Screenwriting : Query letter to lit reps/managers/agents by Pete Whiting

Pete Whiting

Query letter to lit reps/managers/agents

Hello. When you write your query letter about your project to a lit rep/manager/agent do you mention you have other projects too? Or do you say something you are seeking long term representation or should you just focus the query on your one specific project?

I ask because how can the agent or whoever determine if you are a flash in the pan, 1 script writer versus you genuinely want a writing career and have several completed works and seeking overall representation.

Seda Temurci

I'm also a new writer (not an expert) so my trick is since I don't send the script in query letter I just simply add "The script is completed so I'd be happy to send it to you and tell you about other movie ideas I have if you are interested." Simple, short and informative.

Seda Temurci

Kay Luke, how can it be patronizing? It is the opposite. I am telling them how much it would make me happy if they want me to send my script. And like I said I am not an expert but I did a lot of research on query letters and all of them say the same things; don't be super official and simply tell them you have other works.

I've never heard a manager saying they would make a deal over one project . Lastly you comment on my sentence as if it is my whole query letter. I do try to sell my one project before that one last sentence and I don't think telling them I have also other works will cause me to lose their attention.

Plus no offense but your sentence sounds very robotic and copy-paste like. And it is very ironic for a writer.

Seda Temurci

Kay Luke, "I'd be happy" if you toss my query. Last thing I wanna do is to work with someone like you. So yes I'd rather be right than just to be paid for not showing my creative/characteristic side.

Plus his question is about managers/agents not studio readers.

And the people on internet I got these tips from are not random people, they are also from this industry. They are also paid just like you and they are managers whom we are trying to reach out.

I wish you a good day!

Stephen Floyd

Seda, an author I appreciate said being stubborn and argumentative in the face of feedback is "the kiss of death" for a screenwriter. Accepting commentary you disagree with is part of the craft. If Kay had been your employer, you'd be needing to refresh your resume.

Seda Temurci

Stephen Floyd, I am always open to critisizm. But neither of the tips I'm talking about are my ideas. They are the suggestions of people or websites' that are recommended in the sector.

And there is a difference between a studio reader and a manager. I also send queries to directors and I don't talk about my other works to them. But to managers? Yes I will tell them. Because they don't work with you on only one project like studios can do. At least this is what everybody is saying so far.

If you explain me why I shouldn't listen all those managers and not add just 4 words that will show I can be a client with continous potential on my one shot to impress them, I'd be so glad to learn something new.

But again, the subject is getting representation not making a deal with a studio.

Stephen Floyd

To paraphrase Eldwood P. Dowd, "In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”

Doug Nelson

Seda - Hollywood ain't gonna change its evil ways just for you. It's best to just go with the flow on this.

Seda Temurci

Doug and Stephen, "But neither of the tips I'm talking about are my ideas. They are the suggestions of people or websites' that are recommended in the sector." I've just written this in my previous comment. Please read more carefully.

Have a good week!

Imo Wimana Chadband

Glad you asked this question Pete Whiting It's something I should get information on as well. Hi Seda Temurci glad to have you in the stage 32 community ^_^ Being somewhat of a newer writer to some veterans here, I often encounter guidance that sometimes go against what I thought was best, but given their accomplishments, they've got to know a thing or two right? So I try to be open and analyze their perspective and advice. I say all of that to say that both Kay Luke and Doug Nelson have been a source of guidance on some uncertainties in screenwriting I've posted about in the community. So, try not to be defensive to their advice, and in extension any other that may chime in :) I see you're very passionate about your craft and the way you do things. Just don't let it cloud learning from others who actually have established themselves in the industry...And hey, sometimes we just don't agree, and that's okay, just acknowledge the response but kindly reiterate your wish to stick to your path. Wishing you the best on your completed script "INFINITY"!

Stephen Floyd

It appears you have elected the way of pain. Which is to say, if you don't want to learn from people who are trying to help you, you will have to learn from failure.

Seda Temurci

Imo Wimana, thank you so much for your kind wish! I wish you the best as well!

Imo Wimana Chadband

You're most welcome Seda Temurci And thank you very much, I appreciate it :)

Seda Temurci

Stephen, I elected the way of listening recommended/known/successful people/websites not just a random person who doesn't have an imdb or any kinda movie related page on a simple google search.

And he speaks dangerously certain and rude for someone without any information on internet.

Dan Guardino

There is nothing wrong with what Seda said in her query letters.

Christine Capone

Kay I don't think Seda has an ego. She's only stating what she's researched online. Listen, it's all about how you come across. Seda seems genuine and that goes a long way in Hollywood. Having worked in Production, I can tell you that for sure!

Seda Temurci

Dan and Christine, thank you for your words!

Kay, I also appreciate all the information you give about the studios in your latest comment. But the subject is representation, not selling scripts to the studios. As you can see I always listen/read very carefully.

Christine Capone

So we should just shut up Kay since we're not "well established"?

Dan Guardino

Kay. Agents do care if you’re a one tick pony. They want to rep screenwriters who can produce well-written screenplays on a regular basis because they don’t just negotiate deals, they do sell screenplays and often find gigs and employment for their screenwriters. So if a writer can tell the agent they have several screenplays under their belt they have a much better shot at getting repped.

Author David Seuss

I think that if you are truly gifted in will not matter who in the industry there is. Many believe that they are the only option to get you in. Find another door.

Dan Guardino

Kay. Do you have an Agent?

Doug Nelson

Every Agent I've known or known of is constantly on the prowl for clients who can/will supply a steady stream of worthy product. Of course, I'm old so maybe that's not how it's done nowadays.

Seda Temurci

I'm also an architect (which is again a field about creativity) and the moment I got respect from my boss was when I insisted -unlike anyone in the office- on my idea against his idea. After that day he treated me as an equal and started to listen and appreciate my ideas. With the mindset you have you can only make standard as you said. Not beyond.

I'm not writing for myself nor for the studio nor for the standard. I'm writing for the audience. And my only aim is giving them a unique movie not standard.

Christine Capone

I'm sorry Kay but I disagree with you. I'm not going to shut up and I was referring to this site. It's a place where we can share our knowledge and experiences. Maybe you need to be more open to other people's experiences as well. You're not the only "successful" person on this site.

Author David Seuss

I can't see shutting up a writer as a benefit especially when shows seem to be like a cookie cutter, just producing the same thing over and over.

Dan Guardino

Kay. My opinion comes from my own actual experience not just talking to other people in the business. Since you didn't answer my question I assume you don't have an agent.

Travis Knox

I’m new to this website and am fascinated by it. Been reading through these forums and thought I’d take a crack at this one. I’m gonna avoid all of the side streets this thread has gone down and stick to the original question, which essentially was asking about sending query letters and whether you mention other projects.

The short answer is absolutely, positively yes. Any manager or agent worth having is looking for a long term relationship with their clients and they want to know that, especially in the early stage, you are capable of generating material. Being a self starter means you won’t be looking for you manager to find you a job immediately. That’s something you build towards.

If you have a super high concept commercial movie that’s an easy 10% commission for them, maybe they’ll take it on without anything else. But again, they are usually in it for the long haul. Their plan is send out your script to dozens of producers and then hopefully send you on a couch tour where you have a week (or more) of general meetings. They want to know that you have more projects to discuss with the producers.

And whet it comes to sending that letter to managers, I wouldn’t just say “I have a script would you read it?”. Most of those letters will be ignored and those that are accepted… well those managers will clearly read anything and everything. Personality goes a long way in this business, even for writers. (Going back to your couch tour… you’d better be someone who is engaging and easy to get along as you’re looking for a couple of lasting relationships form your week of meetings. Great writers with horrible attitudes don’t get hired until they have multiple hit movies on their resumes. Don’t start out that way, you won’t get far.)

Your query letter should contain the following:

Respectful but memorable opening: Acknowledge that they are busy and get an overwhelming number of these letters. But then explain why they should look at yours. (Do your homework — complement them. You love their client’s work. iMDBpro… subscribe and use it. Or google the manager and find a video where they talk on a panel… Show that you understand who they are.)

Then give them the 2 or 3 sentence pitch.

Then tell them you do have a couple other projects in the same genre. (Pro tip: do not tell them you’ve written 15 screenplays… they’ll wonder what’s wrong that you’ve written so many and still send query letters.) At this stage same genre is important. They need to know how to sell you. Pick one genre and stick to it for now.

Finally close with this, “If you’re interested in reading my screenplay, I’d be happy to sign your company’s Submission Release Form.” (Another pro tip: Do not EVER say they need to sign an NDA. They will laugh at you before ignoring. Which is worse than just being ignored.) Done.

Remember, you won’t hear from most of them. But as that old cliche goes… It only takes one!

Side Note: Right now is a very hard time in the industry for managers. Every one I know is working triple time to make up for the agents being fired AND it’s crunch time in the TV world. I’d wait at least another week until upfronts are all over. They’re still without agents but will be less crazed.

Good luck!

Maurice Vaughan

Thanks for the detailed comment, Travis (Mr. Knox)!

Stephen Floyd

Seda, the problem isn't the point you're making, but how you're making it. And this goes for everyone who has made this debate too personal.

To belittle people you disagree with (holding my non-existent IMDB page against me, your categorization of Kay as an unworthy colleague, etc.) is not tolerated in the industry because none of us are so clever a studio could not buy our story from under us and hire a more cooperative writer to finish it the way they want. Heck, plenty of amiable, competent writers get fired for less. In an industry so fickle, why give anyone an additional reason to part ways with you?

And if you want my film credentials, you can just ask. I've produced numerous pieces through MetroEast Community Media, Flannery Publications and the Northwest Film Center.

Dan Guardino

Back to the original subject. Agents know that finding a first screenplay that is marketable would be like finding a needle in a haystack so the more screenplays you have the better your chances. When I called my agent I told her I just finished my fifth or sixth screenplay. I pitch one screenplay and she asked me to send her my best two scripts. Anyway that is how I got my agent.

Pete Whiting

dont think I'll be asking any more questions soon. But thanks anyway. some learnings among it all.

Olaojoyegbe Bolarinwa

I think you should stick to one. Why exhibiting what is not requested for, except you have similar scripts with you.

Christine Capone

Pete haha! You you never know what you're going to get!

Dan Guardino

Pete. I don't blame you.

Dan MaxXx

Here, Pete, advice from people who actually do it for a living

https://www.scriptsandscribes.com/category/agentsmanagers/

Christine Capone

Ugh Dan, you brought this nightmare conversation back! ; )

Doug Nelson

Dan M... Nah, most in here are happy to reject reality and substitute their own.

Dan Guardino

If we all faced reality there would be nobody left in this business to make movies. lol

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