View Full Version : Querying agents about TV material

March Or Die
08-23-2004, 05:18 PM
Hi all,

I’m a new writer looking for representation. My initial plan was to look for TV work while I finish my first feature script. To that end, I’ve written two spec samples (for prime-time TV dramas). I also have some nonfiction publication credits (trade press, but still paid). My resume is basic business professional, but I have no entertainment industry experience.

That said, when I query agents with my TV samples:

Should my initial query package contain just a letter? Or should I throw in my bio/pub sheet? How about synopses of either or both of my spec scripts?

My gut is that the query letter itself can't read like a film query, with the hook first ("Dear Agent, An alien mutant clone tracks down Jack Bauer inside Fort Knox..."). Do I play it straight and boring by saying I want a rep, will write anything, and here's a script summary? And do I avoid the phrase "staff job"?

Also, should the 1-paragraph summaries of my specs be teases (describing the story but hiding the specific outcome), or tell-alls? My first instinct is to tease in order to pique interest, but I'm not sure if it will arouse or merely irritate.

Similarly, should my 1-page synopses be teases or tell-alls?

Finally, are agents and execs like consumers, where the advertising maxim is that they don't respond until they've been exposed to the product between 3 and 7 times? I'm comfortable sending out different query packages if it's a war of attrition, but if I get only one shot at the TV apple, I want to get it right.

Many questions, based on much ignorance. Any feedback will be helpful.

08-23-2004, 09:29 PM
your letter should be about selling yourself as a writer. I would not recommend including teases or synopsis of your scripts and especially not the scripts themselves.

Say who you are - what you've accomplished, what specs you've written. Chances are that you will get ignored.

This business is also seasonally sensitive. This is pitch season so agents are focused on the clients they can send out with new shows to pitch. Once fall season starts it's more about it's about mid-season staffing (few jobs) and perhaps some-freelance work for their clients, and also year round cable programming.

Staffing will being in March of next year, so you definitely want to push to get read in January as agents look to sign new clients for the upcoming staffing season.

That's what I know and it may not all be right as I'm new to TV this year. When you go after agents, at this stage it's really their assistants who you are trying to win in your follow up calls, because they are the ones who will read you first and recommend you to their bosses.

08-24-2004, 11:25 AM
Different agents usually handle TV and features. Don't expect to get a TV writing job as a quick temporary throw-away thing -- people work years to get these jobs, and don't always succeed even if they are talented. There are way too many people trying to do the same thing. Getting a job as an assistant may help, as a lot of them go up through the ranks. Your two choices are to be around the set so they get to know you, or pitch a great story that gets someone interested enough to want to read it.

If you're going the latter route, winning them over with your TV script really is no different than winning them over with your feature. Your script has to sound more intriguing than everybody else's. Pitch the script (not a tease, let them understand the story so they can judge whether you really know how to do this.) Mention you are a published writer to give yourself a little more credibility, but they won't want to see your list of publications or a bio. They just want evidence, in one page or less, that reading your script won't be a waste of time.

Don't bother saying you'll write anything or that you want a staff job. You and everybody else. They want to find exceptional talent. Talent isn't going to be evident to them one way or the other in your thin bio, but that won't necessarily matter. Talent is evident in a script, and in a query letter that makes them want to read your script.

March Or Die
08-30-2004, 01:25 PM
Thanks for the input, folks. Looks like the less they have to read and think, the better off you are. But hey, if it means less paper consumed, it can't be all bad...

08-31-2004, 04:07 PM
good stuff. funny, really. you should try your hand at comedy.

09-06-2004, 12:27 PM
You could post a one page pitch on www.tvwritersvault.com/ (http://www.tvwritersvault.com/)
I only got 5 reviews on my silly story, and only one was a
name I could recognize - Turner Broadcasting!
Cost you $40.

Good luck,