Paula Landry gives tips on creating a one-pager, often called a "leave behind," allowing you to better share your screenplay pitch with executives.
Paula Landry, MBA, is a writer/producer and consultant helping writers create strategies to excel. Landry teaches film business classes at NYU, SVA, Wagner College and MCNY. She’s co-authored This Business of FILM; and Sell Your Screenplay; and is the author of Scheduling and Budgeting Your Film. Twitter: @paulalandry. Read full bio.
When screenwriters are just starting out, the sense of triumph when you complete a script is incredible. But what's next? The what next is we have to share and pitch our idea with others. We can’t just hand over 1.2 pounds to another person (via email or in person), right? We have to share the story of our screenplay. The one-pager is the best way to do that. It gives us that opportunity to hand off our idea in a succinct, attractive form. Anyone can read one page, it just takes a few minutes, that’s part of the allure.
Fearless Feature Film Writers! Create Your One-Pager
What is a One-Pager
The one-pager is exactly what it sounds like, a summary of the most important facts about your project - all on a single page. This conveys to a reader the essentials about the story, characters, type of movie, and a little bit about you, as well as how to get in touch. At it's very core, the one-pager is marketing.
Quick guidelines to creating a one-pager
- Just one page
- Tell the story of your story
- Attractive & Appealing
- Proofread for errors
- Make the reader want to know more!
One use for a one-pager is to market the script after it is complete. However, one-pagers can have another use. Screenwriters often embark on epic journeys, writing hundreds of pages without testing our idea, or sharing it with others. One-pagers can be used for that as well, market testing an idea before it is completely fleshed out into a full-length screenplay.
A one-pager allows you to focus your writing skills on the essence of your script, and you can use it for several reasons:
- To market yourself
- To test the concept with others
- Fill out your body of work
When you’ve met and pitched your story to an agent, manager, or producer, verbally you want to give them your one-pager. The one-pager is something tangible so they will remember you and your story. Maybe they’ll make notes on it about the encounter with you and why they liked the idea, or what the strengths of the pitch was.
For marketing purposes – a one-pager is a way to test your concept with others. Since the one-pager is not a script – and it’s short, you can get opinions from laypeople – whether they are big movie-goers or not, as well from filmmakers and screenwriters. Once you’ve described the idea verbally, and the person reacts favorably, you could ask them politely to check out the one-pager and give you their impression. An opinion you might encounter is that it doesn’t sound like a feature film, it sounds like something else. Be open to that feedback – because maybe in fact that idea may be a fantastic web series, or even a great book. If you hear those kinds of opinions impressions several times, that may be a cue to pivot your idea in another direction. When you hear consistently from people that it sounds like a movie that person is dying to see, you know to keep moving forward.
Fill Out Your Body of Work
Screenwriters have to build a body of work as quickly as they can. Keeping yourself and your writing moving forward, in spite of distractions, can be a challenge. Beginning feature film writers are often juggling writing on top of demanding lives, careers, gigs, you name it.
So once you’ve completed your amazing screenplay, maybe you’re tired and not quite ready to go full speed on the next script, but want to date some ideas. That’s a great idea because if helps you build a body of work between completed screenplays, or teleplays if that’s your thing.
One way to build a body of work after you have that first fantastic screenplay is to create one-pagers. Then you can use these to show to others the many different ideas you have. Those ideas may be new scripts in your genre, or in different genres. Something heard over and again is that screenwriters need to have multiple projects. One-pagers keep you moving down the line, keeping your momentum going and your output consistent.
Detailed components in a one-pager
All of the elements that go into a one-pager are probably things you’ve thought about or made already, but this list can help you organize the creation and editing of each element.
The title is your first impression, and your name should be on it, so readers can easily contact you. If you have a tagline, include it, and make sure to add the genre, since that markets any project in a very specific direction.
Once you’ve created your logline, follow it with an exciting and succinct synopsis. Include a brief description about the audience for your screenplay. Lastly, of course, include the easiest way to contact you to request the full script. That’s the entire point, the one-pager is a marketing tool to start conversations about your piece, and your writing in general.
Whether you’re writing the next superheroine movie, or a gut wrenching drama, creating your 1-Pager is invaluable, it will do some heavy lifting for you – both for marketing and market testing.
Rock your writing,
All photos by the fantastic DeAngela Napier!
Moving Your Writing Career Forward by Michele Wallerstein
What You'll Learn:
- Best practices in networking.
- How to write a killer query letter.
- How to work with agents, managers, and attorneys.
- How to protect your writing career.