You’re at a backyard barbecue in Encino, visiting with some old friends and having some vegan ribs. Then your friends’ OTHER friends show up. And the wife is one of the small handful of people in the film industry who’s able to greenlight films, or buy spec scripts.
And you hit it off really well with her, talking about your mutual love for cinema, horror movies, Spike Lee movies, and your mutual disdain for the idea of The Hobbit being presented in the video-looking 48 FPS frame rate.
Then it comes out: you’re a screenwriter and you’ve written a script that may be a perfect fit for what she’s looking for.
What do you do? Email her later and attach a file? Sure, you could do that.
OR you could send her home with your script in her pocket. And no, I’m not talking about a 120-page stack of paper.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for keeping your script on you at all times, and ready to hand to someone who may be able to help you.
#5 The CD (aka the 2001 Method)
The CD is clunky, yes. But it’s reliable.
Most people have home computers or laptops that still use this old spinning optical disc technology, so you know they’ll probably be able to open your script.
The bad part is, you gotta be careful not to scratch the disc. And be sure not to give the disc to your mark until either they’re leaving, or you’re leaving, because holding on to a CD while at a party is a real pain in the ass, especially if they don’t have a purse.
Usability: Everybody can do this
Price: $.10 per disc or so
Wonk Factor: You’re your grandma
#4 The Email Attachment (aka the 2004 Method)
When PDF’s were finally getting to the point where everybody knew what they were and how to open them, emailing scripts as attachments finally caught on. It’s still the most common way of transferring a script.
But there are several things that make this option somewhat less palatable:
One, if you don’t know how to create a proper sized PDF of your screenplay, it could end up being 6, 7, even 10-15 MB in size. But the email protocol isn’t really all that good at handling BIG files like that. And many email servers can’t handle attachments larger than 1-2 MB.
Two, if you meet a bigwig at a party, it’s GREAT to get their email address, but it could be problematic, because not every exec wants to give out their email address – even their business address.
Three, if you email your script, you never know if they’ll actually GET that email, or if your script ended up in their spambox, or ignored, or deleted.
Usability: Everybody can do this
Wonk Factor: You’re your mom
#3 The Flash Drive (aka the 2007 Method)
USB drives (aka flash drives or thumb drives) used to cost $50, $70, or more for just a 500MB drive. Now you can get 4GB for $5 at places like Newegg.com, or any other retailer.
(For some perspective on what exactly 4GB is, it means your thumb drive can carry around probably close to 40,000 screenplays in PDF format. so for one or two scripts, yeah, it’s kinda overkill, but you can’t beat the portability.)
Carrying a flash drive in your pocket with your script on it means as soon as you make a connection at a party, you can literally hand them your script. And the drives are so small, they can easily fit it in their pocket, or even a clutch, if you’re out somewhere fauncy fauncy.
And PS – you can find places online like FlashBay that’ll even print your name, email address, and/or logo on a set of custom thumb drives, or even wearable thumb drive bracelets.
(Talk about portability! You can just take it off your wrist and give it to your mark to put on theirs or stuff into their pocket.)
Usability: Everybody! Unless living in cave.
Price: $5 per drive
Wonk Factor: You’re a tech-savvy, modern screenwriter
#2 The IR Code (aka the 2011 Method)
What’s really starting to catch on is the IR code, which are those crazy looking UPC style patterns you see everywhere. Most smartphones have apps that can scan that IR code and send your interested movie producer anywhere on the web to read your script.
It takes a little bit of setup to create the graphic, and then to put your script PDF online somewhere accessible, such as a subdirectory of your website, or your shared Dropbox folder, but once you do, you can just store the IR code in the Photos section of your smart phone.
Then, if the person you’re talking to at that party has a smart phone, you can just whip out your smartphone and display your IR code and have them scan it, and they’ll be taken to your script online.
Usability: Maybe 1 out of every 4 people know how to use IR readers currently
Price: Free, but it takes a bit of setup
Wonk Factor: You’re a nerd
#1 Sharing Via Smartphone (aka the 2013 Method)
EDIT: Note that I wrote “The 2013 Method,” because sharing files from one smartphone to another hasn’t actually been super-perfected yet, and there hasn’t been one dominant “killer app,” either from a third party, or as part of either iOS or Android, to surface to make it both easy and ubiquitous.
But mark my words, there will be an app soon that makes phone-to-phone file sharing a breeze. Cross-platform, simple to use, widely available – you know it’s coming. If you’ve found a method, I’d love to hear it!
Usability: Soon, hopefully everybody
Price: Who knows?
Wonk Factor: You’re so ahead of the curve, you can’t share with anyone. Yet.