When it comes to Hollywood, the one thing that everyone wants is IP. They want that intellectual property that they can turn into movies and TV shows and that has some audience recognition that brings in ticket sales and eyeballs.

It can be so hard to actually get your hands on the stuff that matters. You're battling every famous writer and director in the biz.

But what if you just created your own IP?

Creating your own intellectual property for film and television is an exciting and rewarding journey that will pay off immensely in your career. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the process of developing your own IP, from the initial concept to acquiring rights and adapting your work for the screen.

All that good stuff.

Let's get going.

inglourious basterds lessons from the screenplay suspense opening scenes no film school tarantino'Inglorious Basterds'Credit: The Weinstein Company

Understand the Importance of Intellectual Property

Hollywood is unpredictable, but the one thing you can rely on is that something with an audience is valuable to this town. In the world of film and television, IP is a crucial element that can set your work apart from the rest.

Hollywood is obsessed with IP, and the majority of successful films and TV shows are based on pre-existing intellectual property.

I love original ideas and will always champion them, but you should carry at least one piece of IP to help your career.

By creating your own IP, you're not only increasing the value of your work but also giving it a greater chance of being noticed by industry professionals - especially for those breaking in.

What Are the Kinds of IP You Should Be Creating For Hollywood?

When it comes to creating intellectual property for Hollywood, various types of stories and packages have historically been successful in the entertainment industry.

Let's go over a few together.

  1. Spec Scripts: Well-written screenplays and scripts are the foundation of many successful films and television shows. Developing compelling stories with engaging characters and interesting dialogue is crucial.
  2. Book Adaptations: Hollywood often looks to popular books and novels for source material. If you have a unique and captivating story that could be adapted into a screenplay, it could attract attention from producers and studios. Or maybe you can find lesser-known books that you can show to producers that might be easier to get.
  3. Franchise Concepts: Do you have an idea for a franchise? Hollywood studios are always on the lookout for potential franchises that can span multiple movies or spin-off projects. Developing a rich and expansive world with the potential for sequels or spin-offs can be highly appealing. These could be pitches for huge worlds you could option together or written documents you make to show them a very lucrative avenue you want to be the voice behind.
  4. Comic Books and Graphic Novels: The success of comic book adaptations in recent years has made this medium particularly attractive to Hollywood. Creating a captivating comic book series or graphic novel with strong characters and a compelling narrative can pique the interest of producers. You could work with an artist and make your own or just have ideas for when you do a general at DC, Marvel, or another spot.
  5. Video Games: The boundaries between film and video games are becoming increasingly blurred. Developing a unique and immersive video game concept with a captivating storyline and engaging characters could attract interest from both the gaming and entertainment industries. Do you have games you loved that you want to adapt? Then reach out to those companies or have your reps do it for you. Always have a title a company makes to talk about if you get a general with them.
  6. Short stories: So many writers I know have made the switch to developing and writing their own short stories. These can serve as ideas you try to get published and retain the rights to, and can also be easily shared and adapted.
  7. True Stories, News Stories, and Biopics: Stories based on true events or the lives of real people often have a strong appeal to audiences. If you come across an untold story or a compelling biography, it could be worth exploring its potential for adaptation. If something is in the news or zeitgeist, it might be in the public domain or you have fair use of it, so you can adapt it or be inspired by something other people have heard of without paying a penny.

How to Create Intellectual Property for Film and TV'The Last of Us'Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

How Can You Create Your Own IP?

Okay, you're here for the big questions, so let's review them. How can you generate ideas that people care about? Platforms like Medium, Wattpad, and podcasting have made it easier than ever to create and share your own IP on a budget.

Let's expand on these ideas.

Embrace Your Unique Ideas

You matter, and so does your voice.

Don't be afraid to explore ideas that are different and personal to you. Remember, the most successful IPs are those that resonate with audiences on an emotional level. It's essential to create something you believe in, rather than trying to cater to a specific market or target audience.

Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices

Developing your IP requires dedication, persistence, and hard work. You may have to make personal sacrifices, such as spending less time with friends and family or putting off certain purchases to allocate resources to your project.

You might be calling a bunch of people to see if rights are available or working long hours to finish your visual decks.

Keep in mind that the rewards of creating your IP can far outweigh the sacrifices made along the way.

Developing your IP is not a one-time effort–it's a long-term commitment. Be prepared to work consistently and diligently on your project, even when progress seems slow or obstacles arise. Having an "endurance mindset" is crucial for success in this field.

Rocky_montage_steps'Rocky'Credit: MGM

Research and Acquire Rights to Existing Intellectual Property

If you're looking to adapt existing IP for film or TV, you'll need to research and acquire the rights to the material. This process involves searching for overlooked or forgotten works and reaching out to authors or publishers to discuss potential collaborations.

To find and acquire rights to IP, you need to be proactive and persistent in your search. Look for opportunities in untapped areas, such as older titles or articles that have been overlooked. Be prepared for false starts and challenges, as acquiring rights can be a complex and time-consuming process.

When approaching authors or publishers for rights to their IP, it's essential to demonstrate your commitment to the project. Have a clear plan for adapting the material and be prepared to put in maximum effort to bring the project to fruition.

Adapt Your Intellectual Property for Film and TV

Once you've acquired the rights to your IP, the next step is to adapt it for the screen. This process involves transforming your original work into a screenplay that effectively captures the essence of the story while also adhering to the unique requirements of film and television production.

You can also make a pitch doc or deck to just show companies how you would adapt it and what makes it so marketable.

Be open to collaboration and receptive to the input of others, as this can lead to a stronger and more compelling final product.

How to Create Intellectual Property for Film and TV'Raging Bull' behind the scenesCredit: United Artists

Develop a Strong Pitch

Once your IP has been adapted for the screen, it's time to pitch your project to potential investors, producers, and industry professionals. A strong pitch is essential for securing the interest and support needed to bring your project to life.

A logline is a one or two-sentence summary of your project that captures its essence and hooks the reader's interest. Make sure your logline is clear, concise, and engaging.

In addition to a logline, a pitch package may include a synopsis, character breakdowns, a treatment, or even a full script. The goal is to provide a clear and compelling overview of your project that showcases its unique qualities and potential for success.

Secure Financing for Your Project

It's all about the money - can someone afford to make your project? And why should they invest in you?

Financing is often one of the most challenging aspects of bringing an IP to the screen. Mostly because a lot of IP can be expensive - but the sweet spot in you making your IP or finding it, is you can find stuff that's not going to cost a ton. So the profitability is on the backside.

With a strong pitch and a clear understanding of your project's budget, you'll be better equipped to secure the necessary funding to make your vision a reality.

Be prepared to navigate the complex world of film and TV financing, which can involve multiple sources of funding, such as grants, private investors, and production companies. Research the various financing options available and determine which are best suited to your project.

Securing financing can be a daunting and time-consuming process. Be prepared to face rejection, but also be persistent and resourceful in your efforts to find the right partners and resources to bring your project to life.

Let the IP get people excited to work with you.

Breaking-bad-series-finale-5-alternate-endings-3'Breaking Bad'Credit: AMC

Keep Creating

Developing your IP is an ongoing process that requires continuous creativity and dedication. Stay inspired and keep creating new projects that push your boundaries and grow your skills as a creator.

You're going to want to explore all the ways we mentioned earlier - have a book, a spec, a video game, come comic ideas, and a library of news articles - build a little portfolio you can talk about when you meet producers or other creatives.

Maintain your passion for storytelling and continue to explore new ideas and concepts that excite and challenge you.

Don't be discouraged by setbacks or obstacles. Stay persistent and committed to your creative vision, and you'll be well on your way to developing a successful IP for film and TV.

Summing Up How to Create Intellectual Property for Film and TV

Developing your own intellectual property for film and TV is a rewarding and challenging journey. It's kind of crazy, but it's the way you can build your own opportunities. Everyone is always waiting for Hollywood to come to them.


Go to Hollywood with your ideas and your passions.

By understanding the importance of IP, making sacrifices, researching and acquiring rights, adapting your work, pitching, securing financing, assembling a team, producing and marketing your project, learning from the experience, and staying passionate, you can create a successful IP that captivates audiences and leaves a lasting impact in the entertainment industry.

Now, it's time to get to work.