. And it might.
You also need to have a file on your computer of all your loglines for all your scripts in one place, so they’re easy to find. And look at those once a year now that you’re a better writer and see how you can tweak them to make them better.
Then, one more thing… you need to have for each of your scripts a one page synopsis, all in one file, so you can find them at a moment’s notice. A synopsis is just a thumbnail of your script. Look at it as an expanded logline. Producers ask for them all the time. A lot of times, after they read a script, they’ll request the synopsis because they want to show it to others who might produce, but don’t read the scripts.
I know this seems weird, but one producer I’ve done half a dozen films for has never read a script, letting others do it for him. But he does read the synopsis, and believe me, they’ll gauge their interest for them from just your one page, before requesting a script someone else will read and report back to them on. Or… deciding to come on as a producer having only read the synopsis.
There are lots of synopsis examples on the internet, but just like your script, you need to write it in your own style, making it your own. They are a very important tool for the screenwriter to have for every script they’ve written. Just like a logline. Don’t be caught without one.
This is all part and parcel of being in the screenwriting business and treating it like a business.
Why is this all important? Because someday a producer’s going to say to you, “I’m looking this specific thing.” and you’ll have it. It’ll be at your fingertips to send and it’s updated so it doesn’t look old. Hint: Producers always want to think every script they read is new, so you send them something that looks that way, even if it’s 20 years old.
This post is brought to you by a producer who asked me for ALL of my loglines after reading one of my scripts, and even though that script didn’t work for her, loved my writing style. And… guess what… I had one word doc that had ALL my loglines on it and after going over it one more time, sent it.
I heard back from her almost immediately to please send her one that is close to 20 years old, a script titled “Imperfect”, not that she knew it was 20 years old. Having been updated once again last year, it doesn’t show it anyway. I thanked her for her interest and sent it along.
Two days later, I got an email back and the first line in it was this… “Bob, love love love Imperfect.” And we’ve started a dialogue about them optioning it. This is a script I love, with a serious life lesson behind a great true story that, even though my reps have loved it too, over the years, got ZERO traction. Until now. 20 years later.
Your scripts are NEVER dead. They might be in a coma, but you need to shake them out of it once a year and take them, their logline, and their synopsis, out for a walk. Because, like Imperfect, you never know.
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