A good way (well, as good as any, all things considered) to break into showbiz as a writer is to write indie screenplays. What’s an indie screenplay? There are a lot of criteria we could use to come up with a definition, but the best working one we have is this: Indie screenplays are low-budget screenplays.
So, keeping that in mind:
On Writing Low Budget Screenplays
by Paul Zeidman
I recently had lunch with a friend who’s a working writer.
He’s always good for some great “from the trenches” stories of his latest experiences. Those never get old. He also offered up some initial thoughts on some of my current projects. That never gets old, either.
He’d also offered to read one of my older scripts. If he liked it enough, he’d pass it on to some of his industry contacts. But he added this one caveat.
“I’ll read whichever one you want, but don’t send any big-budget tentpoles. There are six people who could actually make those happen, and I don’t know any of them. On the other hand, there are about three thousand people who can work with a small, low-budget script, and I know a lot of them.”
As much as I wanted to send him one of those big-budget tentpoles, I decided it was better to go with one that could be considered small budget. Simple concept, a small number of characters, a handful of locations, no special effects. Since it was also an older script, I added that my skills had definitely improved since then.
Another point he made was that there are a lot of writing assignments available (TV movies, small indie films, etc), and a small script could show you’ve got the chops to handle this kind of work. He admitted it may not be the most glamorous, but I totally understood when he talked about the thrill in seeing his name with a “Written By” credit onscreen.