Let’s talk about what a project slate is, how writers can build a slate of projects, and why it a must-have.
What Is A Project Slate?
When a script production comes upon a script that they really like, they want to take a look at the writer’s other projects as well. The Screenplay Awards Network holds screenwriter contests and refines scripts to send them to distributors. And whenever they find a great screenplay outline, they ask the writers to show some of their other projects. This shows their talent in different storylines. Most of the time, writers send stuff that is completely outside of the genre good script that they submitted.
The first thing that producers ask the writer of a good script is, “What else have you got?” They want to know more about what the writer is working on. The writer’s portfolio shows their identity as a writer. This is why they must produce screenplay story structures that are similar to create their identity.
Create An Identity As A Writer
Creating an identity as a writer is good marketing. If a store sells running shoes, then it will have running shores at the storefront. People will recognize that this particular store sells running shoes. They will conclude that the owner’s brand sells running shoes. Similarly, if a writer focuses on a particular genre, producers will recognize it as their brand. They will expect works relating to that genre when they approach them. If a store aims to settle as a key-cutting shop, but also sells dog grooming stuff and bongs, etc., then people will see it as a makeshift kind of store which is not exactly professional.
Writers, who have a strong sense of their identity and have the samples to prove it, do much better in the industry than writers who have things in different genre spaces. Everyone in the industry benefits from being type-cast, whether they are novice actors or distributors.
Most distributors that writers will work with until they get their screenplay story structure produced will have their own identity. So, some distributors may only work with indie-horrors while some may focus on romantic comedies alone. They deal with a certain type of genre because they have built a base of people that they know will buy the genre. Once writers find their niche, they will learn how to sell their scripts.
Why Is It Important?
Project slates are important for writers because when a distributor finds their project, they will approach the writer and tell them which producer is looking for a script similar to their work. And then, since they were impressed by this project, they will want to see your other works to see if anything else fits the bill. And if the writer doesn’t have anything else, they will just be selling themselves short.
If the writer can focus their identity as a screenwriter and narrow down what that they do very well, they will be more successful. For example, a winner from one of SAN’s screenwriter contests has a really good script. He also has a slate of projects that are all thematically similar in the same genre. This tells the producers that the writer has identified what he does very well and does it well consistently. It also allows them to provide the writer with more opportunities as they can match which distributor he will fit really well with.
When you go to a store to buy shoes, you will want to try on other pairs of shoes in different colors if you like the design. It’s just human nature. The same thing goes when writers are building up their slate and want to have other shoes that fit. Having other things that are similar is just good business.
Some writers just write whatever inspires them at the moment with which there is nothing wrong. However, there is a difference between a writer who writes for the sake of writing and one who writes for a market. Writers need to meet a demand and the way to do that is to create products that have an identity.
Slate Building For New Writers
So, how can writers who are just starting out create their identity? New writers should focus on their next script and be strategic about it. What will they do next that will build on their current screenplay outline? Can they make something that will be better than their first script?
Writers should always be trying to improve their writing and the quality of their scripts. So, the second script should be better than the first, third better than the second, fourth better than third, etc. Once they reach their fifth or sixth script, it will all start clicking together. They will understand character development together, and before they know it, they will be writing the best work of their life. The sixth script will bring awareness to their talent.
Now, when a producer enjoys their script and wants to see more of their work, they can show their previous scripts that are similar. This will show the producer that this writer has an identity. This slate will give new writers a much stronger position than if they have scripts that go in different directions.
The Bottom Line
Writer’s work will start selling when they develop a brand for themselves. A company starts selling the best scarves in town and eventually makes it their identity. The next thing you know, they are making suits, and then later, they are expanding into different areas. To grow in a business, it is important to nail down the identity that you have. Writers have to build a slate and once they get over that hump and become a produced writer, they can branch out into different genres.
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