I met an old Uni pal last week, just before a lurgie struck me down. He was in town for a couple of days from Chigago. Also present was another old friend of his who he invited along. Nice guy, really liked him. About six pints of Stella in, I realised why Al had thought it would be a good idea to get us all together. Aren't Americans just great at networking? See, his other friend was a wannabe writer! Joy of joys an evening vomiting up information like a drunken penguin to a bulimic chick. Does life get any sweeter?
If I was told before hand I was expected to give sage like advice I would definitely not have gone on to shorts! But to be honest even if I was capable, no sage like advice was needed. Because it was the same old littany. '' Everyone says I write great stuff, but whenever I try to get it to producers I get a straight knock back or never hear from them again''
So I asked a couple of pertinent questions. Who ish everyone? and Gimmee a shample ov yer pitch to produshers? Remember I'd had a few beverages by this time.
Okay, everyone was a few mates and some dubious guy who had written an episode of Doctors and charged him £50 for the privallege of reading a script and telling him how good he was. But had any real industry pros ever read any of his work? By real I mean those at the sharp end, the ones making real decisions. No they hadn't. Because what he failed to realise is that there are two hugely different but very much connected sides to being a writer. Writing and selling.
By selling I don't mean the magical mega buck deal. I mean selling the read. Because make no mistake, as a new writer, selling the read is hard! I asked him how he went about it. he looked a little flummoxed. ''Well, I tell them I'm a marketing manager with Blob, I've been writing for 5 years and this is my 8th script. My ambition is to become a pro writer and...........'''
Whoa, whoa, whoa, .................I'm already half asleep and this is a mate of a mate. And a frickin' marketing manager! Physician, heal thyself!
If I told this guy how many scripts and queries producers wade through in a week he'd crap his pants! They would probably not get past that first sentence. BORING. Who cares who you are, what you do or what your ambition is? What is the frickon story!!!!!!!! First last and always.
If your querie isn't sharp, erudite and grabbing, then the probability is the script you are pitching is probably in the same vein. No need to read further.
Let your log line do the talking. Just make sure it's a damn good one. Like a good scene, your querie comes in as late as possible and out as early as possible. Don't clog it up with fluff. You are battling against hundreds of others, most of them just circling the drain before they give up, but the few who get a read at least have a chance. You need to be in that few.
It's a buyers market, make sure you are a good salesman.
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4 years ago