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So, I just got a copy. I've looked through it and a lot of companies say no solicitation or only through an agent and/or attorney. My questions are these:
(1) Is is safe to assume that if they don't say that, I can safely send them a query? (2) Should I do a mass mailing or take it a few companies at a time? (3) Should I stick to companies that have done high-budget sci-fi(that's what I have) or should I query any company? (4) Who is the best person, titlewise, to send the query.
Thanks in advance. Bobbette
I would pick out companies with credits in the appropriate genre as your screenplay. If they say no unsolicited submissions (screenplays and/or queries), I would probably skip those in your first round. However, sometimes companies might be intrigued by the logline enough to still request your screenplay with a signed release form. In fact, I think it's always good to end your query by stating that you're not currently represented, but you're happy to sign a release if they require one. I've had success with that. Oh, and one more thing: I would definitely not query any studios/networks. Based on my experience, they won't accept unsolicited submissions under any circumstances. If anything, you'll get your query back from their legal department with a note stating that it hasn't been read, etc. Good luck.
Oh, in terms of the person to send your query to, I would send to the development person if they have one. If not, go for someone in production (like a V.P. of Production). That's a hard call sometimes, but if they do accept queries, it will be forwarded to the right person. With that said, you should definitely use someone's name there in your query. Even if it's the wrong person, it's better than nothing.
I don't mean to ask the same question but I'm a little confused on the "We do not accept unsolicited material"
does that mean that you can't even send them a query letter?
I thought that "no unsolicited material" just meant that they didn't want you sending your script but it was ok to send a query letter and hopefully they would ask to see the synopsis or script.
should you just stay away from production companies that say "no unsolicited material"?
If so, how would I get a script to a certain production company that I think would match their genre. f they don't want unsolicited material?
"Material" is their way of saying they don't accept any unsolicited submissions period. It would probably be best to move on if they have that stated.
Thanks for the help Larry.
But I can't seem to get anywhere, whatsoever.
I've skipped the ones that say "no unsolicited submissions". (which is most of them) and have sent a lot of emails inquiring about how to submit a script but I haven't gotten one email back in over a week.
this is all really new to me. any advice on what I'm doing wrong?
I thought the hard part was spending 2 years writing a script :( I can't even get one person to read it.
Forgive my sarcasm, but welcome to the wonderful world of trying to sell your script! (As a writer who has published poetry previously, I could also say the world of publishing, though at least the publishing world will tell you "no".) The name of the game, though, is persistence, and if someone does reply and is interested, that's quite an accomplishment. In short, silent rejection is the norm...
That said, I found pitching to be the most rewarding approach to selling a script. Not that I've sold anything, but at least you feel as if you have a fighting chance - they are directly before you, they can't "delete" you, and some of my fondest memories of the process were based on responses from prod companies who liked the idea of my script but passed anyway (because their company's interest lies elsewhere).
Finally, I'll just say that, while writing the script itself may be a fraction of the effort needed to see it realized on the screen (sorry), it's much more fun and rewarding. Keep writing, and good luck!
If your writing with the soul purpose off makeing a buck, your in it for the wrong reason.
I've always been under the impression that "no unsolicited material" means no scripts, no queries, don't bug us. But I could be wrong.
I've been doing this for 10 years and I've found that in the past few years, I definitely spend many times more time "managing" my career than actually writing - submissions, postings on the web, updating my info on websites, emails to contacts, attending festivals, etc., etc. And yeah - it's a million times more difficult to get your script out there than to write it.
I hadn't done a query letter mailing in at least two years. Talk of queries at the Austin Film Festival in October got me thinking about doing it again because I had new scripts to pitch and had placed in many contests since the last time. I decided to only do email queries (it's easier and cheaper) and not synopses (I hate them). I used HCDonline ($20/month) and bought the Fade In Agency Guide ($55) - and ended up with a list of around 110 agents and managers. In the end, I got somewhere between 5 and 10 script requests (and some "not taking new clients" responses). This is comparable to the responses I've gotten in the past.
This time I got lucky, an agent who never reads queries or requests scripts had decided to look for one new client - my timing was right, she liked my frist script and requested two more, which she loved - and which happened to be the genre she was looking for (romantic comedies), and she signed me.
A few things: I was lucky and had good timing. But everything in the past 10 years led to this. I knew how to write a decent query from having written many before. I had several scripts (6) ready to go, not just one, and was able to give more when requested by the agent. I have 53 contest placements for my scripts and have won 5 film festival awards for my short films - this helped my query letter to stand out (and has helped my confidence). I attended the Austin Film Festival, which pushed me to try again with the queries, and also gave some good advice on writing query letters that I'd never thought of. I'm generally shy, but having attended festivals before and even having had Q&A's for my films, I've gotten used to networking, having fun, and pitching - which all helped at Austin.
So my advice is that all the things you do can add up and get you there. Don't think anything is wasted. These queries aren't a waste of time. This script isn't a waste of time. But yes, the bottom line - you also have to get very lucky.
When you wrote that you have "sent a lot of emails inquiring about how to submit a script but I haven't gotten one email back in over a week" are you asking them if you can submit your script, or are you sending them a logline.
Because a query is all about the logline. The shorter the query, the better. All they really care about is the logline.
When a company's stance is "no unsolicited material" there might be the unwritten addition "... unless the logline is f-ing amazing. Then I might take a peek." In general, it never hurts to try. Most likely, silence will be your answer. Oh well.
The way the interaction usually works is you shoot them a logline. If they're interested, they'll reply "sounds interesting. Send me a pdf." You hear nothing for several weeks. After some nagging, they send you the email that says "it was well-written, but it's just not for us. Good luck!" You say "thank you" and move on.
On rare occasion, they'll like it and want to see what else you have. Or they'll want to meet and discuss your future plans. Yay!
My advice is to compile your list of targets (the Big 5 agencies will not respond, you can try anyway, but don't hold your breath. When they say "no unsolicited material" they generally mean it). Then start sending out queries a handful at a time. 1 in 10 script requests seems like a decent bench mark. If you're not hitting that, rework your logline. Maybe delete all that excess info about how the script was written based on personal experience. And try again with a new batch.
The nice thing about e-queries is that there isn't much stress or waiting. If they don't reply within the hour, you're not likely to get a reply. If you don't hear anything by the end of the day or the week, your chances are really dim. But what's also nice is that such rejection doesn't mean anything. Your email might have popped up on their blackberry while they were in a meeting and they hit delete without even reading it. Retool and try again.
The key to the query is the logline. The logline is how Hollywood screens through the millions of screenplays out there to select the lucky ten thousand or so that will be read.
I just realized that I addressed that last post to Jonathan, but it was meant to be a universal post.
thank you very much, everyone, for your help. It's really great to have help on these boards. I think my log line is what's killing me, it's a character driven story so my logline is kinda...lackluster. I'll keep on truckin' though.
I agree - the key is definitely the logline. And the shorter of a query, the better. All I included was:
3 sentences about my awards the title, genre and logline my contact info
I only heard back within a few hours (both requests and "not taking new clients") from a handful of people. Most didn't reply, of course. But I did hear from many of them days later and even weeks later.
At the Austin Film Fest - many agents, mangers and producers were constantly saying "I never look at queries." But then it always seemed to be followed by "except this one time..." So if you happen to catch the right person at the right moment, and you have the right query, you could get lucky with the big agencies, producers.
For some reason the spacing got messed up. My query had:
3 sentences about my awards, the title, genre and logline, my contact info
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