Screenwriting : The Dreaded Work Sample by Erick Mertz

Erick Mertz

The Dreaded Work Sample

At this stage, I feel like I'm ready for a manager, career propulsions. I'm curious though how one addresses the idea of a work sample (versus something you're out to "sell" or "option"). Does the phrasing when you approach people matter? If I offer a manager I meet a "work sample" does that position my writing as amateur dreck?

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Erick. I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to show something you want to sell to a perspective manager? To work with you, they'll want to know what type of material you have, what you're currently working on etc. Pitch them loglines and be prepared to show them your best stuff, the scripts you want to sell. Make sure both are in the best shape they can be. Best of luck!

David Levy

A sample would be something you do want to sell. Anything you write, even for a sale purpose could be a writing sample to a manager.agent. They need to read your best work and get to know you as a writer and your personality. So find your best work, even if it is something you want to sell and have them view it.

William Martell

What others have said: it's all the same. Your sample is something they can take out to sell... if they love it.

Shaun P Carr

Always always best foot forward show the best thing you have. second chances rarely come around in this industry.

Michael Eddy

A good script is a good script. When you're starting out - sans agent/manager/anything sold - you need a GREAT script - something with your original voice in it. There is NO difference between a writing sample and something sellable. When you write something - your goal should be that it is good enough to get you representation and then in turn - good enough for the agent to option/sell (there can be rewriting at any step of the way). Scripts that you write TO SELL - that are good enough to sell - that garner good responses from readers - and DO NOT SELL for any particular reason (and there can be a myriad of them) then become WRITING SAMPLES by process of elimination. I have written many scripts that were read and liked - and the producer said "Not what we're looking for. What else do you have?" or "Good job - we have something we're working on that maybe you can write (or rewrite) for us" - and thus - your script has become a WRITING sample (I would NEVER refer to it as a WORK sample) and has generated work for you - even if the sample itself didn't sell or generate income.

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