Bad Material Equals a Bad Film
In my case, I felt like I had a good/funny script for Army & Coop. It wasn’t going to win an Oscar, but it was funny. Numerous people who read the script told me they laughed out loud. Some said their spouses asked what the heck they were reading. Those were all good signs as it is extremely difficult to get people to laugh out loud while reading. I felt like we were in good shape.
That said, you have to develop or acquire good material. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make a GOOD film using BAD material - IMPOSSIBLE! Of course, you can make a bad film using good materials, but that is another topic for another time.
Whatever you do, do not get started producing a film when you are not sold on the script. It will be a massive waste of time and money, and since this is your first film, it could have a negative impact on your career - assuming you want to make more films.
If you are a writer, then take a page out of my book and write a script that is less expensive to shoot. Again, limited characters, limited locations, limited action, no special effects, no green screen. Keep it simple. Have at least ten people (not friends or family) read your script and provide feedback. Ask them to rate it from 1-10 in the areas of story, character development, story arc, protagonist, antagonist, B-story (love story), and - HERE’S THE BIG ONE - would they pay to see it. Again, you’d rather have the feedback skewed toward the negative side, so don’t get friends or family to provide input. Of course, they can read it, but their input is going to be impacted by your relationship.
If you are not a writer, then you have to find material somewhere. It is estimated that there are over 2 million scripts floating around Hollywood at any given time. Frankly, I would search locally wherever you live for a quality script. You have a better chance at landing good material locally than you do in Hollywood - less competition and less expensive. Post an ad on Craigslist. There are Facebook pages dedicated to local film production in just about every city in the US. Post an ad and let them know you want to produce a film in a particular genre. I hope you like reading, because you’ll get a lot of submissions. Can’t find something you like, try again. Try another town. Keep reading. If it takes you a year or longer to find a great script, so be it. I can’t say it enough – don’t pick a script that you are not 100% excited about. It won’t work.
Once you find your script, how much should you pay for it? Well, the old adage that "the price is what you paid for it” holds true in film as well. Honestly, most brand new, first-time writers will give you their script for 5% or 10% on the backend (profit sharing). Their goal is similar to yours. You don’t care about making money on your first film. It’s your calling card for your next film. The same holds true for them. If you do make money on your film, then they should share in the profits. That’s fair. I would not pay for a script from a first-time writer and you shouldn’t have to either.
Now, you’ve got your script. Onward young man/woman!
Army & Coop trailer: www.armyandcoop.com