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

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The Savvy Screenwriter demystifies the film industry and reveals what aspiring screenwriters really want and need to know. From finding and working with agents, to insights about story analysts and movie executives, to understanding option agreements, to providing samples for queries, synopses, treatments, loglines, and outlines, to pitching, Susan Kouguell knows what works and what doesn't, and gives practical advice on getting your screenplay sold.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A remarkably comprehensive, enjoyably irreverent, and practical guide to the realities of the film marketplace. "

-Jeremy Pikser, Academy Award® Nominee for Best Screenplay, "Bullworth"

"Kouguell's blunt and honest approach provides a sobering, insightful guide to the realities of the marketplace.

-Scr(i)pt Magazine

"A savvy book by a savvy writer and educator, written with clarity and wit, providing worthy insights into the diverse challenges confronting screenwriters…truly a worthy new contribution to the literature."

-Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Chairman

"With a sense of humor and intimate knowledge of how the system works, Kouguell explains a difficult and perplexing process in language writers can understand."

-Screenwriter Magazine

MovieMaker Magazine
The book is concise, well structured, objective - and a bit humbling.
Creative Screenwriting Magazine
Her thesis - that savvy screenwriters will do better than ignorant or misinformed ones - shines.
Script Magazine E-Zine
Kouguell's blunt and honest approach provides a sobering, insightful guide to the realities of the marketplace.
New York Screenwriter Monthly
With a sense of humor and intimate knowledge of how the system works, Kouguell explains a difficult and perplexing process in language writers can understand.
[Kougell] . . . has quite possibly written the most comprehensive new book you will read this year.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312355753
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/13/2006
  • Edition description: Revised and Updated
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,430,315
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Kouguell is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, and associate producer.  As chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, she works as a screenplay and post-production consultant with a client base of more than 1,000 writers, filmmakers, production companies, agents, and studios including Miramax, Warner Bros., and Fine Line Features.  Kouguell teaches at Tufts University and Screenwriters Online, and presents screenwriting seminars nationwide.

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Read an Excerpt

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

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition: Empower Yourself



Chapter 1: Your Questions—My Answers

Chapter 2: Story Analysts: Who Are They and What Are They Looking For?

Chapter 3: Coverage

Chapter 4: Is My Script Ready for Submission?

Chapter 5: The Quest for a Winning Query Letter

Chapter 6: Sharpening Your Synopsis

Chapter 7: All about Pitching

Chapter 8: The Red Carpet Treatment

Chapter 9: Okay, I Finally Finished My Script, Query, Synopsis, Pitch, and Treatment . . . Now What?

Chapter 10: Finding an Agent. And Hallelujah, I've Got an Agent! Now What?

Chapter 11: Entertainment Attorneys—A Different Kind of Advocate

Chapter 12: They Like Me! They Really Like Me! (Or at Least They Say They Do)

Chapter 13: Tips on Approaching Writing Assignments and Finding Harmonious Collaboration

Chapter 14: Your Screenwriting Mantras



Savvy Lingo—Glossary of Screenplay and Film Terms

CineFile—Print and Online Resources

About the Author


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