Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Talkback: How can Australian producers get scripts?

This is another email I got where I don't feel like my answer is terribly useful, so I'm opening the floor up to you guys.

Michael writes:

Been following you on twitter for a while now, love getting your updates. I'm a young-ish producer based in Australia, and I've been working with my creative team for roughly the last five years. In the last three we've launched and grown our production company working mostly in advertising and corporates, all whilst doing the odd short to hone our narrative skills with the look out to some day doing a feature. 

Finally we've gotten to that point where we are saying 'lets pick a project' and we'd love to option a script preferably written by a writer outside Australia - with the location of the story no real concern to us, and genre being something we don't feel we are defined by - with good writing, and developed characters being I guess just two of the many other factors we'd be looking for. 

Anyway the reason for this email is to ask your advice on the best process to getting our eyes on scripts. Should we be making ourselves known to literary agents based in LA, contacting writers directly, trying to get our own agents -- or some other course?! Would love it if you can share some insight on this!

Honestly, I think that your best bet is to reach out to literary agents, but if you don't have any produced works to your name it might be a bit of an effort to get their cooperation.  You'd probably have a better bet with some of the smaller agencies and management firms.

Having said that, I'm not sure I understand why you're looking for a writer outside Australia.  It seems to me that it might be a lot easier to find someone close to home, make a name for yourself producing a low-to-medium budget film, and use that cache to open some doors in LA.

But what do you guys think.


  1. There has to be a good screenwriter or two in Australia, right?

    What's the name of Michael's production company?

  2. I'm also interested in knowing why they want to look overseas for a writer?

    If they were looking in Australia then maybe asking the Film schools (eg AFTRS) and / or the Writers Guild.

    If they do an Australian film they have the possibility of getting an offset as well: http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/producer_offset/

  3. I'm in the US and I just finished working with an Australian prodco I found on a website I do freelance work through...


    And I've seen many other Australian threads on this site that reach all over the world.

    Thank you!


  4. I think they should post a call for scripts on a popular screenwriting blog and read submissions from the intelligent and good looking readers who post in the comments section. *cough cough*


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  6. Having a bit of experience with an Aussie project a while back (I'm British) I'd caution that the chances of anything getting financed with a foreign writer are pretty slim - unless you've got some fancy private cash! Even co producing with the writer's country of origin can be a giant headache, and pretty much guarantees no development cash which means finding a project polished and ready to shoot (pretty well impossible) or a writer who is willing to work for free... (not recommended).

    I happen to think that the reliance on public money, especially for development, in most Commonwealth countries is a giant anchor weighing us all down. Hollywood producers are free to source the best talent they come across regardless of citizenship (within visa constraints to some extent, but generally if you have a job offer you can make a visa happen), which is definitely to their advantage. End of off topic rant!

  7. I'd agree with the bit about funding. Heck look at SAW. One of the largest horror franchises in recent history (and horror is one of the best genres re: risk/reward for finaciers) and even though it's an Aus production, they couldn't find any finance in Australia.

    They had to shop it in the states to get it made. Probably because the aus government is reluctant to fund horror films as they're not really /culturally important which is one of the prerequisties for aus government funding.

    That or you're a major Hollywood studio and you'll be bringing money into the economy in which case it's basically a tax offset.

    ps:- I'm in aus, my government funding consists of unemployment benefits and some supportive local .gov unemployment agents who are helping me not look for work so I can focus on writing.