The State Of The Query 2021

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The State Of The Query 2021

    Hello, fellow screenwriting masochists. Just wondering how the agent/manager/producer email query process has been treating you lately?

    I am finding less and less success with this avenue in recent years, and wonder if anybody is having the same experience, or if it is in fact just me. Just getting started on my latest campaign with what I feel is pretty high-concept comedy feature, and so far...crickets.

    Does anyone actually respond to a blind query any more? Or is this just a fool's errand at this point? What say you?
    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 04-03-2021, 06:40 AM. Reason: Added tags

  • #2
    It will and always be crappy. That said I've had success with it. For a bit the agent and WGA fight made it much harder as managers were often now doing more work than ever... but now it should be getting back to normal which still stinks.

    You can PM me if you want but maybe it's the idea itself? If you are pitching a buddy cop movie in todays' climate I don't see many requests for that...

    Comment


    • #3
      I haven' queries in the past year, but prior to that it was less responsive as a percentage than in prior times, but there were responses from top managers looking for material. I've never has a single Agent return an email queries, and some of the big house manager turn you over to legal, so they can do their best to sound intimidating, which is stupid, of course, when they can just ignore you. I always have a good chuckle when that happens.

      It's like, seriously, dude, you received an email, not an envelop of Anthrax. The "delete" button is your friend.
      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

      Comment


      • #4
        I haven't sent out a query in the current climate. When I do, I'm going to try a few versions of what Craig Mazin advised in a podcast with John August:

        "If I were writing a spec script today I would not write a logline at all. I would make a trailer. And it wouldn’t even have to be a trailer of like I’m going out with my phone and I’m showing fake explosions. Maybe it’s just text. Maybe it’s a single scene with somebody reading it. I would just try and be creative. And then make people be interested.

        And then just say, here, read the first ten pages now. If I can get you to read ten pages that’s so much better than you reading a logline I can’t even explain.

        ... And don’t be afraid to be brash, to be ambitious, to be meta, to be sneaky about it. Because your logline if you are writing a traditional longline, well, it is competing against every other molecule of logline water in the ocean. And I don’t know how it could possibly stand up. I legitimately don’t understand how any of these loglines rise above any other since they are essentially empty advertisements for some reductive version of a story.

        So maybe there’s – what’s the anti-logline? What’s a weird logline? I’m going to give you three words and you’re going to have to read for the rest. Be creative. I mean, that’s what people are looking for. Are they not? I assume so."

        The sentenced I boldfaced is exactly what we're up against.

        Source:

        The rest of the discussion is about halfway through this link after they discuss other topics:

        https://johnaugust.com/2020/scriptno...ple-transcript
        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

        Comment


        • #5
          SC -- sounds like you are agreeing with my takes in other threads with this post....

          How do you line up Craig's advice above and in another thread say "that's like only talking about Negan on Walking Dead" in the logline...

          It seems you are taking both sides of the argument here....


          Comment


          • #6
            Bono: I'm considering the suggestion to not write a logline at all.

            Maybe send a storyboard of the first scene then attach a file with the first 10 pages.

            Or, a PowerPoint with photos and a synopsis of the first 10.

            Something to make you stand out from 100s of other email queries.

            Mazin has mentioned querying with the first 10 pages before. Because the first 10 make or break a script, anyway, the rep may as well take 10 minutes to read them.

            So -- no, IMO, Craig's advIce doesn't line up with what we discussed in the other thread which is a traditional log line.
            Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

            Comment


            • #7
              If you querying with first 10 pages -- attach them? No way. Cut and paste? No way. Craig is great, but he's wrong with that advice. He's right in trying something else to stand out.

              Which is writing a logline that catches people's attention not a traditional one.

              I'm blown away today by how much we are not seeing eye to eye. Oh well.

              Comment


              • #8
                Being creative could be a way in. It's smart, no denying.

                Craig Mazin is an amazing A-list writer, I don't know how many queries he receives, if any.

                Looking at this logically...

                If you attach a video pitch or trailer-- 99% of the time it will be deleted immediately. Managers and producers, especially ones in bigger firms CAN'T legally accept attachments. It's the same if you attached your script-- unsolicited. It gets immediately deleted. Some have software that quarantines your email-- you can't get past if your email is unrecognizable or has an attachment.

                And if you send a link, what're the chances a busy manager, who is looking for a reason to move on from your email, will click on your link WITHOUT any explanation as to whether they are even interested the type of material you are pitching?

                You'd still need to "write" something compelling to get them to WANT to click the link. That's the work a logline does.

                You will not get away with any attachments. Not on a query. Not without a manager or agent sending it in for you.

                Making a trailer is a great idea, but you also need a channel in which to deliver that trailer to a prospective buyer or representative you want to read your spec. His other advice is okay, too, but I'm not going to stop writing loglines and submitting them via email. You can rely on one way to get your material in people's hands. You have to try as many as possible.

                Imagine you're in an elevator and you happen to meet a producer, what're you going to say when he asks you "What are you working on?" You really think he's going to give you the time to whip out your phone and PLAY him something? No, he's not.

                Write the logline. You're going to need it as well as an elevator pitch.

                I completely agree with Bono.
                Last edited by finalact4; 04-03-2021, 02:57 PM.
                "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                Comment


                • #9
                  So I'm reading this and I think to myself: wasn't there a thread about a woman writer who did exactly what Craig advised? A woman featured on a August - Mazin podcast?

                  So I went looking for it and not only did I find it, but in the comments both Bono and FA4 gave the writer kudos for producing a radio version of her script that she can show people..

                  https://messageboard.donedealpro.com...anels-seminars
                  Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That's producing work though. Short film. Trailer. Indie. Audio podcast. Feature Film. A Play. That's taking your script and making something from it.

                    Sure you can add a link to something like that in a query -- but that's the part I agreed with. The trailer, finding new ways to stand out.

                    I disagreed about somehow showing them 10 pages or not using a logline at all. I think loglines are still very much in vogue for email queries.

                    My main point -- is that loglines don't have to hit all these marks people say -- what they have to do is make the person want to read your script. Or listen to your podcasts in the case above...

                    But the podcast is the query as it will lead to work hopefully...

                    We are going in circles. I hate these arguments.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                      So I'm reading this and I think to myself: wasn't there a thread about a woman writer who did exactly what Craig advised? A woman featured on a August - Mazin podcast?

                      So I went looking for it and not only did I find it, but in the comments both Bono and FA4 gave the writer kudos for producing a radio version of her script that she can show people..

                      https://messageboard.donedealpro.com...anels-seminars
                      What this writer did is no where close to what you said you were going to do...

                      Bono: I'm considering the suggestion to not write a logline at all.

                      Maybe send a storyboard of the first scene then attach a file with the first 10 pages.

                      Or, a PowerPoint with photos and a synopsis of the first 10.

                      Something to make you stand out from 100s of other email queries.
                      You're right about one thing... managers want your query letter to stand out. Attachments aren't the way.

                      You were talking about not writing lodlines for a query letter. This writer saved all the money she would have thrown away on contests and actually PRODUCED her own work... you said, "power point" and "first ten pages." Not at all the same.

                      I took one of my already-written pilots and adapted it for audio. Then, I hired actors and recorded it remotely over Zoom (modeled after how you, John, had me send you audio recorded on my computer for that show last year). I hired a composer to write original music, an artist to design a logo, and used YouTube to teach myself how to edit and process audio. And now I have an audio pilot up across podcasting platforms. Plus, it was such a fun experience that I wrote the remaining nine episodes of season 1 and we’re starting to record them this weekend!
                      Damn straight she deserves kudos. And when you do that, produce your own work, I'll give you kudos, too. Hell, I'll even buy a copy or donate to your fundraiser.

                      Now, if you want to go out and make a short of your spec and enter it into a festival, that can create a fantastic opportunity. If I had the funds to do that-- I would. Your chances are a 1,000 times better than a blind query.

                      I'm not saying don't make a trailer, I say go for it if you've got the money and resources. Storyboards? Great idea, too. I know writers that do pitch decks and look books. But you have query first. You have to generate a "solicitation." Every manager I have ever listened to, has always stated very clearly-- do not send attachments they get deleted immediately. You don't have to take my word for it, go to Scripts and Scribes website and listen to the podcasts of the top managers and agents yourself.

                      I'm curious what your query letter with your first ten pages attached is going to look like without a logline? Have you consider that? Without a logline?

                      And remember, Craig hasn't ever had to query. He gets actual face time in front of the buyers. He doesn't have to go through gatekeepers and I don't think he's ever had a manager. He's had an agent since the very beginning of he career.
                      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ok. So I won't attach a file.
                        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lots to mull over. Well, I'm not making a short. I already made a feature a decade ago and that didn't do the trick. Sounds like people agree though that it's about capturing attention somehow. Maybe a misdirectional subject line or something. "NUDE PHOTOS OF ABE VIGODA" or something. I dunno...

                          Originally posted by Bono View Post
                          You can PM me if you want but maybe it's the idea itself? If you are pitching a buddy cop movie in todays' climate I don't see many requests for that...
                          My logline is "A man's life is upended when he's accidentally replicated without his knowledge and his clone proves superior to him in every way." I've got plenty more email addresses still to send to, but I'm zero for about 50 so far. Ah well, ONWARD!!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That's a cool idea -- but my other buddy has a similar idea... there's that Michael Keaton movie... and a few others I've seen out now... a TV show on HBO Max... the issue may just be that simple. "Good idea, but that just sold and I can't sell it again." Or they have other clients that already pitched them that. Or worked on a similar spec 4 years ago and it didn't work out. It's too Sci-Fi for them. So many reasons that have nothing to do with you the writer... it sucks.

                            But Subject Line -- I've written before "Formerly Repped Writer.... " I've tried the trick of putting re: in it so it seems we talked before... I've done it all... try things...

                            Who clones him by the way? HIs girlfriend?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by muckraker View Post
                              Lots to mull over. Well, I'm not making a short. I already made a feature a decade ago and that didn't do the trick. Sounds like people agree though that it's about capturing attention somehow. Maybe a misdirectional subject line or something. "NUDE PHOTOS OF ABE VIGODA" or something. I dunno...
                              No. Don't try to play games especially with the word "nude" in it because your email could get quarantined-- never even reaching the intended target. Besides, if it does get through they might assume that's the title of your spec, then you've disappointed them with the ploy-- you risk irritating someone, too. I don't know, maybe think about that a little longer. You could also go on Twitter and hit Zaozirny, he's usually pretty responsive, because I could be wrong-- I just don't see that as a real way in. I know you may have been joking and you got me to smile.

                              My logline is "A man's life is upended when he's accidentally replicated without his knowledge and his clone proves superior to him in every way." I've got plenty more email addresses still to send to, but I'm zero for about 50 so far. Ah well, ONWARD!!!
                              Muckracker,
                              you actually have a great lead in for your subject line... Produced Writer with New Spec - Insert Title

                              The fact that you've produced your own spec is something unique about you and a great selling point.

                              That will get their attention. But you need to seriously consider your logline. It is not up to par with getting someone's interest as it's written. I'm not saying it's not a good spec or a great idea, but with what you have here doesn't show us the movie.

                              The idea that he's cloned is the hook. There was already a TV Series on Netflix (2019)with this exact same hook... titled LIVING WITH YOURSELF. I watched it and it was clever, but as a series, for me, it was too long. I think it could be a good thriller film.

                              https://www.imdb.com/video/vi2140454...tt_pv_vi_aiv_2

                              As I read your logline there are vital elements missing from your logline. To be CLEAR, I'm not saying this is missing from your STORY. You simply aren't communicating enough to see the story.

                              Protagonist: give us something interesting and unique about him (them). If his clone is better in every way, then what is your character's biggest flaw? Is he insecure around women or people in general? Does he have social anxiety and his clone puts his face out into the viral world of social media and suddenly this socially anxious person is forced to face their greatest flaw head on, or lose his entire life to his clone? What is it about your character that we will empathize with and want to follow his journey for 90+ minutes? Does he have the gumption to fight back against his clone.

                              Desire/Goal: what does your character want? What does he strive to achieve during the film? Does he try to get his old life back only to discover that he can transform into his new life and take over his clone's persona? Your main character has to want something. Even if it's to remain a reclusive savant-- give us something we can cheer him on for.

                              Antagonist: okay we assume that the his clone is the antagonist, right? So what does the antagonist do to prevent the original from achieving his goal? This reveals the conflict in the story and this is what drives the entire story. If you don't have conflict, you don't have a movie. And the clone has a goal, right? And this is what's really great about your concept-- they both want the same thing. To BE the only one standing as that character.

                              Stakes: you haven't given us the stakes of the film, because you haven't identified WHAT your protagonist WANTS. Once you identify what he wants and what stands in his way the "or else" will be clearer. I mean, if he fails to overcome his clone's popularity/talents, does he disappear into the mountains and become a hermit for the rest of his life? Or is this a "life or death" struggle. Does his clone have nefarious intensions? Is the clone ready to murder the original to survive? Will the original take it to the full conclusion of murdering his clone himself? If so, consider making it a "self-defense" move that way we don't have to despise our "hero."

                              Tone/Genre: This is the final piece that I think you need to communicate. Is this a comedy? Drama? Thriller? I can't tell. If it's a thriller, you can correct the tone with language/words that reveal dark intentions, like murder/death.

                              The final thing I would mention, is not to be afraid to reveal the actual story. You don't have to give away the end, or twist, but you do have to clearly define, and accurately represent your story, because that is WHY they will want to read it. I see so many writers say, "I don't want to give it away..." What they don't realize is that by hiding certain aspects they are actually killing their own opportunities. Don't be ambiguous, don't allude, don't be afraid to share WHAT your "specific" story is... because that's exactly why someone will want to read it.

                              Besides, if you write a compelling logline that is clear in these aspects, the person reading the logline will KNOW they are in the hands of an effective, professional writer. Not sure any of that helps.

                              Good luck,
                              FA4


                              "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X