"I just had a call from an aspiring writer. It transpired that he had sent me a script and "I hadn't bothered to get back to him." As you may have guessed this guy was really pissed off as this was just one of a long list of rejections and non responses he had suffered. Perhaps because he was an Eastern European rather than an apologist Brit he was saying exactly what he thought. - "The least people could do is have the manners to say no thanks!"
You hear this a lot from new writers. The truth is that in the vast majority of cases the writers are to blame.
Whooaaah, now, before you punch the screen in fury or start hunting me down on google or imdb please consider the following.
I had no prior contact with this guy.
He didn't call or e mail to ask me before he sent it, so he had no idea if I had the time to read his script.
I wasn't expecting and looking out for a script. The end result was that it had most likely ended up being filtered into the junk mail. I told him this and got him to send it again. Sure enough it went to junk mail and his "whacky" e mail address meant that it LOOKED like junk, which explains why I never spotted it first time round. And guess what...I found half a dozen other unsolicited pieces from writers in the junk mail.
If you want to avoid getting pissed off and start getting results you need to have a strategy for approaching busy professionals.
1) Contact them first with a VERY BRIEF e mail (one very short paragraph) introducing yourself and asking if they are looking for scripts. Supply a FANTASTIC log line in the body of the e mail.
Give them a reason to WANT to look at your work with a VERY, VERY BRIEF decription of your achievements.
Ask them what they would like - a one page, a treatment, a script?
2) If they agree to look at your work you need to have the approprate PACKAGE organised.
There are a number of different packages to use when approaching the industry with your ideas. I have used the following to secure development deals and these are what I would expect from writers approaching us.
A FANTASTIC 1 PAGE PITCH DOC
This is now the most commonly requested document.
It quickly reveals if your idea appeals to them or not.
The theory is that if you can't write a good one page doc you can't write a script. So you better make sure your one page docs are polished to perfection.
If they like this they may ask to see more. You have a number of PACKAGE options.
FILM - A fantastic 1 page pitch doc An outline or treatment.
The ideal scenario is that you get paid to develop the treatment into a script. The reality is that as a new writer you will probably need to have written the script already.
TV - A fantastic 1 page pitch doc A detailed treatment of 2 page episode outlines. Very short character biographies. Some sample scenes to illustrate the tone of the series and your talent
This is one of the most common forms of follow up package. The ideal scenario is that you get paid to develop the treatment into a script. The reality is that as a new writer you will probably need to have written the script already.
If they request the TV series script you should send:
A fantastic 1 page pitch doc. The first episode written in full script form. Very short (eighth of a page each) synopses for all the other episodes. Very short character biographies.
Having a full script as part of the package is great as it really gives the flavour of the piece but means doing a lot of work for no money. However, even if it doesn't get optioned this will serve as a good WRITING SAMPLE for a new writer and may secure you work writing on other peoples shows or a commission to develop a producers idea into a script.
ALWAYS follow up any document with attachments immediately with an e mail asking them to keep an eye out for it. Don't end up in the junk mail.
It is essential that you hone ALL of these documents to perfection. The number one reason that most new writers fail is not a lack of talent. It is a lack of understanding of what is expected of them and their work if they are to make it as professional screenwriters.
Of course there will be the people who never reply just because they are too busy to do so or don't like your logline in your first e mail. That's par for the course but if you don't get your approach right you might well be missing your breakthrough chance simply because your script is sitting in a junk mail folder.
I know it's frustrating when you seem to be trying hard and going nowhere fast. If you would like more practical tips about getting your break I'm happy to send you some handouts from the class we are now prepping for March. Just contact us at info*AT*meadkerr.com "