Love you guys! Thank you for your contributions to this site and my daily writing life. I am fortunate to get tons of email from Cat! readers and I am very happy to answer it all. I asked one writer if it was okay to share his question and my answer and was given the go-ahead — it’s about getting an agent…
“It seems very difficult,” Dennis Orris wrote me, “to find an agent or agency to even look at one of my scripts. Other than query letters and phone calls is there any other way to find someone to represent me?”
Thank you for this question, Dennis. I say this to writers all the time, and will address it in future, but believe it or not, finding an agent is not the most important thing on your to-do list. The most important thing is writing a great screenplay. If you build it, they will come — and that’s a fact. But let’s say you have your script in hand, it’s vetted, you know it’s great, and you’re ready to begin marketing it. What then?
1. I do recommend query letters and email queries. They work. But if you are not getting 4-10 responses for every 100 email or query letter you send — it’s not the agent, it’s your pitch! Either your idea is a non-starter or the way you’re telling it is; this is one reason I am so big on this blog about logline exercises.
2. Seek a manager instead of an agent. A manager is very often what I call a “stealth producer.” In addition to representing you, he or she wants to be attached to your project, which adds to their interest. I think looking for a manager first is a great plan. We are seeking “partners,” and the right manager can be a helpful one.
3. Managers can help you seek other “attachments” that will help get your movie made, though you can seek these too: talent, financing, directors, special effects packages. All these add-ons to a project will give it more momentum so someone will more likely want to join…. because no one likes to “go first.”
4. Short film, trailer, poster, pr campaign — if there is an element in your script that might lend itself to building some buzz, by all means try it. Can you create separate products, fan sites, or a YouTube short that will build curiosity? Can you, if yours is a true story, query newspapers and magazines to write a non-fiction piece about your subject to create interest? Perhaps even posting a teaser — 10 pages of your script — on your home site or writers group page — I still get inquiries from my screenplayers.net page.
5. Other routes like contests, film festivals, etc. are also good if easy or enjoyable for you. I recommend the Final Draft contest, the Nicholls Fellowship, and many of the Pitchfests including The Great American Pitchfest and Screenwriting Expo– but don’t go expecting them to whip out their checkbook and buy your script on the spot; this is about building contacts and resources beyond just today.
And of course I also recommend networking in our Save the Cat! Writers Groups, on our Forum, and taking a workshop or online class. It’s who you know — so know somebody! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
p.s. And speaking of Cat! success stories, Bob DeRosa has an item on the front page Variety about the attaching of Ashton Kutcher to his comedy, Five Killers. Check our News archives for info. Also Cat! alum, Brian Edgar, is on page 2 with news that his historic epic, 1066, sold. Congrats guys!
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