I get asked a LOT about by Bang2writers about named talent “attaching” to a spec screenplay to make it more marketable. Produced stuff makes this look easy, yet as spec screenwriters and filmmakers soon discover, it’s NOT. Here’s my 2p’s worth:
i) Star Power is real. Yes, yes it’s very easy to slag off the notion of “star power” or even argue the toss over who IS a star: Danny Dyer is the classic example. Yet regardless of what you think of Danny’s previous output, Danny has a MASSIVE fanbase of lovers AND haters (1 million Twitter followers now!!) and he has been consistently in work for over a decade. Plus in the last twelve months, thanks to EastEnders, Danny’s career is on the up and up: never forget actors’ popularity can surge upwards in ways we can’t always predict.
ii) Remember WHO your target audience is. The Kemp Brothers reuniting as a duo on screen for ASSASSIN is a huge pull for our movie. Why?
a) THE KRAYS was twenty five years ago (wow!), so creates a commercial hook as they’ve not been seen together for AGES.
b) The Kemps love working together as they mention in the ASSASSIN Making Of featurette (VIEW HERE) – so the fact they HAVEN’T appeared together on screen until now suggests they actively LIKE the screenplay and the roles they play (hint: they do!).
c) THE KRAYS is a much loved cult film. What’s not to like for us about The Kemps when looking at **that** attachment? Yes please!
So, I’m going to hand over to ASSASSIN’s JK Amalou now, who will offer some insights and food for thought on attaching top talent to your screenplay … you can read the first 2 here, or the article in full over at Guerilla Filmmaker Chris Jones’ blog, HERE. Over to you, JK!
Attaching top talent to your screenplay doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get your film made, but it certainly increases your chances. The questions asked in 99% of meetings with distributors, film financiers, and sales agents after you’ve pitched your screenplay or they have read your screenplay is: “Who is the director?” followed by “Who is in it? Come to think of it, it’s the SAME question your non-film industry mates ask when you tell them about a film you’ve loved!
So … how do you go about attaching top talent to your screenplay?
1) Screenplay, Screenplay, Screenplay!
If you’re an experienced and respected producer, you can attach top talent with a pitch or a synopsis. That’s because top actors know your work, trust you to deliver a great screenplay, find a great director, and raise finance for the project. It also helps that a top producer would know the stars personally.
Not so easy for a less well-funded producer with few contacts.
First and foremost, it’s all down to the screenplay. Considering that top actors receive many scripts or offers a year, your screenplay is the first step to close the deal. After all, Matthew McConaughey agreed to do DALLAS BUYERS CLUB for a fraction of his fee because he was passionate about the screenplay. Same with Jared Leto. When asked about his role, he said: “This was a really special movie. I think it was the role of a lifetime.” With that in mind, it’s of paramount importance that every effort is made to find and develop an exceptional screenplay.
2) Invest in A Top Casting Director
It might cost you and it might be a gamble but this is a business. Setting up a film is no different from setting up any other business so you need seed money. Of course, your investment might pay off or it might not.
A top casting director might have a connection to the star you’re after. If not, agents do listen to a respected casting director who raves about your screenplay. Yes, that old mantra again: without a great screenplay, nothing is going to ever happen. A top casting director is not going to send out an average screenplay. They also have their reputation to protect.
This is exactly how I got Danny Dyer for my film DEVIATION which we then followed up with ASSASSIN. Top Casting director Jeremy Zimmerman was instrumental in getting the screenplay to Danny’s agent and organising my first meeting with Danny.
Since then, Danny has gone from the indie film world’s favourite actor to mainstream stardom with Eastenders. I’m very proud of him as I have always said that he’s a very talented actor (and a very nice guy, too.) Needless to say, that his current fame has created great interest in ASSASSIN …
… Read the rest of JK’s article on Guerilla Filmmaker Chris Jones’ blog, HERE.
Watch the Making Of ASSASSIN, a 5 min featurette, HERE.