Frequently Asked Questions
Connecting Colorado screen and TV writers with media-makers around the world.
The Colorado Script Exchange is a free service dedicated to connecting the writing and media-making community
of Colorado and beyond. The mission of the CSX is to showcase the writing talent in our state and to forge new pathways to production.
Why Does Colorado Need a Script Exchange?
- Colorado has no screenwriting literary agencies or management companies, and without anyone who represents writers, it’s much harder
to market our work. Sure, we can (and should) compete in contests and fire off cold queries to agents and managers in Los Angeles,
but if we’re going to develop a film industry in state, we need to learn to develop product in state.
- Some Colorado production houses do develop – but they tend to develop in-house, which is to say their ideas come from within the company
and its clients, and they tend to hire only writers they already know. If we’re going to help local filmmakers to expand the range and
increase the quality of their projects, they need access to the array of talent in state.
- Colorado is packed with independent filmmakers who aren’t necessarily writers. Great ideas, great intentions, a readiness to take on
the challenge of making a film – but they don’t have solid scripts. And everything starts with story. As writers, it’s our job to provide
the kinds of professionally-written, compelling stories that can help them create product that will be competitive in the marketplace.
How Does the Colorado Script Exchange work?
The Colorado Script Exchange is a keyword searchable database of dozens, hundreds, and eventually thousands of
stories written by Coloradoans. Writers post the loglines and synopses of their work; anyone curious is invited to post work or to search
our content and find the stories you want to read.
We’ve developed an extensive list of keywords that will help you to pinpoint just what the script you’re posting
offers and for the searchers to use to target exactly the kinds of scripts they are looking for.
Our keywords include everything from medium to genre/subgenre classification to budget size to the size of the
cast – getting specific allows the writer to help sell their script to the right people, and those looking to find precisely the scripts that
match their production parameters.
Further, writers will post particulars like the logline and a summary, a bio, a list of awards, and even whether
they’ve ever been represented or have sold in the past.
What does the Exchange require to work?
If you’re a writer, post your work. It’s free, and you can take it down at any time.
If you’re a filmmaker, take a look. It’s free, and you aren’t obligated to read or contact any of the writers
posting their work.
Who Should Use the Colorado Script Exchange and How?
The CSX seeks to build relationships between writers and media-makers to encourage engagement in the creative
development process and to work together on the adventure of filmmaking.
Here’s some thoughts of who and how to make this happen:
1. How to Contact Writers.
2. Writers who want to turn their scripts into films/TV shows should use the CSX.
3. Writers Looking for Writers (and Filmmakers).
4. Media-Makers Looking for Writers and Scripts.
5. Agents and Managers looking for clients.
6. The Care and Feeding of Creatives.
1. How to Contact Writers.
Search our Database or LIbrary for Scripts and their loglines. When you find one you want to learn more about, Click on the Author's Name to be linked to their profile.
You'll be asked for your Log In. If you don't have one, go to the Register Page and create one with the Media-Makers button.
We will not collect any other information than your Name, Email, and Password. This information will not be used for any outreach or sales; it is private between you and CSX.
Then you'll be able to click to the Writer Profile page where you will find more information about their writing and scripts.
Please feel free to use the EMAIL ADDRESS provided by the writer to contact them directly CSX does NOT facilitate contact between writers and interested parties.
2. Writers who want to turn their scripts into films/TV shows should use the CSX.
When do you post?
When you are ready to share your work with the world, it’s time to post.
Best practices: don’t post a first draft. Post the draft that you are proud of, the draft that is as professional
as possible, that’s been vetted by readers (not friends), that you’ve worked with an editor on, that contains the movie that you are dying to
Posting work that isn’t ready to be seen can result in the opposite effect the CSX is after: filmmakers might
start avoiding your work, believing you aren’t ready to sell.
The Development Process
That said, your work does NOT have to be production-ready. Every script undergoes a development process.
They just do. So be open to the ideas and suggestions from the folks who are excited about your story (but also remember, it’s your story
and no, you don’t have to take every note), and remember that film is a team sport. Thousands of people will work on your story by the time
it gets to audience. The more amazing, smart, passionate people who help you deliver the best possible story, the better.
So maybe you option your script to them. They get exclusive access to the rights; you agree to let them try to
sell / make your project for a limited amount of time. Discuss whether the Option also includes your incorporating their notes into the script
during the Option Period.
Check out this article
for some insight into the option.
Keep in mind that Colorado doesn’t have a well-developed film industry, and that there is no branch of the Writer’s Guild of America
that ensures writers make industry standardized fees. Chances are you aren’t going to make the WGA minimum unless you’re working on a union show
(for more on that, check out the Resources Page
and the WGA minimums and
MBA, and get on the internet for more information from reputable places.
Being a professional means you’ve educated yourself. Check out what the WGA says
every writer should know
What we’re saying is that the fees you can expect to be paid aren’t standardized, aren’t regulated, and probably won’t be
anywhere close to what union writers make. And Options are often “for free,” or for a nominal fee ($1, $100, $1000…).
But the more we sell, the more films get made, the more people who seek to professionalize our industry,
the better the fees we’ll be able to charge.
Your New Boss
That said, if your new producer wants you to quit your day job and churn out 80 drafts in three weeks for free – well, use your head.
Don’t agree to a deal that doesn’t feel right, or demands more of you than you are willing or able to deliver.
Do your homework – are they legit? Are they promising more than they can deliver? Can you work with them?
Do you trust them to do their very best on behalf of the project?
In other words, don’t work with jerks. Or at least, try not to. Filmmaking is meant to be a joyful, stressful,
fulfilling, death-defying collaboration.
Signing a Release
When a writer doesn’t have representation (and agent or manager, or even a lawyer), sometimes the person who wants to
read their script requests they sign a Release Form. This is completely standard in the industry. Read the form to be sure you’re not signing away
your first born or promising to pay them a reader’s fee, etc., and then sign and return.
When to Bring in a Lawyer
When you’re offered a contract, spend the money on an entertainment lawyer to review it. There is a handful here in
Colorado, and about one million in L.A. – use one.
And if you’re worried about theft, please review the CSX’s
Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
And one more thing before you post: copyright your script! Go to the WGA Registry
or to the US Government Copyright Office and register your work.
It’s less than fifty bucks, and it’s worth every penny. Copyrighting your work demonstrates you’re a professional, and it makes the filmmakers who want to work
with you relax a little because they know you’ve taken care of business.
3. Writers Looking for Writers (and Filmmakers)
A serious writer knows it takes a village of trained, enthusiastic, dedicated writers to get a script ready to take out.
We’re asked all the time by screenwriters how they can find other screenwriters to work with.
As a bonus CSX service, if you are ready to meet and work with other screen/tv writers, we invite you to check the box that
says, “Looking for a Writer’s Group.”
And then do your own search on the site: use that keyword phrase to pull up the names of other writers looking for a
writer’s group. Check out their summaries; do you like their storytelling sensibilities? Are they in the same area you are? Have they got five or
six scripts on the site, letting you know they are serious and have skills? Why not reach out and ask to exchange pages, have coffee,
and see if there’s some chemistry there?
The more writers drive their own experience and develop their own skillsets, the better every script will be,
the faster it will be written, and the more competitive they will be in the marketplace.
See also Resource page for local
media organizations and educators. Writers should attend as many networking events as possible – you never know who you’ll meet, or when they’ll be
in need of your services. Better still, you’ll learn more about how films are made, which in turn will make you a better writer.
4. Media-Makers Looking for Writers and Scripts
Welcome media-makers! It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the industry or if you’re established, if you’re a producer,
director, or development executive, Colorado Script Exchange wants to help you find the writers and stories you’re looking for.
There is no charge for the use of our service, just as we don’t charge writers for posting information about their script.
Our goal is to encourage conversation and community, and there should never be a charge for that!
How to Use the Database
Are you looking for a script to develop and shoot? Or maybe you’ve got a story in mind and you’re looking for a writer-for-hire.
The scripts also act as writer work samples.
We invite you to have a look at the entire database library of loglines, or use the keyword search engine to narrow your
search for scripts and teleplays that meet your specific criteria.
What you’ll get: the writer’s name and contact email, the title of the script, a logline and a synopsis,
and other profile info, such as their bio.
How to Read the Script
Once you’ve got your list of scripts matching your chosen keywords, it’s time to read. Use the writer’s
email to contact them directly with instructions of how to deliver the script to you. The writer sends the script.
If you want the writer to sign a Release Form or an NDA before or in conjunction with submission, that is your right.
We advise all writers to be willing to sign these forms, but only after reading them carefully. You will have to supply your own for the writer
Whatever works for you.
If the script isn’t for you, we do ask that you let the writer know you’ve passed. Maybe even include some
feedback – writers can really benefit from your thoughtful evaluation.
If you decide you’d like to meet the writer, set up a meeting. Maybe you only want to discuss the story,
talk to them about ideas for making changes. Maybe you want to meet them about potentially writing a story idea you have.
If you decide you’d like to option or purchase the script, let the writer know. They’ll expect to
negotiate a contract with you, and we’ve supplied samples of Options and Purchase agreements to start the conversation.
We advise all parties to make good use of entertainment lawyers in the negotiation of any contract.
Check out what the WGA says
every producer needs to know.
5. Agents and Managers Looking for Clients
Welcome! If you’ve found us, it’s because you know that amazing writers and scripts can be found in lots of places.
Colorado has hundreds of screenwriters who’ve been working diligently at their craft, studied the industry, and are ready to be represented.
Please have a look at our library of scripts; you can gather up all the loglines to peruse, or if there are specific
genre or budget levels you’re looking for, use our keyword search engine to pull up just the script that meets your criteria.
As with anyone who uses the site, we ask that you reach out to the writer(s) directly in order to request the completed script.
On their profile pages, you’ll see more information about them, including their bio and their background in the industry.
Thanks for visiting the CSX, and if you have any questions about our industry and our writers in particular,
please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. The Care and Feeding of Creatives
In an ideal world, all media-makers treat one another professionally and are respectful in all communications and considerations.
Finding the energy and passion on an individual level to keep working at our craft is tough, but in this industry we are bound together as creative partners
in the pursuit of our goals. We can either help or hinder one another.
Part of the CSX mission is to create a story marketplace that results in the production of exceptional films, TV shows, and web series.
But it is also to foster an engagement in the development process of everyone on every level. That process—often unpaid and without guarantees—will only “work”
if we all participate respectfully and with sincerity.
The CSX is an ideal locus from which to seek out your ideal stories, learn to develop scripts, construct and bond with your creative team,
and make the film or TV show of your dreams.
We can’t wait to work with you!
How to Write a Great Logline and Synopsis to Post
1. How to write a great logline.
2. How to write a great synopsis.
1. How to write a great logline
The Logline defines just what your book is about. It boils down the basics of your character and her struggle, gives us a taste of
the world and the themes.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
Flaw / Describing Trait
Description of struggle (mission)
Reward (inner want achieved)
FORMULA #1: A [describing trait] [hero’s identifying label] who lives in [this kind of world] must [description of struggle]
in order to [achieve prescribed reward].
SAMPLES: True Blue is the story of a young crook who joins the police force so that he can exact revenge on the cop who killed his dad.
A young Viking longs to kill a dragon in order to secure his place in his community, but when he shoots down the most dangerous dragon of all,
he discovers a surprising best friend and a new way of thinking about the beasts that have long plagued his town.
An impoverished housekeeper takes a job in an upscale home only to become the target of the wife’s jealous plotting when the young girl and
the husband fall in love.
Or try this FORMULA by Bill Boyle: The Kinetic Logline Template
- Action Verb
- Inciting Incident
- Outer Journey
- Realization of Inner Journey
The action verb sets the logline in active mode right from the outset; a kinetic energy is in place.
The inciting incident sets the storyline in action.
The protagonist’s fatal flaw is expressed through a descriptive adverb. This is often where the logline makes a visceral connection
with the reader or listener.
Next is the outer journey; what is the story about?
This is followed by a form of crisis or conflict.
The logline should conclude with a realization. This can be either a realization on the part of the protagonist (inner journey) or
a realization made by the reader or listener.
Driven by financial despair, six unemployed steel workers become strippers to make ends meet and, in doing so, find their own self worth.
Forced into hiding for a crime he didn’t do, a despondent cop attempts to prove his innocence for a murder he has not yet committed.
2. How to write a great synopsis
We love this easy-to-follow breakdown from Rachel Shirley.
In writing a synopsis, the following guidelines should be followed:
- At the top of the synopsis page, state that it is a “synopsis.” State the screenplay’s title and genre. The writer’s details should be given at the bottom of the page.
- (CSX Note: include the logline, even though you’ve posted it elsewhere in your profile.)
- Begin the synopsis at the beginning of the story and tell it in the same order as the screenplay. (CSX Note: Do NOT include backstory; start with the first scene and give only the details we seen on screen.)
- Give an idea of the characters, plot, setting, the time, the place and the problem. This is known as Act 1 of the three-act structure of storytelling.
- The three-act structure of the plot must be reflected within the synopsis. Scenes that propel the story, including climactic scenes, are known as Act 2.
- No cliffhangers are allowed. The story’s ending must be revealed in order that the agent or filmmaker can see that the writer has provided a satisfactory resolution. The resolution is known as Act 3.
- Use Times New Roman, single line spacing, and breaks between paragraphs within standard margins.
- Tell the story in the present tense and in the third person.
- When telling the story, do not include dialogue, and don’t include so many details of the action that it appears as real-time narrative. Summary only.
- (CSX Note: Write it in the tone of the script itself. Be as lively and compelling in the writing of your synopsis as you are in the script itself. This isn’t an academic
paper or a memo; this is a piece of storytelling that helps sell the reader on your script. Be entertaining!)