Screenwriting : Which script do you pick when querying for representation? by Leonarda Van Der Ark

Leonarda Van Der Ark

Which script do you pick when querying for representation?

Hello fellow creatives. I was wondering how you go about choosing which script to put forward when querying for representation. Right now I have quite a diverse portfolio, with both features and pilots, and I usually pick my period drama pilot to put the spotlight on when querying for representation. It has resulted in a few reads, but not much more.

Is there anything you keep in mind when picking a project to put yourself out there? I know that a period drama will always be more expensive, so not always easy to shop around, but it is the project I'm the most proud off. Should I stick with that, or pick a project which is easier to make and less expensive?

In the end it should be about my talent as a writer, but an agent wants to sell.

I'd like to hear how others work when it comes to this. Thanks!

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Leonarda,

Put yourself in an agent's shoes - they want to work with writers who can deliver consistently, have a voice, and have the material they can sell or showcase and put a writer forward for staffed writing jobs.

As your portfolio is so diverse - you should also consider pitching your material. Go make it happen.

Rutger Oosterhoff

Try to find out what production companies are a 95% match for your screenplay. Shop all screenplays around. If you get tired of pitching one project. take a short break and shop around another. Again Same system. Sometimes be aggressive (within reason) and sometimes don't. Depends on the situation. You slowly develop a feel. And dare to think big. Develop your 1/2/3 minute pitches and know them by heart. Know that a world outside Europe and America is slowly opening up. India etc.

Dan Guardino

When I was looking for representation I would pitch whatever screenplay I just finished. FWIW the more screenplays you have under your belt the better your odds are they will want to read one. When I pitched my agent she asked me to send her my three best screenplays. Apparently she didn't think all three sucked.

Dan MaxXx

I read advice on screenwriting forums and I did the complete opposite. Wrote a ridiculous action genre spec with building explosions, fighter jet planes & drones, 1000s of background Extras, 100s of bad guys with military grade weapons, shoot em up, blow em up big props & expensive VFX scenes, pop songs, named brands, flashbacks. I wrote what I wanted to see. The spec did exactly what I wanted to do - it got me repped by a WGA signatory agent. And now is the hard part of this business - competing with produced writers and peers, and staying on agent's/agency active roster. So write a "fuck it" screenplay, go wild with imagination and show folks you can write competent screenplays.

Judith Grace Bassat

Isn't sending three log lines querying?

CJ Walley

Strategically, you want to show them concepts that are "within their reach or wheelhouse", so to speak.

Reps work on a percentage of sales so there needs to be a viable product with a route to market.

Since reps vary a lot, there's no single right answer. It's subject to the rep.

A rep who mostly has contacts at Hallmark and Lifetime and has gotten very comfortable in that space can't realistically do much with an epic appropriate for Christopher Nolan. They can however shift low-budget family-friendly dramas and female-led thrillers all day long.

An eager maverick within a big agency or a long-time established rep who get their calls answered at the big studios isn't going to be excited by a small concept that may only see them earning less than $10k after years of pushing and using up favours.

It's all a bit crazy out there though. It feels like I'm watching first time writers go on Twitter and write "How du I get repserentation?" only to sign on the dotted line five minutes later while regular working credited screenwriters can't even get a read at some boutique start-up.

Theresa Singer

I think of audience draw. I also favor the drama genre with deep lessons or adventure stories that force humans to move beyond limitations.

Stuart Jackson

As I am new to the screenwriting game myself I cannot speak from experience, my best advice for pitching to an agent or an actual producer is to pitch whichever script you are most passionate about, this means you will be most excited about it and will sell yourself better. As for other peoples advice, I once read an article about screenwriting courses that suggest that you write a script during the course, which is tutor assessed and therefore should be really good. You then use this as your calling card, but more importantly you never sell the course script. I'm not sure about this as the course script will be one type of script. If you pitch a comedy to an agent who is looking for an action script this may not work, if you pitch the same comedy to a producer looking for that action script that would be stupid.

Stefano Pavone

Given my limited body of work (that I'm happy with and proud of), I go for the cheaper of two sci-fis.

Leonarda Van Der Ark

Thanks for all the input so far!

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