November 18, 2012

Want to Get Your Film Made in Hollywood? A 29 Step Process to Help You Get the Green Light

Getting a film made in Hollywood is no small task, and more often than not, many projects wind up in what many call "Development Hell." This is where a project gets stuck in an endless loop of nonsense that usually involves a back and forth among the various individuals who are working on a particular film. Joshua Marston, writer/director of Maria Full of Grace and The Forgiveness of Blood (which also happens to be available from the Criterion Collection), has put together a graphic giving a (only slightly) tongue-in-cheek step by step process to getting a film green-lit in Hollywood.

Joshua Marston originally posted this online at

If you've ever noticed that one of your favorite Hollywood projects has been in development for years or has fallen apart suddenly, there is a very good chance it has faced one of the issues outlined in the graphic. In reality, you're likely going to face many of these same problems trying to get your own film made, even if you aren't trying to court A-list celebrities. Getting a film off the ground and into production is its own miracle, and I'm sure many of you can relate in some way to the difficulties presented above.

Which steps have you encountered in your own productions? What have you done to solve them? Share your stories below in the comments.


Your Comment


Oh wow.

November 18, 2012 at 12:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Soosan Khanoom

That was amazing

November 18, 2012 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

john jeffreys

All of them :)

November 18, 2012 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Shaun Wilson

Too true and if anything just a brief summary of what happens. I've enjoyed most of the above plus key people going"upstairs" just on point of signing.

November 18, 2012 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This post reminds me of Argo which deals about making a fake movie in Hollywood to extract embassy personnel in Iran and the best quote from this is where the lead cia agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is asked if he wants to go to Hollywood to act like a big shot (via IMDB):

John Chambers: [after hearing of the plan to get the hostages out] So you want to come to Hollywood, act like a big shot...
Tony Mendez: Yeah.
John Chambers: ...without actually doing anything?
Tony Mendez: Yeah.
John Chambers: [smiles] You'll fit right in!

November 19, 2012 at 2:43AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


So true, i worked in development for one of the main studios as an unpaid intern. It always seemed like we had to turn down great scripts to pursue name writers with mediocre scripts. Then when a really good idea came through and the producers were excited about it, the studio wouldn't approve it (even after big name actors were attached to the projects). There's thousands of scripts just from that company alone that sit on the back burners.

That's what's so awesome about how the film industry is shaping now in the independent community. You still can get distribution without having to go through all the hoops, and can still get people to watch your film online. I think more writers should shift to writing for an independent producer or director and actually get your film made first. Start with something that can work with an indie budget and if you can have success you'll have a greater chance of writing for big budget movies.

November 19, 2012 at 4:04AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Ha! Brilliant.

November 19, 2012 at 5:21AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Scary stuff man. You have to be insane to keep at it. And we are!

November 21, 2012 at 2:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Lorenzo S.

Thats about right

November 22, 2012 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Hilarious! Generally accurate to be sure. In development on a few projects. Lots of false starts. The $1 option is possible but it's quite an uphill if the writer is any good. I find its important to give huge respect to the creative if all I am able to start with is essentially nothing down. It's possible though, and it seems to be working alright for all parties on one of my projects right now. Only advice I can offer is - try to find trustworthy people to work with. It's making all the difference for me right now.

November 22, 2012 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Started screenwriting a long time ago only to think of this crazy stuff above. lol. So I bought rights to make a web series (Day Zero --, modified the scripts, and used my own money for everything. I cast non-union, independent local actors and submitted the pilot to film festivals, we won awards in the TV and web categories from 3 different festivals this year so far!

After season finale in December, not sure what I'll do but my intention was mainly to tell a good story and show that I, as an actor, can be a filmmaker as well as get experience and have lots of material as an actor ;)

November 22, 2012 at 9:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


i am a new york film maker for a very long time. I have made my films and videos and they have have had some effects on our culture. if you want to be under control of people who have no business being part of your creative process don't complain.

if you want to make your films, do it. production costs have dropped.

May 23, 2013 at 1:08PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

emilio murillo