How the @#$! do you get studios and agents to read your scripts anyway?!

The gang over at Script Shark has some answers:

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Q: What’s the biggest hurdle new writers face in the industry?
Analyst:  In general, the biggest hurdle we writers face, and new writers in particular, is to understand just how much impact the “business” of filmmaking has on our work. Every production company, every studio, every star has AMAZING scripts just sitting around gathering dust because in one way or another, the “business” halted the project. If I had a nickel for every writer tantrum I’ve witnessed over the years because of this lack of understanding, I could finance every last one of your scripts. And I’d gladly do so!

Smart writers, rather than wasting precious time and energy rebelling against the long, sticky fingers of The Business, recognize it for what it is – a set given of circumstances – and soldier on, putting things into perspective. A.K.A., knowing what you can and can’t control or influence.

This sounds bleak only to those who won’t acknowledge reality. For everyone else, it’s an opportunity to understand the ground rules and leverage them to their own advantage. If you aren’t willing to cut that character the studio thinks is totally unnecessary, another writer sure as heck will. Ultimately, we all have to decide where our “line in the sand” is, but, to mix metaphors, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

This was a great question and I hope that it sparks writers to learn more about the business, how our “cog” fits into the larger “machine” and how we can more effectively craft our own careers. Because as we all know, success is not our agent’s, manager’s, producer’s or studio executive’s responsibility, but our own.

Q: What is the best way for an aspiring writer to get their scripts read by the professional movie studios? I know of Inktip.com that writers are able to upload their scripts to let movie companies read scripts by new writers. Is this website a good place to start?
Analyst: Let’s first dispel the myth that there’s a “best” way to get your script into the hands of a studio reader or creative executive. There’s not. There are more traditional ways (via agent or manager); there are ways based on blind luck (being overheard at a bar talking about your high-concept comedy); and many opportunities in between. The wild card factor in all this is the writer. Some are great at networking and others would rather stay in their darkened hovel commiserating with the characters they create. Unfortunately, the former tend to get more work. Go figure.

To increase your chances of having your work read by a decision-maker:

  • Get ridiculously good at making cold calls and writing succinct query letters. Send those letters to agents, managers, and producers who have a track record of championing the type of script you’re hawking.
  • Make sure you have a GREAT one-sentence synopsis (logline), one paragraph synopsis, and a one-page synopsis of your script. That way you can talk about or provide this information on-demand.
  • Be professional and persistent, but not annoying. Follow up phone calls suck but they’re the only way to find out if your query has been received, synopsis read, etc. Be courteous and always say thank you.

Read it all at SSN Insider