What should you write? Well, this will be brief because, of course, you can write whatever you like. In fact, you should write whatever you like. It’s important to stop talking about it and get it down on paper. The more apt question might actually be what are you going to sell? That’s a little easier to pinpoint.
Of course there are several, though fewer than before, ways to finance a film. You can get lucky and have your script bought by a studio (though not everyone would say this is lucky!), you can raise independent financing through a group of independent financing companies, international schemes, state incentives and tax breaks, private equity groups, you can go to Kickstarter, create an amazing campaign and raise the money that way. The common denominator for any way that you will raise money and have your film made and seen in securing a distributor. That is the end result. Distribution and Exhibition.
Again, studios are obviously the biggest and broadest way of distributing a film. There are smaller companies like Roadside Attractions and Anchor Bay and a whole slew that will get your film onto a cable network or PPV entity like onDemand. That’s a huge business these days. There is straight to video DVD but that is a smaller division and is almost obsolete within studios now. Of course, there are entities online such as Yahoo and Netflix and all kinds of smaller and more web-centric ways for films to be seen.
But the question is how do you get that script sold to a distribution company? A secure contract from a distribution will heavily aid or 100% confirm your financing. What do people look for? The introduction to this answer is international sales. If it’s only going to sell in the USA it’s going to be harder to get the distribution. This is why there are so many action movies, scifi, horror and adventure movies made all over the place. They can translate into any language and no matter where someone lives they’re going to understand what’s going on. Thrillers are also good sellers. Small artistic films probably not so much unless we’re talking Oscar contention. Same goes with things that are specifically American such as baseball movies, though Japan and some South American and central American countries might be interested. Comedies are a very hard sell because humor is different all over the world. However, a big broad comedy such as “The Hangover” will likely translate wherever it’s shown. The more specific a film is and the more personal, the harder it is to get that all important distribution unless it’s based on a book that has sold everywhere. Your own small story, yep, it’s the age old problem – how do you get it funded? Well, where there’s a will there’s a way but it’s star may not be recognized while walking down the street in Brazil and the star of that generic action thriller just might get the best seat at the restaurant in Czechoslovakia. That’s not just Hollywood, that’s the world of movies.