Hiring a writer for a screenplay: how much does it cost and how to find a writer?

Let’s say I have an idea for a screenplay for a movie, and that I am not a writer. I want to find a decent writer to write the screenplay for me. Not a top-tier writer, since that would likely be too costly so maybe second or third tier?

Two questions
[li]How much would this cost? Is it around $5,000, $10,000, $30,000, more?[/li][li]How does one go about finding someone to write this screenplay?[/li][/ol]

For the record, I do have an idea for a screenplay, and I know that the chance that it will ever get made into anything are essentially zero, but if the price is not too high (say, $10,000 or less), I would like to see my idea turn into a screenplay.

I’ll do it for $25,000. PM me.

You’re going to get a lot of huffy replies. You want someone else to do all the work, for below market price (which starts at around $20 K), and you’re still the boss and insistent on little changes at every step of the process. It might be worth your while to take a screenwriting class at a local community college, do the first draft yourself, and have any interested producer types handle the script-doctoring at their end and at their own expense.

That’s part of what will elicit the huffiness. People systemically overestimate the value of “ideas.” It’s all in the execution.

Put differently, if the hypothetical screenwriter-for-hire is accomplished enough to write a salable script using your idea, he’s almost certainly accomplished enough to do/have done so using his own ideas.

And they’d be much better incentivized to work on their own projects than on your piecework, as you clearly intend to keep all the grand slam upside, which is what attracts most aspiring screenwriters.

If you go to a local college that offers a screenwriting class, and you dont want to enroll and learn a little scriptwriting yourself, ask the instructor if he can recommend some star students who may take the job for a flat fee you can afford. Hell, if you get lucky, and offer enough pay, the instructor might accept a pay-for-hire job. You may not get an Oscar-quality screenplay, but it should be at least competent.

If you use a WGA writer, here’s the schedule.

If you want to get it produced in Hollywood, and don’t use a WGA writer, or want to get one cheaper, you have to get special dispensation from the union.

I’d do it for $10k.

But then I am not a WGA writer, I live in a country where the money would go further, and I am not very experienced. I’m fresh meat ripe for the plucking (which is a mixed metaphor that shows just what my writing skill level is).

Remember that “in Hollywood” doesn’t just mean the major studios anymore. There are a few independent studios that are non-union these days. They don’t produce high-concept summer blockbusters, though.

Look, just ask yourself one question.

Say that you found someone who would be willing to write up your idea for $10,000.

Are you capable of telling whether the final result is worth the money?

If the answer is no, forget the whole idea, even if the amount is $5.00.

P.S. I’ve been a professional writer for decades and I couldn’t tell you whether a screenplay was good or not. It’s not my field of expertise. Is it yours?

I have a writing credit on the IMDB. And I am cheaper than Rand Rover.

I have writing credits all over these boards (though technically I guess the Chicago Reader owns my stuff)

I’ll do it for less than all of the others, combined!

I don’t want to do it for below market price. I asked in the OP what the market price was. Then I said, if the market price happens to be below a certain threshold, I wouldn’t mind doing it.

As I said, I don’t need to find a tier-1 or even a tier-2 writer. Just about anyone who is a professional writer would be able to do a better job at it than me, so they don’t have to be that accomplished (i.e. have written blockbusters before). Of course, I don’t want total crap, so I guess it’s a balance between price and quality.

Great suggestion. These types of recommendations were what I had in mind when writing the OP.

(Also, I thought there may be some online forums or websites where professional and/or amateur screenwriters hang out and people go there to find someone to write their script. Are there such places online?)

Thanks for the info.

Interesting point for me to ponder.

I would say though that, if it did indeed cost very little, couldn’t I pay to have it written, and then show the result to someone who could decide if the result is any good?

Of course, once the amount starts getting up there, it starts becoming a gamble to first pay and then ask someone else if it is any good.

Wow, I just took a look, and, if I’m reading it correctly, the price for an original screenplay is in the range $62,642 to $117,602. Definitely out of my range.

Is it a good idea to get it done cheaply, say by an aspiring screenwriting student or by an amateur screenwriter, and then, after showing the result to people who can evaluate the potential for moving forward, and if they see potential value, only then go to these higher-priced screenwriters?

how about you… post the idea here, post a bounty of a modest yet alluring sum, and see what kind of talent the SDMB can muster up? the down side is that you’ll probably have to sift through like, 20 versions of essentially the same script but it would definitely be done at a discount.

What about the idea of a flat rate and then a %age of the rights? Is this just not done in the industry, or is this a reasonable middle ground?

“I have an idea for” is maybe 1% of the work of really fleshing out a story or a dramatic character. Biographies and non-fiction aside, throwing a bunch of ideas at a writer as the basis for a dramatic fictional story and expecting the result they ultimately come up with will be anything approximate to what you have in your head is (to be frank) kind of a foolish expectation.

A fictional story and it’s characters takes on a life of their own in the hands of a decent writer. You really need to tell your whole story in your own words at least once before having someone ghostwrite your ideas.

Of course, there is the other trick, where you trap a starving screenwriter in your decaying mansion, seduce him into writing a fanciful screenplay that will return you to your beloved fans, and demand his undying loyalty.

Are you ready for your closeup now?


Evidently from the garbage that gets made into movies, TV and songs and the like, you’re not the only one that can’t tell a good from a bad screenplay :smiley: