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I am interested in finding out whether or not a contest is the best route to submit or is it finding an agent to present that first script in commercial circles? Who/What are the best contests in town?
Getting an agent can be a catch 22. You're not likely to sell much of anything until you get one but you're not likely to get a good agent until you sell something.
My writing partner and I just let go of our agent and we recently received an option offer from a production company. I found that having an agent at this stage of the game (unless you luck into a really high powered one) is almost a hindrance. Many of them don't want you marketing the script on your own, but unless you have a really, really hot property (which, lets not kid ourselves, folks, no script is a really hot property unless you have someone interested) or you have some credits, an agent is simply not going to "push" your work. You get what is proverbially known as the "hip pocket treatment." (Even they an agent may not like you doing any marketing, you still have to do it on your own because if you wait for them, you'll never make the kind of contacts you need to really succeed). Contacts, good ones, are everything in this business.
At this stage of the game, I would suggest trying a little bit of everything: Send queries to producers who will take them without an agent. You're not likely to make the big bucks here but you may get an option or two, some money and maybe even screen credits if it gets made. That can help you a lot.
Submit to a few contests. Some of "better" than others but I seem to like the ones where I can get some kind of "exposure" or win an option or representation. Many production companies and agents participate in contests and it's a good way to get noticed. (PS - if you do enter contests, just like with submitting to producers, if you don't win or place, don't feel bad as there could be many reasons why you didn't).
Also, get the WGA list and try to query some California agents and see what happens. You may be surprised if you have a good logline that they will read your script.
Mary Kay, thank you for your insight, I was thinking along those lines. Great minds think alike! I appreciate all the help and support that I can get, NOW to finish the screenplay, right? First things first as they say. But I agree that one must look out at the horizon a bit, marketing is usually the key to almost anything today and of course, it's who you know. Thanks again. Stay in touch. Maddy
Mary Kay does have great advice!
I don't remember if you're posted on writers script network. It's yet another way to go.
You want to tap into as many different types of marketing situations as you can (as an article posted on wsn notes)-- producers are one, contests another, agents another, personal contacts another (people you know in the business), conferences, posting sites (the main one and best being wsn), etc.
To break down producers into two categories that are accessible, you can cold query those who will accept such and then, for those who put out the call for a logline and synopsis directly query them.
The important thing about these queries is to track them (moviebytes is great for that) and to follow up, if rejected, with another query a month to sux weeks later (if you have the material).
Best of luck.
Oh, yes, rule of thumb: Never market until you have a completed screenplay.
Thanks for the great tips. I, too, am a new-ish screenwriter - just having completed a couple of scripts recently - and was wondering the best route to go. My writing partner and I are going to enter a few contests just to see if anything happens there, but I think we will take MK's advice of trying a little bit of everything also. That sounds like what anyone would do if looking for any kind of job; kind of a buffet style approach to success - a little of this, a little of that, easy on the heavy sauce . . .
Well, yes, it is one way to go. There are, of course, numerous paths. But you won't go anywhere unless you have some kind of "credential". So any kind of finish or recognition in a contest (semifinals, quarterfinals, honorable mention, winner) getrs you started. Plus it gives you some solid feedback and confidence. BUT (and as Pee Wee Herman once said, everyone has a big but)pick your contests carefully. That takes research. Pick ones in which you might actually have a chance.
and being on here will eat up some valuable time :) it does get addicting and one has to break the habit occassionally
The only think about contest credentials is that some people in Hollyood only care about them if they are from Nicholl, Austin, Sundance. To some, it opens some doors, but I have found that I've placed in contests with scripts I can't sell worth crap and I've not even placed in contests with scripts which have gained attention in the market.
What they look for in contests is sometimes a lot different than what a producer, director, manager or agent is looking for.
I am not saying don't enter contests but you can market successfully without ever winning one. In fact, before I had my last agent, I used to leave my contest credentials off my letter or only mention that we'd placed in some, but not give specifics.
The real trick to getting read is a good logline, a great synopsis and an iron ego (because it's going to get bashed right away).
I would add to Mary Kay's advise something that seems obvious, but is overlooked, at times, in the excitement following completion of a script--the most important part of the process, rewriting. Just because you've written FADE OUT, and THE END, doesn't mean the work is ready to be sent out; it is not, unless you're a genious or rewrite and edit yourself as you write, as Hemingway often did. Most writers work through the plot as they go and eventually end it, then go back and reread it, and invariably rework the plot-line and tighten everything. I strongly advise you to follow that tried-and-true method, as your work will only benefit from it and you end up usually with a much better product.
Good luck, and welcome to the world of writing, and to Moviebytes.
Forgive me. 'Genious' should have read 'genius.'
Greetings, Thanks all for your insightful thoughts and suggestions. I shall continue to read and write for ideas and knowledge that most of you have. I appreciate all the help. Thanks again. Madeline.
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