07-23-2000, 09:46 PM
While reading thru these threads, I've noticed several times where someone has suggested contacting production companies. Maybe this is one of my "newbie questions", but I thought you had to have an agent first.
Which is better to query with, an agent or production company? Does this depend on the amount of experience you have? Will an agent generally be able to get more money for the script than I could obtain on my own?
Again, I thank you all for sharing your expertise with me.
07-23-2000, 10:19 PM
For now, forget about who can get you the most money...put it out of your head...gone...kaput! Thinking along those lines will only hinder you at this point and will come across as desperation if you bring it into any dealings with potential agents or buyers. DON'T ever ask an agent how much you think he or she can get for your script(especially your first). Ask them, instead, how often they would like to read any new stuff you're working on. Show them you care about your work, rather than the potential paycheck, and they will care more about it as well. (though to answer you question, yes, an agent will probably raise your value by anything from 10 to 50+%...however a good entertainment lawyer can help you out in that department when the time is right sans an agent)
There's an old saying that I used to hear often..."No agent will touch you till you've sold a screenplay, yet no one will buy a screenplay from you unless you have an agent." It's the old Catch-22 rearing it's unwelcome head again. That is partially true. While Hollywood is set up to work along those seemingly impossible lines, there are ALWAYS loopholes...However, like anything else worthwhile, you've got to take the time to figure out what those loopholes are, and how you're going to climb through them. (a hint: a major loophole is knowing someone with some degree of clout, even small, in the business who likes your work)
My advice to you would be to 1: look for the loopholes, find out what they are...they differ from situation to situation. 2: Query both prodco's and agents, simultaneously...then use any interest from one as leverage to get the other interested...sometimes you'll find that it is easier to "get read" by prodco's (without an agent) than it is to get read by an agent without a prodco interested in your work. 3: and this goes back to one, and the point I made earlier...make contacts with industry professionals who can help you get a foot in the door. The trouble with writing query letters to anyone, without a reference from someone they respect, is that you're basically saying "Hey, this is ME, you don't know me, and I'm new to all of this and have no experience (obviously, because I have no reference from anyone in the biz), I've written a great script that I think you'd be interested in reading". To which they will likely answer "Yeah, RIGHT! And my real father is Santa Claus..." Yes, they ARE that cynical. They have to be because they get so much crap thrown at them it's unbelievable. I had a friend who was reading for a small agency who once told me that most of the scripts that were thrown at him to read were...how shall I put this nicely...not even worthy for him to turn to when he ran out of toilet paper and was too lazy to drive to the store. And some of these scripts were from writers who were represented by said agency!! Unbelievable...okay, I'm getting off-track here... 4: Write a GREAT script...not an okay one with a lot of potential...not even a good one. A GREAT one. One that has whoever's reading it so excited about it that they want to see it (or some form of it) on the big screen, like next week... 5: then, and this goes back to three and how to get that query letter read with NO contacts. Write a query letter that is better written than your script. Yes, you heard me right. In order to get their attention, and not get the "Yeah, RIGHT" reaction, you've got to prove to them in as little space as is possible that you can write the hell out of your scripts. (BTW, go to wordplay.com...go to their columns section and read, in addition to every other brilliantly conceived column, BREAKING THE ICE...it will give you a good idea of what people are looking for in unreferenced queries and the level of greatness that you must aspire to). 6: address your queries to a specific person, not an agency or prodco in general. Use "To whom it may concern" at your own peril, which will be great if you do it (okay, I'm exaggerating, most likely the response will be that your letter will be thrown out, however there's always the chance that some methodical, overly precise assistant will file your name in a folder under the title "Clueless"). Do your research. Find out specifically what agents represent what types of scripts and what prodco's produce what genre of film. Any query to a prodco, BTW, should be to someone along the creative ends, and someone lower on the rung, if possible...ie, development personnel.
Okay, I'm outta gas. I hope at least some of this is useful.
07-23-2000, 10:45 PM
Thank you ever so much!!!!!
One thing I have not concerned myself with is money...up until last week, that is, when an agent called me about my script and in the course of our conversation (discussing union vs non-union) he discussed money. I am too new at this to ever be so bold as to have brought it up and I didn't elaborate as he spoke. The money aspect is great, but only if it affords you more time to spend on writing and less on the "day job".
I was putting some final touches on my screenplay tonight (amazing how it gets better each time I mess with it) and I started thinking that maybe I should have queried some prod. co.'s.
When I put this script in the mail tomorrow, it will land in the hands of the agent who requested in within three days. If things go as they have with him over the last two weeks, he will have read it by the next day and my phone will be ringing with his comments. An exciting thing, yes, but did I cover all my bases and contact as many people as possible? No!
I guess it's never too late to do that.
As for contacts in the business. I seemed know plenty about four years ago when the thought of writing a screenplay had never entered my mind...I was struggling with writing a novel at the time.
Tony, thanks again for your help.
07-23-2000, 11:31 PM
It sounds like you're in pretty good shape, here. I wish you the best of luck!!
07-24-2000, 03:28 AM
Most agents won't read you without a referral. Where you get the referral (am I spelling that right?) is problematic, if you don't know anyone in the industry. So you try them both. Agents and producers. Get read as often as you can. Producers are more likely to read you. Don't ask me why. They just are. And producers can refer you in to an agent. It's the hard way to do it. One agent can send you in to 50 producers, so getting an agent first would be great. But getting that agent sometimes takes getting read by 50 producers. That catch 22 thing. Hit 'em all. Take no prisoners. Good luck.
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