Archive for PITCHING
The key to selling your screenplay is getting the right people to read it. They key to getting the right people to read it is to be creative in your approach (the traditional ones are used by everybody and they clog up the system and tend not to get through). The key to being more creative is to steal, uh, I mean adapt, ideas from other fields.
For example, take the Underground Book Club. They are distributing hard copies of the first three chapters of various books at major London train stations during the busiest commuting hours. The hope is that instead of reading their newspapers or work reports, commuters will sample these books and then want to buy some of them in order to read the rest. The samples are also available online.
Does that give you any ideas? First let’s look at the principles behind the effort:
- Find out where your target market is and go there.
- Give them something new, different, interesting
- Create a desire to take the next step—the one that earns you some money
- Make it easy to take that step
So….your target market is agents and producers. Where could you find them? Perhaps at conferences and film festivals, for instance. Could you give them something on their way in or out? If so, do it on public property, because the organizers of the event are unlikely to let you do it on their patch.
What could you give them? They won’t take a script, but maybe a pitch in the form of a graphic novel page.
The next step you want them to take is to ask to read your script and if your ‘taster’ is intriguing enough they will. You could include a simple to remember email address for them to use. If it’s a producer who says they’ll read it only via an agent, now you have a nice hook with which to approach an agent: “Producer X has expressed interest in reading my script but only if it’s submitted via an agent. Would you be willing to submit it?” They’re much more liable to do that when a producer has already asked to read it.
If this idea doesn’t appeal to you…come up with one of your own! The idea is to apply your creativity to marketing what you write, as well as to writing.
(You’ll find plenty of additional ideas about marketing your work, in my book “Your Writing Coach.” You can get it from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller. You may also want to check out “Do Something Different,” published by Virgin Books with an introduction by Richard Branson. It includes 100 case studies of how people marketed their products inexpensively and creatively.)
The Dedham Transcript carried this account of how Matt O’Neill’s screenplay, “Bait and Switch” got noticed:
O’Neill had just seen “Blades of Glory,” the 2007 film starring Will Ferrell.
“I came out of the theater and I thought, ‘Wow, I want to work with the guys who made this movie,”‘ recalls the Hopkinton native. “They had a ridiculous sense of humor so I put together a query letter about ‘Bait and Switch’ and faxed it to the production company that made ‘Blades of Glory.”‘
That company would be Smart Entertainment. An executive there, Zac Unterman, picked up the fax and promptly threw it in the trash. “But then he thought about it some more, picked it out of the trash and called me,” says O’Neill. “He said, ‘I think this might be a movie. Can you email me the script?’ So I did. He read it that night, he called me that night and I was in his office the next morning. It was like a whirlwind.”
John Jacobs, the president of Smart Entertainment sent out the script and a couple of high-powered agents liked it and sent it to Mark Wahlberg, who also liked it and signed on to produce and possibly star. It’s not a done deal yet but it’s in the works.
The moral of the story? Lots of people would tell you to forget about getting an idea to a production company without going through an agent. Like many so-called rules, it applies much of the time—but not all, as O’Neill’s experience proves.
The New York Times has an interesting feature called “Anatomy of a Scene,” in which directors and sometimes writers or actors tell what’s going on in a scene from their film. The one below is from “Horrible Bosses,” which hasn’t opened over here yet but which I’m looking forward to seeing (from what I know of the story it could have been pitched as “Strangers on a Train” meet “Nine to Five”). In this video you’ll hear Seth Gordon, the director of the film: