How to land representation? Write a great script!

February 8th, 2012 by

In the current GITS interview with screenwriter Marc Maurino, he was kind enough to respond to a question in comments from Marc Teichmann:

Q: What tips do you have for getting scripts into the right hands? My partner and I are almost ready to start sending our first script out and I’m searching everywhere to find managers and agents emails, but it’s tough.

A: Marc Teichmann, I know it’s tough, and good luck to you–this is a rocky part of the journey!

The Hollywood Creative Directory, ImdB Pro, and several other pay-sites offer contact information for managers (when first querying, agents are not the destination; managers are.) The discussion boards at DoneDealPro.com have LOTS of insight into the querying process and how to find managers’ e-mails. Check out DDP, and you don’t even need to go ask HOW…just check the archives and you will find DOZENS of posts on this very subject.

Also, check out the Black List for the last several years, and get a feel for who the managers are that are selling things and getting scripts out there, especially if you are writing in a genre similar to what they are repping.

Then find e-mail (resources as listed above, plus Google–it’s all out there); craft a killer query/log line/cover letter (tons of ink spilled around the internet on this as well); and carpet bomb the town. Lots of folks I know will send upwards of fifty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty query letters requesting a read from a management company–and get maybe a 10% read request rate. Those are loose numbers, but just a caveat that it’s a TON of papering the town, but it only takes one rep to love your stuff to push you forward.

FINALLY, please make sure your script is REALLY ready…have you had professionals read it? has someone other than you and your partner proofread it? Have you had a table read with actors to hear the words up on their feet? Have you had five or ten people who will not BS you give you their responses? If and when “yes” to all of these–GOOD LUCK!

Marc is right. There is no secret to getting your script read. You simply contact a shitload of managers with email queries. That’s what Seth Lochhead did with “Hanna”. He reportedly sent out 400 email inquiries: “A lot were one-sentence emails. A girl is trained to be an assassin; would you like to read my script.”

But before you send out anything, do what Marc says: (1) Make sure you’ve crafted a great logline. (2) Make sure you’ve written a great script.

Here’s what Lochhead had to say in an interview about how he approached writing “Hanna”: “It’s always about the script for me. Do I socialize and build my career that way or do I write a really f—king great script and build my career on that?”

If you think you’ve written a great script, but you are getting passes all over town, then it’s likely you have not written a great script.

Go back to square one. Come up with a great story concept. I mean a total, stone-cold killer of an idea for a movie. Do not settle for mediocre. Or fair. Or maybe it’s good. Or even it’s probably pretty good.

No, you want to work with an unbelievably fantastic idea for a movie.

Then write the hell out of it.

Carpet bomb Hollywood with email queries.

If, indeed, you have written a great script, you will land a manager. And an agent. And almost assuredly someone will buy your script. Next comes the Porsche.

But it always… ALWAYS comes down to what’s on the page. That is the bottom line and end of the subject. Nothing else matters except writing a great script.

Now, you can look at that and get really depressed. So much pressure, right?

On the other hand, that is the most freeing realization of all. Why? Because you do not have to worry about anything else. Your sole focus should be on learning the craft and writing a great script.

That’s it. Simplifies things, doesn’t it?

How to land representation? Do what Marc says. Do what Lochhead says. But most of all, do what every buyer, every agent, every manager, every ANYBODY who is ANYBODY in Hollywood says on the subject: WRITE A GREAT SCRIPT!

Everything else will take care of itself.

UPDATE: Ben in comments offers this nifty piece of advice:

To find my first manager I signed up for a two-week free trial at imdb pro because I couldn’t afford a subscription.

If you make good use of that 2 weeks, you can find tons of contact information.

7 thoughts on “How to land representation? Write a great script!

  1. Ben Jacoby says:

    To find my first manager I signed up for a two-week free trial at imdb pro because I couldn’t afford a subscription.

    Go to Management Companies. Sort by Rank. And get the email addresses of every employee there, managers, principals, assistants, etc. If there are no email addresses, use some ingenuity to figure them out — the internet can tell you anything.

    Make sure you send everyone a personalized email: “Dear Donald” as opposed to “To Whom it May Concern.”

    I first queried about 400 managers. Got 10 requests for the script. Got an offer of representation from ONE MANAGER. It’s all you need.

    1. Scott says:

      Ben, there you go. Congrats. It only takes one set of eyeballs to change everything. The trick is getting the story in front of those eyeballs. Just like it takes a bunch of ideas to come up with a GREAT idea, it often takes a bunch of queries to come up with that ONE rep who will believe in you. Thanks for sharing! And nice tip about the 2-week free trial at IMDBpro.com.

  2. I’d like to pose a follow up question for either Scott or Marc in asking WHY try to land a manager first? I’ve read multiple writing blogs that talk about both but neither side really says why.

    1. Scott says:

      Sean, managers are just more open to queries than agents. In part, I think it’s because managers can be producers on movie and TV projects, thus they are doubly motivated to seek out talent. Plus — and this is a really big generalization — agents are more about the deal, managers more about career. So managers more willing to find young / new talent and develop them long-term.

      The thing is, when you land a manager and you prove yourself to be someone who the manager thinks has a legitimate shot at being a professional writer, they will set you up with an agent.

      1. Ben Jacoby says:

        Agreed. Also, because managers do not have to be licensed, the pool is bigger (and often dirtier). Make sure your manager has a good reputation; ask to speak to other clients of his to get assurance; make sure they define their role clearly as regards potential producing credits vs. managerial commissions.

        Agents simply will not talk to you at this level, unless you know someone personally.

  3. [...] Getting an agent – It starts with a great script! [...]

  4. [...] screenwriters out there. Marc Maurino answers a simple (yet complicated) question about how one can land representation as a screenwriter. Here’s a brief tidbit: Lots of folks I know will send upwards of fifty, a hundred, a hundred [...]

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