Email queries waste of time?

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  • Email queries waste of time?

    Any suggestion for contacting a manager/agent? (Besides know someone who knows someone.) I've done personal query emails. Tried contests. On Inktip and subscribe to ISA, Moviebytes and Screenwriting Staffing. So far, nothing has worked.

    And I've had a movie produced.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    The response rate is low (it always has been, dating back to snail mail days), but people still manage to get reads. Bono is a member here who got a lot (20?) of requests with his last query. It's worth hunting for his posts about how he crafts his letters.

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    • #3
      E-mail queries are a HUGE waste of time, but they're still probably the best use of your time. I stopped entering contests years ago because placements did nothing in the way of getting me read.

      Sometimes you'll send out a hundred and get no responses. The next twenty you send out, you'll get four.

      Even with a good logline and query, results vary and are kind of random. On multiple occasions I've accidentally queried the same rep a week or two after them rejecting the query, then they requested my script the second time as if it was the first time I queried them.

      Just make sure your logline craft is up to par.

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      • #4
        There's an argument to be made, more strongly of late, that cold queries are a waste of time because writing anything on spec is likely of little or no interest to managers in the current marketplace. If nobody's buying, kind of doesn't matter what we're selling.

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        • #5
          I think what people are arguing is that specs by newcomers are unlikely to sell - rather they're samples to get other jobs. They're still necessary.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
            I think what people are arguing is that specs by newcomers are unlikely to sell - rather they're samples to get other jobs. They're still necessary.
            I guess I meant more that, at least pre-pandemic/ATA/agency consolidation, the conventional wisdom was managers were open to taking on new writers with an eye toward developing them into working writers and that would lead to work and representation by agents down the line, i.e., free work by the manager essentially until something sold or they got staffed. Whether that was actually true or not before, it feels like managers don't really see it as true anymore -- they're competing for the mid/entry-level writers that CAAWMEUTA wrote off after the ATA fight and who don't have $300m overall deals with a streamer. but that's just my impression

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            • #7
              Probably a lot of truth to that, but I go back to my old point that there are hundreds of new WGA members every year and they have to come from somewhere.

              Plus, new writers have two things those mid level writers don't have: they're cheap and they're shiny.

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              • #8
                no, it's not a waste of time.
                "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
                Hollywood producer

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                  no, it's not a waste of time.
                  Care to elaborate?

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                  • #10
                    If you send 400 queries, which takes what? An hour-ish of sending personalized emails? And you receive 25 read requests, how is that a waste of time?

                    If you don't deliver on your execution-- that's on you.

                    If it's not the right fit-- nothing you can do about it.

                    If it opens a door to future submissions-- it's a win-win.

                    If you do nothing, you gain nothing.
                    "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
                    Hollywood producer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                      If you send 400 queries, which takes what? An hour-ish of sending personalized emails? And you receive 25 read requests, how is that a waste of time?

                      If you don't deliver on your execution-- that's on you.

                      If it's not the right fit-- nothing you can do about it.

                      If it opens a door to future submissions-- it's a win-win.

                      If you do nothing, you gain nothing.
                      F4 is right. Querying will get you reads. But here's the thing: so what? I've been here many years now, and so many writers here have done all the right things--getting reads, getting reps and losing reps, placing in contests, writing script after script after script, getting high scores on the Black List, having scripts go wide--and at the end of the day, most of us are all still here with nothing to show for.

                      So to me the question isn't whether or not you'll get reads, it's more about thinking outside the box instead of trying the same thing over and over for decades, just hoping your latest script will be the ONE. Basically the very definition of insanity. Yes, yes, you can't succeed if you don't persist, yada yada. The point is maybe we should be changing our approach.

                      I'm not sure what outside the box looks like with screenplays (I'm currently doing it with a novel). For some it could mean shooting your own low budget indie. Or maybe shoot a series of 3-minute episodes. Or maybe hire actors to do a table read and put it up on youtube or on a podcast or what not. Maybe someone should start a podcast on which a new script is performed or read every week. Whatever it is, I would say do SOMETHING instead of passively waiting for something to change, when it hasn't in the last 10 years of your life. Even if nothing comes of it, you will have fun doing it.

                      Or get a job in the industry. I mean look at Beverly. Job at Netlflix, lives and breathes film/TV/ screenwriting, does a lot of networking, boom: got asked into the room in a fraction of the time many of us have been at this.

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                      • #12
                        If you don't have what someone wants to buy, make, represent or stand behind-- No approach will matter. Period. That's the reality check-- you have to have "it" and recognize that your story might not be "it."

                        So, no, not "so what." The goal is to get it READ by the right person. But first, it has to be well written. It has to be engaging. It has to be entertaining to someone.

                        It's not about doing the right thing, it's about doing EVERYTHING to get your script read by the right person when you don't know who the right person is.

                        Be willing to accept the fact that your script might not be what they want.

                        Even with minimal effort, if you write well and have a story that engages someone you will get interest. That's my personal experience. You will receive an option/purchase agreement.

                        The most difficult part of the entire process is writing the damn script.

                        So, my advice and feel free to ignore it, is do EVERYTHING in your power to get it read, because it you don't or can't no one else will.

                        Once the script is written the only next step is to GET IT READ.
                        2c
                        "Reserving rights to comment and make changes."
                        Hollywood producer

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by finalact4 View Post

                          Once the script is written the only next step is to GET IT READ.
                          2c
                          Right, what I'm saying is that it's not that hard to get your material read. And most of the time nothing comes of it, except for near misses if you're lucky. What I'm suggesting is that for people who write certain kinds of scripts (comedy, low budget), it might make sense to use a more DIY approach, rather than waiting for the official tastemakers to decide if your script is the flavor of the month. Even if someone chooses to go that route, they can still query to their heart's content at the same time.

                          Another approach might be to turn a script into a novel and self-publish it This could work well for genre fiction. Fantasy, for instance, usually means big budget for the screen and a strong reliance on popular IP, but it's a genre that sells really well in novel form. Not that it's easy to do that, but at least you're doing things on your own terms and getting your material out there in front of consumers. Which, after all, is the goal.

                          Some of these genre readers read several books a month and are always looking for new authors. You would have to try to stand out in a crowd of 50,000 other books in your genre on Amazon, granted, but again, if the established, imposed system is not working for someone, why not try something else?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                            If you send 400 queries, which takes what? An hour-ish of sending personalized emails? And you receive 25 read requests, how is that a waste of time?
                            ...
                            If it opens a door to future submissions-- it's a win-win.

                            If you do nothing, you gain nothing.
                            True, it may well open up the door (or provide a personal email from the response) to more queries, but, DUDE, an hour?! It takes me days to go through contact lists, looking for who may want what and pinging off personalised emails (using the C&V letter).

                            It's also true that giving up/doing nothing = writing for a hobby with no professional intention ever, so it's great you're optimistic, but the sending off of emails isn't ever going to work for the vast majority of writers - even those who are amazing writers with brilliant contact letters, and that's simply because the markets change far too often and, worse still, cinemas have taken a hammering due to streamers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Rantanplan View Post

                              Right, what I'm saying is that it's not that hard to get your material read. And most of the time nothing comes of it, except for near misses if you're lucky. What I'm suggesting is that for people who write certain kinds of scripts (comedy, low budget), it might make sense to use a more DIY approach [...] might be to turn a script into a novel and self-publish it This could work well for genre fiction. Fantasy, for instance, usually means big budget for the screen and a strong reliance on popular IP, but it's a genre that sells really well in novel form. Not that it's easy to do that, but at least you're doing things on your own terms and getting your material out there in front of consumers [...] You would have to try to stand out in a crowd of 50,000 other books in your genre on Amazon, granted [...]
                              Writers turn their works into comics and hope that they'll get made into films; writers turn their works into novels for the same reason (as well as to try to earn some cash from their labours), but it's still taking time and focus away from their screenplays!
                              If a writer loves comics, write comics! Love books? Write novels!

                              However, I really do agree with the DIY when it comes to comedy - or any other genre that can be made on the cheap. If one can learn or afford to hire an editor, it's probably very worth while trying to get a pre-trailer (pre-vis?) done. The idea of this is to sell the concept.

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