Script consultant Julie Gray is a veteran story analyst of some of the biggest production companies in Hollywood. The author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter's Atlas, Julie has taught story at Warner Bros. Studios, The Great American PitchFest and Oxford University. Contact Julie here.
Dear readers, the following is taken directly from an experience I had earlier this week. Only the names have been changed.
My name is XXX and I wrote an action/thriller/crime script. Here is the summary:
[INSERT AN ENTIRE PAGE OF BLOW-BY-BLOW WAY TOO MUCH BLACK SYNOPSIS].
So - sounds good but what are you asking of me?
Aren't you a producer?
Can I give you some free advice? When you query your material, be sure to research who you are querying. If you look at my site, which you did in order to get my email address, you may have noticed that I am a blogger and screenwriting consultant. Nowhere on my site does it indicate that I produce. So there's that.
Second piece of advice, when querying effectively, there are some simple steps that really make sense.
You want to write your query in such a way that it is a very simple, easy to read request. Something like this:
Dear Producer/Agent/Manager (whom I totally looked up and know who you are),
My name is Juliette LaWriter and I am a big fan of x-movie-client-project of yours! I particularly enjoyed ABC movie! (I am politely and authentically bonding with you right now! I am demonstrating why I chose to query you, specifically! This is not a form letter!)
I am an award-winning screenwriter (or a paramedic, or a crime novelist - or name your area of expertise here) and have written a script that I think might interest you. It is a (genre here) script called AWESOME SCRIPT and here is the logline:
SIMPLE, SHORT, 50-75 WORD LOG LINE HERE. LOGLINE INDICATES MAIN CHARACTER, CENTRAL CONFLICT, ANTAGONIST AND CLIMATIC CHOICE OR SACRIFICE.
If you would like to read the script, please do let me know and I am happy to send a PDF or hard copy to your offices. Thank you very much for your time. (I am being considerate and acknowledging your time constraints, and I really appreciate the fact that you read this query at all!)
All the best,
That is a query that may get a "yes" or a "no" (in Hollywood: "no" often comes in the form of "ignore"). But it is a decent query that is written in such a way that who you are, what you want, and what your script is about is clear and easy to understand. Nobody has time to read your synopsis. Only send that if it is requested. I am of the belief that in general, when a synopsis is requested, you are experiencing a possible "soft no" because the logline wasn't enough to generate an actual read request. But never you mind, send that synopsis if requested - you never know.
The cardinal sin you can commit when querying is to just vomit up a bunch of information about you and your script without an awareness that you are taking up the time of a person who receives many queries daily and weekly.
So keep it short. Get the recipient's attention by showing them that you did your research and know how to query the right way. Whether you get a "yes" or an "ignore" your query will be seen. Queries of the first kind usually wind up in the circular post haste. If you cannot query professionally, if you did not take the time to learn how it is done, why should I trust that your script is good either?
- Five Steps to Pitching Success
- Balls of Steel: 10 Tips to Prepare for Opportunities When They Knock
- More Just Effing Ask Julie Gray articles
Tools to Help:
- Pitch Clinic: Get Your Pitch in Shape with The Story Consultants
- Writing Successful Loglines, Query Letters and One-Sheets
- No B.S. for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive’s Perspective