Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Question: I've Got A Solid Spec, Now What?

Dangerous Screenwriter sent me a very nice email asking:

"Any advice for writers who have solid specs (no, really) and are about to start querying managers?"

Before I moved to LA, I had no real conception what the development process was like, and what my competition was. I had no idea how to get or impress a manager.

Since then, I've kept these as my Top 3 Rules:

Rule #1, of course, is to have a rock solid, 100% polished spec.

Rule #2 is to have two more in the wings now (or ASAP).

Rule #3 is to have polished one page/synopsis and loglines.

Here's how it goes:

a) Solid Spec #1 will get you in the manager's door. He/she might like your style, your point of view, your flair.

b) But Solid Specs #2 & 3 will show them that you're not a one script pony. A manager is going to sink a lot of time & energy on your behalf. Scripts #2 & 3 will show them (& prod. co.) that you are repeat business. You are here for the long haul.

c) A one page/synopsis is a DEVELOPMENT TOOL. It's like gift wrap - it's purpose is to SELL your script. It is NOT A PLODDING SUMMARY. I REPEAT, IT IS NOT A PLODDING SUMMARY OF YOUR SCRIPT.

Make sure it is as stunning as your script. It should show the reader the best possible vision of your script. It should fill me with such emotion that I snatch it from the slush pile, snarling at all the other readers, "MINE!"

d) Managers looking for top notch talent want to know that YOU know how the biz works. You can really set yourself apart by showing them you're business savvy even before they sign you.

My last 2 cents: Managers say they want writers who are "easy to work with," but what does that mean? Simply that you're not desperate. You're cooperative and take direction well. You have more ideas in your endless bag of tricks.

WHAT I KNOW: My advice is to first realize your success is in your control. It lies with you - NOT in another person, even in a manager or agent. If you truly, TRULY have a good script, it will get snapped up. I've seen it happen before my eyes.

[I think that many writers delude themselves thinking they truly have a good script. What is the criteria? It's hard to pin down, though I know it when I see it. If you're smart, do not pin your hopes to one script. You've already started writing the next one.]

Second, as you interview managers, look to see who else they represent. Ask yourself:
- Are their clients happy?
- Do they have a good reputation?
- Are they fair? Generous? Good people of integrity?
- What is their map for your career? Do they strategize well?

Best of luck!

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