The "myth" of querying ?? Doo-Dah, Doo Dah.

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  • #46
    Querying is a double edged sword and both sides are blunt. For querying, most people query with the notion that something is going to stick which is a stupid move - always query to specific producers that seem to fit the genre that you are currently writing about.

    Glenn

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    • #47
      Just some quick thoughts.

      It's harder to ignore a phone call than it is a letter. Think of all the junk mail you throw away and view your query letter in the same fashion. While the person you are querying may be looking for material or new "voice", it's like anyone having to read business letters or junk mail. It's not fun. Phone calls are quick and it's harder to say no to a phone call. The downside is that you can piss off the person you are calling by pestering him or her. Another downside is that you can sound really stupid really quick rather than in a controlled query letter.

      Tom

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      • #48
        [email protected]

        --Zaps

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        • #49
          A Real Broad Generalization

          GIG, in response to your earlier post, I'd like to point out that I don't believe querying is a particularly effective way of getting into the business and, despite your generalization to the contrary, I am not a person "so far removed from the struggle to get in, [that I] do not remember what it was like -- or [a person] who did not have to make connections from scratch because they had some form of access starting out. "

          I had zero connections going in. I do not and have never lived in Los Angeles County in my lengthy television career. I started out much like many others. As an undergraduate, I made the long drive to Burbank, filled out an application, and got a job as a Story Ananlyst at NBC. From there, I eventually managed to parlay my growing work experience into a full-time writing career.

          I can write a query letter now that will get me through the door of most agencies. But the reason my query would work at this point is because I can refer to people and companies I have worked for that are mutually known to me and the prospective agent.

          This is a collaborative business, a business of relationships. And the vast majority of people I have met would far prefer to work with people who are known to them - or known to people who are known to them - than with people who aren't. ( I realize that I too am generalizing, but I think it's an equally valid generalization)

          I humbly submit that your own query letters were infinitely more compelling than others because you had some relevant work experience (relationships) to mention in them.

          By that point, I think a simple phone call would have sufficed just as well, if not better.

          Obviously, a query letter is better than nothing. But I hate to see aspiring writers who believe that these are the only two choices.

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          • #50
            An anecdote...

            Perhaps this may prove illustrative, and it tangentially pertains to GIG:

            I first met GIG while an agent at a small boutique. One of my young writing clients (who is now doing quite well) asked me to meet her. But this story is really about how I managed to land that young writing client (feel free to chime in, GIG). I was an assistant at UTA (way back in 1992) when my boss handed me a letter from a client of his asking him to read "Jeff's" spec script (TV). I read it and told him it was good, but he wasn't in the mood to (or in need of) signing any new, unproduced clients. I kept in touch with "Jeff" and signed him as my first client when I left UTA to become an agent at this boutique. Together, after much blood, sweat and tears, we got an offer on a short-lived sitcom where he met Sam Simon and Bruce Helford. They loved him, and the rest is history (reference Bruce's amazing success rate since then - "Drew Carey" and "Norm").

            That's how it happened for one wannabe. You see, dreams do come true. But remember, "Jeff" wrote about 15 specs before he got that first job. He worked hard, and it payed off.

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            • #51

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              • #52
                Couldn't agree more

                Wyo, I'm glad you said what you did about small agencies/writers.

                I have heard of bad agents at big and small agencies alike. And while some of the smaller agencies are considered tops at what they do, they sign new talent more or less as often as the big agencies. Remember, the smaller agencies are typically started by veteran agents who have clients they know they can count on. They aren't necessarily more likely to take on new writers since they don't always have the manpower to do the extra coverage.

                After several years of bad representation and trying to make sense of it all, I am finally in a situation I am very pleased with. I have a manager at a small firm which specializes in comedy, and an 800 lb gorilla of an agent at a well-known midsize agency.

                Go to the agency you think will represent you best. It's the individuals who represent you that matter, not the size of the agency.

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                • #53
                  Re: Couldn't agree more

                  Hey, thanks to the new and newish voices who have contributed to the query part of this thread and the related subject of agencies. Hope you all stick around and toss around your stories and insights. Sure is beneficial to those of us who know we're out here thrashing around in the dark.

                  Wyo - cabin in the wilds? Need a live-in junior writing partner? (Well, in the summer that is.)

                  lilybet

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                  • #54
                    Re: Wyo

                    Wyo,

                    Recovered fiction writer, eh? :-)

                    When I started writing, it was fiction too. Jeez, I didn't _see_ films then! I was New York Review of Books-snobbish and held any medium other than the printed page in drastically low regard. I wrote about 800,000 words of fiction -- three novels (one 300,000 words), a novella, and a rash of short stories. Studied fiction, too, under pretty well-regarded fiction writers. But I now think the screen is a better medium.

                    Still, I think it pays very well indeed to study the purer form of fiction, for you can see it pretty clearly in someone's writing if they've studied writing itself formally. I'm astounded every time I pick up a produced script by how mediocre most professional screenwriters are at the physical act of writing.

                    But -- they're produced and they're making money, so who has won in the end? An aesthete living in poverty in the Village, publishing in Ploughshares and the Paris Review? Or a small-minded vulgarian putting words together by the skin of his teeth in Hollywood, living in a million-dollar home in the Hills?

                    Give me the house in the Hills!

                    Anyways, sometimes the tone of one's writing is lost on readers, whether it's the writer's fault or the reader's.

                    My tone in calling for the small writers to stay at the small agencies was, plainly, I think, ironic, especially considering that I made it clear I've never made a dime on screenwriting. (Maybe Ploughshares readers would have observed the tone. Oh, well. I still want my house in the Hills!)

                    Wyo, are you doing re-write work on films, or selling scripts? And where in Wyoming were you? I was in Jackson three years ago, and I've got two thoughts: I'm not sure I've seen a more majestic place in my travels; and I'd sure like to give all those Hollywood types plaguing the area their walking papers!

                    --Zaps

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                    • #55
                      Re: Zaps - Tone

                      Yeah, yeah, the same thing has happened to several us. I think the problem is (other than normal communication problems), too many people have been in and out of here saying things like that seriously. Including your "letter." Many things I would have once had a hearty laugh over, I just don't know anymore. Unless it's someone who's been around long enough for me to have a handle on.

                      I've pretty much stopped with the irony and tongue and cheek stuff. Too many people misinterpreted and I ended up starting "stuff" I was totally mystified by. Then you have to do the expaining ... and on and on. I can't cut it out completely -- too ingrained.

                      Another ex-snob, eh? Yeah, been taken to task for that, too, when I was laughing at myself.

                      lil

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                      • #56
                        Re: Zaps - Tone

                        <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> Another ex-snob, eh? <!--EZCODE BOLD END-->



                        Ex?

                        I still am a snob! Just no more Daedalus and Foreign Affairs!

                        Now, F. Truffaut and J.L. Godard!

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                        • #57
                          Lil

                          First rule of screenwriting: never ever explain yourself.

                          Second rule of screenwriting: f*** 'em if they can't take a joke.

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                          • #58
                            Re: Lil

                            Walter,

                            You're absolutely right. Problem is I have that "womanly side" and don't enjoy hurting people's feelings or "one-upping" someone who ain't playing on the same level -- unless they're an arrogant a**. Then it isn't the same, just annoying.

                            lil

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                            • #59
                              Re: An anecdote...

                              "Jeff" is a good example of someone who pounded out query letters and made his initial contacts that way. He wrote letters by the hundreds and is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen. We were breaking in at the same time and every time I would sit back and think, There I worked hard, he would pace me and I would think, Damn, I have to work harder to keep up with "Jeff." There was never any doubt, watching that guy go, he was going to make it. And he did. (smile)

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