Spec Scripts to Storyboards

December 21, 2016 - Storyboarding
Spec Scripts to Storyboards

We love movies. We love making them as well as watching them. Some of us even write them. As ‘one of the ones’ who writes scripts, I’m interested in what goes on in the spec script market. The Scoggins Report is one source I watch.

If you’re not familiar with Scoggins Report – by their own definition – it is “…a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources.”

Spec Script Sale in 2016

Scoggins reports on spec scripts sales in 2016:
“This year’s sales numbers (through September 30) remain at an 8-year low, and we’re on track to end the year in the 60 to 70 range, which is in line with 2009’s and 2010’s weak totals.
Thankfully, buying activity outside the major studios and their labels has been on par with last year (34 sales, led by Amazon Studios, FilmNation, Netflix, and STX, compared to 35 to this point in 2015). The real problem is the major studios’ reticence to buy original material.”

The report goes on to say that only 8 studios have picked up 13 scripts through Jan-Sept 2016 compared to 30 year to date in 2015. But the report reminds us that this is a cyclical business.

Major Studios Focus

Major studios seem to be focusing their time and money on tentpole pictures: blockbusters, franchises, remakes, reboots and major movie star vehicles. For instance, here’s Disney’s 2016. Quite a year!

Disney's 2016 successes

Take heart, the interesting and good news is that the Studios shift some of the development of original content to independent production companies or partner prod-cos. Consequently, they opt to let the specialty companies make the project and then jump in to distribute the finished product. (Sundance Film Festival* and Toronto International Film Festival are two places where completed projects attempt to secure distribution).

What’s this mean if you’re trying to sell a spec script?

It means Hollywood is still open and making movies -and so is Canada. Probably more than ever. But unless you have a personal “in” at Disney, Paramount, Fox, Sony, Warner Bros or Netflix, you have work to do before your project gets on the screen.

To sell your compelling “high concept” spec script- or even use it as your calling card -make sure your project is ready for a pitch session.
-Use digital storyboards to show your idea visually to increase your chances of getting your project into production.
-Show storyboards to friends and family and test their reactions to your idea.
-Use story boards to work out and/or identify story problems or timing.
-Create storyboards to shoot a portion (trailer) of the project to further prove your creative vision.
-Especially relevant, use storyboards when in production to  communicate with the crew to save shot set-up time on the set.

*Speaking of Film Festivals…

Danny Strong Rebel in the RyeOur friend, Danny Strong, will be premiering his film “Rebel in the Rye” (screenplay written and directed by Strong) January at Sundance 2017 Film Festival. Good luck Danny and we look forward to seeing “Rebel” at Sundance and in the theaters.

Most of all, we wish you all Happy Holidays and a productive and healthy New Year!


Scoggins Report
Box Office Mojo




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