You’ve taken the classes and seminars on writing. You’ve tried comedy, action and one sci-fi thriller. You probably think they are better than they are. But, none of them are as great as you thought they would be. You went to a couple of pitch fests, maybe you even managed to talk a production company exec into reading one of your projects. This is usually followed by a huge silence. Well, let’s see, the next move was to send query letters to agents. Again, you are greeted by the huge silence. It’s very hard to understand what has happened. You tell yourself and all of your friends and family that you’ve done everything right. What’s wrong with Hollywood? Those people are terrible. They don’t know a good thing when they see it. Why are you being ignored?
The answers to these and other questions you may have are not very complicated. Without realizing it you have made a lot of big mistakes. Most new writers manage to glean a bit of good advice from teachers and lecturers and some of the screenwriting books they have read. Unfortunately, the information is too broad based and non-specific. It’s also possible that, like most people you only hear what you want to hear.
The following are hard and fast rules that you need to know and to follow in order to have a successful career in mainstream television and films:
1. Your writing samples are crucial. If you want a career you must have a minimum of three (3) great samples, IN THE SAME GENRE.
2. Never write sequels to your own scripts or of any previously produced films.
3. Never write outside the box. Keep your sample in the mainstream. Stay within the tried and true three (3) act structure. Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
4. If you choose a bona fide Script Consultant, listen to their advice and follow it. Do not simply change consultants if you don’t hear what you want to hear. They are paid to find the problems in your projects. Follow their advice.
5. Live in the greater Los Angeles area. You can certainly wait until you have the requisite amount of great samples, but after that you must move to L.A. No one wants to represent or buy a script from a good writer who lives out of town. This is absolute.
6. If you are lucky enough to get someone to read your material, you must follow-up with them. Wait a couple of weeks, and then send an email to ask if they’ve had a chance to look at your script. Make friends with the assistants to get information and help.
7. Never be cloying, argumentative, verbally abusive, angry or petulant.
8. Connect with other writers through seminars, WGA programs and writer’s groups. Keep in touch with them, meet for coffee share information.
9. Understand that anytime you go to a seminar you should consider the speaker to be a new contact. Follow up with a quick thank you note right after the lecture. Tell them a little about yourself and your project. Ask if they will read it. Keep in touch with them occasionally.
10.Never pitch a project that isn’t ready to be read by a professional.
11.If you are lucky enough to get someone to agree to look at one of your projects, you must have it in their hands within two (2) days.
12.Above all, hang in there and don’t quit. Tenacity in Hollywood is extremely well rewarded both creatively and financially.
Michele Wallerstein is a Script Consultant, a former agent and the author of “MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide To Your Writing Career”. www.novelconsultant.com
For a consultation call me at: 818 501 2826