Make Your Movie: How Do You Know Your Script Is Ready For Pre-Production?

We’ve talked about getting your script started, working through that second draft, what you should look for when acquiring a script, and even how to get started with pre-production. But if you’re a writer/director-type, like most of us are, how do you know for sure that the script you’ve been working on is ready to be produced? The following are a few steps to help you determine if your script is ready for the magical world of production:

1. Read it out loud. Or, if you have the means and a few awesome friends willing to help out, have it read for you. It’s amazing how different the words you’ve written will sound when someone else is left to interpret them. Even if you are the one doing the reading yourself, you will notice some things will roll off the tongue a lot easier than others. I once changed the name of a character on the 3rd draft of my script simply because it didn’t roll off the tongue when I read my dialogue aloud. Any time one of the other characters said her name I cringed. That’s not an easy thing to do 3 drafts into a script, but I knew it had to be done because of that reading.

2. Get feedback. This is something you should be doing throughout the entire life of your script. As mentioned here you should have at least 3 key people whom you should seek feedback from. Your screenwriter friend, your filmmaker friend, and your movie-goer friend. At this point in your script your most valuable feedback will come from your movie-goer friend. Someone who likely doesn’t know a thing about making a movie or writing a screenplay but who simply loves watching them. They will be able to tell you if your film is marketable. And marketability is the real stamp of approval when moving your script into production.

3. You no longer have a least favorite scene. I always know my script isn’t finished when there is a scene in it that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s that one scene that just bugs the hell out of me and I can’t stop thinking of ways to better it or cut it out without screwing up my story. For the most part, I will usually end up cutting it out of the script in the end but if there are any scenes that bug you like this, your script still needs tweaking and you probably shouldn’t take it into production just yet.

4. Be honest with yourself. Set some time aside in your day and ask yourself the following questions: a) Am I really ready to put this script out into the world as is? b) Am I really proud of it as a representation of my writing? c) As I read through this script can I picture each and every scene in my head as if it were on the big screen? If you’ve answered yes to these questions and more then your script might be ready for the next step.

5. You’ve taken a break and don’t feel like ripping it apart. If you’re a true story-teller you’ve likely got more than one script working in your head at any given time. But when you’re close to completing a screenplay the best thing to do is walk away from it and take a break for a week or two. Then come back to it and go through it once more. If you don’t have an insatiable urge to rip it apart and change a million things in your story at this point your script might be ready to let go into the world. Or, in some cases, if the changes you make are actually making it longer instead of shorter? You might be over thinking your script and you might want to think about whether or not your hurting or helping your script by making said changes.

These are just a few of many steps you can take to figure out if your script is ready to be produced. What are some of the ways you determine if your screenplay is ready for the big screen. Share your thoughts and questions with our readers in the comments section below.

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