You’ve written and rewritten, gotten notes, rewritten again, crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s and now what? What happens next?
by Jenny Frankfurt
If you are a writer with an agent or manager the script goes to them and they figure out where to send it and whom they think will respond. They know who is looking for what or they have relationships that allow them to call up and just ask various producers if they want to read your material. That’s their job.
What if you’re not at that stage yet? You’re without representation but you feel you have a piece of material that’s ready to be seen. Who is reading material, how do you find out and how is it appropriate to get it to them without literary representation?
In the US there are many very good, solid and industry recommended websites where you can pitch your screenplay or pilot to major producers and representatives. Some allow you to put your screenplay on the site and the creators of the site will lead producers and such to your material as it suits them.
Virtual Pitch Fest
www.virtualpitchfest.com is a great site which allows you to sign up for a number of pitches and choose from major studios, producers and representatives all of whom are letting the writer know exactly that they are looking for. They can ask for thrillers, comedies, science fiction, stories, etc… as well as also specifying what they don’t want to see.
You can then pitch the industry exec and they can say yes, please send it or no, and they’ll let you know why. It’s a good way to take the temperature of the town for the material you’re pushing. If your pitch isn’t working, reassess.
If too many people say they have projects like it, you might want to try another project as the concept has already saturated the market. It’s not too expensive, they always have deals and the contacts are very, very good. The owner David Kohner Zuckerman has done a great job putting it together and the industry has responded well to it. I have read some very good material from VPF.
Another great website in the US is www.inktip.com. This is a very precise way for producers, repress and executives to find material but it’s more active from the buyer’s side. However, it’s a very well regarded site, they do a lot of press and I’ve used it many times when I am looking for new material.
Inktip categorizes material very specifically, not just by genre but by writers with/without credits, their nationality, scripts that are a thriller but a horror/thriller, then a small budget or large budget and so on. So, it’s easy to really try and find exactly what you’re looking for. Once someone has read your logline they can see your CV and contact you for the screenplay. That way you’re directly in touch right away.
So, one comes from the writer – you, and another comes from the buyer – Hollywood. Both are really great ways of knowing what people are looking for and getting material to them. Writers have more control of course on VPF so that might be the best way to proceed.
As for unsolicited letters. Oh boy, this is kinda tough. I have very rarely asked to read a script from an unsolicited query but nothing has ever come from it. I would definitely not do this to producers as most will just delete the email immediately.
The thing about Hollywood is that it’s all about relationships and all you need is a little ‘in’ and you can get somewhere. The basic rule when trying to know who is looking for what – and it’s the answer I get when I ask producers and studios for my own client’s information – is that they are looking for the best of your material.
They are looking for something that’s been gone over with a fine toothcomb, had notes done on it, and been written at the highest level you can achieve. Producers want to read good material. Period. If they don’t buy something from you this time around they’ll remember you’re a good writer the next time you have a project they’re more interested in.
One last thing and this is important. If you want to be in the entertainment business make it your job other than writing, to know as much as you can about various producers and studios. Don’t send a small indie film to Warner Bros. Know who likes what.
Look at the past list of what films the producer has made and assess your material and then approach. Don’t send Michael Bay a touching love story. It’s unlikely he will read it. You MUST be a part of your career, even and all the more so when you DO get representation.
It’s best for all that you are involved and have opinions and ideas about what to do with your material. The agent or manager is someone who guides and helps you but they’ve got a lot on their plate and you’ve got you on your plate, so help out and contribute to your cause – it will go a long way.
Jenny Frankfurt has been a literary manager for the past twenty years, and runs her own company Highstreet Management, based in Los Angeles, where she represents writers and intellectual property around the world.
Prior to this she was Head of the Literary Department for Handprint Entertainment and has worked at both The William Morris Agency and ICM.