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Old 07-20-2010, 07:42 PM   #61
JeffLowell
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

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Originally Posted by dirtbottle
What I DO know is that this all came about from a connection I made from the very first script I wrote in my career on which I got an offer for 10k v. 250,000 and I posted on this board back then looking for advice. I eventually turned the deal down like a complete asshat because I thought everything sold for a million bucks. Needless to say it set my career back by a few years
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Originally Posted by dirtbottle View Post
I'll also just ignore the fact that the SECOND CALL I EVER MADE TO A PRODUCER landed an 11k vs. 250k option without representation specifically because it's not a sale, and if it were it wouldn't be your personal experience so it wouldn't count anyway.
Are these different things?
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:17 PM   #62
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

I've never understood this either/or attitude. Do people have some kind of internet contract that only allows them a finite number of emails?

If you've got a particularly commercial idea or something easy to set up then focus on managers and agents first because they do prefer virgin scripts.

If they don't bite then query production companies. Unless you've somehow run out of your email allotment.

If you've written more indie or lower budget material I'd go ahead and query agents, managers and prodcos at the same time. IME managers haven't been too excited about the idea of making a 4k off my 40k from a non-WGA production company. But that credit and paycheck to me would be pretty nice.

And, at any rate, the whole distinction between managers and production companies feels a little vague to me. A management company set up a conference call with me last night and bingo, one of the producers is right there in the call. Last year two management companies were interested in one of my scripts and in both cases they wanted to produce it.

So, was I querying managers or was I querying producers?

Not that I have ANY problem with that. I'd be very happy to work with these guys, regardless of what their labeled.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:30 PM   #63
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

I think one of the problems, at least from when I cold queried a bunch of producers prior to having reps, was that it wasn't so much about whether the producer liked the idea or not, it was the potential legal issues behind accepting something outside the usual channels.

I had some responses, but no one was willing to accept a script from a source that wasn't reputable - i.e: some random writer on the internet. I even had one producer tell me he loved my logline, but couldn't do anything with it because his company only accepted scripts via managers and/or agents. So I personally felt it would make much more sense to just focus on gaining reps.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:39 PM   #64
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

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Originally Posted by Terrance Mulloy View Post
I think one of the problems, at least from when I cold queried a bunch of producers prior to having reps, was that it wasn't so much about whether the producer liked the idea or not, it was the potential legal issues behind accepting something outside the usual channels.

I had some responses, but no one was willing to accept a script from a source that wasn't reputable. Ie: some random writer on the internet. I even had one producer tell me he loved my logline, but couldn't do anything with it because his company only accepted scripts via managers and/or agents. So I figured it would make much more sense to just focus on gaining reps. Ironically, I'm now working with that same producer. In fact he replied to an email of mine just the other day.
I have a lawyer who submits on my behalf, so this hasn't been a problem for me. I just mention him on my queries.

Most producers in the US who request a script want me to send it via the lawyer, but UK producers always ask me to email the script direct.

As I haven't been able to secure an agent or manager as yet (other than hip pocket arrangements) going direct to producers is a valid option.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:50 PM   #65
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

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I have a lawyer who submits on my behalf, so this hasn't been a problem for me. I just mention him on my queries.

Most producers in the US who request a script want me to send it via the lawyer, but UK producers always ask me to email the script direct.

As I haven't been able to secure an agent or manager as yet (other than hip pocket arrangements) going direct to producers is a valid option.
I'm only basing my opinion on my own experiences. For the record - I never queried any UK or indie producers so that could be a whole different ball game for all I know. I was querying guys who had first look deals with major studios - which is probably why I never got that far.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:59 PM   #66
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

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Originally Posted by Terrance Mulloy View Post
I'm only basing my opinion on my own experiences. For the record - I never queried any UK or indie producers so that could be a whole different ball game for all I know. I was querying guys who had first look deals with major studios - which is probably why I never got that far.
UK producers, particularly, are very open to queries, though I agree the bigger companies in the US are trickier. Most of my queries to them have been fruitless, though I have had a few requests from people I expected would not respond, but tried anyway.

One guy I queried late on a Sunday night (LA time) replied as he had gone to office to find something saved on his assistant's computer and saw my email! He requested the script and then I met with him. Didn't come to anything, though, except for a very interesting experience.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:19 AM   #67
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

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Originally Posted by sppeterson View Post
I've never understood this either/or attitude. Do people have some kind of internet contract that only allows them a finite number of emails?
I didn't realize my argument was so nuanced. Query producers till the cows come home - I don't care and I never said not to. I said that in my opinion it's a waste of time. Sorta like playing the lottery. People do win so it's not impossible. But I would hope that isn't someone's plan for financial success.

I'm just trying to offer some practical advice.

Focus on your craft.

If your script is ready, you will not have any trouble getting an agent and/or manager.

Your scripts are ready for producers to see them when you can get repped.


I would think Dirtbottle should be able to attest to this.

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The reason I'm excited to have a manager is simple. If my writing were better I would've sold more scripts with the reads I've had. I need someone to help me be better as a writer so when the reads come they're not wasted on a script that wasn't ready.
It's not about getting read. It's about the script. A couple of years ago, Dirtbottle had a "6 figure deal on the table" and couldn't get a rep. There was a lot of speculation as to why he couldn't get signed - who knows why it didn't work out.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=41762

Flash forward two years, I assume his craft has improved and now he has a manager. Good for him.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=56259

Managers and agents are starved for great writing. So even if you write something small that an agent or manager loves, but believes they can't sell - you'll get repped. And maybe that small unsellable script will be a great writing sample that will land on the black list and lead to work. (In fact the black list was sorta started for this very reason.)

http://www.fastcompany.com/1667970/s...vie-never-made

The important part of all of that is truly great writing. Many people believe their script is great. But unless people in the industry think so, it doesn't matter what you think.

To cover all my bases, let me also say this. Just because you have a great script and get repped, it doesn't mean you'll sell your script.

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Originally Posted by sppeterson View Post
If you've got a particularly commercial idea or something easy to set up then focus on managers and agents first because they do prefer virgin scripts.
In this market, there is nothing easy to set up. Most professional writers understand specs should be thought of a sample that hopefully leads to work first. If it sells, it's the cherry on top.

Finally, to make sure I'm not misunderstood, I don't think someone should just rely on querying to get an agent or manager either. When it's time, let any person you have a relationship with read your script. If it's great, there's a chance that person will know someone who knows someone in the business and it will get passed around.

On the flip side, if you've queried agents and managers, but were unable to land representation - you've let everyone and their brother read your script and they haven't passed it to someone they know in the industry - instead of sending out hundreds and hundreds of emails to producers - maybe take that time to reevaluate if your script is ready. Does it hurt to email producers? No. But it's a hail mary pass.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:49 AM   #68
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

Great post MJP.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:48 PM   #69
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

One reason I recommend cold querying producers is that I made 12 thousand dollars doing so. It also gave me my first experience working with a company to develop a script, which made my later scripts better. And the producers set me up with an entertainment attorney who, despite me just being someone starting out, will work on 5% commission. He's looked over my contracts and helped negotiate them ever since.

The really big paycheck will likely come via a manager (acting as a producer), but I think most beginning writers would be pretty happy with 12k.

I've been outside of L.A. all through this process so far, so I think that makes it harder for me to land representation and do the more standard sample plus assignment process, thus I need to focus more on writing a spec that's commercial enough to pull me into L.A. in its wake. But I figure a fair number of DDers are in my boat.

Even my tiny produced writing assignments were got off a de facto producer query since a producer/director read one of my scripts off InkTip and we got along well enough that he brought me in to work on a few other projects. I've learned invaluable skills working with him and seeing how what I write on the page translates to the screen.

If I do land this manager off this script, I know it'll be in large part because of the skills I developed working with these producers.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:06 PM   #70
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Default Re: Cold Calling Production Companies--In Person

Sending query letters to production companies can work. I've had several requests for reads based off of query letters. By the way, it's very optimistic to think that if you write a great script you'll have no problem getting a manager or agent. I know professional writers who are staffed on shows who still can't get a manager or agent. Nutty right?
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