View Full Version : How Can You Pitch If You Live In The UK
08-23-2004, 11:36 AM
How can a UK scriptwriter like me pitch to a producer if that writer does not live in the States? Don't you have to live in LA in order to stand any chance of getting a script produced?
08-27-2004, 05:47 AM
First try pitching to people in the UK. Some producers keep offices in London and LA.
Also use the internet. I've made some first contacts with producers over the internet that have grown into referrals for my scripts.
But this only works if you have scripts worth referring.
08-27-2004, 12:19 PM
what he said.
and yes, writer's who live in LA always have a location advantage.
but unless you attend a pitchfestival or something similar like what they have at the Expo or Let's Do Lunch (where you have to pay to pitch :rolleyes ) then you have to be asked to pitch. most new writer's are never asked to pitch and even then it's usually after they've read the script or atleast the treatment or synopsis. most producers will only take pitches from writers they already know or have had success in the past.
so i suggest you go back to "what he said".
08-27-2004, 03:08 PM
I've made some first contacts with producers over the internet
OK, let me be daft, but how did you do it? By looking for social platforms or trying to pitch over the net? Care to share some secrets? :\
JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
08-27-2004, 03:34 PM
Try A.C. Black's Artists and Writers Yearbook 2004 (maybe even 2005 by now). When I lived and worked in the UK that was the standard reference. It gives names and contact info for agents in the UK, as well as production companies, both British and American, along with their UK phone numbers and addresses.
The book can be found at any Waterstone's, Ottokar's or W.H. Smith with a book stock. (Also in the bookshop on Hampstead High Street.)
08-27-2004, 04:23 PM
You cannot pitch to Hollywood if you live in the UK... or New York or Utah or wherever.
The exception is
1) You are a name or famous writer who has a hot book/play/movie and some big producer calls. Then you will have to come out to LA anyway.
2) You are partnered with someone who is a name (actor/director) who is being bankrolled by the studios.
3) You pitch to Working Title or a Hollywood studio company with an office in London
JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
08-27-2004, 05:37 PM
4) or if you have a theatre/TV/cinema agent in London. Then he or she can get your work out to anyone.
10-08-2004, 12:28 PM
I don't think many London agents can make successful deals in Los Angeles. Look at the sales made on Done Deal. Almost all the agents are either LA agents. The few agents that makes sales out of LA are usually the New York Divisions of companies like ICM, William Morris, Writers and Artists, etc. If you can get hooked up with one of these companies in New York (basically by being in New York) you could do it.
Otherwise, I agree with one of the previous posters. You would basically have to be in Los Angeles, unless you're already an acclaimed novelist or playwrite. And even in those cases they'd want you to come out to LA for meetings.
10-08-2004, 05:14 PM
You cannot pitch to Hollywood if you live in the UK... or New York or Utah or wherever.
With all due respect this is total bullsh#t. I've pitched to loads of producers, agents and even studio executives from the UK.
Free Dating - Do what I did - prepare your pitch, grab the HCD and pick up the phone. Be positive and enthusiastic and concise and you'll get through to people. I've done this many times and then flown out to LA to meet with people. Last November I came out here and had 20 meetings in 5 days with prod. co's, studios and agents like William Morris.
Okay, I'm producing as well as writing which tends to get you a higher level of access but I was in the same position after I wrote my very first screenplay and I didn’t know anything about the business. I was sitting at home in London thinking – how the hell do I get this script to Hollywood? I picked out all the companies that I thought would go for my type of script and I hit the phones. And by hit the phones I mean hit the phones i.e you keep on calling until you get a yes. You don’t give up.
I got script requests and meeting with several high-level prod. co’s. One of them was Robert Redford’s former dev. exec who called me back saying he liked the script. I then flew to LA and almost all the people who had read the script met with me. Redford’s then dev. exec took me out to lunch. Who was I? No-one! Un-agented. Un-produced. Not living in LA, not even living in the good ‘ol US of A but he liked my script and liked the writing. Okay nothing came of it but it showed me what was possible.
Another producer with serious credits invited me to her home. We spent 3 hours talking about life, politics, and Hollywood – it was great. She then got her laptop out on the table, went through her database and picked out an agent that she referred me too.
Don't listen to all this 'you have to live in LA' bullsh#t. It can actually be easier to get a meeting in LA if you are coming from out of town. You just have to create that “I’m flying into town for a week” buzz. I met with a manager last November who reps top female talent and she reps a writer/director in Australia. She simply sets up meetings for him over a 2 week period.
Sure, of course it’s easier to be in LA because you can drive in for a meeting on a moment’s notice (and yes I’ve read all the DD threads on this subject…ZZZZZ) but the idea that you can’t get any access to Hollywood outside of LA unless you’re a name is nonsense. I've managed to get script requests for people who live in LA (that they can't get themselves) from the UK.
You can also get access to Hollywood via film festivals like Cannes but, hey, nothing comes for free. You have to register for the festival. It will cost you a few bucks but then you have an invaluable database of contacts.
To anyone who wants to make it from outside of LA I would say this - be pro-active. You have to fly to LA. Invest money in your career. Sign up for festivals like the AFM. Be creative. Think laterally and use the damn phone. Don’t be scared of it. Email is okay but you don’t get the level of response that you do from a phone campaign. I’ve had so many experiences where I’ve had no reply from an email but then followed up on the phone and secured a meeting or a script request.
First Dating – email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want some more tips.
10-08-2004, 07:09 PM
Of you have LA rep(s) and a kickass genre-sample or two and a huge amount of buzz going in, so much so that the prodco is interested in you -- not the merely other way around. You have to bring something of obvious value (not just this specific project you want to pitch) to the table for a US prodco to have business-intrigue.
You've got negotiations for deals on other specs underway & simultaneously -- in other words even though you're overseas, the prodco would be interested in hearing your 'take' because they know that you're about to become the flava-of-the-month & they want to be in business with you while your quote is still low enough.
Or you have a film produced that does well in the US.
10-08-2004, 08:51 PM
My 2 cents:
A NZ writer who was attending a film festival in LA a few years back managed to score a pitch meeting with Miramax. Nothing came of it but it goes to show it is possible.
10-08-2004, 09:23 PM
"I've done this many times and then flown out to LA to meet with people. Last November I came out here and had 20 meetings in 5 days with prod. co's, studios and agents like William Morris."
I find this highly unlike, unless you already has a proven track record. Dude, unless you have a name or a referral, it's essentially impossible getting past the receptionist at a company like William Morris. You can only get repped there through industry referral.
I'm curious Kid, do you have any actual sales?
The importance of living in Los Angeles (or maybe secondarily New York) is that you can meet other people in the industry, get work or internships in the industry, etc. All of which may help put you in the position to successfully pitch and get a sale.
I agree with another poster, I basically don't see it happening from Utah. From London, if you were able to hook up with the LA talent agencies that have offices there and get refferals (or have a London producer who does business in Los Angeles) it might.
My contacts in the business generally come from internships I've had in LA and NYC. One was a work for hire I got from a query letter. Some others came from a submission that lead to referral to an agent.
I still had to meet with people either in LA or in NYC.
It's going to be much harder if you have to fly in from out of town. For one, do you have a job that you can so easily take off from? You could submit a script to a producer, not hear anything for months, and then get a call. When they get ready to role the ball they want to meet with you yesterday!
10-09-2004, 03:44 AM
You've missed the point. The point was not whether I've had a sale or not or whether I would be ready to attend a meeting on short notice. I was talking about whether it was possible to pitch Hollywood production companies from the UK.
I've done this many, many times by picking up the phone and just calling companies in the HCD. Sure I use some tricks, charm, embellishments etc but I managed to get past the assisitants and pitch heads of production and dev. execs even the producers themselves.
Justino. I met with William Morris because a top talent agent there loved the script that I'm writing/co-producing and wanted to send it out to WMA talent. She phoned me at home before I left for LA and we met at her office for about 45 minutes. I also had a meeting with CAA from a referral.
However, my original point was that even before I started producing I managed to pitch production companies on the phone from London (and subsequently meet them) as a no name writer.
Whether you believe me or not is your issue. I just don't want people outside LA to be convinced that Hollywood is a closed door to them. It's not.
10-09-2004, 05:47 PM
Since you won't answer me when I ask if you've closed any deals, I assume the answer is no.
Basically, if you wanted to do any other job in the film industry, what would you ultimately do? For starters, you'd move out to Los Angeles.
Screenwriting is the same. If you can reveal who you truly are and what deals you've closed, that will demonstrate what you say to out of towners.
Anyone can create any fairy tale and post it under a fake name on the internet. (such as arranging meetings with the William Morris with no connections, and no experience).
10-09-2004, 11:10 PM
I'm afraid yours is the 'fairy tale' scenario. Doesn't make much sense for a UK screenwriter to "move out to Los Angeles" without calling first, since we are prohibited from engaging in so much as a red cent's worth of gainful employment or 'productive activity' on the available visas.
How would you suggest prospective UK screenwriters best spend their time (i.e. their savings) when in LA? Making phone calls and posting scripts? Lounging at the Mondrian in lieu of an assistant job to 'network'?
I think the best way is to organise as much as you can first and take specific trips, exactly as KC describes.
10-10-2004, 03:46 AM
I've written a film that I'm also co-producing using international financing. A director and sales agent is attached and we have interest from one of the big three in repping the project on US distribution rights. We're currently out to three stars at the moment.
My meetings with the big three have not been with regards to lit. representation but to attach their talent to my film. I'm working with a producer who has his own relationships with the big three agents so when I called the agent's assistant my call was treated seriously. The agent called me back and being enthusiaistic about the script suggested a meeting to discuss attaching talent to the project. While in LA I had meetings with all the big three agencies and another smaller agency that reps established talent. My meetings with production companies were regarding co-production possibilities.
So, we're in the packaging phase at the moment and hopefully will go into pre-production by the end of this year or early next year.
I also had a number of pitch meetings with almost all of the big animation studios. All of these meetings I set up myself through a 2 week phone and email campaign prior to my trip. I have now a good link with the animation studios and I've recently submitted a couple of projects to Disney and Sony that I co-developed with another Done Deal board member.
I have projects currently under consideration at Dream Works Animation, Sony Animation and Disney Animation.
I was offered representation last year by a manager and a boutique agency but I decided to pass for the time being. Getting involved in producing expands the Rolodex enormously and gets you access which you wouldn't normally have as a writer.
However, as I mentioned in my earlier thread. Years before I decided to embark on the producer route I phoned up out of the blue, from London, (without having a clue about the business) Hollywood production companies and pitched a number of them on the phone and then, subsequently met with them in LA. At no point did anyone say, "hang on a minute, how did you get in my office? You mean to say you don't live in LA? Ge the fu#k outta here!".
Look I'm not saying this all came easy. Sometimes it involved chasing people down for weeks. Calling back, time and time again, but, by doing that you increase your chances of getting the agent or producer directly on the phone because his assistant is out to lunch etc. That's happened to me many times.
Re. The fairy tale thing. Sure, I could be a complete BS artist and until my project is on IMDB then I agree yes, I'm an unknown quantity. All I can say on that is that, via my own contacts at the studios and production companies, I've recently secured submission requests for another Done Deal member who's writing I admire. So at least one person on DD knows I'm for real ;-)
It is quite common for people outside of the US to pitch Hollywood companies and then fly in for meetings, and, so far, I've found producers and studios to be very open to this arrangement.
So again, to anyone who wants to pitch production companies from outside the US or LA for that matter I would say, yes, it is definitely possible, BUT, you have to hone up your phone skills and be prepared to make A LOT of calls.
I once phoned an agent twice a week for what seemed like a month and I couldn't get past the assistant. I kept on calling and one day she put me through to him and he said to me, "I admire your persistence" and asked me to fax him a synopsis of my project. It wasn't for him but he said I should send him the next project. So yes, you can pitch US prod. co's and agents but you have to be VERY persistent.
10-10-2004, 07:05 AM
I'm not quite sure why this thread digressed to a broadside on KC's qualifications, so all I will say is this: KC is the real deal and anyone of us here would benefit from his advice and expertise. I've followed KC's posts for a long time and he's always been positive and helpful, never unkind and negative. Sure, there are tons of bullpucky artists out there, but KC isn't one of them. And he can write too!
10-10-2004, 08:30 AM
"My meetings with the big three have not been with regards to lit. representation but to attach their talent to my film. I'm working with a producer who has his own relationships with the big three agents so when I called the agent's assistant my call was treated seriously. The agent called me back and being enthusiaistic about the script suggested a meeting to discuss attaching talent to the project. While in LA I had meetings with all the big three agencies and another smaller agency that reps established talent. My meetings with production companies were regarding co-production possibilities."
So as the producer of a partially funded film, you have a lot more clout than an out of town screenwriter would have.
Yes, independant film production companies in New York sometimes get distribution deals in Hollywood (it's still easier to get meetings and form working relationships if you are there) And Ditto for film companies from London, Vancouver, etc.
I'm not saying it's impossible for people out of Los Angeles to get deals. It is certainly possible.
However, an unknown, un repped writer who is not in LA (or even the US) is highly unlikely to set up a meeting at the William Morris Agency or ICM.
If you know any unknown, unrepped writers with no industry connections who have set up pitches with these agencies that have led to representation, please private message me and give me the person's telephone number. I'd really like to speak to them, because if they are that good then they should be able to hook me up at the William Morris.
10-10-2004, 10:14 AM
JustinoIV from the ABSOLUTEWRITE board:
If you know how to connect to the right people and impress them with good material, you'll do fine whether in LA or not.
You're a hypocrite, dood. If the Brit says he did it, why challenge him on it?
Hell, your posts are full of tall tales (and really bad advice) and we let you spin 'em. Can't you show others the same respect?
10-10-2004, 04:41 PM
I obviously mudded the waters with my William Morris example.
To the writer who wrote the original query i.e
"How can a UK scriptwriter like me pitch to a producer if that writer does not live in the States?"
Simple, you work out a concise, pithy pitch and deliver it with enthusiasm. You will have to make loads of calls (and return calls!) but if you are polite but persisitent you WILL get through to people and you WILL receive script requests.
I've done it many a time (before I developed one single contact in H'wood) which means YOU can also do it.
E J Pennypacker
10-11-2004, 04:54 PM
Jesus. As KC said. Phone. Email. HCD. They all get through to people in LA.
10-11-2004, 05:13 PM
This is so played out...
what you are missing is this -- IF you have a great a$$ kicking script it doesn't matter if you live in Timbuktu!
Dear God people, concentrate on writing. If & when your script sings, you'll find a manager, agent, prod co, whatever the hell it is you are looking for.
I personally know a UK unknown writer who has a pitch meeting in NYC.
One thing I learnt from experience is the UK and the US language trap! I had a character running around with a 'torch' and only after an American friend said it should really be a 'flashlight' did I realise. Made the scene WAY different!
Aside from the spelling differences (grey, gray, color, colour etc) which can be checked by changing the dictionary in your software to "US English" there are many words that have different meanings and little pop culture references that someone form the US may not get.
Before sending a script get an American friend to read it and point out anything that should be changed, I was suprised by some of the things that came up!
10-12-2004, 06:08 AM
I agree with Truly -- FOCUS on writing. SO much of what's talked about on these boards has nothing to do with writing and/or developing the craft of screenwriting. It's energy focus on the wrong things...things that don't matter and really pull people away from...well...writing...
10-13-2004, 11:27 AM
Sorry for the late reply, Freedating. I haven't checked this board in a while. Been busy writing.
So...how did I do it?
I've built several contacts through e-mail but the nice little wave I'm currently riding started last spring when I attended a two day animation seminar. I write feature animation scripts. I was the only writer out of 80-some animation students and a handful of professionals and producers.
I'd contacted one of these producers about a year before, after I'd found his production company web site with the company's e-mail address. I explained who I was and asked if they'd be willing to read a script. They said okay if I would sign a release form. Only problem, due to some mix up and a change of their office staff, I was never able to obtain the release.
I told this to the producer at the seminar and he agreed to take a copy of the script home with him. He e-mailed the release and I signed it and mailed it back. A week later he e-mailed with a long letter about the good and the weak points in the script. Okay, point. He found only one weak point in the whole script.
Anyway. He liked it, even though he didn't want to produce it. I sulked for a day then e-mailed my thanks. I also told him, based in part on his script notes, that it might be perfect for a certain studio. Did he have any suggestions about how I could get it to them?
He e-mailed back the next day. He had called the head of story at that studio. He gave me the number for his secretary and intructions to call. I did and we had a long chat about animation and story and dogs. We both like dogs. Then the script was in the mail along with another signed release form.
A month or two later I had a burst-of-lightning story idea based on an occupation peculiar to my area. I e-mailed the studio and the producer in the middle of the night (a nice thing about e-mail). I told them about the occupation and its story potential.
The phone rang off the hook all day while I was at work. They both wanted the script. Without knowing it, I'd had my first pitch session.
The studio eventually passed but the story is still under consideration with the producer. I have an open door with both and a good relationship.
The producer also referred me to an agent. My original script has been sitting on his desk, unread, for 6 months. I call him every so often and we have a nice chat about dogs.
Another way to make contacts is to volunteer at film festivals and conferences and chat with the visiting filmmakers. Just chat. Get to know them. Let them know you write. Ask them for advice on the craft but be gentle in asking them business questions. No one likes to feel exploited, like you're only talking to them so you can get ahead. Treat them with respect. Demonstrate your knowledge of their work and the craft of storytelling and they'll probably ask you about your work too. Then ask them if it's okay if you contact them. Get a card or contact number and have a business card ready to hand them. I made mine on my computer.
Then write an amazing script and put it in a drawer until you're able to see its flaws. Fix it and back in the drawer. Vet it through the best readers and writers you can find. Then and only then, contact the filmmaker.
If you can't afford the international call, try e-mail, then a letter, then sell some blood and make the call. Tell the assistant that you met so and so at the festival and he said he'd be willing to read a script. They'll tell you to have your agent send it. Tell them you don't have an agent, can you sign a release? Try to keep them on the line until they give in.
Write really well, treat everyone with the same kindness and respect you hope to receive and you'll be okay.
10-14-2004, 01:07 AM
"If the Brit says he did it, why challenge him on it?"
I love you too, Gill.:) :rollin I said if he was an unknown good enough to land meetings at the William Morris, ICM, and studios, I'd like him to hook me up.
That's not a challenge, is it?
If you'll reread my last post, I did indeed say it was possible for people outside of LA to get deals (I mentioned indie companies from NY and London getting distribution deals in LA). It happens.
What I did question was an unknown, unrepped person having a studio meeting. Or the cold calling leading to meetings at the William Morris.
But I maybe wrong. So I'll ask anyone here who is good enough to do that to hook me up.
That includes you, Gill. So enough with angry attitudes. It's time to make love, not war.:lol
10-14-2004, 10:20 AM
Getting a meeting at a studio or a big agency is not impossible for an unknown. It is improbable but not impossible. There are many inroads into the system. Hey, it's hard enough without excluding the word 'possible' from our vocabulary.
However, the thing to remember is that even if you manage to get a bunch of meetings most of them will lead to nothing. Hey, it's great to have lunch in the Paramount canteen but unless you get a deal it's just another free lunch. (Well, not that free if you've flown the Atlantic/Pacific to get there).
For an outsider, the 'death by encouragement' LA factor can be really misleading. You can be hyped up to hell for the time that you are there, going from meeting to meeting thinking that you've 'made it' because people LOVE your pitch, but, for one reason or another, you can find yourself sitting at home two months later with very little in your hand apart from more contacts in your Rolodex. Hollywood is definitely a tough nut to crack.
10-16-2004, 02:59 PM
I have a question and I think that some of you can help me:
I am Portuguese, I live in Portugal and I wrote a script in English. If I should ever try to sell this script to an American studio, do I have to register it in the U.S.A. Can I register the script in Portugal and send it to Hollywood? :o What do I have to do in this situation? I'm just curious...
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