Producing : How do you like to be approached by writers? by Anthony Cawood

Anthony Cawood

How do you like to be approached by writers?

Hi all, I'm an aspiring screenwriter from the UK, with some small successes with my short scripts and I'm fairly active online and do put time and effort into my networking. One of my key 2016 resolutions is to take a more pro-active approach to getting my feature scripts to Producers, currently I've relied on a more passive approach listing my scripts on Inktip, MovieBytes etc I have signed up for IMDB Pro and am starting to identify people to send query emails to, but, I'm not sure what the best approach/content is to maximise my chances of getting my screenplay requested, So... very open question, as Producers, what do you look for in an approach from a screenwriter? Any and all thoughts/advice/examples etc would be greatly appreciated. Anthony (www.anthonycawood.co.uk)

Anthony Cawood
Anthony Cawood
My shorts, Cell Mates and Frecklebug have been optioned. Eight of my short scripts have been optioned to be produced as a series. My short, Press 1 for... has been picked up by a UK director - NOW FIL…
Anthony Cawood

Any thoughts from anyone?

Shaun O'Banion

Hi, Anthony - The biggest issue as you probably know is that even if you send a great query letter with an interesting logline, I probably won't be able to take a look because I'd be exposing my company to legal issues in the future should we ever make a similar project. The reality is that your primary goal at this stage should be to find representation for your work - agent, manager, or attorney - so that the approach can come from a reputable firm. Short of that, The Blacklist, InkTip and other sites are a worthwhile investment for a young writer because A. People like my CE regularly check in on those sites and B. Agents and managers do, too. Good luck to you in your search and Happy New Year.

Anthony Cawood

Hi Shaun and thanks for the response, really useful insisghts. I'm on Inktip and subscribe to their newsletter too, a couple of nibbles, no bites so far... Blacklist I hope to try this year too and see if that increases exposure. I will expand my querying to Managers and Agents too, see if there's any interest that way round. Many thanks Anthony

Regina Lee

Personally, I like being approached when there's a win-win and we both add value to each other's careers. https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/Create-a-Win-Win-Exec-Etiqu...

Anthony Cawood

Thanks for the link to the previous post Regina, looks like there is some great tips and advice in there, will re-read, absorb and add to my arsenal for this year. Anthony

Dave McCrea

I'm not a big producer or anything but I have produced a few things in New York and I know a few things about sales or at least i like to think I do :) My latest project was written by a guy who came in 1st place at Scriptapalooza. I wasn't paying much, but I was inundated with screenwriters and this undoubtedly swayed him in my favor big time, so mention any contests you've won with your scripts right out of the gate. Don't have a milion scripts - that's a red flag. If you do have 30 finished scripts or something, then don't mention them all, just mention 3 or 4. Preferably all in similar or complementary genres. Sometimes writers will have a website with a list of 30 movies they've written, this is bad. Don't have your profile/website as "Screenwriter, Director, Playwright, Actor, Visual Effects" - it makes me think jack of all trades, master of none. Don't do a form letter, put something ultra specific in there. In an email, don't sound formal or "professional", instead sound conversational and friendly. You want to match the vibe of who you're contacting. You wouldn't greet Colin Firth quite the same way you'd greet Eminem if you met them on the street, right? A lot of people will probably say be short and to the point, but the reality is that you need people to fall in love with you, and they won't if you just send an email saying "Attached are my scripts, thank you for your consideration", that has no personality to it. Kiss ass a little. Don't be underconfident like a fan boy but don't be afraid to kiss a little ass - it works even on people who claim they hate it! If you have something specific that you think would be a right fit for a producer, then say that. But not if the movie was bad or unsuccessful. So if you've got a horror script and you're writing to the guys who did Saw, say Saw was what made you want to be a writer and you have something that they might enjoy as it shares a sensibility. YOU might feel a bit cheesy saying something like this, but the recipient doesn't see any cheesiness at all, instead they start thinking about what a wonderful human being you are. Saw was a big hit and changed their lives so that can't fail. Even better, if you figure out what their influences are and subtly reference their influences as your influences, they will think 'he's one of us'. So mention how you were inspired by the Giallo Italian horror films or something. But when you're sending the same script to the producers of Leprechaun 4 you might not want to bring up that movie that they'd prefer not to be reminded of... If you ran into Kate Winslet on the street, you wouldn't want to say "I loved you in Titanic" or she'd roll her eyes, "yeah I've done a couple other films since then" however, if you said "Labor Day is my favorite of yours" that would probably make her day. Basically tell people what they want to hear - that you're an admirer of them, that you want to be as cool as them, and you've got a proven script that you would love to make with them, and here's the PDF synopsis in your gmail 5 minutes after we get off the phone. And you're not stressing the money part, you're doing it for the love of filmmaking. That is how you win over a producer I think. That first impression is important. Later on they might realize that the script isn't as good as they thought it was and you do care very much about the money, but by then they'll be in bed with you.

Anthony Cawood

Dave, Many thanks for that great response, some fantastic insights in there, I will be building these into my thinking as I start trying to get my features out there this year. Really appreciated. Anthony

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Great advice Dave. :-))

Anthony Cawood

Thanks Victor, appreciated.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Anthony you can always 'pitch' on Stage 32 Happy Writers... you can email Joey if you have any questions, but that's how you get around the 'unsolicited' issue. You pay a little money, so it's no longer 'unsolicited'. Joey has free pitching technique webinars as well. I've had a few scripts requested... so it's the hurry up and wait game. LOL

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

@Anthony.....Here's the link for the last pitching session... just last week. https://youtu.be/Cu2aM7Dhu4M -Best, Sylvia

Beth Fox Heisinger

Anthony, just a thought... Have you used your November Write Club gift yet? You have until the end of February to use it, which you can apply to a pitch with Happy Writers. :)

Anthony Cawood

Thanks Beth - on my list for this month ;-)

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