We sit down for a quick chat with spec script Maestro… Niall Cassin
Pro Media Mag; You’re a pretty prolific writer when it comes to optioned specs. Can you explain that side of the movie business?
Niall; Sure. A spec is a speculative script that you write in the hopes someone likes it enough to pay you money for it… you’re speculating! So if your script catches the eye of a producer they’ll option it from you. That means they’ll pay you X amount of money, for X amount of time, (usually a year) and have control over the script. They’ll try to raise funding, attach talent, etc and get it made. It’s basically a letter of intent. If they don’t get it made after whatever time you agreed you get back control of the script and you can send it to other producers.
Pro Media Mag; Wow! Very interesting! And how come your work is constantly being optioned? What’s your secret?
Niall; I say it’s that I write very commercial and contained thrillers, action and horror, these types of movies are always popular with audiences. Sometimes I dip my toe into Sci-Fi, this can be a harder sell. The most important factor is that I love what I write… these are the kind of movies that I watch. Passion always gets you across the line at the end of the day!
Pro Media Mag; Can you tell us about a spec script of yours that was optioned?
Niall; I can’t go into too much detail, but a script I wrote recently that’s set in prison is doing the rolls at an established production company and they’re hoping to make it this summer.
Pro Media Mag; So are all movies specs?
Niall; No not at all. Most of the time, a producer will read something you have wrote and that they liked. Then they’ll ask you to write a script based on an idea they have… you’ll be a writer for hire.
Pro Media Mag; Have you done this?
Niall; Sure. I have three movies coming out this summer that were writer for hire gigs.
Pro Media Mag; How did that come about?
Niall; I sent a spec script to a producer. He liked my writing and asked me to write a movie based on his idea.
Pro Media Mag; Wow! Amazing!
Niall; Yeah. Seeing words you wrote coming out of an actor’s mouth is a surreal experience. It’s something I’m very proud of.
Pro Media Mag; Are you working on any specs at the moment?
Niall; I’m always working on them! There’s always an idea whirling around in my head. But currently, I’m writing on a series for a US network, unfortunately, that’s all I can say.
Pro Media Mag; Sounds mysterious!
Niall; Top secret!