Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Those Who Don't Ask Don't Get

No Unsolicited Material.

Three words that are the most frustrating for writers just starting out, but ones you shouldn't let stop you contacting people.

I've talked about this before, but it's worth mentioning again that these words are there to put off those hobby writers who are not professional and haven't polished their work to a fine sheen. Basically it's a barrier for production companies to stop them being inundated with rubbish scripts. If you have a polished script you are confident is ready to be read there is a simple way to get past those three words.

A polite email. Yep, it's as simple as that. Or is it? Well yes and no. There are rules to follow and they are:
  • Be polite - obvious but essential.
  • Don't sign in with, 'Yo Dude' or anything as stupid.
  • Thoroughly research who you are about to approach. If your script doesn't match their back catalogue then don't waste your time. For example if they make comedies it would be a waste of time sending them a biopic of Alan Sugar.
  • Show an interest in who they are by asking them about some of their past work, or praising something they've done. Don't be vague and don't fawn all over them.
  • Introduce yourself - tell them who you are and what you've done.
  • If you have a unique selling point - for example if you've won a competition - then mention it, as it'll put you ahead of the queue.
  • Don't be pushy.
  • Don't attach your script. Ask them if they would be kind enough to read it first. If they ask to read it, then send it.
  • Include your logline.
  • Politely sign off - again obvious but essential
  • Keep it short. A rambling email will just get binned.
This approach works. I know it does because I've used it and had my work read by companies who have 'No Unsolicited Material' plastered all over their website. Follow these guidelines and most companies will be receptive to this kind of approached.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Write, You Lazy @%&*er!

It seems such an obvious thing to say it, but to be a writer you actually need to write something.

It's funny how many people on the interwebs say they write, but who are actually still working on their first project, the very same one they've been writing for the last five years and still haven't got past halfway. Then there are those who actually do finish that one script, send it out to a few production companies, think that's it and sit back and wait for the money to roll in.

The first three years after finishing my scriptwriting degree I fell into the latter category. I had a completed script, sent it out, half started another, but then decided I didn't need to finish it because the first script was going to get sold and then I'd have the time and money to sit down and write. How naive and stupid I was back then. It wasn't until I was in my fourth post university year that I realised I didn't have a writing career, I had exhausted all avenues with my one completed script and I wasn't going to get anywhere unless I got up off my arse (or actually sat down on it), put myself in front of my computer and wrote something new.

I realised I should always be working on my next project and building a portfolio of quality screenplays. Words had to be typed for that to happen. The most terrifying words you can hear are, "Loved your script. Can you send me something else?" only to realise you don't have anything else to send. That's why I have the words - WRITE YOU LAZY EFFER!!! - written on the whiteboard above my desk, as a constant reminder I'm only ever as good as my next screenplay.

So if you call yourself a writer online then make sure you are actually writing...all the time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Industrial Scripts - Talent Connector

Industrial Scripts have finally launched their Talent Connector service for unrepresented writers, a scheme based on similar successful services in the USA.

To qualify for Talent Connector you first have to purchase coverage for your script from one of their gang of well known and respected readers, who also read for major production companies and agents. If they think your work is good enough, they'll place you and your script on their scheme.

I know what you're thinking, why should you pay out a large sum of money to have your script read when getting on to the Talent Connector scheme isn't guaranteed? If your work is good enough surely it will get picked up when you send your work out to producers, something you can do for the small cost of postage? I know where you're coming from, as I had the same reservations.

But what Industrial Scripts are offering here is a chance to get you and your work in front of top producers and agents you wouldn't normally have access to, who are usually protected by a mountain of assistants and the words, 'no unsolicited screenplays.' The readers that work for Industrial Scripts also work for such mammoths as Paramount, Working Title, Warner Brothers and Universal and their recommendations carry serious weight with these top producers and agents, which is why Talent Connector puts you and your work in front of them, right on their desk and not on the desk of an assistant.

I have to point out I think this scheme is really only worth while if your writing is at a certain level, that point where production companies are inviting you to submit more of your work and you're getting good feedback on your writing. If you're not at this stage you'll only get frustrated when you and your work isn't recommended for Talent Connector.

You can read all about Talent Connector here.

It's a fantastic opportunity, a great chance for up and coming writers to get themselves and their work noticed, and well worth the money. A sound investment.