Thursday, April 17, 2008

From the Mailbag:

Now that I've finished my draft of the Knightmare script and await wonderfully pithy comments from Gregg, ripping my internals out onto the floor, I want to answer an email from Chris who had some beginner questions that beg a mad pulp answer:

I came across your blog when the guidelines for Sci-Fi Channel Movie writing came out. I think I followed a link via Boing Boing. At any rate, I have a tremendous desire to be a working screenwriter but have never been able to figure out a way to actually get material in front of anyone actually involved in the industry.

That's cool that the essential information on what cable channels like Scifi are looking for is getting out there. So many beginners are in the dark about what sort of material networks and producers want, and in what format.

There are several ways to open the Hollywood doors:

1. Contests get scripts read by people in the industry. Enter the biggies like Nicholl, SXSW and elsewhere. Alex Epstein has a FAQ section on his blog where he answers these types of questions. Tell him I sent ya.

2. Produce your work yourself and post it online. Not for the faint of heart or those with no tolerance for pain, but it is a way.

3. I assume (assumptions being what they are) that your material is ripe for the "indie/genre/D2DVD" marketplace. This is the same market that intersects with the comic book market. Why not take your script and create a comic out of it? You always want to show complete work - not just scripts which are essentially works in progress.

4. Write a killer intro letter and email it around to all the production companies, and see what response you get.

5. Go to networking events - Screenwriting Expo, Scriptwriter's Showcase, SXSW, Comic Con, and dozens of film festivals and markets all around the country.

I have read many of the "how to" books, to no avail. Yes, surely that is a great surprise. Everything I come across basically suggests you have to know someone. Well, that's a rather grim situation for one who knows no one in the industry. I'm not asking you to take a look at anything; I'm not as naive as that.

So what you need to do is go out and meet people: Shake hands, talk on Screenwriter forums, go to festivals and make yourself (but especially your work) known.

What I was s hoping is that you might be able to give me some advice.

I'm just looking to get started. I don't have any illusions about writing something and selling it for hundreds of thousands or any such nonsense. I'm not trying to make an artistic statement. I just want to get a start.

Your goal is always to entertain. If you do that, then you are halfway there.

Do any of the prodcos you list look at unsolicited material? Is there anyway to actually get work without an agent, or, moreover, anyway to actually get an agent to look at anything?
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Bill Martell has worked steadily in the industry for many years sans agent. I go out and pitch for work or just generate my own work. I try to go out and meet people in person, and I work the social networking elements of sites like Ning and Facebook.

I'm marketing a novel to agents right now, publishing agents actually read query letter. My understanding is that film agents do not. I have come up with nothing but dead ends.
If you could give me any glimmer of input as to where I might look for better information or relate your own advice, I would be most grateful.

<<<<<<<<<<< Start by going through the links in my sidebar. There are various forums attached to those links. Look through the subject threads. By doing the research yourself you learn where to look for leads. You learn who the players are...and then you can find out who produces your kind of material.

The fact is that the indie market fluctuates - a lot. Because many of these companies are small they are very responsive to hot trends and are always looking for the next thing to break. That means companies that were producing "family flicks" one year, may be doing "torture porn" the next. You have to stay on top of it by using the power of the web.

It's today's "cost of doing business."

1 comment:

Chris said...

This is Chris, thanks a lot for the help, much obliged. I go not to the linkage you provided.

I especially like the comic idea, it's lateral, oblique.

-C.