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Screenwriting : Querying advice by John Iannucci

John Iannucci

Querying advice

I have a couple of questions about querying (letter version) that I would like people in the know or process to answer.

1) I have four completed scripts. I have been querying them together in one letter. This doesn't mean the producer / director needs to take all four. I know for a manager / talent company or agent this is a plus, ut for a producer is it wrong?

(Numerically I have send about two hundred so far - I've gotten 7 reads on three different scripts. Two from agents and five from producers. Waiting for replies.)

Would it be better to query individually or maybe by two - then come back a month later with another letter.

2) How often do you guys follow up and what does that contain?

3) I have a couple that have gotten back with they are full right now or oo busy with in-production projects, but I should try again in a couple of weeks. (beats the nasty egonmaniacal responses I've gotten by some A**holes.) Is this believable and should I follow up. (My thought is, if you don't swing, you can't hit it)

Thanks

Eric Christopherson

Well I'll be interested in the other responses because I'd always heard that you should discuss one script at a time no matter who you're querying.

Dan Guardino

Don't try to pitch multiple scripts at one time. If they request a screenplay I usually don't follow up if I don't hear back. However, if they take the time to let me know that they are passing I thank them and let them know I have more screenplays and ask if they are looking for anything in particular at this time. If not, they still go in my contact list so when I finish my next script, they'll be the first ones to know. People love to think they are special by being the first one you thought of sending the script to. Keep in mind a spec is used to make connections so even if they pass on your script keep their name in your contact list. I know I got four rejections from a producer who optioned the fifth one I sent him and he referred me to a producer who was looking for someone to write a screenplay off a treatment. Anyway good luck with your screenplays.

Stephen Floyd

What Dan said. Producers have feelings same as everyone. If you shotgun your query letters, either by including a bunch of movies in one letter or sending the same letter to a bunch of people, you let on that you view them as a cash machine and they may turn you down just for that.

William Martell

Query one script at a time. Target the companies that regularly make films like that one specific script.

Tasha Lewis

Query one script at a time but mention that you have others in the closing paragraph.

Stefano Pavone

I wish I had gotten this advice 15, nearly 16 years ago.

Sam Borowski

While I am a Writer, I also work as a Director and Producer and I get queried all the time. (I'm not looking for queries at this time.) But, personally, I think it's not a good thing to query multiple projects. I think any producer wants to see passion in both the story and the project itself, and when you have four projects being mentioned, it doesn't show passion. It more reads like, "I just want to get something - anything - made." You should care deeply about the project you are pitching. If you don't, neither will the producer.

Dan Guardino

John. Another thing you can do is mention how much you liked one of their films which is why you would like them to consider yours. Actually that might be a good reason not to act like a critique when posting here. You never know who you might be sitting across the table who might be holding your career in their hand a year from now.

John Iannucci

Thanks to everybody for their help. Dan if I said something you took as mean critiquing. I apologize.

Dan Guardino

John. No. That was just a general statement.

Stefano Pavone

How am I supposed to gather the confidence to pitch a query when I'm constantly rejected on the basis of being an "unsolicited submission" (do they even know what those two words MEAN or is it just a soundbite?)?

Christopher Phillips

Stefano Pavone Unsolicited submission is when you send them a script without them asking for it. You send them a query first, logline, title, genre, 2 paragraph synopsis. IF they like the idea, then they'll ask for the script or ask for the first 10 pages or something similar. The other option is when you pitch them the idea in person or via Skype, then they'll ask for it if they like the idea.

Stefano Pavone

Christopher Phillips That's what I thought it meant. To some, however, means "no submissions - EVER".

Tasha Lewis

Visit Stage 32 for daily Pitch options.

Christopher Phillips

Stefano Pavone there are some production houses that have a policy that they won’t take submissions, even if you send them a query first. They will only take scripts submitted by managers or agents. Fortunately, there are enough independent producers to work with.

John Iannucci

Every “no submission” statement that I read included ANY written material including queries. They will usually say if they accept a query but not a pitch.

Stefano Pavone

John Iannucci Not in my case - there's too much ambiguity out there. Maybe a little reverse psychology will help me.

John Ellis

A couple of things:

John Iannucci, I'm with most others here - one project to one producer at a time. I've heard of a number of people who did that. The producer passed, but asked if the writer had anything else. They did, the producer loved it - the start of something good. Reputable producers know what they're doing, believe it or not. And a lot of the time, not only are they looking for a great story, but they're also looking for someone they can work with. Shotgunning queries is not a good first impression.

Stefano Pavone, I understand the frustration you seem to be expressing - it's a tough biz, and there are many, many, many roadblocks. But why get upset when a prodco won't take "unsolicited submissions/material"? You're not going to change their policies - no matter how great your script is. Move on to the next prodco, one where the relationship doesn't start with irritation and conflict.

Better yet, make your own sh*t. Smart small, within your own resources, learn, grow, do something a little bigger, then a little bigger, better. Rinse and repeat until they start calling YOU!

This is not an industry for the impatient or the faint-of-heart!

Stefano Pavone

John Ellis The "unsolicited submissions" situation - I know how to play it. Relax, I've got an idea. :) I've got nearly everything worked out from Plan A to Plan Z.

Tasha Lewis

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