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, but we can’t just hand over 1.2 pounds to another person (via email or in person). We have to share the story of our screenplay. There a few ways to do that, with a logline (super short), treatment (long to long-ish) a synopsis (medium to varying lengths).
The one pager gives us that opportunity to hand off our idea in a succinct one page. Anyone can read one page, it just takes a few minutes, that’s part of the allure.
Fearless Feature Film Writers! Create Your 1-Pager, now.
What is a 1-pager
The 1-Pager is exactly what it sounds like, a summary of the most important facts about your project – all on one 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 1-pager is marketing.
Quick guidelines to creating a 1-pager
- Make it just one page
- Make it tell the story of your story
- Make it attractive
- Make it error free
- Make the reader want to know more!
One use for a 1-Pager is to market the script after it is complete. However, 1-Pagers can have another use. Screenwriters often embark on epic journeys, writing hundreds of pages without testing our idea, or sharing it with others. 1-Pagers can be used for that as well, market testing an idea before it is completely fleshed out into a full-length screenplay.
A 1-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 someone and pitched your story to an agent, manager, or producer, verbally, a 1-pager is something you can give them (physically – or digitally) so they will remember you, your story, you and how to contact you. 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.
Test the concept with others
For marketing purposes – a 1-Pager is a way to test your concept with others. Since the 1-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 1-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
Due to the amount of time it takes to complete a script 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 for writers. Particularly for feature film writers who are juggling their writing on top of demanding lives, other careers, gigs, family, your volley ball league – 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 using them to show to others the many different ideas you have. Those ideas may be new scripts in the genre of your choosing, or scripts and different genres. Something heard over and again is that screenwriters need to have multiple projects. 1-Pagers keep you moving down the line, keeping your momentum going and your output consistent.
Detailed components in a 1-pager
All of the elements that go into a 1-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 1-Pager is a marketing tool to start conversations about your piece, and your writing in general..
If you’re interested in learning the very best practices on this topic, and would like to watch a detailed video to learn even more, I made one recently that is available as a 45-minute web video tutorial at Screenwriters University.
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!