All About The Package
The Package is basically a set of notes that goes out with a feature screenplay. The Package is usually sent by a producer, either to help make the film or for some other reason (ie. secure distribution).
As far as I know, there is no “industry standard” for these documents. That said, I’ve found they usually run between 5 and 10 pages, though I have seen much longer.
Examples of the package are notoriously difficult to get hold of (oooh matron!). However, like spec TV series bibles, if you see -n enough of them like B2W does! – we can usually see variations on the following in each one.
It’s All About The $$$£££
In my job as a script reader and script editor, I come across packages most often via funding and investment opportunities. Filmmakers will come to the places I am reading for and ask for money.
To get this ££, they will offer up the package basically to show they know what they are talking about and *can* deliver. Here’s what I usually see in the package … Ready? Let’s go!
1) Logline/Short Pitch
Usually between 25 and 60 words. Remember, loglines are NOT taglines! More about Loglines (including a free cheat sheet to write your own), HERE.
2) One Page Pitch
These have really caught on in the last few years and usually describe Act 1 and Act 3 aka the set up and pay off, to “entice” the reader and make them WANT to read the screenplay … Read more about them HERE and see a One Pager Ref Guide, HERE.
3) A Synopsis aka Extended Pitch
This is sometimes called a “sizzler” and is usually between 2 and 3 pages. (NOTE: If this is included in a particular package, it *can* be seen as overkill to have the One Pager as well). Read more about Extended Pitches, HERE.
4) Director’s vision / Producer Notes
One or both of these may be part of the package. These are often highly personal accounts and probably run from half a page to a page total. A Director’s Vision may talk about previous projects that have influenced his/her filmmaking. If the film is not made yet, HOW s/he intends to make it.
Contrary to popular belief, no GOOD producer gets involved with a project s/he does not believe in. This means s/he may say why she has backed this particular project, or talk about certain story or thematic elements that attracted him/her to the project.
Sometimes this includes information about budget, too. Generally speaking though, Producers will submit breakdowns and costings in other paperwork to investment schemes and companies I’ve noticed, so again it can be overkill to put it here as well.
5) Story Notes aka Storyworld aka something else
This part of the package may be text-based or visual, or both – it may also be titled all sorts of things, too! Sometimes packages will include “mood boards” which will be photos of certain elements, ie concept art, backgrounds, locations, costuming etc.
This will give an idea of the tone and style of the movie. In my experience, these are most common in packages of films NOT made yet. In movies that are made, there may be stills of certain important scenes or striking images from the actual film.
6) Film Facts
Film Facts more often than not will include information on …
- Filmmakers and cast’s previous productions, accolades and awards
- Other attachments (ie. if the Executive Producer is someone of note)
- plus any elements (ie. thematic) that didn’t fit anywhere else
7) Cast & Crew bios
Packages will most often only include the MAIN characters – and this is where NAMED TALENT really comes into its own!!!
Cameos are usually not included UNLESS they’re by VERY famous/notable people. Included Crew will usually be …
- The director
- “Main” producer
- The screenwriter (IF different to the director and/or s/he has good credits … not so much if the screenwriter has none I’ve noticed!)
- Plus anyone else of note (ie. Director of Photography), especially if s/he has won awards
- Or anyone else connected who is notable in any other way, ie. as an industry thought leader or activist.
In real terms, the package is just another opportunity to sell your feature screenplay and/or film “off the page”. It’s essentially a showcase, “look what I CAN do” (or in produced films’ case, “HAVE done”). The package works best when trying to secure finance and/or distribution.
Filmmakers may send these documents out to potential investors, screen agencies, funding initiatives, casting agents, distributors. For more on package documents that accompany feature screenplays, read Film Doctor’s excellent post, HERE.