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How To's | Screenplay Doctor | Screenwriting

Ask the Screenplay Doctor: From Music to Elves

28 Feb , 2011  

Written by Susan Kouguell | Posted by:

This month, the Screenplay Doctor answers your questions on music and what to do when your screenplay might be too similar to a successful film. E-mail screenwriter@newenglandfilm.com to have your question answered in an upcoming issue.

I was thinking that screenwriters might have a source where they go to search for music. Any thoughts, suggestions?

Unless you are planning on producing your script, it is not your job as the screenwriter to find music. Generally, potential producers and directors are not that interested in reading screenwriters’ ideas for music cues in their screenplays. Unless it is absolutely crucial to your story, then you can include in your action paragraph — Suggested Music: (then name the composer and song). One major reason for this is that securing the music rights and paying the licensing fee for a song can be very challenging and expensive.

If, however, you are intending to produce and/or direct your screenplay and you are looking for original music, there are numerous screenwriting and film publications that advertise composers who are interested in film scoring, including NewEnglandFilm.com. I would also suggest contacting colleges and universities that have composition programs. Many composers are eager to break into the film industry and to collaborate on projects.

I want to know if I wrote a script in 1986, with Elves speaking, subtitled, can I still submit it? I ask because Lord of the Rings does the same.

To play devil’s advocate, if I am a story analyst or producer reading your script that has similarities (elves speaking) to a popular film (Lord of the Rings), unless the script is absolutely brilliant and you have a very unique spin on elves speaking, I would most likely reject the script because this idea might be too similar to the Lord of the Rings. To avoid risking any legal ramifications, I would then ask: Why not just revise the subtitled elves speaking with a different idea.

Another issue you should be aware of is that potential producers will ask themselves, “What is wrong with this script?” if it was written twenty-five years ago and still hasn’t been made.

To learn more about collaborations, contracts, and the business of screenwriting, read my book The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com.

You can follow my Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page to receive more Savvy Tips about how to write, structure, and sell your screenplay.


To learn more about collaborations, contracts, and the business of screenwriting, read my book The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com. You can follow my Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page to receive more Savvy Tips about how to write, structure, and sell your screenplay.