You’ve completed your screenplay. You put hours in after work, before work, on your lunch break, weekends, and even snuck a few moments in AT work. You’ve had it reviewed by someone you think knows what they’re doing, and they’ve given you the go ahead that it’s ready for Hollywood. It’s a miracle you got to this point. You can see it as a movie in your head and you want someone in Hollywood to consider making it. Now what do you do? You have to get producers and agents to read it. How do you do it? You’re about to find out.
There are several ways that you can go about getting a Hollywood Producer or Literary Agent to read it. You can call them and pitch your script on the phone, you can hook up with connections you already have, or meet people at a pitchfest and convince them to read it. All of these ways are fine – IF you know who to call and are good at pitching… IF you have connections… IF there’s a pitchfest going on that you can attend.
However, if you’re like most aspiring writers, you have nothing but your script. No connections. No tickets to pitchfests. No pitch. If that’s the case for you, or if you’re doing those things and want a tried and true method, then here’s what you do.
1. First you have to draft a query letter that has your pitch in it.
Even though you may not have one prepared yet, there are lots of places to get tips on this. You can find articles in screenwriting magazines that will give you tips or you can work with a marketing company for screenwriters to help you draft a professional query letter. Sometimes a script consultant, whose primary job is to critique your screenplay, may also help you write your query letter.
Most importantly, keep in mind that drafting your query letter or verbal pitch is very different from writing an entire screenplay. Writing a pitch is more like copywriting or an advertisement whereas writing a screenplay would be more like a novel. The intention of the pitch is to sell something – to get the reader interested in a VERY SHORT period of time. The long-form is taking someone on a loooongg journey as opposed to taking them out for coffee. Therefore you must pick and choose very specific things to leave in and to take out for it to work. The job of the query letter is to sell the producer on reading your script.
2. After you write your query letter, you have to figure out who to send it to.
If you know of a lot of movies, then you can think of ones that are similar to yours and find the people who produced them, since they are obviously interested in that type. Go to IMDB.com to find out who produced those movies you are thinking of.
You could also buy a book like the Hollywood Creative Directory, which costs about 60 dollars or so, and you can go through thousands of listings there to try to find companies you think would be interested in. The HCD book lists companies, addresses, and contacts, and what projects they’ve done. It’s a very thick book that is an excellent resource for anyone who needs to know the addresses of who’s who in Hollywood. The only drawback is that it can be very time-consuming, and if you don’t recognize the titles of the projects, it may not help you much.
If you want help doing this part, look for a service that will help you with it.
3. Finally, once you have the query letter written and the names of the people to send it to – and make sure that you have individual names, not just the companies.
Print out letters and envelopes, and send the one page query letter to them. Don’t send the entire script. You just want to get them interested enough to ask you to send them your script.
If you’ve done a good job of pitching it and your story is up their alley, then they will ask you to send them a copy of your screenplay.
Once you send it to them, then you will move into the next phase of the process, which is effectively following up with them.
The most important step in marketing is that first one that will get you in the game.