Is it just screenwriting blogs that are a little weird to operate or is it all blogs? I only ask because the last post didn’t generate a lot of comments but it sure generated a lot of email. A lot of you told me that no matter what, you’re going to keep writing screenplays.
The flip side however, was that a lot of people said thanks for setting them straight… They are probably going to toss in the towel.
And no… I’m not joking here. I’m serious when I say I want people to stop writing screenplays unless they are 100% DRIVEN to write screenplays. I figure if I can help keep a few extra shitty screenplays from circulating out there, that might just help one really decent screenplay get read. I will now officially pat myself on my back.
Ah… Felt good.
So what else can you do to increase the odds of selling your spec screenplay?
We’ve already discussed writing what Hollywood is looking for… And before you go thinking you have a better shot having your spec made into an Independent film, think again. With the economy the way it is right now and lots of experts saying we AREN’T DONE YET with our financial meltdown, Independent filmmakers are also trying to fit into the current theatrical distribution model.
Same only different.
Maybe a little more different than the studios but… Not a whole hell of a lot.
Then we discussed what not to do with your spec if you want people to actually read it and move it up the food chain.
Today let’s talk about WHO you are trying to send it to… Most screenwriters don’t do their homework when it comes to marketing that spec they finally completed. They just randomly send it out there to any contact they can find contact information for.
Why? Well first off, if your spec isn’t really as good as you think it is, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Just about everybody keeps their own database of writers who’s screenplays the production company, the agency, and the management firm will no longer read.
You really want to be entered into that database? Shoot from the hip then. Send your spec to anyone who you can send it to.
On the other hand, if you want to increase your odds of an Agency, Management firm, or production company reading your spec…
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
That means find out who’s handled your genre of screenplay before… Yes, there are some agents who only want to read family films… I know because I’ve met them. Same with managers…
Why send your prospective R rated spec to someone who only likes family films? Trust me when I tell you that the odds are not with you when you do that. Always find out something about who you’re sending your spec to. See if they have handled screenplays and or movies similar to yours or within your genre. You will get a lot more mileage with your queries and marketing simply by exercising this one simple tip…
Not only that but you also INCREASE your opportunities of having a producer call on you in the future when they have a project they want to move forward on but have no screenwriter. If they liked the spec you sent them previously but passed on it, chances are they will want to read more from you later on. If so, that is a CONTACT that you will put away for the future. However, if that same producer has a project they want to develop but no script, they may very well call on you for a meeting to see what you might bring to the table for that project.
Turn an unsolicited script into a solicited script…
A lot of screenwriters will read some Agency’s, Management firm’s, or Production Company’s submission policy and understand it to mean that since they say they do not accept unsolicited screenplays, they can’t submit their screenplay to them and so they move on. What 99% of these submission policies actually mean is that they do not want you sending them your screenplay right off the bat.
You don’t attach your screenplay to the first email you’re sending to some contact you’ve found… That is a HUGE NO-NO. On the other hand, you can query them about your spec screenplay and if they like your query ENOUGH, they will turn around and tell you to send it to them and when they do that, your spec screenplay is now a SOLICITED spec screenplay.
Understand and KNOW up front that policies are POLICIES… But any policy goes right out the fucking window if you have the next greatest spec screenplay… Just don’t send it to anyone until you query them FIRST. This is probably a good time to expand on that a little as I have done before… Your query needs to be outstanding. It needs to KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF and make them want you to send them your screenplay. In other words, you’ve got to work just as hard on your query as you do on your spec. The good news is that it won’t take nearly as long to create, tweak, and polish.
Now the bad news… Do you know that most newbie spec screenplays DO NOT LIVE UP TO THE QUERY? Uh huh… Make damn sure that your spec DELIVERS on what your query PROMISES. This is very often how GREAT IDEAS are lost and made into movies WITHOUT your screenplay.
Get on the PHONE!
I know, I know… A lot of people become writers because they THINK they can simply WRITE and that’s all they ever have to do.
You’d be surprised at how easy it really is to get a production company to read your spec script IF you just get on the phone and talk to their gatekeeper first. The good news here is that NOT EVERYONE IS DOING THIS! I can shout out about this every day several times a day for the next twenty years and probably count on both hands how many of you will actually pick up the fucking phone… LOL.
Take advantage of the fact that most writers are not extroverts! Uh huh. Pick up the phone and make at least one call a day, Monday through Friday and talk to a gatekeeper about your spec screenplay… Just make sure that your spec lives up to your pitch. The more often you call of course, the EASIER IT GETS. Relish in the FACT that YOUR COMPETITION IS NOT DOING THIS! This is the fast track to creating a lot more networking contacts than sending query letters and emails.
To a lesser degree of success (in my opinion), you can pick up the phone when it comes to agents and managers too… I probably wouldn’t even bother with the large agencies because they are pretty hardcore when it comes to reading unsolicited screenplays and very rarely will your telephone call, query letter, or query email cause them to ask you to send in your spec… That’s just their policy. Sure, every once in a while, someone gets lucky but by and large, you’ll have much better luck with smaller boutique agencies when you call.
I can’t tell you how many gatekeepers I’ve known over the years that are now in charge of departments or have become producers in their own right… Just make sure you’ve practiced pitching your script before you call. Get it down so it sounds awesome and anyone would be an idiot to pass on reading it but at the same time, make sure your spec delivers what you’ve promised in that telephone call.
We done yet?
Nope. More odds increasing factors to come…