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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Ready PART 5 Setting Your Sites

First I want to give a shout out to Steve Janas, a filmmaker in Philadelphia. Steve was first client in my attempt at being a manager. See here for some of the details. Incidentally if any of you are thinking about becoming a manager don’t do it unless you already have at least 10 or 20 contacts in as many agencies and production companies. Calling up a company and saying you’re a manager doesn’t automatically open up doors.

Well Steve has pushed on and has started a new project called Trashed. I’ve read the script and it is great, a harrowing true life story of addiction. Catch the trailer for it here. I wish him the best of luck. He’s currently looking for financing which can be a bitch.

This is indirectly related to my topic for today which is screenplay sites. I’ve recently had a lot of people ask me about various sites that provide access to industry professionals. For those of you unfamiliar they are online databases where you put in your script name, genre, and a logline. Industry people can then log on and view your submission then ask to see it if they are interested. When I started out I used a few. I actually did get contacted about the scripts I put in there. One contact actually went pretty far and I got optioned.

It was a no money option meaning I didn’t see any money until production was ready to start. Since the project never got off the ground I never got paid. But that’s something for another time.

The question is whether or not these sites are worth your time and their registration fees. I think they can be useful. Go to ScriptPimp.com, they list their success stories on the side. But the problem is with these sites it is a very passive approach to getting your name and your work out there. Now to be fair, I haven’t seriously looked at any of these sites in years. Maybe they’ve become more proactive. Maybe some are like Match.com and actively try to set you up with a producer or agent looking for material.

And they’re always looking for material. That’s how even a passive approach can be successful. My friends in the industry are constantly scouring every resource available to find new talent, websites included.

But many of these avenues are the equivalent of the slush pile at a magazine. Your script gets thrown in with all the others. You really need every advantage you can find. You need to be as proactive about your own career as possible. Even a little thing like personalizing a query to an agency can make all the difference. When you submit to a site you have no way of knowing who might read your entry. The person who reads it might be interested in your pitch, but in the back of his mind he’s wondering how serious you are about your career.

If on the other hand you take the time to research the company you’re submitting to, take the time to find out to the name of the person you’re submitting to, what they’re looking for, what they’ve done in the past (very important to get this correct!) and how your script fits in to all that. Then you’ve already made yourself stand out from the legion of people who just put stuff out on the web at random.

So go ahead and use the sites. They're iffy but chance plays a part in every success. Take a shot into the ether and see what happens. But don’t rely on them as a substitute for good old fashioned sweat and effort. It really does make a difference in the end.

3 comments:

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  2. I've found the same thing with many of the sites out there... they are mostly passive and you need to wait for someone to find YOU. However, virtualpitchfest.com is one site I've found that is anything but passive and gives you the opportunity to find THEM. Who is "them"? You get to select the producers, agents and managers you're interested in and, for a small fee, you query them directly. They have a great list of companies. And, one of the things I LOVE is they MUST get back to you within 5 business days. How often does that happen? @jeannevb and I have had great success with BIG companies on the site and have made some terrific contacts. If you have a great hook and a well written query, it's a very good way to get your script read. And, no, they don't pay me... although maybe they should. : )

    @dawnbierschwal

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  3. The preceding was sent by the fabulous @dawnbierschwal

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