Category: agents

The Search for Agents and Managers

As detailed in my last post, I’ve begun the long, arduous task of finding a manager and/or agent. Once you write a great script, your query letter is in somewhat decent shape,  and you have a strong log line, what do you do with it? That’s the question I’ve found myself struggling to answer.

I once again scoured the Done Deal Pro forums, read blogs, and listened to podcasts to determine how others have found representation of any sort. Turns out, it’s extraordinarily simple and complicated at the same time. It’s simple in that all you need to do is gather a list of names and contact information and then start personalizing query letters (I plan on personalizing mine using a standardized scheme, as it’s less time-consuming and allows me to focus on gathering specific information for each person as opposed to sorting through new information each time). The complicated part is finding contact information.

So far I’ve found that the contact information for agents is easier to find than managers, for whatever reason. That’s not to say either has been a cakewalk. When you go to many Agency or Management Company’s websites, you’ll often be greeted with a static page adorned with the company logo, or a barely functional page that reads, “We don’t take unsolicited materials.” This sucks, but is understandable considering the amount of people querying. Most agencies/management firms probably don’t need new clients. They’re plenty busy as it is. Basically, I’ve had to get creative.

I subscribed to Done Deal Pro and began a two-week free trial of IMdB Pro. I’ve been using them in tandem to find either all or 3/4ths of the information I need. Done Deal Pro has been useful because they list all the new spec sales. I’ve just gone through the list of my genre and picked out agents and managers names who have sold recently. This might not be the best strategy because those who have sold recently may not be interested in taking on new clients, but I’ve used this approach because the information is up to date. My understanding (as naive as I might be) is that agents and managers tend to move around a lot so I want to target people while they’re hot. Once I’ve tallied some deals off of DDP, who doesn’t typically have contact information, especially not for individuals, I head on over to IMdB Pro and look them up. IMdB will often have contact information, but I can also see client lists and former projects to see how I would fit into a specific agent/manager’s portfolio.

Thus far I’ve found six agents and nine managers to query. In this small sample I’ve also found that submission differs between places. Some require a handwritten letter sent over snail mail. Others have a submission link to use that they claim to vet. Others don’t say anything at all, which are the ones I’ll reach out to directly. I want to follow the rules set by each place as best I can so as not to take myself out of the game before I’ve even started playing.

Some of these rules is basic consideration. I posed the question on a message board: When is the best time to query someone? The most useful answer I got was focused on when not to query. Most people consider it rude to query on weekends because of the proliferation of smart phones. When querying directly to an individual, respect their personal time. Don’t query on weekends or maybe even evenings. Stick to business hours. Another unspoken rule is not to query more than one person at the same company. Choose a horse and stick to it. Even if your research is off, if they find something worthwhile in your writing either they’ll take a look at it themselves or they’ll pass it off to someone who will be interested in it.

Querying is an intimidating arena to step into, but it’s a necessary fight. I want to have a long and fruitful career as a screenwriter and this is one of many baby-steps before I can start taking some longer strides. And now it’s just a waiting game.

The Art of the Query

Aside from contests, the Black List 3.0, and other sites that allow you to keep your script in a database in the hopes that some enterprising agent/manager/producer will find them (Tracking Board, Spec Scout, etc.) the only way to gain the attention of Hollywood is to query. This is something I’ve put off, partially because I wasn’t confident enough in my work and partially because it’s intimidating. As evidenced by my short time as a telemarketer (I lasted three days) I’m not one for soliciting or marketing myself. I would much prefer someone stumbles on my work and recognizes me for the genius I am without me having to submit myself to the awkwardness of asking strangers for personal favors.

Alas, ’tis not the type o’ world we live in. So I wrote a query letter. It’s generic so I can tailor it as needed:

Dear (Insert name of Agent/Manager/Producer),
This is the story of (INSERT TITLE OF SCRIPT). It is a (GENRE) that has (ACCOLADES from CONTESTS or BLACK LIST).
If you would like to read the full script, contact me via the information provided.
Thank you,

Craig Gusmann

This is how it turned out for The Inhabitors:

Dear (Insert name of Agent/Manager/Producer),
A broken young man and his friends struggle with the ethical implications of using a mysterious box to control the consciousness and view the memories of others. As he learns the secrets people keep, and the secrets his friends have kept from one another, he spirals into madness.
This is the story of THE INHABITORS. It is a Science Fiction Thriller that recently placed as a Semifinalist in the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship and was rated a 9 from a reader on the Black List 3.0.
Based on your work on (INSERT PROMINENT TITLES) I think you would enjoy THE INHABITORS. If you would like to read the full script, please contact me via the information provided.
Thank you,

Craig Gusmann

I plan on further tailoring it based on what I find the needs/wants of each respective agent/manager/producer is. I cobbled this together based on advice I’ve read in several places online, including the Done Deal Pro Forums, blogs, and common sense. What seems to be the most prominent advice is to be concise. You’re soliciting busy people who are already inundated with unwanted solicitations. Be polite, be concise, be unique if you can.

My letter isn’t super unique in any way. I kept it straightforward and focused for one main reason: Professionalism. My sense of the unique or humerous, I’ve found, tends to be different from others and also long-winded. My favorite jokes are rambling, incoherent messes that don’t reveal themselves until later. Don’t know why. So, for me, adding too personal a spin on a query letter is a tenuous prospect. I believe that my logline is strong enough, my premise interesting enough, that it will get me at least a few reads.

As I experiment and send queries I will post statistics and lessons learned. Until then, I’m going to have a drink to tame my crippling anxiety.

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