Writer Sanyuktha Shaikh Chawla is best known for the script of Ram Madhvani’s Neerja (2016), for which she earned critical acclaim. That year, she joined John Abraham’s production house, JA Entertainment, where she wrote the script of Parmanu: The Story of Pohkran (2018). She gave us 5 tips to getting your script picked up by a production house:

1. Register your script

First, you must make sure your work is suitably copyright-protected. There’s a union in India called the Screenwriters Association. The best-case scenario is for you to become a member of that, which is a very simple process. You can just go to their office, fill out a form and get membership. There, you can register your work, which gives you some sort of proof that this creative, intellectual property belongs to you. Concurrently, many senior writers are members of the Writers Guild of America as well, which also lets you register your scripts. And of course, there’s the Delhi Copyright, where you can just get a legal person to copyright your scripts. Make sure that your work is suitably protected and then you can call the office.

2. Always write a complete synopsis

Send me a bio, you must send me a complete screenwriters’ synopsis. I don’t want the back of a DVD with a little hook like, ‘Yeh hota hai, phir yeh hota hai aur aage dekhne ke liye DVD dekhiye’ type. No, write me a synopsis with a beginning, middle and end of the story and if you feel like your script is ready and you feel like it’s pitch-worthy, then you must send me the script as well.

3. Spend time fine-tuning your writing skills

When you send a script to a production house and it’s read, maybe they will not make that script, but remember that they are judging you on your writing. They might use your talent in another script that they might want to write and if you send a bad script, I can guarantee that they will never call you again because they can see what your writing capability is. If you feel like you’re one draft away from giving a better script or 10 drafts away from giving a better script, then give the better script. Because everyone talks. Tomorrow, someone from another production company will pick up the phone and call me and say, ‘Hey, have you read anything this writer has written?’ and if I’ve read a bad script, I’m going to say it’s a bad script. So I request all writers to spend time just writing a good draft and sending it, even if it’s a cold pitch

4. Think your idea through before you start writing

The most common mistake that all writers make, and I’m guilty of the same, I’ve done it many times, I do it sometimes even now, is that before you start writing, you have to first think – is your idea strong enough to be a script? Some ideas just don’t see themselves through, but they might be brilliant ideas. So make sure your idea lends itself to a story and that story lends itself to going through scene after scene after scene after scene.

5. Write a film you’d want to watch

Remember one day someone will spend crores of money to make this film. One day someone will spend 600 rupees on a weekend ticket to watch this movie. Look at your script and see, would you spend 600 rupees to watch this film? If not, then don’t send it.

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