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Old 06-24-2019, 05:46 PM   #11
JoeNYC
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Default Re: Querying studios

The top three advice that I could offer a new writer would be the following:

1. Write.
2. Study the craft.
3. Patience.

Jeff Lowell says, why not take a shot in sending a query to a studio executive.

I get his point. It costs nothing and the worst that could happen is that they ignore and delete, but if the writer gets lucky and catches a studio executive on a good day, where he's feeling generous, he just may read the query and request the script, though, in my opinion, I believe a studio is not gonna consider a query from an unproven writer. Are there exceptions? I've never heard of one.

A query by a writer may not be a waste of his time and energy, but to a busy studio executive -- they are. A studio wants scripts that are vetted, and they wouldn't mind if the script came with some winnable attachments.

The people that do the vetting for the studios are managers, agents and producers. These people make sure a writer's script is strong before they take it to a studio.

I suggest for a writer to go through this process, making their script strong and working along with these professionals, planning and marketing which studio, or studios to present his script.
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Old 06-25-2019, 08:29 AM   #12
Bono
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Default Re: Querying studios

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffLowell View Post
I don't think any query is wasted if you're trying to break in. Sure, prioritize, but why not take a shot everywhere? If some studio exec loves your script, they can easily help you get a manager or agent.

I queried literally thousands of people when I was trying to break in, and the path that got me in was so circuitous... I sent a query to a mid-level producer on a TV show, which was already dumb if you go by conventional wisdom - he didn't have the power to hire me, I didn't come in through an agent, everyone says shows won't read writers because they're afraid of getting sued...

He read it and liked it. He sent it to his agent. His agent's assistant read it and liked it. The agent himself read it and passed on me. Six months later, the assistant got hired as an agent at another agency. He remembered my script and signed me.

He never got me a job, but while he was trying, he had a party with all his clients, and I met another writer who worked as a writer's assistant. She got offered a WA job on a show, but couldn't take it because she was working. She lied and said I knew how to be a writer's asssitant, then trained me how to do the job in an afternoon. I got that job.

I was promised a script on the show, but the show got canceled before I got it. Another writer on the show got offered two jobs. He told the show that he passed on to read me. That show did and offered me a job.

Long story short: run down every lead. A lot of people who couldn't help me passed my script along to people who could.
Love to hear these anecdotes about how real writers actually broke inside Hollywood. Usually this is the part they skip on podcast and in interviews... "so I wrote a script and I got an agent..." but it's that part in between that the writers like me and others want to know.

Thanks, Jeff. And yes querying everyone.

My first break into the industry was when I queried a big time producer of a movie I loved and he "optioned" my script like 3 hours after sending him the script on a Sunday after he said yes to a query. We never got paid that $1000 dollars FYI, but his name alone opened doors and still feel validated by him loving the script.

So I could query with Please read my script, which was optioned by Producer X and that lead to first managers... of course that script eventually went out and "almost" sold but didn't... it's a terrible and awesome business. But 5% the other way and this would be a story that others would be inspired by. Still you need to send out the query to get a "yes." It's always a "no" if you never ask.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Querying studios

Gucci and Joe, you both mention attachments - no one's getting attachments without an agent or manager, and if you have an agent or manager, you don't need to be querying studios directly.

Attachments to specs are actually incredibly rare, not a normal path to doing business. Meaningful stars don't like to attach to projects that aren't sold - why risk gathering a "no," when they can just pick a script that's getting made, or go sell one that they're producing?

I'm saying that if you're not a writer who already has a meaningful rep, I don't know why you'd pass up any shot at getting in.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:37 AM   #14
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Default Re: Querying studios

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffLowell View Post
Gucci and Joe, you both mention attachments - no one's getting attachments without an agent or manager, and if you have an agent or manager, you don't need to be querying studios directly.

Attachments to specs are actually incredibly rare, not a normal path to doing business. Meaningful stars don't like to attach to projects that aren't sold - why risk gathering a "no," when they can just pick a script that's getting made, or go sell one that they're producing?

I'm saying that if you're not a writer who already has a meaningful rep, I don't know why you'd pass up any shot at getting in.
Hi Jeff,

Not sure I fully understand your response, seeing as I agree. What exactly do you think we're at odds about? You disagree that an unrepped writer's best strategy is to target reps and have them walk it around? Not completely following.
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: Querying studios

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Originally Posted by JeffLowell View Post
Gucci and Joe, you both mention attachments - no one's getting attachments without an agent or manager, and if you have an agent or manager, you don't need to be querying studios directly.
Exactly.

This was the point of my post to new writers. Query agents, managers, producers, not major studios. I believe taking this road is more practical and effective to achieving a writer's goal of becoming a working professional. Listening to these professionals on how to make your script strong, and then listen to them on what they feel is the best strategy on how to market/approach the major studios.

I know what you, general writer, is thinking: Hey dude, my script's great. It won in a big contest; my university professor said it's great; my fellow university students and peers say it's great, so why not shoot a query straight to the big guys (major studios)?

I know this type of attitude is out there, so this is why I listed my top 3 screenwriting advice to writers. Number 3 is important: patience.

Everything in that "Hey dude, my script's great" paragraph is not a made up hypothetical. That's a true story. A writer thought his script was great. He got a manager and thought it would be sent right out to sell, but the manager told him, "The script's good, but it's not great. It needs work before we approach studios."

Needless to say, hearing this the writer was devastated, considering all the accolades that he had gotten from contests, professors and peers.

The writer admitted that after implementing notes from the manager and rewriting and rewriting and more rewriting the script became better and stronger, where now it was ready to go to studios. It sold.

These professionals know the market and what they want. They know how to improve a script. Be patient. Don't rush to send queries to major studios when you're not ready. Seek representation, first. Or, a producer.

There is no screenwriting law that says you're not allowed to send a query to major studios, but -- I'm just saying...
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:27 PM   #16
GucciGhostXXX
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Default Re: Querying studios

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
Exactly.

This was the point of my post to new writers. Query agents, managers, producers, not major studios. I believe taking this road is more practical and effective to achieving a writer's goal of becoming a working professional. Listening to these professionals on how to make your script strong, and then listen to them on what they feel is the best strategy on how to market/approach the major studios.

I know what you, general writer, is thinking: Hey dude, my script's great. It won in a big contest; my university professor said it's great; my fellow university students and peers say it's great, so why not shoot a query straight to the big guys (major studios)?

I know this type of attitude is out there, so this is why I listed my top 3 screenwriting advice to writers. Number 3 is important: patience.

Everything in that "Hey dude, my script's great" paragraph is not a made up hypothetical. That's a true story. A writer thought his script was great. He got a manager and thought it would be sent right out to sell, but the manager told him, "The script's good, but it's not great. It needs work before we approach studios."

Needless to say, hearing this the writer was devastated, considering all the accolades that he had gotten from contests, professors and peers.

The writer admitted that after implementing notes from the manager and rewriting and rewriting and more rewriting the script became better and stronger, where now it was ready to go to studios. It sold.

These professionals know the market and what they want. They know how to improve a script. Be patient. Don't rush to send queries to major studios when you're not ready. Seek representation, first. Or, a producer.

There is no screenwriting law that says you're not allowed to send a query to major studios, but -- I'm just saying...

I agree with Joe. Jeff, you do not? Seem standard fare to me. Either the new writer querying studios is a genius with GIANT BALLS or is delusional, likely delusional.

Let's say I just finished all 'my' rewrites but my rep hasn't seen it and I was at a party and met a studio exec who was like "Yo, whatcha working on?" I'd tell them, soft pitch, the 60 second pitch. My intent would be to merely prime them to be like "Sounds cool. Send it over when it's ready" (then get 'em drunk and have a good time, so they were like, yeah, dude's cool! I'll remember him.), so that later I could tell my reps: Yeah, got fukked up with so and so exec, they're expecting the script when it's ready. If the studio exec, instead, said "Cool. Send it tomorrow!" HELL NO! I ain't that confident. I've never had a script/bible not face notes from the rep. Never had a rep read it and say "Cool. Perfect. Let's go out with it as is." Has anyone else?

God knows these people are passing on almost everything in this climate. I'd want my material battle tested via manager/agent/producer. As many eyes on it as possible before it was an official submission. I mean, it's gonna mean way more to a studio exec if say, Jermey Kleiner walks it in vs me.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:52 PM   #17
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Default Re: Querying studios

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
...this is why I listed my top 3 screenwriting advice to writers. Number 3 is important: patience...
Yep, I noticed #3 the first time you listed it. I agree completely.

Every time I look at one of my scripts, I see slight improvements.

That happened the first 4-5 times I read it, after reaching THE END, and before doing an initial pitch.

It has happened every year since, when I do polishes.

It will continue to happen, till I finally get rid of the thing $$$.

We strive for perfection, so it makes sense. Yet, neither will perfection ever be achieved.

However, my scripts (and probably everyone else's) was good after Draft #1. Much better after Draft #10. And even better yet after Draft #15.

Thus, "patience". If you do send it out after #5 or #10, just remember that every pass is merely an opportunity to make the script even more perfect for the next recipient. Those recipients may be harder and harder to get, but that's why you never give up trying.

(But then, I'm a writer who never gives up on his older stuff; I think that's an important factor in the above analysis.)
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Old 06-25-2019, 07:32 PM   #18
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Default Re: Querying studios

fart.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:27 PM   #19
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Default Re: Querying studios

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
The writer admitted that after implementing notes from the manager and rewriting and rewriting and more rewriting the script became better and stronger, where now it was ready to go to studios. It sold.

These professionals know the market and what they want. They know how to improve a script. Be patient. Don't rush to send queries to major studios when you're not ready. Seek representation, first. Or, a producer.
I disagree with this advice in the strongest possible terms. I'm not sure how many managers you know, but in my experience, the idea that any given manager "know[s] the market and what they want" is, frankly, hilarious.

Managers definitely make confident-sounding pronouncements about "the market," but I don't think their accuracy, as a whole, is much better than random chance.

For every writer who's rewritten a script for a manager, made it better, and sold the script, I'd guess there are 100 who rewrote scripts for managers, made them worse or just different, spun their wheels, and wasted tons of time.

Look: if a manager has great notes, fantastic! Take the notes! (And if your janitor has great notes, fantastic! Takes the notes!) But do not waste your time doing rewrites predicated on the notion that managers are "professionals" who "know the market" (or on the poignantly funny notion that "they know how to improve a script"). That way misery lies.
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:21 PM   #20
GucciGhostXXX
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I disagree with this advice in the strongest possible terms. I'm not sure how many managers you know, but in my experience, the idea that any given manager "know[s] the market and what they want" is, frankly, hilarious.

Managers definitely make confident-sounding pronouncements about "the market," but I don't think their accuracy, as a whole, is much better than random chance.

For every writer who's rewritten a script for a manager, made it better, and sold the script, I'd guess there are 100 who rewrote scripts for managers, made them worse or just different, spun their wheels, and wasted tons of time.

Look: if a manager has great notes, fantastic! Take the notes! (And if your janitor has great notes, fantastic! Takes the notes!) But do not waste your time doing rewrites predicated on the notion that managers are "professionals" who "know the market" (or on the poignantly funny notion that "they know how to improve a script"). That way misery lies.
But... at least you got the notes to decide if you agree with them [manager], no? What I'm missing?

Having said that, yeah, whatevez, I think if you have the balls to "KNOW!" your shiz is perfect as is, I guess go for it. Just, odds are it ain't. No?

I'm WAAAAY less confident than I used to be... (don't listen to me, new writer. I don't trust this town. Not joking. I don't get it.)
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