From Book to Film in 1001 easy steps……I wish!

It’s been a while since I posted a blog because I’ve been busy this year writing the screenplay of my book Olga – A Daughter’s Tale which is based on a true story and about one woman’s faith, moral courage, dignity, resilience and love.

The story is about Olga a kind, naive and gentle Jamaican girl who came to London in 1939 intending only to awhile but world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to prevent her from returning to her beloved family in Kingston until decades later when her past finally caught up with her.

I wrote the book as a tribute to Olga, who is my mother, because I wanted future generations of my family to know about this beautiful woman.

I’d heard many times the chances of a new author being picked up by a literary agent or publisher were virtually non-existent and that turned out to be absolutely true and was confirmed by the number of rejections (in the hundreds) I got in response to query letters to agents and publishers.

So I published the book with Lulu.com.

So thank God for self-publishing say I!

I always believed Olga – A Daughter’s Tale would make a great film because in addition to Olga,  there is the combined background, history and culture of Jamaica as well as the catastrophic events of the bombing of London during WW2  which feature in the book.

So I thought I’d write the screenplay myself but since I’d never written one before I’d get some help.  I approached a few ghost writers but was gob smacked by how much they charged. The lowest quote was $20,000 and the highest $40,000!!  No way was I going to pay that.

Whilst I was looking for ghost writers I was also researching how to approach a producer or agent with a screenplay and the one thing that leapt out at me time and again was that if your screenplay is not formatted properly they won’t read past the first couple of pages, no matter how could it is! I looked at example screenplays and when I saw the formatting for them  I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew…..….until I discovered Scrivener! Scrivener is a writing software tool for writers, authors, scriptwriters or academics.  It does all the formatting automatically and was the best $40 I’ve ever spent…really!

The other point my research threw up was that producers or agents won’t look at a screenplay that has more than 120 pages.  Mine had 195 pages!    But help was at hand in the form of an online screenwriting website called Save the Cat, strange name I know, but the website explains why it’s called that and it makes sense!

Save the Cat runs workshops in Los Angeles and New York for aspiring, new or old (that’s me) screenwriters.  They’ll also analysis your script and if you’re floundering, as I was, will tell you where you’re going wrong and make constructive criticism to help you get on track.   Their one to one consultation lasts for an hour and are via Skype.  I shall be on my third consultation soon!

At a fraction of the cost of a ghost writer, one of Save the Cat’s consultant, José Silerio, has helped me produce  a screenplay that, even in its unfinished stage I’m proud of and which by the time it’s finished, which will be very soon, I feel confident about promoting to producers and film agents.

So thank God for Scrivener and Save the Cat say I!

Which brings me to the thorny issue of trying to find a producer or film agent to read my screenplay because, as my research tells me, they do not look at the work of someone who is new to writing screenplays –  a bit like publishers and books!   But, don’t worry Dear Reader I won’t be deterred.  I’ll send out hundreds of query letters, press releases, talk to all and sundry about my screenplay….just in case they know someone who knows someone who might be interested in producing on film a great human interest story.

BUT, at the same time,  I’ll also be looking at Crowdfunding.   Crowdfunding is using the internet to help entrepreneurs talk to thousands of potential funders that each contribute a small amount of money to a particular project.  Basically you cost your project, then pitch it on your chosen Crowdfunding site stating the amount of money you want to raise to help fund the project, add a deadline – usually two months – to get the contributions in and hopefully, with the aid of incentives that you’re offering,  you can raise the money you need.  If you don’t, then you’re back to square one with nothing!  But on the plus side a lot of films and other worthy ventures are being funded this way now.

Admittedly making a film and all that that entails is a huge deal and I know nothing about making films.

But, time was when I knew nothing about publishing a book or writing a screenplay until I researched it on the internet.

So thank God for Crowdfunding……and the Internet say I!

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2 Responses to From Book to Film in 1001 easy steps……I wish!

  1. Luey A. says:

    I believe in this project Marie. You may remember that I have encouraged the concept of making a movie of your book for some years now. If I can do anything to help you please let me know.

    • Hi Luey. I do remember you and your encouragement about Olga making a good movie:-) Well I wrote the screenplay and I’m now sending query letters to producers who have worked in the same genre. But I’m not holding my breath about finding a producer or agent to pick it up. From what I’ve read on the web one really needs to be in the business to get a screenplay picked up. I’d love to finance it through crowdfunding but even with crowdfunding I still need to find a producer ready to take it on and put a crew together not to mention a cast….

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